Visiting the legendary and popular Cinque Terre with kids is a trip planning feat that requires some creativity. This is especially so during high season for families traveling in Italy with kids. Every year we receive a wide range of requests from parents as to how best to incorporate a stop in Cinque Terre into their family holiday in Italy, with considerations such as: “Is it realistic to do it as a day trip from Florence or Tuscany?” “Which hikes can the children do and which village is best for family lodging?” “Will we need a car?” “What other activities are there to do in the area for families traveling with kids?” We have assembled our best suggestions here.
Where to Stay in Cinque Terre with Kids
Option 1: If you would like to stay in the Cinque Terre area itself (as opposed to a day trip), consider staying in a nearby town either to the north or the south of the national park with ports that conveniently service Cinque Terre by ferry. The fortress town of Portovenere to the south of Riomaggiore is a great option. Ferries depart every half hour for the Cinque Terre ports–it takes 30 minutes to reach Riomaggiore, and your unlimited day ticket will allow you to hop on and hop off at Riomaggiore, Manorola, Vernazza, and Monterosso. This unlimited ferry ticket is 30 euro for adults and 16 euro for kids. Options to the north of Cinque Terre include Lerici and Levanto.
Option 2: Visiting Cinque Terre as a day trip from Florence or certain areas of Tuscany can be a very long day for families traveling with kids. If this day trip is a must-do on your family Tuscany itinerary, then we suggest staying in the area around Lucca (in fact, visiting Lucca with kids is in our opinion a must-do in general for families visiting Tuscany). It is only a 30-minute drive from Lucca to the Tuscan coastal town of Viareggio, from where you can catch a ferry to Cinque Terre for an easy day trip seasonally from June 18-September 11, departing daily at 9:00 am and returning at 6:30 pm, with a 1-hour stop in Portovenere and a 3-hour stop in Monterosso.
Option 3: Just for fun…how about sailing?! Not Ordinary Ways, a local tour company in Lucca, offers a 2-night sailing cruise for up to 6 people on a 13-meter sailboat, with lodging in 3 double cabins with private shower bathrooms. The excursion includes breakfast, lunch, and dinner daily (freshly caught fish, of course) and shore excursions to Portovenere, the Cinque Terre villages, and Lerici, plus “nice music,” always a bonus. The Golf of the Poets has other fantastic islands to explore in easy proximity to the Cinque Terre National Park. In fact, one of our favorite of these islands off of Portovenere has a wonderful seafood restaurant on it. The cost for 6 people ranges from 370-455 euro and for 4 people ranges from 470-590 euro depending on the season.
For specific tips on which paths to choose, see our post on Hiking Cinque Terre with Kids.
How to Arrive to Cinque Terre with Kids
When considering a visit to Cinque Terre, it is first necessary to have a clear understanding of the terrain. It is a rugged landscape of cliffs plunging into the sea, traversed by hiking paths. The destination is not reachable by car, and is difficult to get to by train as it is serviced by small regional train lines so typically a few changes will be necessary to arrive at your destination, especially if you are planning to arrive by fast train from a distance.
By car: There is parking available in some areas behind the villages, for example about a half mile behind Vernazza, but these tend to be very crowded for such small, narrow streets. If traveling by car for the day, you might want to consider parking in La Spezia and taking the train.
By train: If you are arriving from destinations like Milan or Rome, there is an Intercity train to La Spezia, and then you can change trains to catch the regional lines to the Cinque Terre towns. If arriving from Venice, however, you will take the fast train to Florence, then the Intercity to La Spezia, and then change to the regional lines. Logistically, this many changes can be difficult for families, especially when trains are crowded.
By boat: (Hint–our top choice for how to arrive to Cinque Terre with Kids!) The Cinque Terre ports on the sea are easily accessed by the ferry lines running from ports to the north, such as Genoa and Santa Margherita Ligure, and ports to the south from Portovenere on down to Viarreggio. You can find information about Cinque Terre ferry timetables and prices on the official maritime Cinque Terre Ferries site here.
Lodging in Cinque Terre with Kids
Portovenere: The Grand Hotel Portovenere is a classic seafront hotel and convenient base for visiting the Cinque Terre with kids. Family rooms include suites and doubles that can have up to 2 rollaway beds added. Families can enjoy the seaview terraces and the waterfront pool.
Lerici: Mediterranea in Lerici offers seaview apartments with access to the beach, a pool, garden and BBQ facilities. The town of Lerici is a great alternative to staying in one of the Cinque Terre villages as the beaches are very family friendly, and it is much less crowded with more of a local atmosphere, yet very convenient to exploring all that the area has to offer.
Lucca: Villa Sardini is an olive farm and vineyard set in the Lucca hills in the beautiful Pieve Santo Stefano area, which is conveniently close to Lucca center, while also close to the road leading to the beach from Lucca, and to the ports near Viareggio (Marina di Camiore is best) for catching the ferry to Cinque Terre. Lodging options include one- and two-bedroom apartments, with a nice pool and beautiful Tuscan estate to enjoy the best of both worlds–beach and countryside. You will find plenty of family fun in Lucca, too, from Art Workshops for Kids to Biking on the Lucca City Walls!
Monterosso al Mare: Agriturismo Buranco is a family-run olive farm and vineyard that produces its own honey and other products. It is only 650 feet from a nice sandy beach with kid-friendly swimming (not the norm for Cinque Terre swimming), and accessible by car. It offers one- and two-bedroom self-catering apartments with kitchens.
Plan Your Trip
Use our Italy Trip Planning Tool to create an account for your own personal Italy family travel inspiration. Save this article along with other information of interest so that you can gather all of your Italy with kids research in one place. For assistance with planning your trip through our Italy Trip Planning Concierge, please contact us.
Add to favorites