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Cinque Terre is one of the most popular day trips in Italy. From Milan and Genoa, tourists visit these villages for the classic and rough seaside views that capture the essence of the Italian Rivera.
However, I think dedicating more time to the region is worthwhile. For example, spending, not one, but 2 days in Cinque Terre is a lovely idea for your Italian travels.
The Cinque Terre consists of five fishing villages, as well as the surrounding national park. As I’ve said, this part of Italian coastline is incredibly popular. And for good reason.
First of all, the area is so, so, so pretty. So pretty. I mean, colorful houses hugging rocky hillsides while overlooking the deep aqua Liguarian sea? Be still my beating heart. There’s no denying that Cinque Terre is gorgeous.
However, Cinque Terre offers so much more than stunning photo opportunities to improve your Instagram account.
For example, did you know that Cinque Terre is recognized by UNESCO as a place of historical importance?
In Cinque Terre, each town has so many rich stories to tell. For instance, the Doria Castle in Vernazza has stood tall against pirates since the 12th century. Pretty incredible to think about.
Not to mention, Cinque Terre is a great adventure destination. Abundant hiking opportunities of all difficulty levels exist for travelers. You can also rent a boat to (hopefully) see a spectacular sunset out on the sea.
Without a doubt, you don’t want to miss Cinque Terre and the more time you have in these amazing villages, the better.
On my own solo trip, I spent an entire weekend in Cinque Terre, and at the end of the day, I think I made the right choice dedicating that amount of time for exploring the five villages and immediate area.
Let’s talk about why you should spend 2 days in Cinque Terre.
Cinque Terre Travel Tips
Why Spend 2 Days in Cinque Terre?
It’s easy to hike between the villages. I am not a hiker, and even I could have done the treks in a single day. So, yes, 2 days might seem like a lot for Cinque Terre.
Regardless, a weekend is the perfect amount of time for travelers who prefer to go at a slow pace. I am one of those people. For me, just the thought of jetting from city to city at a whirlwind pace exhausts me.
A lot of visitors do day trips to Cinque Terre. I’d actually advise against this doing the typical “day tour,” especially if you’ve time built into your itinerary. Seeing Cinque Terre in two days gives you a few advantages over day trippers. Let’s talk about them now.
Safety in Cinque Terre
Keep your eyes peeled for pick pockets. Unfortunately, since the trains are so packed, the platforms are attractive for pick pockets and other unsavory folk.
I had no problems on my own trip, but my experiences shouldn’t make you complacent about protecting your belongings. Stay aware of the people around you. And if someone gets too close? Don’t be afraid to move or toss them a dirty look. You don’t need to be polite if you feel uncomfortable – especially when you’re traveling alone.
Exercise patience in crowds. During my two days in Cinque Terre, some tourists understandably got frustrated while waiting on jammed platforms for delayed trains. Don’t crash into people. And also? Let people get off the train before barreling into them.
Always have travel insurance. For Cinque Terre, I purchased a policy with World Nomads. I highly recommend them and buy their policies before all of my trips. World Nomads is an affordable option for those of you traveling on a budget.
What to Pack for Cinque Terre
Your packing list depends on what time of year that you’re planning to visit Cinque Terre.
Below are a few essential items:
- A great pair of hiking boots. You guys, you guys, you need to wear appropriate footwear if you’re gonna tackle the trails. Let’s not even talk about the possibility of sprained ankles. Think of your wallet instead! Tourists have been fined for not wearing appropriate footwear in the hills surrounding Cinque Terre. Don’t waste your money on something that stupid. A simple stylish hiker sneaker, like these great ones by Merrell, should do the trick for you!
- A lightweight scarf. The weather on the Ligurian Coast is unpredictable. For example, on my own trip, the weather transitioned from rain to sun to clouds to sun again, and the temperature dropped at night after the sun vanished for good. What’s a traveler to do? Pack a colorful scarf – of course! These lightweight Infinity travel scarves come in a variety of colors. Plus they have zippers meaning you’re able to store your phone and room keys with minimal fuss.
- Lonely Planet Italy Guidebook. Always pack a helpful guidebook for your trips. Lonely Planet has great guides and unsurprisingly, they have a wonderful book to Italy to help you plan your Cinque Terre itinerary. Don’t miss anything you want to see!
- Trekking poles. In the Cinque Terre National Park, some hikes are more rigorous than others, and you want to be prepared for all conditions. Pack some adjustable trekking poles for your 2 days in Cinque Terre. Trekking poles keep your footing secure and protect your knees on long downhill stretches.
Getting Around Cinque Terre
Over all, traveling to and in Cinque Terre is very easy because of Italy’s frequent trains.
Purchase your tickets ahead of time, especially if you’re taking a Cinque Terre weekend trip.
Do not bring a car to Cinque Terre. The towns themselves are very walkable..
The Cinque Terre Card
You need to be prepared traveling around Cinque Terre since you’re not a day tripper. As a National Park, certain protections are in place to support the fragile environment.
Therefore it’s highly recommended (actually I think it’s mandatory) for visitors to buy the Cinque Terre Card. You’re able to purchase this card at train stations or online. The Cinque Terre Card offers access to the buses and trekking trails. No card? No trails.
For an additional fee, I’d suggest that you buy the train card for unlimited access to trains on the “Levanto – Cinque Terre – La Spezia” line.
The Best Times to Go Out
If you read this blog, then you probably remember me lamenting overtourism in Cinque Terre.
In particular, day trippers pack Cinque Terre in the middle of the afternoon. Seriously, navigating the train station platforms is a nightmare. And I’m used to Penn Station in New York City!
Luckily, by spending 2 days in Cinque Terre, you’ve the advantage of exploring the villages during “off hours” such as early morning or later in the afternoon. Trust me. You’ll notice the difference. Mostly being able to breathe without some stranger pressed against you.
Take. Advantage. Of. The. Best. Hours.
I can’t emphasize this fact enough.
Where to Stay in Cinque Terre
I wrote all an entire guide about deciding what Cinque Terre village to stay in, and I highly recommend reading it if you’re torn on where to base yourself.
My best advice, though, is wherever you stay “split the villages in half” during your Cinque Terre weekend trip.
What do I mean? Well, if you really wanna “take it slowly,” then dedicate one day to three villages and the second day to two villages. It’s absolutely possible to “do everything” in one day, but why bother rushing for no reason?
Since I was based in Corngilia (and I love staying in Corniglia, goodness!), I spent one day exploring my home base and then Vernazza, followed by the next day in Manarola, Monteresso al Mare, and Riomaggoire. I’m glad I had 48 hours to know each village better.
- Alla Marina in Riomaggoire: Small and family accommodation located in the eastern-most town of Riomaggoire. (see prices on TripAdvisor.com and Booking.com)
- Arpaiu in Manarola: A quaint and relaxing bed and breakfast with a rooftop terrace. (see prices on TripAdvisor.com and Booking.com)
- Bed and Breakfast Le Terrazze in Corniglia: Corniglia is my favorite spot in Cinque Terre! Take advantage of the sun terrace and enjoy the views! (see prices on TripAdvisor.com and Booking.com)
The Best Things to Do for 2 Days in Cinque Terre
Relax in the Villages
Firstly, let’s not even kid ourselves. Speeding through the five villages just isn’t appealing at all.
You want to slow down time to correspond with the Cinque Terre’s tranquil atmosphere, right? So enjoy an aperol spritz and seafood in the main squares without worrying about missing your next train.
Furthermore, by spending two days in Cinque Terre, you’ve way more chances to meet the locals rather than hordes of tourists. I promise there’s nothing wrong with talking to other travelers. I do it all the time. But still, it’s special to meet people who actually live in the places you’re so blessed to visit.
In my case, I used AirBNB for my two nights in Corniglia and met a lovely local family by booking my accommodation there. I learned a lot about the village’s culture and food, which was invaluable. I wouldn’t have had these thoughtful experiences if I had taken a quick day trip through the villages.
In short? Relaxation is worth it.
Cinque Terre is particularly popular with hikers. And it’s so easy to understand the allure of disappearing into the lush green hillsides.
Needless to say, with 2 days in Cinque Terre, you’ve more time to scale the rugged landscape and walk between villages. I know I wouldn’t want to cut my time with nature short.
If you’re super outdoorsy, take advantage of the two days and go on many hikes in the surrounding area.
Sadly, the weather will dictate what trails you can and cannot hike. For example, the Blue Path Trail that spans from Monterosso al Mare to Riomaggiore (or the other way around) was damaged by a landslide and won’t open again until 2021. On my trip, extensive rains closed down most of the hiking trails. Alas.
So, for more information on trekking, check out this guide to Cinque Terre hiking trails and keep your fingers crossed that the weather will be okay!
Eat Plenty of Fresh Seafood
Seafood is fresh and plentiful thanks to Cinque Terre’s perfect location on the Ligurian Sea. Eat fish until your stomach explodes. My favorite Cinque Terre seafood includes fresh fried calamari cones. I could literally snack on this goodness all day.
Most restaurants also offer seafood tossed in homemade pasta. What type of seafood? Well… fresh fish, squid, shrimp, mussels, and other creatures of the sea. Yummy.
And, if you’re not into seafood, then there’s always some delicious limoncello, hahaha. Pesto is native to this region too, and is absolutely worth eating.
Lovely Little Churches
I loved the churches in each of the Cinque Terre villages. These places of worship offered a quiet place for me to reflect on life, as well as rest my exhausted feet.
My favorite churches in Cinque Terre include:
- Church of San Giovanni Battista in Monteresso al Mare.
- Church of San Pietro in Corniglia.
- Church of Santa Margarita d’Antiochia in Vernazza.
Without a doubt, add these churches to your Cinque Terre itinerary. Just remember they’re active places to worship. Behave in a way that would make your parents proud, haha.
Relaxing at the harbors offer some great photo opportunities. Take advantage! We all like photos to preserve our travel memories.
Personally, my favorite harbors were in Vernazza and Manarola. In Manarola, you’ll see everyone’s favorite view of the Cinque Terre with all the homes surrounding the sea. Go visit Manarola harbor early or late to experience the area without tourists.
Meanwhile, the harbor in Vernazza offers great views of the castle tower and Church of Santa Margarita d’Antiochia. Incredibly scenic. Afterwards, climb the castle, but be prepared to pay.
Beaches, Beaches, Beaches
For you beach lovers, having 2 days in Cinque Terre means you’ve additional time to actually chill near the sea. Bring your bathing suit in June, July, and August.
In my opinion, the best beach village in Cinque Terre is, by far, Monterosso al Mare. Actually, it’s the only village of the five with a traditional beach, haha.
I’d especially recommend this village in the summer months when warm temperatures might make hiking too exhausting.
Day Trips to a Nearby Village or Town
Cinque Terre is in an awesome location for taking day trips. You’re easily connected to places like Camogli, Stresi Levante, Portovenere, and so much more!
If you’re truly burnt out from Cinque Terre, the region has a lot of equally beautiful towns for you to explore and get lost in. Pull up a map and look at your options.
For example, I actually stayed in a small fishing village, Camogli, after visiting Cinque Terre, and it was so peaceful. The main streets, cutting along the beach, felt “real” to me if that makes sense. Not to mention, Camogli has a lot of things to do.
So, feel free to expand your itinerary if you’re spending 2 days in Cinque Terre.
Two Days in Cinque Terre
Arrive in Cinque Terre. Drop off any luggage at your accommodation.
Head to Riomaggiore and fall in love with its iconic harbor view. Riomaggiore has many small churches. If you want to do a short hike, go to Santuario di Nostra Signora di Montenero. It’s quite a long hike, but the view is worth it on a clear and sunny day! If you want to stay closer to town, the visit Church of San Giovanni Battista of Riomaggiore and Castello di Riomaggiore.
You can take a train connection to the next town, but if you want to walk, then hit up the stunning Via dell’Amore, which is a walkway that hugs a coastal cliff.
Next you’ll arrive in the town of Manarola. You have to go to Punta Bonfiglio to snap that iconic “Cinque Terre” shot – especially if it’s your first time traveling to Italy!
For the second half of the day, I recommend doing a fun activity! In Manarola, you’ll encounter plenty of vineyards, and I suggest going on a Cinque Terre Wine Tour to learn all about the art of making wine. Sipping wine is fun too!
Being your day in Corniglia. Hike the stairs (if you’re feeling brave) or take the bus to the most remote of the Cinque Terre villages. You should snap some photos on the stairs, though, with the wonder sea views in the background!
Next you’ll travel to Vernazza, which is one of the most picturesque towns that you’ll ever see in Italy! My favorite things to do include climbing the top of Doria Castle. You need to pay to climb the tower, but the history and stunning scenery are worth the cost of admission. Make sure to take photos of Santa Margherita di Antiochia Church in addition to seeing the castle.
If you’re feeling fit, do the Sentiero Monterosso – Vernazza hike to your next town!
Lastly, Monterosso al Mare is more of a seaside resort than the other towns. I personally enjoyed the shopping here the most! Make sure to buy souvenirs if you’re feeling generous. If you’re not sick of churches, Church of San Giovanni Battista has an absolutely beautiful design! At the end of the day, do some more hiking or chill on the beach! You’ll find a more traditional beach here.
I hope you enjoyed my guide to 2 days in Cinque Terre. Have you ever been to Cinque Terre? Which village was your favorite? Share all your thoughts in the comments.