We spent the second day of our cruise through Italy, France, and Spain in beautiful Portofino and Cinque Terre. It was just as stunning as you would imagine! But oh my goodness, was it a crazy travel day to see it all. We took 4 (!!) boat rides, 2 bus rides, and 2 train rides before the day was over. But then you take one look at one of those gorgeous seaside views, and you realize that it was all completely worth it. Like they say, you’ve got to squeeze the lemon to get the juice!
Even though we only had one day there, we were able to see four different towns- Portofino and Santa Margherita Ligure, and then Manarola and Monterosso al Mare (two of the five towns that make up Cinque Terre).
Because the ship was too large to dock in Portofino, we took “tenders,” which are little boats, from the big ship to shore. (Boat Ride #1!). Because of this we got to take in the most beautiful views on our approach to Portofino.
This was our view as we approached the harbor at Portofino. How beautiful is that view?!
Now you might notice that the sky looked a bit gray that morning. Luckily, it brightened up for us later and we had beautiful weather. However, whatever storm was brewing here made the seas pretty choppy, so our little tender boat was going up and down and all around as we made our way to Portofino. We were on the top level of the boat and I was holding on tight to make sure I didn’t fall out (while snapping photos with my iphone in the other hand #priorities).
Here I am after we just got off the tender boat in Portofino, ready for a day of exploring! I wore this super cute gingham cut-out dress from Shein, which was perfect for the day. It kept me cool and kept me feeling stylish as we checked out the most incredible seaside towns.
We returned to Portofino later in the day and spent our evening there, but for now we got on another boat (Boat Ride #2) to go to Santa Margherita Ligure, where we would embark for some of the towns of Cinque Terre.
This is what we saw when we landed in Santa Margherita Ligure. Another gorgeous town! And it was so peaceful early in the morning while it was a little cloudy.
Megan wore the cutest lemon dress and I was seriously having FOMO that I didn’t buy one for me, too!
From Santa Margherita Ligure we got on a bus (Bus Ride #1) to embark upon the first part of our Cinque Terre journey. We drove through the hills (and the highways #keepingitreal) until we got to Manarola.
A few of the more picturesque views from the drive to Manarola.
At some point on the bus ride to Manarola, the tour guide starting talking about handing out our tickets for the train…. and we all just looked at each other and started laughing… like what have we gotten ourselves into?!
More stunning scenery along the Italian coast.
Finally, we parked and began our walk down into Manarola! The town is very tiny and so there aren’t really any cars or buses in the town, so you need to walk down a hill to get to the water. It’s a beautiful walk through a tiny Italian seaside village, and you have the anticipation of the views waiting for you below to keep you going!
How amazing would it be to live in one of these little apartments?
Once we walked down into the heart of the town, we knew we wanted to walk along the cliffside path to see the views of the city nestled in the hillside that have made the town famous.
Such a pinch-me moment! It was surreal to be looking at this view in real life.
It was so gorgeous! Imagine the waves roaring below and the smell of the sea in the air and sun on your face and it just makes it all the more wonderful.
Now, after this, we all had to meet up with our tour group to hop on a train to Monterosso al Mare (Train Ride #1)
A pretty beautiful train station, don’t you think? Beats the Metro any day.
After we heard we had to also take a train, in addition to our 3 other modes of transportation that day, we were a little skeptical. But the train was actually super quick, and we zoomed through several of the Cinque Terre villages on our way to Monterosso al Mare.
This was the view when we stepped out of the train station in Monterosso…
The funny thing was that right along the path by the beach were tons of touristy stands selling french fries and friend seafood and sunblock and sand toys- just like any old little beach town!
Gorgeous, completely unbelievable, jaw-dropping views. Like something out of a Gray Malin photo!
Once we got here we walked along the beach and through a tunnel in the rocks to reach the “Old Town” of Monterosso. It was quaint and had plenty of cute shops and restaurants (and, of course, delicious gelato!)
We also stopped when we were in the Old Town to grab some lunch, and we chose a little beachside cafe, with this as our view.
This gelato was as tasty as it looked! Stracciatella is my absolute favorite flavor of gelato. It’s basically just vanilla with chocolate pieces, but imagine the creamiest, milkiest vanilla and the richest, biggest pieces of chocolate. It’s so simple yet so good.
After enjoying lunch and a late afternoon gelato, it was time to head back to Portofino. Sooo that meant another train, bus, and two boat rides before we got back to our ship. (I told you, you’ve got to squeeze the lemon to get the juice!)
When we arrived back in Santa Margherita Ligure, the sun had come out and so had the sunbathers!
We hopped on the ferry again (Boat Ride #3) to take us back to Portofino.
I was so happy that we got to travel by boat between Portofino and Santa Margherita. The views of the cliffs and the beautiful Italian villas nestled among the trees were simply stunning. Also, I think the best views of Portofino are by boat.
When we arrived back in Portofino we had time to explore before it was time to get back to the ship that evening. It was a perfect way to end the day. The town was gorgeous and so adorable and picturesque… like all of the other quaint Italian villages we’d seen that day!
It’s hard to describe the beauty of each of these villages. They each were all stunning seaside villages, but each had their own unique look and feel and charm. I was so happy that I got to see several of them during my trip. Since I’m not often in Cinque Terre (unfortunately!) I wanted to make the most of my time there and see as much as I could. Mission accomplished!
We sat in the main square and enjoyed pizzas and wine while we people-watched and enjoyed the perfect summer evening in Italy.
The view from our al fresco meal.
And then– because why have one gelato a day when you can have two– we grabbed another bite of gelato and headed back to our ship, very full and very happy.
Now, at this point, we had only one more boat ride to get back to the ship (Boat Ride #4!). Even though the sky had cleared, the water was even more rough and choppy than it had been in the morning. We sat on the top of the tender boat again, and the boat was lurching up and down at such strong angles, I was honestly concerned that we wouldn’t make it back in one piece! Thankfully we made it back, and after thanking our lucky stars for the semi-solid ground beneath our feet on the cruise ship, we crashed after our long day of exploring.
To see our first day on the cruise in Florence and Pisa, click here.
The next day we woke up in a whole new country– France!