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 but only a few thousand residents.
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 Site belongs to everybody. Continue reading for more details. Cinque Terre Reiseführer in Deutsch
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.
Before I give you more information about Cinque Terre's weather, I would like to share with you more details about these five unique villages. For an overview of all topics, I added a Table of Contents:
Cinque Terre - 5 Villages
I will give you an overview of the five villages from the north to the south, from Levanto to La Spezia. You enter and exit the villages from here by boat or train.
1 Monterosso and Monterosso al Mare
Monterosso is the biggest and oldest village of the Cinque Terre, with the most hotels, restaurants, and excellent ice cream parlours. It can get crowded on weekends when Italians also want to visit the villages and swim. The beaches here are the largest and most easily accessible.
The statue of the giant made of concrete is 14 meters high and was built well more than a hundred years ago.
From Monterosso begins the breathtaking trail "sentiero azzurro" - the blue hiking path - along the coast through vineyards and past olive groves to Vernazza.
Vernazza is officially the most beautiful village of the five Cinque Terre villages and was honoured to be the fourth most beautiful of all villages in entire Europe in 2021. Vernazza is a small car-free village with a population of only 900. It has a 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 village centre got destroyed. There is nothing of this today.
The village and its harbour were shortly used for military purposes in the 13th century during the war between Genua and Pisa. Even today, parts of the defences that Genoa once built are preserved—also, parts of the village wall and the watchtowers date back to that period.
This village is perched high on top of a rock at an elevation of 100 m. Corniglia can be accessed by a long staircase with almost 400 steps from the sea or simply by following the Cinque Terre path.
This village also has a long history and is believed to have existed in Roman times. The location high up on a rock was not sufficient enough, and to defend against pirates, a village wall and fortress were built, of which much is still preserved today.
Some advice to skip this village but I can't agree. It is utterly amazing.
Manarola is one of the most popular villages. One reason is the Via dell’ Amore – The path of Love, which connects Manarola and Riomaggiore. A landslide destroyed a part of the walk, and the reopening day has been postponed several times already; the status is July 2024 now. This is the most scenic walk and the shortest way between these two villages.
The viewpoint is famous for its spectacular sunsets, but therefore also crowded. In the afternoon, you'll have the perfect light for great photos of this pretty, second-smallest village, and it's less busy. Bring your swimsuit for the gorgeous Manarola Bay from May to September.
The Bay of Manarola was my favourite spot for swimming in Cinque Terre. Manarola is perched on a rocky outcrop and has no beach. You can either lay on concrete or sit on the rocks, but you easily get into the sea. Tour boats stop here in the harbour too.
Our top tip for lunch and dinner: Trattoria dal Billy (Google Maps Link) for the freshest and most delicious seafood. The view of the vineyards and the sea is awesome.
After arriving in Riomaggiore, you must first enter a long tunnel to reach the village. 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.
The centre of the village also has the typical closely built colourful houses and narrow streets. Three- to four-story narrow houses are lined up and formed a defensive wall for protection against the pirates in earlier times. One looks in vain for a beach here. There is something like a small pebble beach, which is shared with the boats.
Where Can I Swim in Cinque Terre?
You can take a bath or swim in three of the five villages. The longest beach is in Monterosso; Vernazza has a beautiful but small beach which is crowded in summer. The protected Manarola Bay is great for swimming, but there is no beach. Pleasant sea temperatures in the summer around 25°C (77°F).
How to Get to Cinque Terre and How to Travel Between the 5 Villages?
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. You get easily to Cinque Terre by train from these cities. The town Levanto in the north and La Spezia in the northeast are the entrance gates to Cinque Terre. Travelling between the villages works very well by train and also by boat, and I highly recommend walking a little on the coastal trail between the beautiful villages.
The paths from the train stations to the village centres are well marked- At most you have to walk through a tunnel to reach the village. The very best way to experience Cinque Terre's beauty is by hiking the 12 km long "sentiero azzurro" from Monterosso to Riamaggiore or vice versa and taking the train first and starting in Riamaggiore to Monterosso. More below in the hiking section.
Do I Need the Cinque Terre Card?
Yes, this makes your journey much easier. There is no National Park fee requested instead, the Cinque Terre Card with unlimited transport by train and bus. The card is mandatory for hiking between Monterosso and Corniglia on the blue hiking track. The advantages of this card are that you get a lot more flexibility and don’t have to line up for your train ticket; you can arrive shortly before departure and hop on and hop off as often as you want. The price for one day for adults is 18,20 € and for children 11,40 €. It also includes free wifi and the use of public restrooms.
Exception Cinque Terre Card: During the off-season from November 3 until March 17, no hiking fee is requested, and no card is necessary.
We took the train often in two days, and getting to all villages and back to our campground was very convenient. The station is full of tourists during summer, and you may not get your planned connection.
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 offered only very few options to get on and off and a limited schedule. Only during the summer are there more boat transfers provided.
More about the different hiking trails in the next chapter.
Hiking Trails Details Cinque Terre
- The “Sentiero Liguria” hiking trail is over 600 km long and leads along the entire Cinque Terre area. Different trails exist from Monterosso to Riomaggiore. Parts of the famous trail along the coast are destroyed. The original track was 14.6 km long and took 5-6 hours. The work on the coastal path from Corniglia to Manarola was finished in the summer of 2021.
- The "sentiero azzurro", the blue trail, is the most popular hike from Monterosso al Mare to Vernazza and continues 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 camera for some of the best shots ever. The trail is well-marked; you do not need a map.
- The most famous walk, “Via dell’ Amore”, from Manarola to Riomaggiore, is planned for reopening in July 2024. The spectacular 1 km long trail was destroyed in 2012 by a rockslide where hikers were injured.
5 Hiking Tips for Cinque Terre
- 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.
- Proper hiking or sports shoes. The trail entrance is frequently patrolled. Hikers in flip-flops are sent back for a good reason; it is too dangerous, and accidents happen too often.
- Carry a water bottle in your backpack. The trail does not offer much shelter and is exposed to the intense sun.
- Sun protection; hat, sunscreen, and sunglasses are important for your visit.
- Bring a swimsuit in the summer or come in the winter and enjoy the solitude at Cinque Terre.
Is it Worth Visiting Cinque Terre?
Out of the question, yes! If you visit Liguria, you must add Cinque Terre, even if it is only for one day. Soak in the beauty of the ancient and colourful villages with their agriculture terraces. Nevertheless, choose the time of your trip wisely. It is truly magical at Cinque Terre and especially the sunset. Enjoy the delicious ice cream and the freshest seafood in the trattorias, and have a bath in the sea from April/May until early October. Cinque Terre and its residents will leave you in awe.
How Many Days Should I Spend in Cinque Terre?
You can experience a lot in one day, but I highly recommend staying at least two days - one night. Why? There is much to experience by boat, train, and foot. 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 can change quickly. Enjoy the villages in all their glory without any rush, the exceptional seafood and treat yourselves to delicious ice cream.
Can I Visit Cinque Terre in One Day?
Yes, it is possible to do so, and I will give you an overview with ideas for a One Day Itinerary:
If you have just one day to visit this beautiful region, don’t miss Riomaggiore and Manarola and Vernazza is lovely too. These three are the most colourful and picturesque villages.
One Day Itinerary Cinque Terre
Regarding the best light for each little town, start with Vernazza and enjoy the amazing ice cream here.
Then continue by train to Riomaggiore, walk to the end of the harbour to the best spot for the famous shot, and admire the terrific scenery.
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 lookout for an amazing photo of the harbour and the colourful houses. Unfortunately, Via dell’ Amore is still closed.
This depends on the season and if you stay in one of the villages. If possible, watch the sunset either from Manarola or Riomaggiore.
3 Best Places to Stay in Cinque Terre
A visit is not complete if you don't stay at least one night in one of my three favourite villages. The pro is that you can experience the authentic Cinque Terre in the morning and evening when most tourists leave the National Park.
- Riomaggiore; Cinqueterre Residence
This is an excellent hotel to escape Riomaggiore's hustle and bustle. However, it is located within walking distance of the main street. The panoramic terrace offers spectacular views down to the harbour. A 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 Casa Cato
The rooms have a kettle for coffee and tea, which is not common. Although perfectly located just 100 m from the harbour and the only beach in Cinque Terre, it is a quiet haven. The view from your room to the sea is truly amazing. Your hosts, Lorena and Lisa, are making your stay memorable and you get a great breakfast, too.
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. The staff was super friendly and helpful. It was truly one of the best campgrounds with a fantastic restaurant on our trip to Italy.
Weather and Crowds for Cinque Terre for Each Season
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 mostly brief showers. Rain for an entire day or even two can happen in the winter.
Cinque Terre in Winter
The winter, from December to February, is an excellent time to escape the crowds. Cinque Terre is quiet and magical during this time of the year. The streets are not packed with tourists. Winter storms occur, but it can be pleasant too. Breathe in the fantastic clean and salty air. The average day temperature is 10°C (50°F), and it feels much warmer in the sun. Nights are chilly at 3°C (37°F) on average. Cold winter storms can occur. Another pro is that you do not need a Cinque Terre card in winter, but boats do not operate.
The official season start on March 17, and a Cinque Terre card is mandatory for hiking the "sentiero azzuro". Temperatures increase in March, reaching around 14°C (57°F) and topping 20°C (68°F) in May in the shade. Boats start to operate between the villages at the end of March. Some brief showers can occur in spring. The number of visitors increases significantly during Easter. Advanced booking for your stay around Cinque Terre is recommended. May is a fantastic month; rainfall decreases, and nature is in full bloom, but Cinque Terre is starting to get crowded.
Temps climb to 25°C (77°F) in June, and July and August are scorching during the day, topping 30°C (86°F) in the shade. Thunderstorms can occur in the afternoon. The air has a haze because of the high humidity, and the images do not come out clearly. The sea is pleasant and warm, around 25°C, which is awesome for swimming. However, crowds are an issue now. Trains and boats are packed with day-trippers. The Cinque Terre trail is pretty busy. Where ever you want to go, you have to line up. You must get up early to escape the crowds and enjoy this magical place. Evenings are also quieter because the ferry doesn’t operate at this time of the day. August is the worst month of all. It is the holiday month of the Italien and companies are closed. In late September, the temps drop to roughly 24°C (75°F), and there are still masses of day visitors from cruise ships and independent travellers.
Fall arrives, and the leaves of the grape wine change their colour. Temps are still pleasant, around 20°C (68°F) during the day in October and 14°C (57°F) in November. Nights are cool, about 12°C on average. Increasing precipitation; October and November are the wettest months. The crowds thin out at the end of October. The boats operate weather depending and stop service on November 6. It’s getting quiet and tranquil again. During the low season, some accommodations are closed while others offer lower 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.
Boat Tours Cinque Terre
Experience Cinque Terre from the sea. IMO, the best way for awesome shots and to escape the crowds during the day.
These are my recommended tours via GetYourGuide with 24 hours advance cancellation policy. Thx for booking via my website! With your support, I am able to provide all information first-hand. Tour prices are at no extra cost!
Best Months to Visit
Location and Tips
Cinque Terre is 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 € now.
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.
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