A weekend in Cinque Terre

Corniglia, 5D Mark III | 16-35mm 2.8L II

It was my wife’s birthday and we decided to take a long weekend trip somewhere. She, being Asian, and sick of winter naturally wanted to go somewhere warm! We checked out last minute flights, but in the end decided to go to the Cinque Terre region in Italy. It is only a 6 hour drive from Garmisch Partekirchen in Germany. Cinque Terre is somewhere I also wanted to see for ages, its a great place for photography. The region is renowned for it’s rugged terrain, plantations of lemon and other fruits, and of course it’s amazing villages perched on the cliffs. We decided to head for Vernazza, one of the 5 main towns to see, where we got a great little bed and breakfast place.

Map of Cinque Terre, credit: https://cinqueterre.a-turist.com/map

As you can see from the map above, the five towns are close together, and linked easily by train. Cars are not allowed in most villages, and we parked our car about 1.2km away from Vernazza and had to walk down, but not not a big deal. You can also go between the villages by boat, which is suppose to be a relaxing way of commuting, but in low season these don’t run. Apart from driving which I wouldn’t recommend due to parking and the very narrow roads, the only other way is to hike. We hiked from Vernazza to Monterosso which takes around 2-3 hours. The trip is well worth it for the scenery, and it was very pleasant!

The region is renowned for it’s rugged terrain, plantations of lemon and other fruits, and of course it’s amazing villages perched on the cliffs.

Enjoying the sun on the trail between Vernazza and Monterosso, 5D Mark III | 50mm 1.4 Art


View from the trail down to Vernazza, 5D Mark III | 50mm 1.4 Art


I would recommend going in shoulder season, as I can imagine that there would be a lot of tourists in the middle of August. We already in late March saw tour groups. Having said that, we found that not that many people actually stay in the towns, at least not in Vernazza. It seems most tourists come by the train for just a few hours.

This is really a photographer’s paradise.

Good to know

  • The roads in the Cinque Terre region are very narrow. If you have a big car or camper, you really need to consider this. Also, for the most part is it not possible to drive into the villages, you need to park outside the villages, and walk in with your stuff.
  • The towns are quite small, and you will run out of things to do and see in each of them soon enough, so plan to see at least a couple of villages on your stay. That’s not to say they are boring, they certainly are not, they are very charming.
  • Accommodation can quickly run out in your chosen village, so book early, and have a back up plan. We stayed at A Cà Da Nonna Di Callo Luca and it was very comfortable, and just 70 Euros per night with everything included and a good bathroom. I would highly recommend them! Find them on Booking.com. If all is lost, and you cannot stay in the villages, staying at La Spezia is a workable option. The train runs frequently and its a short trip.
  • There is a hiking trail which runs through the region, and links up with the villages, for the more adventurous type this is really worth while. The track is well used, but a little rugged and steep in parts. It should be noted here that tent use is really difficult, and there is only one tent site 40mins away from Vernazza.
  • There are small supermarkets if you need something, or planning on cooking yourself. There are also several good restaurants in each village. Prices are reasonable.
  • We found the train a good way to get between villages, after you get used to the system. We got single tickets, but it is possible to get a day ticket for 13 Euros.

Monterosso, 5D Mark III | 16-35mm 2.8L II & B+W CPL

Photography Tips

This is really a photographer’s paradise. The scenery is great, the villages are colorful and the water is clear. After first seeing some photos from the region, I always wanted to go there. For the most part, it is the landscape photography opportunities which appeal most. Unfortunately, the light wasn’t very special when we were there, but I tried to make the best of it. Each village has several good vantage points for the best photos, but these can initially be a little hard to find, so check them out early or before you have to shoot the sunrise. You may also have a look at the local post office for post cards, and get an idea of the vantage points in advanced.

This is really the photo I wanted to get! 5D Mark III | 16-35mm 2.8L II | Lee Little Stopper & B+W CPL.


Dawn in Vernazza. 5D Mark III | 24mm 1.4 Art | Lee Pro-Glass 0.9 + GND 0.6 & X4 CPL


Usually, these vantage points are on the trail leading in and out of the village, this was certainly the case with Vernazza. Bring a tripod, and if you have filters bring them along. I got the above two images with a combination of neutral density filters, grad filters and polariser. Any scenic coastal environment such as Cinque Terre begs for long exposures and landscape filter use. I used my Canon 5D Mark III along with several lenses; 16-35mm 2.8L II, 14mm 2.8, 24mm 1.4 Art, 50mm 1.4 Art and the 100-400mm 4.5-5.6L IS II. Its really important to have a polariser handy to bring out the colour, refer to my short write up about polariser use here.

Vernazza at night, 5D Mark III | 24mm 1.4 Art


Vernazza at dawn, 5D Mark III | 16-35mm 2.8L II | Lee Little Stopper & B+W CPL | 46 seconds


Vernazza at dusk, 5D Mark III | 50mm 1.4 Art | Lee Pro-Glass 0.9 & X4 CPL | 48 seconds


Its really important to have a polariser handy to bring out the colour

Most of the shots above are 20-60 second exposures, using Lee neutral density filters. This is a great way to smooth out water and create drama in the picture. The other advantage of using ND filters is that due to the long exposure time, people who walk into your image don’t necessarily appear in the end result (as long as they keep moving!). If you are not into landscape photography, there are good street photography opportunities as well!

Good place for a nap, Riomaggiore. 5D Mark III | 50mm 1.4 Art


Riomaggiore, 5D Mark III | 16-35mm 2.8L II


Vanessa in Corniglia, 5D Mark III | 50mm 1.4 Art

Photography in Cinque Terre;

  • Great location for landscape photography – Bring your tripod!
  • If you have landscape filters – bring them, you will need them.
  • If you don’t have a polariser, invest in one, they are well worth it here.
  • If you want tourist free pictures, get up early, and watch the sun-rise.
  • Using neutral density filters can remove people from images.
  • Use the trail linking up the villages. There are great vantage points along it.
  • Each village has something unique about it, and they are all worth visiting.

Hope you enjoyed reading this post about the Cinque Terre region. Please subscribe to my blog to stay up to date on all posts so you don’t miss a thing! Please comment or contact, I would appreciate the feedback.

Gallery from the weekend

4 Comments on “A weekend in Cinque Terre

  1. Love, love, love your pictures! 👌🏻👌🏻👌🏻

    May I ask you a question about neutral density filters? You said with long exposure, people won’t show up in the pictures. How many seconds do you mean with “long exposure” and is a neutral density filter a square one or a circular one like a circular polarizer? Thank you.


    • Hi Evangelina! Glad you like the photos! You would need an exposure time of maybe 20 seconds or more. You have to experiment. If people keep moving around, there won’t be enough time for them to be recorded in the image. Neutral density filter simply cut down the amount of light entering the camera allowing longer exposures. They are available in both square format and circular screw on type. I use lee square filters. Thanks for your comment, happy shooting!


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