Cinque Terre vs Amalfi Coast: Which Italian Coastal Destination to Choose?

April 15, 2024

Are you wondering which Italian destination suits your travel plans better: Cinque Terre or the Amalfi Coast? Unsure which one to choose when traveling to Italy? Then let this guide help you make the decision!

Both Cinque Terre and the Amalfi Coast are undeniably among Italy’s most beautiful destinations, and there’s no doubt about that.

Cinque Terre is an area with five fishing villages in the Liguria region in the north. It’s known for its colorful houses built into the mountainside. The Amalfi Coast is a larger area with several towns like Positano or Amalfi. It’s also colorful but more famous for its tall cliffs and dramatic coastline.

Although they may seem similar at first, they are actually quite different destinations often talked about together by tourists.

Many people wonder which one to choose when traveling to Italy. This article aims to help you with that decision. We will compare the attractions, features, characteristics, and various aspects of both Cinque Terre and the Amalfi Coast in Italy so that you can get to know each place and decide which one to choose if you’re planning a trip to Italy.

We want to make it clear that, as frequent travelers to Italy and considering it as one of our favorite destinations, we will not be making the decision for anyone. Therefore, we’re just providing a guide for those who need it. The decision is yours!

So, this article will be a comparison based on several aspects, to showcase the features and offerings of both Cinque Terre and the Amalfi Coast for tourists visiting Italy. We will highlight what you need to know about these two places, the best things to do there, where to stay, and what costs to expect when traveling there.

First, let’s start with a brief overview where you’ll find some key information in a table, then we’ll answer some important questions that are often asked. After that, the detailed comparison will follow with all the relevant aspects regarding both places.

Overview: Cinque Terre or Amalfi Coast – Which is the better choice?

Cinque Terre Amalfi Coast
Location North South
Closest major airport Milan Naples
Ease of transportation Easier Difficult
Travel costs More affordable Higher
Range of services (restaurants, hotels, tours) Limited options More options
Weather Very changeable, lots of rain Generally warm, recommended even in winter

FAQ: Cinque Terre vs Amalfi Coast

Let’s take a look at some frequently asked questions about the Amalfi Coast and Cinque Terre.

Which is better: Amalfi Coast or Cinque Terre?

If you’re traveling to northern Italy and looking for an affordable, relatively quick, and colorful place that can be visited in just a day, then Cinque Terre is a better choice.

If you’re traveling south and looking for a multi-day or week-long destination for experiencing the true southern Italian vibe or perhaps seeking luxury spots, then choose the Amalfi Coast.

Is the Cinque Terre or the Amalfi Coast cheaper?

We will provide affordable options for both destinations, but generally, Cinque Terre is cheaper.

Which one is easier to get around in?

This is a complex question. Neither destination is easy to navigate by car due to mountain roads and parking issues, especially during peak season when traffic is heavy.

Using public transport, you can travel along the Amalfi Coast by bus, which can also be somewhat problematic. We suggest watching some online videos about getting around the Amalfi Coast.

The villages of Cinque Terre are connected by a train network, which makes traveling between them quick and easy, and you can also quickly reach them by train from nearby cities.

Is Cinque Terre located on the Amalfi Coast?

No, Cinque Terre is located in a completely different area, several hundred kilometers to the north.

While Cinque Terre is situated in the northern part of Italy, near Genoa and Florence, the Amalfi Coast is located in the south, near Naples.

Cinque Terre vs Amalfi Coast: Detailed comparison

Now let’s take a look at the various aspects worth considering when deciding whether to travel to Cinque Terre or the Amalfi Coast.


Where is Cinque Terre

Cinque Terre is located in the northwestern part of Italy, in the southeastern part of the Liguria region. The nearest city is La Spezia.

Where is Amalfi Coast

The Amalfi Coast is located in southern Italy, south of Naples, on the northern side of the Gulf of Salerno. The nearest cities are Naples and Salerno.

Getting around

In Cinque Terre

It’s possible by car, but parking can be challenging. There’s a well-equipped parking area only in the village of Monterosso al Mare.

It’s recommended to use the train instead, which takes you from one village to another in just a few minutes. The train mostly runs between La Spezia and Levanto (but there are others too), and it’s very frequent, often every half hour during the day. Plus, you can purchase a so-called Cinque Terre Card, which allows you to use the trains at a very favorable price.

Additionally, there are boat tours available between the villages, where they take you from one village to another.

Since the villages themselves are small, you can easily explore them on foot.

On the Amalfi Coast

It’s possible by car, but parking is also challenging, and driving on the mountain serpentine roads can be difficult. The road is relatively good up to Positano, but getting to Amalfi itself can be a real challenge on the mountain roads with heavy traffic.

Parking is expensive during peak season, and you often have to leave your key (parking lots are filled with cars), but we didn’t have such a problem off-season.

You can also travel by bus on the Amalfi Coast, which is much slower than by car.

Additionally, the Travelmar company operates ferries between the major cities.

Best places to visit

Cinque Terre

The best attractions of Cinque Terre are the five villages themselves: Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza, and Monterosso al Mare. Each one offers stunning, colorful views, with plenty of great viewpoints and photo spots. There are also smaller attractions within the villages, such as the Ruins of Doria Tower in Vernazza and the Castello di Riomaggiore.

Amalfi Coast

Although the Amalfi Coast is larger, it doesn’t offer significantly more attractions in terms of quantity. The best places to visit are the small coastal towns of Positano, Amalfi, Praiano and Ravello, with many smaller villages scattered along the way. The best part is that the main road runs along the coast, offering numerous breathtaking views along the way. In Amalfi, you’ll find attractions such as the Amalfi Cathedral and the Torre dello Ziro.

How many days do you need

Time needed to visit Cinque Terre

Cinque Terre can be explored in a single day, but it’s more comfortable to spend 2 or 3 days to truly discover the five villages of Cinque Terre and even explore other interesting places in the area.

Time needed to visit the Amalfi Coast

For the Amalfi Coast, one day is only enough if you stay overnight there, travel during the off-peak season (avoiding traffic jams and parking issues), and only superficially explore the small towns. Therefore, we would recommend 2-3 days for the Amalfi Coast, and even more if you plan to travel to other places.

Best time to visit

When to visit the Cinque Terre

The Cinque Terre has very changeable weather, with frequent rain and sometimes storms. It’s best to visit mostly from spring to fall, and always be prepared for the weather. We really enjoyed April when there weren’t too many tourists yet, and the weather was pleasant for lots of walks. Besides spring, the fall is also a good choice, especially the first half. We do not recommend summer as much because huge crowds overwhelm the villages of Cinque Terre, making your trip less enjoyable.

When to visit the Amalfi Coast

On the Amalfi Coast, you can enjoy a true Mediterranean climate, which is much more favorable for traveling. Generally, we would say that the winter months are less recommended, but we also really enjoyed our visit in January when it was 17°C, flowers were blooming, and there were hardly any people on the streets. But of course, winter is not always so warm, and many things are closed at that time. However, spring and fall are definitely recommended times to visit when there aren’t as many crowds. In the summer, we also do not recommend visiting because of the huge tourist crowds, unless there are no other options.


Both Cinque Terre and Amalfi Coast are more expensive destinations compared to other destinations in Italy, especially when it comes to hotels. The better accommodations can cost several hundred euros per night. If you’re considering budget travel, it’s definitely recommended to visit outside the peak season, and you may need to make significant compromises to travel to these places. Unfortunately, and this is entirely a personal opinion, the accommodation options are quite weak in both places, especially in terms of quality. So if you’re looking for quality accommodation, you may need to pay several hundred euros per night and do a lot of searching. This is especially true for overpriced places with good views, which can cost over 1000 euros per night.

Another option if you want to save money is to stay in one of the nearby cities, such as La Spezia for Cinque Terre, or around Genoa or Pisa, and explore Cinque Terre as a day trip from there. In the case of the Amalfi Coast, you can take day trips from Naples or its surroundings, where you can find more affordable and better-quality accommodations.

If you’re looking for the best views and want to save money, there are also terrace restaurants available, and you don’t necessarily need expensive hotels.

If you’re looking for luxury places, especially on the Amalfi Coast, you’ll find many five-star villas, while there are slightly fewer luxury options in Cinque Terre.

Overall, perhaps Cinque Terre is a slightly cheaper place, where you can roughly cover your daily travel expenses with around 200–300 euros for 2 people. The Amalfi Coast is slightly more expensive, with at least 300–400 euros for 2 people per day, and the sky is the limit.


In our personal opinion, it’s difficult to find good and affordable accommodation both in Cinque Terre and on the Amalfi Coast. We’ve gathered some accommodations locally if you prefer to stay there, and we’ve also selected some hotels with better value further away if you’re willing to visit one of the destinations as a day trip.

Where to stay in the Cinque Terre

Where to stay near the Cinque Terre

Where to stay on the Amalfi Coast

  • Anantara Convento di Amalfi Grand Hotel: A five-star luxury hotel in Amalfi, offering exquisite Amalfi views and first-class services if you’re seeking the best
  • Le Sirenuse: One of Positano’s most renowned five-star luxury hotels. It offers traditional Southern Italian style and stunning views
  • Tramonto d’Oro: A sleek four-star hotel in Praiano, boasting impressive sea views
  • Villa Piedimonte: A four-star hotel in Ravello, blending modern and local styles with stunning views
  • Hotel Le Terrazze: A three-star hotel in Conta dei Marini, a short drive from Amalfi, with seaside views and excellent ratings
  • Angelina Residence: Affordable apartments in Maiori

Where to stay near the Amalfi Coast


Both areas primarily offer typical Italian cuisine, so the selection is very similar. However, there is a big difference in the number of restaurants, as there are many more restaurants on the Amalfi Coast. However, it’s important to note that in the best restaurants, you almost always need to book a table in advance!

In Cinque Terre, the most famous restaurant is undoubtedly Nessun Dorma, where it’s worth trying the locally made pesto. The restaurant also offers pesto making classes.

On the Amalfi Coast, it’s difficult to highlight just one place, but the ones with the best views include Rada Beach Restaurant and Ristorante Bruno in Positano, as well as Le Arcate in Amalfi.

Plus, the Amalfi Coast has a big cult around lemons, so you can find lemon grove restaurants, hotels, and many dishes and drinks made from lemons there. Try Limoncello, have a lemon-filled lemon ice cream in Amalfi, and taste the local lemon dishes.

Furthermore, both areas are famous for their wines. So, if you like wines, go on a wine tour whether you’re traveling to Cinque Terre or Amalfi Coast.

Best things to do

The best things to do are quite similar in both places. However, it’s worth planning ahead for most activities, as many require advance booking.

Here are the top activities for each destination:

Cinque Terre

  • Photography tour: Cinque Terre is undoubtedly a great spot for photography. Explore all five villages and discover their best photo spots!
  • Hiking: The Cinque Terre villages are connected by mountain hiking trails, which are very popular. You need to buy a ticket to use them, which you can also purchase online under the name Cinque Terre Trekking Card. In recent years, some trails have been closed, so it’s worth researching in advance what the current situation is.
  • Boat tours: There are plenty of boat tours available in Cinque Terre, offering stunning views of the colorful villages from the water. It’s worth trying one if you’re there!
  • Wine tours: Cinque Terre is famous for its wines, so if you have time, sign up for a wine tasting or even a full wine tour.
  • Beaches: You’ll mainly find smaller beaches, but Monterosso al Mare has a larger beach that might be worth a visit in summer. However, the area is not particularly known for its beaches.

Amalfi Coast

  • Photography tour: Whether you want to capture streets, beaches, or food, the Amalfi Coast is one of the best spots in Europe for photography. It’s a real Instagram-worthy place.
  • Hiking: The Amalfi Coast’s hiking trails are less known, but there are plenty of hiking opportunities. One of the most recommended is the Path of the Gods trail, and the Valle dei Mulini also has some interesting places to explore.
  • Boat tours: Boat tours are very popular on the Amalfi Coast, offering a unique perspective of the beautiful coastal towns. It’s worth investing in one.
  • Wine tours: The Amalfi Coast also boasts excellent wines, so if you’re a wine lover, taste the local wines with a delicious Italian meal.
  • Beaches: There are many accessible beaches, primarily with dark pebbles. We haven’t tried them, but apparently, they’re not the best beaches.

Day trip opportunities

Day trips from Cinque Terre


Florence is approximately a 2.5-hour drive from Cinque Terre, making it an ideal day trip destination from one to another. Florence is famous for its cultural and historical heritage, with its sights mainly related to this. When visiting Florence, don’t miss the Florence Cathedral and the Ponte Vecchio, which are the main symbols of the city. You’ll also find other attractions in the old town, such as the Palazzo Vecchio, the Piazza della Repubblica, and the Palazzo Pitti. In addition, the city is famous for Michelangelo’s David statue, which you can see in the Galleria dell’Accademia. We believe that the best view is from Piazzale Michelangelo on the hilltop, so it’s worth a visit there too.


Pisa is situated about a 1.5-hour drive from Cinque Terre, making it another excellent day trip option. Pisa is most renowned for its iconic Leaning Tower, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In addition to the Leaning Tower, other notable attractions in Pisa include the Pisa Cathedral and the Baptistery. In Pisa, you can also explore the picturesque streets of the old town, lined with historic buildings, charming cafés, and local shops. Additionally, Pisa boasts several museums, such as the Museo delle Sinopie and the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo, where you can learn more about the city’s rich history and art.


Milan, a 3-hour drive from Cinque Terre, boasts Italy’s fashion hub with high-end shopping streets and iconic landmarks. The majestic Milan Cathedral and the elegant Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II are must-see attractions. Don’t miss the trendy neighborhoods of Brera and Navigli for charming streets and lively nightlife. Conclude your day with a visit to the grand Arco della Pace. Milan offers a cosmopolitan vibe and diverse experiences for a memorable day trip.

Day trips from Amalfi Coast


Naples is a perfect day trip destination from the Amalfi Coast. Known for its rich history and culinary delights, Naples offers a blend of cultural and gastronomic experiences. Explore the historic city center, with landmarks like the Naples Cathedral and the Royal Palace of Naples. Don’t miss the opportunity to visit the archaeological wonders of Pompeii or Herculaneum, buried by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius. Taste the authentic Neapolitan pizza or indulge in sfogliatella pastries. Complete your day with a stroll along the picturesque Naples waterfront, soaking in the Mediterranean charm.


Capri, accessible by ferry from Amalfi, Sorrento, and Naples, is a captivating island for a day trip. Renowned for its natural beauty and glamorous atmosphere, Capri offers a range of attractions. Explore the enchanting Blue Grotto, a sea cave illuminated by a brilliant blue light. Take a chairlift ride to the summit of Monte Solaro for panoramic views of the island and the surrounding sea. Wander through the charming streets of Capri Town, lined with upscale boutiques and inviting restaurants. Capture unforgettable memories against the backdrop of Capri’s stunning landscapes.

Conclusion: Cinque Terre or Amalfi Coast: Which coastal destination to choose?

So that was the comparison of Amalfi Coast vs Cinque Terre. We hope our guide has been able to help you decide and provide enough information to determine which destination is best for you.

What’s our conclusion? To choose the one that fits better into your Italy itinerary.

Both destinations are among the best places in Italy and the choice is very difficult. Whether you choose Cinque Terre or visit Amalfi Coast, you’re almost guaranteed to have an unforgettable experience. And if you have the opportunity to visit both, even better – why not enjoy both!

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