Out of all the towns in Cinque Terra, I personally fell in love with Monterosso al Mare. This is the busiest of all the towns, offering the best restaurants, boutique hotels and beaches along the Cinque Terra coast. Still quaint in their own way, this is definitely the town to stay in while visiting the area.
Below are our top picks for things to do in Monterosso al Mare:
1. Old Town Beach
There are two main beach areas in Monterosso, starting with the pebble beach in the Old Town. Located just a short walk from our hotel (Stella Della Marina), with a number of sun beds available for hire from companies right on the beach.
There are two parts to the beach, the first with all the private sun beds and the second a more secluded area off to the right where you can relax with your towel for the day. The beach is quite busy, however definitely worth checking out.
We hired paddleboats from one of the companies and spent most of the day relaxing in the water in complete privacy. Some of the boats even have a built in slide, which is perfect for the kids (or the big kids at heart like us!).
2. Fegina Beach
More popular than the Old Town Beach is Fegina, which is a newer part of the town. The beach here is well maintained and the largest of all the beaches on the Cinque Terra coast. Like any other beach in Italy, all the chairs and umbrellas are available for hire for full day use, which can be organised right on the beach.
The beach is beautiful both day and night, with stunning views to enjoy. The water is quite warm and can be enjoyed for roughly 5 months of the year, much longer than some of the other beaches around Italy. The water is calm with few waves, perfect to sit and relax while catching some sun.
The walk from the Old Town to Fergina is only a short 5-10 walk through the main tunnel connecting the old town and new town. Restaurants, shops and cafes line the street and can be enjoyed well into the later hours.
3. Wonderland Bakery
Wandering through the old town, we came across a beautiful bakery, just located off the main strip. The smell of freshly baked goodies can be smelt from outside the bakery, which is what lead us inside.
A variety of freshly baked focaccia, rolls, pizza bread and pastries are all made daily as well as Italian specialties like pasta and preserves are all available for purchase. The staff here are extremely friendly and patient with ordering in our very bad Italian.
We had purchased a variety of different foccacia’s and breads to take away with us to enjoy on our private balcony with some sliced meats we purchased near by. Talk about the perfect spread for dinner!
4. Church of San Giovanni Battista
Italy is known for their beautiful churches, so it was no surprise to find this beautiful building in the heart of Monterosso. Built between 1244 and 1307, the church is a Ligurian Gothic style with green and white marble stripes and it’s original bell watchtower still stands, built in 1276.
Standing alone and hidden from the main tourist strip, this is a beautiful part of history that must be seen.
5. Pizzeria La Smorfia & Slurp Gelateria
Italy is all about eating and drinking and we found some pretty delicious neighbourhood gems. Strolling the streets, we came across Pizzeria La Smorfia, which is a small family owned pizzeria, serving up hundreds of different combinations of pizza. Dine in or take away are available, with a line out the door for locals waiting for their tasty za.
Although there’s a line up and sometimes a wait to be seated, the service is quite quick and efficient with orders taken as soon as you’re seated and pizza arriving within 10 minutes. The service wasn’t the best, at times rude, however the pizza definitely made up for the poor service. Our lunch consisted of two pizza’s, and half a craft of wine for under 30 Euros.
Once we finished our very authentic & tasty pizza, we continued our stroll back to the hotel, when we came across Slurp Gelateria. There were quite a few people sitting outside and waiting to be served inside, so thought it was probably best to give it a try.
The service again was not the best, however the gelato was probably some of the best I’ve ever had. With all authentic flavours, making a decision was very difficult.
- The fastest way to get from one town to the next is by train. Runs from 6:30am to 10pm and stops at all the villages
- Remember all restaurants will charge for bread, so if you aren’t planning on eating it, just refuse it when it’s brought to the table
- Monterosso is the best out of all the towns to stay at, with more beaches, shops, restaurants & cafes
- Avoid driving at all costs – streets are narrow and difficult to get down