Searching for the best Cinque Terre budget activities? Not surprised! Cinque Terre isn’t so kind to budget-minded tourists, as it’s notoriously expensive. BUT, like all pricey destinations, there’s a way to get around the costs. All you need to know is the necessary information + hacks, and that is where this list will come into play!
Keep reading to get an idea of 1) the best Cinque Terre budget activities that are actually worth your time & money 2) the budget you’ll need for a well-rounded, action-packed visit, and 3) tips for getting around the inflated price tags.
Depending on your time and preferences, you may only need as little as 25 euros to complete everything on this list!
Here’s the best Cinque Terre budget activities…
1. Hike the trails that connect the 5 villages
Price: 7.50 euros…or free
Hiking between the villages is undeniably one of the best Cinque Terre budget activities. It’s the one you absolutely must conquer before leaving! Not only does it offer some of the most breathtaking coastal views you’ll ever witness, it’s also the cheapest way to see all the villages!
Along the way, you’ll encounter vast ocean vistas and pristine cliffside views of the villages, plus waterfalls and grape vineyards that dot the trail.
From Riomaggiore to Manarola are the easiest trails, while Monterrosso to Manarola are more difficult (yet supposedly reward the best views!). If you want a happy medium, I recommend hiking from Vernazza to Corniglia. On this trail, you’re almost always facing incredible ocean and village views the duration of the hike and it’s of medium level. Note that if you’re planning on conquering all 5 villages in one day, you must be very athletic and dedicate your whole day to this!
Regardless of the hike you choose, wear athletic shoes and sunblock, and bring a water bottle!
Tip: The Cinque Terre Information Center will tell you to buy a 7.50 euro entry card to access the trails. However, this was never regulated along the way, nor was it advertised anywhere. I’m not suggesting you don’t pay the fee, just providing you with the facts so you can make your own decision 😊
2. Take a million pictures
This may top the list of best Cinque Terre budget activities because it’s completely free and surprisingly time-consuming! The combination of Cinque Terre’s colorful stacked houses, rustic Italian charm, and cliffside location is enough to make ANYONE go camera crazy. It’s truly one of the most photogenic destinations in the world, and a simple browse through Pinterest will prove it.
May sound strange, but set aside an hour or 2 each day simply for taking photos, especially if you have a passion for photography!
Tip: Do your Pinterest research before to know which shots you want to take. Every angle of the villages photograph well but there’s definitely some lookout points (that are sometimes hidden!) that offer the best shots!
3. Rent a kayak
Price: 7 euros/hour
Seeing Cinque Terre by land is equally as beautiful by sea, but each offer very unique perspectives. That being said, I highly recommend kayaking between the villages!
The best place to rent your kayak and begin your journey is in Riomaggiore. This town has the shortest distance between it and its neighbor Manarola, so the kayaking is not too strenuous and the views of both towns are stunning.
If your budget is tight, don’t stress! Kayaking is one of the best Cinque Terre budget activities because it’s shockingly affordable. For a 2-person kayak, the rental price is only 7 euros per hour, and you’ll only need 2 hours to go to Manarola and back.
Tip: Walk up the harbor steps of Riommagiore into the tunneled path and rent your kayak at the dive shop that’s on your left. This place has cheaper prices than the rental place in the harbor and they’re open earlier (the other doesn’t open until noon).
4. Feast on all the local favorites
Price: 1.50-5 euros
The region of Cinque Terre is known for 3 things: PESTO, focaccia, and [fresh & fried] seafood! When you’re there, you might as well feast on these delicacies!
The reason this “pass-time” made the list of best Cinque Terre budget activities is that these local favorites are coincidentally the cheapest eats they offer!
Focaccia at your local Focacceria sells for about 1.50 euros, while fresh-made pesto can be found in the market for as little as 3 euros a jar. A heaping cone of incredible calamari goes for about 4-5 euros, and you can get a side of fresh octopus salad for a little under 4 euros!
Tip: Go to Il Pescato Cucinato for the best calamari and your local market/focacceria for the best of everything else. Also, many restaurants offer takeaway menus that sell pizza and pasta for half of their original price!
5. Sunbathe & swim at the beach
This is only one of the best Cinque Terre BUDGET activities if you know where to score a free spot on the beach. Otherwise you’ll be lured into paying a hefty fee for lounging under an umbrella on Monterosso.
Save your money, and bring your towel to lay out on Monterosso’s sandy beach or Riommagiore’s pebble beach- the only 2 true beaches in Cinque Terre. Another option, which is the one I most recommend, is finding a “comfy” rock to lay out on in Riomaggiore’s harbor! It may not be as comfortable, but it offers incredible views of the village, plus cliff diving for anyone craving some more adventure.
Tip: Something to keep in mind- Monterosso may be the only sandy beach, but it lacks the iconic Cinque Terre views of the colorful, stacked houses that the region’s famous for. If you don’t have much time, I recommend sunbathing and swimming in the Riommagiore harbor to combine beach time with multicolored views!
6. Village-hop via the local train
Price: 4 euros/ride…or free
Although multiple train tickets can add up, the train is still the fastest and easiest way to see all the villages, making it one of the best Cinque Terre budget activities if you’re on a time crunch.
No matter the distance or destination, each ride is priced at 4 euros (but there could be a way around this…see my tip!). Tickets can be purchased at the electronic ticket booths or at the information desk. Make sure to grab a print-out of the schedule so you can plan your village-hopping accordingly. Trains usually come every 20-30 minutes, but the gaps may widen the later it gets.
Tip: Just like the hiking trail tickets, the train tickets were never regulated or checked in my experience. Several times I jumped on the trains fearing I didn’t have enough time to buy a ticket and it was never a problem. Not encouraging you not to pay, just reflecting on all the money I could’ve saved if I never purchased any tickets 😊
7. Drink local wine while watching the sunset
Price: ~5 euros
This is one of the best Cinque Terre budget activities because it’s a crafty hack and bound to be one of your best memories! The region is renowned for its white grape vineyards, as well as its stunning sunset views, so why not kill two birds with one stone!
The best sunset views are over Riommagiore or Vernazza, so plan to make it to one of these villages before sundown! Just buy some cheap local white wine from the market and you’re ready to go!
Tip: Don’t forget to ask for paper cups and feel free to bring a picnic of calamari or takeaway pizza! Also, if you’re visit during high season, claim your spot about an hour before sunset since the best spots fill up fast!
You don’t need to memorize this list of the best Cinque Terre budget activities! Pin it for later 📍
Have any other activities to add to the list? I’d love to hear them in the comments below!