So we did a fun thing and decided to drive to Cinque Terre instead of by train or boat (the typical ways people travel there by). We started from Santa Margherita and I believe it was a 1.5 to 2 hour drive (before we got lost, lol). Side note, Cinque Terre is an area on the Italian coast that makes up 5 villages. I’m pretty sure that’s what Cinque Terre stands for “5 villages”.
After doing some research, we decided that Vernazza was the village we’d navigate to. It is the one you see all over Pinterest because it’s so picturesque. You can hike the surrounding mountains next to Vernazza and really get the Instagram worthy shot, but it is about an hour hike. We didn’t have enough time to do the hike, but I suggest you you get there earlier in the day if seeing the views from the mountains is important to you.
All the villages in Cinque Terre are right on the coast so they’re pretty far from any major road or freeway.
Our navigation steered us from the freeway when we were about 40 mins away, but that 40 mins probably took us over an hour. The “roads” were very narrow and quite windy as you get closer to the village, even scary at times, especially when you’re trying to pass a car. In fact, when we tried passing a car (thankfully only once) one of us had to back up in order to make room. Our navigation did take us down a road that wasn’t actually a road at one point. There were two building next to each other and we knew we weren’t going to fit through it, so we stopped and got out to look before we proceeded. Sure enough, we wouldn’t have fit. So we (Mike) backed up, up a hill on a VERY narrow road and turned around. I waited outside so I could guide him and all I could smell was our clutch burning, lol.
When we finally made it down the side of the mountain, we approached an area with a gate that said residence only. That was our cue to park and walk the rest of the way like others were doing. We parked near the gate and then had about a 10 min down hill hike (coming back was fun ?) until we reached the actual town. By the time we arrived it was close to 3pm and I was a little worried about doing the drive in the dark, plus it was supposed to rain, so we only stayed about 1.5 hours.
Vernazza itself is such a cute little town. If you arrive by boat, you get the picturesque view of the village. If you arrive on the other side like we did, you’ll walk on a small street that has high buildings and shops on both sides. There is a little hike you can take to “the castle” which is a tiny little stone fort on the top of a building. There are really pretty views of the city and sea from up there, so I’d say it’s worth the $2. There’s charm everywhere you turn, so it would be hard not to enjoy your time here. I would imagine staying in Vernazza or any of the villages in Cinque Terre would be difficult because of how remote they are, so I would suggest doing what we did and stay in a bigger city nearby and take a boat, train (or drive) for a day excursion.