Travel Itinerary: 2 Days in Cinque Terre
Spending 2 days in Cinque Terre is a lovely idea for your Italian travels. These fishing villages are incredibly popular with tourists for many good reasons.
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 for your Instagram account.
First of all, Cinque Terre is recognized by UNESCO as a place of historical importance. Each town has so many rich stories to tell. For example, 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.
Why You Should Spend 2 Days in Cinque Terre
2 days might seem like a lot for Cinque Terre, but honestly, it’s the perfect amount of time for travelers who prefer to go slow. 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.
1. You Can 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.
2. You Have More Time for Hiking Trails
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.
More about the hikes later.
3. It’s Easier to Take Advantage of Morning & Evening Hours
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.
Traveling to Cinque Terre
1. Cinque Terre Trains & Cards
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.
2. Advice for Traveling in Cinque Terre
Over all, traveling in Cinque Terre is very easy with frequent trains. The towns themselves are very walkable, too. No need for cabs or car rentals. They’ll only make your weekend in Cinque Terre more expensive and complicated.
However, there are some things to be aware of especially if you’re spending your nights in Cinque Terre itself.
- 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.
- Only bring what you need for the day. Since you’re spending 2 days in Cinque Terre, leave all unnecessary items at your room. You don’t want to feel bogged down with useless stuff especially in the middle of the day on a vigorous hike.
What to do in Cinque Terre for 2 Days
1. Go Hiking A Lot
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!
2. 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.
3. Split the Villages in Half (3 and 2)
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, 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.
4. Appreciate Some 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.
5. Chill at the Colorful Harbors
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.
6. Go to the Beach and Soak Up the Sun
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.
7. Take a Day Trip 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. Camogli has a lot of things to do.
So, feel free to expand your itinerary if you’re spending 2 days in Cinque Terre.
Read More: The Best Town to Stay in Cinque Terre
What to Pack with Two Days in Cinque Terre
1. 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!
2. Lightweight Infinity Travel 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.
3. Adjustable 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.
4. Travel Insurance with World Nomads
Never travel without insurance. Never, ever, ever.
As you already know, Cinque Terre is popular for hiking and other outdoorsy activities, making travel insurance even more important. What if you twist your ankle up in the steep hillside? Not a good situation. You want complete coverage.
I use World Nomads for all my international trips. They’re reasonably priced and easy to purchase.
5. Lonely Planet Guidebook to Italy
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!
Read More: Pack Your Lonely Planet Italy Guidebook
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.
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