Things to Do in Cinque Terre

Swimming, Kayaking, and Sunsets

Things to do in Cinque Terre

Most people don't visit Cinque Terre for its traditional tourist sights. The towns themselves are the attraction. Spend your time taking in the natural beauty, charming atmosphere, and old-world ambiance that only this region can offer.

Watch the Sunset

It's an age-old tradition to watch the sunset in Cinque Terre. Today, tourists gather at some of the most popular sights to sip wine and watch the skies light up with pinks and oranges. There are some traditionally favorite spots for watching the day end, but it's always fun to step out on your own and find your own hidden vantage point.

Riomaggiore offers a few places where you can watch the sun dip below the horizon and the colored buildings glow in the low light. It's a popular activity, but with most of the daytrippers gone, the crowds won't be too bad.

Manarola also has several great spots to watch the sunset. Head to the water and hang out on the rocks as the sun sinks below the mountains. This is the perfect time to catch the town in a photograph as well.

Vernazza is a charming village with its own sunset viewpoints. Sip some wine and take a photo of the bell tower's silhouette against the backdrop of an pink sky.

Vernazza at sunset

Lounge on the Beach or Swim in the Sea

You don't visit Cinque Terre for the sandy beaches, but if you're looking to take a dip in the water there are plenty of places to enjoy the beautiful sea. In some areas you can snorkel and see some fish, as the water can be somewhat clear and blue most of the year. Below are just a few favorite swimming spots in the five villages.

Swimming along the rocks in Cinque Terre

In Riomaggiore, there's an iconic view looking back at the town. Follow the crowds to enjoy the view as well as the great swimming spot. Just make sure you visit on a calm day so the water isn't too choppy.

In Manarola, walk along the main road toward the water. You'll reach a natural swimming area where people enjoy lounging on the rocks in the sun and taking a dip in the water. There are ladders to help you get in and out of the water but watch out for slippery rocks!

In Corniglia, head down to the marina where you can take a dip. There are some more secluded beaches scattered around as well, so ask at the Tourist Information Center for their recommendations of the best swimming holes and how to access them.

Vernazza's harbor and beach
Vernazza is one of the few villages where you'll find an accessible sandy beach. It's small and crowded, but it's a nice place to lounge in the sun and take a swim. The protected harbor means that the water is fairly calm. Swim along the shore a bit and you can find some more private swimming areas in the rocky outcrops nearby.

If beaches are your thing, then Monterosso al Mare is the best town for you. It has the largest sandy beach of the villages, but be warned, the crowds can be intense. Access to the beach is free, but beach chairs and umbrellas all come with a fee.

Monterosso's Beach

Hike Along the Coast or Through the Mountains

Hiking is Cinque Terre is a truly unique experience. Trails range from easy to strenuous with everything in between. The most popular trail is the Blue Trail/#2 Trail, which connects the five villages of Cinque Terre and stays fairly close to the water for most of the route. If you want to get a little more off the beaten path, there's the Sanctuary Trail and the High Trail to choose from. For a more comprehensive description of hiking in the area, check out our Cinque Terre hiking guide.

Along the seaside trail

Climb Corniglia's Stairs

Each of the five towns is built into the mountains in its own way, but Corniglia has one of the more dramatic and unique layouts. The trip from the train station to the town center is its own experience. There's a shuttle bus, but the more interesting way to go is to take the series of staircases (over 350 steps in all). Enjoy the views as you make this quintessential hike through Cinque Terre.

Explore the Historic Sights

Most people don't visit Cinque Terre for any specific sights, as the charming towns and dramatic coastline are the real experience. If you do want to see a bit of the area's history, there are a handful of historic churches and buildings worth visiting.

In Corniglia, stop by the Church of San Pietro, the Oratory of the Disciplinati, and the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Graces. Each of these churches is fascinating in its own way. Near the Oratory of the Disciplinati there's a lovely square with several great restaurants and cafes where you can rest and soak up with atmosphere.

Doria Castle, in Vernazza, is another must see sight. For €1.50 you can climb to the top and take in an impressive view of the town, sea, and surrounding vineyards.

Monterosso al Mare also has some nice churches including the Church of Saint John the Baptist, the Oratory of the Confraternita dei Bianchi, the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Soviore, and the Abbey and the Church of San Francesco.

Discover Piazza Marconi

Vernazza has one of the more charming squares of the five towns. Piazza Marconi is the town's main square (at its harbor) and it's the perfect spot to grab a meal at a restaurant, people watch, and soak up the atmosphere. This is also where you'll find the Church of Santa Margherita d'Antiochia, with it's famous and well-photographed bell tower.

Go Kayaking, Paragliding, or Cliff Jumping

For the more adventurous, there are several fun opportunities to go kayaking, paragliding or cliff jumping. Kayaks can be rented in Vernazza, Monterosso al Mare, and Riomaggiore. You can also book a five hour kayaking tour in Monterosso.

There are several popular cliff jumping spots in Cinque Terre. Keep in mind, you're jumping into rocky waters at your own risk! There are popular spots near the harbor in Riomaggiore and Vernazza, just watch for the local youth and follow their lead.

It's even possible to go paragliding in Cinque Terre. Head to Monterosso al Mare to book your trip and enjoy the views from above.

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