The best things to do in Cinque Terre include a visit to Vernazza

7 Best Things To Do in Cinque Terre on a Romantic Couples Getaway

Cinque Terre, which translates to “Five Lands”, is made up of five villages on the northwestern coast of Italy in the Liguria region.

While each of the villages is teeming with tourists throughout the day, there is a much quieter romantic vibe in the evening as day trippers leave. You’ll be happy to hear that USNews Travel ranks Cinque Terre as the 6th best honeymoon destination in Europe. Time to start planning and then packing.

Hotel in Cinque Terre

Are YOU Looking for the Best Things To Do in Cinque Terre for Your Couple’s Getaway?

Swimming in Cinque Terre

If you are looking for fun AND romance along with the best things to do in Cinque Terre on a getaway for couples, plan to stay for at least two to three days. Especially if you really want to capture the magic of Cinque Terre… and each other.

Weekend getaways for couples are the perfect way to add a little spark to your relationship. How?

  • Getaway from the responsibilities of work and home
  • Gives you time away from your children
  • One-on-one time to focus on each other
  • There’s no set routine so you can sleep in or stay up late
  • Show affection and shake up your sex life
  • Take time to talk
  • Enjoy the anticipation of travel
  • Step out of your comfort zone together
  • Practice some relationship self-care
  • Get a couple’s massage
  • Take travel selfies together
  • Have fun
  • Build great memories

>> Related: Romantic Instagram Quotes for Couples Who Love to Travel

How Do You Pronounce Cinque Terre?

The correct pronunciation of Cinque Terre is cheen-kweh teh-rreh.

Listen to the pronunciation a few times to get it down.

Overview: The Five Villages of Cinque Terre

Cinque Terre was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1997 and became a National Park on October 6, 1999.

Cinque Terre features terraced agricultural land and colorful homes that seem to be built one on top of another as they cascade down rugged cliffs along the Mediterranean Sea.

Approximately 4,000 residents call Cinque Terre home, however the area is an attraction for around three million tourists every year. People arrive for day-trips, weekend getaways, family vacations, friend trips, and for a little sunbathing along the coast.

5 towns of Cinque Terre map
5 Towns of Cinque Terre Map Courtesy of Google Maps

Things to Do In Monterosso al Mare

Chris and I chose Monterosso as our home base for our three-day getaway. For us, it was the best town to stay in in Cinque Terre. We arrived on the afternoon train from Milan and were immediately enamored with the views of the coast and Mediterranean Sea.

As we exited the train station with our bags in tow, we walked right out to the waterfront area of the “newer” section of Monterosso. I couldn’t help but take pictures.

Known for the great beaches, if sunbathing is on your wish list of things to do while visiting Cinque Terre, Monterosso is the perfect option. It also makes is one of the best places to swim in Cinque Terre.

We found the best accomodations in Cinque Terre in a vacation rental right in the heart of the town.

>> Related: Paragliding Switzerland’s Mt. Pilatus: An Epic Adventure for Couples

Vernazza Things To Do

Hiking from Monterosso to Vernazza is one of the things to do in Cinque Terre

Vernazza is a popular village with a little something for everyone.

This village boasts the only natural harbor along the coastline of the five villages. Beyond a small area of beach for sunbathing and playing in the water, there are plenty of places and restaurants to do a little people watching.

Hiking from Monterosso to Vernazza is one of the best things to do in Cinque Terre if you want to see the amazing vistas of each of the villages.

Things To Do In Corniglia

Escape many of the crowds as you climb the 382 steps up to the village. Not to worry, there is a bus that will transport you up the hill as well if that many steps are daunting.

Corniglia is the only village that does not have waterfront access. One thing you CAN do is wander through the narrow streets to see picturesque viewpoints, visit tourist shops, and find something fresh and tasty to eat.

Visiting Corniglia is one of the things to do in Cinque Terre

Things To Do In Manarola, Italy

Manarola offers fabulous views.

Although there is not a real beach in Manarola, locals and tourists love it for some of the best deep-water swimming around.

Like the other villages, Manarola is all ups and downs, with steep narrow alleys to explore.

Best Things To Do In Cinque Terre and the Most Recognizable Village of Riomaggiore

Visiting Riomaggiore is one of the things to do in Cinque Terre

Riomaggiore is the largest of the five villages. It is the most southern village and is closest to La Spezia. It offers plenty of fine dining opportunities and a great nightlife.

If you have seen Cinque Terre in pictures or postcards before, you have most likely seen the village of Riomaggiore.

How to Get From One Village to Another

Taking the Cinque Terre Express train is the best way to travel from one village to another. The Cinque Terre Express runs approximately every 20 minutes from mid March until 1st of November.

Cinque Terre express train

Trekking Card

If your plan for things to do in Cinque Terre involves hiking between the villages, you can purchase the Cinque Terre Trekking Card which gives you access to all footpaths.

Please note * The only trails that require the trekking card (all other trails are free) are:

  • From Monterosso to Vernazza
  • From Vernazza to Corniglia

Be sure to check the website for up-to-date information on whether or not trails are open to the public. Some trails are currently closed.

Train Card

The Cinque Terre Train Card, on the other hand, allows you to access the hiking trails AND gives unlimited access on the Cinque Terre Express trains on the Levanto—Cinque Terre—La Spezia line. Some discounts are available.

The Cinque Terre Cards can be purchased at:

Cinque Terre Train Schedule

7 Best Things To Do in Cinque Terre on a Couple’s Getaway

Sunbathe at the Beach

Sunbathing in Monterosso

Monterosso has the longest stretches of beaches of the five villages. It really is the best beach town in Cinque Terre. These beaches are located in both the new part of the village as well as in the old town area.

Both sections offer traditional beaches where you can rent umbrellas and a lounging chair OR find a free section of beach where you can spread out with your own beach towel, chair and umbrella.

Explore All Five Villages

If you plan to visit the coast and are looking for the best things to do in Cinque Terre, you really ought to plan to visit all of the villages. Each one is a little different from the others and offers a variety of sightseeing options.

Hike from Monterosso to Vernazza

If you plan to hike during you visit, I recommend you plan for an early start, especially in the summer months. The best time to hike in Cinque Terre is during the morning hours. You’ll find fewer crowds, cooler temperatures, and less humidity.

Signage at the beginning of the hike makes it clear that hiking in flip flops can result in a fine. The family of four in front of us, three of whom were wearing flip flops, turned around at the pay station to avoid being fined. Getting fined is NOT one of the best things to do in Cinque Terre!

Hiking from Monterosso to Vernazza is one of the things to do in Cinque Terre

The narrow path is not easy with steps going up from the very start. There are many fitness levels, ages and agility levels of tourists who hike this trail. The hike is 2.2 miles with an elevation gain of 705 feet.

Take time to enjoy the journey. Stop every so often to take a few pictures and selfies. The views are amazing and as you get closer to Vernazza, you see the brightly colored iconic village. The colorful homes, the boats, the people swimming…all fantastic.

The hike takes about an hour and a half for the average hiker. You’ll hike past quaint homes and terraced farms of olive trees along the way. Be sure to bring plenty of water and wear sunscreen.

>> Related: The 10 Essentials for Your Best Day Hikes

Enjoy Delicious Food

Dining in Monterosso

Did you know that the region of Cinque Terre is the birthplace of pesto? The recipe for pesto calls for grinding basil (which flourishes in the temperate seaside climate) with pine nuts, garlic, two varieties of cheese (half parmigiano cow cheese and half pecorino sheep cheese), and olive oil. Pesto is eaten with pasta, in lasagna or as a spread for your bread.

One of the fun things to do in Cinque Terre during your visit is to take a pesto-making class in nearby Levanto.

You can also enjoy all types of pasta during your stay, anchovies and fresh seafood, focaccia bread, pizza, and of course… gelato.

Be sure to make dinner reservations in advance. All of the tourists will be looking for the best places to eat in Cinque Terre. Just like you!

La Cucina Italiana recommends these Top 10 Favorite Restaurants in Cinque Terre and close by:

  1. Ristorante Miky, Monterosso
  2. La Cantina di Miky, Monterosso
  3. Agriturismo Missanega, Monterosso
  4. Causa Persa, Monterosso
  5. L’ancora della Tortuga, Monterosso
  6. Osteria a Cantina de Mananan, Corniglia
  7. Da Aristide, Manarola
  8. Rio Bistrot, Riomaggiore
  9. Fuori Rotta, Riomaggiore
  10. Agave, Framura (just three stops from Monterosso on the local train)

Savor the Gelato

You can’t come to Italy and not try gelato. Italy is also the birthplace of this delectable treat. Perhaps it should be #1 on your list of things to do in Cinque Terre… everyday.

You may be entranced by the brilliantly colored gelato, but if you are looking for an authentic-tasting gelato, follow these tips:

  • Look for subdued earthy colored gelato indicating the gelatos are handmade, fresh and contain natural flavors and ingredients such as fruit and nuts
  • Brightly color gelato is full of chemicals to preserve them (the same goes for the fluffy-looking gelatos in the cooler that are likely mass produced elsewhere)
  • Check the banana gelato. If it is bright yellow, move on. If it has a grayish color, it was most likely made with real bananas
  • Look for the sign “fatta in casa”. This means that the gelato was made fresh and in-house
Eating Gelato is one of the things to do in Cinque Terre

For some of the best gelato along the coast, try Alberto Gelateria in Corniglia or Gelateria Vernazza.

Enjoy Market Days

If you love to wander hand-in-hand with your sweetheart through local markets, search for vintage treasures, and find fresh produce and goods, there are a number of markets in and around the villages of Cinque Terre.

  • Vernazza Market on Tuesday
  • Monterosso Market on Thursday
  • Friday Market in La Spezia (about a ten minute train ride from Riomaggiore)
  • Food Market in La Spezia – open every morning until 1 pm (except Sundays)
  • Friday Market in Chiavari (about one hour from Monterosso)

If you are staying in a vacation rental and cooking your own meals, you may wish to stop by the La Spezia food market first.

Book a Sunset Boat Cruise as One of the Best Things to Do In Cinque Terre

Sunset in Cinque Terre

Chris and I found many sunset cruise options during our stay in Monterosso as we walked along the harbor. I imagine in the summer months that you would need to book in advance to guarantee your romantic evening cruise when planning for a boat tour in Cinque Terre.

As we traveled to Cinque Terre close to the end of the summer season, we were able to book a romantic evening boat cruise the day before. We were the only ones on the cruise and enjoyed asking our captain questions and getting in close to the villages for unobstructed photos.

>> Related: 10 Getaways and Adventures as a Couple

Where to Stay in Cinque Terre

You’ll want to give some consideration on where to stay during your visit to Cinque Terre, and more specifically consider which village will work best for you.

  • Do you love the beach? Pick Monterosso
  • Do you love to play in the water, wander through amazing alleyways, and hike? Vernazza may be your best bet.
  • Would a quiet village with amazing sea views be your priority when planning things to do in Cinque Terre? How about Corniglia?
  • Manarola has great views, great food, and great deep-water swimming.
  • If you want to be close to markets in La Spezia, Riomaggiore is a good option. It also has a great nightlife if you love to party together.

Gear for Taking Great Travel Photos

View of beaches in Monterosso, Cinque Terre

Whatever your skill level with a camera, be prepared for some amazing photos while visiting all of the Cinque Terre villages.

Canon Powershot G1 – This camera is great if you leave the camera in AUTO mode and work well with a point and shoot. It does give you the option to switch to MANUAL mode if you choose.

Canon powershot G1 camera

Canon T8i – If you are just beginning your photography journey and want to switch back and forth between Auto, Aperture Priority, or Manual Mode, this makes a great entry level DSLR.

Canon T8i camera

Canon 6d Mark II – This is a great camera for advanced photographers who are comfortable shooting in Manual Mode. You’ll get some outstanding shots of the Mediterranean coastline and the colorful Cinque Terre villages. Just know that it can get heavy around your neck if you are sightseeing all day long.

Canon 6d Mark II

Smart Phone – The camera on your phone may be amazing. If this is your picture-taking device, you will surely capture some great images. Smart phones are perfect for those days when you don’t want to carry bigger cameras.

Apple iPhone 11

For the best tourist-free photos, you may wish to arrive early in the morning or wait until the evening when many of the day trippers are gone. Whatever you choose as your camera as you explore ALL of the best things to do in Cinque Terre, you will want to have the battery charged and ready to go for the day!

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Final Thoughts on the Best Things to do In Cinque Terre for a Couples Getaway

There are plenty of Cinque Terre must see moments:

  • Beautiful scenery
  • Incredible photo opportunities
  • Colorful homes
  • Perfect couples getaway
  • Awe-inspiring sunsets
  • Pesto, pizza and pasta

The five villages make a perfect destination if you are looking for a romantic getaway with your sweetheart. And what makes them even better, there are no cars in Cinque Terre.

Be inspired by these posts about Italy…

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12 days ago

That pasta looks absolutely divine!!! I would love to visit this gorgeous place. Would have never guessed that that’s how you pronounce it! Thank you so much for this blog.

12 days ago

That’s interesting how the gray banana gelato would be the authentic one! I would love to go to Cinque Terre too with my husband, especially because we want to go to Lake Como nearby, haha. Love pesto too. The views are gorgeous!

Earth Jubilee
12 days ago

The sunset boat cruise sounds like an amazingly relaxing idea. Your ideas here sound like they make for a great romantic getaway. I still have never been to Cinque Terre before. Thanks for sharing your experience.

12 days ago

This area is one on our DO list, having familia in La Spezia makes it a great area for us to explore…thank you for your tips and insights

12 days ago

These towns are ridiculously pretty. If my husband and I could have our couple getaway there, I would definitely stroll in the markets. That’s my favorite thing to do in Italy.

11 days ago

We wanted to go to Cinque Terre last year when we went to Florence but then we didn’t have enough time for it. I’m gutted that we had to skip it, it looks amazing! Next time I’m in Italy, I’m going there for sure.

Marian Fink
Marian Fink
11 days ago

This is so thorough for planning a vacation. Thanks!

11 days ago

Cinque Terre is on my bucket list and I would LOVE to do a romantic getaway there with the spouse! This post is a great resource. Definitely saving for future travel planning!

Samuel Toil
11 days ago

I’ve known Italy for the likes of Rome and other popular destinations, but you have openned my eyes to a whole new attraction in the country. I will be adding it up to my vacation list in due course!

JJ Jordan
10 days ago

I love Cinque terre, such a magical place! I think Manarola was my favourite of the villages

10 days ago

I’ve heard only good things about Cinque Terre! Looks gorgeous! 🙂
The gelato shop would be a must visit for me!

Linda Jane
10 days ago

A romantic holiday in Cinque Terre looks great! Thanks so much for the inspiration & tips!

10 days ago

I love Cinque Terre. I only stayed a couple of days as I was on a tour but I’d love to go back – I think the place deserves at least 2 weeks of my time to enjoy the beaches and the food!

Jenn | By Land and Sea
Jenn | By Land and Sea
10 days ago

We spent some time just north of here in Genoa. We had the option to go to Portofino, but elected to stay and explore Genoa itself. I would love to visit some of these spots though – they look magical!

9 days ago

Your post makes me want to go to Cinque Terre even more. Looks like stunning scenery and delicious food. I might wait a couple years to visit though. Hopefully revenge travel will die down a little – it always seems so busy!

9 days ago

Beautiful views and amazing food!

9 days ago

My husband and I loved going to Cinque Terre on our honeymoon! I would love to go back and enjoy more of these activities like a sunset boat ride!

8 days ago

Cinque Terre looks so picturesque! I haven’t travelled to Italy yet and I’m wondering what city would be the best place to see first. This area is for sure on my bucket list:)