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An Essential Guide To Manarola – The Best Viewpoint In Cinque Terre


by Ettie Lambrecht



Welcome to Manarola, a picturesque village nestled in the heart of the renowned Cinque Terre region in Italy. Known for its colorful houses perched on cliffs overlooking the Ligurian Sea, Manarola offers breathtaking views and a charming atmosphere that will captivate your senses. With its rich history, stunning landscapes, and warm hospitality, it is no wonder that Manarola has become a popular destination for travelers seeking an authentic Italian experience.


Manarola is one of the five villages that make up the Cinque Terre, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Each village has its own unique character, but Manarola stands out for its idyllic setting and vibrant atmosphere. The village dates back to the 12th century and has managed to preserve its traditional charm, making it a window into the past.


While Manarola may be small in size, it packs a lot of beauty and culture within its narrow streets. As you explore the village, you’ll be delighted by the colorful buildings, the scent of fresh seafood wafting from local trattorias, and the sound of waves crashing against the rocky shoreline.


Whether you’re a nature enthusiast, a food lover, or a history buff, Manarola has something to offer everyone. Hiking trails, vineyards, and breathtaking sunsets await outdoor enthusiasts, while foodies can indulge in fresh seafood, pesto, and locally produced wines. History lovers can immerse themselves in the village’s ancient roots and discover its intriguing past.


From its captivating beauty to its warm and welcoming atmosphere, Manarola is a destination that will leave a lasting impression. So pack your bags, prepare your camera, and get ready to experience the magic of Manarola – the best viewpoint in Cinque Terre.


History of Manarola

The history of Manarola is intertwined with that of the Cinque Terre region, which has a rich and storied past. The village traces its origins back to the early 12th century when it was established as a fishing and agricultural settlement. Throughout the centuries, Manarola developed into a thriving community, attracting merchants and travelers alike.


Like its neighboring villages, Manarola faced various challenges over the years, including pirate invasions, conflicts between rival factions, and natural disasters. However, the resilient spirit of its inhabitants enabled the village to persevere and rebuild time and again.


One notable aspect of Manarola’s history is its longstanding tradition of winemaking. The steep terraced vineyards that surround the village are a testament to this ancient practice. Grapes, particularly the local variety known as Bosco, have been cultivated here for centuries, yielding flavorful wines that have garnered international acclaim.


During the Middle Ages, Manarola played a pivotal role as a key trading hub. The village’s strategic location along the Ligurian coast made it an important stop for merchants and travelers traversing the Mediterranean Sea. This bustling trade brought wealth and cultural exchange to Manarola, contributing to its development and prosperity.


Over time, Manarola evolved into the charming village that we know today. It has managed to preserve its medieval character and architectural heritage, with its narrow streets, tall buildings, and colorful facades creating a picturesque setting that enchants visitors.


Today, Manarola is not only a place of historical significance but also a vibrant community that warmly welcomes travelers from around the world. Its rich history is reflected in its timeless charm, and by exploring the village, you can get a glimpse into its fascinating past.


Whether you’re strolling along the waterfront, climbing the hillsides to visit vineyards, or simply relaxing in one of the local trattorias, you’ll feel the echoes of Manarola’s history and the enduring spirit of its people.


Geographical Overview

Manarola is nestled in the picturesque region known as Cinque Terre, located on the Italian Riviera in the northwest part of the country. This stunning coastal area is characterized by rugged cliffs, crystal-clear turquoise waters, and a landscape dotted with vibrant villages.


Situated in the province of La Spezia, Manarola is perched on a cliffside overlooking the Ligurian Sea. The village boasts a strategic location, with breathtaking panoramic views of the coastline. Its position between two small rivers, Groppo and Volastra, adds to its scenic charm.


The geography of Manarola is unique and captivating. The village is characterized by its colorful buildings that cling to the cliffside, creating a postcard-perfect setting. The narrow streets wind their way through the village, leading to the charming harbor area where fishing boats bob in the gentle waves.


The surrounding landscape is a combination of terraced vineyards, rugged cliffs, and lush Mediterranean vegetation. The steep terraces, known as “marina,” are a testament to the ingenuity of the locals who transformed the rocky terrain into fertile land for cultivating grapes and other crops.


Manarola is connected to the other four villages of the Cinque Terre – Riomaggiore, Corniglia, Vernazza, and Monterosso al Mare – by hiking trails and a scenic railway. The hiking trails provide a unique way to explore the region, offering stunning views of the coastline and the opportunity to discover hidden coves and secluded beaches along the way.


With its picturesque setting and natural beauty, Manarola is a paradise for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts. The rugged coastline is dotted with hidden coves and rocky beaches, perfect for swimming, snorkeling, and sunbathing.


Whether you’re marveling at the sun setting over the sea from a cliffside terrace or immersing yourself in the lush vineyards that surround the village, the geographical features of Manarola will leave you in awe of its natural splendor.


Getting to Manarola

Despite its secluded location, getting to Manarola is relatively easy thanks to its well-connected transportation options. Whether you’re arriving by plane, train, or car, there are several convenient routes to reach this idyllic village.


If you’re traveling from within Europe or internationally, the nearest major airport is Genoa Cristoforo Colombo Airport, located approximately 90 kilometers away. From the airport, you can either rent a car or take a train to reach Manarola. Alternatively, Pisa International Airport is another viable option, offering a wider range of international flights and is approximately 100 kilometers from Manarola.


Once you arrive at either airport, the most convenient and scenic way to reach Manarola is by train. The village is well-connected to the Italian railway network, and there are frequent trains that run along the coast. From both Genoa and Pisa, you can catch a train to La Spezia Centrale, the closest major train station to the Cinque Terre. From there, you can hop on a regional train that stops at Manarola. The journey from La Spezia to Manarola takes only a few minutes, offering stunning views of the coastline along the way.


If you prefer to travel by car, it’s worth noting that Manarola, like the other Cinque Terre villages, is mostly car-free. While you can drive into some parts of the village to drop off luggage, vehicles are not allowed in the center. There are parking areas outside the village where you can leave your car and continue your journey on foot or by using local transportation.


Manarola is also accessible by sea, with regular ferry services operating from La Spezia, Portovenere, and other neighboring towns. This option allows you to enjoy a scenic boat ride along the coastline, offering a different perspective of the Cinque Terre.


Once you’ve arrived in Manarola, getting around the village is best done on foot. The village is small and easily navigable, with its narrow streets and picturesque alleyways inviting you to explore every corner.


Getting to Manarola is just the beginning of your Cinque Terre adventure. Whether you embark on a breathtaking hike along the coastal trails or simply soak in the beauty of the village, your journey to this enchanting destination will be unforgettable.


Exploring Manarola

Exploring Manarola is like stepping into a postcard-worthy scene. The village is relatively small, but it is brimming with charm, beauty, and things to discover. Here’s a glimpse into what you can expect as you explore this enchanting coastal town.


Start your exploration by taking a leisurely stroll along the charming streets of Manarola. Admire the colorful houses that line the narrow alleyways, each one boasting a unique charm and character. There’s a sense of tranquility and authenticity as you wander through the village, far away from the bustling crowds of larger cities.


Make your way down to the picturesque harbor area, where fishing boats bob gently in the crystal-clear waters. This is a great spot to soak in the vibrant atmosphere and snap some memorable photos. You might even catch the local fishermen unloading their fresh catch of the day.


For panoramic views of Manarola and the surrounding coastline, head to the viewpoints located on the cliffs. One of the most popular spots is at the back of the village, near the Church of San Lorenzo. From here, you’ll be treated to breathtaking vistas that stretch out over the sparkling sea and charming village below.


For outdoor enthusiasts, Manarola offers a network of hiking trails that allow you to explore the natural beauty of the Cinque Terre region. The famous “Sentiero Azzurro” or Blue Trail connects the five villages, providing stunning views along the way. The section between Manarola and Riomaggiore, known as the Via dell’Amore or Lover’s Lane, is a must-do for its romantic atmosphere.


Art lovers will appreciate the works of local artists displayed in the village’s art galleries. Manarola has long been a source of inspiration for painters, giving rise to a vibrant local art scene. Take a moment to browse through the various galleries and immerse yourself in the creativity that flows through every brushstroke.


No visit to Manarola is complete without indulging in the local cuisine. Sample the fresh seafood, delicious pesto, and other Ligurian specialties at the village’s charming trattorias and restaurants. Pair your meal with a glass of locally produced wine, such as the famous Sciacchetrà, for a true taste of the region.


As the sun starts to set, find a spot along the cliffs or at a waterfront bar to witness the spectacular sunset over the sea. The golden hues reflecting on the colorful buildings create a truly breathtaking display that will leave you in awe of Manarola’s beauty.


Exploring Manarola is an immersive experience that allows you to discover the village’s unique charm, breathtaking views, and rich cultural heritage. So take your time, soak in the atmosphere, and let Manarola captivate your senses.


Best Viewpoints in Manarola

Manarola, with its stunning cliffside location and panoramic views of the Ligurian Sea, offers several vantage points that will take your breath away. From these viewpoints, you can capture the beauty of the village, the sparkling turquoise waters, and the rugged coastline. Here are some of the best viewpoints in Manarola:

  1. Punta Bonfiglio: Located at the back of the village, Punta Bonfiglio offers a splendid panoramic view of Manarola. The viewpoint is easily accessible, and you can enjoy unobstructed vistas of the colorful houses, the harbor, and the sea stretching out into the horizon. This spot is particularly popular during sunrise and sunset when the sky awakens with vibrant hues.
  2. Church of San Lorenzo: Perched on the hillside, the Church of San Lorenzo not only offers a place of tranquility but also provides a stunning view of Manarola. From the church square, you’ll have a sweeping panorama of the village, the terraced vineyards, and the sea. It’s an ideal spot to capture the charm and beauty of Manarola from a higher vantage point.
  3. Scenic Walks and Hiking Trails: Manarola is part of the famous Cinque Terre hiking trails network, and many of these paths offer incredible viewpoints. The Sentiero Azzurro, also known as the Blue Trail, provides stunning vistas as you hike between the villages. Sections of the trail offer elevated viewpoints where you can admire the coastal landscape, including Manarola. Be sure to hike the Via dell’Amore, the Lover’s Lane, for a romantic stroll with mesmerizing views.
  4. Corniglia Lardarina: While technically not in Manarola, the viewpoint of Corniglia Lardarina is only a short distance away. To reach this viewpoint, you’ll climb the famous Lardarina, a staircase with 365 steps. Once you reach the top, you’ll be rewarded with sweeping views of the coastline and, on a clear day, even the other villages of the Cinque Terre.
  5. Riomaggiore Trail: For adventurers willing to explore beyond the borders of Manarola, the trail from Manarola to Riomaggiore offers magnificent views. As you hike this trail, you’ll witness the beauty of the rugged coastline and the colorful villages nestled into the cliffs. Several viewpoints along the way allow you to pause and soak in the awe-inspiring scenery.

These viewpoints in Manarola will undoubtedly leave you in awe of the village’s natural beauty. Whether you’re capturing the perfect photo, enjoying a romantic sunset, or simply embracing the tranquility of the surroundings, these vantage points offer a glimpse into the breathtaking landscapes that make Manarola one of the most picturesque destinations in Italy.


Activities in Manarola

Manarola offers a multitude of activities that cater to a variety of interests, ensuring that visitors of all ages and preferences find something enjoyable to do. Whether you’re seeking adventure, relaxation, or cultural experiences, Manarola has it all. Here are some activities that you can indulge in during your visit:

  1. Hiking: Manarola is a paradise for hiking enthusiasts. The village serves as a starting point for the famous Sentiero Azzurro, or Blue Trail, which connects all five Cinque Terre villages. You can embark on an exhilarating hike along the coastal trails, taking in breathtaking views of the Mediterranean Sea, terraced vineyards, and charming villages. Don’t miss the enchanting Via dell’Amore, the Lover’s Lane, which is a romantic path between Manarola and Riomaggiore.
  2. Boat Tours: Explore the stunning coastline and hidden coves of the Cinque Terre by taking a boat tour from Manarola. You can rent a kayak or join a guided boat excursion to discover secluded beaches, sea caves, and picturesque fishing villages from a unique perspective. Admire the rugged cliffs and crystal-clear waters as you navigate the tranquil sea.
  3. Wine Tasting: Manarola is renowned for its vineyards and delicious wine. Take part in a wine tasting experience and sample the local produce, including the famous Sciacchetrà dessert wine. Discover the traditional winemaking methods and learn about the history and significance of winemaking in the region. Cheers to a delightful experience amidst the lush vineyards and stunning views.
  4. Photography: Manarola is a photographer’s dream destination. Capture the vibrant colors of the buildings, the serene harbor, and the picturesque cliffside landscape. The village offers endless opportunities for stunning shots, especially during sunrise and sunset when the light casts a magical glow over the surroundings. Explore the narrow streets, seek unique perspectives, and let your creativity flow as you capture the beauty of Manarola through your lens.
  5. Swimming and Sunbathing: Enjoy the sparkling Mediterranean Sea by taking a refreshing swim or lounging on the pebble beaches near the harbor. While Manarola doesn’t have sandy beaches, you can still bask in the sun and take a dip in the crystal-clear waters. Find a cozy spot, unwind, and embrace the tranquility of the coastal paradise.
  6. Local Cuisine: Indulge in the delectable Ligurian cuisine and experience the flavors of Manarola. Sample fresh seafood dishes, try local specialties like the famous pesto sauce, and savor the delicate flavors of the region. Visit the traditional trattorias and cozy restaurants, or explore local food markets to taste the authentic culinary delights that Manarola has to offer.

These activities in Manarola provide a wonderful blend of adventure, relaxation, and cultural experiences. Whether you’re hiking along the breathtaking trails, immersing yourself in the local wine culture, capturing memorable moments with your camera, or simply enjoying the laid-back coastal lifestyle, Manarola will leave you with unforgettable memories of your time in this charming Italian village.


Local Cuisine in Manarola

Manarola, like the rest of the Cinque Terre region, offers a culinary experience that is as rich and colorful as its landscape. With its proximity to the sea and fertile soil, the village boasts a delectable array of local dishes that showcase the flavors of Ligurian cuisine. Here are some iconic dishes and culinary experiences to savor while exploring the local cuisine of Manarola:

  1. Fresh Seafood: As a coastal village, Manarola is renowned for its fresh seafood. Sample dishes like anchovies, calamari, and branzino, which are often prepared simply to let the natural flavors shine. Whether grilled, baked, or served in a traditional Ligurian pasta dish, the seafood in Manarola is a must-try for all seafood lovers.
  2. Pesto alla Genovese: Pesto is a star of Ligurian cuisine, and Manarola is no exception. The village takes pride in its basil, which is used to create the iconic Pesto alla Genovese. Made with fresh basil leaves, pine nuts, garlic, Parmesan cheese, and olive oil, this vibrant green sauce is typically served with trofie pasta or drizzled over bruschetta. The aromatic and zesty flavors of the pesto will tantalize your taste buds.
  3. Focaccia: Another beloved Ligurian specialty is focaccia. Manarola offers a selection of mouthwatering variations of this delicious bread. Soft and fluffy with a slight crispness on the outside, the focaccia in Manarola is often topped with fragrant olive oil, rosemary, olives, or even cherry tomatoes. Grab a slice to-go and enjoy it as a snack while exploring the village.
  4. Sciacchetrà Wine: Manarola’s vineyards produce a unique and renowned dessert wine called Sciacchetrà. This amber-colored wine is made from late-harvested Bosco, Albarola, and Vermentino grapes. Its distinct flavor has notes of honey, dried fruit, and a hint of salinity, making it the perfect accompaniment to local desserts or enjoyed on its own as a sweet indulgence.
  5. Traditional Trattorias: To truly immerse yourself in the local culinary scene, visit the traditional trattorias in Manarola. These family-run establishments offer a cozy and intimate dining experience, where you can savor authentic homemade dishes made with love and local ingredients. Let the friendly hosts guide you through the menu, and don’t forget to pair your meal with a glass of local wine.
  6. Gelato: Indulge your sweet tooth with some gelato, the classic Italian treat. Manarola has gelaterias that offer a wide range of flavors, from traditional favorites like chocolate and pistachio to unique creations like basil or lemon and rosemary. Take a stroll around the village and savor a scoop (or two) of this creamy delight.

The local cuisine in Manarola is a delightful exploration of fresh and flavorful ingredients. From the abundance of seafood to the vibrant sauces and irresistible baked goods, the culinary traditions of Manarola will satisfy your palate and leave you craving for more. So, immerse yourself in the flavors of Manarola and let the local cuisine transport you to a gastronomic paradise.


Accommodation Options

When it comes to accommodations in Manarola, visitors are spoilt for choice with an array of charming and cozy options that cater to different preferences and budgets. Whether you’re seeking a luxurious seaside retreat, a cozy bed and breakfast, or a budget-friendly guesthouse, Manarola has something for everyone. Here are some of the accommodation options available in this enchanting village:

  1. Hotels: Manarola offers a range of hotels, both luxury and boutique, that provide comfortable and stylish accommodations. These hotels often boast stunning sea views, well-appointed rooms, and excellent amenities such as onsite restaurants and terraces for breathtaking sunsets.
  2. Bed and Breakfasts: For a more intimate and personalized experience, consider staying in a bed and breakfast in Manarola. This option allows you to enjoy the warm hospitality of the locals and experience the village’s charm up close. Bed and breakfasts often offer cozy rooms, homemade breakfasts, and helpful hosts who can provide insider tips for exploring the area.
  3. Guesthouses: Manarola is also home to several guesthouses and inns that provide a comfortable stay and a more relaxed and homey atmosphere. These establishments offer a range of rooms, from private to shared, and often have communal areas where guests can socialize and share stories of their adventures.
  4. Vacation Rentals: If you prefer a home-away-from-home experience, you’ll find many vacation rentals available in Manarola. These can range from cozy apartments to charming cottages, giving you the freedom to live like a local and create your own pace. Vacation rentals are a great option for families or larger groups who want more space and the convenience of a kitchen.
  5. Camping: For nature enthusiasts and adventure seekers, camping is an option in the vicinity of Manarola. There are campsites nestled in the beauty of the surrounding landscapes, allowing you to experience the serene atmosphere of the Cinque Terre region while admiring the starry night sky.

Regardless of the type of accommodation you choose, staying in Manarola will provide an authentic and memorable experience. With its idyllic setting, you’ll find yourself immersed in the beauty of the village from the moment you step outside your door. It’s recommended to book your accommodation well in advance, especially during the peak travel seasons, to secure your preferred choice.


Whether you’re seeking luxury, comfort, or a more rustic experience, there’s an accommodation option in Manarola that will make your stay truly memorable. So, take your pick and embark on a delightful journey in one of the most enchanting villages in the Cinque Terre.


Shopping in Manarola

Exploring the traditional shops and boutiques of Manarola is a delightful experience that allows you to bring home a piece of the village’s charm and craftsmanship. Despite its small size, Manarola offers a variety of shopping options where you can find unique treasures and local products. Here are some shopping highlights to explore in Manarola:

  1. Local Artwork: Manarola is home to several art galleries and studios where you can admire and purchase beautiful artworks inspired by the village and its surroundings. From paintings capturing the stunning landscapes to intricate sculptures and handmade ceramics, these artistic creations make for unique and meaningful souvenirs.
  2. Ligurian Food Specialties: The gastronomic delights of Liguria can be found in the local food shops and markets of Manarola. Browse through the shelves stocked with jars of pesto sauce, bottles of Sciacchetrà wine, and varieties of olive oil. You can also find an assortment of local cheeses, dried fruits, and other gourmet products that showcase the flavors of the region. These edible delights make great gifts for food enthusiasts or a delicious treat to enjoy during your stay.
  3. Handcrafted Jewelry: Manarola is known for its skilled artisans who create unique pieces of jewelry. From delicate necklaces adorned with sea-inspired charms to elegant silver or gold earrings, the jewelry shops in Manarola offer a range of handcrafted designs that reflect the coastal beauty of the village. Choose a piece that captures your memories of Manarola and serves as a wearable memento.
  4. Local Products: Take home a piece of Manarola by purchasing locally made products, such as handmade soaps, scented candles, or lavender sachets. These items are often crafted using natural ingredients and showcase the traditional skills and craftsmanship of the region. Support local artisans and discover authentic products that reflect the essence of Manarola.
  5. Apparel and Accessories: If you’re looking to update your wardrobe or find a stylish accessory, Manarola offers clothing boutiques and stores that feature locally designed and curated collections. From trendy beachwear to classic Italian fashion, you can find unique pieces that add a touch of coastal elegance to your style.

As you stroll through the streets of Manarola, you’ll find a range of shops and boutiques that cater to different tastes and interests. The village’s authenticity and dedication to craftsmanship ensure that each item you find is crafted with care and passion. Don’t forget to explore the local markets and keep an eye out for seasonal events or festivals where you can find additional shopping opportunities.


Shopping in Manarola is not just about acquiring souvenirs; it’s about immersing yourself in the local culture, supporting local artisans, and discovering unique pieces that evoke the spirit of this enchanting village. So, explore the shops of Manarola and find something special to adorn your home, cherish as a memory, or gift to someone special.



Manarola, with its captivating beauty and rich cultural heritage, offers a truly unforgettable experience in the heart of the Cinque Terre region. From its picturesque cliffside setting to its charming streets and vibrant atmosphere, this enchanting village showcases the best of what Italy has to offer. Whether you’re exploring the colorful buildings, indulging in the local cuisine, or immersing yourself in the breathtaking views, Manarola leaves a lasting impression on all who visit.


The history of Manarola reflects a resilient community that has withstood the test of time, preserving its medieval charm and traditions. The geography of the village is equally remarkable, with its dramatic cliffs, terraced vineyards, and crystal-clear waters. The accommodations, shopping options, and activities available cater to a variety of interests and ensure an authentic and memorable experience for every traveler.


Engaging in outdoor activities like hiking the coastal trails or venturing out on a boat tour allows you to discover the natural beauty of Manarola, while exploring the viewpoints provides breathtaking vistas of the village and its surroundings. Indulging in the local cuisine means savoring the fresh seafood, flavorful pesto, and renowned Sciacchetrà wine, while shopping for local products allows you to bring home a piece of Manarola’s charm.


Whether you’re a nature enthusiast, a food lover, an art enthusiast, or simply seeking a peaceful retreat by the sea, Manarola will captivate your senses and offer an authentic Italian experience. So, pack your bags and embark on a journey to this picturesque village, where vibrant colors, stunning landscapes, and warm hospitality await. Discover the magic of Manarola, the best viewpoint in Cinque Terre, and create memories that will last a lifetime.