There are five villages in the Cinque Terre, Italy. Each village has its own charm.
Monterosso al Mare Village
Monterosso al Mare is the first village you will visit if you are approaching the Cinque Terre from the north. Monterosso is the largest and most commercial of the five villages. It is also the most easily accessible and has the most hotels. The town is divided into two parts by an old railroad tunnel. The old center of town with a number of stores and restaurants is on one side, the beach at Fegina is on the other side. There is a sandy beach in Monterosso where it is free to swim and sunbathe. Visit Il Gigante a statue of a giant near Fegina. It is a 5 minute walk from the beach at Fegina.
Vernazza is the first village you will come to after Monterosso and it is the only one with its own harbor. Many people consider Vernazza to be the most picturesque village though each village is unique and beautiful in its own way. In Vernazza there are narrow alley’s that you can wander and many window shopping opportunities to be enjoyed. You can sit in one of the cafe’s around the harbor and look out to Sea or up into the vineyards.
The next town is Corniglia and it is the only village without direct access to the sea. You must climb 360 steps from the train station to reach Corniglia. A small shuttle bus runs regularly from the train station to the village if you prefer. At the top of the stairs there is a street that leads to a small observation area that will allow you to look towards both Monterosso and Riomaggiore.
If you are physically able, it is worth either walking up or down the stairs so you can enjoy the view. The stairs are wide; however, they are uneven in places. You can see the stairs from the train station and make your decision when you get there.
After Corniglia you will see Manarola. Ancient wineries are located inside many of the older buildings in Manarola. If the weather is warm you will see people swimming from the rocks and sun bathing along the rocky shore. Feel free to join in, but remember you are on your own, there are not any lifeguards.
Riomaggiore is the last village as you approach from the north. It is a beautiful village of quaint brightly painted houses nestled into the hillsides. If you are coming from La Spezia it will be the first village you come to.
There is a National Park store and Internet Cafe located near the train station. There is also a dive center in the village. Riomaggiore has a pretty pebble beach where you can pick up a few stones as keepsakes from your trip. Although the train runs frequently from La Spezia it is possible to take a taxi if you prefer. You will have to negotiate a rate.
Train Between the 5 Villages
A local train runs regularly between the five villages, though it rarely runs on a schedule. You can take a boat from each of the villages except Corniglia. You may have to wait for either the train or the boat, but no matter where you are waiting you can sit and enjoy the view.
A hiking trail runs between the five villages of the Cinque Terre in Italy
The trails that run from Monterosso to Vernazza and from Vernazza to Corniglia are difficult. The other two trails are easy. You will pay an entrance fee, one ticket will give you access to all the trails.
There are ticket booths at the start of each trail so save your ticket if you plan to walk more than one segment of the trail. There are different options, some of the tickets can be used for both the boat and the local train. The tickets are generally good for one day. Tickets are sold at the train stations and some of the trail heads.
Here is a YouTube Video with beatuiful pictures of the 5 Cinque Terre villages
This area is one of the best places in Italy to visit. Definitely add it to your travel plans.