Imagine a beautiful coastal village that is situated so perfectly on the surrounding cliffside that it looks as if the cliffs grew around the buildings themselves. Imagine tiny fishing harbors and azure blue waters lapping up against the rocks. Imagine terraced vineyards and warm summer nights with a glass of Sciacchetrà surrounded by the ocean breeze. Sound like a fantasy? Well, thankfully this picturesque place actually exists. And it’s not just one, but rather five separate small villages sprinkled along the Italian coast. Cinque Terre (meaning five lands), is both a Unesco World Heritage Site as well as a national park. It brings in millions of visitors from all over the world due to its jaw-dropping beauty and relaxed vibe. While many of its visitors arrive by cruise ship, we recommend a slower pace of travel (especially with kids!) and would opt for a few nights in the seaside area to really soak in the laid-back villages and enjoy everything they have to offer.
How to get there
It is highly discouraged to drive your own vehicle due to the few roads that traverse the area, so instead why not make the journey to Cinque Terre into an adventure for yourself and kids by taking the train!? Not only is it the easiest way to get to Cinque Terre, but you will also get to relax and enjoy the view with your family on the ride over! Once you arrive, be sure to purchase a Cinque Terre Treno MS Card which will grant you access to the trains servicing the five villages, the bus service, access to the parks, hiking trails, and a discount on museum passes. If you have children traveling with you that are under the age of 4, they are free when traveling with an adult pass holder.
What to do with the kids
Getting lost and stumbling upon quaint shops and delicious local restaurants will literally provide hours of fun and entertainment for the whole family, but if you want your day a little more planned out there is also a plethora of fun activities that you can plan ahead of time! With multiple hiking trails in the region, there is sure to be one that is right for your family and everyone’s ability. From short kid-friendly hikes that are great for even the youngest of travelers like the Riomaggiore to Manarola hike. Also known as lovers lane, this family-friendly hike takes approximately 20 minutes. If your family is looking for something that is a little bit longer, but that also offers stunning views try the Vernazza to Monterosso hike. There really is something for everyone if you want to get outside and get some exercise. Don’t forget to stop and get some delicious gelato in town after one of your hikes!
If you are in Monterosso or Manarola then be sure to head to the playground to let the kids let off some steam. Have your camera ready, because you will get some great pictures of your kids playing amongst the beautiful surroundings!
We recommend bringing a baby carrier to use instead of a stroller due to the numerous steps and steep pathways. If you have to bring one, make sure it’s a small, lightweight travel stroller that can be easily folded up at restaurants or when walking through the small alleyways.
Where to stay
You really can’t go wrong in any of the five villages that make up Cinque Terre. If nice, sandy beaches are more your style than you may want to opt to stay in Monterosso as it’s the only one with a true sandy beach. If you are looking for a quieter place, then Corniglia would better suit you as it does not have direct access to the sea or any hotels. Rather you could book a cute B&B overlooking the historical town. If you are headed to Cinque Terre in the winter, you may want to book a place in Manarola. From December 8th until the end of January the hills of the village are lit up with over 12,000 lamps and 200 figures for the largest lighted nativity in the world. It is truly a sight to behold!
Have you been to Cinque Terre? Let us know in the comments below what you thought and if you have any great pieces of information or must-see places while there!