Cinque Terre Insider

American expat insight into Italy's fabulous "Five Lands"

One of the most common questions I hear is, “When is the best time to visit the Cinque Terre?”  That’s a tough question because it’s incredibly subjective.  Are you a beach bum?  An avid hiker?  Or, are you looking to experience the Cinque Terre when you’ll have it (mostly) to yourself?  Here are the pros and cons of visiting in each season so you can decide what will work best for you.

SPRING

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Pros:

  • The locals are just coming out of a long winter of hibernation.  They are excited to see you (and serve you/host you/welcome you)!  You’ll see fresh faces and feel the warmth and hospitality of the locals.
  • If you love to hike, this is the season for you!  Typically, the weather is nice (not too warm) and perfect for hiking.
  • The earlier in the spring you visit, the less crowded it will be (minus Easter weekend, and don’t forget that Easter Monday is also a national holiday!).

Cons:  

  • Those wanting to snorkel/dive/kayak won’t usually have the opportunity this time of year as the rental points won’t be open just yet.
  • While you can hang out at the beach on a nice spring day, you probably won’t be taking a dip.  As for water temps, the adjective “refreshing” springs to mind.
  • You’ll probably need to dress in layers as it’s usually warm in the day and cools off in the evening.  This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, you’ll just need to pack a bit more for variable weather/temperatures.

SUMMER

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Pros:

  • It’s a great time for water sports (snorkeling, diving, kaying, paddle boarding, etc.) and to discover the treasures of the protected marine area.
  • Water temperatures are up and relaxing at the beach and swimming are high on the “to-do” list this time of year.  As is relaxing and enjoying la dolce vita.
  • You can pack super light because pretty much all of the clothes you’ll need can fit in a tiny carry on.

Cons:

  • While you can hike in the summer months, do you really want to?  On the hottest of days when I see people out hiking it makes me wonder if they are gluttons for punishment.  Of course, you can get up at the crack of dawn and get some hiking in before it gets too hot.
  • This is the warmest/most humid time of year in Cinque Terre (and Italy).  You won’t find a lot of air conditioning (on the trains, around the villages, in many accommodations, etc).  Brace yourself, especially if you are used to having A/C at all times.
  • As the summer coincides with most people’s vacation periods, you’ll find this is the busiest time to visit the Cinque Terre.

FALL 

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Pros:

  • The weather isn’t nearly as hot (or humid) as the summer months, so hiking this time of year is lovely.
  • The grape harvest takes place right around mid-September and is truly special to witness (especially if you are hiking through the vineyards).
  • While it’s not as hot as the summer months, the sea has had all summer to warm up so you can still swim in September and some years even in October!

Cons:

  • Locals are exhausted after months (and months) of travelers coming in and out of the villages.  You’ll notice we’re all a bit weary and burnt out.  We put on our brave faces and aim for November and the R&R that it brings.
  • Flies.  Don’t laugh.  One of my least favorite things about September in the Cinque Terre is the number of flies.  They’re pretty much unavoidable.  And annoying.  But not a reason to avoid coming.
  • As with the spring, it can be brisk in the morning and evening but warm during the day.  Dressing in layers is a must.

WINTER

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Pros:

  • This time of year, things in the Cinque Terre go back to how it once was (before the influx of tourism).  Visitors this time of year are few and far between (allowing for a quiet, peaceful sojourn).
  • This is a great time to brush up on your Italian as you’ll be one-on-one with locals.
  • Because they aren’t overwhelmed with travelers bustling in and out, locals tend to be more interested in and open to meeting and chatting with visitors.

Cons:

  • Many restaurants and shops will be closed for holiday (this is when locals finally get to take their turn at going on vacation).  Not to worry, they go on rotation so there should always be *at least* one restaurant open and *at least* one grocery market, etc.
  • The boats do not run in the winter months, so that won’t be an option.
  • It may be too wet/slippery to hike (but on a nice day, you can still get out and enjoy the trails).
  • Heating here may not be what you’re used to.  These buildings date back hundreds of years (well before the advent of electricity and/or indoor plumbing).  Most places use radiant heat which will give you warmth but not that balmy “let’s wear a t-shirt and shorts in the house in December” sort of feeling.  Plan on wearing warmer clothes, even indoors.
  • You’ll probably need to buy a Chicago-style zip up coat to keep warm.  I’m originally from California and when I first moved here I brought my warmest jacket (a wool peacoat).  I froze!  Lesson learned.

Whatever time of year you decide to visit, I think you’ll find the Cinque Terre an enchanting, magical place!

-Cinque Terre Insider

6 thoughts on “Seasons in the Cinque Terre

  1. Hi, does it usually rain a lot in mid-March?

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    1. Ciao Vy!

      March is hit and miss. I was married (outdoors!) in March in Cinque Terre and it was a glorious (albeit brisk) day! It could have equally been a rainy day. If you visit in March I’d say you have a 50/50 chance of encountering rain.

      I hope this helps!

      Amy

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you so much Amy! I have decided to go there in March! I am so excited! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  2. steve says:

    Hi,
    Could you please list what months of the year … Spring, Summer, Winter, Fall refer to (eg: Summer: July-September). Thanks.

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    1. Ciao,

      In Italy, the four seasons are as follows:
      March 21st – June 21st = spring
      June 22nd – September 22nd = summer
      September 23rd – December 21st = fall
      December 22nd – March 20th = winter

      Best,
      Amy

      Like

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