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Thinking about visiting Cinque Terre with kids? If you’re dreaming of a family adventure that combines Italian charm, stunning landscapes and kid-approved fun, this is the place for you! Cinque Terre is a place that captured my heart and left my family with memories we’ll cherish forever!
Cinque Terre isn’t just for backpackers or honeymooners! It’s a vibrant, family-friendly destination that feels like you’ve stepped straight into a fairy tale.
With its rainbow-coloured villages perched on rugged cliffs, crystal-clear waters, and delicious gelato at every turn, Cinque Terre is the family getaway you’ve been dreaming of.
So, are you ready to dive deep into the ultimate guide for taking your family to Cinque Terre? I promise you, we’re going to have an absolute blast uncovering all the gems that will make your trip epic and full of laughter, awe, and those picture-perfect moments! Let’s go!
Best Time to Visit Cinque Terre with Kids
If Cinque Terre is on your family’s travel bucket list, let’s talk about when to make the magic happen because the timing can make all the difference.
The shoulder seasons of April-May and September-October are where it’s at!
The weather is absolutely amazing! Imagine breezy cliffside strolls without breaking a sweat.
And a bonus? You get to sidestep the major summer crowds, offering a more relaxing experience with this Italian gem.
Here are some recommended Cinque Terre itineraries:
3 to 4 Days: Ideal for a deep dive into all five villages. Spend time at Monterosso’s beach, wander through the colourful streets, and take a leisurely boat tour. Remember to factor in downtime, especially with little ones.
2 Days: A snapshot experience. Focus on a few select villages and choose activities that your family will love the most.
Day Trip from Florence: A Cinque Terre day trip is a whirlwind but doable. Prioritize 2-3 villages, like Monterosso for the beach and Vernazza or Manarola for picturesque views. Or you can do a boat tour which is an amazing way to spend your day in Cinque Terre. Be mindful of the 2.5-hour train ride each way from Florence.
Choosing the best Cinque Terre village for your family’s home base is a must for planning your Italian Riviera getaway.
Each village has something unique to offer, so it’s important to find the one that aligns best with what your family wants to see and do.
Monterosso al Mare
This is the largest of the five Cinque Terre villages and has the most family-friendly amenities. With a larger beach, playgrounds, and various restaurants and shops, it’s perfect for families looking for a balance of relaxation and convenience.
Vernazza is often said to be the most beautiful of the five villages, with its stunning harbour area and castle. While it’s not as child-friendly as Monterosso, it’s a great option for families with older kids who can appreciate the historical and cultural attractions.
Perched high on a hill, Corniglia is the quietest of the five villages and can be a great option for families seeking peace and tranquillity.
Keep in mind that it’s the only village without direct sea access, and getting there involves climbing quite a few steps!
Manarola is known for picturesque landscapes and is a popular spot for photographers. It’s a wonderful choice for families who love to explore and who will appreciate the epic views.
However, it can get quite crowded, especially at sunset.
Riomaggiore is the first village you will come across if you’re coming from La Spezia. It’s known for its colourful houses and the vibrant fishing harbour.
It’s a good option for families who want to be close to the train station for easy access to the other villages.
However, no matter which village you choose to stay in, you will be guaranteed a wonderful experience in Cinque Terre.
Kid-Friendly Activities in Cinque Terre
When you think of the dreamy landscapes of Cinque Terre, perhaps the first things that come to mind are cliffside villages, and of course, the delicious Italian cuisine.
However, this Italian gem is loaded with fun for families too!
Imagine your kids’ excitement of spending time on Monterosso’s sandy beaches, going on boat tours with panoramic seaside views, or wandering through the quaint village pathways to see what you will find.
From gelato taste-testing missions to serene sunset picnics, visiting Cinque Terre with kids can be an absolute blast!
Here are some of the best kid-friendly activities in Cinque Terre:
1. Beach Days in Monterosso
The sandy shores of Monterosso are a child’s dream. Whether it’s building sandcastles, splashing in the gentle waves, or simply lounging with gelato in hand, this beach is the ultimate seaside playground.
2. Boat Tours
Experience Cinque Terre from the sea! Take a family-friendly boat tour and admire the cliffside villages from a fresh perspective.
Many tours even include snorkelling stops for some underwater exploration – perfect for older kids and teens.
3. Nature Trails
Cinque Terre is renowned for its hiking paths. Choose some of the less strenuous trails that allow kids to explore the natural beauty, spotting local wildlife and plants along the way.
A great hiking trail for kids is the trail from Riomaggiore to Manarola. Also called Via dell’Amore or Lover’s Lane, this easy 1 km hiking trail takes about 30 minutes.
It’s flat and paved and is the easiest hike in Cinque Terre and is perfect for families with young kids.
Quick Tip: If visiting during the peak season, between mid-March & October, some hiking trails within Cinque Terre National Park have a fee. You can get a Cinque Terre card which also has other benefits. There is also an option that includes the Levanto regional train.
4. Exploring The Village
Turn your visit into a fun treasure hunt! Challenge your kids to spot unique doorways, vibrant boats, or hidden alleyways in each village.
But the culinary experience in Cinque Terre isn’t just about the food. It’s also about the ambience.
Many restaurants offer outdoor dining in village squares, giving your family a perfect setting to enjoy your meal while enjoying the vibrant atmosphere around you.
Transportation Tips in Cinque Terre: Navigating with Kids in Tow
Travelling with kids comes with its own set of challenges, but when you’re in Cinque Terre, the region’s accessible train system will make your journey a breeze!
The Magic of Train Travel Between Villages
The train system in Cinque Terre is a traveller’s best friend. Not only is it efficient, with regular services connecting the five villages, but it’s also incredibly scenic.
The short train rides mean less fuss from the kids, and you’ve got impressive coastal views from the train windows to keep them entertained.
Arriving from Florence and Milan
From Florence from kids: The journey from Florence to Cinque Terre, specifically to La Spezia or directly to one of the five villages, is straightforward. Trains frequently connect Florence’s Santa Maria Novella station to La Spezia, from where you can hop onto a local train to any of the villages. The whole journey typically takes around 2.5 to 3 hours.
From Milan with kids: If you’re kickstarting your adventure from Milan, you’re in luck. Direct trains run from Milan Central to La Spezia, and the journey is approximately 3 hours. Once in La Spezia, the villages of Cinque Terre are just a short local train ride away.
Packing Essentials for Families Exploring Cinque Terre
A journey to Cinque Terre is like stepping into a postcard – the vibrant colours of the cliffside villages, the gentle lull of the waves, and the alluring scent of Italian cuisine wafting through the air.
Here’s your checklist to ensure you have everything you need for a smooth and memorable adventure:
Cinque Terre is known for its winding paths and uneven cobblestone streets. Make sure the whole family has comfortable and sturdy footwear. For those planning to hit the trails, hiking shoes are a must.
Light and Versatile Clothing
Layers are your best friend. Pack light, breathable clothing that can be easily layered to adjust to the day’s temperature. Don’t forget a light jacket for the evenings when the sea breeze picks up.
The Italian sun can be strong, especially in the summer months. Arm yourself with sunscreen, sunglasses, and hats to keep the whole family protected.
Strollers & Baby Carriers
The charming cobbled streets of Cinque Terre are undeniably alluring, but they can be tricky to navigate with strollers. For those adventurous trails and narrow lanes, consider a baby carrier.
Exploring will have you working up an appetite and we all know what it’s like for kids to go from happy to hangry! Pack a stash of easy snacks like trail mix, fruits, or granola bars to keep energy levels high.
Staying hydrated is key, especially when you’re on the move. Bring reusable water bottles that can be refilled throughout the day.