Cinque Terre in 3 Days: Your Best Itinerary

Are you ready to take on an unforgettable adventure to one of the most picturesque destinations in Italy? Look no further than Cinque Terre! Better yet, Cinque Terre in 3 days – the perfect amount of time to enjoy its charm.

This incredible destination in Italy is a string of five stunning coastal villages nestled along the Ligurian coastline. With its colourful houses perched on cliff-sides, crystal-clear waters, and delicious local cuisine and wine. Cinque Terre is a dream come true for anyone seeking a romantic, relaxing or adventurous getaway.

Many travellers ask me “How many days in Cinque Terre is enough?” I stayed in Cinque Terre for 3 nights allowing me to experience 3 full days in Cinque Terre and I think it’s the ideal amount of time.

Join me on a 3-day Cinque Terre itinerary – a journey to explore the beauty and charm of this magical place. Let’s get started!

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Overview of Your 3 Day Cinque Terre Itinerary

sun hitting colourful buildings in cinque terre italy

Before we jump into the Cinque Terre itinerary 3 days adventure, let me share some important reminders for you.

It’s customizable to suit you!

  • I stayed in Monterosso al Mare, if you’re not, simply swap out Monterosso al Mare and replace it with the village you are staying in.
  • Adjust this itinerary from 3 days to 2 days in Cinque Terre by simply adding an extra village on Day 1 and Day 2.

It’s personalized for you!

  • Instead of this Cinque Terre 3 day itinerary being very prescriptive on what to do and when, I have purposely divided it into morning and afternoon/evening with suggested things to do. You won’t be able to do it all, but it gives you the freedom to choose your own adventure.
  • Select the activities you like to do, and go at the pace to which you would like to travel.

Day 1 of 3 Days Cinque Terre

Morning in La Spezia

train on rock cliff with mountain on 3 day cinque terre itinerary

Let’s start your 3-day Cinque Terre itinerary here!

Welcome to La Spezia, the gateway to Cinque Terre, the largest coastal city in the Liguria region of Italy. To start your day off right, head to the historic city centre. I always like to start my day by popping into a local bakery for a fresh, warm croissant or cornetto and Italian espresso.

Then take a stroll around Old Town and soak up the atmosphere of its charming streets and multiple piazzas before heading to the nearby Castello San Giorgio. This imposing fortress has been guarding the city since the 13th century and is a must-visit for history buffs.

Climb to the top for stunning panoramic views of the Gulf of La Spezia and the surrounding mountains. Because visiting Cinque Terre is all about those sweeping views, at least it was for me!

Now, it’s time to take the train to Cinque Terre where you’ll be for the remainder of the time.

Travel tips: all ways of getting to Cinque Terre have La Spezia as the meeting point. You’ll read more about this in the section About: Visiting Cinque Terre below.

Afternoon and Evening in Monterosso al Mare

Hop on the train and continue your journey to Monterosso al Mare, one of the five stunning villages of Cinque Terre. The train ride itself is a treat, winding through tunnels and offering breathtaking views of the Ligurian coastline.

Travel tips: the train does get hot and crowded if you are travelling during the peak summer months. That was not my experience when I was there in April.

As you step off the train, you will find yourself in the lively Fegina neighbourhood or New Town (the main beach area).

Monterosso is the only flat village in the region, offering not just one but two stunning beaches – a soft and sandy one and another is smooth pebbles. The neighbourhood is just one of the two distinct neighbourhoods in Monterosso, the other being the historic Vecchio or Old Town. Both are connected by a picturesque promenade and a tunnel that cuts through the rock.

Choose your own adventure:

orange building with green shutters in cinque terre itinerary 3 days
  • Stroll along the promenade and take in the mesmerizing views of the Ligurian Sea
  • Unwind on the beach and take a dip in the crystal-clear waters
  • Explore the colourful streets of Old Town lined with artisanal shops, gelato stands, and charming cafes
  • Enjoy wine tasting as I did at Monterosso’s oldest wine bar, Enoteca Internazionale Wine Bar
  • Admire the 14th-century Church of San Giovanni Battista, known for being the oldest church in Cinque Terre
  • Check out an ancient ruin by visiting Sant’Antonio del Mesco
  • Enjoy a leisurely lunch and dinner in Monterosso, keep reading to see my restaurant recommendations
  • And, when the sun begins to set, find a cozy spot to watch the sky turn shades of pink and orange over the sparkling Mediterranean sea, it’s magical

Being a food lover’s paradise, there is no shortage of restaurants in Cinque Terre. Seafood is caught daily. Pasta is made by hand and often served with fresh pesto. For a quick lunch or afternoon snack try farinata, a chickpea pancake, and focaccia, a type of flatbread that is crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, topped with olive oil, salt, and rosemary. It sounds simple, but it’s oh-so-good.

Then there’s the wine. Several local wineries produce crisp and refreshing white wines, including the famous Sciacchetra, a sweet dessert wine made from dried grapes to end your delicious meal.

For restaurants, I recommend these, and be sure to make a reservation:

Day 2 of 3 Days Cinque Terre

Morning in Corniglia

On day two of your Cinque Terre adventure, the next stop is Corniglia, the smallest and perhaps the most unique of the five Cinque Terre villages.

To reach Corniglia, you can either take a scenic hike along the coastline or hop on the local train that runs between the villages.

Once you arrive in Corniglia, you’ll immediately notice its distinctive character. Unlike the other villages, Corniglia sits atop a rocky promontory, surrounded by vineyards and terraced hills.

To reach the village itself, you’ll need to climb a steep staircase of 382 steps that winds through narrow streets and charming homes. The effort is worth it, as Corniglia rewards you with stunning panoramic views of the coastline and the surrounding hills.

Speaking of views, Corniglia is also home to two incredible viewpoints that offer some of the most stunning vistas in all of Cinque Terre.

The first is the Belvedere di Santa Maria, located just a short walk from the village center. From here, you’ll enjoy panoramic views of the rocky coastline and the turquoise waters of the Mediterranean.

The second viewpoint, a bit more off the beaten path, is La Torre. It’s a medieval tower that once served as a lookout for incoming pirates and enemy ships. To reach La Torre, you’ll need to climb a steep staircase that leads you to Piazza Taragio. The tower offers 360-degree views of the entire Cinque Terre coastline. From here, you’ll feel as though you’re on top of the world, with the rugged cliffs, colourful houses, and sparkling sea stretching out before you. Trust me, it’s worth the climb!

Looking for rock climbing around Cinque Terre – start in Corniglia. The cliffs offer challenging routes for experienced climbers. The cliffs surrounding Riomaggiore are a popular spot for rock climbing.

Afternoon and Evening in Vernazza

colourful houses perched on side of mountain in cinque terre itinerary 3 days

After a delightful morning in Corniglia, it’s time to continue your Cinque Terre adventure by making your way to Vernazza, one of the most picturesque and charming villages in the region. Hop back on the Cinque Terre train.

Vernazza is nestled in a small bay, surrounded by rocky cliffs and dotted with colourful buildings and fishing boats. It’s a scene straight out of a postcard, and it’s easy to see why Vernazza is considered one of the most beautiful villages in all of Italy.

Choose your own adventure:

  • Stroll along the waterfront promenade, soaking up the village’s relaxed and laid-back atmosphere
  • Visit the harbour, it’s a great spot to watch the boats come and go while admiring the sea views
  • Walk along the picturesque streets and admire the colourful houses
  • Head up to the Castello Doria, a medieval fortress perched on a hill above the village. From here, you’ll enjoy breathtaking views of Vernazza
  • Visit the Church of Santa Margherita di Antiochia, a beautiful Gothic-style church that dates back to the 13th century. Inside, you’ll find a wealth of stunning frescoes and artwork
  • Hike along the trails – one leading to Monterosso and the other to Corniglia (note: both require about 2-3 hours to go one-way)
  • Join a small tour that takes you to a panoramic vineyard along the Cinque Terre hiking route for some wine tasting and a tour of the winery.
  • Enjoy a late-night dinner and sunset at Gianni Franzi

Day 3 of 3 Days Cinque Terre

Morning in Riomaggiore

colourful houses in mountain side while 3 days in cinque terre

Buongiorno! Today’s adventure takes you to the last two beautiful villages in Cinque Terre, the first being Riomaggiore.

Instead of taking the train, let’s arrive by boat! As you arrive, you’ll be struck by its charming harbour, colourful houses, and stunning cliffs that rise up from the sea.

Choose your own adventure:

  • Wander the village and its narrow streets and colourful houses
  • Explore the Castle of Riomaggiore, a medieval castle located at the top of the village that offers breathtaking views of the sea
  • Visit the Church of San Giovanni Battista, a beautiful 14th-century church with stunning frescoes and intricate carvings
  • Pop into the little artisan shops full of handmade pottery, jewellery, and other crafts
  • Book a table on the terrace of the Rio Bistrot and enjoy a leisurely lunch while overlooking the quaint harbour
  • Join a small group tour of the local vineyard & wine cellar tour and sample 5 TripleA wines.

When it’s time to head to Manarola, instead of taking the train walk along the Via dell’Amore as I did.

This is a romantic and picturesque path that connects Riomaggiore to the nearby village of Manarola. The walk takes about 20-30 minutes and offers stunning views of the sea and the coastline. Well, be sure to add time for photo-taking!

Afternoon and Evening in Manarola

As you arrive in Manarola, on foot from Riomaggiore, you’ll immediately be awe-struck by how stunning this village is! This is the most Instagrammable of all the villages.

Choose your own adventure:

  • Explore the charming streets and alleys, which wind their way through the village and offer a glimpse into the local way of life
  • Enjoy a gelato as you soak up the atmosphere in Piazzale Papa Innocenzo, a lively piazza
  • Visit the Church of San Lorenzo, a beautiful Gothic-style church that dates back to the 14th century
  • Admire the views from the many scenic viewpoints offered just above the town
  • Stop at one of the many local shops offering a sample of homemade limoncello
  • Sip on an aperitif at Nessun Dorma bar while taking in the spectacular views, or better yet, watch the sunset
  • Enjoy a late candlelit dinner at Da Aristide located beside the fabled Via dell’Amore, and reminisce on your wonderful time in Cinque Terre
  • Take a top-rated tour that allows you to sip on 3 different local wines at a wine bar while learning about the wine-making process in Cinque Terre
colourful houses perched on rock with sea while spending 3 days Cinque Terre

There’s no denying it – Cinque Terre is a bucket-list destination!

Is Cinque Terre worth visiting? A resounding yes! The unmatched beauty and unique character of those five colourful villages perched on rugged cliffs offer breathtaking views of the Ligurian Seat.

If you ask any traveller to name their favourite of the 5 towns, they likely will respond with, “It’s impossible, they’re all so beautiful“. That’s my answer anyway!

The UNESCO Heritage Cinque Terre is the ideal destination for…

  • hikers – the scenic coastal trails are jaw-dropping
  • couples – looking for a romantic and relaxing getaway
  • beach bums – relax on the incredible beaches
  • foodies – an abundance of seafood and local wine
  • photographers – no matter the skill level, there’s no bad photo of Cinque Terre
  • rock climbers – those seeking Cinque Terre rock climbing adventures enjoy the challenge

How to Get to Cinque Terre from Florence, Milan or Rome

I have shared both a train option or rent a car option, if you choose to rent a car you can’t drive to any of the towns in Cinque Terre. I would advise you to drop it off in La Spezia. Although you could take a bus from Florence, Milan or Rome it’s not time efficient.

I, like most travellers travelled to Cinque Terre from Florence, some for only a day.

How to Get to Cinque Terre from Florence

  • From Florence to Cinque Terre by train. Take a train from Florence Santa Maria Novella Station to La Spezia and arrive in 1 hour and 47 minutes
  • To Cinque Terre from Florence by car. Rent a car and drive to La Spezia and arrive in 1 hour and 50 minutes

How to Get to Cinque Terre from Milan

  • From Milan to Cinque Terre by train. Take a train from Milan Centrale Station to Monterosso al Mare and arrive in 3 hours
  • To Cinque Terre from Milan by car. Rent a car and drive to La Spezia and arrive in 2.5 hours

How to Get to Cinque Terre from Rome

  • From Rome to Cinque Terre by train. Take a train from Rome Termini Station to La Spezia and arrive in 3 hours
  • To Cinque Terre from Rome by car. Rent a car and drive to La Spezia arriving in about 4 hours

How to Get around Cinque Terre

Cinque Terre is interconnected by a series of hiking trails and trains.

Taking the Cinque Terre Regional Train is the most popular and efficient way to get from one town to the next. You can purchase a Cinque Terre Card to easily hop on/off the train for your three days in Cinque Terre.

Many come to Cinque Terre for scenic hiking! There are several hiking trails that connect the five towns, offering stunning views of the coast and the surrounding hillsides. The trails fall within Cinque Terre National Park vary in difficulty, so be sure to check their ratings before you start and the weather conditions. Parts of the trail were closed when I was visiting due to high amounts of rain.

If you want to see Cinque Terre from a different perspective, take a boat tour along the coast! A boat tour departs from all villages except for Corniglia.

FAQ About Cinque Terre in 3 Days

sea with rock shore and colourful houses in cinque terre itinerary 3 days

Is 3 days in Cinque Terre too much?

3 days in Cinque Terre is not too much. In three days you can explore all 5 of the towns, hike the trails, and relax by the sea.

How many days are needed in Cinque Terre?

The ideal number of days in Cinque Terre is 2-3 days. This allows you enough time to see all five of the towns, enjoy a hike and boat ride and try the local cuisine.

Where should I stay in Cinque Terre?

I recommend staying in Monterosso al Mare where there are more accommodations and dining options out of all of the 5 villages. One such property is Marymar – offering a bedroom with an inner courtyard view mere steps to Monterosso Old Town beach.

How long does it take to walk the 5 villages of Cinque Terre?

To walk the 5 villages of Cinque Terre will take you 4 to 6 hours depending on your pace and how many times you’ll be tempted to stop and take photos.

Is Amalfi or Cinque Terre better?

Both the Amalfi and Cinque Terre are scenic coastal destinations. Amalfi is known for its dramatic coastline and luxury, whereas Cinque Terre is known for its colourful villages and incredible hiking.

What is the best month to visit Cinque Terre?

The best time to visit Cinque Terre is the shoulder season months of April, May, September, and October when the weather is pleasant and the crowds are fewer.

Is Cinque Terre considered Tuscany?

No, Cinque Terre is not part of Tuscany. It’s located in the neighbouring region of Liguria, along the Italian Riviera coastline.

As a Holidaymaker

Visiting Cinque Terre makes for a great weekend break in Italy, it’s like a vacation on your vacation! It’s an experience that will leave you in awe of the beauty that exists in this world. In just three days, you will fall under its spell. So, come and explore this enchanting corner of Italy, and let Cinque Terre steal your heart forever.

Travelling to Italy? Be sure to check out my Travel Guide for all of your resource needs – flights, accommodation, car/train and articles in Rome, Tuscany and more.

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