Cinque Terre Boat Tour – The Best Way to See the 5 Lands

cinque terre boat tour

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Are you dreaming of the Cinque Terre? The best way to see the picturesque towns is on a Cinque Terre boat tour. Avoid the crowds that flood the villages by day and enjoy spectacular views as the sun sets when you take to the sea and enjoy one of the world’s most enchanting landscapes from the water. 

vernazza from a cinque terre boat tour

Departing from several of the five villages during the day or at sunset, a boat tour of the Cinque Terre is a highlight of any trip to Italy, full of memories you’ll treasure for years to come. Make sure to book early though as, just on land, the traffic on the Ligurian Sea is highly regulated so there are limited operators. Make sure you don’t miss out!

Best Cinque Terre boat tours

The best boat tours in the Cinque Terre National Park are those that give you ample time to admire the UNESCO listed scenery and landscapes while sharing some of the stories and culture of the communities who live there. If you’re visiting in summer you may want to book a tour that has time built in for swimming and snorkeling in the clear blue water of the Ligurian Sea.

Private tours

vernazza boat tour

Departing from Vernazza

Join Liv Tours on this wonderful day time private Cinque Terre boat tour departing from Vernazza. Your English speaking captain will ensure your experience is tailored exactly to your group’s needs. You’ll enjoy drinks and snacks on board as you sail past the iconic towns. Stopping for snorkeling is also possible. The tour departs at 10am and lasts for 3 hours with an additional boat time also available. Priced for up to 6 people, additional group members can also be added as well as transfers from La Spezia, Livorno and Florence > more information (note Liv Tours offer our readers 5% discount with code – UNTOLDITALY)

Departing from Monterosso

Departing from Monterosso, this private boat tour of the Cinque Terre offers a complete luxury experience including a bathroom onboard. Over 3 hours you’ll enjoy the incredible beauty of the national park and its famous villages, stop for swimming and enjoy snacks on board. Monterosso is one of the more accessible towns on the Cinque Terre coast making this a good option if you are coming on a day trip from Florence or Milan. You can choose from morning and afternoon tour options > tour details

Manarola from the sea

Departing from Manarola

Should you be staying in Manarola, choose this private Cinque Terre boat cruise. Groups of up to six can choose to depart at 10am or 2pm on this 2.5 hour experience exploring the coastline from Riomaggiore to Monterosso and even as far as pretty Portovenere, a true gem of the area many visitors miss. You’ll enjoy prosecco on board and the opportunity to swim before returning to Manarola > more information

Group tours

Cinque Terre Sunset Tour from Monterosso

Sunsets in this part of the world are nothing short of magical. Departing from Monterosso, this 3 hour evening boat tour takes in the stunning coastline at dusk. Sit back and relax with a glass of prosecco and aperitivo snacks and let the landscape unfold in bursts of color before your eyes. There is a quick stop in Vernazza with its tiny harbour and the opportunity to snorkel making this one of the best Cinque Terre boat trips available > more information

corniglia from the sea

Cinque Terre lunch boat tour from Monterosso

Soak up the sun and enjoy panoramic views of the scenery on board this top rated lunchtime cruise departing at 10.00am from Monterosso. Lasting 4 hours, you’ll have ample time to explore the coves and inlets of this amazing marine park and admire its famous towns from the water. And, if you fancy a swim, there is time for that too. Keep your eye out for dolphins as you make your way back to the beachside town of Monterosso. They love swimming in these pristine waters > tour information

Kayak Tour of the Cinque Terre from Monterosso

If you want to get very close to the water and paddle on your own, a Cinque Terre kayak tour offers the best way to get close to nature and soak up the beautiful surrounds. A small group tour with a maximum of 8 people per group has ample time for relaxing on the beach in between paddling. With morning and evening departure options you can make the most of your day by planning your 3 hour paddle around other activities > tour details 

How to Choose Your Boat Tour of the Cinque Terre

cinque terre gozzo boat

There are several boat tours available departing from various points along the coastline. Here are some factors you may want to consider when choosing the right tour for you.

  • Departure point – the main departure spots are Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza and Manarola
  • Time of departure – day time tours are lovely but sunset tours are spectacular
  • Length of tour – a decent tour will take at least 2.5 to 3 hours to cover the coastline
  • Stops on the tour – it is usually not possible to stop at all towns along the coast, so check how many sail bys are included
  • Group size – larger groups are cheaper but less intimate
  • Boat type – some boats are very basic with no facilities on board
  • English speaking guide – will there be a guide on board to tell stories of the region and answer your questions
  • Extras – does the tour provide snacks and drinks, snorkelling gear etc
  • Budget – there are options at various price points from €37 per person for the ferry service to your €200+ for a private tour

Good to know: Important Info

Despite being in what seems like a protected area of the Mediterranean, the Ligurian Sea can be rough at times forcing ferries and boat tours to cancel their services. This happened to us in mid September on one occasion so keep an eye on the weather forecast if you are making last minute bookings. 

Why Take a Cinque Terre Boat Tour?

Enjoy the stunning Cinque Terre villages and natural beauty they are nestled in from the water is a truly beautiful experience. Far away from the crowds of visitors packed into the small towns, you can truly appreciate the rugged terrain and the resilience of the pretty towns perched over the water. 

If you choose a great tour, you’ll also learn stories from the area and even have the chance to take a dip at some of the locals favorite swimming spots and try delicious local snacks.

READ: Our guide on Where to stay in Cinque Terre.

Riomaggiore ferry dock

Ferry Service

Of course, if you’re short on time or on a budget then you may want to consider seeing the villages from the water via the ferry service. Think of the ferry as a hop on hop off boat Cinque boat style. A one way trip from Riomaggiore to Monterosso al Mare will take approximately one and half hours. Ferries stop at all towns except Corniglia and a day pass costs €37 for adults > more information

DISCOVER: More things to do in our Cinque Terre itinerary ideas.

Liguria: Beyond the Cinque Terre

The Cinque Terre towns are found in the region of Liguria, known for the Italian Riviera, Genoa and mountainous terrain. Most English speaking tourists don’t venture beyond the tiny pocket that is the Cinque Terre but if you do invest some time, you’re richly rewarded. We highly recommend visiting the Italian Riviera towns like Portofino, Sestri Levante and Camogli, discovering the unique local cuisine, heading to the hills and exploring the port capital Genoa.

Listen to our podcasts about Liguria

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