Cinque Terre vs Amalfi Coast: Which Coastal Area to Visit?


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Weighing whether to visit Cinque Terre vs the Amalfi Coast can be difficult if you’re deciding where exactly to visit to experience “la dolce vita”. While there are many destinations in Italy worth making the trip to experience warm sun, dreamy blue seas, and delicious food, the two that tend to reign are the Amalfi Coast and Cinque Terre.

Both coastal areas are abundantly exciting to visit, offering a magical Italian trip, but you’ll discover there are as many differences as there are similarities, which should help you decide where to visit.

In general, choose Cinque Terre if you’re an outdoor lover looking for a more budget-friendly coastal destination. On the other hand, the Amalfi Coast is the perfect choice for history buffs seeking stunning natural scenery and those willing to splash the cash.

Read on to compare the villages of Cinque Terre vs Amalfi Coast and be on your way to an unforgettable Italian holiday.

Cinque Terre

Located in the region of Liguria in Northern Italy, Cinque Terre, or “the 5 Lands” is a picturesque coastal region making up part of the Italian Riviera.

The Cinque Terre villages comprise five colorful fishing towns: Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore. Perched upon the cliffs of the Italian coasts, Cinque Terre offers a stunning and unique landscape with each town offering its distinct features.

Vernazza in Cinque Terre
Vernazza in Cinque Terre

Accessibility

When planning any trip, a largely important factor is the accessibility of the location. Cinque Terre is a well-accessible location and is accessible by various means of transportation.

The most common is train transport, with the “Cinque Terre Express”, a train line that runs along the coast, connecting the five towns.

This makes it incredibly easy to reach and get around from town to town in Cinque Terre vs Amalfi Coast where bus transportation around most of the region is the only means of public transportation.

When it comes to reaching Cinque Terre, you can easily reach the region by taking a train from major Italian cities such as Milan, Florence, Pisa, or Genoa. You can view schedules here.

Your first connection point to Cinque Terre will either be in the port cities of La Spezia or Levanto and from there you just need to get off at the desired town you wish to visit. The train journey offers beautiful coastal views, and the frequency of trains makes it a convenient option.

Another option to reach Cinque Terre is by ferry. While ferry routes to the region only run seasonally in the summer months, it’s a great way to see the stunning Italian Riviera coast and Cinque Terre seaside rather than landside.

The main ferry departure ports to Cinque Terre include La Spezia, Portovenere, Lerici, and Levanto, and make stops at each town.

Since getting around each town as well as to/from the 5 towns is so convenient by train, with train stations being in the center of the towns and the towns’ small size, renting a car isn’t necessary for your trip.

With the efficient public transportation and walkability of the towns, renting a car may even end up being a bit more chaotic and expensive than taking advantage of the region’s wonderful transport system.

Manarola Train Station
Manarola Train Station

Affordability

How expensive is Cinque Terre over the Amalfi Coast? While staying directly in both coastal regions is costly for visitors, Cinque Terre comes out on the lower end in comparison to the more “luxurious” region of the Amalfi Coast.

Cinque Terre is still feasible to visit if you’re visiting on a fair budget and are looking to enjoy a wonderful Italian coastal getaway, while Amalfi Coast tends to attract wealthier clientele due to the region’s glamorous reputation.

Costs in just about every category, such as accommodation, activities, and restaurants come out cheaper in Cinque Terre vs Amalfi Coast except for transportation, making it the more cost-efficient option between the two when you’re trying to decide between Cinque Terre or Amalfi Coast.

Beautiful Riomaggiore
Beautiful Riomaggiore

Things to do in Cinque Terre

With 5 different unique towns in the region, Cinque Terre has a multitude of things to do and see.

Undoubtedly, the principal thing to do while in Cinque Terre is to visit each of the 5 towns. Wandering through the narrow streets while watching local life go by is the best way to understand the local cultures while admiring the colorful houses and soaking in the charming atmosphere of each town.

In the first and the largest of the five towns, Monterosso, you can relax on the golden sands of its beaches or explore the medieval old town. In Corniglia, perched high above the sea, savor panoramic views and immerse yourself in its quiet charm.

Manarola is known for its iconic views, where you can capture postcard-worthy photos from the terraced rooftops of the town. In Riomaggiore, the southernmost town, you can take in the town’s vibrant atmosphere and beautiful seaside promenade.

Furthermore, Cinque Terre is a hiker’s paradise and the perfect destination for nature lovers and those seeking to get off the beaten path from Italy’s busy cities and enjoy the abundant nature the country offers.

Cinque Terre is known for its scenic hiking trails that offer breathtaking views of the rugged coast and surrounding areas. The most famous trail is the Sentiero Azzurro (Blue Trail), which stretches approximately 12 kilometers and connects all five towns.

You can hike a portion of the trail, or if you’re a seasoned hiker, hiking the entire length of the trail is worth the views and experience. There are also other trails, such as the Via dell’Amore (Lover’s Lane) between Riomaggiore and Manarola.

For those visiting the region hoping to catch some sun while dipping into the blue Mediterranean seas, you’ll find that Cinque Terre has supreme beach options for your visit.

Both Spiaggia Il Gigante and Fegina Beach in the town of Monterosso are known to be the best beaches in Cinque Terre, so if you’re keen to enjoy time by the water, Monterrosso is a must-visit. If you want to be more active, you can go on a kayaking tour or a boat tour.

Liguria is a rich gastronomic region, so trying local foods while visiting Cinque Terre is a necessity. From fresh seafood to the Ligurian pesto sauce and the region’s renowned wines, Cinque Terre is the perfect destination for foodies searching for a fresh taste of Italy.

Sunset in Manarola
Sunset in Manarola

Where to Stay in Cinque Terre

L’Approdo Dell’Ammiraglio – If you’re looking for a good, mid-range base for exploring Cinque Terre, then this cosy guesthouse in La Spezia is an excellent option. They have a number of bright and clean rooms on offer and a great location for exploring the area. Click here to see their availability

Miramare Apartments&Suites – This aparthotel in La Spezia is an excellent choice for you if you’re after a self-catering option. They have a range of different places to choose from and a fantastic location perfect for seeing the beautiful towns of Cinque Terre. Click here to see their availability

La Serra Sul Mare – Those who are looking for a place to stay in Cinque Terre itself are sure to love this luxury hotel in Monterosso. They have a wonderful location within five minutes from the beach, comfortable rooms on offer (all with their own balcony!) and there is even a free shuttle service from the centre of the village. Click here to see their availability

Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse more Cinque Terre hotels!

Amalfi Coast

Easily one of Italy’s most well-known gems for worldwide visitors, the Amalfi Coast is the epitome of a dreamy and classic Italian getaway, tantalising over 5 million visitors annually. Located in the region of Campania in Southern Italy, the Amalfi Coast is known for its dramatic cliffs and scenery, enchanting towns, turquoise waters, and delicious cuisine.

The town of Amalfi
The town of Amalfi

Accessibility

In comparison to Cinque Terre, the Amalfi Coast lacks points in accessibility due to the lack of train transportation connecting the region. Your journey to the Amalfi Coast will likely begin in Naples or Sorrento, and from there to the Amalfi Coast, you have a few options for modes of transportation.

A bus is the most common and affordable means of transport to reach any of the towns in the Amalfi Coast, with the local SITA bus system connecting the towns in the Amalfi Coast to Naples and Sorrento through various lines and frequent bus routes.

While bus transportation through the Amalfi isn’t for the fainthearted, with winding hairpin roads and fast drivers, the views are extraordinary.

Another option to reach the Amalfi Coast is to arrive by ferry. Ferries and hydrofoils connect the Amalfi Coast towns and nearby islands, including Capri and Ischia. You can view schedules here.

Getting to and around the Amalfi Coast by ferry offers a scenic and enjoyable way to explore the coastline for a lower cost than private boat tours if you’re keen to take in the views from the exterior.

To get around the towns along the Amalfi Coast, your options are either the SITA bus system or renting a car during your stay. Unfortunately, the SITA buses become extremely overcrowded during peak months, and at times can be difficult to even find a spot on your necessary bus route.

If you’re comfortable driving through the winding and busy Amalfi Coast roads, I highly recommend renting a car to get around and have the most freedom possible during your visit. You can browse Rentalcars.com to compare prices across companies.

When it comes to getting around the individual towns of the Amalfi Coast like Amalfi or Positano are known to have many steps leading to and from various points, being steep and narrow with uneven roads, presenting challenges for those with mobility difficulties.

If you’re searching for more compact areas that are easier to get around during your trip to Italy and trying to decide between Cinque Terre or the Amalfi Coast, I suggest choosing Cinque Terre.

Driving to Amalfi
Driving to Amalfi

Affordability

When comparing the Amalfi Coast or Cinque Terre, the Amalfi Coast is certainly the more expensive option between the two, largely due to its popularity and reputation for being a destination catering to those seeking luxury and extravagance.

If you’re set on visiting the Amalfi Coast but are traveling on a moderate budget, I suggest staying in the neighboring town of Sorrento. Accommodation costs on the Amalfi Coast are high, but staying in Sorrento gives you the advantage of being close to the Amalfi Coast but not paying the high prices of accommodation.

Sorrento is a delightful town in its own right, and although not technically part of the Amalfi Coast, is worth the visit or stay if you’re looking to save money.

We’ve covered the costs of accommodation and transportation on the Amalfi Coast. But what about other travel costs such as activities and restaurants?

Unfortunately, the Amalfi Coast still comes out higher in these other costs as well. Although many of the local activities and popular restaurants in the region come at a high price, it is possible to find free/low-cost activities in the region and affordable food if you plan.

Sorrento Cathedral
Sorrento Cathedral

Things to do on Amalfi Coast

The Amalfi Coast is another region in Italy full of exciting things to do, see, and of course, eat.

Exploring the enchanting Towns of the Amalfi Coast is one of the key things to do while in the region. Immerse yourself in the picturesque towns that dot the coastline, wander through the narrow streets of Amalfi and admire the grandeur of its medieval cathedral.

Lose yourself in the famous and charming town of Positano, with its colorful buildings stacked upon the cliffside. For an off-the-beaten-path experience on the Amalfi Coast, Don’t forget to visit Ravello, perched high above the coast, known for its breathtaking views, laid-back ambiance, and fewer tourist numbers.

The Amalfi Coast is also located close to the famous fallen town of Pompeii and the famous volcano Mount Vesuvius, giving the perfect opportunity for day trips for those staying in the Amalfi Coast region.

In addition, the Amalfi Coast has a rich history, with records dating back to ancient times, making it an ideal destination if you’re keen to explore further the ancient and modern history of the region.

The island of Capri is one of the most visited destinations for those visiting the Amalfi Coast region. Capri is a mesmerizing island known for its natural beauty, glamorous atmosphere, and rich history, making it the perfect addition to any trip to the Amalfi Coast.

The island’s stunning landscapes are highlighted by dramatic cliffs, crystal-clear turquoise waters, and hidden caves. One of the most famous attractions is the Blue Grotto, a sea cave where sunlight creates a mesmerizing blue glow. You’ll need to book a tour or private boat to reach the Blue Grotto

Unsurprisingly, the Amalfi Coast is another region of Italy known for its renowned cuisine. The region is known for its delectable cuisine, which showcases fresh and locally sourced ingredients such as fresh seafood, vegetables, and the famous Amalfi Coast lemons, known for their vibrant yellow color and intense fragrance.

Trying local specialities is the perfect way to dig into the Amalfi culture and even taking a cooking class is the ideal way to learn how to create familiar dishes of such a well-loved cuisine.

Beautiful Capri Island
Beautiful Capri Island

Where to Stay on the Amalfi Coast

O’Lattariello – An excellent mid-range choice in the town of Amalfi, this B&B is the perfect choice for those looking for a delightful stay. They have a fantastic location for exploring the town and they offer a hearty breakfast each morning. Click here to see their availability

Albergo Miramare – If you’re after luxury while on the Amalfi Coast, then look no further than this plush boutique hotel in the town of Positano. Boasting extraordinary views overlooking the sea, an excellent location, and plenty of luxe rooms to choose from (among many other amenities), this hotel is an excellent choice. Click here to see their availability

Corso Italia Suites – If you want to option to cook your own meals and have your own space, then these apartments in Sorrento are a great option. They have studios, one and two-bedroom options available and they even allow pets for those traveling with a furry friend. Click here to see their availability

Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse more Amalfi Coast hotels!

Sunny Positano
Sunny Positano

Cinque Terre or Amalfi Coast: Which is Better to Visit

With all of the previous information considered, which Italian coastal region is better to visit? Cinque Terre or the Amalfi Coast? Ultimately, both destinations are exciting and attractive destinations in their own right, with the best one being the one suited to you.

While both Cinque Terre and the Amalfi Coast offer exquisite outdoor opportunities, if you’re someone searching for wide opportunities to hike vast areas of the region, I suggest heading to Cinque Terre vs the Amalfi Coast.

Many of the hikes in the region are world-famous, offering an unforgettable experience for nature seekers. In addition, the Amalfi Coast lacks in the beach department with small beaches and high crowds, whereas Cinque Terre has a large number of beaches that are much bigger in size catering to larger numbers of people.

Cost is a huge deciding factor for those searching for a budget-friendly trip and if this is an important aspect for you, I also recommend making your way to Cinque Terre instead of the Amalfi Coast. While both destinations are costlier than many other spots around the world, ultimately, you’ll get a greater value for your money in Cinque Terre, making for a more enjoyable trip overall.

Cinque Terre and the Amalfi Coast both boast outstanding scenery and surroundings, but the Amalfi Coast takes the lead for scenery thanks to dramatic cliffs, striking grottos, and breathtaking coastal vistas with local life peeking out from just about every corner.

So, if you’re searching for a higher “wow factor” for scenery on your trip, I’d head to the Amalfi Coast vs Cinque Terre.

When it comes to accessibility, Cinque Terre is the ideal spot to head to. From transportation to and around the region as well as accessibility around the towns of the region, Cinque Terre is more convenient to get around. If you struggle with mobility or are searching for somewhere more walkable without intense and steep roads and paths, the Amalfi Coast may be difficult.

Finally, due to the rich history of the Amalfi Coast and close proximity to nearby sites such as Pompeii and Mount Vesuvius, the Amalfi Coast is best for those searching to dive into the history and culture of the region.

Whether you choose to visit the Amalfi Coast or head to the villages of Cinque Terre, you’re sure to fall in love with either of these iconic Italian coastal regions.

Are you choosing between Cinque Terre and the Amalfi Coast? Have any questions? Let us know in the comments!

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Olivia is a writer for The World Was Here First. Originally from Michigan, USA, she is currently living in Athens, Greece exploring Europe and filmmaking. When she’s not travelling or writing, Olivia can be found cooking delicious new recipes from around the world, reading, and spending time outdoors.

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