Stepping into the five cliffside fishing villages of Cinque Terre is like stepping into a Disney movie. 📽 (Literally —It’s the inspiration behind the movie Luca!) This UNESCO World Heritage Site and Italy’s smallest national park is one of the most Instagrammable places in the country. To get there, take the train to La Spezia, which is the entry point for a breathtaking getaway on the Italian Riviera! 🌊 From the incredible vantage points along hiking trails to the picturesque seaside views, we’ve rounded up the best places to take photos in Cinque Terre.
1. Manarola Village
Cinque Terre translates to “Five Lands,” which corresponds with the number of villages that make up this unique area. 🤚 While you can’t go wrong visiting any of the villages, one of the best photo spots is in Manarola, where colourful houses are perched on the cliff overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. If you search “Cinque Terre” on the internet, this is likely the first place you’ll see!
Enjoy an aperitivo at sunset just across from the main street for the quintessential Cinque Terre photo. We recommend testing the wide angle lens on your camera or phone so you don’t miss out on even an inch of memories! 🤳
2. Hiking Trails
The charming villages themselves aren’t the only draw to Cinque Terre National Park! 🥾 Winding hiking trails between the villages are a must-do to truly experience the beauty of this stretch of Italian coastline. There are 48 trails in all, but you do need a special ticket called the Cinque Terre Card 🎟 to hike the two most famous trails: Monterosso – Vernazza and Vernazza – Corniglia. As a bonus, this card also gives unlimited access to the trains between Levanto, the villages and La Spezia should you only want to hike one way. 😉
NOTE: Due to a landslide, Lovers’ Lane — one of the most romantic stretches of hiking connecting Riomaggiore and Manarola — is closed until July 2024, so we can only dream of walking the “Via dell’Amore” until then! 💭💕
3. Vernazza Village
If hours of hiking isn’t your love language but you don’t want to miss out on the unique viewpoints from between the villages, one of our favourite places to take photos in Cinque Terre is a 15-minute walk on the Vernazza – Manarola trail. On the way you’ll pass steeply-terraced olive groves that characterize the surrounding landscape and are said to produce some of the finest olive oil in the country. Capture the best view of Vernazza from above, and then simply walk back into the village afterwards and take the train to Manarola without breaking a sweat! 😉🚃
Another breathtaking way to experience Vernazza is arriving by sea. The tiny port in the harbour is lined by picturesque houses on either side to welcome you in. 🚤
4. Monterosso al Mare Village
The largest of the five villages offers a plethora of photo locations to uncover! Whether you arrive by foot or train, you’ll quickly see why Monterosso is a beach-lover’s top pick. A promenade dotted with ice cream stands, trattorias and shops offers respite from the sun during the hotter months, and be sure to check if there are any festivals happening during your stay. Our favourites include:
🍋 Sagra dei limoni , or The Lemon Festival — Monterosso is decorated with delicious lemons and you can taste fresh limoncino, lemon cream, lemon marmalade and even a special lemon cake called torta al limone.
🎶 Festival bandistico — Love local music? Bands from across Italy come to perform during this festival.
🐟 Sagra dell’acciuga salata e dell’olio d’oliva —Sample the famous anchovies of Monterosso, and as a tasty souvenir, purchase locally-produced extra virgin olive oil.
5. Monterosso Beach
While the Cinque Terre villages dot the seaside, most of them have little to no beach, which is why the long stretch of Monterosso Beach draws visitors and locals alike. The crystal clear ocean water and colourful umbrellas lining the soft sand invite you in for a dip, 🏊♂️ especially if you hiked your way over!
The beach is split into two parts, with the smaller beach neighbouring the trail from Vernazza. Walk through the tunnel into the old town to find the larger stretch located in front of the train station. Don’t forget your sunscreen! 🧴
6. Riomaggiore Village
As the southernmost village, Riomaggiore is the first stop on the train from La Spezia. The Church of San Giovanni Battista and Church of San Lorenzo date back to the 1300’s, and the Castle of Riomaggiore, built in 1260, offers beautiful views over the sea. Many of the houses date back to the 1500’s, and you’ll notice almost all have both a front entrance leading to the street, as well as a back entrance used as an escape route from potential invaders! Riomaggiore is a “vertical village,” and once you see the number of steep steps, tower-like homes and hidden corners throughout, you’ll quickly understand why. 😅 Treat yourself to a scoop of gelato whenever necessary! 🍨
Ready to get off the beaten path? One of the most underrated photography locations for the perfect photo of Riomaggiore is from the ferry, where you can capture a panoramic view from over the water. We also recommend walking or a quick bus ride to the Shrine of the Madonna di Montenero. Nestled 354 meters high, it offers sweeping views of Liguria, the Maritime Alps, the islands Gorgona and Capraia, and even Corsica on a clear day! 🌞
7. Riomaggiore Beach
Trading soft sand for stones and pebbles, this unconventional beach just east of the village is popular for those who want to avoid the crowds of busier beaches like Monterosso. Follow the path along the sheer cliff face just past the ferry harbour, but be sure to pack an extra towel for padding if you plan to sit! While it may not be the most comfortable spot for a midday nap, it’s a popular spot for swimming on a calm day and even has showers available!
Unlike the other villages, which can be accessed from the sea, Corniglia sits 100 meters high on a small cape. It has a long and rich agricultural tradition and is surrounded by terraces and vineyards with beautiful views of the surrounding hills. 🔍 It’s one of the most unique places to take photos in Cinque Terre due to its higher elevation. If you take the train, wear comfortable shoes to traverse the 377 stairs along the footpath, Lardarina, into the village! 👟 With no hotels and just a handful of guest houses here, this small village is the perfect, laid-back village to explore during high season.
9. Castello Doria
This medieval castle dominates the skyline above the town of Portovenere, which is often referred to as the “sixth” town of Cinque Terre. This village is a hidden gem and offers the same charm, scenic oceanside views and rainbow of pastel buildings as the others.. 💎 Climb the steps up (are you sensing a trend? 👟) for panoramic views from above, or find the popular swimming spot underneath the castle for one of the most unique perspectives of the castle and surrounding landscape!
Can’t get enough of the Italian Riviera? 🚙 Head north to Portofino, which transforms into a luxe seaside escape during the summer months. Fishing boats bob in the harbour among the yachts, tiny streets lined with boutiques, art galleries and cafes are bustling with activity, and no one stays inside if they can help it. Diving, hiking and relaxing on the beach are the activities of choice. ⛱
Best places to take photos in Cinque Terre
Ready to escape to the Italian Riviera and capture the best Instagram photos? 📸 Get everyone in front of the camera with a Flytographer shoot in some of the best photo spots in Cinque Terre!