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The national park of Cinque Terre, more commonly known as just Cinque Terre, is an area of 5 picturesque villages in the region of Liguria between the towns of La Spezia and Levanto. Any visit to this part of Italy in the summer wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the villages and the Cinque Terre beaches.
The villages are known for their colorful houses and are set on imposing cliffs. As such, they provide opportunities for small and larger beaches alike, just a couple hundred of meters from the village centers.
Keep reading to learn everything you’ll wanna know about Cinque Terre beaches.
Please be advised that this post is just to share some of the beaches in Cinque Terre. Some of them are no longer. If you do visit the ones that are no longer safe to visit, you do so at your own risk.
How to Get to Cinque Terre
You can get to the Cinque Terre in one of three ways:
- By car
- By boat
- By train
If you’re planning on visiting by car, you should know that this is by far the worst way to visit and isn’t recommended. The historical centers of the villages are closed to traffic, not to mention the incredibly narrow, hilly, and winding roads.
However, if you do decide to go by car, Monterosso is your best bet with a large open parking lot, while Riomaggiore and Manarola have smaller parking facilities with minibus access that can take your luggage into the village if you’re staying there.
Visiting Cinque Terre by boat is a great option if you’re coming between April 1 and November 1. There are a number of ferry boats running from La Spezia, Portovenere, and Levanto to all villages except Corniglia, the only one of the five villages that don’t have water access.
Getting a day ticket is your best option, allowing you to use the ferries as a hop-on-hop-off service and take as many journeys as you like during the day. The ferries don’t run in bad weather, so check the forecast before you go.
By far the best and easiest option for visiting is by train. From La Spezia, the closest large town, the Cinque Terre Express runs every 20 minutes from mid-March until November 1.
The train stops in all five villages, and with the Cinque Terre Train Card, you get unlimited train journeys between La Spezia and Levanto, as well as free use of the eco buses and access to all walking paths. But the best part about visiting by train is getting to relax and not worry about parking or long hike times between villages and enjoying the spectacular scenery.
Best Time to Visit the Beaches in Cinque Terre
Just like most beaches in the Northern hemisphere, Cinque Terre beaches are best visited during summer. If you want to tan and swim, I’d suggest visiting between June and September. Of course, as goes for many places around Europe, July and August are the hottest and busiest months of the year.
The beaches around Cinque Terre aren’t too big, so the perfect time to avoid the crowds but still take in the warm weather and catch a swim would be in September. The sea is warmer by September as well, perfect if you don’t want to be too cold.
9 Can’t-Miss Cinque Terre Beaches
While the Cinque Terre beaches might not be the long, sandy strips of paradise, there are still gems among them and worth a visit for a different beach experience.
Especially if you’re visiting in July and August, they might be busy and bustling with people, but a short dip in the sea is sure to cool you off even on the hottest summer days.
There’s a public beach in Riomaggiore just east of the village. To reach the stoney beach, follow the signs for the marina and then follow the steps around the ferry dock, and you’ll reach the beach.
Access to the beach is free of charge, and the beach has no amenities save for a shower with fresh water. The beach is sunny and offers no possibilities of shade during the day, but you can enjoy a little shade under the cliffs in the late afternoon. Of course, since this beach is stoney, there is the promise of crystal clear water.
The Corniglia beach is a long stretch of stones under the reinforcement wall of the railway. This Cinque Terre beach is close to the train station and is free to access without any amenities.
A larger beach than some of the others, this beach might be a good choice if you’re visiting Cinque Terre during the busier months of July and August. Just be aware that there’s absolutely no shade here, so bring an umbrella to hide from the sun.
Otherwise, this beach is an excellent choice for swimming and relaxing without the bustle of a village nearby.
You have a couple of options if you want some beach time in Vernazza. One is the rocky pier right next to the village harbor that’s more of a space to put down your towel, jump in the sea for a cooling swim and then move on.
Another option is to have a swim in Vernazza’s natural harbor, right in the village center, where you have the added benefit of a small stretch of sand and calm waters.
The last option is a rocky beach just outside town under the imposing cliffs of the Ligurian hills. This is the largest beach in this area and the most beach-like of them all.
As you’re probably used to by now, there’s almost no shade, and the ground is made up of stones. The access to the sea is a bit difficult here, with the same large rocks shielding the beach from the strength of the sea, proving an obstacle to step over on your way to the sea.
Monterosso Beach (Old Town)
The old town beach in Monterosso is quite different from most other Cinque Terre beaches. While the beach is still near the village center, this one is a lovely stretch of sand.
The sandy beach is divided into a public and private beach, with the private part belonging to a Monterosso boating club. The parts are divided by a rope fence, so just head for the not-fenced part.
The public beach is free and offers a chance to rent deck chairs and umbrellas for a little shade. There’s also a pedal boat rental that offers pedal boats with and without slides for added fun.
Right by the beach is a couple of bars if you get thirsty. The beach isn’t too big and can get crowded so if you’d like a full day in the sun, try to get there early.
This beach isn’t really part of what most people think of when you mention Cinque Terre. It’s situated in the center of Levanto, a village just a 15 min train journey from Monterosso al Mare, the closest of the five villages.
The beach is a mix of sand and small stones and is neatly divided into sections with jetties to keep the waters calmer. The beach offers beach bars and restrooms and ample opportunities for water activities.
There are rental opportunities for stand-up paddle boards, surfboards, and even a diving center. Like on most Italian beaches, there are deck chair and umbrella combos available for rent and plenty of empty space if you’d rather bring your own.
Right by the Monterosso train station lays Fegina beach. This is another one of the public beaches with unrestricted access. It’s backed by the railway and is in the newer part of the village of Monterosso. This is the most famous Cinque Terre beach and the one most often chosen by tourists.
By the beach, there is no shortage of beach bars, ice cream parlors, and restaurants where you can pick up a bite to eat. There are also pedal boat and kayak rentals for those of you who like to get active.
Because there’s no natural shade, renting deck chairs and umbrellas is an excellent idea. The crystal clear water is shallow for a couple of meters before it deepens quickly, so it’s perfect for children and adults alike.
Perhaps the most famous beach in the Cinque Terre, it’s well known for its naturist and hippy history. Today, sadly, the beach is unreachable by land since the gallery that was once on the course of the old railway and the path to the beach has been closed off and deemed unsafe.
If you’d still like to enjoy the crystalline waters and utmost privacy, your best bet for reaching this beach is by sea. There are options for canoe rental in the Corniglia marina; just be well aware that you’re stopping in the Guvano beach area at your own risk.
Instead of heading to Guvano Beach, most visitors will just enjoy the waters near Manarola instead.
The Bonassola beach isn’t part of the Cinque Terre per se, but it’s a short trip from the closest village, Monterosso. Just a bit further north in the direction of Levante, the Bonassola beach is a stoney one, like most beaches on this coast of Italy.
The benefit of the stoney beach is that it’s in the center of the village of Bonassola and has pristine blue water. On the beach, you can rent deck chairs and an umbrella to protect yourself against the scorching Italian sun because the beach doesn’t offer any natural shade.
While busy in summer, arriving early or late in the day is guaranteed to maximize your chances of getting towel space at your preferred part of the beach.
Manarola is the only one of the five villages that don’t really have a beach due to the high and dangerous cliff surrounding the village, but it doesn’t mean there aren’t some swimming opportunities, you’ll just have to be a little more creative.
The first option for some beach time is to put down your towel and claim a bit of space right on the rocks near the village’s marina. The space is very limited and crowded, but it’s the best option you have if you’re dying to cool off and you find yourself there.
The other option is, once again, not really a beach, more so a tiny concrete boat ramp where you could put down your towel. The access path to the location is often closed because of the danger of falling rocks, so going there is definitely at your own risk.
Despite the relative inaccessibility of Guvano beach, the Cinque Terre beaches are plentiful and have a lot to offer. From small village beaches tucked away under the imposing cliffs to larger stretches of sand with beach bars and restaurants, visiting Cinque Terre is sure to be an adventure for everyone.