Cinque Terre vs Amalfi Coast: Which Coastal Destination in Italy to Visit?

Amalfi Coast or Cinque Terre: Which Coastal Destination in Italy Is Better?

Two sun-dappled regions in the Mediterranean await — which one’s your pick?

Travelling to sun-kissed Italy? A beautiful country embraced by the glittering Mediterranean Sea, it’s the perfect backdrop to your European summer holiday. And if it’s a coastal escape you’re seeking, the choice will typically boil down between two of Italy’s chicest seaside retreats: Cinque Terre vs Amalfi Coast. Dramatic cliffs, colourful little villages, and azure waters await travellers either way. That said, these two coastal paradises are both unique enough to promise entirely different summer experiences. 

Is Amalfi Coast or Cinque Terre better? Tough question, but we’ve got you covered! Keep reading for our breakdown of these sun-dappled destinations in coastal Italy.

Also read: 10 Best European Countries That Won’t Break the Bank

1. Location

One of the biggest factors in deciding between Cinque Terre and Amalfi Coast is the location. After all, most travellers aren’t planning to visit just one Italian destination. Depending on the other places in your itinerary, it might be easier and more practical to choose one over the other. 

Amalfi Coast

amalfi coast

Cinque Terre vs Amalfi Coast: Expect epic road trips on the Amalfi Coast. | Image credit: ezypix via Canva Pro

Nestled in the Campania region in Southern Italy, the Amalfi Coast features beautiful (albeit narrow) coastal roads taking travellers through famous towns like Positano, Amalfi, and Ravello. Jaw-dropping road trips offer awe-inspiring sights along the sea, but travellers who don’t want to drive can also hop on a public bus or ferry to explore the region’s towns and beaches. 

If you’re visiting the Amalfi Coast, you’ll be an hour’s drive away from Naples. Other nearby tourist destinations include Capri, Mount Vesuvius, and Pompeii.

Cinque Terre

The smaller size of Cinque Terre means you can hit all the major sights in a few days. | Image credit: Mike L

The question comes up often: Is Cinque Terre on the Amalfi Coast? No, it’s not; Cinque Terre sits in the northern region of the country, a part of the scenic Italian Riviera coast. It’s home to five colourful fishing villages, Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore; each one is perched on rugged cliffs overlooking the Ligurian Sea

Smaller than the Amalfi Coast, Cinque Terre is easier and faster to tour — you can even hike between towns, if you’re willing to stretch your legs in between sightseeing. Train services also run frequently between the different Cinque Terre towns.

Additionally, a lot of famous Italian destinations are close to Cinque Terre. Some of the most popular include Pisa, Florence, Milan, and even some of the most picturesque villages of Tuscany.

Also read: 8 Dreamiest Towns in Italy That Will Steal Your Heart

2. Beaches

We know, we know. A vacation on the Italian coast requires copious amounts of beach time! Luckily, you’ll have endless coastlines to enjoy at these two destinations. Beaches in coastal Italy boast a rugged type of beauty: Dazzling blue waters kiss rocky shores against a backdrop of colourful houses and lush cliffs, whether you’re in Cinque Terre or the Amalfi Coast. 

Amalfi Coast

marina grande positano amalfi coast

Cinque Terre vs Amalfi Coast: When it comes to beaches, the latter is hard to beat. | Image credit: Anastasia Collection via Canva Pro

Travel to Southern Italy and play on the sun-dappled shores of the Amalfi Coast, home to countless beaches offering sun-seekers their own slice of Mediterranean paradise. 

Travellers who want a taste of the Amalfi Coast’s glitzy side can head to the beautiful Marina Grande Beach in Positano. Here, stylish restaurants and cafes line the shore, while vibrant beach umbrellas and sunbeds offer a fantastic place to soak up the sun after a quick swim. By far, this is the Amalfi Coast’s most popular beach among locals, globetrotters, and the rich and famous. Even if you don’t plan on grabbing a spot on the shore, it’s worth stopping by for lunch or a glass of prosecco just to get a feel of the glamorous Amalfi vibes.

Looking for a quieter beach in Positano? Fornillo Beach may be more your scene; although it still gets crowded during summertime, the atmosphere is more relaxed than its bigger sibling nearby. 

minori beach

Minori Beach | Image credit: alxpin via Canva Pro

Another exceptional choice for shore time on the Amalfi Coast is Spiaggia di Maiori. A beach lover’s dream, this sprawling golden beach is one of the few sandy beaches on the coast. It’s also the longest beach on the Amalfi Coast — even during peak seasons, you’re unlikely to run out of space on the shores of Spiaggia di Maiori! 

Truly, you’ll never run out of beaches to explore: buzzy Marina Grande Beach and water sports haven Duoglio Beach in Amalfi Town; tiny and oft-photographed Fiordo di Furore in Furore; picturesque Minori Beach in Minori; and the list goes on and on. If you’re fantasising about a sun-soaked beach getaway, the Amalfi Coast won’t disappoint. 

Cinque Terre

cinque terre vs amalfi coast: which is better

Monterosso al Mare | Image credit: fokkebok via Canva Pro

In contrast to the countless beaches of the Amalfi Coast, Cinque Terre really only has one town perfect for beachcombers: Monterosso. Home to the only sandy beach in Cinque Terre, it’s undoubtedly the best spot in the region for sunning and swimming. 

Beach clubs dot the shore for travellers who are willing to shell out some cash for a sunbed, a colourful parasol, and a premium slice of the beach. There’s also a small public section of the beach, but you’ll want to come early to claim a good spot on the sands. 

manarola italy

Manarola | Image credit: swedishmonica via Canva Pro

While the other towns of Cinque Terre aren’t as much of a beach destination as Monterosso or the Amalfi Coast, there are a number of tiny beaches worth checking out on balmy summer days. From the cosy harbourside beach in Vernazza to the rocks at Manarola, you’ll have plenty of seaside fun to uncover here.  

Also read: 8 Hidden Beaches in Italy That Only Locals Know About

3. Hiking

Dramatic coastal landscapes and rugged cliffs promise epic hikes for active travellers on vacation in the Amalfi Coast or Cinque Terre. Yes, lounging by the beach may be the top priority! But if you get the urge to get up and explore for a few hours, outdoor adventures lie in wait, too. 

Amalfi Coast

amalfi coast or cinque terre in italy

Path of the Gods | Image credit: blueorangestudio via Canva Pro

Amalfi Coast is home to an abundance of natural beauty, and it doesn’t stop at stunning beaches. Bask in some of the most spectacular views in the region by setting off on foot; you’ll have plenty of footpaths to choose from, whether you’re a novice or an experienced hiker.  

No doubt about it, the most famous hiking trail on the Amalfi Coast is the Path of the Gods, also known among locals as Sentiero degli Dei. Dizzyingly steep yet mostly flat and winding, the clifftop hike rewards explorers with awe-inspiring vistas of azure waters, mountains, valleys, and villages. The famous route extends around seven kilometres between Bomerano and Nocelle; travellers can start their journey on either end. 

Valle delle Ferriere | Image credit: Angelo Benincasa via Canva Pro

For some variety, take on the underrated yet beautiful Valle delle Ferriere. The loop takes intrepid travellers deep in the valleys near Amalfi Town, walking through running streams, waterfalls, lush forests, and the ruins of long-gone paper factories. An enchanting setting that’s a refreshing break from the beachy Amalfi Coast, Valle delle Ferriere is certainly worth exploring. 

Other great trails on the Amalfi Coast include Santa Marina del Castello and Punta Campanella.

Cinque Terre

Cinque Terre vs Amalfi Coast: For hikers, the edge goes to the former. | Image credit: Photocreo via Canva Pro

If you’re a hiking enthusiast, then you can’t miss exploring Cinque Terre on foot. It’s famously known for its Blue Trail, a scenic 11-kilometre route that links all five towns of the region. In ancient times, the only way to travel between the different towns was on foot — in a way, you’ll be travelling back in time on this well-trodden route. 

Follow the natural footpaths on the Blue Trail, which lead to the breathtaking scenery of the sea and panoramic views of the pastel-hued towns. Expect narrow paths, uneven terrain, and extremely steep drops. So, make sure you pay attention to where you’re going! That said, you’d be hard-pressed to find more drop-dead gorgeous views of the Mediterranean. 

Monterosso al Mare | Image credit: Anna Litvinova via Canva Pro

If you’re uncertain about hiking the entire route — it takes about five hours — pick a single section instead. The path between Riomaggiore to Manarola, affectionately dubbed Lover’s Lane, is quite easy; it’s only about a kilometre and a half. There are also trails leading to the village sanctuaries with beautiful views. 

As one of Italy’s most popular hiking destinations, Cinque Terre gets its fair share of adventurers, especially in the peak hiking season from May to September. During these months, you’ll probably share the trails with sizeable crowds. 

4. Culture

There’s no shortage of culture in beautiful Italy — and that goes for its coastal destinations, too. Cinque Terre vs the Amalfi Coast? For culture vultures, the cultural attractions may tip the scales. 

Amalfi Coast

amalfi coast vs cinque terre

Ravello, Amalfi Coast | Image credit: Anastasia Collection via Canva Pro

The sheer size of the Amalfi Coast guarantees exposure to a wide range of historical, cultural, and architectural attractions. Here, each major town boasts its own set of cultural gems: the magnificent villas and gardens of Ravello; St Andrew’s relics in Piazza del Duomo in Amalfi Town; and the Cathedral of Saint Mary in Positano. 

Discover a thriving arts scene in the region, too; if you’re interested in sculptures, it’s worth visiting key galleries, such as Franco Senesi in Positano and the watchtower-turned-gallery Torre a Mare in Praiano.

Cinque Terre

Vernazza, Cinque Terre | Image credit: rabbit75_cav via Canva Pro

Done hiking and swimming through Cinque Terre? Perhaps it’s time to slow down and explore the cultural sights of the region. Cinque Terre may be smaller than the Amalfi Coast, but it hides several cultural gems for travellers ready to immerse themselves in the towns’ history, architecture, and way of life. 

Cultural travellers can’t miss seeing the old churches of Cinque Terre, a testament to the rich history of these tiny villages. Must-visits include the 14th-century Church of St. Margaret of Antioch in the old harbour of Vernazza and the 14th-century Chiesa San Giovanni Battista in Monterosso al Mare. 

Not keen on sacred spaces? Instead, learn more about the region’s history at the small yet excellently curated Museo delle Cinque Terre Antiche in Riomaggiore.

5. Food and drinks

Ah, Italian food. Foodies from all over the world dream about indulging in the country’s exceptional food and wine. For gastronomic travellers eating their way to coastal Italy, the only question is where to go: Cinque Terre vs Amalfi Coast? 

Amalfi Coast

amalfi coast lemons

Cinque Terre vs Amalfi Coast: The yummy limoncello will keep you coming back to the latter. | Image credit: barmalini via Canva Pro

Famed for producing some of the best lemons in the world, Amalfi Coast reigns supreme when it comes to citrus-based flavours. Besides incorporating the fruit as an ingredient in classic Italian fare, locals use lemons to create tasty treats such as lemon pastries and the ultra-refreshing limoncello. For the main course, it’s not an Amalfi Coast holiday without sampling fresh seafood!

As it is the well-loved playground of the rich and famous, it’s not surprising to find luxurious dining experiences on the Amalfi Coast. Upscale dining spots and Michelin-starred restaurants promise an unforgettable meal for foodies, as well as a greater variety of cuisines than the classic fare in Cinque Terre. However, expect to pay considerably more, too. 

Cinque Terre

focaccia bread

Cinque Terre vs Amalfi Coast: Focaccia bread originated from the former. | Image credit: AGfoto via Canva Pro

Sure, the Amalfi Coast may be flashier. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t one-of-a-kind gastronomic experiences in Cinque Terre, too. It’s believed to be the birthplace of focaccia, so pop in a few focaccia shops to enjoy warm bread with a variety of toppings. Pesto and seafood are also local specialities. 

Wine connoisseurs will fall in love with Cinque Terre, a region long celebrated for its vineyards and delicious vino. Sip sweet schiacchetrà with cheese or desserts — even if you’re not a wine lover, it’s worth sampling the regional favourite.

6. Cost and accommodations

When it comes to planning a vacation to Amalfi Coast or Cinque Terre, we can’t forget about the practical details: budget and accommodations.

Amalfi Coast

amalfi coast

Image credit: romanbabakin via Canva Pro

As one of Europe’s most glorious coastal destinations, the Amalfi Coast is home to an impressive collection of luxury resorts and villas. Finding upscale accommodations in this part of Italy isn’t difficult — in fact, you better book early to catch the best ones, especially in popular towns like Positano. Beyond the five-star hotels and resorts, there are also exceptional Airbnbs on the Amalfi Coast for travellers of all budgets. 

It’s best to prepare your wallet, though: Amalfi Coast is pricey, a glitzy destination where you’ll have to pay more for hotels, food, and activities. We still say the trip is worth it, of course — but a vacation on the Amalfi Coast will definitely make a pretty big dent in your bank account!


Cinque Terre

cinque terre vs amalfi coast

Cinque Terre vs Amalfi Coast: Pastel-coloured buildings in Cinque Terre makes it an eye-catching destination. | Image credit: ELENAPHOTOS via Canva Pro

Cinque Terre is just as much of a tourist destination as the Amalfi Coast, but it exudes a more relaxed atmosphere than the Southern Italy destination. Don’t expect luxury stays in this colourful region; instead, there are more Airbnbs and family-run guesthouses

It’s not exactly cheap as there are limited choices, but prices aren’t as steep as Amalfi Coast accommodations either. The same goes for food and tours; budget-conscious travellers will appreciate saving a few bucks in Cinque Terre. 


The TZ verdict: Cinque Terre vs Amalfi Coast

cinque terre vs amalfi coast

Image credit (L-R): Simon Nham; Rahul Chakraborty

Whether you’re off to the Amalfi Coast or Cinque Terre, you’re destined for a dreamy Italian getaway with spectacular scenery, beautiful architecture, and mouthwatering food. 

But here’s the thing: There’s much more to see on the Amalfi Coast. After all, it’s more than twice as big with a whole lot more places to explore. So, if you’re planning a longer vacation wandering picturesque Italian towns, then the Amalfi Coast may be the perfect fit. It’s also ideal if Naples and other Southern Italy destinations are part of your plans. 

The endless coastline is also a blissful paradise for beach lovers. Not only does the Amalfi Coast have more beaches, but it also has better ones than its northern counterpart. Meanwhile, the wide range of accommodations is convenient for travellers. That said, an Amalfi Coast getaway requires a bigger budget, too. 

amalfi coast or cinque terre

Image credit (L-R): Anastasia Collection via Canva Pro; ELENAPHOTOS via Canva Pro

On the other hand, the smaller Cinque Terre is your pick if you want to explore the region in a shorter time frame. Scenic hiking trails promise adventures to intrepid travellers. With the region’s five villages strung next to each other, everything is relatively within reach. It also makes for a better fit in your itinerary if you’re visiting Florence, Milan, and other places in northern Italy. 

Backpackers tend to suit this destination better; besides the possibility of hiking between villages, there’s a good train system looping through the region. From accommodations to food, prices here are a bit lower than those in the Amalfi Coast.

Also read: Paris vs. Milan: Which Fashion Capital in Europe Should You Visit First?

Torn on Cinque Terre vs Amalfi Coast? It’s definitely a challenge, but we hope this breakdown between the two destinations helped. Either way, you’re in for an awe-inspiring getaway in coastal Italy.

About Author

Celia Grace Nachura
Celia Grace Nachura

There are very few things Celia won’t do for a good story, but her favourite ones always involve the beach, animals, or any type of outdoor activity. She’s been writing for as long as she can remember, and can usually be found typing away at home with her cute dogs at her feet. Away from work, she spends most of her time trying out every hobby she can get her hands on, from running to crocheting to baking (she’s pretty okay at most things that don't involve cooking).