Escape to the Italian Coast

On these dreary, wet November days, let me provide you with some escapism and inspiration for your next trip away!

In the summer, I went on an interrailing trip around Italy with my sister. At the top of my bucket list was to go to the Amalfi Coast. However, we were going in August, which was peak season, so it was going to be very expensive; the cost to get there, accommodation, then food and drink on top, was out of our budget. I was gutted, however, after some digging around, we found a place called Cinque Terre, which was completely magical.

Cinque Terre is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a National Park. It is located on the west coast of Italy, on the eastern part of the Italian Riviera. It is just a three-and-a-half-hour train journey south of Milan. You can also reach it from Genoa, Pisa, and Rome. We flew with ‘WizzAir’ to Milan with hand luggage for just £35 return. Now it is not peak season, you could probably go for even cheaper! The best time to visit would be in Spring as it is less crowded, and the heat would be more manageable! We felt so British to be grateful that it had been raining, so we didn’t melt in the heat!

Cinque Terre translates to ‘the five towns,’ which are known for being old fishing towns, when in fact, they originally were occupied by farmers. The coastline is dramatic; with steep cliffs and colourful houses dotted along them. Some towns have a backdrop of vineyards which reflects the historical importance of the production of wine, which started around 1300, with white “Vernaccia,” being considered valuable.  Despite, the number of tourists in summer, you feel transported to a quaint, almost fantasy world. I enjoyed imagining daily life here before tourists found it; with fishermen walking to work and the pace being much slower. 


The towns from north to south are called Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore. We stayed in Riomaggiore, which is known for its buzzy nightlife with bars and music. We visited for just two nights, yet we still felt as if we got a real feel for the place and explored most of the towns. However, if you enjoy hiking, then I would stay longer, as there are great coastal paths connecting each town. There is a train that connects all of the towns together and costs around £2 for a single journey, however, you can also buy a day travel ticket. When we arrived, we decided that it was the prettiest location of a train station we had ever seen!

View from the train station platform

Each town has something different to offer; Manarola, is where the ‘Nessun Dorma’ restaurant is located, where people snap that Instagram shot! We tried to go for an Aperol Spritz (which is cheaper than water in most places around Italy) and antipasto, however, the queue was too long! I am gluten-free which proved quite difficult in some places, however here, there was a vegan restaurant called ‘Il Discovolo La Spezia,’ where I got delicious gluten-free bread with cheese and pesto. This region is famous for its pesto, so it’s a must to try some! You should try one of the mixed fish cones, as this is also characteristic of the area.

View of Manarola from ‘Nessun Dorma’ Restaurant

Monterosso is the largest town so there are more accommodation and restaurant options. It is the only one to have a stretch of sandy beaches, so if your idea of heaven is relaxing on a sun lounger, then this is the place to go! There is a small beach in Riomaggiore which is worth visiting, especially at sunset. Just follow the narrow path from the marina to this haven of glistening blue water. There is a step ladder into the sea too, so would highly recommend jumping in!

Monterosso Beach in the evening

Instead of the train, I would recommend doing a boat trip between towns, as it is interesting to see them from a different perspective. It makes you appreciate the impressive coastline more! We went from Corniglia back to Riomaggiore, but the ferries run from each town.

View of Riomaggiore from the boat

There is no need for a particular plan to explore, due to the towns being small. The best way to soak in the place is to amble down all the little streets as there are many boutiques, cafes, and gelato shops to wander into.

I would highly recommend visiting Cinque Terre, as it is much more budget-friendly than the Amalfi Coast. However, there are very few hostels here, so your best bet is to scout around on ‘Airbnb’ and ‘’ If you are doing an extended Italy trip, such as interrailing then this is a great contrast to the bustling life in cities, such as Rome. As you can see, it is breathtakingly beautiful, need I say more?

Featured image by Sophie Holcroft

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