At the end of May, we took advantage of another Bavarian bank holiday and headed to Cinque Terre, Italy for a long weekend! We flew out Thursday night and returned to Munich on Monday morning. We flew in and out of Milan and rented a car to drive to Cinque Terre. The drive from the Milan airport to our Airbnb was about 2 and a half hours. My friend from Nashville, Gennean, was in the middle of a four month long Europe trip, so she came to stay with Lola while we were gone! It worked out great; Gennean and I got to see each other, Lola got to stay in her own place, and Gennean got a bit of rest from her traveling.
This was our second time traveling to Italy since moving to Munich. I still can’t get over how close it is! Flights to Milan from Munich are usually inexpensive and SO short. Cinque Terre was high on our bucket list of places to see in Italy, and late May was the perfect time to go. The weather was PERFECT and May isn’t high tourist season yet so it wasn’t unbearably crowded. July and August are the high tourism season in Italy and I have heard horror stories from a few people who have visited during that time so we made sure to plan around those times.
Cinque Terre is comprised of five incredibly colorful fishing villages, each perched on jagged cliff sides and surrounded by beautiful water. The villages and coastline are not only part of the Cinque Terre National Park, but also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We visited each village and we hiked between three of them.
We agree that this is one of our favorite trips we have ever taken! If you are going to Cinque Terre anytime soon, please copy our exact trip. It was perfect!
Where We Stayed
We stayed at this AirBnb in a town called Volastra above Manarola, on top of a hill. Volastra is a village in the Cinque Terre National Park, Italy. The population is less than 200 residents! The name Volastra comes from the expression “Vicus Oleaster”, which means “the village of the olive”. It’s not surprising, as Volastra lies in the middle of beautiful olive groves. Most of the Cinque Terre olive oils come from this area. One of the most beautiful hiking trails runs through Volastra.
At first we were a little worried about staying outside of one of the main five villages, especially since neither of us had ever been to Cinque Terre before. But it turned out that we had nothing to worry about! Volastra was the PERFECT base for our trip, and I highly recommend checking it out if you’re heading to Cinque Terre. We absolutely loved the airbnb we stayed at and would 100% stay there again. We hiked from Volastra three times, and any other time we would take the bus that runs every 30 minutes between Volastra and Manarola. The bus ride was only about 15 minutes. So easy!
Our Airbnb was huge and had amazing views! As I mentioned, we drove from Milan so we used the free parking that came with the Airbnb. We had the entire apartment, and the price was extremely reasonable. We had a kitchen, eating area, living room, bathroom, and two bedrooms. This would be a great place to rent for a group trip too! PS – even if you’re not booking this exact place, you can use this link for $40 off your next airbnb booking. 🙂
Hiking in Cinque Terre
A popular way to enjoy Cinque Terre is to hike the walking path connecting each of the five towns. For those in shape, you can walk the entire route in about six hours. But most people prefer to spread the route out over a couple days so they can stop and enjoy the towns. It should surprise no one that Patrick and I only hiked between two towns! We hiked from Manarola to Corniglia and Volastra to Manarola twice. We actually really enjoyed the hikes we did. The scenery is just so gorgeous that you don’t realize how far you are hiking. I will note, we did have perfect weather so I can imagine in July or August the heat might make hiking much more difficult. The parts of the trail we hiked were very steep and I was very glad we had worn our tennis shoes. We brought our backpack with us on our hikes, and I packed a change of clothes and shoes to change into once we arrived to the next town. A train connects all of the towns, which is what we used to get to the towns we did not hike to.
The Cinque Terre trails take you through forests, vineyards, olive groves, mediterranean flowers and tiny villages. The views towards the bright green terraces and the deep blue sea are breathtaking. I think you’d miss some of the best parts of Cinque Terre if you don’t do any hiking.
I have to admit, Manarola was our favorite town by far. We also spent the most time here, as it was closest to Volastra. We made a habit of ending the day with drinks every night at Nessun Dorma, watching the sunset over Manarola, and then taking the shuttle bus up to Volastra.
You can get amazing views of Manarola by walking up the pathway past the town and boats and up the hill. This is where Nessun Dorma is, which has amazing views. Manarola is full of pastel houses, and is definitely one of the more picturesque villages.
Dress available here.
We woke up early one morning and hiked from Volastra to Corniglia. We started at 8am and there was no one else on the trail. This hike had some seriously amazing views. The hike from Volastra to Corniglia is a lot of steep downhill, and I felt really bad for hikers coming from the other direction.
We stopped in Cornigila for some coffee at KM 0. Their coffee was great and most of their ingredients are locally sourced. We really enjoyed sitting outside in their garden/patio. We walked around the town for an hour and then took the train to Riomaggiore.
Riomaggiore is arguably one of the most picturesque villages, and when we were there it felt a little overrun with tourists. We still had a great time in this town, and had one of our favorite meals here at Dau Cila, right on the harbor.
The only Cinque Terre town with a wide swath of beach is Monterosso. We headed here early one morning to stake out our spot on the beach. We spent most of the day here at the beach, although we did explore the town and had breakfast and lunch here. We paid for chairs with umbrellas, and we had ours until 4pm. Once 4pm came around, we packed up and headed to Vernazza on the train.
Vernazza’s harbor was so beautiful! There were some people laying out there, but it didn’t look too comfortable. We enjoyed walking through the town and ended up grabbing some gelato and enjoying it by the water. Afterwards, we headed back to Manarola on the train and of course grabbed drinks at Nessun Dorma and watched the sunset before taking the shuttle bus up to Volastra.
Eating in Cinque Terre
The food in Cinque Terre is SO GOOD. This region is the birthplace of pesto! Pesto is basil mixed with parmigiano (parmesan cheese), garlic, olive oil and pine nut. Other local specialities include anchovies, focaccia, and obviously sea food.
Here are some of our favorite meals we ate in Cinque Terre.
Manarola – Nessun Dorma
Nessun Dorma may have the best view in all of Cinque Terre. Patrick and I agreed that it was the best view of any restaurant we have been to. They don’t take reservations, so you may have to wait awhile. We went three times (each time for dinner) and the max wait we had was fifteen minutes. Their food and drinks were delicious and you really cannot beat that view, especially during the sunset. We especially enjoyed their bruschetta and limoncino spritz.
Corniglia – KM 0
As mentioned, we stopped here in Corniglia for coffee and a light breakfast. We loved the food and the atmosphere.
Monterosso – Da Eraldo
We were lucky to get a last minute table because this place is amazing! We tend to get hungry for lunch early (around 11:30), so we ducked into this tiny restaurant just before the lunch rush. This was our beach day, so we chose to sit inside to escape the sun for a bit. I had pesto pasta and Pat had pesto lasagna which was amazing. Would definitely go back here and order the pesto lasagna! They had a great wine selection too.
Riomaggiore – Dau Cila
Dau Cila is located in the small harbor area in Riomaggiore, so the outdoor seating has beautiful views of the water. We lucked out and got a corner table outside and it was amazing. Dau Cila has one Michelin star, and the food reflects that! SO good. I went out of my comfort zone and ordered the fresh local anchovy pasta, and it turned out to be one of my favorite dishes of the trip!
Volastra – L’Arcobaleno
To be honest, we tried a lot of pesto on this trip and our favorite was from the tiny deli/takeaway/restaurant in Volastra right by our Airbnb. Hands down this beat every other pesto dish we had. We walked by this place on our first day as soon as we arrived in Volastra. We got some pesto linguine to go and took it back to the apartment to eat. SO GOOD. We went back several times and each time the service was so great. The nicest, friendliest people we have encountered in Italy work at this place.
Some of my outfits are old or since sold out, but here are some similar items: