On our honeymoon across Italy, we spent 5 days in the cute little Cinque Terreian town, Riomaggiore. Certainly an Italian gem! Here is the what you need to know about Riomaggiore, where to eat and the best photospots.
Good to know about Riomaggiore
The town of Riomaggiore is quite small. That means it’s easy to walk around to everything. There is a bus that goes into town but you won’t be able to take any public transportation around the city. There is simply just one drivable street – the main street which is only open for busses and garbage trucks. The rest is just walking paths between the many small and colourful houses. All of the paths is connected by old stairways. That means you will be going up and down a lot – and most of the stairways are old and uneven so you need to pay attention when walking. Most of them are also without at handle rail so you need to have steady feet. However, the main street is mostly free from stairs but is very steep so it takes a bit physical effort to walk up and down.
In the city, you’ll find everything you need on the Main Street. It has its own pharmacy, small supermarkets with the most convenient stuff, bakeries and of course a range of different restaurants. There are also a few stores selling clothing and the obvious souvenir shops selling all the local specialties alongside the typical magnets and t-shirts etc.
How to get to Riomaggiore
We went to Riomaggiore by car but we definitely won’t recommend doing so. As it is on the UNESCO list it is not allowed to drive in the city. If you decide to bring your car, you have to park outside the city on the mountainside parking lot. There are very few spots and they are almost always full – and then you have to walk down the mountain road which is not the most fun.
We rented a private garage for our car but then wasn’t able to use the car until our departure. However, we did not even need the car as we just walked our way around town but we would have been nice to be able to use if we suddenly needed it. We do recommend that you rent a garage beforehand if you do wish to go by car.
The easiest way to go to Riomaggiore is definitely by train. The train station is within walking distance to the main part of town and there is a passage from the stations right to the city center. From the passage you can easily go up the main road or go down to the harbour if that’s where you are staying. If you decide to go by train, the nearest main city would be La Spezia.
Things to be aware of before you go to Riomaggiore
A lot of stairs
There is A LOT of stairs and you will not be able to get around town without climbing these stairs or a very steep main road. That means you need to be physically capable of doing so – at least if you want the most out of the town.
Cars are not allowed
It is NOT possible to bring your car into the city. You have to park it outside and we recommend you rent a private garage beforehand if you don’t wish to take your chances on the few parkingspots outside the city wich is quite expensive to use and is almost always full. We do recommend going to Riomaggiore by train or bus as that is the easiest in our opinion.
Bring some cash
There are a lot of places where you won’t be able to use your card. Most stores and restaurants also have a minimum at 10 or 20 euro if you want to use your card. So remember to bring some cash so you can eat and shop everywhere you please.
What to do in Riomaggiore
Watch the sunset
You can do a lot of things I Riomaggiore. Our favourite one is watching the sunset from one of the many terrasses around town facing the ocean. On your way around town exploring remember to pay attention to the good sunset spots so you know where to go when the sun is starting so sink into the ocean. Some nights we brought take away and enjoyed a pizza for almost no money at some of the best spots. Without paying the price of an ocean view restaurant.
Explore the small back streets
There are so many small paths to explore in Riomaggiore. Most of them leads up to the higher grounds of the town from which you can find some really good spots to enjoy the view. Some of the lower paths leads to the neighbour cities and are a must to try – if they are open during your visit. Unfortunately they are occasionally closed due to rockslides.
Swim in the ocean
The locals do not recommend swimming in the harbour as it is pretty contaminated by all of the ships. They advise you to use the small beach close to the city as the water quality there is much better. A lot of people do however use the harbour as it is easy accessing from the town and you can jump of the low or higher cliffs – if you are brave enough.
Visit the surrounding cities in Cinque Terre
It is possible to visit the other cities in Cinque Terre by train. Every city has it’s own train station and there aren’t far between them so it’s easy to do a one day trip to a different city. It is also possible to walk to Manarola (the neighbouring city) on a cliffside path along the coast. It’s a very beautiful walk and an easy one. Do remember to check with a local weather they are open or not. Rockslides are often reason to closed paths.
Where to eat in Riomaggiore
Dau Cila at the Harbour
Our favourite restaurant is Dau Cila – one of the restaurants down in the harbour. It’s a seafood restaurant but the pasta pesto is perfect if you don’t eat fish or seafood. It’s a bit more expensive than some of the others but we do think it is worth it. Please note that you have to make a reservation as they are fully booked most days at least during the season. You can either reserve a table at 7.30 pm or 9.30 pm and make sure to book a table outside if the weather allows it as the view is pretty damn good.
Veciu Muin Pizzaria
The pizzas at Veciu Muin is the best we had i Riomaggiore. If you order the ‘Volcano’ it actually gets served looking just like a volcano. If you wish to sit outside you should make sure to make a reservation or there might be a bit of waiting time. The pricing is affordable and fair with everything being down to earth.
Drinks or lunch by the sea
The best restaurant view in Riomaggiore is at La Conchiglia. You can either go there for breakfast, lunch or just a drink. We really do recommend just sitting there enjoying an Aperol Spritz or whatever you please and we are quite impressed by their bruschetta for an easy lunch. Please note that they only accept cash and that they won’t let you sit at the upper terrace unless you eat lunch.
Takeaway with a view
If you want a break from the restaurants and buzzing sounds of other tourist, go to one of the spots away from the main street. There are plenty of good places to watch the sunset eating your take away pizza with a bottle of prosecco or an Aperol spritz from one of the small supermarkets. That gives you an easy meal with the best view and very limited noise from others depending on the spot you choose. 44°05’56.0″N 9°44’13.5″E is the coordinates to our favourite spot which was close to our Airbnb but this 44°05’57.5″N 9°44’10.5″E is a little quieter and further away from the city centre.
Best Gelato in Riomaggiore
Obviously! Let’s get down to the Gelato – after all that is ONE of the many reasons to visit Italy!
Gelate Rio La Spezia
Our favourite Gelato place in Riomaggiore is Gelate Rio La Spezia. We really recommend the fragola gelato but all of the flavours we tried were pretty amazing!
Old School Gelateria
If you wish to eat your icecream with a view you can go to Old School Gelateria & Snack Bar. They are located up on the panorama route that leads up to the old church and an amazing viewpoint. You can sit outside and enjoy your ice cream or bring it to a grand ocean viewpoint behind the old church.
Where to take the best photos in Riomaggiore
You have probable already seen dozens of photos from this place on Instagram as there are plenty of amazing photo spots in Riomaggiore. The most iconic spots is those down by the habour with all of the colourful houses in the background. You can get a pretty good shot near La Conchiglia (the small restaurant on the left hand side of the harbour).
The best spot in our opinion is from the rocks surrounding the harbour. It takes a bit of climbing to get there but the angle is just perfect. We went early in the morning before the city came alive to get some shots without the regular crowd in the background. You have to be carefull if you wish to climb the rocks as they can be sharp around the edges and some of them are quite slippery. Bring your good shoes and don’t climb alone.
Where to stay in Riomaggiore
There are hotels in Riomaggiore but if you wanna stay close to the city center and the harbour (which you deffinetely do since that means less stairs getting around the central part of town) we really recommend staying at an Airbnb. We stayed at this room rented from a guy named Andrea and were very satisfied with our stay. And of cause with the pretty view from our window. We also booked a private garage through Andrea for our car.