The fishing villages of Cinque Terre has some of the most beautiful sights I have ever seen in my life. If you have the chance to go to Italy, find a way to get to Cinque Terre. We traveled around Italy for two weeks and Riomaggiore was our second to last stop. We only had one day in the tiny town and were hoping to hike among the cliffs. Well, a train strike and a large rain storm decided to derail that plan, almost to the point where we were stuck at an isolated train station indefinitely. With some street smarts and asking a lot of strangers for help, we eventually made it by way of three different trains and one very terrifying bus ride along the cliffs stuffed with tourists like us whose trains were all canceled. In the end, it’s a day I’ll never forget and one of my favorite travel stories.
Where We Stayed
- Dune Blue – Riomaggiore (Cinque Terre)
Via Cristoforo Colombo, 241
Easy to get to, clean and affordable! We reserved our room off booking.com. Downsides: This is a tiny “hotel” which is actually someone renting extra rooms in their apartment. No one was there when we checked in and we had a lot of trouble trying to explain to the owner’s mother that we had rented a room. We eventually translated very horribly into Italian and she gave us our room key, but it wasted a lot of time. Upsides: The place was extremely clean, the bathroom remolded. It is in a great location right off the main street and there are not a lot of steps. THIS IS HUGE for the village. Most everywhere you have to walk up thousands of steps to get too. Once all the confusion was over, we loved our little room and I’d go back. Just make sure if you are delayed like we were, you have a plan in place to get with the owner.
Where To Eat
- Bar e Vini a Piè de Mà
Amazing bar on the side of a cliff overlooking the ocean. It’s also right above the train station! You can jump off the train and go straight here. They offer charcuterie plates and local wines. We were there more for the atmosphere than the food and wines, but we were in Italy and had to give it try! I highly recommend the white sampler and olives! I’d go back here just the view any day.
- Il Pescato Cucinato
This is a tiny shop selling different kinds of fried fish and chips! We saw shops like this all over this region of Italy and after trying it we knew why. It was delicious and so fresh! My husband got the calamari, but everything looked great.
- Bar Centrale This was the only sit-down dinner we had in town. I have to admit it was touristy. We were tired from walking and this was right by where we were staying, so we gave it a shot. The food was decent, but it was not the best we had. It was a small place and there were a lot of unhappy patrons. If we went back to Cinque Terre, I would not eat here again.
If you are looking to eat out in the Cinque Terre villages, I highly recommend one of the fish shops. They seemed to offer the freshest food since they are frying it right there before your eyes. If you want to sit down, most of the restaurants are very touristy. All of the villages are very small, so you have to remember that when looking to eat out. There are not many options. Buy something from one of the shops and sit overlooking the ocean to eat it. You will be much happier than overpaying at a restaurant for mediocre food.
What To See
Since we arrived much later than we expected and it had been raining all day, the hiking trails were closed. We would have hiked the villages if we had been able to. There are about 5 miles of trails that connect each of the five villages. You can pay a small fee to hike between them. There is also a train if there isn’t a train strike, that runs between the villages. You can take the trains back and forth.
We stayed in Riomaggiore the entire time we were there and walked around the village. There are many many many stairs, so be prepared with good shoes. You will be walking up very steep steps and there is no way around it. We did get to hike down to the ocean and put our feet in the Mediterranean sea. It is very rocky and a pebble beach, be prepared or bring some water shoes.
Walking around this village is like walking back in time. Cars are not allowed and the building seems ancient. It’s a slower, simpler pace of life even then the slower paced areas throughout Italy.You aren’t here to see museum after museum you are here for the hiking, the views, and the ocean.