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When is the Best Time to Visit Cinque Terre, Italy?

Best Time to Visit Cinque Terre

With its striking natural and manmade beauty, Cinque Terre is one of the most unique and stunning areas in the Mediterranean region. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, its string of five seaside villages, Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore, lie along the Ligurian coast in northwest Italy. Their colorful homes and buildings cling precipitously to dramatic cliffs while scenic trails connect them all, making Cinque Terre an ideal destination for hikers. Planning your visit requires careful consideration as to when to arrive, however. The tourist season generally runs from May through September, which are the busiest months and warmest months. The best time to visit really depends on your particular interests and the type of travel experience you’d like to enjoy. Many find the second half of April and the first half of October to be ideal, with pleasant weather and thinner crowds. Visitors during peak season can escape the masses by walking the higher routes. 

Cinque Terre

Best Time to Visit Cinque Terre for Sightseeing

The best time to visit Cinque Terre for sightseeing is when the crowds aren’t at their peak and the weather is pleasant, generally in April through early May and again from mid-September through mid-October. Spring is typically very pleasant with more sunny days than rainy ones and temperatures ranging from the mid-60s through low 70s. You’ll have plenty of daylight so that you can actually see the sights too, with sunset not until about 8 p.m. on April 1st and at about 8:30 p.m. on May 1st. While the sea won’t be warm enough for swimming the trails are ideal for hiking. If you come in early fall, you can enjoy swimming, hiking, and sightseeing as the sea usually stays warm through much of October. While neither period is as busy as summer, you’ll still want to book those reservations well in advance. Or bundle up and avoid the crowds by coming in the winter.

Cinque Terre hike

Best Time to Visit Cinque Terre for Hiking

The best time to hike in the Cinque Terre region is between April and mid-June or from mid-September through early October. That’s when you’ll typically have the most pleasant weather, ranging from the low 60s to low 80s depending on the exact timing, and the trails will be open. It is possible to hike from one village to the next in July and August, but you’ll want to hit the trails as early as possible to avoid the scorching midday heat. The trails are usually open during the off-season, between November and March, but there is a possibility of closure due to heavy rain or maintenance work during the winter. Otherwise, this is a great time to come as there will be few others out on the trails. Plus, all trails are free during the winter and there’s no need to buy a Cinque Terre card. You’ll want suitable shoes, ideally waterproof hiking boots.

Cinque Terre swim

Best Time to Visit Cinque Terre for Swimming

One of the most popular things to do in the Cinque Terre region is to leap into the brilliant blue-green sea. If that’s on your priority list, come between late May and mid-October. The sea usually reaches 70-71 degrees by the end of May which still might be a bit too cool for some. If you’d like to enjoy warmer water without the biggest crowds, come during the first half of June when the temperature rises to around 74, or wait until late September. It usually hovers around 77 degrees throughout most of September, dipping just a couple of degrees during the first half of October before eventually cooling to about 70 towards the end of the month. Despite the big crowds, many like to enjoy it in the summer when the weather is at its hottest. Boat tours are available to more remote beaches for escaping the masses and enjoying a more tranquil dip.

Cinque Terre budget

Best Time to Visit Cinque Terre for a More Budget-Friendly Trip

You’ll pay the highest prices of the year if you visit Cinque Terre during the summer. This is when there is the biggest demand for accommodation and hotels charge their highest rates of the year. Airfare is often more expensive too. For the most budget-friendly trip, plan to come in between November and mid-December or mid-January through February. This is when you’ll find the most significant discounts and you might score a deal on flights too. Plus, during the wintertime, you won’t have to pay to hike the trails (it is important to keep a close eye on the weather as heavy rains can close them). While it won’t be warm and rain is possible, with the right clothing, sightseeing is enjoyable. March is another option as it is possible to find some discounted accommodation rates and you might enjoy more sunny days than wet ones, including some lovely afternoons with temperatures in the mid-60s. 

Cinque Terre

Best Time to Visit Cinque Terre for Festivals

Attending a local festival is a great way to get to know the locals and their villages, and enjoy a more authentic experience. Summer is the best time to visit Cinque Terre if you want to enjoy one or more of its festivals. Monterosso hosts Corpus Domini in June which includes a procession through the streets of the village. The fried anchovy festival takes place here on the third Saturday in June. In Corniglia, enjoy the festival of St. Peter and Paul on June 29 which includes a procession that heads to Santa Maria’s terrace to enjoy Fieschi cake. Vernazza gets especially lively on July 20 with the festival of Santa Margherita including a procession and fireworks. Celebrations continue in August with a traditional procession celebrating San Lorenzo on August 10 in Manarola. The last festival of the summer in Cinque Terre, the salted anchovy festival, takes place in Monterosso on the third Saturday of September.