Best Viewing Spots at the Famous Manarola Overlook Viewpoint

The Manarola Overlook Viewpoint offers arguably the best scenic view of the village, especially if you’re able to visit it at sunset. So naturally, it’s likely a place you don’t want to miss seeing on a visit to Cinque Terre.

While many people believe you can only get this amazing perspective by booking a table at Nessun Dorma restaurant, that’s simply not true.

As I stayed in Manarola for 2 nights, I was able to visit the Overlook Viewpoint several times and I identified 5 best spots from where you can see the iconic panorama of the village:

  • Cliff alley going up to Manarola Overlook Viewpoint
  • Nessun Dorma waiting-in-line area
  • Nessun Dorma restaurant
  • Free picnic area
  • The path above Nessun Dorma
Manarola Overlook Viewpoint: Best spots
Map with best viewing spots at Manarola Overlook Viewpoint

Cliff alley going up to Manarola Overlook Viewpoint

The alley in question starts right at the harbor and goes up to the Manarola scenic viewpoint.

You can get a good panorama of the village from pretty much its entire length, however, I feel like the best location is right before it curves around the rock, though usually, this spot is also a bit more crowded.

Nessun Dorma waiting-in-line area

The popular Nessun Dorma restaurant in Cinque Terre doesn’t accept reservations, rather it operates on a first-come-first-served basis.

To get a spot in line you need to download the Nessun Dorma app on your phone by scanning the QR code on their website (scroll down to “How to get a table”) – best to do this when you have wifi as it’s around 23 MB. You can also get a ticket with a QR code from the bar, but I still suggest getting the app beforehand.

When there are less than 5-10 people in front of you in line, you should get closer to the entrance since you’ll get a table soon.

Due to this way of seating people, there’s usually a long line outside the restaurant. Incidentally, the waiting area is also a prime spot for taking pictures of the postcard view of Manarola. So while sitting in line is not the most fun experience, you’ll have something to do.

You can also access this area even if you’re not planning to eat at Nessun Dorma, just that at times it can be really crowded.

The iconic view of Manaraola from the Manarola Overlook Viewpoint
I took lots of pics of Manarola while waiting in line for Nessun Dorma

Nessun Dorma restaurant

Honestly, I found the Nessun Dorma restaurant fairly decently priced considering its incredible view. The issue has more to do with getting in rather than how high the bill will end up.

As I previously mentioned., the waiting lines can be quite long (especially during the high season!) and if you only have a day to visit Cinque Terre, you might not afford to wait for 1-2 hours to enter.

This is why I recommend you install the app on your mobile and secure a spot in line before you get to the restaurant.

Use the waiting time to explore around the Manarola Outlook Viewpoint and only approach the line when there are less than 10 people in front of you, as per Nessun Dorma’s indications.

Nessun Dorma Cinque Terre
Eating at Nessun Dorma

If you do manage to get a table though, I strongly recommend trying their popular Tri Colore bruschetta: it may seem so simple, but it’s so tasty. My mouth still waters when thinking of it.

One thing to be aware of is that Nessun Dorma has 2 sets of tables: one row is near the edge and from there you get the best view of Manarola (most tables are for two) while another is located towards the rock wall/vegetation.

This 2nd row is mostly formed by tables that cater for larger parties and you can still see the view from there, just that it’s interrupted by the 1st row of tables and their occupants.

Therefore, if you are only two people, you have a higher chance of being seated toward the view, but if you are a group (especially if you’re 4+ people), you’ll likely get a bigger table away from it.

Dinning at Nessum Dorma in Cinque Terre
We got a table towards the view both times we ate at Nessun Dorma

Free picnic area

If you find that the line for Nessun Dorma is too long and you don’t have the time to wait, you can grab some snacks and drinks from the shops inside the village and head to the free picnic area located right above the restaurant.

Here you’ll find a few wooden tables (around 4-5) in a shaded area, where you can eat while enjoying the same iconic view of Manarola as the people below. In addition to the picnic tables, there are several benches scattered around as well.

This might not surprise you, but the picnic area is busiest around lunchtime and sunset.

Manarola at night
Manarola at night

The path above Nessun Dorma

From the picnic area, climb a few more steps to reach the path above Nessun Dorma.

Walk on the dirt trail until you’re right above the seating area of the restaurant for the best view of Manarola. Otherwise, the not-so-appealing roof above the picnic tables will get into your pictures. Those in need will find here toilets (price: 1 euro), as well as a small water fountain.

The iconic view of Manarola at the scenic viewpoint (sunset)
Manarola at sunset (zoomed-in)

Final thoughts

While I would definitely recommend eating at Nessun Dorma if possible, you don’t have to be disappointed if you can’t manage it due to time constraints. You can still enjoy the same iconic view of the village from the other four viewing spots at the Manarola Overlook Viewpoint.

For more incredible viewpoints in Manarola and the rest of the villages, I recommend you check out my post about the best views in Cinque Terre.


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