Where to Still Find Magic in Cinque Terre

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A few years ago the Cinque Terre experienced a tumultuous storm resulting in landslides that cut off villages and literally buried Vernazza in mud and debris. Thankfully, the town has dug its way out and been restored to its former beauty. The unfortunate consequence, however, is the town, like the rest of the Cinque Terre, is now buried in tourists.

The Cinque Terre was one of the first places we visited away from home, and is primarily responsible for our love of travel. It is that good. So as painful as it is to say this, we’ve already strongly argued that it may be best that you not visit these 5 majestic lands at all, as the massive crowds often spoil them beyond hope of redemption. However, we understand the allure of this place, and its power to pull you in. So if you must, here are our tips for how to visit Cinque Terre like a pro.

Find a room and stay a few nights

With so many tourists flooding the villages each day, the best times to experience the magic of Cinque Terre is before they arrive, or after they leave. For that reason, our #1 tip is to rent a room for a few nights. A place this magical cannot be captured with a quick tour and a couple photos. It has to be experienced. To do that, you need to invest some time.

Plan how you’ll spend your day

You’ll be tempted to sleep late and linger around the harbor in the morning, but the first trains begin dropping off tourists around 9 AM, and it is a constant flood until 6 PM. After a relaxing, but early, morning enjoying breakfast by the harbor, retreat up to the hilltops for beautiful cliffside hiking trails and even quainter towns that still hold on to that ‘undiscovered’ magic. Here is a loose itinerary:

  • Wake up early, nap during the heat of the day, and stay up late.

  • Spend the midmorning hours in the smaller villages high up in the hills

  • Hike the cliffside trails

Visit during shoulder season

Though you risk inclement weather and closed trails, what you gain in lesser crowds will more than compensate for any of these potential losses. Shoulder season continues to get pushed earlier/later, but typically describes April-May and September-October.

If you can incorporate these ideas into your visit, you’ll not only have a much better experience, but you’ll contribute to a more sustainable tourism structure for this amazing wonder.