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The 10 essential things to do in Manarola

Visit Manarola: what are the best things to do and see in this jewel of Liguria?

Manarola is a hamlet in the municipality of Riomaggiore in the Italian region of Liguria. The town is located about a hundred kilometers southeast of Genoa and is one of the five villages that make up the Cinque Terre National Park.

Built on the side of a cliff, it is famous for its panorama, its picturesque streets, its summer festivities and so many others. Today we invite you to learn about the best activities to do to visit Manarola. This small fishing village, a treasure of Italian heritage, has definitely not finished marveling you!

1. Discover the Cinque Terre National Park

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The Cinque Terre National Park is a tourist attraction not to be missed when you come to visit Manarola. With less than 3,900 hectares, it is one of the smallest Italian national parks. This did not prevent it from being listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

It includes a marine protected area and is spread over five municipalities: Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza and Monterosso. Totally car-free space, it is best visited between April and October. Its 120 kilometers of coastal paths will delight you. Some are chargeable in high season. The price to pay to preserve this prodigious natural site…

2. Explore the heart of the village of Manarola

heart of the village of Manarola

Photo credit: Shutterstock – Giampaolo Nitti

The village of Manarola was built in the heart of the cove of Volastra. It seems to plunge into the crystal clear waters licking its steep cliffs. With its pastel-colored houses typical of Liguria, it is one of the most picturesque places in the country.

The town follows the route of the Groppo, a watercourse surrounded by narrow cobbled streets. The exploration of these, between fountains and colorful gardens, is one of the key activities to do when visiting Manarola. Do not hesitate to go to the small fishing port, it is a real marvel!

3. Getting to Belvedere

The Belvedere

Photo credit: Shutterstock – Marco Crupi

Via Belvedere is a panoramic site dominating the village of Manarola. It offers a breathtaking view of a most spectacular natural environment. If you are looking to take advantage of this exceptional place to see when visiting Manarola, go to the lower part of the village and head towards Piazza Eugenio Montale.

You will follow a pretty little colorful street dotted with traditional shops and famous restaurants. The Via Belvedere is an accessible route ending in apotheosis: you will overlook the entire creek of Manarola and admire a bluish horizon where the sky seems to merge with the ocean.

4. Walk the Path of Love

visit Manarola

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The Way of Love (La Via dell’Amore in Dante’s language) is a rocky path to do to visit Manarola. With a length of barely one kilometer, it is very easy and can be covered in barely twenty minutes. His particuliarity ? It is carved into the rock just above the surface of the water. Its primary purpose was purely practical since it made it possible to connect Manarola and Riomaggiore.

Today, it is the visitors who enjoy it day and night: this panoramic path is lit up when the sun goes down. You will have the opportunity to admire surprising geological formations and unique flora while breathing in the sea air. We will particularly recommend it to lovers who have come to visit the region: a great opportunity to please your other half!

5. Go see the Manarola nativity scene

Manarola Nativity Scene

Photo credit: Shutterstock – Marco Toni

Did you know ? The largest nativity scene in the world is made every year in the village of Manarola. Since 1961, it has been inaugurated on December 8 and stands until the end of January on the hill of Tre Croci. People come from all over Italy to admire its characters and sumptuous decorations!

It is to a former railway worker named Maria Andreoli that we owe this spectacular initiative, so colossal that it is reflected in the water after dark. A real enchanted parenthesis to share with the family, for example.

6. Visit the Church of San Lorenzo

visit Manarola

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The Church of San Lorenzo was built in the 14th century. Today, it is Manarola’s best-known monument. This Gothic-style church originally had a dual function, religious and defensive. Its bell tower served as an observation post to ward off the landings of possible invaders…

If you want to admire it, take the direction of Discovolo street, the main artery of the village. You will be captivated by its pink Carrara marble windows and its sumptuous Baroque-style interior. Visiting this cultural place of national importance is one of the essential activities to do when visiting Manarola. It is all the more pleasant in summer when the outside temperatures exceed 30°C!

7. Hike around the vineyards of Manarola

  Hike around the vineyards of Manarola

Photo credit: Shutterstock – Giorgio Paravagna

Eh yes ! The surrounding cliffs constitute a high quality terroir for viticulture. The local peasants were not mistaken and have been cultivating vines on terraces for centuries. They produce the famous sciacchetrà, a sweet wine typical of the region.

Made from a skilful blend of bosco, albarola and vermentino, it is enjoyed in summer. The vines are traversed by numerous rocky paths perfect for a stroll in the fresh air. If you come to visit Manarola in autumn, don’t miss a visit, it’s really worth it (to drink)!

8. Enjoy a swim

bathing manarola

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Manarola has a beautiful rocky seawall that sits just below the town. Two adjoining ports, including that of Palaedo, are easily accessible after a few minutes’ walk on the cliffside. Here, crystal clear water is guaranteed in all seasons! The area is also full of many coves and beaches, very clean, free to access and free. Sheltered, they present no particular danger but can quickly be taken by storm during the summer season.

Our team therefore advises you to go there in the morning or at the end of the afternoon. We also recommend that you take advantage of the clarity of the water to put on a mask and snorkel. An exceptional endemic underwater fauna and flora are revealed there for your greatest happiness: so, we take a dip?

9. Enjoy a meal with a view at Nessun Dorma

visit Manarola

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Nessun Dorma is located along the road leading to the cemetery (particularly aesthetic, by the way). This legendary establishment is the perfect place to admire the sunset over the village. A real gastronomic stopover to do in Manarola, you can taste typical cuisine made up of cold meats, cheeses, salads and bruschettas.

No pasta or pizza here, only dishes from the region, we are in Liguria! We advise you to taste everything while tasting various boards. These fresh and delicious snacks are best paired with a local white wine…bon appetit!

10. Visit the Sanctuary of Nostra Signora della Salute

visit Manarola

Photo credit: Shutterstock – Zocchi Roberto

The sanctuary of Our Lady of Health is located in the hamlet of Volastra, which is reached by following a peaceful stream. This church, built almost a thousand years ago between vineyards and olive groves, is an example of the purest Romanesque architectural style. Note the Gothic stylistic additions that embellished it over the centuries.

The building is surrounded by a mysterious aura and lends itself to many legends. To discover them, opt for a guided tour organized by the local tourist office located at Manarola station. We will probably tell you about the disappearance of the church bells which, it seems, still ring on stormy nights…

By plane

If you opt for the air route, know that the international airport of Genoa or that of Pisa are the closest. Those of Florence and Milan are also served by flights from all over Europe. Moreover, we advise you to use Skyscanner, a flight comparator that will allow you to come and visit Manarola by finding a flight at the best price.

By train

The train is the easiest means of transport to reach the Cinque Terre. From Genoa, board the train towards La Spezia and then into the “Cinque Terre Express”. The five municipalities of the Cinque Terre National Park have a train station.

The train is also the ideal means of transport to get around in the latter since departures are organized every twenty minutes between March 15 and November 1. The map “Cinque Terre Train” will allow you to travel unlimited on the line, to take the ecological buses and to enjoy free access to all the walking paths. A real good plan!

By car

Let’s be clear: to visit Manarola, it is not recommended to use the car. You will just be able to approach the villages of Cinque Terre by car but their center is forbidden to car traffic. However, minibuses will allow you to connect the towns of the national park without difficulty.

If you come by car from La Spezia, road 370 will take you to your destination. From Genoa, take the A12 motorway to the Carrodano – Levanto exit and continue to Monterosso. The directions are very well indicated!

On a boat

From April 1 to November 1, excursion boats from La Spezia and Levanto can help you to come and visit Manarola. It’s an original way to admire the region and get off the beaten track!

Where to stay in Manarola?

If you are looking for easy accommodation, good news: there are many hotel establishments in Manarola. Most of the hotels in the Cinque Terre are small, charming establishments classified between 3 and 4 stars. Depending on your needs, simply go to this hotel comparator to find the most suitable for your stay.

You can also opt for an apartment to be selected from platforms for connecting individuals such as Airbnb. Bed and breakfasts are not to be outdone: economical and friendly, they promise an authentic experience. This solution, a guarantee of quality services, is very widespread in Italy.

Even more original, opt for agritourism, that is to say a stay on farms. You can taste the typical peasant productions: olive oil, red and white wines, honey, cheese…

Youth hostels are intended for rustic backpackers ready to share basic accommodation: in a good mood, of course! Finally, be aware that there is no campsite in the Cinque Terre National Park. Levanto and Deiva Marina, however, have a few. Do not hesitate to book them well in advance, they are very busy from June to September!

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