5 Towns You Should Consider Instead of Cinque Terre
Last month I had the opportunity to visit Cinque Terre, a magical place that you hear about in movies, on social media and all over travel blogs… so then why wasn’t it so magical when I got there?
I had my superstitions about Cinque Terre before arriving, I figured if the whole world knew how beautiful this place was, chances are good it’s now overcrowded with tourists and far too overpriced. I was right, and don’t get me wrong, Cinque Terre is still a beautiful place, but the magic of it quickly fades when a hundred English tourists are pushing past you to take the same photo on the peaks of Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore.
While the 7.50 Euro charge to enter the national park was fair (I’m all up for preserving nature’s beauty), it rubbed me the wrong way when I found out 1 hour later that all the other legs of the hiking trail were closed for maintenance. I hiked one out of four trails, paid the full price and not one employee told me about this maintenance ahead of time (even after we had asked).
Luckily, in the ten-day span we were there, I was able to explore 5 other little towns which I fell in love with. The best part of it all was that these 5 towns were just a short train ride away from Cinque Terre (and the prices of accommodations were far better).
You see? My “Cinque Terre” experience isn’t so far from the real thing, and I would highly recommend visiting these towns before you try and beat the crowds in Cinque Terre.
Chiavari is where we stayed, it was quite central to everything we wanted to explore and the hiking around this town was incredible. We actually rented out a cottage that was up in the hills of Leivi where you get this beautiful sunset view of the Chiavari town center along the water.
There are some wonderful shops in the town center and a few awesome second-hand stores if you’re anything like me.
Zoagli was the smallest town of them all. The town center is a small enclosed space with a life-size chess board and kids racing around the place with their ice cream and water toys. However, just under the bridge is this beautiful pathway that lines the water’s edge – a perfect way to spend the evening.
Rapallo is quite well known among tourists already, but it didn’t stop us from taking a peak along our journey. My favorite spot was near the castle on the water. There were also some great gelato and pizza shops. Rapallo is certainly worth a little stroll!
If you start up in San Rocco, there is a gorgeous hiking trail (approx. 2 hours) that takes you to the pier of Portofino and back. We were visiting in October and a couple eager beaver’s enjoyed the opportunity to swim around. It was gorgeous, but the weather wasn’t warm enough for me. So, if you’re visiting in the summer months, this place is the perfect hidden spot to enjoy a good swim.
I’ll be honest, I only visited this town because I think the name is incredible. However, to my surprise this town ended up winning my heart over among all the rest. Around every corner is a new picture perfect scene as if you were in a movie. The food prices can get a little steep here, but it’s absolutely worth a visit (just pack your own lunch if you’re concerned about saving a few Euros).
If you’re headed to Cinque Terre, chances are this post hasn’t changed your mind. I understand that going to Cinque Terre has some sort of a romantic flow to it, that’s why I ignored my gut feeling and went for it anyway. However, when you’ve explored all there is to see, head on over to these 5 towns and I promise you won’t regret it.
TIP: Save some money on gas and car rentals, the train runs all along the coast and is an incredible way to explore the region!
I’m sure some of you reading this post have already explored Cinque Terre on your own too. What did you think? Is there anywhere else you would recommend? Share your tips in the comment section below!