The best Cinque Terre photo spots
Last Updated on 24th July 2020
Cinque Terre is a beautiful stretch of coastline in north west Italy comprising the five small coastal villages of Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza and Monterosso al Mare. Each village has its own special character. From the extensive sandy beach resort of Monterosso al Mare, to the pretty harbour village of Vernazza. From the quiet rocky cliff-perched village of Corniglia, to Manarola with its iconic photo location looking back across the bay. Finally Riomaggiore with its pretty harbour and pebble beach. All five villages make for great Cinque Terre photo spots.
All five villages lie within the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the ‘Cinque Terre National Park’. From top to bottom takes just 14 minutes by local train, cutting through tunnnels within the mountainside. Alternatively there are numerous boat trips between them.
The whole area has become a Mecca for photographers, bloggers and THAT “picture postcard” view in Manarola? With inspiration from Polkadot Passport and Route Perfect Blog we went to seek out those coveted best photograph spots for ourselves. The camera I used for the images below is a Fuji X-T10, superseded now by both the X-T20 and XT-30
… and I’d love to personally answer any questions you may have about this post! 🙂
Buy some of these Cinque Terre prints in my Etsy shop
Thinking that some of the images in this post might look good on your wall? Then you’re in luck! I’m now selling 12″ x 8″ unframed versions of the Manarola, Vernazza and Riomaggiore prints on high quality FB Distinction paper in my Biggsytravels Etsy shop.
ArbaSpáa is my preferred partner in Cinque Terre for trips and hotels. Click on the logo below to see what they have to offer.
Monterosso al Mare photo spots
Monterosso al Mare is the most northern of the five villages but is only a short train ride away from the others. As it’s the only sandy beach resort in the area so it’s time to take some symmetrical beach parasol shots looking out to sea and leave the narrow alleyway and harbour shots to the other villages as you head south along the coast.
The toughest leg of the “half -open” walking trail is from Montorosso to Vernazza. As you begin to climb out of town you’ll have a few chances to take photos looking back towards the beach through gaps in the hedges. Just wipe the sweat from your eyes before taking aim.
Vernazza photo spots
The walk is amazing in its own right. However a key shot is towards the end of the walking leg from Monterosso al Mare after about 1.5h as you descend down into Vernazza. There are a few designated viewing platforms (normally with a short queue). But we found this section below the telegraph wires with the top of the castle below the horizon being the best spot.
You can’t miss the village’s Castello di Vernazza castle and you can climb up it too for a small fee. Perfect for some panoramic shots! This one was taken on my iPhone.
Afterwards you can stroll down and along the harbour wall. Look back towards town with its lovely array of boats in the foreground.
Buy a 12″ x 8″ unframed version of this Vernazza print in my Biggsytravels Etsy shop.
Corniglia photo spots
We didn’t walk the extra 1.5h from Vernazza to Corniglia so this photo comes from Route Perfect Blog instead. We took the short 5 minute train ride from Vernazza. In doing so so missed this lovely shot of the hillside as walkers approach it.
Once in Corniglia there are some nice pictures of the shop frontages, displaying among things lots of yellow lemon bath soaps! Wiggle through the streets and you come to a school playground and then up some steps (Google link) you sit atop the cliff edge looking straight down to the sea or across to Manarola in the distance.
Manarola photo spots
Manarola contains THE shot that has made the region famous and was ultimately the reason that we headed to Cinque Terre in the first place. Our minds were made up when my friend Rob blogged at hornblowertravels that it was his favourite place in the whole wide world! A bold statement so we had to find out for ourselves. Check out the key location for amazing Cinque Terre photo spots in the image below.
Some of the best viewpoints in Manarola
PLEASE NOTE number (3). This is the Cimitero di Manarola (Manarola cemetery). In Italian culture cemeteries are considered a sacred place where people pray and pay respect to the dead. Certain codes of conduct are required (and expected); no one speaks aloud, no food or beverages are consumed and NO PHOTOS are taken. Please act responsibly (and respectfully) and follow these rules.
So where is the “key” Manarola place to stand?
Opposite the main bank of pastel-coloured town buildings is a walkway that takes you around the headland. These photos below were all taken at (1) on the main walkway below the Nessun Dorma bar (2). Some people instead took their photos on the tip of the headland. We moved a bit further down the slope so we could get closer to the sea wall. The view of the buildings in Manarola changes throughout the day of course.
The Nessun Dorma bar (2) is a great place to take a photo. Try a strawberry smoothie while you cool down thanks to the fence-mounted mist sprays. There’s no bad spot here either!
The view of the bay gets the most attention of course. However just around the headland is a barrier where you can look out to sea. Also watch the sunset if you’re not too preoccupied with all those pastel-coloured buildings!
Riomaggiore photo spots
Another harbour town but with slightly more going on compared to Manarola. Also it has the benefit of a small pebbley beach when photo time is over.
It also provides another of the best Cinque Terre photo spots! I loved this one from the seawall looking back towards town with a few boats bobbing around on the foreground. Take some shots later in the evening to catch some softer colours and increase the chance of there being more boats in the foreground.
Buy a 12″ x 8″ unframed version of this Riomaggiore print in my Biggsytravels Etsy shop.
Head up to the Castello di Riomaggiore to take a nice shot down onto the town. Plus at the Castello’s base there’s a chilled out viewing spot with some steps, by a cross under the welcome shade of some trees.
Cinque Terre photo spots … in summary
Cinque Terre is gorgeous and I can see why my pal Hornblowertravels has it as his favourite place in the world. We went to Cinque Terre at the very beginning of June. This was just before peak season and certainly encountered busy train stations during the day.
However by staying in one of the villages overnight you can enjoy the early evening and sunset relatively undisturbed. All the hordes of day-trippers from Pisa and Florence have gone home by then. This is perfect for photography really as that’s when you’ll most likely be taking all of your best shots! But do check out my other post about going up the Leaning Tower of Pisa.
… and of course there are may other Cinque Terre photo spots out on the boats as well as off of the main routes between the villages where you can take great pictures that nobody else will have! Advice from local tour operators like ArbaSPáa is to stay a little longer so you can view more of the hidden gems rather than just seeing the same sights as everybody else 🙂
Happy adventures and let me know if you find some even better Cinque Terre photo spots?!
Check out my tips on taking better starburst and sunset photos too 🙂