The Italian Riviera has no shortage of rugged coastlines or romantic towns and villages, but the five fishing communities of cinque Terre are its most iconic highlights. The five villages are part of the Cinque Terre National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The village of Cinque Terre is tucked away in a particularly mountainous bend at the eastern end of the Italian Riviera, shaped by its profound isolation.

Set amidst some of the most dramatic coastal scenery on Earth, these beautiful and colorful towns can support the weariest spirits. Winding paths through seemingly impregnable cliffsides, and a 19th-century railway line runs through a series of coastal tunnels, taking people from village to village.

For more than a decade, cars have been banned in the village.

These five villages are no longer the isolated hamlets they once were, but there is still an authentic feel here, with few roads, well-preserved buildings, and stunning coastal and mountain trails. This article will introduce the five fishing communities of cinque Terre.

1. Riomaggiore

Riomaggiore, the easternmost village of the Cinque Terre, is the largest of the five and serves as its unofficial headquarters. Its peeling pastel architecture stretches down a steep gorge to a small harbor—the region's most popular postcard view—and glows romantically at sunset, best viewed from the sea.

A botanical garden and bird-watching center sit on a rocky promontory uphill from pebbly Fossola Beach.

2. Manarola

Manarola has more vines than any other Cinque Terre village. It's also riddled with priceless medieval relics, claiming it's the oldest of the five villages. The bustling main street and promenade are still lined with fishing boats and other similar reminders of country life. Punta Bonfiglio is a short uphill hike with stunning views and a playground with a bar.

3. Corniglia

Corniglia is a "quiet" middle village perched on a 330-foot rocky promontory surrounded by vineyards. It is the only Cinque Terre settlement without direct access to the sea, although steep steps lead to the rocky bay.

Narrow alleys and colorful 4 stories houses characterize the old core, a timeless streetscape named in Boccaccio's Decameron. Its peaceful, intricate streets lead to a wide breezy sea-facing terrace, the only vantage point where you can see (and photograph) all five villages at once.

To get to the village from the train station, you have to go up the Lardarina, the 377 brick stairs, or take the shuttle bus.

4. Vernazza

The small port of Vernazza - the only safe landing point on the coast of the Cinque Terre - guards what is probably the most quaint and steepest of the five villages.

The main cobblestone street (Via Roma) lined with small cafés connects Piazza Marconi on the seafront with the train station. Small streets lead to the village's iconic Genoese-style caruggi (narrow streets), with sea views at every turn.

5. Monterosso al Mare

The westernmost village of Monterosso, the only settlement in the Cinque Terre with a properly stretched beach, is the least typical of the quintet.

This village, famous for its lemon trees and anchovies, is delightful. It is split in two, with the old and new halves connected by an underground tunnel below the windy Cape San Cristoforo.