One of the five towns which make up the stunning, picturesque Cinque Terre region and long been considered the pearl of Cinque Terre, Vernazza remains one of the Italian Riviera’s truest fishing villages. Not only is it Cinque Terre’s only natural port, but it is also the only secure landing point of the region. Void of car traffic, the utterly romantic Vernazza once bore the moniker of “Little Venice” due to the presence of romantic bridges connecting both sides of the town before the roads came into the picture. Venture into the idyllic, romantic world of “Little Venice” and explore these top things to do in Vernazza, Italy.
1. Swim in the cool waters of Vernazza Beach
If you’re hot after all that trekking from the village of Corniglia, Vernazza beach is where you can cool off. The small, stony beach is accessible via a tunnel from the main street and the piazza features a quiet cove with stunning views of Doria Castle as you swim about in what feels like a wave pool. Carry towels and blankets to spread over the stones, as well as beach umbrellas, food, drinks, and anything else you might need, and take a break from all the strenuous hiking.
Address: Via M. Carattino, 66, 19018 Vernazza
Website: Vernazza Beach
Opening hours: 24 hours (daily)
2. Dine on fresh seafood and enjoy a stunning view at Belforte
Often called Cinque Terre’s best restaurant, and rightly so, Belforte has been serving up some amazing seafood in Vernazza for more than 45 years. This gorgeous fort-top restaurant is the best place for dining on seafood in the village under the shade of some lovely green trees. What makes dining here even more amazing is the stunning, panoramic view from where you can see the village of Vernazza, the beach, and the sea. Do try the Squid Ink Pasta, Rae Seafood Plate, Red Sauce Shellfish, and the Sea Bass, among others.
Address: Via Guidoni, 19018 Vernazza SP
Website: Ristorante Belforte
Opening hours: Wed - Mon: 12pm - 3pm, 7pm - 9:30pm (closed on Tue)
3. Climb the ancient Doria Castle
How about a bird’s eye view of Vernazza from an ancient castle? Castello dei Doria was actually built as a 15th-century lookout tower for protecting the village from pirates. Appearing in historical references around the 13th century, the castle and its imposing, impressive tower, which are located on a steep outcrop, were probably part of the early Middle Ages’ fortifications of Vernazza. The tower, which is located at the heart of Doria castle’s esplanade, is supposedly the oldest part of the entire architecture complex and offers jaw-dropping views of Vernazza.
Address: 19018 Vernazza, SP
Website: Doria Castle
Opening hours: 10am - 7pm (daily)
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4. Hike the scenic Sentiero Monterosso trail
Hikers will love the trail leading from Monterosso to Vernazza, a 3.5-km-long (2.2 miles) pretty-as-a-picture route which begins at the Cinque Terre Tourist Consortium in Monterosso where hikers need to buy tickets. An endless set of steps, citrus trees, and vineyards later, one is treated to wonderful views of Monterosso. Follow the narrow, flat path as you continue to see the great big Ligurian Sea stretched out in the front as you cross ancient stone bridges before you begin to spy Vernazza. Descend among olive trees and crops before reaching the ticket checkpoint. Tip: Wear closed shoes and pack a change of clothes and plenty of water for the hike.
Address: Pedestrian street, 19018 Vernazza SP, Monterosso al Mare SP
Website: Sentiero Monterosso
5. Say a prayer at Santuario di Nostra Signora di Reggio
“Dall’Oriente sei venuta, dolce Madonna fino a Reggio” Prima domenica d’agosto, festa della Madonna di Reggio. Santuario 3km sopra Vernazza. Sentiero n’ 508. Un’oasi di pace, natura e tanta serenità.Posted by Visit Vernazza on Sunday, 4 August 2019
Surrounded by ancient trees like lindens, cypresses, acacias, chestnuts, and holm oaks, the shrine of Our Lady of Reggio is an 11th-century Catholic place of worship in Vernazza. Boasting of a Romanesque facade, the chapel houses a Black Madonna, a representation of the Virgin Mary, with the child Jesus. Follow a panoramic 2-km-long (1.2 miles) paved path from the Vernazza train station to this old church sanctuary, which also houses a bell tower and an ancient, 19th-century guesthouse, which is now the site of a convent of nuns.
Santuario di Nostra Signora di Reggio
Address: 19018 Vernazza, SP
6. Sip on amazing wine amid stunning views of the Ligurian Sea at Cantina Cheo
Oenophiles on a trip to Vernazza will love the winery of Cheo, which produces wines widely considered as “the wines” of the region. The small but excellent winery on the beautiful slopes of Vernazza offers tasting tours of three of their wines for EUR 15 (USD 16.5) each. This paradise of Cheo also allows people on the tour to sip on their wines while visiting their vineyards which overlook the stunning azure Ligurian Sea as well as the pretty town of Vernazza. Travel tip: Call and book appointments.
Address: Via Brigate Partigiane, 1, 19018 Vernazza SP
Website: Cantina Cheo
7. Try delicious gelato at Gelateria Dal 1968
For the best homemade gelato in northern Italy, head to Gelateria Dal 1968, a household institution serving out delicious gelato for more than 50 years. Also known as Gelateria Stalin, Gelateria Dal 1968 is also Vernazza’s oldest pastry and gelato shop. Since the Cinque Terre region is known for its pesto, try the Basilico gelato which is extremely popular. Other popular flavours include Nociolata, the Pacciügu ice cream, and the Torta Stalìn which is a blend of chocolate and pastry cream. Yum!
Gelateria Dal 1968
Address: Via Visconti, 24, 19018 Vernazza SP,
Website: Gelateria Dal 1968
Opening hours: 10am - 11pm (daily)
8. Marvel at the Ligurian Gothic architecture of Santa Margherita di Antiochia Church
Built in the early 14th century on a rock in front of the Ligurian Sea, the church of Santa Margherita d'Antiochia is features classic Ligurian Gothic architecture. Built on a pre-existing 11th-century structure, the church features an impressive 40-metres-huge (131 feet) belfry with a pointed dome. Legends say that on the beach near Vernazza, a wooden box containing the bones of Saint Margaret was found, which is where a church was built and was subsequently destroyed in a sea storm, with the relic also lost. After it miraculously reappeared at the original point again, the Santa Margherita di Antiochia Church was built at the same location.
Santa Margherita di Antiochia Church
Address:Via G M Pensa, 5, 19018 Vernazza SP
Website: Santa Margherita di Antiochia Church
9. Dine on authentic Italian fare at Il Gambero Rosso Vernazza
Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing
Featuring the original, inventive cuisine beautifully blending Ligurian cooking traditions and new-age cooking, II Gambero Rosso Vernazza is innately Ligurian inside out - complete with the alfresco dining smelling of Ligurian country flowers and the interiors reminiscent of old Ligurian homes. Favourite appetizers include local mussels and anchovies dishes, the Seafood Spaghetti, Gambero Rosso Paccheri Pasta with Red Mullet Fillets, and Trofie Pasta in Pesto. Pair your meal with local wines served and polish off your meal with homemade cakes and fresh fruit.
Il Gambero Rosso Vernazza
Address: Piazza Guglielmo Marconi, 7, 19017 Vernazza SP
Website: Il Gambero Rosso Vernazza
Opening hours: Fri - Wed: 12pm - 3pm, 7pm - 10:30pm (closed on Thu)
10. Catch a glimpse of the mysterious Guvano Beach
The charming, quiet Guvano beach is a myth of a naturist Cinque Terre beach in Vernazza and is difficult to reach today. The wild, appealing beach is connected to the Blue Trail by a footpath which collapsed in 2012 and is dangerous. Another way to access the beach was via a dark, 1.5-km-long (0.9 miles) tunnel right outside the train station at Corniglia on the left, which is closed since 2016. Instead, try and spy gorgeous views of the beach from the popular Sentiero Azzurro (Blue Trail) hiking trail.
Address: 19018 Vernazza
Website: Guvano Beach
11. Catch the sunset from the secluded Ristorante Bar La Torre
Head to Ristorante Bar La Torre in Vernazza for an amazing meal with even better views and no crowds. Located on the upper part of the village of Vernazza, La Torre can be reached when one follows the signs on the path towards Corniglia. While it is a bit of a hike to the top, it weeds out the crowds that tend to throng Vernazza’s eateries. Enjoy spectacular, uninterrupted views of the setting sun over the Ligurian Sea as you dine on exquisite Lobster Pasta, a house favourite, Squid Ink Pasta, and Fish Pastaaprese, Trofie, and Spaghetti Mari, while leaving space for delicious tiramisu for dessert.
Ristorante Bar La Torre
Address: Via M. Carattino, 64, 19018 Loc. Preteccia. Vernazza
Website: Ristorante Bar La Torre
Opening hours: Sat - Thu: 10am - 11pm; Fri: 7pm - 11pm
12. Satiate your hunger pangs at Blue Marlin Bar
Whether you’re shopping in town, in between hikes, or simply tired from walking around and feel like a break, Blue Marlin Bar will literally sweep you off your feet with their amazing food and beverages. Not only is it a great spot for people-watching, but you can enjoy everything from delicious fresh juice, coffee, cheap wine, bacon, and breakfast eggs to Trofie with Pesto, Mozarella Panini, Gnocchi with Pomodoro Sauce, and more while at that. If you’re in town, don’t miss dining at this fun little spot, which also plays some amazing music!
Blue Marlin Bar
Address: Via Roma, 47, 19018 Vernazza
Website: Blue Marlin Bar
Opening hours: Thu - Tue: 7am - 12am (closed on Wed)
13. Take a relaxing walk at Porto di Vernazza
Take a break from a busy schedule of exploring Vernazza and the Cinque Terre coast and take a walk around Porto di Vernazza, the beautiful, natural harbour of the town which happens to be Cinque Terre’s only natural port and secure landing point. The port offers lovely views of the Ligurian Sea, with sights of the Doria Castle on one end and the Santa Margherita di Antiochia Church on the other end. Enjoy a light meal at one of the many restaurants at the port, grab a Spritz Veneziano, and watch the sun set on Vernazza.
Porto di Vernazza
Address: Via Visconti, 32, 19018 Vernazza SP
Website: Porto di Vernazza
Opening hours: 24 hours (daily)
14. Gorge on delicious desserts at Il Pirata delle Cinque Terre
You will experience absolute delight while digging into the range of scrumptious cakes, pastries, and desserts at Il Pirata delle Cinque Terre. Be greeted by freshly baked pastries and croissants in the morning and enjoy a huge iced cappuccino in the afternoon. Don’t forget to try the granitas, frittatas, the chocolate/hazelnut pastry, pear tart, tiramisu, and their signature dessert of panna cotta with fresh fruit.
Il Pirata delle Cinque Terre
Address: Via Gavino, 36/38, 19018 Vernazza SP
Website: Il Pirata delle Cinque Terre
Opening hours: 6:30am - 6pm (daily)
15. Do some shopping at Katrina Italian Clothing Design
No trip is complete without a fair amount of shopping, and if you want to pick up some trendy, fusion Italian clothing in Vernazza, head to Katrina Italian Clothing Design which features clothing inspired by the “Italian village by the sea” vibe of Vernazza. This classy, quaint boutique features classic Italian designs which include clothes, home decor, jewellery, bags, and even shoes. For practical, handmade, cutesy, one-of-a-kind items unique to Vernazza, do head to Katrina Italian Clothing Design.
Katrina Italian Clothing Design
Address: Via Roma, 38, 19018 Vernazza SP
Website: Katrina Italian Clothing Design
Opening hours: Tue: 10am - 8pm; Wed: 10:30am - 7:30pm; Thu - Sun: 10am - 7:30pm (closed on Mon)
The very epitome of Italian village seaside living, Vernazza is a great place to vacation when you want to escape the world and still be reminded of its innate beauty. To make the most of your Italian vacay, do indulge in these amazing things to do in Vernazza.
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