Side-by-side comparison of beaches in the Cinque Terre

Phew!  It’s getting hot around here.  Luckily, the Cinque Terre villages sit right on the Ligurian Sea (which, in case you didn’t already know, is a part of the Mediterranean) so it’s easy to take a dip and cool off.  Are you wondering where you should go to sunbathe and swim?  Here’s a side-by-side comparison with photos to help you decide which village’s water access best suits your fancy.

Riomaggiore (village #1)

Riomaggiore has a rocky, craggy beach called La Fossola located just around the point from its picturesque marina.  I’ve decided that there’s truly no graceful way to get in and out of the water here (if you’re not particularly surefooted, this is probably a no-go for you).  However, for those that are willing to overlook this slight drawback you’ll be rewarded with pristine water and breathtaking views of the rugged landscape.

Riomaggiore’s Fossola beach, seen from above

img_6162Manarola (village #2)

Manarola doesn’t actually have a beach per se.  Instead, you’ll find people basking in the sun on towels strewn all over the cement ramp that leads to the sea.  While this might not be as picturesque (or natural) as some of the other beaches, it can actually be more comfortable than lounging on the rocks.  As you gaze up at the beautiful views of the village you just might have to pinch yourself as a reminder that yes, you really are in paradise!

Corniglia (village #3)

Corniglia is the village smack dab in the middle of the Cinque Terre and the only one of the five located off of the sea.  Despite this, it still has water access if you’re willing to hoof it.  From the main street in the village you’ll see signs indicating Corniglia’s marina.  Follow the stairs down the hillside (which is the opposite side of the mountain that you walked up from the train station) and you’ll reach a secluded little rocky cove with crystalline water.  Because it’s harder to get to and most visitors write it off, you’ll find a fraction of the number of people here.

Back in the day, Corniglia was famous for a different kind of beach… a nude beach called Guvano.  Today that rocky beach is only accessible by boat but nudists still seem to find their way there.

Beneath the train station in Corniglia there are also places that people like to swim off of the rocks.  However, this area has been neglected and the metal staircase that once made the area easily accessible is no more.  For that reason, I wouldn’t even consider it an option at the moment.

Vernazza (village #4)

Vernazza has long been considered the pearl of the Cinque Terre; with its photogenic piazza right on the seafront flanked on opposite sides by its church and castle it’s easy to see why.  While beauty might be Vernazza’s forte, beaches are most definitely not.  Vernazza has a tiny strip of sandy beach right on the edge of the piazza but if you set out your towel here prepare to be observed by lots and lots of people.

If rugged and more private is your style, head to Vernazza’s new beach (accessed by walking through a gap in the rock cliff, signs will warn you that passage is at your own risk).  The existence of this beach is thanks to the devastating 2011 flood and mudslides that claimed the lives of three locals.  While this beach photographs beautifully, keep in mind that it was created with dirt and debris from the flood (so don’t expect pristine).

To access the new beach in Vernazza, walk down the main street until you see this opening in the cliff on your left, this is where you’ll need to pass through to reach the beach on the other side

This photo was taken this spring (so expect more people to be at the beach during the warm season)

Monterosso (village #5)

Monterosso, the largest village of the Cinque Terre, offers the poshest options for beach goers.  What Monterosso might lack in terms of quaint charm it makes up for in spades with its beaches and riviera-esque vibe.  If your idea of a perfect day at the beach includes sand or pebbles, a sun lounger, umbrella, lifeguard, shower, changing room and bar nearby, then this is the place for you! img_5011.jpg

The village of Monterosso has two sides, the newer Fegina (which is where the train station and the best beaches can be found) and Monterosso Vecchio (which is the historical side of the village with a smaller strip of beach).  The two sides are connected by a tunnel so it’s easy to go back and forth.

I’d say 90% of Monterosso’s beaches are private so you’ll need to pay for a beach chair and umbrella to enter (rates vary but expect to pay around €20 to use an umbrella and two chairs for the entire day).  The remaining 10% of beach is public (free of charge) but oftentimes super crowded.

Depending on what part of the beach you are on will depend on whether the beach is composed of pebbles (seen here) or sand

Monterosso’s beach is kid-friendly and easy for them to get in and out of the water

A view of Monterosso Vecchio’s beach, before the beach umbrellas were set up for the season

Things to keep in mind:

  • Swimming is not permitted in the marina of Riomaggiore (this is for your own safety as boats are constantly coming in and out).
  • Stay clear of the ferry docking points in Riomaggiore, Manarola, Vernazza & Monterosso (once again, this is for your own safety).
  • Monterosso is the only village to offer stabilimenti balneari (private, fully equipped beaches where payment is required) and lifeguards.
  •  You can purchase beach towels just about anywhere for right around €10. If you are staying in the Cinque Terre or nearby, it wouldn’t hurt to ask your host if they have any beach towels available for you to borrow (don’t take your bath towels as they stain).
  • Don’t ask me why, but sunscreen is incredibly expensive in Italy. Bring yours from home!
  • Wanting to get off the beaten path and hit up places only accessible by water? Hire your own boat! In Riomaggiore I recommend Cinque Terre dal Mare for boat rentals (they also rent out a larger boat with a skipper provided, which is ideal for those wanting zero stress).
  • Depending on the currents, sometimes jellyfish are brought into our coastal waters.  While the jellyfish stings are painful, they are not life-threatening like they can be in other parts of the world.  If it’s a hot day and you notice that nobody is in the water I would consider that a red flag.  Point to the sea and ask a local a one-word question: “Medusa?”  If they nod you’ll know it’s best to steer clear of the water on that particular day.
  • Don’t forget that our sea is usually very flat with little to no waves (almost like a lake!). If you see large, crashing waves this is a sign of rough and dangerous seas and you should keep your distance from the water’s edge.

While you’re at it, check out my previous post with tips on how to survive a hot Italian summer.

Buon bagno!


a.k.a. Cinque Terre Insider


Village spotlight: MANAROLA


I must admit, I have heartstrings attached to the village of Manarola.  It was, after all, the very first place I ever visited in the Cinque Terre and a catalyst in my life as I know it.  On my last trip back to the States, I came across my travel journal from my epic Italy trip in 2002.  I thought it fitting to share this excerpt from the entry that I had written on Manarola:

“As I sit on the rocks on the breakwater I stare in amazement at this incredibly beautiful, colorful little village.  The people here are so friendly and quick to say hello.  Even as I sit here, a local fisherman is offering to show me his catch.  THIS is the Italy that I had always imagined.”

It gives me goosebumps to think of how my life would forever be changed from that moment.  If you are interested in reading my story, check out this blog post.


You can probably imagine why I’ll always have a soft spot in my heart for Manarola, the second village in the Cinque Terre from the city of La Spezia (or fourth from the direction of Genoa).  This village is smaller than Monterosso and Riomaggiore, but not teeny-tiny or remote like Corniglia.  It has plenty of shops and restaurants, a beautiful playground with magnificent views, and a cement ramp-cum-sunbed leading down to the crystal clear sea.  Manarola is an enchanting village, to say the least.

When you exit the train station in Manarola, you’ll need to take a tunnel that cuts through the cliff to connect to the historic center of the village.


Upon exiting this tunnel you can do one of two things:  1) go to the left and towards the sea (this is where the majority of visitors head upon arrival), or 2) go to the right and up the steep hill where you will be rewarded with gorgeous views over the village from the piazza della chiesa  (where the village church is located).


If you make your way down to the waterfront in Manarola, don’t miss out on a stroll to Punta Bonfiglio (once you reach the sea, make a right and follow the walking path out to the point).  This is the place to take that gorgeous, post card picture of the village.


If you are traveling with children, there’s a beautiful parco giochi (playground) that can be reached if you take the stairs up from the point (if you’re traveling with little ones, see my previous post with recommendations here).


During the Christmas holiday season, Manarola is known throughout Italy for its vast, illuminated nativity scene which lights up the hilltop vineyards above the village.  The nativity scene is the passion and creation of local Manarolese Mario Andreoli.   Mario started creating the nativity pieces from recycled materials (he was upcycling before it was the cool thing to do!) and placing them in the vineyards above the village nearly 50 years ago. Each year, Mario adds additional pieces (by the way, even outside of the holiday season you’ll still see the figurines throughout the vineyards, they just won’t be illuminated).  If you happen to be in the Cinque Terre in December/early January, don’t miss seeing it lit up!

My personal recommendations in Manarola


Trattoria dal Billy     via Aldo Rollandi 122, tel. +39 0187 920 628

Off the beaten path, this restaurant is located at the top of the village of Manarola (on a medieval lane that is accessed from the church square), and offers sweeping views over the village.  I’ve always felt confident sending guests to dal Billy and hearing their positive feedback after dining there just reinforces my recommendation.  There’s indoor and outdoor seating so if you’re wanting to sit outdoors (which, of course, you do!) you’ll want to book in advance (as there are only 7 small tables available outside).  As with just about every restaurant in the Cinque Terre, seafood is their pièce de résistance.  Keep in mind that their weekly day of closure is on Thursdays.


La Cantina dello Zio Bramante     via Renato Birolli, 110, tel. +39 0187 920 442

This is the place for drinks, live music (most every night during peak-season) and a kick back atmosphere.  It’s a favorite with locals, too (which is always a good sign).

Nessun Dorma     località Punto Bonfiglio, tel. +39 320 071 3868

This little bar has the best location of any establishment in Manarola:  it sits right out on Punta Bonfiglio (think: where all of the postcard pictures of Manarola are taken).  It’s also very handily located just beneath the playground (hint, hint to all the parents reading).

Cinque Terre Trekking     via Discovolo 136, tel. +39 0187 920 715

Owned and operated by local Nicola and his American expat wife Christine, this little mom & pop shop has all the equipment that one might need for hiking and trail running (including shoes, clothing and gear).  They have a passion for what they do and it shows (they were a driving force behind the SciaccheTrail marathon held in the Cinque Terre earlier this year).  Christine is also the creator of some really awesome videos on our area (which I’ve previously shared here and here).  Even if you don’t need equipment you can pick up one of their nifty logo shirts and share with the world that you’ve crossed “hike the Cinque Terre” off of your bucket list.


The primary source of accommodation in Manarola is through small, family-run affittacamere (room rentals) and vacation apartment rentals.  This is a great option for those seeking an authentic experience where they will be staying side-by-side with locals.  There’s a plethora of options available but here’s a few surefire ones to get you started on your search (if they happen to be full for your dates, ask them if they can refer you to someone else that they know & recommend).


Da Baranin offers private rooms with breakfast as well as self-catering apartments.  This is a budget-friendly option ranging in price from €70-€110 per night for a double.


Casa Capellini  is family-run with TLC and offers remodeled accommodations in a historic building (most with sea views).  Prices range from €90-€110 per night for a double.


La Torretta is the perfect option for those looking to splurge and wanting a posh, boutique-style stay.  Prices range from €220-€700 per night for a double.

Crowds in the Cinque Terre


The Cinque Terre are by no means a hidden secret like they were yesteryear.  Thanks in part to the Internet, social media and Rick Steves, the Cinque Terre are now a fixed destination on the itinerary of most international travelers coming to Italy.  There’s every reason to visit our area.  It’s just that beautiful.

Riomaggiore's marina, Cinque Terre

But if you’re traveling in peak-season (think: Easter week through the end of October) and you think you’re going to find five sleepy fishing villages, you’re wrong.  You’ll find five lovely and picturesque but highly visited villages.  If you’re planning to be here on a weekend during peak-season or a national holiday period (see my post on holidays in Italy for more details) you should by all means expect to find the streets and the trains connecting the villages teeming with visitors.  The good news is that the majority of these people will not actually be staying here (as there’s just not enough lodging to accommodate them) so things go back to their normal, slow place in the early evening when all of the day-trippers head out.


Part of the reason for the crowds…

The Cinque Terre villages are popular in their own right and attract thousands of visitors each year.  But just a few years ago La Spezia (the nearest city to the Cinque Terre, just 8 minutes by train from Riomaggiore) rolled out the red carpet for a new port facility for the large cruise ships which now regularly dock there overnight.  As La Spezia is a working city (and by no means touristic) the city and its residents were beyond ecstatic about this development as it promised the creation of new jobs and tourism to an otherwise off the map city.  Taking advantage of the close proximity to the Cinque Terre, the different cruise lines offer their passengers the possibility to take a day tour of the five villages.  These guided groups are large and can overwhelm and congest the narrow streets and tiny villages of the Cinque Terre.  This is not what we consider “sustainable tourism” and the topic is currently a tasto dolente (sore spot) with locals.  The five villages of the Cinque Terre are a national park and as such it is believed that the park should take responsibility and action in controlling the influx of these large groups rather than leaving the flood gates open.

My tips on how to avoid the crowds

  • Visit during the off-season.  It’s amazing the difference between peak and off-season.  Even if you come on the cusp of the peak-season you’ll notice the difference (March/April and October).  See my previous post on the different seasons in the Cinque Terre here.


  • Hike trails other than the Sentiero Azzurro.   Did you know that the Cinque Terre are crisscrossed with a plethora of trails besides the famous coastal trail (Sentiero Azzurro)?  And that all of these trails are FREE to hike?  Some of these trails are just as beautiful (if not more so!) than the coastal trail but they are simply not as well-known.


  • Try to avoid the main drags during peak hours.  I know this isn’t an easy feat, but if you can avoid the main streets midday you’ll miss out on most of the day tripping crowds.


The Cinque Terre villages are as gorgeous and fascinating as ever.  Despite the potential crowds, it doesn’t take much to get off the beaten path to get a glimpse of  real life in a small Italian village.  However, it’s my hope that the Cinque Terre National Park will take action to protect the natural beauty and delicate nature of these villages and spare them from being overwhelmed with rampant, unsustainable tourism.


Village spotlight: MONTEROSSO

My last village spotlight was on Corniglia, the Cinque Terre’s smallest and most remote village.  For my second spotlight, I chose the perfect juxtaposition: Monterosso.


Monterosso is the largest and most bustling of the Cinque Terre villages.  It is considered either the first or fifth village, depending on what direction you are arriving from (it’s first from the direction of Genoa or fifth from the direction of La Spezia).  It’s the only flat village in the Cinque Terre and also offers the Cinque Terre’s best beaches.

IMG_3382This place is paradise for those looking for the “Italian Riviera experience.”  



The village is split into two distinct neighborhoods: the more modern (and very beachy) Fegina and the historical center, oftentimes called Monterosso Vecchio.  These two sides of the village are connected by a picturesque promenade and a tunnel that cuts through the rock cliff.

IMG_3492-0When you arrive by train to Monterosso you will come out into the modern Fegina neighborhood.  As you exit the train station, make a left and walk along the promenade (and then through the tunnel) and you will connect to Monterosso Vecchio (about a 10 minute walk).  If you’re strapped with luggage you can actually take a taxi (which is a luxury offered only in this Cinque Terre village).


If you take a right as you exit the train station you will head towards the heart of modern Fegina where you will find lots of private beaches (and a few small public sections) and a promenade dotted with playground equipment (this is also where you’ll find two of my recommended restaurants).


Monterosso, although not as characteristic and quaint as the other four villages, is ideal for those wanting modern comforts and those looking for a relaxing, beachy holiday. Monterosso is chock-full of shops, restaurants, hotels and beaches.

IMG_3470 One of my favorite artisan shops in Monterosso, located on via V. Emanuele
IMG_3474 Monterosso’s San Giovanni Battista (St. John the Baptist) church


Italians LOVE Monterosso.  In fact, in the summer months you’ll find more Italian vacationers here than in any of the other villages of the Cinque Terre.  Italians adore modern comforts and conveniences (and minimal effort), including the use of the stabilimenti balneare (the private beaches where you can rent a lounge chair and a beach umbrella + have access to showers, changing cabins and a snack bar).


My personal recommendations in Monterosso

Sweet treat:

IMG_3758My absolute favorite local dessert is the torta Monterossina which you can get a slice of at Pasticceria Laura in Monterosso Vecchio. The torte has a pastry crust and layers of sponge cake, apricot preserves, pastry cream and dark chocolate.  My favorite is when it’s served warm and gooey.  It’s rich and decadent and something I crave.  Beware that the bakery  is closed on Tuesdays.

IMG_3441 Pasticceria Laura via V. Emanuele 59, Monterosso


The best focaccia I’ve had in Monterosso can be found here:

IMG_3415 Il Frantoio via Gioberti 1, Monterosso

It’s called Il Frantoio but you won’t see signs saying that anywhere.  A local tipped me off about this place a few years back and, as usual, locals know best!  To find this hidden gem just walk up the main street in Monterosso Vecchio and keep an eye out for via Gioberti on the right.  You’ll see the doorway located just off the main street on the narrow medieval lane. This is one of the few places that still sells focaccia by weight, which I admire (and pocketbooks appreciate).


I also love the pizza by the slice and focaccia at Il Massimo della Foccacia in Monterosso Fegina (on the promenade, directly beneath Monterosso’s train station). Their pizza margherita (cheese pizza) served by the slice is delicious!


Tasty gelato and friendly faces await you at Gelateria Golosone in Monterosso Vecchio.  The entrance to the gelateria is just off the main street (blink and you’ll miss it!).

IMG_3421 Gelateria Golosone via Roma 17, Monterosso


“Muscoli” at La Cantina di Miky

One of my favorite restaurants in Monterosso is La Cantina di Miky, where the fish is fresh and the pasta is handmade each day.  Expat Christine (from New Jersey) and her Italian husband (son of the proprietor of Ristorante Miky, see below) run this little place in Fegina. They have outdoor seating on the promenade with sea views but I personally prefer to dine inside as I love the intimate atmosphere they’ve created.  Christine is knowledgable not only about their menu items—which she conveys in perfect English—but also about each ingredient used in every dish.  Michele (that’s the Italian version of Michael and pronounced Me-kay-lay), one of their wait staff, exudes professionalism and warm Italian hospitality.  Ask about their locally-sourced daily specials and don’t shy from trying their acciughe (anchovy) sampler appetizer so you can walk away with a better appreciation of the little fish that made Monterosso famous throughout Italy.  Heads up: La Cantina di Miky is closed on Wednesdays.

La Cantina di Miky located at via Fegina 90 in Monterosso, phone: +39 0187 802 525

If you’re a foodie or just looking for a fine dining experience, check out Ristorante Miky in the Fegina neighborhood of Monterosso.  It’s a bit pricey but worth every cent.  Things here are made to order so don’t expect it to be speedy.  This is the type of meal where you sit back, relax and savor the meal.  While Cinque Terre is typically casual, you’ll want to dress a little nicer (or risk feeling out of place).

IMG_3584 Ristorante Miky via Fegina 104, Monterosso tel. +39 0187 817 608 (reservations recommended)

If you’re wanting to eat in Monterosso Vecchio (the historical center) my favorite eatery there is Ristorante CIAK. Some might see this place as cliché but I can’t help but love the owner in his sailor garb and the fact that you can peek into the kitchen from the main street. This is classic Italian seafood, served in generous portions.

Ristorante CIAK piazza Don Minzoni 6, Monterosso tel. +39 0187 817 014 (reservations recommended)

Do you have any other recommendations in Monterosso? Do you find my blog helpful?  Please do tell!

Village spotlight: CORNIGLIA

Corniglia (pronounced core-neel-ee-uh) is the smallest of the Cinque Terre villages and arguably the most underrated (as it is oftentimes overshadowed by its larger and easier to reach neighbors).


If you are a numbers person, Corniglia is considered the third village in the Cinque Terre (from either direction).

There are a few things that set Corniglia apart from its more popular neighbors:

  • Its location off the sea.

Unlike the other four villages, Corniglia sits on a mountaintop reigning over the sea.  When you reach the Corniglia train station you’ll find that you still have to climb 382 stairs (yes, 382, I’ve counted them myself!) to reach the village center.

The fact that it takes a bit of effort to reach the village tends to weed out visitors that can’t be bothered (which is a BIG plus in my opinion).  Little do these people know, you can actually “cheat” and take a bus up the hill to the village.

Despite that, I still prefer to take the stairs (probably because of my next point). 

  • It has my *favorite* gelateria in all of the Cinque Terre.   


You can get traditional homemade gelato in a plethora of flavors all throughout the Cinque Terre.  And to be honest, it’s all pretty delicious.  But in how many places can you get gelato al basilico, made with fresh basil from the owner’s garden?  Or, gelato al miele made with the honey harvested from local Corniglia bees?  Yeah, I didn’t think so.  This place is unico.  What better way to treat yourself after climbing all of those stairs? 


  • Most consider Corniglia to be the only Cinque Terre village without access to the sea, which isn’t exactly true.  

They have this lovely little cove where you can swim off the rocks (granted you’ll have to hoof it up and down the hill but you didn’t come to the Cinque Terre to be sedentary, right?).

There’s also a famous/infamous nude beach called Guvano hidden beneath Corniglia (but you’ll need a boat to reach it).

  • Locals are so nice here.  


While sitting at a tiny café I witnessed a foreign couple ask the barista to place a slice of savory cheese in a sweet croissant (I must be turning Italian as I winced simply at the thought!).  The barista didn’t bat an eye and accommodated their request with a smile.  I must admit, I was really impressed.

  •   It’s less commercial.  

You won’t find hotels here, just a scattering of affittacamere (room rentals).  It’s quaint and personable and you’ll feel like you’re staying amongst the locals.

  • It’s quiet when the sun goes down.


And heck, it’s pretty quiet during the day, too.  If R&R is your scope and you like to turn in early, Corniglia could very well be your own little piece of paradise.


My personal recommendations in Corniglia


Gelateria Alberto, via Fieschi (you can’t miss it!)  

A quick coffee or aperitivo:

Bar Pan e Vin, via Fieschi 123 (this place is tiny and gets cramped quickly… grab a coffee and sit on the bench outside to people watch)


Affittacamere da Cristiana is family-run with love and care by friendly Cristiana and Stefano (they also run the bar listed above)


Corte del Gallo offers a convenient location (an easy and quick walk from the Corniglia train station), beautiful views and comfortable accommodations.  Owners Roberto and Claudia are lovely, lovely people that I had the pleasure to meet when Roberto so kindly volunteered to be Babbo Natale (Santa Claus) for my son’s preschool.  Their stellar reviews just go to show what lovely hosts and people they are! Contact them directly at 

Where to stay in the Cinque Terre? Take my quiz to find out!

Riomaggiore.  Manarola.  Corniglia. Vernazza.  Monterosso.  Five villages.  Five choices.  Let me help you decide which village in the Cinque Terre would be best for you.  Take my quiz to find out.


Keep in mind that the villages of the Cinque Terre are VERY close to one another (from the 1st to 5th village it’s just 15 minutes by train!), so the best bet is to pick one as your home base and then visit the others throughout the day.  I don’t recommend changing villages mid-stay *unless* you are staying for a good chunk of time in the Cinque Terre (otherwise, you waste lots of precious time packing up, switching villages, checking in, unpacking and getting settled, etc.).

***Disclaimer:  I’m obviously biased because my heart… and work… are here in Riomaggiore.  However, I promise, promise, promise that I’ve been as objective with the quiz as humanly possible and I haven’t swayed anything in Riomaggiore’s favor. Cross my heart.

Seasons in the Cinque Terre

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.




  • 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!).


  • 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.




  • 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.


  • 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.




  • 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!


  • 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.




  • 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.


  • 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