I’ve spent months exploring the beautiful Italian coast. If only everyone could take several months to pick their favorite places in Italy, but most people only have a few weeks or days in Italy.
Spending time at the beach in Italy is essential! But there are so many incredible options. The most popular choices are Cinque Terre in the north of Italy, a collection of 5 historic UNESCO towns, and the Amalfi Coast just south of Rome.
You’ve probably seen tons of wanderlust-inducing photos of both options, but you’ll most likely only have time to visit one. So I’m here to help you decide which Italian Coast is best for you: Cinque Terre or Amalfi Coast.
After spending so much time in Italy, I get asked this question at least once a week: Is the Amalfi Coast or Cinque Terre better to visit? The answer, of course, depends on what kind of trip you want and what your priorities are.
To answer this, I’m going to dive deep into the pros and cons of each destination so you can make an educated decision on where to spend your Italian vacation.
Truth be told, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed with either choice. I certainly have my favorite that I will share with you after going over each subject.
Here's a Shortcut
- Getting There
- Getting Around
- Family Friendliness
- Cinque Terre or Amalfi Coast?
The ease of getting there will be a big determining factor when deciding between Cinque Terre of Amalfi Coast. This answer will differ depending on where you’re coming from in Italy, of course.
From most major cities you will take a train to Naples, then a bus to Sorrento, then a car or local bus to the towns of the Amalfi Coast. It’s not the easiest journey to get to the Amalfi Coast. If you have a car, Amalfi will be easy to reach, although the roads can be treacherous.
From most major cities you will take a train to La Spezia, then the local train that connects to all 5 cities in the Cinque Terre. Arriving by train is the easiest way to get here. Cars are not allowed in most areas of most of the towns, so if you’re driving, Cinque Terre will be difficult to reach.
Getting around each destination is crucial. Both destinations deserve to be explored extensively and you’ll want at least a few days to see each. Here’s how it is to get around Cinque Terre and Amalfi.
Getting around the Amalfi Coast can be tricky. There is a public bus that goes along the coast, but it is crowded and unreliable. The best way to get around the Amalfi Coast is to either rent a car or hire a private driver.
Driving the coastal road can be pretty terrifying, especially during the busy season in the summer. Traffic is bad and the roads are narrow with many twists and turns. You’ll be sharing the road with tour buses and parking is very limited and very expensive.
Getting around Cinque Terre is very easy. Each town is connected by the local train. Although to access Corniglia, you’ll have to take a shuttle from the train station or walk up about 400 steps!
Train tickets are only a few Euros or you can purchase a Cinque Terre Card that allows you to travel freely between all of the cities. The trains are reliable but can get very crowded during peak season. During the summer you can also take the ferry between each of the five towns (except for Corniglia which is up high on a hill).
Amalfi is easiest to get around by car and Cinque Terre is easiest to get around by train.
There are many options on the Amalfi Coast including luxury hotels and Airbnbs. You must book early, especially if you want to stay in Positano, the most popular town.
There aren’t many hotels in the Cinque Terre, but plenty of Airbnb options. You don’t need to book quite as early as the Amalfi Coast.
The cost to book in both of these destinations varies, but I do find Cinque Terre to be a little more affordable.
In the Amalfi Coast, you’ll find great food common in southern Italy like Capri salad, which originated off the coast of Amalfi on the island of Capri. Amalfi is also famous for limoncello, fresh lemons, and fresh figs.
Cinque Terre is famous for its seafood, calamari, focaccia, and of course, you must get gelato in every town!
There is plenty to do on the Amalfi Coast including beach time, restaurants, churches, cooking classes, and more.
There are also tons of things to do in Cinque Terre including hiking and sightseeing.
While the beaches in the Amalfi Coast are great for kids, the stairs and tricky roads (and need to cross them) are a real challenge. It’s almost impossible to use a stroller on the Amalfi Coast and access to most beaches requires multiple levels of stairs.
Cinque Terre is definitely more family-friendly than Amalfi. It’s easier to get around on the trains and the towns, while still steep and not stroller friendly, are more easily navigable than in Amalfi. There are no cars allowed in Cinque Terre, making it feel safer with kids.
The beaches on the Amalfi Coast are beautiful. There are several white sandy beaches along the coast. You can rent an umbrella and beach chairs on most beaches. The beaches are hard to access and most require walking down several flights of stairs.
The beaches in Cinque Terre are also beautiful, but most of them are rocky. Cinque Terre has one large sandy beach where you can rent an umbrella and beach chairs. Beaches are accessed by a short walk from the train stations.
Cinque Terre or Amalfi Coast?
So have you guessed where I stand on the Amalfi Coast vs Cinque Terre dilemma? If you guessed that I prefer Cinque Terre over the Amalfi Coast, you would be correct. While I loved the Amalfi Coast and found it so beautiful, I found the Cinque Terre to be much more accessible, affordable, and family friendly. Again, it really depends on what kind of trip you’re looking for.
Who should visit the Amalfi Coast?
- Travelers without babies or young children
- Active travelers in good shape
- Travelers who want lots of beach time
- Travelers who are comfortable driving winding roads
- Travelers wanting amazing selfies
Who should visit Cinque Terre?
- Travelers with babies or young children
- Travelers who like to hike
- Travelers who are ok with rocky beaches
- Travelers who are comfortable taking trains
I hope this has been helpful and you’ll be able to decide which Italian coast is best for you and your needs! If you have any questions please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org