Please sign in to post.

Is Cinque Terra worth it?

We are planning [no plane tickets purchased yet] a trip to northern Italy next April, probably two weeks. Definitely doing Venice, probably Lake Bled,Slovenia, seeing family in Aviano, and then westward, to Lakes Como and Maggiore [probably staying in Varenno]. Looks like we will fly out of Milan. I've always wanted to see Cinque Terra, but the reports of overcrowding are concerning. Is CT worth seeing once, and how much time there is advisable? We are very physically able, and are attempting to develop a reasonable two-week pace.
I always find that the RS travelers to have SO much practical advice. Thx in advance!

Posted by
441 posts

We went to Italy last year and CT was definitely worth it for us. We had 2 nights there and if you are going, you really should try to stay at least 1 night, preferably 2 (rather than daytrip). I think April is shoulder season so it may not be as crowded as it was for us in late May/early June. It may depend on the cruise ships. I enjoyed it because it is staggeringly beautiful and the hiking was amazing. If you can't stand crowds, it may not be 'worth it' but only you can decide. It was crowded but manageable for us. I think the Vatican was way more crowded for us at least. In CT, you can go to the less popular towns during the busiest times (Manarola maybe? Vernazza was nuts but I still liked it). I think if you've always wanted to go, and you can fit it in without stressing or rushing, you should do it! It is one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen.

Posted by
124 posts

I would think you would be fine for crowds in April. We had a wonderful time -- we got a great VRBO in Manarola, the least crowded of the villages. one thing to be well aware of is that the hiking between villages is NOT along the coast line like I envisioned. these have been washed out. so the hiking is very strenuous as you hike way up, then along the ridge and then down again to the next village. it is very striking and beautiful but not just an easy jaunt. we walked from Manarola to Vernazza -- it was about 9 miles. and took the train back. next day we took a boat to Monterosso and back.

Two weeks seems way to short for your estimated itinerary -- you have some very long distances. I would save Slovenia for another trip -- we spent 5 days just there.

Consider Stresa on Lake Maggiore as a great place to stay near the airport. its closer than Milan. We also love Bellagio on Lake Como and have stayed there twice. although not on the train line.

Posted by
1667 posts

On another post you mentioned late night arrival in Venice. Did plans change? Also, I don't know if you are planning to stay in Venice, but I just heard a RS radio program that suggested staying in Padua (Padova) and taking the 30 minute train ride into Venice. There are frequent trains and accommodations in Padova are a lot cheaper. Food for thought.

Your schedule sounds pretty full already. Research what it would take to get from northern Italy to CT. Could that time be put to better use? We decided not to go to CT because of the time and the crowds. From what I understand, you need to spend at least a couple of nights there so you can see it before all the day trippers arrive.

RS makes it look so inviting. I would like to go to CT, but about 30 years ago. Here's an article with some alternatives. Here's another article with tips on how to avoid the crowds.

Posted by
745 posts

I'm going to be a dissenting vote.... I think what you have planned already will fill two weeks - however if you take out Slovenia and add CT then I think you'd be good with two weeks. We spent one day on the CT and we were underwhelmed. Our Italian host tried to talk us out of going commenting "that RS and his books - there are better places to visit". When we returned to our place that night we had to admit he was probably right. I'd rather spend more time on the Lakes and skip CT.

Posted by
739 posts

Thx for all the insight.
We THINK we are flying into Venice, arriving late, staying in Venice, then MAYBE to Lake Bled, onto family in Aviano [who may just travel with us, so maybe not staying there], to Lakes Como and Maggiore, then proceed MAYBE to Cinque Terra, and flying out of Milan [better Heathrow connections.]
Please keep all of this great info coming, as it is VERY helpful and informed.

Posted by
5937 posts

We spent three nights in the Cinque Terre in Monterosso and hiked the to all of the other four villages. I am glad we saw it, enjoyed the villages, but probably won’t return. We also did a day trip from the Cinque Terre to Portovenere which we also enjoyed and would like to visit again.
We have ,however, spent four vacations on Lake Como and want to go back. Also have stayed on Lake Maggiore and agree that it is perfect for accessing Milan’s Malpensa airport, MXP, either when arriving or departing.

Posted by
739 posts

LOVE the tip regarding going to Milan airport directly from the LAKE, and not spending a night in Milan just to fly out!!!

Posted by
983 posts

If you have always wanted to see it then make it happen! CT was worth it to us, we went in the beginning of October and did not experience any crowds. We have pictures at places I see on the internet crowded with people where we were one of a few people there. I would go again if there was not so many places I have not experienced in Italy.

Posted by
4695 posts

Definitely go to the Italian Riviera if you can. The Cinque Terre (which is beautiful) is just one part of it. Most of the rest of the riviera is far less crowded, and you can certainly stay elsewhere (I stayed in Camogli which was just lovely; nearby Santa Margherita Ligure is a beautiful town as well). There are hiking opportunities up by these towns, too, but don't hike alone like I did - you may not see any other hikers on the trails for an hour or two. You won't have that problem if you visit the Cinque Terre!

Posted by
1700 posts

Yes, the crowd issue is overblown. In April, avoid Easter and you will be fine.
For me the crowds were nothing compared to Venice which is also on your list.

After all of the Lakes (which April is definitely off season for and may not be the best time to visit) ; Cinque Terre will be so different and worth it!
Been to Lake Bled and the Italian Lakes and I prefer the Cinque Terre over them.

Posted by
6524 posts

LOVE the tip regarding going to Milan airport directly from the LAKE, and not spending a night in Milan just to fly out!!!

WHEN your flight leaves determines the wisdom of this strategy.

On your CT question, definitely worth it and recommend at least 2 nights.

Posted by
4695 posts

Lake Bled itself does not seem worth the trouble as a single destination. It makes more sense as part of a larger trip to Slovenia (a lovely, underrated country). There is amazing scenery near the lake, beautiful non-touristy towns, wonderful scenic drives. But some people will just take the freeway to Lake Bled and not much else and miss so much. The lake is really beautiful but there isn't that much to it, to be honest. It's the stuff around it that takes more time to see that makes the trip worthwhile.

Posted by
1115 posts

Too early for Bled in my opinion. It's near the mountains and April is well before the season there.

Posted by
303 posts

We were in Venice, CT and Varenna on Lake Como this April (last week) to mid May. Be forewarned of the holidays! There was one right before we arrived, and another May 1 which resulted in crazy crowds in Venice!! These might also affect your travel. From Venice we went to CT on trains, and it was a long day of travel. Since we are in our 70's, hiking was not on the table. Plus it poured 2 days we were there. Other than walking up and down the village streets looking at shops and restaurants, there really wasn't a lot to see. In all honesty, we loved the Amalfi Coast better. My brother loved CT, so we went there on his recommendation. It was underwhelming for us. However! Varenna on Lake Como! Oh My! It is beautiful, and there are things to see, like Villa Balbianello. Varenna is easily reached by local trains from Milano Centrale. It was peaceful and serene, and not affected by cruise ships like Venice and CT. Your choice, but don't skip Varenna!

Posted by
3436 posts

Yes.

There is nothing more to say.

Posted by
124 posts

I’ll add on again. I would and will do the Almalfi again - Ravello was wonderful! But too far for you. Been to lake Como and Maggiore twice and could do them again. My advice is to slow down and, for only two weeks, focus on 4-5 stops max. You have listed places we have seen in 3-4 different trips. Venice is hard to miss but such a tourist mob with the cruise ships - maybe April will be early enough, but then do it first.

High speed trains were amazing! 3 hrs from Florence to CT through Milan.

Posted by
31076 posts

Pat,

April shouldn't be as busy in the Cinque Terre, as that's the "official start" of the tourist season so it won't be up to full speed at that time. If you do decide to stay there for a few days, you'll first have to decide which of the five towns to stay in. Everyone here has a preference. The weather should (hopefully) be fairly decent at that time of year.

Even if there is a cruise ship in the area, the day trippers are generally starting to leave at about 16:00 so the evenings should be quite pleasant.

I think the C.T. is worth seeing at least once, at least IMO. Be sure to try some excellent Pesto in the area where it was invented.

Posted by
3507 posts

Just sharing food for thought -all of the destinations you’re selecting are related to water, except Aviano. There’s a lot of variety in Italy that you’re missing and where you could reduce your travel hours to spend more time enjoying the sights and ambiance. Is this your first time to Italy, i.e.would you like recommendations of alternative locations for a 2-week trip?

Posted by
29 posts

We head to Florence tomorrow and have a day trip to Cinque Terre scheduled for Monday. There are so many places to see in the world, we decided a day spent there now is better than perhaps never seeing it if we didn't get back. As for travel to Milan airport, I will second (third?) the idea of staying on one of the lakes. On a previous trip to Italy, we spent our last few days in Bellagio (pure heaven), but moved to the town of Como for our final night (so we could still explore other parts of the lake area). We then took a train from Como direct to the airport, and it worked out wonderfully.

Posted by
739 posts

Thanks again for all this incredible insight, as our trip evolves....
We have already done Italy 101: Venice-Florence-Rome with a RS tour. After that, my husband was on a lifetime of overload of churches and museums- [not me!] Last year we did RS Switzerland, [LOVED it!!!] and my husband was much happier being outdoors most of the time.
So this trip will be northern Italy & Slovenia. I can't get enough of Venice, and we will once again stay in the quieter Cannaregio area, so the mornings and evenings will be peaceful and uncrowded.
I really like the input regarding the alternative smaller towns options outside of Cinque Terra that you all have given. I'm researching transportation options now, but I'm assuming getting into them is fairly easy [via bus?] What are the favorites?
We will definitely staying several days in the Lake Como and Maggiore area; what's the feedback on Lake Garda?
Southern Italy [including Amalfi Coast] will be our 2020 trip- we are doing annual Italy trips now because there are Air Force-stationed grandchildren to visit.
Pls keep the info coming in! Thx.

Posted by
4695 posts

I really like the input regarding the alternative smaller towns options outside of Cinque Terra that you all have given. I'm researching transportation options now, but I'm assuming getting into them is fairly easy [via bus?] What are the favorites?

I stayed three nights in Camogli (loved it!), about an hour north of the Cinque Terre by train. I also visited Santa Margherita Ligure just to the south - a little bigger, but still a lovely town. Camogli is more of a little Italian vacation town. I had a view of the beach from my room and could watch the sun set right into the ocean (something you may not see from Santa Margherita Ligure because the town is at the start of a peninsula and kind of faces southeast). Train service to Santa Margherita Ligure may be slightly better, more trains may stop there.

Many people mention Rapallo too (same area as the towns above) but I didn't get a chance to visit.

There are hiking opportunities in this area as well. I did what turned out to be a difficult and scary hike from Camogli to San Rocco (easy but up steep steps) then the scary part from San Rocco to San Fruttuoso. I took the "Batterie" option (more scenic) but it was very difficult - no footing in some places, and I had to hold on to chains here and there to get across the path!!! There's apparently a less scenic less scary option. I'm told there's an easy hike between S.M.L. and Portofino as well.

Posted by
4695 posts

Since you mentioned Slovenia again: if you will have a car there, I highly recommend the scenic drive from the town of Skofja Loka - itself worth a stop - through the mountains via Jamnik and Kropa - down to Bled, a very beautiful drive with some interesting little stops!

Posted by
1581 posts

I think you will need to see how the whole itinerary shakes out--from where I am sitting, adding in a Riviera stop looks iffy. However, I agree with Andrew that (without a car), Camogli is a great alternative. You can set off on foot into Portofino park (actually, you either walk up tons of stairs or take a bus up to San Rocco, and from there you can enter the park). I did the chains hike too! (can't believe I did it in hindsight), but there are several trails crisscrossing the park, and that one is easily avoided. By combining bus and ferry, we did just about every hike connecting Camogli, San Fruttuoso, Portofino, and SML. We barely saw another person--compared with the conga line that is CT.

Posted by
745 posts

Speaking of car rentals... make sure if you rent a car in Italy you can take it to Slovenia.

We stayed in Santa Margherita. Quite pretty.

Posted by
4695 posts

valadelphia:

You can set off on foot into Portofino park (actually, you either walk up tons of stairs or take a bus up to San Rocco, and from there you can enter the park). I did the chains hike too! (can't believe I did it in hindsight)

Neither can I! In restrospect, it seems really dumb for me to have hiked out there alone, without seeing any hikers for over an hour. I was a little scared using the chains but never panicked, anyway. Thank goodness I'm not afraid of heights and in good physical shape!

Posted by
19 posts

YES - it is SO worth it!!! Recently returned from IT having spent 3 nights in Monterosso and visiting the other villages - we hiked two of the days (3 to 4 hours each day) but you could hike more or less depending on your liking or not at all and train between the villages. Just an amazing place and we felt very reasonably priced. We just visited in end of May and it was starting to get crowded . I would be April i similar to May, not sure about the weather then. But its just the most lovely tranquil place...