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Cinque Terre - Which 3 Villages Are the Best?

Malibu, California
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Cinque Terre - Which 3 Villages Are the Best?

We will be visiting Porto Venere on the Crystal Serenity on April 29, 2014, and we would like to spend our day at the Cinque Terre. We will have time to visit only three villages. In the past (and I expect again in the future), Crystal has offered an excursion that begins in Manarola and includes a 25-minute walk to Riomaggiore followed with a ferry to Vernazza. Alternatively, my travel agent is offering us a private tour that includes visits to Riomaggiore, Vernazza and Corniglia - spending an hour to 90 minutes in each town. It has not yet been clarified, but I do not think that this private tour includes a coastal walk from one town to another, and instead, the private driver transports us from town to town by car (unless, of course, we design our tour to include a coastal walk.) I should include that we are good walkers, but we are not fans of hiking or climbing uphill and downhill. That being said, what is your experience at the Cinque Terre? What are your favorite villages? Which is best - the Manarola/Riomagiore/Vernazza combination expectedly offered by Crystal, or the Riomaggiore/Vernazza/Corniglia combination offered privately? Or, on the other hand, is there another village not listed that is a "must see?" Since the tour offered by my travel agent is completely private, I can design it however I want, and we can create our own combination of villages and/or walks. Please share your Cinque Terre experiences and recommendations.


Brentwood, United...
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1. Re: Cinque Terre - Which 3 Villages Are the Best?

The Crystal tour will be based on using the flat paved Trail, Via del Amor between Manarola and Riomaggiore . This Trail has been closed since last year due to a landslide and is not forecast to be open until sometime in 2014. So there will be some uncertainty whether or not it will be open in time for your visit. You do not say how Crystal will get you from your cruise ship to Manarola is it by tender or you are going via Portovenere? If the Trail is still closed Crystal will use one of the other villages as their arrivial point. However there is not an alternative 'flat ' trail between the villages. The other popular Trail is that between Monterosso and Vernazza which does involve several hundred stone steps up and down between the villages. But it is no real problem for those going there for the walking, taking around 1 1/2 hours, it is a very scenic route.

Going for the private option I assume you will be picked up by private car in Portovenere. I would suggest you go for an option to take you to from Portovenere to Monterosso, walk the Trail to Vernazza in time for lunch. Then take the ferry back to Portovenere, stopping off at either at Manarola or Riomaggiore on the way. You would only have to pay for private transport to Monterosso. Once you are in the CT villages there is no difficulty getting between them by regular train or ferry.

Edited: 3:43 pm, August 25, 2013
United States
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2. Re: Cinque Terre - Which 3 Villages Are the Best?

Driving from village to village will use up all your shore time as there is no direct road and what there is is narrow, twisty, and goes inland. You use google maps or earth to see the lay of the land. You would maximize your time by taking a regular ferry (hoping they start their season and the weather is cooperating then) to Monterosso, and then working your way back by train or ferry to Portovenere. There is no train connection in Portovenere and you get there by bus from La Spezia or ferry (Riomaggiore or La Spezia).

I would think that a cruise ship would dock in La Spezia. The harbor in Portovenere is tiny.


3. Re: Cinque Terre - Which 3 Villages Are the Best?

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