Whether you choose to visit Cinque Terre or Amalfi Coast in Italy you will not be disappointed with your choice.
Italy has an abundance of breath-taking fishing villages perched atop scenic crags like sentinels of the Italian coastline. Two coastal areas stand majestic above so many other regions and are true jewels in the Italian crown. Of course, we speak of Cinque Terre and Amalfi Coast. In this Cinque Terre vs Amalfi Coast article, we will compare the two tempting Italian destinations based on:
- How to get there
- The Vibe
- Weather and Best Time to Visit
- Beach Life
- Places to Visit
- Outdoor Activities Available
- Prices: Which is Cheaper?
- Food Scene
Both areas are infamous the world over due to the buildings painted in soft pastel tones, scenic seaside vistas, and dreamy resorts. In any list of the best Italian vacation spots, neither can be left out. So, which one do you choose to travel this year? Hard to pick, isn’t it? That’s why we have created a detailed comparison between Cinque Terre and Amalfi Coast to help you with your decision.
Whether you’re a jetsetter looking for a hedonist’s haven or a holidaymaker wishing to travel the best of coastal Italy, this travel guide will help you decide which of these two are best for you.
Let’s dive in.
Cinque Terre vs Amalfi Coast: Getting There
Located in northern Italy, Cinque Terre is nearest to Florence, Venice and Milan. Milan is certainly the principal hub for holidaying in northern Italy. Do expect your journey to take 3.5-4 hours from Milan to Cinque Terre. You can read a more detailed guide to travelling to Cinque Terre here.
On the contrary, nestled in southern Italy, Amalfi Coast is best reached from Rome, Sorrento and Naples. Buses and trains travel frequently to the coast especially during the summer peak seasons. Read more here.
To put it simply, whether you are a staycationer in Italy or a globetrotter in Ireland, one coastline will usually be more accessible than the other. Here’s a map of Italy’s Amalfi Coast and Cinque Terre to help you get an idea.
Another point of interest to consider before choosing one town over another is how you’d want to travel.
While, both CT and AC are accessible via public transits such as trains and ferries, those hoping for a spine-tingling, cliff-side road trip will prefer Amalfi Coast for its scenic Amalfi Drive.
Cinque Terre vs Amalfi Coast: The Vibe
Both coastlines, with their unique natural and cultural landscapes, flaunt different atmospheres. Backpackers hoping to travel to a casual place and jetsetters looking for a dazzling one will find how Amalfi Coast and Cinque Terre are worlds apart. Here’s a mini-guide to illustrate that difference and help you decide which coastline is best for you.
Amalfi Coast: Blingy and Luxurious Retreat
Nestled near Capri and prized for its powdery beaches, Amalfi enjoys an air of poshness. Dotted across it are luxurious, infinity-pool-studded hotel resorts. Women here saunter around in flowy dresses, while men take the air in vintage convertibles. Like a throwback to a by-gone era with Princess Grace or Audrey Hepburn with Gregory Peck.
Its winding streets are framed for designer boutiques, Michelin-star surf-n-turf restaurants, al-fresco cocktail stops. In short, The Amalfi Coast oozes elegance and pizzazz. It’s perfect for living la dolce vita.
Cinque Terre: Casual and Laid-Back Coastal Town
Settled on craggy cliffs hanging over crystalline waters, Cinque Terre enjoys a relaxed ambience. Comprising of a series of preserved towns, it limits the number of tourists per year. It has a backpacker-ish feel where tourists are seen sauntering around in cool flanel pants and tank tops.
While there are fine hotels in Cinque Terre too, they are more designed to be comfy with natural elements like verdant courtyards. It’s perfect for a downbeat, zero fuss, serene vacation.
Cinque Terre vs Amalfi Coast: Landscape
Both areas offer a beautiful aesthetic from a landscape perspective. What then is the difference between Cinque Terre and Amalfi Coast landscapes?
Amalfi Coast: A Laze-in-the-sun Beauty for Holidaymakers
The town boasts a classic Mediterranean landscape. It flaunts a swanky terrain awash with idyllic beaches, terraced vineyards, and incredible orchards, lush pastures, and vistas of the Tyrrhenian Sea. The cultural wonders, alongside the natural, are in abundance here.
Travellers can take a leisurely walk and discover evidence of Romans, Greeks, Normans, Arab-Sicilians and Saracens. Clustered along its precarious cliffs are Amalfi communities with their terraces blending with rocks.
Cinque Terre: A Trail-Ringed Adventure for Thrill-Seekers
The town boasts a more jagged landscape that inspired Dante’s Purgatory cliffs. It is composed of five hamlets connected by hiking trails. Trains are also available just in case it gets too strenuous.
Unlike Amalfi, Cinque Terre is more about discovery, tackling its many tracks and nature trails, and wandering through the charming villages. Landmarks and beach options are fewer in Cinque compared to Amalfi Coast. The most picturesque clusters of colourful hillside buildings include Manarola, Corniglia, and Vernazza.
Cinque Terre vs Amalfi Coast: Weather and Best Time to Visit
Tucked in the southern tip of Italy, Amalfi enjoys a drier and warmer climate. If you are setting off to enjoy the sun, you will prefer Amalfi for its balmier weather. However, skip fall/autumn or spring vacation here if you hate crowds.
If, on the other hand, you are seeking the cliffs to escape the heat of summer, Cinque Terre still gets sunshine but tends to be cooler with some rain in spring and autumn. At times there is substantial rain and sometimes often washes away the hiking trails. However, don’t be deterred. Most other hikers simply put on their rain coats and get around with delaying.
Best Time to Visit
Travelling Cinque Terre or Amalfi Coast in June means facing big crowds because of the onset of peak season. The best time to travel is during the shoulder season in May or September when the days are sunny and relatively less crowded.
Cinque Terre vs Amalfi Coast: Beach Life
Amalfi Coast wins
Beaches in Amalfi Coast aren’t anywhere near as dreamy as those of Greece but they still beat Cinque Terre hands down! Despite the rocky shores, the sandy golden strips of the Amalfi coast impress with such picture postcard settings. Some are flanked by high cliffs, some are lined with soft-pastel villas, some are hike-ringed, and some are hidden away in secluded coves.
You’ll find them all packed with parasols and lounges. The best ones are:
- Castiglione di Ravello Beach
- Lannio Beach
- Tuoro Vecchio Beach
- Arienzo Beach
- Tordigliano Beach
- Fiordo di Furore
Because the beaches in Amalfi Coast are more popular, expect to find even the most secluded beach to be crowded.
Cinque Terre loses, but gracefully
There are only a few beaches that trace the Cinque Terre coastline and the most popular (read crowded) among them is Fegina beach in Monterosso. But if you are hoping to ditch the crowd and enjoy adventuresome swims, head to the beach of Manarola during weekdays. Trekking lovers would prefer Corniglia beach, while nature lovers should cruise to the Canneto beach.
Cinque Terre vs Amalfi Coast: Places to Visit
Just as they differ in ambience and climate, these two stretches of coastlines also differ in the kinds of tourist spots they offer. I have summed both, Amalfi Coast and Cinque Terre attractions below to help you decide which one best meets your taste.
Places to Visit in Amalfi Coast
Spanning 13 towns, Amalfi Coast offers umpteen places to visit that draw thousands of tourists from across the world. Hugged by the mountains, embraced by lush greenery, and painted with sublime beaches, each town offers unique places to discover.
- Amalfi: Main Town: Beaches, Shopping, Cathedral, and Piazza del Duomo
- Island of Capri: Gorgeous Landscapes and Effervescent Nightlife
- Positano: Delicious Food and Pastel Houses
- Sirenuse Islands: Aquatic Sports
- Sorrento: Museums, Cathedral, Parks, and Fishing Ports
- Praiano: Escape Crowd and Enjoy Far-Reaching Views
- Emerald Cave: Natural, Emerald-Lit Wonder
- Ravello: Relaxed Vibe, Villa Rufolo, Cathedral, and Chic Eateries
- Maiori: Sandy, Wide-Stretching Beaches
- Cetara: Fishing Fleets
- Furore: Rows and Rows of Gorgeous Vines, Muraled Walls, and Furore Beach
- Atrani: Medieval Architecture and Small Black-Sand Beach
- Vietri Sul Mare: Offbeat Travel
Places to Visit in Cinque Terre
Cinque Terre consists of five eye-popping pastel villages. These postcard-perfect destinations are what makes sauntering through Cinque Terre’s narrow trails so worthwhile. Amalfi may have more (and many spectacular) attractions, but these hamlets are the Instagrammable FOMO-spots that you MUST HAVE on your social media feeds.
- Monterosso al Mare: Loggia del Podesta, Parish Church of San Giovanni Battista, Torre Aurora and Madonna di Soviore
- Vernazza: Pretty Scenery, Rocky Harbour Basin, and Genoese Fortification Walls
- Corniglia: Gothic Church of San Pietro
- Manarola: Restaurant studded Piazza, Gothic Church of Natività di Maria Vergine and Antique Towers
- Riomaggiore: Photogenic Narrow Cliff-Setting, Church of San Giovanni, Colle di Cerricò Castle and Sanctuary of Madonna di Montenero
Cinque Terre vs Amalfi Coast: Outdoor Activities
Best Things to Do in Amalfi Coast
Just like the numerous places to visit, Amalfi Coast also brims with outdoor activities that are just as sumptuous as its resorts.
- Vintage Car Coaster Tour
- Day Trip to Pompeii
- Shopping in Sorrento
- Trek the Sentiero Degli Dei
- Ride a horse in Salerno Bay
- Scuba Dive in Secchetella Dei Galli
- Tandem Skydive from 4500m
- Transparent Kayaking near Sorrento
- Set sail on the Tyrrhenian Sea
- Take a Wine Tour
Best Things to Do in Cinque Terre
Compared to Amalfi’s, the outdoor activities in Cinque Terre are more laid back, bohemian almost, but at the same time more suitable for the intrepid and athletic travellers who is more interested in thrill- and soul-seeking than lazing around in the sun.
- Ramble Around on Nature Trails to Corniglia
- Go Hiking at Parco Nazionale Cinque Terre
- Watch Golden Sunsets from Stella Marina Beach
- Explore Cinque Terre on Boat
- Paddle Board on the Sea
- Kayak Full Day
Cinque Terre vs Amalfi Coast: Prices
If you are thinking which is cheaper, it is Cinque Terre.
The footloose and fancy-free might prefer Amalfi Coast, but if you’re on a shoestring you should head off to Cinque Terre. Here’s why.
When in Amalfi Coast, two people can expect to spend an average of €2,514 per week. While in Cinque Terre you can expect to spend almost half that amount – €1,544.
This is mainly because the Amalfi Coast is more touristy, affluent and packed with attractions. The resorts, hotels, and restaurants that dot the town are also more refined and luxurious.
Cinque Terre, on the other hand, has recently developed into a tourist spot and thus tends to be cheaper. The hotels and restaurants here are also less high-end. You get options like family-run B&B and street food to spend a budgeted holiday.
Cinque Terre vs Amalfi Coast: Food Scene
Italy, as a whole, is a foodie’s paradise. The seafood you find in Cinque Terre and Amalfi Coast will leave you licking your fingers. Which is better depends on what you consider to be a great dining experience.
If you have boutique multi-cuisine restaurants in mind, Amalfi will be your pick. If you are more of a street-food person, Cinque Terre will impress you best.
Amalfi Coast Food Scene: Fancy with International Variety
The Amalfi Coast, especially Positano, is known for its Michelin restaurants and fine dining. Da Vincenzo being one such establishment.
Because the town is in Campania Region, produce like DOP buffalo mozzarella, juicy lemons, and fresh seafood are readily available here. This makes dishes like pizza margherita, limoncello, and spaghetti alla puttanesca several times more delicious.
Tired of Italian dishes? Don’t worry because the eclectic food scene in Amalfi offers international cuisine too. Here, you will find dishes and restaurants ranging from Mediterranean, Japanese, European, and Contemporary cuisines.
Those with a sweet tooth will find ample options like sfogliatelle and pasticciotti to satisfy their cravings.
Even if you’re on a budget, you’ll encounter several amazing restaurants to sample quality food. Two of the best affordable restaurants in Amalfi Coast include Positano’s Da Adolfo and Praiano’s La Brace.
Cinque Terre Food Scene: Delicious Local Specialities
Compared to Amalfi’s, the restaurants in Cinque Terre can be considered ‘no frills’. However, the dishes served here are no less delicious than its fancier sister. It may not have as many fine-dine options, but the laid-back, budget-friendly town boasts cantinas, gelaterias, and rustic eateries that have their own, quaint charm.
The seaside towns have some hand-picked local favourites that are unique to Cinque Terre reion. The most popular of such dishes is anchovies from Monterosso. Other must-try dishes include Muscoli ripieni, torta di riso di Monterosso, frittelle di baccalà, pasta al pesto, and pandolce.
Can you Cover Both on One Trip?
Wondering how far is Cinque Terre from Amalfi Coast and if you can travel both on one trip? The answer is maybe.
The distance between the two coastal towns is 707 km. You can travel from one to another via train and bus. Travelling Cinque Terre to Amalfi Coast by boat or direct flight is not possible.
In short, you may be able to take this ambitious Italian trip but it is bound to get strenuous if rushed through.
Conclusion: Which is Better Cinque Terre or Amalfi Coast?
It’s hard to draw a hard line, except when it comes to beaches, then Amalfi is the clear winner.
It depends on what kind of traveller you are and what are your travel preferences.
Choose Amalfi if you’re a beach lover who wants luxury and fine dining. Amalfi Coast is more expensive, affluent and a jetsetter’s dream.
On the other hand, choose Cinque Terre if you’re more of a budget-minded, activity-prowling outdoorsy individual or family.
In our opinion we would suggest not to pit the two against each other and plan on exploring both of them. Visit the two but on separate holidays.
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