Wondering if there’s enough to do in Riomaggiore to warrant staying a few days in this colorful and charming Cinque Terre village? The southernmost village is less crowded and has a fun youthful vibe, and while it lacks some of the star quality of the other Cinque Terre villages, it compensates with bags of charm and plenty of things to do. Here are the best 12 things to do in bewitching Riomaggiore.
This article may contain compensated links. Please read the disclaimer for more info
Getting to Riomaggiore
Riomaggiore (“ree-oh-mah-JOR-eh”) is the most southern village of the five Cinque Terre towns.
Genoa and Milan are to the north of Riomaggiore, meaning that you would catch a regional train to one of the larger local stations – Levanto or Monterosso.
Pisa and Florence are in the opposite direction, meaning you take an intercity train to La Spezia Centrale – from there, it’s an eight-minute train ride.
Trains going both to Cinque Terre and between the villages are well-run. It’s the most convenient way to get from town to town and getting to Riomaggiore is half the fun!
A single ticket costs €4, and there is also a Cinque Terre Treno card available, offering unlimited travel for 1-3 days.
This pass is pricey – the 1-day option is €18.20 – but it includes access to the Blue Trail, which normally costs €7.50.
So, if you are planning a day involving hiking through the other Cinque Terre villages and taking three or more trains (or no hiking but making four journeys or more), the pass starts to become economical.
There are also 2-day and 3-day passes available, which naturally offer cheaper price-per-trip ratios.
Where to Stay in Riomaggiore
THE AWARD FOR THE BEST PLACE TO STAY IN RIOMAGGIORE GOES TO……..
Finally, an ultra-modern and ultra-stylish small luxury hotel in Riomaggiore! Bathroom with rain shower and Jacuzzi with sea view, large sea view window, satellite TV, minibar, Nespresso coffee machine, air conditioning!!, safe, private solarium with sea view shower. A wonderful terrace and incredible seaviews. The downside? There are only 4 suites and you need to book fast!
THE AWARD FOR THE MOST ROMANTIC STAY IN RIOMAGGIORE GOES TO……..
This rustic house among the vineyards overlooking the sea has a spectacular outdoor area just made for cuddling up and sipping wine. The Villa has two bedrooms, a relatively rustic interior, a beautiful bathroom, a cozy main bedroom, and an outside space that includes a min-kitchenette. Unforgettable sunsets.
For a more complete list of Riomaggiore accommodations, check out Where to Stay in Cinque Terre: A Guide to Choosing Your Favorite Village
The 12 Best Things to Do in Riomaggiore Cinque Terre
Without catching a train, there are lots of interesting activities you can do in Riomaggiore itself.
1. Piazza Vignaiolo
This square, Piazza Vignaiolo, is the first thing you will see as you get to the harbor. I love that in this little fishing village, the main street takes you right to the sea!
There are one or two bars and cafes dotted around the historic center of the town.
It makes for an ideal spot for a coffee, a spot of lunch, and a chance to take a quick snap (or have a leisurely contemplation of the ocean) before you head for the hills.
2. Castello di Riomaggiore (Riomaggiore Castle)
The Riomaggiore Castle is often missed by tourists hopping from town to town.
It is just a couple of minutes’ walk from the town center, and offers a wonderful panoramic view of the harbor and the ocean.
Built by the Marquises Turcotti in the 13th century, it was restored by the Genoese two centuries later.
Today, only a few original elements remain – the castle’s surrounding walls and two tall, sturdy circular towers. Entry to the tower costs €2.
As well as the views, the castle also offers regular events, so keep an eye out for any temporary exhibitions or shows that might be on during your stay.
Next to the castle, you will find the Oratory of San Rocco, which was built during the plague of 1480 and decimated the area.
The two sites are connected to the harbor by Via Colombo, the village’s main street whose restaurants offer local wines – including sciacchetrà, a sweet dessert wine – as well as fine Italian fare.
3. Church of San Giovanni Battista
Further uphill, the Church of San Giovanni Battista is almost as old as the castle, dating back to the 14th century.
Dedicated to Saint John the Baptist, the patron saint of the village, this Gothic church is worth visiting to admire the artwork found within, including a wooden crucifix by Maragliano.
There is also a painting of John the Baptist attributed to Domenico Fiasella and a marble pulpit that dates back to the seventeenth century.
Where: Via Pecunia, 47, 19017 Riomaggiore SP, Italy
4. Santuario di Nostra Signora di Montenero
Yet another killer view can be found on the other side of town at one of the Cinque Terre’s most prominent landmarks.
This sanctuary is perched on a hill at the top of the village. Over a thousand feet above sea level, its remote location means it can only be accessed on foot (or by a funicular).
Once a year, on the Saturday before Pentecost, Riomaggiore residents take La via Grande by the Riomaggiore Canal and then walk through the vineyards to the Sanctuary in a procession.
The 3.5 km from the village is a relatively steep hike that takes about 90 minutes.
As well as the fine views of the coast and other Cinque Terre Villages, this is a true sanctuary, offering a genuine feeling of peace away from some of the busier spots along the coast.
The sanctuary has been standing here since 1335, and some locals even believe there was a place of worship on the same site which predated it – but which was kept hidden to protect it from would-be invaders.
The sanctuary is cared for by monks and contains a revered painting of the Madonna and Child (Madonna delle Grazie).
It’s hard to describe, but it’s a very special place, and not to be missed if you are in Riomaggiore for a day or more.
5. Guardiola Tower of Riomaggiore
Nothing to do with Pep Guardiola, this tower was another key tool for protecting the town from Saracen raids.
Located on Fossola Beach (see below), the Guardiola Tower offers such an excellent vantage point that it was more recently used by the Italian navy, and today it attracts bird watchers and other naturalists.
It is the home of the Local Environmental Education Center which holds workshops and other events throughout the year.
With a conference room, bar, and restaurant, it makes for a worthwhile pit stop for any nature lovers.
Beaches in Riomaggiore
The main harbor itself has no beach, which is one of the reasons why some of the other towns might grab more of the limelight.
Instead, lovely pastel houses crowd precariously around the slip of water, giving you a hint of their erstwhile defensive uses.
Once upon a time, Saracen pirates came to this coast to loot, and these tall colorful houses provided opportunities to see the enemy coming – and two exits in case a quick escape was needed!
Thankfully, today the coast is clear. The raciest thing you will find in the main harbor is a handful of boats, and even swimming is not allowed.
The beaches are all to the south of the picturesque harbor, and we will look at them in order of ease of access.
Related Reading: 12 best Genoa beaches and beachside accommodation
6. Hang out at Spiaggia Riomaggiore (Riomaggiore Beach)
Looking out to sea, make a left at the harbor and take the stairs that lead to the ferry dock.
A little further along the way you will find Spiaggia Riomaggiore, a rocky strip of coastline that will give you access to the crystalline water of the Ligurian Sea.
Riomaggiore Beach is quiet and secluded, a world away from some of the more touristy spots in Cinque Terre – but that means it is a good idea to come prepared.
Wear a decent pair of shoes to brave the rocky beach, and make sure you have a towel or something to lie on – there are no deck chairs or sun loungers to be hired here!
The Riomaggiore commune has just finished new works at the Beach and there are now several tonnes of less rocky scree over the beach.
7. Visit Spiaggia di Fossola (Fossola Beach)
A couple of miles south of Riomaggiore’s town center, you’ll find Fossola Beach. It’s near Portovenere on the Tramonti coast and is best reached by hiring a boat from Manarola or Riomaggiore.
Confusingly, Riomaggiore Beach is sometimes called Fossola Beach but it would take you 1 hr 15 minutes to walk between the two beaches!
Spiaggia di Fossola is another pebble beach, notable for the sheer steep hills that tower over it. Like Riomaggiore Beach, it is imposing rather than picture-perfect.
Despite this, and despite it feeling a little removed from the center, it’s a very popular spot, especially for snorkeling.
If you do fancy a dip, be aware that currents here can be a little stronger than elsewhere along the coast.
Related Reading: What’s the best Cinque Terre beach?
8. Spiaggia del Canneto di Riomaggiore (Canneto Beach)
Finally, Canneto Beach is the option for the most adventurous! Not accessible by land since the traditional road there became too treacherous, Canneto Beach can now only be reached by boat.
So why make the effort? Well, apart from the thrill of getting off the beaten track, Canneto Beach offers you the sight of a fresh-water waterfall that tumbles down the hillside.
As well as this, if you are visiting Cinque Terre in peak season, discovering a secluded location away from the hordes of tourists can really be special.
In addition to hiring a boat, you can also kayak to Canneto Beach.
Hiking in Riomaggiore
Hiking is a popular activity throughout Cinque Terre. Riomaggiore is an excellent spot for a brisk walk – and offers different possibilities depending on what you are looking for.
Below are the three most popular hikes from Riomaggiore. If you’d like to take a private group tour, I can recommend this tour where you can meet up with your group and guide the evening before in Riomaggiore if you’d like, or else meet the next morning at the train station.
9. Via dell’Amore
The Via dell’Amore hiking trail (meaning Lover’s Lane) is arguably one of the best-known parts of the Cinque Terre coast.
At the time of writing, it has been closed since a landslide in 2012, but it is set to reopen soon.
The dates on the re-opening keep changing in stereotypical Italian style but check the news before you go to see what its current status is.
While the path has long been a draw to tourists in search of romance, its original use was much more functional than loving.
When the Genoa-La Speza train line was being built, railroad workers needed a footpath to go back and forth between Riomaggiore and Manarola while the tunnel which connects the two villages was being built.
It soon gained a romantic reputation though – and it was amorous locals, not tourists, initially.
This path had suddenly connected two sets of villagers, and men and women from both villages would meet along the way!
The trail itself is just over half a mile long and connects Riomaggiore to the neighboring Cinque Terre village of Manarola.
It forms part of the Sentiero Azzurro (blue trail) which offers a path from Riomaggiore to Monterosso, and for which you have to buy a ticket.
There are ticket booths at each end of the trail where you may be asked to show your ticket.
Be careful when reading reviews about this coastal trail, because visitors often confuse the names. This is not a physically demanding hike (see below for the hard ones!).
Via dell’Amore is more of a walk-path than a trail, meaning that – when it is reopened – it offers people of all ages the chance to have a charming stroll while enjoying views of the Ligurian coast.
10. Via Beccara
If you see online descriptions of a difficult trail, it is much more likely to be the Sentiero di Via Beccara than the Via dell’Amore!
Also known as Trail 531, the Via Beccara is the alternative route to get from Manarola and Riomaggiore and back, and is a different proposition altogether.
From Riomaggiore, take Via Telemaco Signorini and follow it as it winds up through the village. You will see signs for the trail.
Like Via dell’Amore, the hike on Via Beccara is short, but it involves a lot of ascents and descents.
The hill that separates Riomaggiore from Manarola is more than 800 feet tall, and this trail takes you up and over it, with some 600 steps on either side of the hill.
Despite the physical challenge, there is a tradition in the winter to hike along the Via Beccara for a great view of Manarola’s presepe (nativity scene).
The good news is that this trail is free to use, so you don’t need to buy any kind of ticket or pass.
11. Riomaggiore to Portovenere (Alta Via Trail)
Because Riomaggiore is at the southernmost point of Cinque Terre, this hike offers you the opportunity to head off in the opposite direction to all the other travelers.
This hike is, however, considerably longer! At around twenty miles long, it takes five hours.
From Riomaggiore, walk past the Madonna del Montenero, which dates back to 1335, on your way to Sentiero n. 1. Also known as the Alta Via Trail, this is the path we will take all the way to Portovenere.
The trail is well signposted, but as with the Via Beccara, there are some uphill and downhill sections that you have to negotiate.
The views here are different from what you will find going through Cinque Terre. Here you will walk among cork oaks and pine forests, before enjoying views of the Apuan Alps.
The trails offer a mix of the traditional and the modern, as picturesque vineyards share a landscape with the hyper-modern monorail system that the winemakers use to make their way through such steep terrain.
You then arrive at the village of Campiglia, a small hamlet that enjoys enviable views of Cinque Terre in one direction and the Gulf of La Spezia in the other.
As you approach Portovenere, other views open up.
Just before Monte Muzzerone, a thousand-foot high limestone wall popular among rock climbers, you should be able to make out the nearby islands of Palmaria, Tino, and Tinetto, as well as the Cinque Terre coast.
On clearer days, you can see further north towards the Tuscan archipelago, and you might spot Gorgona and Capraia, two of its islands.
12. Bars and Wine tasting in Riomaggiore
There are two opportunities to discover the wines of the Cinque Terre region.
The first is a one-hour tasting session in a restaurant in Riomaggiore. The second is a two-hour Vineyard and Wine Cellar tasting Tour that you can reach only a short walk from Riomaggiore village.
A great way to begin your first evening in Riomaggiore is to take this fun and fast wine-tasting session of Cinque Terre wines with two professional sommeliers.
About this activity
- Free cancellation up to 24 hours in advance
- Includes 2 Cinque Terre wines with a salty snack and 2 Ligurian liqueurs with a biscuit
- Duration: An hour, at aperitivo time – 5 pm.
- Private tour
Experience the beauty of Riomaggiore and discover the region’s rich history of wine. Tour the local vineyards and take in extraordinary views, before indulging in a tasting of 5 Italian wines.
About this activity
- Free cancellation up to 24 hours in advance
- Duration 2 hours
- Wheelchair accessible
- Limited to 8 participants
And once you’re an expert on Cinque Terre wines, check out a few of the local bars in the evenings like La Conchiglia for an aperitivo and a beautiful sunset view and Bar o’netto for a young and fun vibe.
La Conchiglia – Via San Giacomo, 149, 19017 Riomaggiore SP, Italy
Bar o’netto – Via Malborghetto 4/6, Riomaggiore, Italy
Final Thoughts about Riomaggiore
Everyone has their favorite Cinque Terre village, and although Riomaggiore may not have the star power of Vernazza, the most glamorous of all the villages, it is a charming place to stay and visit and should be on every traveler’s list.
Keep Planning Your Trip to Cinque Terre
- Where to Stay in Cinque Terre: A Guide to Choosing Your Favorite Village
- Vernazza Italy: The Colorful UNESCO Masterpiece of Cinque Terre.
- Magical Manarola Italy Travel Guide
- Riomaggiore Cinque Terre: Travel Guide 2023
- What’s the best Cinque Terre beach?
- How to Get to Cinque Terre – Avoid the Crowds and Enjoy the Beauty
- Italy or Greece? A love letter to both and an honest appraisal
- How to Order Food in Italy
- 45 Best Landmarks in Italy to Visit in 2023