Cinque Terre Vs. Amalfi Coast: 7 Key Differences To Know Before You Go

Cinque Terre Vs. Amalfi Coast: 7 Key Differences To Know Before You Go

It is difficult to decide whether to include Cinque Terre or the Amalfi Coast in your Italian itinerary. When I was planning my first trip to Italy I had to make this decision myself. Both areas have gorgeous seaside locations, great food, and great hiking trails, but they also have many differences.

The Amalfi Coast is a stretch of coastline in Southern Italy that has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage site. It is an easy trip from Naples to visit sites such as the Island of Capri, Mount Vesuvius and Pompeii.

There are five distinct villages on the northwest coast of Italy that make up the UNESCO World Heritage Sites of Cinque Terre. The five villages of Cinque Terre are more remote, but they are connected by hiking trails and a regional train. One of the most stunning coastlines in the world can be found in Cinque Terre.

It can be difficult to choose between the two beautiful destinations in Italy, which both offer visitors plenty of opportunities to enjoy an incredible beach holiday. There are some differences between the Amalfi Coast and Cinque Terre. By the end of it, you will have a decision to make.

1. Which Is Easier To Get To?

If you’re trying to decide between the Amalfi Coast and Cinque Terre, you’re probably going to include these as part of a larger Italian itinerary. The flow of your itinerary is a big factor in your decision.

If Arriving From Rome Or Naples…

If you spend a lot of time in Southern Italy, then the Amalfi Coast will fit into your itinerary. The Amalfi Coast is close by from Naples. Private drivers, regional buses, and ferries can be used to get to the Amalfi Coast from Naples.

Aerial view of Cinque Terre in Italy
Aerial view of Cinque Terre

Whatafoto has a photo

If Arriving From Milan…

The closest airport is Milan, which is three hours away, since the Terre Cinque is located in the Northwest portion of Italy. An itinerary that focuses on Northern Italy and includes Milan, northern Tuscany, and possibly the Lake Como area is easy to combine with.

2. Which Has Better Access To Beaches?

Most of the beaches in Italy are not made of soft white sand like in Mexico or the Caribbean. If that is the type of beach you are looking for, then you need to know that it is difficult to find in Italy.

Positano Beach - Amalfi Coast, Italy
Positano Beach on the Amalfi Coast

Credit: lukaszimilena

Amalfi Coast Beaches

The majority of Italy’s beaches are gravel, and there are plenty of them on the Amalfi Coast. There are 13 villages on the Amalfi Coast and many have beaches. You can lounge by the ocean in the Amalfi Coast towns of Positano, Amalfi, Ravello, and Maiori.

Monterosso al Mare beach at sunset - Cinque Terre in Italy
Monterosso al Mare beach at sunset in Cinque Terre

There is a photo of Sabine Klein on Shutterstock.com.

The Beach In Cinque Terre

In contrast to this, the only real beach in the area is located in the town of Monterosso. Corniglia is not built directly on the sea, but three other villages are set on rocky outcroppings. You can find sunbathers on the rocky outcropping by the sea, but there is only one true beach in the area.

3. Which One Is Easier To Get Around?

I advise you not to get a car to go to either the Amalfi Coast or the Cinque Terre. The Amalfi Coast is so crowded with traffic that it is difficult to navigate in the high season, even though it is closed to cars.

Train at station in Manarola - Cinque Terre, Italy
Train in Manarola in Cinque Terre

Julia Lav has a photo on Shutterstock.com.

Cinque Terre Is Meant To Be Explored

If you want to visit several of the villages in the region, Cinque Terre is the best choice. The regional train can take you to all five villages of the Cinque Terre. You can be at the next village in 5 minutes or less. Many of the villages are also connected by hiking scenic trails. The hiking trails here can be difficult. Many of the trails have stairs, and are on natural terrain.

Expect Delays On The Amalfi Coast

If you want to visit several villages on the Amalfi Coast, you have to travel by private car, public bus, taxi, or boat. Traffic on the Amalfi Coast roads is terrible, so expect delays when traveling by vehicle between towns.

4. Which One Offers Better Accommodations?

It depends on what you like. There is a clear choice if you want a more personal Italian experience, and there is another if you want lavish living.

Luxury pool overlooking the ocean - Amalfi Coast, Italy
Luxury resort pool on the Amalfi Coast

The photo is from leoks.com

Luxury On The Amalfi Coast

If your idea of a perfect vacation is staying in a fancy resort with a pool and room service, then the Amalfi Coast is the place for you. The Amalfi Coast has a history of being a tourist hot spot, so you will have your choice of luxury resorts. You can still find quaint B&Bs on the Amalfi Coast, especially in lesser known towns.

Intimacy In Cinque Terre

Cinque Terre was recently discovered to be a tourist destination. Most of the accommodations in Cinque Terre are family-run B&Bs and small boutique hotels. It doesn’t mean the accommodations in Cinque Terre aren’t nice, it just means they are more intimate and economical.

5. Which Is More Expensive?

The cost of the Amalfi Coast is more expensive during high season, but the cost of the Cinque Terre is less expensive.

Shell Out For Luxury On The Amalfi Coast

The Amalfi Coast is home to many 5-star restaurants that come with a hefty price tag. When you combine that with the fact that the Amalfi Coast region is full during high season, these restaurants can charge more. When visiting the Amalfi Coast, you can expect to pay more for tours and entertainment because of this law of supply and demand.

Save In Cinque Terre

During high season, the Amalfi Coast is more crowded than in Cinque Terre. The more budget-friendly restaurants of the Cinque Terre make them the more affordable of the two.

The price of accommodations in Cinque Terre is lower during the high season than it is in the Amalfi Coast. The affordable accommodations found in Cinque Terre and the fact that the Amalfi Coast is at capacity during the high season are some of the reasons why this is possible. The prices of available rooms on the Amalfi Coast go up during this time of year due to the increased demand for accommodations.

6. Which Is Better For Hiking?

Both destinations have their own set of benefits and factors that they consider.

hiking trails in vineyard overlooking Manarola - Cinque Terre National Park
Hiking trail overlooking Manarola in Cinque Terre

The photo was taken by Simon Dannhauer

Hike From Village To Village In Cinque Terre

The trails through the national park of the Cinque Terre are spectacular and are popular with most people. If you want to hike, then I would pick Cinque Terre. There are a few things to remember before making that decision. The trails get crowded in the high season. If you combine that with the fact that many of them are narrow with sheer drops off of a side, hiking the Cinque Terre might not be the best idea.

Path of the Gods hiking trail - Amalfi Coast, Italy
Path of the Gods hiking trail on the Amalfi Coast

Mihael Grmek has a photo on Shutterstock.com.

Hike The Clifftops Of The Amalfi Coast

There are great hiking trails on the Amalfi Coast. The path of the Gods is a clifftop hike with beautiful views. It is important to remember that this is a moderately difficult hike. There is a steep staircase leading to the trail if you start in the towns of Positano or Praiano. There are a number of short hikes in the area.

I would have to say that the one that is better for hiking is a tie.

7. Which Is Better For Day Trips?

If you want to use one of these towns as your home base, then you should choose the Amalfi Coast.

The city of Pisa in Italy.
Pisa, Italy (Photo Credit: lkonya / Shutterstock.com)

Cinque Terre Is A Destination All Its Own

The Cinque Terre is not a good place to go for a day trip from. If you want to do a day trip, there are a couple of towns nearby that you could go to. You can visit Pisa and see the Leaning Tower of Pisa, as well as go to the coastal town of Porto Verne to see the impressive fortress or scuba dive.

Boat in the Blue Grotto - Capri, Italy
Blue Grotto in Capri, Italy

There is a photo Credit: Gimas.

Amalfi Coast Is A Great Home Base

The Amalfi Coast is a great place to call home during your vacation and there are a lot of opportunities for day trips there. You can ride a chairlift to the top of Mount Solarno if you visit the Blue Grotto on the island of Capri. The ancient city of Pompeii, a hike on Mount Vesuvius and the city of Naples are some of the easy day trips from the Amalfi Coast.

So, Cinque Terre Or The Amalfi Coast?

It depends on your travel expectations and itinerary. Travelers can enjoy a unique and fun experience in both the north and south of the Amalfi Coast. Both have great food and nice hiking trails. The Amalfi Coast has more luxury and access to the rest of Italy, but it comes at a price. It isn’t as well known as the Amalfi Coast, but it is more secluded and less commercialized.

You can’t go wrong by adding these areas to your itinerary.

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