Should I Go to Cinque Terre?

by Bianca @ Italian Fix

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If you’re thinking about a trip to Italy this is a question you’ve gotta ask yourself. If you use something called books and the internet then you’ve likely seen photos that have ignited your spark for an Italian vacation. So, should you go to Cinque Terre?

We humans travel to a place for a specific reason, to do something or to feel something. We’re also hardwired to want to see things with our own eyes — pictures alone don’t cut it.

Because I want to help you decide if you should go to the Cinque Terre I’m gonna highlight the top reasons people travel there:

  • it’s colorful, picturesque and unique
  • the small villages are built on cliffs along the ocean
  • it’s romantic and nostalgic
  • it’s a national park with a ton of walking trails

Ten years ago I met my husband in one of the Cinque Terre villages. Not only have I lived in the region like a local — but I’ve also worn different travel hats there. I’ve been a first-time traveler without a clue and I’ve been a guest treated to all the best spots. Perhaps my most indulgent period of time was one summer where I spent post work afternoons being a lazy beach bum living on nothing but an Italian summertime diet: gelato, figs, Campari spritz and free peanuts.

After all these years, my love affair with the Cinque Terre has evolved.

I’m no longer in a monogamous relationship with the Cinque Terre — I now share her sparkle and charms each summer with my guests on my group trips to the Cinque Terre. If you’d like to come with me someday click here to see more.

So, do I think you should travel to the Cinque Terre? Yes — absolutely.

Why you should NOT go to the Cinque Terre:

First, I wanna share a few reasons why you should NOT add the Cinque Terre to your Italy itinerary.

I wanna make it clear that the Cinque Terre isn’t a one size fits all destination (like Siena — everyone loves Siena). It suits a certain person, a travel style and a season — so take those into consideration. Here they are:

Don’t go to the Cinque Terre:

1) If you won’t be sleeping there (or in the area).

Why:  Because you’ll likely just be annoyed at the day trippers. You’ll miss out on the sunset, and the early morning beach session. You’ll be too rushed to explore more than two villages and you should likely save it for when you have more time.

2) If you’re traveling in crappy weather.

Why: These are beach towns and many businesses are seasonal. If you’re traveling Italy in cold weather, especially January, February, and March, there are better places to go.  I even argue that Christmas would be better spent in the city or in the mountains — not the Cinque Terre. November and early spring could be wet and cold, but if you’re there for serious hiking then it could be the perfect time for you.

3) If you’re expecting a quiet fishing village.

Why: The Cinque Terre was off the beaten path in the 1970s. Now it’s had forty years of tourism. As a result, you’ll see menus in English, tour groups and lots of businesses catering to… tourists. You’ll find places like dive shops, kayak rentals, gift shops and restaurants with fifty types of wine on the list (you know you’re in a sleepy village when the waiter, who is also the cook, the pot washer,and the owner, just brings you a glass of wine before you’ve ordered — this is not that place). Whether these are perks or drawbacks is up to you decide.

Why you SHOULD go to the Cinque Terre.

Here are a few excellent reasons to go:

1) You are traveling Italy in the warm months.

Why: You’ll get all the perks: Watching the sunset while sipping wine in your sandals, swimming in the sea, going kayaking, licking gelato in the shade and all the restaurants and hotels open to serve you.

2) You like nature, walking and clean things — like air.

Why: The Cinque Terre is a protected marine park which means that big yachts can’t dock here (like in Portofino) so the water is clean to swim in. Also, it’s a national park and a UNESCO World Heritage Site – which means resources have been poured into trails, restrictions are applied to development (building permits are as scarce as bacon and eggs for breakfast) and the majority of the villages are restricted to pedestrian traffic only. If you live in a city but could use some old fashioned sleep and R&R — this is a great choice for you.

3) You are traveling Italy by train.

Why: If you are traveling from the north, from Milan to Florence or from France to Florence, the train stops here (or in La Spezia for your connection). Train travel is a perfectly good reason to add the Cinque Terre to your itinerary – remember that so many Tuscan hill towns that make Italy famous are not accessible by trains – which means you need to focus your itinerary plans on places you can get to by train. And these villages fit that bill.

4) You have a few nights to dedicate solely to this area.

Why: Let’s face a real fact: The Cinque Terre are five villages. It’s not organized around one central square like any major city — and you’ve gotta figure it out – which takes time. Unless you have a local guide to dial you into the best stuff in an instant, by the time you get your bearings on a day trip you’ll be gone. So stick around and actually see the villages for what they are. I would recommend two nights but three nights is best. The trips I host to the Cinque Terre are six nights… and my guests still never want to leave.

5) You dig aesthetics, like taking photos, like daydreaming someday you’ll quit your job and sell everything and move to Italy to sell lemons, or paintings, or lavender nosegays.

Why: You’ll have a ton of instant friends… and you might just meet an expat who has done exactly that twenty years ago.

***

Frankly, the Cinque Terre is a visual place and a sensual place.

It’s best to see it with your own eyes but if that luxury escapes you at the moment just check out these pictures taken by one of my guests.

should i go to cinque terre riomaggiore

should i go to cinque terre italian fix tour photos

should i go to cinque terre seafood dishes

I’ve also published a perfect itinerary for a four-day stay in the Cinque Terre. You can steal it to plan your own trip there with DIY gusto.

If you want to travel to the Cinque Terre without all the planning and hassle then consider coming to Italy with me. Yes, we’re heading to the Cinque Terre again this summer and you’re invited. Read more here.

We’ve written a lot of great articles to help you plan an amazing Italian getaway, Cinque Terre and beyond:


If you have any questions about the Cinque Terre ask them in the comments below and I’ll help you out.

Love & gelato,

Bianca

Image credit: Leela Cyd.

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Amy Falkofske
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Amy Falkofske

Loved this story!

Dave obrien
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Dave obrien

Been all over the world (with BA cabin crew) and never been to place so beautiful as the five villages, the food the walks the people the trains the ferries it has it all for the tourist with loads of energy. It’s five star at three star price. Love it.

Bradley Arthur
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Bradley Arthur

Dear Bianca, I enjoyed reading your assessment of Cinque Terre. I’m planning a trip for my family (Wife & 2 boys ages 3 and 7 years old) in summer. My wife and I have traveled all over Italy and wanted to pick a base for 4 weeks best suited for… Read more »

Sarah E.
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Sarah E.

Hi Bianca, My fiance and I are planning for our honeymoon to be in Italy, we’re traveling mid March and staying for 2 weeks. We want to go to Cinque Terre for 2-4 nights and I was wondering if you had tips for us other than what you mentioned before.… Read more »

Chris
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Chris

Hi, Bianca
I´m going to Itay mid february (a few days from now), don´t you really recomend Cinq Terre in Feb? I´ve never went and i´m already in love with the region… Can you give me some advice?
Tks a lot 🙂

Anna
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Anna

Hi Bianca, I enjoyed reading your Cinque Terre itinerary . My 22 yr old daughter did a day trip there last year while she spent her summer ‘ studying” in italy 🙂 and her photos were breathtaking ! My husband and I are flying into Pisa , late Sept ,… Read more »

Dani Davis
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Dani Davis

Hello! I am currently planning a trip around Europe and Cinque Terre sparked my interest. However, we would be hitting the villages March 31 into the first week of April. Do you recommend that we come, or skip it? We are really into hiking, but do not want to miss… Read more »

Terrill
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Terrill

Hello, I am planning a trip for next week in Italy, and I love the idea of hiking along small, coastal towns. This is why I was drawn to Cinque Terre. However, you said you don’t recommend going during the winter (it would be the first week in March) and… Read more »

Terrill
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Terrill

whoops! this the correct email address to reply on:)

Kelly
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Kelly

Hi from Vancouver Bianca,
We will be able to stay for three nights starting 10th of May. Still too early for Cinque Terre? Hope not. Weather cannot be any worse than the B.C. coast.

Sonya
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Sonya

Hi Bianca, Unfortunately we only have 2 nights to spare to visit La Cinque Terre from 15 July 2014. Where do you suggest we try to book our accommodation in Vernazza. Do you have a day tour from there. After reading your Beginners Guide to La Cinque Terre I decided… Read more »

Lize
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Lize

Hi Bianca Lovely article! We will be skiing in Val Gardena in the first week of March 2015 till Sat 7 March and have a week afterwards to spend somewhere in northern Italy (till Fri 13 March). We were considering spending a few days in Cinque Terra and fly out… Read more »

Jackie Faust
Guest

My husband and I are visiting my son in Milan. We will travel to Cinque Terre for two nights (3 days) and are wondering if you can offer an itinerary for that? Many thanks, Jackie

Jackie Faust
Guest

I forgot to mention the dates, April 14-16, 2014. We are planning on heading out to Lucca after that but can be flexible on the date to leave. We wanted to see Tuscany and have until the 17th when we need to meet up with a friend in Venice. Thank… Read more »

CC Curtis
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CC Curtis

Your suggestions and ideas are amazing! We are planning a 24 day trip in September/October of travel through Italy and I think your words are going to be my bible for the next few months. Venice, Florence, a drive to Pisa, only to catch a train into the Cinque Terre… Read more »

Norma,
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Norma,

We plan on being in Cinque Terra the first week of May. What is you experience weather wise?
Please advise, Thanks

Kimberly
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Kimberly

Hi Bianca, I’ll be traveling from Milan to Cinque Terre to Florence, which you said is easy to do by train. Do I need to book my train tickets way in advance, or will the prices stay relatively the same if I book it a day before? I don’t want… Read more »

donna
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donna

Hi Bianca,

Great Article!

I am planning to go to Cinque Terre this may for 10 to 12 nights, is this too long? i am 60yrs old female, i am very athletic and climbing the stairs is not a problem for me but will i find people my age?

Thanks
Donna

Frank
Guest
Frank

Hello, I will be going to Cinque Terre for two nights. I will be driving in from Parma. Since I’m using a car, I think Monte Rosso is my best option. From there I can just take the train to explore the other towns. Do you have any other suggestions… Read more »

Aleena
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Aleena

Hi Bianca, Thank you for this website it has been so helpful! I do have a question for you. My husband and I will be getting off a cruise ship in Venice on November 15th. I want to head to Cinque Terre, Florence and Rome. Do you have a suggestion… Read more »

Jane Brown
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Jane Brown

Hi Bianca, Wow what an informative site you have. My husband and I are planning to spend a month in Italy March/April. We love walking/hiking and are too bothered about weather (we are not made of sugar). We plan to see Rome, Venice, Florence, do a cycling tour in Tuscany… Read more »

Ann Grace
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Ann Grace

Love your style! We will be in Lucca for 3 days in late November so I’m thinking we might miss CT and ask your advice for some autumn weather alternatives. We are good social walkers. We are organised for the rest of our time in Florence and Rome.

Jocelyn
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Jocelyn

Hi Bianca, your website is REALLY informative! My husband and I are planning a trip to Italy in August. We will be flying in from Dusseldorf. During this coming trip, I would like to cover Venice than to your must-go Cirque Terre. May I ask, where is a more centralise… Read more »

Carmen
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Carmen

Hi! Thank you for your informative post. I really, really want to see cinque Terra in June, but unfortunately, I can only stay a night. Is it not worth it then? If there were 2 villages i could visit, which would you recommend?

Hannah P.
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Hannah P.

Hi Bianca, I’m a small Asian girl (who, like most all Asians, looks really young for her age) who will be traveling to CT in a couple weeks. I’m wondering how safe it is to travel alone, and whether I should stay at a hostel or a hotel. Are there… Read more »

Morgan
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Morgan

Hi Bianca, Would you recommend October 28-31? We are thinking of starting our trip in Cinque Terre and then heading south..to where I’m not sure. I’ve already done all of the touristy things (Venice, Rome, Florence). We looking for more of a real Italian experience for our honeymoon, if you… Read more »

Sepideh
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Sepideh

Hi Bianca, 2 years ago i was in Firenze, but was not able to make it Cinque Terre sadly. I share your love affair with Italy and as your blog said, i hope someday to move and sell lemons.. I will be traveling to Italy in September 15- 23. Do… Read more »

Andrew in Australia
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Andrew in Australia

Hi Bianca, Love your enthusiasm and refreshing style. We will finish our 5 week Italian sojourn with 3 nights in Vernazza as our base for enjoying the CT. My question is, and I hope you can help, is it feasible to depart Vernazza to Milan (Malpensa) for a 1:15pm flight… Read more »

Alex
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Alex

Bianca, you have a fabulous website. As someone who will be experiencing the Cinque Terre (and Italy for that matter) for the very first time, this has all been very insightful. I was wondering how soon I should look into booking for a two or three night stay with myself… Read more »

Will
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Will

Hi Bianca My girlfriend and I are taking a couple of months to tour europe this summer in a car and we have Cinque Terre is a stop we want to include. Unfortunatley we have only have a single night in the schedule, altough as active people we will make… Read more »

Asad
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Asad

Hi Bianca,
I am planning to go to Cinque Terre only for one night. Which is the best village to stay ? I know this is a very short time but I really want to see this place.
Regards,
Asad Farhan

nina solano
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nina solano

Hi Bianca, I love your article about Cinque Terre. I’m planning a trip to Cinque Terre after my wedding this June to relax w my husband. We have an extra 5 days before we head back to work. We’re planning to stay for 2 nights then spend 2 more nights… Read more »

John
Guest

What an informative post! I’m thinking of heading to the Cinque Terre for a night at the end of June, from Thursday afternoon til Friday night. Is there a particular village that you think would be well-suited to such a short time frame? Is there one which has better ferry… Read more »

Susan
Guest
Susan

Hi Bianca, Thinking of traveling from Austria to Italy with my family. Makes sense to do Northern Italy but your article suggests that much of Como and Cinque Terre is closed. We have done Venice, Florence, Tuscany and Rome 2 years ago.You mentioned a list of places you’d recommend in… Read more »

Aeda
Guest

Hi Bianca, First let me say I loved your websites! Very informative and useful. So I’m 56, have traveled/backpacked quite a bit in my 20’s and am now planning to join my son for 6 days while he is traveling around Europe. I have always wanted to go to the… Read more »

Juliette from Vietnam
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Juliette from Vietnam

My husband and me will go to Cinque Terre at the beg of August. Our plan is to take a plane to Pisa (tickets are bought already) and then rent a scooter to go from Pisa to “Cinque Terre” area. But from what I understand now, we cannot access the… Read more »

Jeffrey Settineri
Guest
Jeffrey Settineri

Bianca, thanks for sharing your love of the area with us. My family is thinking of renting a home for a month next summer in the 5terre region…might you have any recommendations on places we must consider to stay/homes we need to consider? I’m sending your site along to family… Read more »

Dee
Guest
Dee

Hello Bianca, We are going to Cinque Terre in July for 7 nights. I loved reading your thoughts and advice about this beautiful region. We will need parking, therefore I booked 2 hotels and I am undecided whether to stay in Monterosso Al Mare at Hotel Albergo Suisse or in… Read more »

Dawn
Guest
Dawn

Hello Bianca, Thanks for the article. Your 5 reasons are exactly the reason I’m drawn to Cinque Terre. Am planning a trip there and I’m deciding between visiting in last week of October, or 3rd week of November. Am looking to hike and stay in the area for a few… Read more »

Katrina
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Katrina

Hi I found your site very useful for my upcoming trip to the Cinque Terre. Could you tell me how/where I get the ferry or boat trip to look at the 5 towns. We are staying in Monterosso. I will be traveling with my 2 children (4 and 9). Thanks

Mark Lee
Guest
Mark Lee

What a great site/resource for planning a trip Cinque Terre!

I am going to Italy for my honeymoon from September 21 – October 4. Do you think it will be warm enough to enjoy the beaches in Cinque Terre or will it be getting colder by then?

Thanks,

Mark

Michael
Guest
Michael

Hey Bianca, This page was amazingly helpful! I am doing Italy SOLO and my friends say I should go there for the end of my trip to relax from the partying and adventure seeking. 😀 That being said I really want to go on long hikes, explore take pictures and… Read more »

Pam
Guest
Pam

We plan to be in Cinque Terre Oct 9-12th. Wondering on weather that time of year. Is it warm enough for the beach and swimming?

Sunanda
Guest
Sunanda

I have some time in Florence( the itinary, from India is already fixed}.Wondering if I can still do a day trip. Won’t be blessed to see the sun down, but now I’m looking for small mercies!
Very enchanting blog indeed!
Sunanda

Susan
Guest
Susan

Enjoyed reading your site! Thank you for sharing. Planning to travel to CT for 3-5 days around Oct 15th. Rick Steve’s book and video on CT say to walk around and look for rooms, apts to rent. No reservations necessary. That is frightening at our age. What would you recommend?… Read more »

Susan
Guest
Susan

Couldn’t pull your suggested itinerary up on tablet, but did on laptop. Questions answered. Thanks!

Peishan
Guest
Peishan

Hi Bianca,

I’m planning to include the Cinque Terre in my trip to Italy this October. Sounds like October won’t be too cold, but definitely far from summery. How’s the weather then and would it be too wet for a 2-day stay?

thanks!
Peishan (from Singapore!)

Marisa
Guest
Marisa

Hi Bianca, My husband and I are traveling to France and Italy during the holidays (Christmas). Cinque Terre was number one on our list — but it sounds like we should reconsider? We were mainly interested in the location for hiking and food (and staying away from major cities); what… Read more »

Craig Adams
Guest
Craig Adams

Bianca, We plan to travel from Bellagio to Cinque Terre on May 25, 2015 and spend 2 nights in the area before traveling to Florence. We will have a car. Where do you recommend we leave the car and catch the train? Where do you recommend we say? Will this… Read more »

Gabriela
Guest

Ciao Bianca! A friend of mine and i are traveling to venice in mid march. We would like to go other places, too, and cinque terre sounds fabulous. we were wondering about the weather. Could you let me know if it is usually very rainy, or rainy enough to discourage… Read more »

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