The Cinque Terre consists of five beautiful hillside towns (Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza, and Monterosso) on the west coast of Italy. This area is extremely picturesque and shouldn’t be missed. However, it is also a bit expensive. There are only a few hostels and most accommodations and sit down meals are pricey. Fortunately, with such breathtaking scenery, you will be able to find plenty of nature walks, trails, exploring, and vineyards in the surrounding areas that make it possible to visit on a budget if you stick to these free activities and the cheap food. This part of Italy is probably my favorite, and during the summertime, there is nowhere else I’d rather be!
Top 5 Things to See and Do in the Cinque Terre
1. Hike the Cinque Terre
2. Check out Chiesa di Santa Margherita
3. Visit Torre Guardiola
4. Go swimming
5. Visit the churches
Other Things to See and Do
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1. Rent a kayak
Being on the water makes the cliffs more dramatic, the colors more intense, and the water a deeper shade of blue. It’s a very different way to see the five towns. Rentals start at 5 EUR per hour.
2. Have an authentic Ligurian beach picnic
Grab yourself a basket and shop around town for some local goodies. There are some great little restaurants the serve fresh, hot focaccia and plenty of cheap local wines available. After that head to one of the beaches, where you can eat, swim, and be merry.
3. See the Nativity in Manarola
If you happen to be visiting between December 8th and the end of January, this scene is worth a quick visit. The Nativity Manarola is the world’s biggest lighted nativity scene, and their opening ceremony is a big event. Many locals come out and light candles.
4. Go camping
The spring through early fall is a beautiful time of year to go camping here, and bookings tend to fill up quickly. There are a few campgrounds to choose from that offer inexpensive tent set-ups, which include beds and linens. Camping Aqua Dolce is a hotspot near town, but also very close to the beach.
5. Have a seafood dinner
You won’t find any fresher seafood than from a restaurant overlooking the water. It may be expensive, but it’s worth a splurge at least once. Try the prawns!
6. Explore castle ruins
In Monterosso, you can visit the ruins of a 16th-century castle built as a defense system after a Saracen attack. The ruins lie near the cemetery on San Cristoforo Hill.
7. Learn about Italian naval history
The Technical Naval Museum is located in La Spezia. The collection takes up two levels and contains a lot of information and artifacts from the province’s naval history and naval warfare. Admission is 1.50 EUR and it’s open daily from 9am-7:30pm.