The famed and beautiful Cinque Terre is a very popular tourist destination, but the narrow and busy streets of the five towns are not ideal to explore in a campervan without pissing off the locals. This blog will tell you how to park for free and see the Cinque Terre by train.
Free camping in Levanto
We left the E80 highway for the little surf town of Levanto where we found a free car park near a picnic area (link at the end of this blog). Although it was just above the town, it was better than paying €36 for 24 hours in the camper parking. We took our bikes on the Levanto – Bonassola – Framura cycle path which was really cool, watching the huge waves crashing against the beaches.
Train travel along the Cinque Terre
We saved a full day for exploring the Cinque Terre and had an early start in order to get to Levanto train station before the queues. We actually just managed to get ahead of a huge tour group! Tickets are €16 each for unlimited train/bus travel to La Spezia and it also covers your national park walking permits for the footpaths between Monterosso al Mare and Corniglia. The footpath between Corniglia and Manarola is currently closed due to a landslide. The trains are super regular so we didn’t end up using the bus service, but I did see a few buses in Corniglia.
Hiking between the Terres
We set off from Monterosso along the easy to find footpath that follows along the beach front. You just have to find the white and red markers then turn off right following the signposts to Vernazza. Along the way you get to see stunning views of the rugged coastline, olive groves and even a cute cat sanctuary. As you get nearer to Vernazza there is a panoramic viewpoint showing off the beauty of the famous, colourful village. As you enter Vernazza, you walk down towards the port where there are cafes, bars and a few tourist shops. From Vernazza, you can continue to Corniglia on the footpath which you’ll find above the train station. It’s another beautiful walk along the coast to another pretty town. Corniglia is propped up on a cliff and has a similar vibe to Vernazza with cute alleyways and tourist shops. I had an incredible lemon and basil sorbet with locally grown basil.