When Is the Best Time
Cinque Terre is located south of Genua between Levanto and Porto Venere at the Ligurian Sea. It is the smallest and one of Italy's most popular National Parks, with an estimated 2.5 million visitors annually. Many day visitors come either by cruise ship from La Spezia or Genua. There were plans to limit the number of tourists and manage the tourist flows in the future time to prevent the villages from over-tourism. Luckily, they decided a World Heritage Side belongs to everybody. Continue reading for more details.
During the tough Corona lockdowns, plans were made to manage the tourist flows from the sea to the unique vineyards. New well maintained hiking trails overall 120 km were developed to explore more of the exceptional terraced vineyards. Due to the trail development also more of the old vineyards got cultivated again. New jobs are established, so it is a win-win situation for all of them in the end.
The best time to visit Cinque Terre is the shoulder season in April, May, late September, and early October. It’s a little busy but not overrun. If you want to avoid the crowds and don’t mind colder temps and rain from time to time, December to March are the quietest time of the year except for Christmas and the holy week.
Weather and Crowds for Cinque Terre
The climate in Cinque Terre is mild and often sunny throughout the year. The mountain range north of the villages protects the area from the cold northern winds. It frequently rains in spring and autumn, but these are brief showers mostly. Rain for an entire day or even two can happen in the winter.
Cinque Terre is quiet and magical in January with no tourist crowds. The average day temperature is 10°C (50°F), but it feels much warmer in the sun. Nights are cold with 3°C (37°F) on average. Cold winter storms can occur. However, you breathe in fantastic clean and salty air. [Boats don’t operate]
February in Cinque Terre is still a tranquil winter month without the crowds. There is not too much precipitation in February, with an average of 7-8 rainy days. It is still cold with day temperatures around 11°C (52°F). Winter storms can still occur, but sunny days as well. [Boats don’t operate]
It’s a little warmer with average day temps around 14°C, and it’s pleasant in the sun. It is almost the same amount of rain as in February. Boats start to operate at the end of the month. It gets a little busier, especially during the Easter holidays.
Spring arrives, and average temps climb up to 17°C; however, nights are still chilly on average 10°C. Expect the same amount of rainfall as in Feb and March. Usually, there are brief showers only. The number of visitors increases significantly during Easter. Advanced booking for your stay around Cinque Terre is recommended.
Lovely temperatures on average around 21°C and decreasing precipitation. It is a wonderful month, and nature is in full bloom but consider Cinque Terre starts to get crowded.
It starts to get hot during the day on average 25°C in the shadow. Swimming in the sea at roughly 23°C is awesome. June to August are the driest months. However, crowds are an issue now. Trains and boats are packed with day-trippers. The Cinque Terre trail is pretty busy.
Now it is hot during the day on average 28°C but can climb up above 30°C. Nights are warm, around 20°C. The sea is heating up as well; temps are around 25°C. Usually, July is the driest month of the year, but heavy thunderstorms occur. Cinque Terre is overrun, which may spoil your trip. Where ever you want to go, you have to line up. To escape the crowds and enjoy this magical place, you have to get up early and walk around from sunrise onwards. Evenings are also quieter because the ferry doesn’t operate at this time of the day.
This is the worst month of the year. In August are the Italian school holidays, companies are closed. If possible, avoid this month for your visit. Only during the early morning and evening crowds are bearable. It’s also a hot and relatively dry month with day temps on average around 28°C.
Increasing rainfall like in May. In late September, the temps drop to roughly 24°C. The real issue is still the masses of day visitors from cruise ships and independent travellers in these small towns.
Fall arrives, and the leaves of the grape wine change their colour. Temps are still pleasant, around 20°C during the day. Nights are cool, about 12°C on average. Increasing precipitation; October and November are the wettest. However, it is still busy in the area. The crowds thin out at the end of October. The boats operate weather depending.
Day temps are still bearable on average 14°C. Rain can occur for days, but it can be nice as well. The boats don’t operate from now on until late March. It’s getting quiet and tranquil again. During the low season, some accommodations are closed while others offer better prices. If it is too wet, the hiking trails are slippery; however, if you are flexible, monitor the weather and book your stay just a few days in advance.
Day temps drop on average to 11°C, and nights are chilly around 4°C. Except for the Christmas holidays, it is not busy in Cinque Terre. Winter storms can happen, but it can be sunny or overcast as well. Check the weather forecast before you plan to come here. You don’t get disappointed on a sunny day and most important the streets are not packed with tourists.
3 Top Accommodations
A visit is not complete if you don't stay at least one night in one of my three favourite villages. The pro you can experience the authentic Cinque Terre in the morning and evening when most tourists leave Cinque Terre.
- Riomaggiore; Cinqueterre Residence
This is an excellent hotel to get away from the hustle and bustle in Riomaggiore. However, it is located within walking distance to the main street. The panoramic terrace offers spectacular views down to the harbour. Free minibar is included during your stay, and the breakfast is fantastic. The staff is super friendly and helpful to get the most out of your vacation.
Manarola; Ca' D'Andrean
It’s a family-run hotel, and everybody is walking the extra mile for you. The location is perfect for exploring Cinque Terre. It is just an eight-minute walk to the Manarola Scenic Viewpoint for a spectacular sunset. The famous seafood Trattoria Dal Billy is a five minutes walk only. The rooms are super clean, providing an awesome view from the balcony.
- Vernazza La Marinarooms suite with sea view terrace
There are only view accommodations in Vernazza, but La Marinarooms is exceptional. Although perfectly located close to the harbour and the only beach in Cinque Terre, it is a quiet haven. The view from your bed and balcony to the sea is truly amazing. Your host Christian is making your stay memorable.
Camping in Levanto
We camped at Acqua Dolce in Levanto. It is perfectly located close to the beach and the city centre but quiet. We took our bikes to the train station to visit Cinque Terre. The campground is very well organized and maintained, which was important for us due to COVID 19. The staff was super friendly and helpful. It was truly the best campground with a fantastic restaurant on our trip to Italy.
Boat Tours Cinque Terre
Experience Cinque Terre from the water. IMO the best way for awesome shots and to escape the crowds during the day.
Best Months to Visit
Location and Tips
Cinque Terre are 5 coastal villages, the most picturesque ones in Liguria. They were built over a thousand years by farmers who developed the cliffs into fertile terraces for agriculture, the so-called “Cian”. These terraces are stabilized by 7000 km of stone walls to cultivate wine and olive trees. The unique human-made landscape became a National Park in 1999 and is a World Heritage Site as well. To prevent these exceptional villages from over-tourism new entrance fees were introduced. The hiking fee for the most popular trail from Monterosso to Corniglia is 7,50 Euro now.
The 5 Villages | From Levanto to La Spezia
- Monterosso and Monterosso al Mare It is the biggest town of the Cinque Terre, located on a sandy beach. It’s pretty busy but not overrun. From here leads a hiking trail to Vernazza, which offers fantastic views of the coast and the cultivated terraces.
- Vernazza Vernazza, the most beautiful village of the five Cinque Terre villages and in 2021, honoured to be the fourth most beautiful of all villages in entire Europe. Vernazza is a small car-free village with a small population of 900. It has a sandy beach and is often packed with locals and day-trippers alike from spring to fall. This picturesque village looks terrific from the end of the harbour and the hiking trail from Vernazza to Corniglia. Deservedly one of the most famous villages in Cinque Terre. In October 2011, Vernazza got hit by a flood of mud and all houses, shops, and restaurants of the small town centre got destroyed.
- Corniglia This village is perched high on top of a rock at an elevation of 100 m. It is the quietest village and not accessible by boat. The view to Corniglia on the hiking trail is spectacular.
- Manarola The Via dell’ Amore – The path of Love connecting Manarola and Riomaggiore. A part of the walk got destroyed by a landslide and should be reopened in 2023. This is the most scenic walk and the shortest way from one village to the next. The panoramic outlook is famous for spectacular sunsets but overrun as well. During the afternoon, you get the perfect light for awesome pictures of this lovely little town, and it’s less busy. Bring your swim clothes from May to September. It is my favourite spot for swimming in Cinque Terre. Our top tip for lunch and dinner: Trattoria dal Billy for the freshest and delicious seafood. The view of the vineyards and the sea is awesome.
- Riomaggiore When you arrive in Riomaggiore, you have to enter a long tunnel to the village first. During summer, it may take a while due to the many visitors. For your perfect shot of this colourful village, walk to the end of the harbour. From midday onwards, the light is fantastic for your ideal Instagram shot.
How to Get From One Village to the Next?
The Cinque Terre Card is requested if you wish to hike von Monterosso al Mare to Vernazza and from here to Corniglia. Unfortunately, the other connection trails are closed. I recommend the Cinque Terre Card combined with unlimited use of the train. The advantages you don’t have to line up for your train ticket, you can arrive shortly before departure, and you hop on and hop off as often as you want. The price for one day for adults is 16€ and for two days 29€. It also includes free wifi and the use of public restrooms.
We took the train pretty often in two days, and it was very convenient to get to all villages and back to our campground. During summer, the station is full of tourists, and you may not get your planned connection. train schedule
The transport by bus is included in the Cinque Terre hiking card. However, the buses are small, having limited seats; otherwise, they couldn’t fit into the narrow streets of the villages.
Parking at Cinque Terre is limited on top of the villages only. But even in the low season, the parking fills up quickly during the day.
The ferry does not operate from the beginning of November until late March. In June, we didn’t use the ferry because they offer only very few options to get on and off and a limited schedule. Only during the summer, there are more boat transfers provided. The price for an unlimited ticket for one day is 35€.
More about the different hiking trails in the next chapter.
If you don’t travel by car or campervan, you may have to choose one of the airports around located in Genoa, Pisa, and Florence.
Hiking Facts for Cinque Terre
- The hiking trail “Sentiero Liguria” is over 600 km long and leads along the Cinque Terre. Different trails exist from Monterosso to Riomaggiore. Parts of the famous trail along the coast got destroyed. The original track is 14.6 km long and takes 5-6 hours.
- You can hike from Monterosso al Mare to Vernazza and then continue to Corniglia. The toughest part of the entire hike is the initial climb out of Monterosso al Mare. It’s a strenuous mountainous hike upslope and downslope. Both trails took us less than three hours in the afternoon. Schedule 1.5-2 hours for the first section and another hour from Vernazza to Corniglia or vice versa. The views are spectacular, especially to Vernazza. Bring a good camera for some of the best shots ever.
Tip: Don’t start hiking immediately when you arrive by train. Start a little later, like 15 minutes, and you have the trail almost for yourselves. If you are an early bird, start your hike in the morning before it gets hot and crowded.
- The work at the coastal path from Corniglia to Manarola was already finished in summer 2021.
- The most famous walk, “Via dell’ Amore”, from Manarola to Riomaggiore, is planned for reopening in May 2023. The spectacular 1 km long trail got destroyed in 2012 by a rockslide where hikers got injured.
Packing List for Hiking
- Proper hiking or sport shoes. The trail entrance is frequently patrolled. Hikers in flip flops are sent back for a good reason; it is too dangerous.
- Plenty of water; it is hot and strenuous without any shelter.
- Sunscreen and hat; the sun is burning from spring to autumn.
Hiking Map Cinque Terre
There are many hiking trails in the Cinque Terre National Park. The most popular ones are leading along the coast from one village to the next. The entire track from Monterosso al Mare to Riomaggiore is 14.6 km long and takes an entire day with lunch and photo stops. Hopefully, all trails are reopened for summer 2023.
Is it Worth Visiting Cinque Terre?
In our opinion, it is definitely worth visiting these unique colourful towns but choose the time of your trip wisely. And don’t visit in a rush you won’t be disappointed. Take your time and soak it all in. It is truly magical at Cinque Terre. Bring a good camera for fantastic pictures. Enjoy the delicious ice cream, the freshest seafood in the trattorias, and have a bath in the sea from April/May until early October.
How Many Days to Spend?
Stay at least two entire days. Why? There is much to experience by boat, train, and feet. We spent three nights here and explored Cinque Terre for 2.5 days in June. One day was a bit rainy, and one was excellent. You never know how the weather will be even in the summer. It is pretty changeable.
One Day Cinque Terre Itinerary | Our Must See Villages
If you have just one day to visit this beautiful region, don’t miss Riomaggiore and Manarola. If you have still time available, take the train also to Vernazza. These three are the most colourful and picturesque ones.
- Regarding the best light for each little town, start with Vernazza and enjoy the amazing ice cream here.
- Then continue with Riomaggiore and walk to the end of the harbour for the best location of your shot.
- Now, take the train to Manarola and have lunch at Trattoria Billy. You have to walk a little uphill. The restaurant is hidden and offers incredible views of the vineyard terraces and the sea. They are famous for their outstanding seafood dishes. In the afternoon, walk to the Manarola scenic outlook for an amazing shot of the harbour and the lovely houses. If you are here in the offseason, watch the sunset in all other seasons; skip it. It is too crowded, which may spoil your experience.