Amalfi Coast or Cinque Terre: Which Sublime Italian Coastline is Best?

Of all the decisions required when putting together an unforgettable trip to Italy, deciding whether to visit the Amalfi Coast or Cinque Terre is definitely among the most difficult.

As Italy’s two most famous coastal destinations, Cinque Terre and the Amalfi Coast both offer a chance to visit colorful villages perched along cliffs and admire brilliant azure waters, as well as taste delightful seafood, sip on delicious wines, and even take a few stunning hikes.

Luckily, the Amalfi Coast and Cinque Terre do have their fair share of differences as well, which can help travelers narrow down which coast to visit.

Trying to decide whether to visit the Amalfi Coast or Cinque Terre in Italy this summer?

Here’s what to know before you decide!

Kate Storm and Jeremy Storm on a balcony overlooking Positano
Some links in this post may be affiliate links. If you make a purchase through one of these links, we may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Please see our disclosure policy for more detail.

Choose the Amalfi Coast if…

… you’re coming from Rome or Naples.

If you’re hoping to visit the Amalfi Coast as part of a larger trip to Italy, Naples and Rome are the most geographically convenient major cities to add to your itinerary.

When trying to optimize your Italy itinerary, geography and travel times should be a major consideration when deciding where to visit!

The Ultimate 3 Day Amalfi Coast Itinerary

… you want to take a road trip.

Driving along and around the Amalfi Coast has a reputation for being a bit difficult–and it’s a fair reputation.

We wouldn’t recommend road-tripping the Amalfi Coast it to someone not comfortable traveling on very narrow roads with very large buses for company, but the road itself is undeniably beautiful!

If you’re hoping to explore the Amalfi Coast or Cinque Terre independently by car, the Amalfi Coast is the destination for you.

Staircase with a wall of magnets in Amalfi

… you want easy access to some of Italy’s most iconic day trips.

From Capri to Pompeii, and from Naples to Sorrento, the region of Campania (where to Amalfi Coast is located) is chock full of incredible Italian destinations other than the Amalfi Coast, and they’re all fairly reasonable to get to!

If you’re hoping to choose one base and visit several spots in the greater region as day trips during your coastal getaway, head directly to the Amalfi Coast.

How to Take a Captivating Day Trip to Capri

… you’re looking for warm weather in the shoulder season.

As the Amalfi Coast is located significantly further south than Cinque Terre, if you’re traveling in the shoulder season and hoping to luck out with warm weather, the Amalfi Coast is the safer bet.

That being said, both destinations are regional, so don’t expect to see 100% of hotels and restaurants open over the winter when visiting either Cinque Terre or the Amalfi Coast.

Sailboat in a small harbor near the Amalfi Coast, Italy

Choose Cinque Terre if…

… you’re coming from Florence or Milan.

Located in the Liguria region, Cinque Terre is more easily included on an itinerary for Italy centered around Florence or Milan than on tourist hotspots further south like Rome or further east like Venice.

The Perfect One Day in Cinque Terre Itinerary

… you prefer a more casual atmosphere.

While you don’t need to splurge on a luxury hotel and dress to the nines to visit the Amalfi Coast–we certainly didn’t–in general, Cinque Terre has a much more casual, down-to-earth atmosphere as compared to the glitz of the Amalfi Coast.

If you’re looking for something that feels a little less “luxury resort” and a little more “Italian fishing village”, Cinque Terre is the place for you.

However, there’s definitely an emphasis on a little more like an Italian fishing village!

Whether you visit the Amalfi Coast or Cinque Terre, you’re going to be visiting one of the most popular places to visit in Italy.

Riomaggiore at sunset from viewpoint above the town, Cinque Terre

… you don’t want to drive.

Not only do you not have to rent a car or drive to visit Cinque Terre, you absolutely should not!

The villages of Cinque Terre are best explored via a combination of hiking and the incredibly efficient train system that runs between all five villages, and parking is limited bordering on nonexistent.

When visiting Cinque Terre, absolutely no driving is required or recommended.

101 Important Travel Tips for Italy

… you only have a couple of days to spare.

Cinque Terre is much smaller than the Amalfi Coast, and it’s much easier to tour the (tiny) villages quickly on this coast.

For example, while it can take an hour to travel between the towns of Positano and Amalfi, it only takes a mere 15 minutes via train to travel between the two villages in Cinque Terre that are furthest apart (Riomaggiore and Monterosso al Mare).

View of Vernazza harbor from above, Cinque Terre

Visit either the Amalfi Coast or Cinque Terre for…

… incredible hiking.

Whether you’re tracing the Path of the Gods on the Amalfi Coast or marveling at the views between the villages of Cinque Terre, hikers will be thrilled with the natural landscapes offered on these stunning coasts.

Visiting Pompeii & Mount Vesuvius: The Complete Guide

… magnificent natural landscapes.

In sheer natural beauty, the Amalfi Coast may have the tiniest edge over Cinque Terre–but really, they’re both ridiculously gorgeous and worthy of the trip.

Cliffs of Capri, Italy, with sea below

… delicious seafood (and food in general).

Of course, no region in Italy is a slouch when it comes to food, but the seafood dishes you can find in Cinque Terre and the Amalfi Coast are absolutely sublime!

15 Most Instagrammable Places in Cinque Terre + Fun Photo Spots

If you visit Cinque Terre, be sure to also try the local pesto–one of my favorite foods in the world!

Meanwhile, no visit to the Amalfi Coast could be complete without a sampling of all the delightful dishes created with local lemons (limoncello, of course, being the most famous).

Basket of lemons for sale in Amalfi Town on the Amalfi Coast

… mediocre beaches.

While you can absolutely have a relaxing beach day when visiting either the Amalfi Coast or Cinque Terre, don’t come here expecting powder-white sand and beaches that stretch on for ages.

15+ Common Travel Mistakes in Italy (What NOT to Do!)

Both destinations do have beaches to enjoy, and hitting the beach is one of the classic things to do in Positano, for example.

These beaches are more like a bonus, though, not a huge selling point to visiting either place.

They won’t be able to compete with beach destinations in, say, Puglia or Sicily.

Come to either Cinque Terre or the Amalfi Coast for the food, the views, the hiking, the beautiful villages, the atmosphere, and the boat rides–not the beaches.

Rocky Beach in Capri, Amalfi Coast or Cinque Terre

Should I visit both Cinque Terre and the Amalfi Coast?

Over the course of a lifetime? Absolutely!

In a single Italy trip, though?

Unless you have an unusually long trip to Italy planned–say 3 weeks or longer–and you’re extremely interested in squeezing both spots into your trip, I’d say probably not.

2 Weeks in Italy: The Perfect 14 Day Italy Itinerary

While both the Amalfi Coast and Cinque Terre are stunningly beautiful, they’re also both a bit of a pain to get to, both from each other and from other major tourism hubs in Italy.

With so many incredibly diverse and exciting things to do on any given trip to Italy, I’d recommend picking one of these coasts to feature in your trip, and to save the other for a future trip.

View of Positano and Positano Beach from above: Amalfi Coast or Cinque Terre

Final Call: Amalfi Coast or Cinque Terre?

Still having trouble choosing whether to visit the Amalfi Coast or Cinque Terre?

Our biggest recommendation when comparing the Amalfi Coast vs Cinque Terre for your Italy trip is to let geography be your guide!

Summer in Italy: How to Plan Your Sun-Soaked Dream Trip!

Whichever destination is easier to reach given the rest of your Italy itinerary, opt for that one, and you almost certainly won’t have any regrets.

Personally, we prefer Cinque Terre slightly over the Amalfi Coast, but it entirely depends on what you are looking for–and plenty of people will disagree with us!

kate storm and jeremy storm on the bow of a boat bound for a day trip to Capri

Read More About Visiting Italy’s Coastal Destinations

Want to read more about visiting Cinque Terre vs the Amalfi Coast before making your final decision… or want to consider some of Italy’s other beach destinations instead?

We’d love to help!

You can browse our 100+ Italy blog posts here, or check out these guides:

Amalfi Coast vs. Cinque Terre text on image for Pinterest. Photo of Vernazza on top and Positano below.

About Kate Storm
Image of the author, Kate Storm

In May 2016, I left my suburban life in the USA and became a full-time traveler. Since then, I have visited 50+ countries on 5 continents and lived in Portugal, developing a special love of traveling in Europe (especially Italy) along the way. Today, along with my husband Jeremy and dog Ranger, I’m working toward my eventual goal of splitting my life between Europe and the USA.

16 thoughts on “Amalfi Coast or Cinque Terre: Which Sublime Italian Coastline is Best?”

  1. Hi Kate,

    My hubby and I want to travel to Rome, Venice, Florence/Tuscany
    and CInque terre. We live in South Florida. Can you tell me what order
    you would do each place. Fly into where and go in what order to each place
    I mentioned. We have 14 days to use. I need itnerry. WHere to I start and end?

    • Hi Michelle!

      We actually have a 2 week itinerary for Italy that covers these exact locations and gives our suggested order (Rome, Florence/Tuscany, Cinque Terre, Venice, in that order)–however, that is flexible! Here’s the itinerary:

      Coming all the way from South Florida, I’d check ticket prices to both Rome and Venice, plus maybe even Milan if you don’t mind an extra train ride upon arriving in Italy, and see if one city is significantly cheaper than the other to fly into, which is sometimes the case. If there’s no major difference, I’d fly into Rome and start there.

  2. Hi Kate, I am currently planning a trip to Italy for next spring (Mid May) and although I really want to visit both the Amalfi Coast and Cinque Terre, it sounds like you don’t think that is a good idea. My current rough itinerary looks like this: 3 nights Rome, 3 nights Sorrento (day trips to Amalfi and/or Capri), 4 nights at a farmhouse in Tuscany (day trips to Florence and Tuscany touring, 2 nights in La Spezia (day trips into Cinque Terre) and 3 nights in Venice. I have been reading articles (including yours) that indicate that maybe I might be better off removing Cinque Terre from the itinerary, perhaps adding another night in Sorrento and Tuscany instead, making for a more relaxing trip. I have been reading about Ischia and Procida that sound interesting and also that Cinque Terre is so crowded that the towns are actually trying to reduce tourism. I should add that I will be 58 and my fie 60 when we take this tour. My big worry is that this will be the trip of our lifetime and we may never be back to Italy, which is why my itinerary is fairly aggressive. Do you have any thoughts that might help me?

    • Hi Steven!

      Ultimately the choice is up to you: if you really want to see both and think you might not go back to Italy, you should! I’ve done far more impractical things on a time crunch when traveling. But if you think you could be good with one or the other, ideally, I wouldn’t visit both places with around 2 weeks in Italy.

      Personally, I’d definitely recommend your second plan–that will give you more time both around the Amalfi Coast area and Tuscany. Ischia and Procida are great options for the extra day near the Amalfi Coast, as is some combo of Pompeii/Vesuvius/Herculaneum if the history appeals to you. You can never have too much time in Tuscany–the list of possible things to see and do is a mile long.

      One trip is never enough to see it all, and any combo of the destinations you mentioned is worthy of being called the trip of a lifetime. So there’s no wrong answer, and no pressure. 🙂

  3. Hi Kate,

    We just returned (early September from our 2 weeks vacation in Italy. Here was out itinerary: Arrive in Rome at 9:00 AM sent day 1 exploring the Colosseum and other nearby sights. Day two we visited the Vatican. Day 3 rented a car and drove to Montefalco which was glorious, if we had to do over we would have spent 2 days here. Day four drove to Montepulciano where we stayed 2 nights (definitely visit the world’s most beautiful wine cellar!). Then off to San Gimignano where we spent 3 nights ( probably would have reduced this by a night to get that extra day in Montefalco. From here we drove to Pisa to send a day ( plenty for me). We turned in our car and took the train to Cinque Terre where we spent 3 nights. From Cinque Terre we took the train to geno and spent one night. from there we flew home. We did a lot of hiking in the Cinque Terre region. We are in our mid fifties but in good health, the trails are stunning. Enjoy your trip

    • Sounds like a wonderful trip! We love hearing about how everyone spends their time. Montepulciano is one of our favorite towns in Tuscany, and I agree, never felt the need to spend longer than a day in Pisa either.

  4. Hi,

    My husband and I are planning an Italian vacation for our 20th wedding anniversary. We have agreed 2-3 weeks is doable. I’ve got free range as to where we go and the planning so, in all my research I of course want to do all the things. I was thinking flying into Venice. Taking the train to Milan and/or straight to the Cinque Terra. Then from Cinque Terre, all the way down, through the Amalfi Coast with our return flight home from Sicily. What are your honest thoughts on this itinerary? Any and all ideas on how to make this happen would be so helpful. Thank you.

    • Hi Abby!

      Congratulations on 20 years. 🙂

      All of those destinations are amazing, but if I’m understanding correctly, you’re planning on taking the train all the way to Sicily? If so, I wouldn’t recommend that–it would eat up a ton of time!

      With 3 weeks, you can comfortably fit in Venice, Milan, Cinque Terre, the Amalfi Coast, and Sicily, though it will be a very busy trip! With 2 weeks, I wouldn’t recommend trying to fit everything in.

      Based on what you have outlined here, I’d probably do Cinque Terre or the Amalfi Coast, rather than doing both, and fly to Sicily from there. I would recommend setting aside at least 4-5 days for Sicily, or more depending on how much you want to see. If you only have 2-3 days for it, I’d stick with the mainland instead.

      Hope that helps and that you guys have a wonderful trip!

  5. Hi Kate! My boyfriend and I have nine days in Italy, flying in and out of Rome, but are at a wall when it comes to whether to head north or south. We want to spend 3 nights in Rome to start, then do either Cinque Terre or the Amalfi coast as the next big destination. We are big on hiking and have seen that you could do so at either. Since we only have nine days we don’t want to spend a ton of time on getting place to place. Sorrento area seems nice because you can get to Amalfi or Capri from there, but the Liguria/Cinque Terre area seems nice because you can hike from town to town. Please let me know your opinion!

    Thanks, Hannah

    • Hi Hannah!

      It really depends on what you guys are looking for! Personally, we like Cinque Terre a bit more because it feels a bit cozier, but we love both! For hiking, you’ll find plenty of unforgettable options on either coast.

      If you’re heading somewhere after the coast (such as Florence or Venice), I’d let geography be your guide.

  6. Heh Kate, got a group(8) of 65ers planning to fly into Milan, then to Cinque Terre for 4-5 nites. Then to Florence for 3 nites. Then to Positano for 4-5 nites and Naples for 2 nites. Some will continue to others destinations, some home. What ya think overall? Jerry

    • Hi Jerry!

      Personally, I’d move a night or 2 from Cinque Terre to Florence, to give yourselves more time there. Cinque Terre is gorgeous but fairly small. You can certainly fill your days, especially if you plan to do lots of hiking, but you don’t necessarily need quite that long.

      That’s just down to personal preference, though, and everyone has their own wish list!

      The trip you sketched out looks very doable. 🙂

  7. Going to Italy next May or June with Perillo tours. Itenerary is Rome, two nights, Amalphi four nights, Sicily 4 nights and flying home out of Sicily. Is Sicily worth it, or should we spend more time in Rome? Also do you know anything about Perillo tours or can you discuss the best times to go to Italy for the best weather?

    • Hi Karen!

      I’m not familiar with that tour company, so nothing to add there.

      As far as the weather, May and June are both lovely months. June will be getting warm, but it’s a great month for enjoying the best of summer in Italy without as many crowds as in July and especially August.

      We also love September/October as far as the weather goes.

      Sicily is certainly worth it in the sense that it’s a wonderful place to visit, but if you’re on the fence, I’d recommend sticking with mainland Italy simply because of the travel time.

      There’s plenty to see within a short train ride of Rome, Naples, and the Amalfi Coast (Florence, for example, is only 1.5 hours from Rome via the high-speed train), so there’s no need to go all the way to Sicily unless you have a particular desire to visit the island!

      And yes, Rome is definitely best appreciated with more than 2 nights–on a trip of your length, I’d recommend 3-4 nights, depending on how much you want to see in the city.

      This itinerary goes through what you can see with 2 very full days in Rome:

  8. Hi Kate
    Panning a 14 day trip in July arriving V nice departing Rome. Which is a better itinerary? Fly into V nice – train to Florence and day trips in Tuscany, train to Cinque Terra train to Rome- Foy home from Rome. .
    OR Fly into Venice – train to Florence train to Cinque Terra train to Rome- fly home from Rome.


Leave a Comment