Riomaggiore is a small coastal village located in the Liguria region of north-western Italy, and one of the five villages that make up the Cinque Terre. Driving or taking the train or ferry north from La Spezia, it’s the first of the five villages you’ll encounter. This picturesque fishing village was founded in the 13th century and is known for its brightly-colored houses packed together along the cliffs lining a little harbor filled with boats.
My sister and I recently visited Riomaggiore during a Cinque Terre trip and it took us a nano-second to fall in love with it. The beautiful sunset definitely helped, but we truly enjoyed the laidback, quaint atmosphere, the colorful buildings and the oh-so-many delicious restaurants.
If you are planning a trip to the Cinque Terre, this post will be handy as I will tell you about the best attractions in Riomaggiore. I will also share plenty of practical information in case you wish to base yourself there.
Make sure to also read my post The Best Things To Do In Cinque Terre.
What To See And Do In Riomaggiore
Explore the historic center
One of the best ways to get to know this amazing little place is to take a walk along the main street of Via Colombo where you’ll find most of the historic buildings, shops and restaurants.
As you explore the village, you’ll see many other fascinating attractions such as the Gothic Church of San Giovanni Battista, originally built in 1340 and restored in the 19th century; the16th century Oratorio di Santa Maria Assunta – also known as the Chiesa della Compagnia, and the nearby Castle of Riomaggiore; the lovely Piazza Vignaioli; and finally the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Montenero.
Admire the coastal views from the Castle
For beautiful views make sure to walk up the Castello di Riomaggiore. The walk starts in the center of town: just take the Scalinata della Valle until you get to Via Pecunia. It’s on the way to the train station (or from the train station, in case you are coming from there!) so super easy to find. It’s a lovely spot, with benches where you can sit to relax for a few moments while you take in the stunning coastal views.
Walk up the Sanctuary of Montenero
One of the unmissable attractions in Riomaggiore is the 11th century Santuario di Nostra Signora di Montenero. To get there, you will have to follow a circular trail of about 3.5 km (little over 2 miles). The views along the way are stunning: you will be crossing through vineyards, get coastal views and views of Riomaggiore below, and if you are lucky the church will be open. It’s a moderate hike and it will take you about 1.5 hours to cover the entire trail.
Enjoy a gorgeous sunset
Sunsets are beautiful in the Cinque Terre, and Riomaggiore is definitely one of the best places to fully appreciate this time of day. My sister and I were treated to a gorgeous sunset after a truly rainy day, which made it all the more impressive!
One of the prime sunset spots in Riomaggiore is right by the small harbor. Facing the sea once you get to the harbor, walk left and you will find what looks like a tiny terrace. Continue walking along that trail and you will get to a staircase that will take you to the rocks where you can sit to admire the village and the sea as the sun sets behind the horizon. Lots of people sit there with takeaway pizza and beer – I would not do that myself, but if you are up for it just make sure to clean up after yourself!
If you want a more comfortable place, you could go to La Conchiglia, a small bar that is very popular. We didn’t try getting a table but it certainly looked busy!
Another good sunset spot is on the trail that connects Riomaggiore to Manarola – though keep in mind you can only walk to a certain point as the trail is currently being restored.
Go on a boat tour
If the weather allows it, one of the best things to do in Riomaggiore is to join a kayak expedition or hop on a boat ride. Tours typically go along the coast so you get to see all the villages of the Cinque Terre – it really is up to you whether you feel more active and want to paddle your way along the coast, or relax while taking in the views and snapping some photos.
To book your boat tour along the Cinque Terre, click here.
For a sunset boat tour click here.
If you don’t quite fancy joining a tour, you can simply opt for the hop-on hop-off boat ride that departs from all villages of the Cinque Terre (but Corniglia, which doesn’t have a harbor). You can get off in any of the villages and get on the next one. It’s very budget friendly actually, and the views fabulous. In this case, you don’t need to get tickets in advance: just show up at the harbor about 30 minutes before departure to get your tickets. There are departures every hour from 9:35 am until 6:35 pm (you can find the timetable here) but keep in mind there is no ferry service in the winter.
Taste the fragrant Cinque Terre wines
Wine tasting is a popular things to do in the Cinque Terre, and you will come across many vineyards if you hike around the region. The most popular local wine is the Sciacchetrà – a sweet dessert wine; but you will also find the local the Cinque Terre DOC (a dry white wine that is a blend of the native Bosco grape, Albarola and Vermentino and which is a perfect pairing to fish and seafood dishes).
You will certainly not miss a chance to enjoy some good local wines when in Riomaggiore. You can opt to join a wine tasting experience or, if you prefer, simply sit at one of the wineries in town to do your own tastings. The Wine House is certainly a good place to start your tastings. We also loved Enoteca D’UU Scintu, which has a very good selection of local wines.
For a wine tasting tour in Cinque Terre, click here.
Go for a hike!
Hiking is a must when in the Cinque Terre. To be fair, we did not hike all the way to Riomaggiore, mainly because the portion of Blue Trail – the coastal trail that connects the five villages – that connects Riomaggiore to Manarola (and which is known as Via dell’Amore) is currently closed for restoration works.
If you are basing yourself in Riomaggiore and are keen on hiking, make sure to first head to the local Cinque Terre Point and ask for a map and for information on alternative trails that will take you to Manarola, from where you can follow trails 506, 586 and 507 to Corniglia, where you can then continue along the Blue Trail.
For a guided hiking tour of the Cinque Terre, click here.
Make sure to read my posts A Useful Guide To Monterosso Al Mare, Cinque Terre, A Short Guide To Vernazza, A Quick Guide To Manarola and A Guide To Hiking In The Cinque Terre.
Spend some time at the beach
Upon seeing that crystal clear, blue water surrounding Riomaggiore, you’ll likely want to go for a swim. A beautiful pebble beach is situated just east of the main village. It’s not exactly a comfortable spot, but it’s ok if you only want to spend a couple of hours basking in the sun.
If you’re feeling adventurous, you can even swim for a few minutes and reach a beautiful cave. In fact, you can go snorkeling and even diving in the Marine Protected Area if you like!
Practical Information To Plan Your Trip To Riomaggiore, Cinque Terre
How to Get to Riomaggiore, Cinque Terre
If you choose to drive to Riomaggiore, you will have to leave your car in a parking area just outside the village. Parking can be quite expensive, but you can count on a shuttle bus that can take you into the village center. In any case, the best way to get to Riomaggiore, Cinque Terre, is either by ferry or train.
The Cinque Terre Villages of Riomaggiore, Monterosso, Manarola and Vernazza are serviced by a ferry that travels back and forth between the villages. The ferry leaves from La Spezia and stops in Portovenere every hour during peak season (typically from April to October included), and then continues to the four villages of the Cinque Terre that have a harbor (Corniglia doesn’t) and all the way to Levanto.
The price of tickets depends on your arrival and departure destinations. If you wish to explore the entire Cinque Terre region, you can purchase an all-day ticket that allows you to travel between the four villages while hopping on and off at leisure. This is actually the most effective way to explore the Cinque Terre by boat – it’s cheaper than having to buy a one-way ticket every time.
Ferry tickets are available at the ticket counter that’s available at each departure location. It’s best to arrive early and get your ticket so you’re ready to board when the next boat arrives.
Riomaggiore is actually the first of the Cinque Terre villages coming from La Spezia and Portovenere, and the views from the sea are stunning. However, keep in mind that if there’s heavy rain or high winds on the day you wish to sail, your trip may be canceled or postponed because the ferries don’t operate in dangerous sea conditions. My sister and I had to wait for a few days before we could get a ferry!
The train station in Riomaggiore is located on the side of the cliff just above the water. Upon exiting the train, you can take a pedestrian tunnel that leads to the lower section of the village.
On average it takes about seven minutes to travel the six kilometers from La Spezia to Riomaggiore. If you’re an early riser and wish to get a good head start on your travels, you can catch the first train on this route at 4:30 am every day.
Trains depart from La Spezia every 11 minutes with the last train leaving at 1:00 am. A ticket for this route costs €5.
If you’re traveling from Levanto to Riomaggiore, expect the train ride to take about 20 minutes (some trains take just 11 minutes) to travel the 13 kilometers between the two locations. There are regular departures from Levanto starting at 4:50 am. The last departure of the day is at 12:17 am. Throughout the day, trains depart on this route about every 21 minutes. €5 is how much you’ll pay for a ticket from Levanto to Riomaggiore.
There are no direct trains from Pisa to Riomaggiore. You’ll have to change at either La Spezia or Monterosso al Mare. The first trail leaves at 5:26 am and you’ll have to change in La Spezia. The overall journey takes at least one hour and 12 minutes (that’s the quickest option). There are departures throughout the day, with the last train leaving at 10:53 pm. Tickets start at €11.65.
If you are traveling from Florence, Milan or Rome you will have to change in La Spezia. Inevitably, the overall journey will take longer and it will be slightly more expensive – though truly affordable.
The best places to stay in Riomaggiore, Cinque Terre
Whether you’re on a tight budget or you’re looking to go all out and splurge on luxury accommodations, there’s something for every budget and taste in Riomaggiore.
La Vista di Marina – By The First
This gorgeous hotel features luxury accommodations in the center of the village and many people claim that the views here are the best around! Free Wi-Fi, air-conditioning, a fully-equipped kitchen and a balcony overlooking the sea are some of the amenities you’ll enjoy at this lovely property.
Hotel La Zorza
Hotel La Zorza features cozy guest rooms with air-conditioning and you’ll have access to a scenic balcony and a bar. A nice breakfast is served in the morning so you can get a great start to your day of hiking and exploring Riomaggiore.
Hotel del Sole
If you’re looking for a good deal without sacrificing quality and amenities, Hotel del Sole, which is situated on the main street of the village, is the perfect place to stay in Riomaggiore. Some of the amenities you’ll enjoy at this property include free Wi-Fi service, incredible sea views, a lounge, complimentary breakfast and comfortable rooms with air-conditioning and private terraces. A beach is only a short walk away.
Locanda Ca Da Iride
Locanda Ca Da Iride is where you should spend the night if you want to be away from the noise and crowds. Situated on top of a hill high above the village, you’ll have a longer distance to walk to reach many of the local attractions but this little sacrifice is worth it to stay in such a serene location! Guest rooms feature complimentary Wi-Fi, flat-screen TVs and minibars.
Cinque Terre Residence
At Cinque Terre Residence, you’ll enjoy a central location not far from the main street and top attractions of Riomaggiore. On-site, you’ll find a bar and shared terrace with a large Jacuzzi tub. The air-conditioned rooms feature satellite television service, minibars, free Wi-Fi and private terraces with lovely views of some vineyards. An amazing breakfast is served each morning.
Make sure to also read my post Where To Stay In Cinque Terre.
Only have a day to spare in Cinque Terre? Check out my post How To Plan The Perfect Day Trip From Florence To Cinque Terre.
The best restaurants in Riomaggiore
Riomaggiore is small but it’s big on food and there are plenty of places to sit down and enjoy a generous meal of delicious, traditional cuisine. Seafood is at the forefront at most restaurants in Cinque Terre so you can expect to find items such as shellfish and ricotta-stuffed squid and shrimp calamarata. Most of these eateries also have outdoor seating and scenic views. All of them have a wide selection of appetizers, main courses, desserts and wines to suit any taste.
This is easily one of the top places to wine and dine in Riomaggiore. This fabulous restaurant features excellent service and superb food in a beautiful location overlooking the harbor. The specialty here is seafood with dishes like scampi and spaghetti.
However, the truth is you never know what will be available because the menu changes daily depending on the catch of the day. A specially-selected wine list is also available.
La Cantina del Macellaio
If you’re looking for a restaurant in Riomaggiore that doesn’t have a main focus on seafood, La Cantina del Macellaio stands out because its main specialty is beef steak and other meat-centric dishes. A selection of pasta dishes, desserts and wines are also available.
Colle del Telegrafo
The views aren’t the only great thing about enjoying a meal at Colle del Telegrafo! You can enjoy that view while you eat one of the delicious selections from the menu. Choose from a variety of pasta dishes, soups and seafood dishes. Cake and espresso are served during the daytime.
Il Pescato Cucinato
Il Pescato Cucinato is another great restaurant in Riomaggiore. Street-food-inspired dishes are on the menu including the local favorite of fresh, fried calamari, anchovies, shrimp and cod stuffed into a cone. French fries and fried vegetables are available for those who don’t like seafood.
Fresh, local seafood, cold plates and local wines are the specialties at Dau Cila. The fantastic view of the harbor is part of the package too!
At La Lampara, seafood is the most sought item on the menu but many people also stop at this eatery to enjoy their amazing pizza and pasta al pesto. You’ll also enjoy excellent service from friendly staff who go above and beyond to ensure you have the best experience possible.
At Fuori, you’ll enjoy traditional Mediterranean cuisine with a unique flare. You have two options for your meal; you can order something from the main menu or you can choose a five-course tasting menu.
Don’t forget to read my post The Best Restaurants In Cinque Terre.