Cinque Terre


The Tuscan Expert ;-)
Staff member
It is amazing! A small piece of the Italian Riviera that merits a visit - but when exactly will you be here next year? The towns are small, on the cliffs looking onto the sea and they get crowded...
having said that, I'd recommend spending an overnight there, so that you can see the five towns slowly and not in a hurry. The best period is April-May and then September-October. There are no trees, so it gets hot!
There is no beach, since you're right on the cliffs.... but the towns themselves are beautiful!. Read this just to get the general idea: Our Two Days at The Cinque Terre in Italy:Hiking at Le Cinque Terre
Also the best way to get around once you're there is by train.... so you might consider driving to Porto Venere, another beautiful coastal city a bit further south and then parking and leaving your car before heading into the Cinque Terre.


The Tuscan Expert ;-)
Staff member
Re-reading my post it seems I should have elaborated a little more on the "no beach" concept -- most of the towns don't have a sandy beach for sitting around and going into the water. But Monterosso is the exception! It is the northernmost of the five towns, and in comparison to the others it is huge. It also has a long sandy beach waterfront so even if you're in the other towns, you can head to Monterosso for a dip into the water ;-)
Vernazza also has a small sandy beach but it is shared with the small boat docking area. During the warm months, Vernazza seems to be one of the most crowded of the five towns.
Corniglia is the only town not on the coast but on a promontory right above, with about 300 steps to climb from the train station. I don't recall if there is some beach space below Corniglia - we were caught in a thunderstorm right under here along the trail and didn't pay that much attention ;)
Manarola - no sandy beach, if you head along the path towards Corniglia there were some people out on the rocks below and in the water, you'd need shoes with grip here.
Riomaggiore has a small cove with rocky pebble beach if you head down past the small harbor.

So overall you head to Cinque Terre because they are beautiful and scenic, with great views over the coast and cliffs. It is a great destination for hiking, the hike between the towns is really beautiful and doable for most anyone - the most difficult part is between Monterosso and Vernazza because it is practically all steps, the easiest between Riomaggiore and Manarola called "La Via dell'Amore" (flat and short, about 30min at leisurely pace). Not so great is you're thinking of lying around and soaking sun on the beach (although it is possible in Monterosso).

Hope this extra info is useful! :)


Well-known member
OK let me ask this question, what are your thought comparing cinque Terre to Lake Como for a two day excursion from Tuscany?


The Tuscan Expert ;-)
Staff member
I'll freely admit I've yet to go to Lake Como but I've been to Lake Maggiore which lies to the north of Milan and along the border with Switzerland, so I am imagining it is very similar.

I really liked Lake Maggiore - we visited Stresa and from there took the ferry out to the three islands in the lake, visiting the gorgeous museum villas and terraced gardens and the small village on the third island. It was early July, the weather was perfect and the area was really beautiful and, most of all, tranquil. There were other tourists but it didn't feel crowded. Lake Maggiore likely attracts a bit less visitors than Lake Como.

I think the major difference between will be the setting itself and what you can do in each. I'd see Lake Como as a destination for relaxing, just walking around, strolling, eating good food, enjoying a boat ride into the lake. Cinque Terre is definitely more crowded - Rick Steves started promoting it, 15 years ago it was "undiscovered" but that is no longer the case.
The lake area is much wider so visitors are spread out, the Cinque Terre are just five small towns sitting on the rocky cliffs between the mountains and the sea so space is limited so all visitors have to share the little space there is. I am sure in the summer Lake Como is also pretty crowded, it is when everyone has a chance to take time off and enjoy the nice weather.
We went back to Cinque Terre is April this year and it was perfect in terms of the number of visitors at that time. Vernazza was the most crowded and the difference was noticeable between there and Manarola and Riomaggiore.

Aside from the feeling of being crowded, I'd still go back to the Cinque Terre again and again for the incredible views!!
And the hiking :D We love hiking so this personally attracts us to the Cinque Terre more than the lake district...
The path along the coast this year has been interrupted between Corniglia and Manarola because of landslides so instead we headed uphill to skirt the towns. Hardly anyone does that, so we felt we had the Cinque Terre to ourselves as we hiked between Riomaggiore and Monterosso on the crest trail - we might have seen a total of 10 people max. Even if you don't plan on hiking, you can enjoy the Cinque Terre very calmly by getting between each one with the train.

So whether you choose one for the other totally depends on what kind of things you'd like to do, although they are both destinations for enjoying nature and beauty! :D


The Tuscan Expert ;-)
Staff member
Keep Cinque Terre in your itinerary next summer!

Ciao JM Fell,

As you've probably already heard from the international news, the Cinque Terre was devastated by flash flooding and mudslides this past October 25th. The main areas of Vernazza and Monterosso have pretty much been wiped out and are hardly recognizable. Unfortunately, there were also 10 deaths between the Cinque Terre and the area of Lunigiana in northwestern Tuscany because of the disaster.

The towns are being cleaned up with the help of many volunteers but it will take time before the area completely recover from the disaster. Large parts of some roads are simply gone and many homes and businesses have been destroyed. Trains still operate between the towns and the other three towns did not suffer from the flooding as badly as the top two northernmost towns.

The area is facing a long period of reconstruction, but we hope that by next spring the towns will be able to start welcoming back a large part of its visitors, especially since such a large part of their economy depends on us visitors. So I hope you and others contemplating the Cinque Terre will keep then in the Tuscany/Italy itinerary. In my opinion, it is likely better for all of us visitors to return to the area, keep enjoying the beautiful area for what it offers and be able to help local residents get back on their way to full reconstruction to get the Cinque Terre back to their natural splendor.

- Lourdes :)