Prior to arriving to Cinque Terre, the one thing I found difficult to find was essential details for each Cinque Terre village, such as location of ferry ports and train stations, walking distances between the towns and did they have a deposit luggage service.
I also had imagined that that the train line would be at the top of the hills and that I would have to walk down steep stairs to get to each village. But it was the complete opposite as the train line follows along the coastline with easy access to the towns.
So below are my notes I compiled while I travelled around Cinque Terre for five days.
As soon as you walk out of the train station, you are looking at the beach. The only Cinque Terre village to have a proper beach. For hikers, turn left and follow the hikers along the road. After you go through the tunnel and reach the end, follow the signs pointing to Vernazza.
Alternatively, if you are not hiking, veer slightly left after going through the tunnel and you can wander around the historical centre, lined with cafes and shops. This is the only section of Monterosso that has the same quintessential village feel as the other 4 villages.
Other areas of Monterosso and north of the train station consists of 4 storey hotels and apartments with a couple of restaurants. You have easy and close access to the beach from anywhere in the town. A few restaurants line the promenade along the beach.
If you are arriving by ferry, the port is also close by with no more than a 5 minute walk to the train station. As you leave the ferry pier, you can walk straight into the historical centre (if that's where your hotel is) or turn left and walk through the tunnel. Follow along the promenade until you see the train station on your right. Up to this point is flat road, no stairs. Thus, the only stairs you see are to reach the train platform.
If you are staying in a hotel north of the train station, just keep walking along the beach. Some of the side streets are a gradual incline but generally there is no steep walking.
There is a luggage deposit service in the Tourist Information office located under the train station, on street level. Cost is EUR6.00 per day until 6.30pm when they close.
The train station is at the top of the main street. It's only a five minute walk down a slight decline to the water's edge and the ferry dock. However, the walk could take longer as there are so many tourists to dodge. There are day trippers from neighbouring villages or Porto Venere plus passengers from cruise ships that dock into La Spezia. The street is lined with cafes/restaurants and shops. You’ll find the occasional restaurant in one of the side streets.
This Cinque Terre town has a small beach but not very pleasant with all the boats docked there. However, it doesn't stop people from jumping in to refresh themselves from the scorching summer heat.
On the dock people are selling small boat cruises (5 terre or sunset cruises), paddle boarding and kayaking.
At the train station I did see signs for Luggage Deposit but it didn’t advertise any prices.
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Corniglia is perched on top of a cliff, overlooking the sea, therefore it technically doesn't have a beach. Although I did see signs to climb down the cliff to a rocky beach and also saw people swimming on a small sliver of pebbled beach next to the train station. You wouldn't choose this location if you want a totally beach holiday.However, it’s easy to take the train to Monterosso for the day if you want a day of relaxing on the beach.
This village has a very narrow windy main street with lots of bars, cafes and some clothing and souvenir shops.
The train station is located at sea level and you have two options: walk up the cliff via the zig zag steps or take the shuttle bus service which services every 15 minutes (this is free if you have a Cinque Terre Treno Card). No luggage deposit service at this train station.
The train sits at the bottom end of the village, accessed by a long tunnel. No luggage deposit facilities.
The main street is a medium gradient uphill. And its a fairly wide street, much wider than the main streets of the other villages. So you feel a sense of open space. There are stairs below the tunnel access as there is a viewing platform to walk over.
Again, this village too has restaurants/cafes, gelaterias, some clothing shops (they seem to be selling the same clothes in all the villages) and one ceramic shop.
At sunset, find a spot along the viewing platforms on the cliff and watch the colours of the buildings light up. Best time to take photos of this village.
The last town of the Cinque Terre coast. Its main street is also the steepest of all the villages.
From the ferry port, you will go up stairs, down stairs, through an underpass, up some more stairs and then a steep climb up the main street. How long you will have to walk for will depend upon the location of your hotel/apartment. Plus you could have more stairs if your hotel is located on one of the many side streets that meander up the hill.
The train station is located 5 minutes walk from the main street, through a tunnel. I did notice that a guy with his miniature truck will offer to drive your luggage to your hotel for Eur5.00.
No luggage deposit service at the train station, however, a nearby cafe is offering the service. As you exit the train station, turn left and follow the sign to the bar advertising Left Luggage. Cost is EUR5.00 per bag per day, until closing time at 8.00pm.
There is a local bus that services Riomaggiore and connects travellers to accommodation outside the village. There are two bus stops - towards the bottom of the hill, next to Hotel Zorza sign and the other is at the top of the hill, next to the Tourist Information office. The fare is EUR1.50 if you pre-purchase the ticket from the train station otherwise you pay EUR2.50 on board direct to the driver.
Did the above notes cover everything you wanted to know prior to arrival?