I remember a few years ago mentioning to my boyfriend that I would love to go to Cinque Terre one day. It looks so dreamy and enticing in photographs. It is literally picture perfect! I also imagined that it was potentially a pricey travel destination, with hoards of tourists flocking to its shores in the summer time. I never thought for a minute that my boyfriend would whisk me away for a surprise birthday weekend, but he did and it was totally romantic!
We made the 5 hour journey by car from Grenoble, France. The Italians tend to drive quite fast, so you could probably make the trip in about 4 and a half hours. Because you cannot drive directly into the villages, it is recommended to take the train in from larger nearby cities. You will not need a vehicle once you are there, as the villages are connected by train or accessible by ferry.
Where to Stay
Since it was a surprise, I did not take part in the accommodation or travel arrangements. I was really impressed that he planned all of this on his own! We stayed in a lovely Airbnb up on the hill top of Vernazza which over looked Corniglia. Our Airbnb was super affordable; we paid under 40 Euros per night!
I would highly recommend looking into Airbnb if you are on a budget! They have fantastic accommodations in some truly beautiful locations.
We drove the car as close as we could get to Vernazza. The roads are extremely narrow and wind their way down along the cliff side. It’s completely nerve wracking. I was seriously trying not to have a heart attack, but we survived the trek down! Once parked, we walked about 10 minutes into the picturesque village of Vernazza. Vernazza seems to be the most bustling of the 5 villages and a great starting point for navigating the area.
From Vernazza we took the ferry boat over to Monterosso. Monterosso is easily recognized for the prettiest orange beach umbrellas that line the shore front. We spent a fabulous afternoon basking in the sun and frolicking in the turquoise ocean.
This is the passenger ferry boat that takes you between the villages. On a gorgeous summer day, take the ferry boat. The scenery is spectacular which you may miss out on if you take the train.
That’s me frolicking..
We discovered that there was an alternative option to the ferry boat, which was an hour walk/hike along the cliff side back to Vernazza. It’s totally safe, and the views are spectacular! I would recommend proper foot wear as an alternative to flip flops. The hike was by no means flat..
Those stunning views I was telling you about..
Fresh squeezed lemonade anyone?
This lovely Italian gentleman was offering up for 1 Euro a delicious glass of fresh squeezed lemonade. We ran in to him about midway from Monterosso. It was a scorching hot day, and the lemonade was so refreshing!
There are an abundance of restaurants, cafes and gelato stands throughout the 5 villages. You will be overwhelmed with options. Keep in mind that the Italians are much like the Spanish who take their siesta in the late afternoon. Most restaurants may not reopen until 7 or 8pm. My advice to my fellow North American travellers is to have a late lunch or grab a light snack before 5pm. That should tide you over until dinner time!
For those on a budget, there is no shortage of pizza and pasta places! To this day, the best pizza and pasta I have ever indulged in were on a trip to Rome with my mom a few years back. The pizza was literally to die for and the pasta was second to none. Seriously. Amazing!
Can’t come to Italy without ordering Tiramisu for dessert. It’s heaven in your mouth!
This was our gorgeous view of Corniglia from our Airbnb. It was so beautiful and serene. If this isn’t convincing, then I’m not sure what is!
Cinque Terre is one of the most beautiful and romantic destinations I have had the pleasure to visit and explore. You can’t help but feel at ease admiring it’s pastel hued buildings, watching the rippling of the tides, exploring its lush green hillside and feeling the warmth of the sun as it kisses your skin.
If you are looking for a romantic european getaway, then Cinque Terre has got you covered.