Visiting Cinque Terre, Italy on a Budget

Vernazza, Cinque Terre Italy
Vernazza, Cinque Terre Italy

Cinque Terre, Italy is one of the most picturesque places in the world. When you see beautiful coast-line pictures from Italy, Cinque Terre is often where is pictured.  Colorful houses line the pristine coastline here. Cinque Terre literally means the five villages in Italian. Hiking trails (and trains) link these 5 villages (South to North: Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza and Monterosso al Mare) and offer beautiful views of the coastline/sea. Although these coastal villages can be quite pricey, if planned correctly, you can visit Cinque Terrre on a budget. We would recommend spending at least 3 days in Cinque Terre if you want to do some hiking and relaxing. Here is our guide on visiting Cinque Terre, Italy on a budget.  

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Note: This blog post was written based on a trip taken in July

What to do in Cinque Terre

Hike along the Cinque Terre Coastline

Hiking trails link all 5 of the villages in Cinque Terre and are really the main attraction here.  The Sentiero Azzurro trail has 4 sections connecting these 5 villages.  

Hiking Views, Cinque Terre
Hiking Views, Cinque Terre

We hiked to Monterosso from Vernazza (2.2 miles one-way, 705 feet of elevation gain) and back as well as to Cornlgia from Vernazza (2.1 miles one-way, 501 feet of elevation gain) and back. Both hikes offered VERY pretty views.  If you have time, we would recommend doing both.  We actually did the hike to Corniglia from Vernazza twice because it was so pretty (and not to mention a great workout). 

Hiking View, Cinque Terre
Hiking View, Cinque Terre

These hikes both took several hours and involved a decent amount of elevation. Be sure to bring plenty of water and snacks. Alternatively, stop for a snack (we’d suggest fresh Italian gelato or pizza) in the town before turning around.  Another option is to take the train back so you do not have to hike both ways (a train runs back and front through the towns regularly throughout the day). The train is a great option if you are short on time too. Be mindful that these trails can be closed at times for repair – check prior to your trip in case you need to alter your plans. The trails linking the 2 most southern towns, Riomaggiore and Manarola, were closed during our visit due to erosion and need for repairs.

Tip: Hike earlier in the morning to avoid the crowds and the heat

Cornlgia, Cinque Terre
Cornlgia, Cinque Terre

Dine on the coastline

There are plenty of restaurants right on the coastline with awesome views. These places are more pricey than more inland places so you probably do not want to do this for every meal but we would highly recommend doing it for a splurge meal. See where to eat below.

Go to the beach to relax or swim

Beach in Vernazza, Cinque Terre
Beach in Vernazza, Cinque Terre

There is a beach in each town.  Whichever town you end up staying in, we would recommend going to that beach. Monterresso has the largest beach if you are looking for a big beach scene, but we liked relaxing by the quaint beach in Vernazza. 

Where/What to eat in Cinque Terre

Belforte in Vernazza

Right on the coastline with fresh seafood and spectacular views

Tip: Need a reservation, even for a weekday AND only cash is accepted

Fresh seafood

You are right on the Mediterranean Sea – take advantage of the seafood and how fresh it will be. We had a different type of fresh fish everyday and were not disappointed. 

You must also try Gelato and fresh Pizza while in Italy. See Rome, Italy Quick Guide for more information on these.

Where to stay in Cinque Terre

Stay in Vernazza

Vernazza, Cinque Terre
Vernazza, Cinque Terre

We found Vernazza to be the perfect spot to stay and unwind. It is in between some of the more busy villages and given its middle location, it is a good access point to go both directions up/down the coast.

Also, all the trails were open to the north and south from this location when we visited.  At the time we were there, the trails between the two most southern villages were closed (due to erosion) so we were glad to be in Vernazza where all the hiking trails were open.  

This Airbnb, Gianna Room Vernazza, was the perfect spot for us to unwind, had stellar views and was budget friendly.

Use this link to get up to $65 off your first Airbnb

Tip: Book your accommodations early if going in the summer. We were going in July and booked our accommodations in March and found very limited availability even this far in advance.  

We hope this guide helps you plan your trip to Cinque Terre on a budget. Make sure to visit Rome (see Rome, Italy Quick Guide) and Venice (see Venice, Italy Quick Guide) while in Italy as well.  Anything you’d add to our guide on visiting Cinque Terre, Italy on a budget? We’d love to hear your feedback and questions.  Please leave us a comment!

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Planning a multi-city trip to Europe? See our How to Plan Your First Europe Trip on a Budget guide for more tips on how to do this.

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