Before you go – deciding where to stay:
The Cinque Terre is formed by 5 little villages (Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza, Monterosso) connected by a railway on the beautiful Italian Mediterranean coast. The distance between each of these little towns vary from 2 to 4 minutes by train. Finding a place to stay can be really challenging and expensive if you want to stay in one of the 5 little towns, this is why staying in La Spezia, a neighboring city just 8 minutes away, makes the most sense.
- La Spezia is a real city, equipped with everything you need, but the main attraction is the train station – that’s how you will easily reach the Cinque Terre. There are plenty of options of places to stay in La Spezia, making room on your budget and making sense logistic-wise.
- The train ride from La Spezia to Riomaggiore is only 8 minutes long and costs around €2 per person (kids younger than 4 don’t pay).
- Corniglia is another town that offers good accommodation prices. Be careful though, it is a very steep, hilly city, with lots of stairs everywhere you want to go. I do NOT recommend staying in Corniglia if you have kids (or if you are bringing a large suitcase).
* I recommend stay at Affittacamere Casa Danè in La Spezia. It is right above the train station. Very clean and well designed. It was surprisingly quiet for being right above the train station. I don~t think we ever even heard a train.
The 5 villages
Riomaggiore is not the most beautiful city of the Cinque Terre but it is comfortable to walk around, and known for having great restaurants.
Arriving in Manarola by ferry is breathtaking. Explore the city and head to restaurant Nessun Dorma. You don’t necessarily need to eat there (although I do recommend that) but you just have to check out the views from the opposite cliff. Amazingly enough there is a playground for kids nearby and from that spot you will have the best sunset views of Cinque Terre.
One of the most beautiful views of the Cinque Terre can be found there. It’s at the trail-head to Monterosso. Let your husband take care of the kids for 15 minutes (leave them in a Gelateria) and go pursue the most sought after picture of Liguria! If your kids are like mine they will want to spend time at the beach, Vernazza has a great calm small patch of sandy beach. Not as beautiful as Monterosso, but perfect for kids. Enjoy the rest of your time strolling around and exploring the streets of this charming town.
Monterosso is the 5th village. That’s where the best sandy beaches are! You can choose between finding a spot at the public part of the beach or paying €15 per day (prices vary according to season) to use an umbrella and a chair on the private beach. Spend your morning and afternoon absorbing some vitamin sea, let your kids enjoy the wave-free ocean. After a few hours you will get hungry. Time to get a delicious focaccia (typical from this region of Italy) or a fritto misto (mouthwatering mix of deep-fried anchovies, shrimp and calamari) to go.
*People here rarely sit down on restaurants to eat during lunch. ‘To go food’ can be found everywhere. You can eat it at the beach or sitting on a bench, by the shade, enjoying the ocean view.