There are many incredible things to do in Cinque Terre. Visit in the summer months, and you’ll be able to appreciate the lovely beaches and coves, and enjoy all sorts of water sports. Go in the spring or early fall and it will be all about hiking, boat trips along the coast, wine tasting and enjoy the delicious food.
Though you can visit the Cinque Terre on a day trip from Florence, Pisa, La Spezia and even Milan, I recommend taking your time in the region. Spend a few days to take in everything that this beautiful part of Italy has to offer and enjoy all the best things to do in Cinque Terre.
Since I have recently visited the Cinque Terre, I thought I’d put together a selection of all the unmissable activities. Continue reading for lots of ideas and tips!
Make sure to also read my post How To Plan A Day Trip From Florence To Cinque Terre.
23 Unmissable Things To Do In Cinque Terre
Learn about the history and culture of Cinque Terre at the Memory Museum
If you want to learn as much as possible about the history of the Cinque Terre region, a visit to a museum is a great start. The Memory Museum, which is situated in Riomaggiore, is quite small but it holds plenty of information about the area through the years. As you browse the exhibits, you’ll learn about local traditions, the communities that make up the area, the cuisine and the natural side of the area. There are maps, periodicals and photos to browse and by the end of a visit, you’ll almost be an expert in Cinque Terre’s history and culture.
Hike along the Blue Path Trail
If you can only do one hiking trail during your visit to Cinque Terre, the Blue Path Trail is the most popular one. For centuries, people used this thoroughfare to get from one town to another. Today, it’s an iconic hiking trail with four distinct sections and one of the best things to do in Cinque Terre. Yes, it’s long at 7.5 miles (12 kilometers) but it’s the easiest trail in the region. The trail spans the five villages that make up the Cinque Terre area and venturing on and off the main trail is easy so you can explore the villages on foot and take in the stunning views.
For a guided hiking tour of the Cinque Terre, click here.
Check out my post A Guide To Hiking In Cinque Terre.
Have some fun in the sun at Monterosso’s Fegina Beach
There are quite a few beaches in Cinque Terre but none are quite as beautiful as Monterosso’s Fegina Beach. Not only is this sandy beach the biggest one in the area, but it’s also the most popular. On site, you’ll enjoy access to sun lounger and umbrella rentals and the shops, restaurants and bars that line the promenade along the beach. The best part about a day at this beach is floating in the warm, clear waters of the scenic bay.
Check out my post A Useful Guide To Monterosso Al Mare.
Explore the coastal areas of Cinque Terre by boat
One of the best ways to see Cinque Terre is from a boat and there are a variety of tours. During one of these tours, experienced captains take you out into the open water surrounding the region where you’ll see incredible views that you would otherwise not see from land. You can embark on a Cinque Terre day tour or another one of the more specialized tours including a sunset tour, a wine tasting tour and a tour that sets out to discover a secret beach that can only be reached by boat.
To book your boat tour along the Cinque Terre, click here.
For a sunset boat tour click here.
Go kayaking along the rugged coastline
Kayaking is a more adventurous way to experience the coastal areas of Cinque Terre by boat and it’s another one of the best things to do in Cinque Terre. You’ll be able to choose from a number of fantastic tours. Kayak through Cinque Terre National Park, visit a waterfall and embark on a snorkeling expedition, explore a cave or admire the views along the coastline. Some of the stops on these tours include Baia Portetto, Vernazza, Punta Mesco and Acquapendente.
Make the steep climb to Corniglia
There are five villages that make up the Cinque Terre region and Corniglia is the smallest of them all. The village’s position on top of a hill makes it one of the prettiest. There’s just one thing; in order to get to this village, you’ll need to climb a brick staircase with 382 steps. The climb is fairly easy, but on hot days, be sure to bring water and sun protection! At the top, you’ll enjoy incredible views of the streets and beaches below. Once up, walk along the narrow alleys, stop for a drink in one of the many lovely cafés and enjoy the incredible views.
Head up to Doria Castle
The views from Doria Castle are incredible and worth the climb up the hill where this medieval castle is located. Built in the 11th century, this castle overlooking Vernazza can only be reached via a steep staircase but once at the top, you’ll enjoy spectacular views of the village, sea and surrounding areas.
Head over to my post A Quick Guide To Vernazza.
Visit the Anselmo Crovara’s Collection
This fascinating collection in Manarola was put together by Anselmo Crovara who saw the importance of preserving items for future generations to enjoy and learn from. The collection features a variety of tools that were once used by farmers, carpenters, blacksmiths and other trades folk in the Cinque Terre region. As you browse the exhibits, you’ll see many items including pans, saws, hammers and oil lanterns.
Browse some local markets
While there are many places to shop around Cinque Terre, nothing beats shopping in an open-air market! It’s at these markets where you’ll find the most unique items and the best deals. There are two regular markets in the Cinque Terre region. A market takes place in Vernazza on Tuesdays and another one takes place in Monterosso on Thursdays. At both of these markets, you’ll find fresh produce, cooking ingredients and various souvenirs and household goods.
For a market tour of Cinque Terre, click here.
Admire beautiful art and architecture at the Church of San Francesco
Built in 1632, the Church of San Francesco is a top tourist site in Monterosso. Inside this historic church, there are many beautiful works of art including one by Domenico Gare that dates back to 1529. It’s a bit of a walk uphill from the center of Monterosso, but totally worth it and the views from there are insane.
Kick back and enjoy the views
It’s not hard to find scenic vistas while exploring Cinque Terre but some areas stand out from others. Some of the best places to enjoy spectacular coastal views and views of the surrounding areas include Vernazza lookout (you will walk by if you hike the Blue Path, otherwise it’s a short walk from town), Monterosso – there are several viewpoints but the best is on the way to San Francesco Church, The Hamlet of Prevo, Riomaggiore along Via San Giacomo (it’s basically the trail along the village, on the rocks). We also love the views from the Nessun Dorma terrace in Manarola.
Check out my post A Short Guide To Manarola.
Catch a spectacular sunset
The sunsets in the Cinque Terre region are beautiful and there are many great places to enjoy this nightly natural event. One of the best places to catch an amazing sunset is in the village of Manarola. Punta Bonfiglio’s Viewpoint is a great place to head to but if you like to pair a cocktail or glass of wine with your sunset, head to Nessun Dorma Bar where you can enjoy both. Another place to catch sunset is L’Ancora della Tortuga, one of my favorite restaurants in Cinque Terre. They have a nice terrace and – in the colder months – you can also sit at one of the table by the massive windows.
For a sunset boat tour click here.
Soar through the air on a Paragliding Adventure
If you plan to see Cinque Terre from the land and from the sea, there’s one other way to see this incredible landscape and that’s by air. From October to April, you can embark on a thrilling paragliding adventure from a hill in Monterosso. For 15 to 20 minutes, you’ll soar high above the beach and surrounding coastline while enjoying the amazing views. It’s really what to do in Cinque Terre to get an adrenaline fix!
Attend a Wine Tasting in an Ancient Wine Cellar
If you like your wine tastings to take place in a location that’s as equally unique as the wine, there’s a place in the village of Manarola where you can savor local wine in an ancient wine cellar. This refurbished cellar is now a wine bar, but it maintains a historic look and feel. During a tasting, you’ll sample a white wine, a red wine and the renowned Sciacchetrà dessert wine. Delicious finger foods and other delicacies are served, and live music is featured. The whole experience lasts about an hour.
Another place where you can enjoy wine tasting is Enoteca Internazionale in Monterosso. They have a fabulous selection of wines, and you can pair your wines with the best bruschetta in the region. Try the one with burrata, raw shrimps and zucchini – it’s absolutely mouthwatering.
For a wine tasting tour in Cinque Terre, click here.
Take a tour of the local Vineyards and Wineries
Cinque Terre is known for its wineries, vineyards and a wine production history that goes back to the Roman times. It goes without saying that tasting local wines is one of the unmissable things to do in Cinque Terre. You can spend some time touring wineries, wandering scenic vineyards and tasting delicious local wines. Some of the best wine facilities around the region include the Terra di Bargon, Cantina Sassarini, Buranco Agriturismo, Cantina 5 Terre and Azienda Agricola Possa.
If you hike in the Cinque Terre you will definitely come across many vineyards, all nicely terraced. In some cases, you can even walk in and ask to sample the wine but by all means do not pick on the grapes!
For a vineyard and wine tasting tour in Cinque Terre, click here.
Wine and dine at Ristorante Belforte
Ristorante Belforte is a long-standing eatery situated in an old, restored fortress looking out over the ocean in the village of Vernazza. As if the stunning views and relaxing atmosphere aren’t enough, wait until you try the food! On the menu is a wide variety of seafood and pasta dishes made with the finest and freshest local ingredients available. The portions are generous but not too much to spoil the delicious dessert that awaits after the main course! Just make sure to book in advance to secure a table.
And if you are looking for more restaurants in Cinque Terre, check out L’Ancora della Tortuga and Da Miky in Monterosso al Mare and Rio Bistrot in Riomaggiore. We loved the dessert selection at Miky!
Take a cooking class and learn how to cook Cinque Terre fare like a pro
Food is at the center of Italian culture and Cinque Terre is no exception. The region features a variety of cuisines and cooking methods that are unique to the towns and villages that make up the area, so one of the best things to do in Cinque Terre is joining a cooking class.
At the Cinque Terre Cooking School in Monterosso, you’ll find a range of cooking classes including one where you spend several hours preparing and eating the finished four-course meal. Dishes focus on Ligurian cuisine and there are also lessons on how to make pesto and various vegetarian dishes.
For a cooking class in Cinque Terre, click here.
Feast on traditional gelato
No trip to Italy is complete without treating yourself to some Gelato, that delicious frozen sweet treat that is so beloved in the country and around the world. One of the top places to try gelato in Cinque Terre is at Gelateria Vernazza in the village of Vernazza. At this shop, you’ll find a wide variety of artisan gelatos in various flavors such as salted caramel, peanut butter and dark chocolate. All gelatos are made with fresh, organic and local ingredients. A variety of other homemade sweet treats are available including cookies and gluten-free alternatives.
Spend the night at Crêuza de Mä
If you’re seeking a relaxing, centrally located place to spend the night in Cinque Terre, staying at Crêuza de Mä in Riomaggiore is what to do in Cinque Terre. It really has everything you need. On site, you’ll find four scenic terraces, a solarium, two beautiful gardens, a hot tub and complimentary Wi-Fi. The rooms are equipped with air-conditioning, coffee facilities, minibars, bathrobes, slippers and flat-screen televisions. Did I mention that this lovely place overlooks the sea and features stunning views that can be enjoyed all around the property?
Visit the Center of Modern and Contemporary Art
La Spezia is the largest city close to Cinque Terre and is often used as a hub for day trips or multiple visits, as it is significantly cheaper. The city itself is a pleasant place to visit.
Located in La Spezia, the Center of Modern and Contemporary Art is a beautiful facility with three sections dedicated to both permanent and temporary exhibits showcasing modern art collections. The Civic Collection is a permanent one featuring artworks from 1933 onward. The Cozzani Collection and the Battolini Collection were donated by the Cozzani and Battolini families. There’s also a section situated on the center’s terrace.
Learn about local naval history at the Technical Naval Museum
Situated in Spezia, the Technical Naval Museum showcases the history of the naval operations in the province of La Spezia. Across two levels, you’ll see many exhibits featuring various artifacts including weapons and figureheads. The history covers the period between the 1500s and 1900s. The exterior garden features a memorial and other exhibits dedicated to naval operations.
Explore the pretty village of Portovenere
The historic fishing village of Portovenere is not one of the villages that make up the Cinque Terre region but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth checking out! This UNESCO World Heritage Site is not only a scenic place with incredible natural scenery, but it’s also home to many fascinating attractions.
Porto Venere Regional Natural Park is a protected area featuring nature trails, beaches and caves. Other attractions include the Church of St. Peter, the Sea Promenade, San Pietro Church and the Roman Villa of Varignano.
The easiest way to get to Porto Venere from the Cinque Terre villages is by boat – it’s one of the stops of the hop-on hop-off tour that goes all the way to La Spezia.
Walk or bike from Levanto to Bonassola
Looking for things to do in Cinque Terre when it rains? Take the train to Levanto – it’s a quick ride from Monterosso al Mare. The town itself is a nice place to visit, with colorful buildings, nice vistas and a great beach that – on rainy and windy days – is a favorite surfing spot. What’s important however is that in case of rain you can rent a bike or simply walk the coastal trail all the way to Bonassola – it goes through a series of tunnels where the old railway used to run until it was destroyed during WWII. Every time you get out of a tunnel you will catch a stunning view!