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Updated: 24 September 2023
Italy is a country that many solo travelers dream of visiting. And who can blame them? It’s perfect.
Italy’s natural landscapes, rich history, colorful buildings so bright that you almost taste them, incredibly rich culinary scene, and, yes, attractive people, inspire travelers from around the world to pack their bags.
Everyone loves Italy.
As for me, I’ve been lucky enough to visit Italy on two separate occasions. Once I did a trip to the three most popular cities for tourists: Rome- Florence-Venice.
But the second time, I chose to spend 8 beautiful days in Northern Italy falling love with the country’s smaller villages. And yes, that includes the famous Cinque Terre.
I highly recommend taking a solo trip to Cinque Terre. I enjoyed my time in these five towns so much that I wanted to create an entire guide to women who are thinking about adding Cinque Terre to their solo travel in Italy wish list.
First I want to share my own experiences, before giving you some practical tips for this adventure.
Solo Travel Cinque Terre: My Own Experience
Cinque Terre was the trip I needed during an especially turbulent time in my life. I re-connected with my inner poet, especially in the small town of Corniglia.
While staying in Cinque Terre, I spent most of my time walking between the villages, eating a lot of pesto and seafood, and snapping photographs. I felt like a poet taking the Grand European Tour, even though my own poetry is rather lousy compared to the greats of the Romantic Era.
In Cinque Terre, I felt safe and happy as a solo traveler, and noticed quite a few independent women wearing backpacks and hiking boots, so I know I wasn’t the only person traveling to this part of Italy alone!
My AirBnB host was also incredibly welcoming and made me feel like part of her family. She was fantastic!
Lastly, I am the biggest baby about eating alone on my travels, but didn’t stand out at all whenever I needed a table for one. Whew!
Why Take a Solo Trip to Cinque Terre
Still not sure why you should travel solo to Cinque Terre? Luckily for you, I have tons of great reasons to brave going to these villages (and the rest of Italy) alone.
If you’re really shy or scared to travel alone, keep in mind that there is nothing wrong with booking a group tour. Plenty of my favorite companies, such as G Adventures and Intrepid, have tours to Italy that include Cinque Terre.
But if you’re ready for a fully independent Italian trip, these reasons are why should add Cinque Terre to your itinerary.
UNESCO World Heritage Site
First of all, Cinque Terre is one of Italy’s many UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Actually, it’s not just the five villages that have this distinction either. The entire Ligurian Coast between Cinque Terre and Portovenere is considered UNESCO quality due to its cultural and scenic value.
As a solo traveler, you spend a lot of your money and time to make international vacations possible for you. You want to pick destinations that are “high quality,” and Cinque Terre checks all those boxes.
Ultimately, if a combination of rich history and beautiful nature entrances you, then you definitely need to add this region to your bucket list.
Incredible Hiking Opportunities
Cinque Terre is a hikers’ paradise.
Most visitors choose to hike between the villages themselves. For example, the hikes between Monterosso and Vernazza, as well as Vernazza and Corniglia, are very popular among travelers.
Sadly, the beautiful walking path (Via dell’Amore) between Manarola and Riomaggiore remains closed until 2022.
If you want a more challenging and longer hike, then try the route between Riomaggiore and Portovenere, which includes a 45 minute descent. Don’t forget your water bottle and some snacks for that climb!
In my opinion, solo travelers who are true introverts, who thrive on solitude in nature and cities alike, will greatly enjoy all of these hikes! I, personally, like hiking alone. I’m not worried about matching anyone’s fitness level and can simply enjoy the views around me.
Great Tourism Infrastructure
Due to its popularity, Cinque Terre has fantastic infrastructure in place, which makes it easy to get around the immediate area – even if you’re traveling alone and feeling anxious.
I always say: if I can do it, you can too!
For example, if you’re a native English speaker, most locals speak fluently and will offer you help. Of course, you’ll want to learn a few phrases of Italian to be a conscientious traveler, but knowing that you’ll be able to get directions in English is definitely helpful.
A frequent train links all the towns, so you’ll never experience a lack of transportation in Cinque Terre. I never waited more than fifteen minutes for a train!
Chances to Meet Fellow Travelers
As a solo traveler, I don’t mind having quality time to myself, especially when I explore throughout the day. I like soaking up all my new surroundings like a sponge.
However, I don’t mind having a friend or two to share a meal with!
If you have the same travel style as me, then Cinque Terre is a great option for you, because it’s relatively easy to meet other people when you want company.
Check out Facebook travel groups ahead of time to make connections. You can even use Tinder to meet fellow travelers (just be safe), or stay in a hostel and make connections with your roommates.
By taking these steps, it’s fairly easy for solo travelers to find new friends in Cinque Terre.
Plenty of Accommodation
In Cinque Terre, you won’t find yourself frantically looking for places to stay.
However, keep in mind that these small villages don’t have the space for huge luxury properties. You’ll most likely encounter family-run bed and breakfasts and rooms for rent.
As a solo traveler, you’ll be happy to hear that hostels also exists in Cinque Terre! I love hostels, even as I get older, because they’re great places to make connections with likeminded people. I’m still friends with people who I’ve met at hostels!
- 5 Terre Backpackers: This incredible family-run hostel provides a warm atmosphere. You can even enjoy some homemade wine! Definitely a great place for solo travelers. See prices on Booking.com.
- Alla Marina Affittacamere: Want to stay in Riomaggoire? No problem! These lovely rooms are only a short walk from the pebbled beach. Get a room with a sea view! See prices on Expedia.com and Booking.com
- Hostel Corniglia: A simple and cozy hostel in my favorite Cinque Terre town! See prices on Booking.com.
Few to No Safety Concerns
All in all, Italy is quite safe for the most part. I’ve never had any serious issues on my visits. Nothing worse than what I’ve experienced in New Jersey, anyway.
However, like any other country on earth, crime does happen and it’s important to keep your wellbeing in mind at all times.
Fortunately, Cinque Terre felt very safe even compared to other parts of Italy.
As much as I love Italy’s cities (who can resist all the art?), in Cinque Terre I had less issues with aggressive scams and catcalling, which both happened to me on previous trips to Rome and Florence.
Last but certainly not least: if you’re a solo female traveler in particular, I found Cinque Terre quite relaxing in the sense that I didn’t have to worry about random encounters with annoying strange men. Your mileage may vary, of course.
Practical Tips for Solo Travel
Last but not least, I wanted to touch on some practical tips for your solo trip to Cinque Terre.
I understand that sometimes the planning process is overwhelming, especially for solo travelers, so I wanted to help you get started!
Getting Around Cinque Terre
Like much of Italy, getting around Cinque Terre is easy. The train runs on a regular schedule. You can also reserve boat rides to see the towns from below on the turquoise Ligurian Sea.
I do have one warning, though. Cinque Terre is very popular with tourists, particularly day trippers from Milan, Genoa, and La Spezia due to easy train access. I’m not sure about all months of the year, but in April, the trains were packed to the point of claustrophobia.
Don’t feel the urge to squeeze yourself on a packed train if you feel uncomfortable. Wait for the next one. Walk to the next town. Don’t rush or stress yourself out. You’re not in New York City.
Over-tourism is an issue in Cinque Terre that I don’t want to sugarcoat on this blog. Part of me feels guilty writing a post about these towns, but at the same time, I am aware that most residents earn a living in the hospitality industry.
Ultimately, my best advice is to explore these towns early in the morning or late in the afternoon. And be respectful of the fragile environment.
Solo Travel Essentials for Cinque Terre
As a solo traveler in Cinque Terre, you want to double-check all your essentials to make the most of your adventures. I personally found this items the most critical for enjoying my vacation!
- EU-Electric Adapter: You don’t want your camera to die on your vacation. Ensure you bring an EU-Electric Adapter with you. Plugs are different in Italy compared to the United States, UK, or Canada.
- Hiking Boots: You don’t want to twist your ankle when seeing Cinque Terre’s majestic scenery. Invest in a quality pair of hiking boots before you hit the trails!
- Mirrorless Camera: Ready to take some photos of Cinque Terre to show family and friends? Sony’s Mirrorless Camera is light-weight and takes incredible high-quality photos to make your memories last.
- Theft-Proof Backpack: Pickpocketing can happen at the Cinque Terre train stations. There are even warning signs! For extra peace of mind, bring a theft-proof backpack to keep your belongings secure on public transportation.
- Travel Insurance: Always buy a travel insurance policy whenever you’re traveling, especially when you’re alone. Travel insurance protects you if you need emergency hospitalization or if you lose your belongings. You don’t want the extra stress of financial losses, especially when traveling alone. I always use World Nomads when I travel alone and have had no issues!
- Travel Journal: I know I’ve said it, but it bears repeating. I embraced my inner poet on this adventure. I recommend bringing a small travel journal to chronicle your experiences in Cinque Terre.
What Cinque Terre Town to Stay In
Honestly, you can’t go wrong staying in any of the five Cinque Terre towns. Each town is magical in its own unique way, and you’ll have easy access to the train line.
As I’ve said earlier, I stayed in Corniglia and highly recommend spending the night in Cinque Terre’s smallest town for many reasons. Seriously, stay in Corniglia. It’s small and quiet compared to compared to the other towns, and somehow felt completely empty of tourists at the end of the day – which is amazing when you think about how popular Cinque Terre is.
However, although I loved Corniglia, choosing a town is a matter of preference.
If possible, I would stay in one of the five villages: Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore.
By staying in the actual Cinque Terre, you can enjoy the area in the early morning or late evening, and feel like you’re truly part of the local fabric rather than a tourist coming in for the day. Not that there’s anything wrong with day tripping, of course, but as a solo traveler, it feels even more special blending in with your surroundings, which includes fewer crowds.
I hope you enjoyed reading my guide all about solo travel in Cinque Terre! Would you ever visit Cinque Terre or travel alone to Italy?