Plan the ultimate trip to the Five Lands when you learn the best time to visit Cinque Terre! We’ll show you the best, cheapest, least busy, and worst time to go with tips for the perfect trip.
Before we cover the best time to visit, let’s look at a few reasons Cinque Terre deserves a spot on your travel bucket list.
Why You Should Visit Cinque Terre
Cinque Terre is one of those places that sweeps you away from the modern world and surrounds you with color, beauty, and authenticity. A trip to Cinque Terre is one that will stick with you for a lifetime.
The scenery here is iconic – colorful houses and centuries-old buildings line rugged coastal cliffs along the Italian Riviera with ivy clinging to aging stucco and stone.
Cinque Terre isn’t a single town. It’s a collection of 5 quaint harbor and hillside villages on the western coast of Italy:
- Monterosso al Mare: Largest, most-visited village with a sandy beach
- Vernazza: Colorful houses, a medieval castle, and terraced olive groves
- Corniglia: Secluded village enclosed with stone walls and vineyards off the coast
- Manarola: Oldest and second-smallest village with colorful homes and vineyards
- Riomaggiore: Liveliest village known for nightlife, boating, and diving
Traditional fishing boats line the rocky shores here. Time stands still in Cinque Terre, which is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site and national park to preserve its beauty.
Seafood and wine – especially Sciacchetrà, a sweet, locally produced white wine – are mainstays on every menu at the local cafes, bars, and restaurants.
The pastel-toned houses packed together on the hillsides with sweeping views of the Ligurian Sea are what Cinque Terre is known for. But this place offers so much more!
Hiking trails through the 5 villages are a must when you want to stretch your legs and see the scenery. There are over 48 trails and footpaths to take!
The Sentiero Azzurro trail is one of the best. It winds along the edge of the cliffs through the villages with plenty of spots to step off the trail and pop into a small shop or cafe.
Walk hilly footpaths between terraced olive groves – you may get winded! – or take the train to quickly arrive at the next village for more exploring.
Strolling through the small villages on cobblestone streets, you’ll feel enveloped by the centuries-old tall, colorful buildings towering above you on either side.
Head to the sloping sandy beach in Monterosso, which is popular with tourists and a great spot to relax on the shore or jump in for a swim.
Walk down to the harbors to see boats bringing in their daily catches. You can even rent a boat or kayak to explore on your own!
Catch a beautiful sunset in Vernazza or take in the amazing views from the high perches of Corniglia.
While you’re here, taste the herby, earthy flavor of pesto, a sauce developed and popularized in the Liguria region in the 16th century.
Cinque Terre can be the trip of a lifetime, especially if you know the right time of year to go. We’ll look at the best time to visit Cinque Terre next!
What Is the Best Time to Visit Cinque Terre?
- Overall best time to visit: April-June
- Cheapest time to visit: November-December
- Least busy time to visit: November-February
- Worst time to visit: October-November, July-August
Visiting Cinque Terre is amazing year-round, but there are some special periods throughout the year that stand out as the best times to visit.
Plan your Cinque Terre visit around great weather, affordable prices, smaller crowds – whatever floats your boat. Here’s a look at the best time to visit Cinque Terre.
April, May, and June are the best time to visit Cinque Terre overall. This is the ideal time to come to all 5 villages in Cinque Terre.
These mild-weather months are perfect for lounging on the beach, strolling through town and along winding footpaths, renting a boat to see the villages from a new perspective, and dining al fresco.
November and December are better if you’re planning a more affordable trip. This is when you’ll find the lowest prices on hotels and guesthouses in the villages due to rain and cooler temperatures.
Extend that period to include January and February if you’re just looking for the least-crowded time of year to go. Cinque Terre’s low season spans the rainy winter as most people come here when it’s warm and sunny.
Try to avoid visiting in October or November if you’re looking for excellent weather – this is the rainiest period of the year.
Steer clear of July and August if you’re looking for affordable prices or less-crowded conditions, as it’s the height of the peak tourism season.
We’ll take a closer look at the best time to visit Cinque Terre for different types of trips next.
Overall Best Time to Visit Cinque Terre
The best time to visit Cinque Terre overall is April to June with warm, relatively dry weather. It’s ideal for hiking, exploring the villages, and enjoying the beaches and harbors.
You’ll enjoy warm temperatures from the mid-60s to the mid-70s between April and June in Cinque Terre. Rain is minimal, with 2.5″ in April and totals dwindling to 1.6″ by June.
It’s a little chilly for a swim at the beach with sea temperatures in the mid-60s in April and May, but the sea warms up into the 70s by the time June rolls around.
This time of year is excellent for strolling through the villages and vineyards, walking footpaths and hilly terraces, and enjoying the many shops and cafes you’ll pass along the way.
April to June are excellent months for hiking as the temperatures are pleasantly warm.
Tourists are starting to arrive in larger numbers during the spring and early summer, but won’t reach their peak until July and August.
That makes April, May, and June the best months to visit Cinque Terre overall – you get the warm weather with little rain and smaller crowds, all for a more affordable price than during peak season.
Here’s a look at the average hotel prices during this period, according to recent data from Google Hotels:
- April: $82-$214/night
- May: $83-$219/night
- June: $86-$225/night
April is the cheapest and least busy month to visit during this period, but it’s also a little chillier with more rainfall that can get in the way of your plans.
Head to Cinque Terre in May or June if you want to spend time by the sea or just want to avoid more rainy days during your trip.
Cheapest Time to Visit Cinque Terre
The cheapest time to visit Cinque Terre is during November and December, when hotel prices hit their lowest point of the year and shoulder season crowds clear out.
By the time the fall shoulder season is winding down and winter approaches, Cinque Terre experiences a sudden drop in tourism due to colder temperatures and increased rainfall.
It’s not empty by any means, but fewer tourists mean lower prices on hotels and guest house rentals. This is the cheapest time of year to visit Cinque Terre.
Cooler temperatures around 47F to 52F in November and December leave the air feeling chilly, but not cold. Rain can be an issue if you’re hoping to enjoy time outdoors.
Cinque Terre sees 5.5 inches of rain each November and 4.7 inches in December. Since December gets a little less rain and is the cheapest month to visit, it might be your best bet if you’re visiting on a budget.
Here’s a look at how much hotels generally cost in November and December in Cinque Terre:
- November: $63-$167/night
- December: $54-$143/night
Cooler temperatures, rain, and fewer tourists in the villages lead to some accommodations, restaurants, and attractions (like hiking trails and boat rentals) shutting down temporarily or for the winter.
You may not be able to enjoy the full Cinque Terre experience when it’s cheapest in November and December, but there’s plenty to do and the beautiful scenery is here year-round.
Least Busy Time to Visit Cinque Terre
November through February is the least busy time to visit Cinque Terre, with fewer tourists arriving due to colder weather and increased rainfall.
Avoiding big crowds of tourists in Cinque Terre is almost impossible during the periods with the best weather – spring, summer, and early fall.
But if you don’t mind cooler temperatures, rain, and a general paring-down of things to do around the villages, come during November through February.
The winter season is perfect if you want to avoid crowds and enjoy Cinque Terre when it’s as close to empty as it ever gets.
Temperatures are pleasantly cool for hiking trails, village streets, and through olive groves. Average temperatures range from the lowest in January (52F) to the highest in November (60F).
Rainfall can be a problem for outdoor activities during this time of year. November and January are the wettest winter months, getting about 5.5 inches of rain during each month.
December is slightly less rainy, at 4.7 inches per month, and February is the driest winter month with 3.8 inches of rain on average.
Some accommodations, attractions, restaurants, and hiking trails may be shut down during poor weather or once the winter season arrives.
That can be a disadvantage of visiting during the least busy time. But it’s the price you’ll pay for visiting this gorgeous place when it’s at its least crowded.
Speaking of prices, rates on hotels are lower during the winter season with less demand from tourists. Here’s a look at the average prices this time of year:
- November: $63-$167/night
- December: $54-$143/night
- January: $72-$189/night
- February: $70-$184/night
December is the overall cheapest month to visit Cinque Terre and February offers reasonable rates on accommodations with the least rain of the winter months.
These 2 months (December and February) might be the best choice if you want to avoid crowds while enjoying the best Cinque Terre has to offer.
Worst Time to Visit Cinque Terre
October and November can be the worst time to visit Cinque Terre due to heavy rain, but July and August can frustrate travelers with high prices and temperatures in the 90s.
October and November may be the worst time to visit Cinque Terre overall because it rains a lot during this time. Rain and storms can ruin your plans to explore and wander through the villages or spend time by the sea.
October is the rainiest month in Cinque Terre, getting around 4.2″ of rain, and November follows up with about 3.9″ of rain.
You’ll find that some shops and accommodations will be closed for the winter by November. While it’s not convenient, there are plenty of restaurants, shops, and bars to enjoy indoors while you wait out the rain.
The affordable prices on hotels during this time of year can also take the sting away:
- October: $71-$187/night
- November: $63-$167/night
You should also consider the other less-than-stellar time to visit Cinque Terre – July and August – when you’re making your plans.
Temperatures average around 75F in July and August with daily highs closer to the 80s and 90s. It’s not unbearably hot, but it can make leisurely strolls through the villages a little less pleasant.
The warm-to-hot temperatures may not break you, but the huge crowds of tourists along every footpath, street, beach, and restaurant in the 5 villages can be frustrating to deal with.
You’ll also pay more for hotels and guest rooms during July and August, which is the peak point of the high season in Cinque Terre.
Here’s a look at how much hotels generally cost in Cinque Terre in July and August:
- July: $88-$233/night
- August: $90-$238/night
While the prices are higher than usual this time of year, it’s also much harder to find and book a room close to your trip dates.
There aren’t as many hotels or guest rooms available in the villages as you’d find in other tourist areas, and the rooms book up quickly during peak season.
Things to Consider
Visiting Cinque Terre is exciting, but your experience will be better when you have a good idea of what to expect. Take a look at these travel tips that can help you make the most of your trip!
- Monterosso and Riomaggiore have the most hotels. Wondering where to stay in Cinque Terre? The larger villages in Cinque Terre are where you’ll find the most options for hotels. They book up quickly during the spring and summer, so you might check on guesthouses and apartment rentals in smaller villages if you’re having trouble booking in one of the main villages.
- Consider staying outside the villages. Since Cinque Terre’s 5 villages are small with relatively few hotels, many people decide to stay outside the villages in a nearby towns like Levanto. Here, you can book a hotel at a fair price (usually lower than Cinque Terre hotels) and take the 10-minute train to Cinque Terre, take a boat, or walk the footpaths to the villages.
- Don’t stress about which village to stay in. Each of the 5 fishing villages of Cinque Terre offers its own unique charm, but they’re all so closely packed that none feel worlds away from the others. You’ll get a similar experience no matter where you stay or spend a day, but the larger villages (Monterosso and Riomaggiore) may feel more crowded and busy than the others.
- Set out early each day. Cinque Terre gets a lot of daily visitors that arrive on the train. The busiest times are 10am to 4pm, when train visitors pack the villages and explore the streets, hiking paths, and shores. If you start your days early and take advantage of the laid-back evenings, you’ll enjoy a less crowded visit.
- Visit the beach in Monterosso. There are beaches in Vernazza, Riomaggiore, and one in Corniglia (you’ll walk down a long staircase down the cliffs to access it), but they’re not sandy beaches with beach chairs. Monterosso is the only sandy beach in Cinque Terre and it is absolutely stunning. It’s free to set up along the end of the beach, but free spots fill up fast. You can pay around $15-$20 to rent a beach chair and umbrella in the most beautiful section reserved for paying visitors. Rates may be higher in the peak season, but it’s worth it if there’s an open spot!
Frequently Asked Questions
Learning the best time to visit Cinque Terre is just the beginning of planning a wonderful trip. Take a look at the most frequently asked questions to learn more about planning your visit!
How many days do you need for Cinque Terre?
Plan on spending 3-5 days in Cinque Terre to give yourself time to visit and explore each of the 5 villages. Seasoned travelers recommend staying in one village for the duration of your trip since the villages are so close together.
You can plan a shorter or longer trip, but staying less than 3 days means you won’t get to do as much exploring in the interiors of the villages or spend as much time enjoying the beaches, hiking trails, shops, and restaurants.
Which is better, the Amalfi Coast or Cinque Terre?
About twice as many tourists go to the Amalfi Coast than Cinque Terre each year. The Amalfi Coast is home to more villages than Cinque Terre (13 vs. 5), is more developed, and offers 100 beaches to relax and play on.
Cinque Terre feels a bit cozier and intimate than the Amalfi Coast with fewer beaches and hotels.
It’s hard to pinpoint which is better, but the Amalfi Coast is perfect if you want the bells and whistles that come with more commercialized areas. Cinque Terre is better if you want a secluded getaway that feels authentic and traditional.
What is the off season in Cinque Terre?
The off season in Cinque Terre is late fall to spring, from October to May. This is the time of year when the fewest tourists come to Cinque Terre and prices are lower with better hotel availability.
The off season in Cinque Terre is rainy, with February through May being the driest period to visit during the low season. It’s also cooler during the off season with temperatures from the low 50s to about 70F.
Can you visit all 5 towns in Cinque Terre in one day?
Yes, you can visit all 5 villages in Cinque Terre in one day. They’re all packed closely together and are easily accessible by train, footpath, or boat.
One-day trips are offered as tours in cities like Pisa and Florence, but you’ll only be able to spend about an hour in each village before moving onto the next.
If it’s possible, try to spend at least 3-5 days in Cinque Terre to truly experience the vibes and sights of each village.
What months can you swim in Cinque Terre?
Swimming in Cinque Terre is possible in May and June, but the water is warmest in July, August, and September.
Cinque Terre’s villages are situated on the coast of the Ligurian Sea and water temperatures are too cold for swimming before May and after September.
So, What’s the Best Time to Visit Cinque Terre?
When it comes to visiting these 5 scenic cliffside villages on the Italian Riviera, there are certainly some parts of the year that are better for a visit than others.
The overall best time to visit Cinque Terre is from April to June, just before the peak summer season kicks off and when the weather is dry, warm, and perfect for exploring the villages.
November and December are the cheapest months to visit, offering the lowest prices on hotels as tourism numbers dip at the start of the winter season.
November through February are the least busy months to go, with heavy rain and cooler temperatures keeping many tourists away. Prices reflect the lower demand for accommodations at this time of year, too.
The worst times to visit Cinque Terre are October to November and July to August. October and November see the most rain, which can prevent you from enjoying and exploring the villages in full.
July and August are the height of peak season and prices, crowds, and temperatures are at their highest during these popular summer months.
No matter when you go to Cinque Terre, pack some comfy walking shoes and prepare to take in the authentic beauty and stunning, old world charm around every corner.
It’s an unforgettable destination that you’ll want to visit again and again – and after spending a few days in the different villages, you might find that one ends up feeling like home away from home.