All you need to know to visit Cinque Terre with little ones in tow
As we organize Cinque Terre day tours from Florence, I often get asked whether Cinque Terre is a kid-friendly destination, which is why I decided to collate all the information, tips and practicalities in one handy post here.
First, the hard truth: visiting Cinque Terre with your children can be tricky!
I’ll be honest with you, the tiny alleys and cobbled streets that make these colorful villages so beautiful are also quite difficult to navigate with a stroller and they’re hardly the ideal terrain for letting your kids running around. And then the villages are so small, that parents are often puzzled as to what kids can do whilst they enjoy a glass of wine or stroll around to take pictures.
These are all legit worries, but do not let them stop you! A family trip to Cinque Terre can be worth it and can turn up to be a memorable experience you’ll cherish for years and years. You only need a bit of prep first.
After all, this is one of the most unique places on earth and it always ends up working its magic on visitors (of all ages!).
What’s the best time to visit Cinque Terre?
In early spring and October the weather should still be nice and sunny and the crowds smaller, Christmastime is also a charming time to visit these villages all lovingly decorated for the holidays. In Summer it gets really hot and there’s not a lot of shade, something to keep in consideration when traveling with children. It gets packed too and it may difficult to get around with a stroller – the streets are really narrow.
Having said that, transport links in this area are heavily dependant on weather and if it rains or if the sea is rough, access to Cinque Terre is blocked for safety reasons. This could happen any time of the year and there’s no way to know beforehand.
How much time to see Cinque Terre?
Cinque Terre actually refers to an area of about 15 km, dotted by tiny fishermen villages. As it is rather small, one day will suffice to see all the highlights. A longer stay as a family gets a little bit more complicated since there aren’t a lot of sandy beaches, playgrounds or other amenities suitable for children. Monterosso is your best option as a home base to explore this area, otherwise, you may consider staying elsewhere in Liguria.
Is it realistic to do it as a day trip from Florence or Tuscany?
Yes! We run a Cinque Terre day tour from Florence and it’s totally doable. However, if you’re traveling with kids bear in mind that it can get quite tiring for them. It’s a long drive back and forth, so really it’s up to you, you know your children best and can judge if it’s ok.
How do you actually get to Cinque Terre?
You can get there by train, ferry or by car.
Trains start in Levanto or La Spezia and are frequent, connecting all the tiny villages quite easily. The Cinque Terre pass you get st an any Tourist Information Center in the area can include train travel too.
In Summer, there’s a local ferry service too, connecting Levanto and La Spezia to all the villages in Cinque Terre, including Portovenere and the islands.
If you’re just visiting for a day, however, and have a baby or preschool-aged children, a tour with a private driver may be a more comfortable option as you can plan an itinerary based entirely on your needs.
Renting a car is instead the worst option because parking is extremely limited, which is why having a driver is better, as he can drop you off and head further off, only to return and pick you up.What activities are there to do in the area for families traveling with kids?
- A leisurely stroll
The towns are so small that the main activity is just to get lost and walk the tiny alleys taking photos, to then stop and enjoy Italy’s world-renowned food and wine (adults only of course!). A stroll can turn into a fun activity for school-aged kids if you explore the town with a licensed guide who can tell you all the fascinating stories of pirates, poets and seamen that once traveled or lived here. This can easily be arranged when booking a day tour with a tour operator like Andante.
- A dip in the sea
Taking a swim is also an option in Summer, but Monterosso is the only town with a sandy beach, whilst others have a rocky coastline so it might be suitable for school-aged children only (water shoes essential!).
- Hiking the trails
The other draw of Cinque Terre is hiking, but few are the stroller-friendly routes. This is because in recent times, landslides, related to bad weather, damaged the easiest paths, which haven’t been reopened yet for safety reasons. For school-aged children, who are used to walking, there are several options instead. We recommend asking the Tourist Information Center on arrival or plan your trip with a tour operator like Andante for peace of mind.
For the joy of the little ones, there are playgrounds in Monterosso, Riomaggiore and Manarola, so you may want to stay here longer than elsewhere.
What to bring on a Cinque Terre trip with kids?
- Proper walking shoes
You can now be fined if spotted wearing sandals or flip flops on the trails. Besides, proper shoes are the best when walking on the uneven streets (fewer blisters too!).
- A baby carrier or backpack
Both options will keep you and your baby/toddler comfortable as you walk around.
- Plenty of water
It gets hot – really hot! – in Summer, so you’ll need it. Another perk of getting around with a private driver is the convenience of stashing bottles in the car, without having to lug them around all day or buying them at each stop.
- Sun hat and sunscreen
See above, there’s very little shade and that gorgeous Mediterranean sun can turn you into a lobster if not careful.
- Insect repellent
Unfortunately, mosquitos are a plague in Summer, best to be prepared.
I hope I cleared some of your doubts and if you’re keen on visiting beautiful Cinque Terre on your next trip to Italy, do get in touch to arrange a personalized tour.