Around 2 months ago I was contemplating the fact that I did not plan too many trips for this year so I decided quite fast to go for an Italian trip just at the beginning of the summer season.
After seeing a lot of pictures from Cinque Terre on Instagram, and knowing how famous this area is for its beautiful landscapes, it wasn’t all that hard to decide my next destination.
The first goal I had was to try not to make this a very expensive vacation, so the trip was planned very carefully in order to achieve that.
You can read more about Cinque Terre here.
As you probably already know, Cinque Terre is an area of the Italian Riviera highly publicized and visited for it’s beautiful landscapes. It is situated in the north-west of Italy in the Liguria region and it contains five villages: Riomaggiore, Manarola, Vernazza, Corniglia and Monterosso.
Since it’s a very well-known and visited area, of course we have to allocate a pretty consistent budget for a holiday here. So, even if it is much said that we can plan a really cheap holiday here, several aspects can help when we are talking about keeping the budget under control.
1. The closest airport to Cinque Terre is the one in Pisa but the flights to Pisa are fewer than the flights to other big cities of Italy such as Rome or Milan and this will automatically bring a price increase. Therefore, search more flight options and then use the train to reach Cinque Terre. The price of the train tickets is not proportional with the distance and that means that in the end, financially speaking, it will be to your advantage to spend a little more time on the way.. And, if in any way possible, try to buy the train tickets online in advance in order to get the best prices.
I personally flew to Milan and from there I took the train. A flight to Pisa would have ended up costing me more than on the plane tickets and I would have only saved less than 10 euros on train tickets. It’s also true that I spent 2 extra hours in the train but that did not bother me that much.
2. The five villages stretch along the coast between La Spezia and Levanto. For visiting the villages you have to use the train or the boat. That basically means that in any of the villages you choose to stay, you would have to use the public transportation for visiting the rest of them. The regional trains circulate often between La Spezia and Levanto.
Taking all this into account, if you consider staying in one of the villages to be too expensive, you can always choose to set the base in either La Spezia or Levanto and take advantage of the cheaper accommodation.
I chose La Spezia (about La Spezia here) and I think this was a great decision. The distance between La Spezia and the first village, Riomaggiore being covered in less than 10 minute by train.
3. As we all know eating at the restaurant is expensive and it is cheaper to eat street food.
Italy is the master when talking about street food since it offers such a big variety of eating options, from very cheap to very expensive. That means that the expenses can be easily adapted on the available budget.
What can be better than a delicious slice of pizza or a focaccia sandwich eaten on a rock with the most wonderful view over the sea? Don’t worry you will not be alone! A lot of people do prefer this option which is cheap and nice in the same time.
4. Plan carefully how you will visit the villages considering your time there.
Most probably you will be tempted to buy the daily pass offering unlimited train journeys and access on the hiking trail which is at first sight the ideal option. But it’s not like that.
In order for the pass to worth you should travel with the train at least four times in that day and even better to hike at least one trail.
If you have only one day planned in the area and you want to see all the villages, then it is a good option. But if you have more time and you plan to visit 2-3 villages in a day it might be better to buy individual tickets (and trust me, 2-3 villages in a day is the perfect number in order to really enjoy the views, lose time eating ice cream and exploring less touristic corners).
Also, it is possible not to be able to use the pass for hiking all the trails because some of them can be closed (when I was there 2 of them were closed and from the remaining 2 which were open I only hiked the more spectacular one, the one between Monterosso and Vernazza).
What it’s important is to plan ahead and do the math before deciding to buy the daily pass just because everyone does this.
5. If you are like me and you love coming back home with a bunch of fridge magnets, for you and for family, friends or friends of friends don’t even think buying them from the villages.
I found fridge magnets in La Spezia at half price. And guess what? They were the same! They even had ‘Cinque Terre’ written on them.
Of course, if you only have one day, you will not have that option and you will have to buy them from the villages.
Most probably, many of the things mentioned here, are not new to you. They are the same for any trip in any place but I really hope I helped you a little bit and if you didn’t visit Cinque Terre until now you will really consider doing it.