We are pleased to present a new Solo Travel Destination Post from Elizabeth, a member of the Solo Travel Society on Facebook. Elizabeth is from The United States, and submitted the following report about Cinque Terre. Do you have a solo travel destination that you would like to recommend? Submit your description here, along with a few photos, and share it with fellow travelers!
Solo travel rating: 1 (1 is easiest, 3 is most difficult. Please see chart below)
Languages spoken: Italian
Reasons To Go to Cinque Terre
If you have ever dreamed of going someplace really different overseas yet don't feel ready for a major challenge, the Cinque Terre National Park in Italy is a great place to start. This UNESCO World Heritage site with rustic villages set on a breathtaking coastline will feel magical and relaxing from the first minute you walk down the picturesque streets (laundry flapping from many windows above adds to the ambience).
The charming little shops and restaurants staffed by friendly locals will amuse you as you wander each of the five villages within the park. Easily accessible by train or for greater adventure and challenge by foot, this destination will not disappoint.
My favorite way to explore the area is by taking advantage of the wonderful hiking trails. These are absolutely beautiful. You will travel through varied terrains and have breathtaking views at many vantage points. I recommend that solo travelers stick to the main trails for safety. Sturdy shoes and a good walking stick will make you feel blessed. The trails can be rough and uneven. On all but the easiest trails, be prepared to climb and descend steps. Thousands of them. You will twist up and down the sides of the mountains going across paths that were the only link between villages until about a hundred years ago!
The Cinque Terre has five villages and each has their own personality. It only takes a few minutes to travel between villages by train and it is inexpensive, so I suggest you make sure to explore them all. Because Riomaggiore is closest to the main train station in La Spezia, it is probably the busiest. Manarola and Vernazza are a bit less crowded and more “authentic” feeling. Monterosso feels a tad more modern and seemed to have a resort feel to me. It also has the only real beach.
Corniglia is the village that stole my heart. It had roosters crowing in the morning, was surrounded by olive groves, had cats lazing around in sunny spaces, and virtually no tourists in the early morning and evenings. You really feel transported into old traditional Italy. It is also the only village not at the waters edge so be prepared to climb 382 steps if you miss the shuttle bus from the train station! I rented a very clean private room with a beautiful view from Christiana. She and her husband run a little coffee shop named Pan e Vin in the village. They are quite friendly and it is a good place to stop for a light breakfast or meal. Like many locals, they both speak English.
The Cinque Terre is not just a destination, it's an experience. Enjoy!
Solo Travel Destination Rating System
Safety – 1 (1 very safe, 2 safe in most areas, 3 be cautious at all times.)
Language – 2 (1 English is first language, 2 English speakers easy to find, 3 English speakers rare)
Navigation – 1 (1 easy to navigate by transit or car, 2 poor transit, car necessary, 3 not easy to get around)
Culture – 1 (1 Similar to North America or Western Europe, 2 Different from above but relaxed and easy, 3 Challenging)
Average Rating – 1 (1 is easiest, 3 is most difficult)