Cinque Terre is a group of five seaside villages in Italy located along the Ligurian Coast that appear to be emerging from the cliffs. We are certain that you’ve seen the pictures of Cinque Terre at sunset. It’s an idyllic setting, sitting on your balcony with a glass of wine watching the sun set over the rocky cliffs and pastel colored buildings.
Who would visit Cinque Terre with a baby or energetic toddler? Lots of people do, and you should too! Cinque Terre is incredibly family friendly. It’s true what they say, the Italians really do love babies and children.
When we first started planning our Italy family vacation, we knew Cinque Terre would be on our list of places to go. It was suggested to us that it may not be the best place to take our toddlers, but we planned to go anyways.
For us the opportunity to spend a week hiking Cinque Terre was just too good to pass up. We knew we wouldn’t be able to do the full hike between all 5 towns in one day, given we were travelling with small children, so we compromised.
We planned a full week in Cinque Terre and are glad that we did. Cinque Terre was so amazing that we included it in our list of best hikes for babies and toddlers around the globe.
Cinque Terre with a Baby or Toddler
- Where to Stay in Cinque Terre with a Baby or Toddler
- Train Transportation in Cinque Terre
- How to Spend 6 Days in Cinque Terre with a Baby or Toddler
- Final Tips on Cinque Terre with a Toddler or Baby
- Visiting Italy with A Baby or Toddler
- Pin It For Later!
Still working on your Italy Itinerary with kids? Here is our 4 week itinerary for Italy with some suggestions for a 2 week Italy Itinerary and a 10-day Italy Itinerary with kids.
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Where to Stay in Cinque Terre with a Baby or Toddler
Figuring out where to stay in Cinque Terre required a little more research since we had to look into all 5 towns. After long days of hiking Cinque Terre with a toddler and preschooler, we knew we wouldn’t be having wine and late dinners out, so we looked for an vacation home rental apartment with easy access to a larger grocery store.
Since we planned to spend each morning hiking Cinque Terre, we also wanted easy access to spots where the kids could play in the afternoons. This meant the beach or finding playgrounds.
Monterosso al Mare was the best choice for us. It’s the only Cinque Terre town with a nice long stretch of beach, though you will also find a small beach that’s good for kids in Vernazza. The other towns have beaches that are rocky or more difficult to access with small kids.
We were in Cinque Terre in April, so the beach wasn’t a deal breaker for us in our planning stage, but we did make use of it several times. Keep in mind that a large portion of the beach in Monterosso is private and you’ll need to pay for it in the high season, but there are still free beaches.
Monterosso al Mare is the largest of the Cinque Terre villages and perhaps the least charming. but we chose it for it’s good rail connectivity and easy access to groceries and playgrounds.
Once we had decided which of the towns we wanted to stay in, it was just a matter of the availability of apartments with 2-3 bedrooms and price. We found a nice two-bedroom vacation home rental apartment in the old part of Monterosso, right amongst all the shopping and restaurants.
If you’d prefer a Cinque Terre hotel, we recommend using Booking.com. We use them for our hotel bookings as we really like their “Top Picks for Families”search filter.
Train Transportation in Cinque Terre
Cinque Terre was our next destination after leaving Isola d’Elba (the island of Elba). We had a 1 hour ferry ride at 7am, followed by two trains that took approximately 3.5 hours.
Traveling by train in Italy is great with kids – they could move around and were pretty easy to entertain. Once we arrived in Monterosso, we walked from the station to our vacation home rental apartment which took about 15 minutes.
While in Cinque Terre, we purchased several Cinque Terre Multiservice Rail 2-day cards which gave us access to the park area and access to all the regional trains from Levanto to La Spezia.
How to Spend 6 Days in Cinque Terre with a Baby or Toddler
We had planned 6 full days for our stay in Cinque Terre with kids. This allowed us to take some time each morning to hike between all the 5 Cinque Terre towns and still give our kids time to play.
We knew we would be carrying our children for long stretches of time, so we decide to bring our backpack carriers on the airplane. We had hiked with our toddlers previously in them and knew they would be comfortable and happy in them for 2-3 hours.
This, along with plenty of snacks, allowed us to hike one section each morning of our stay.
We structured each of our days in Cinque Terre very similarly. We would start our day by giving the kids a little time to play. This was either exploring the streets of a new town or playing at playground.
We would then do our planned Cinque Terre hike for the day, returning to our apartment for lunch and a nap for our 19 month old. We would either give our 3 year old some quiet time or take her out for a walk in Monterosso.
In the afternoons, we either took them to the Monterosso beach, a playground or explored a new area of town.
We opted to spend the majority of our time hiking with kids in Cinque Terre, but here is what else you can do in each of the five towns (plus a bonus town):
Monterosso with a Baby or Toddler
Though it may not be the most charming of the towns, Monterosso Al Mare has plenty to offer families. In Old Town Monterosso, there is a large playground (which we frequented quite often) and streets that are fun to explore. There’s a large square overlooking a beach and the water. It’s the perfect place to enjoy an afternoon snack or let the kids play.
For a fun, short walk in Old Town Monterosso, head up to Convento dei Cappuccini and the cemetery. Both are situated on top of San Cristoforo Hill, which separates the old town from the new town. Our kids managed to walk the entire way up and we all enjoyed the great views of the town and the Ligurian Sea from up there.
In Fegina, the new part of town, there is a boardwalk along the beach. Our little ones enjoyed some gelato on the beach and climbing on the big rocks. We then followed the boardwalk to the end to find a playground suitable for young children.
Monterosso is mostly flat, aside from the stairs up to the Convent of Cappuccini, and could easily be navigated with a stroller. Keep in mind, the streets of Monterosso do get terribly busy in the afternoon, so you will need to contend with the crowds when pushing your stroller.
Vernazza with a Baby or Toddler
Considered the most beautiful of the five Cinque Terre villages, we were fortunate we got to see Vernazza from a few different vantage points as we hiked to it from two different directions. There are such incredible views of Belforte Tower and Andrea Doria Castle from the hike from Corniglia.
We always intended on returning to explore the tower one afternoon with the kids, but we never did. Both times we arrived in Vernazza, it was close to lunch time and the streets were packed, so we didn’t spend much time exploring.
Vernazza also has a beach that is easily accessible with small kids.
Read this post for even more things to do in Cinque Terre!
Corniglia with a Baby or Toddler
On our first morning of hiking in Cinque Terre, we started off in Corniglia, the smallest of the five villages. After climbing the 377 steps from the Corniglia train station up to the town, we found it was the perfect time to let the kids explore. The streets were deserted and they were able to run around without getting in anybody’s way.
Corniglia is so picturesque and we were quite happy to be able to explore it when the streets were empty! Just as everyone was beginning to emerge for breakfast, we left to hit the hiking trail.
If you plan to explore Corniglia with a stroller, make sure to bring a lightweight travel stroller. You’ll definitely get your morning workout by carrying it up the stairs from the train station. Using one of these hiking backpack carriers or a baby carrier would be a better option for visiting Corniglia.
See our recommendations for Best Baby Carriers for Travel here
Manarola with a Baby or Toddler
Manarola is only 500 meters from Riomaggiore, and is most likely the image you are familiar with when you think of Cinque Terre.
Our visit to Manarola was again early in the morning before most tourists arrived or emerged from their warm beds. We found at this time of the day, there was a lot of vehicle traffic in Manarola so it wasn’t as conducive to letting the kids explore.
The walk between Manarola and Corniglia is closed for repairs. Despite this closure, we were still able to walk a portion of the Via dell’Amore to get the famous view of Manarola from across the harbor.
Though we didn’t visit it, there is a little park with a playground in this area. The view we did get in the morning was well worth the time spent in this little village.
Don’t miss all our Resources for Hiking with a Baby or Toddler. We cover everything from hiking tips to the best carriers for hiking.
Riomaggiore with a Baby or Toddler
Riomaggiore is the first village you will reach by train from the south and is the largest of the five.
When you visit Riomaggiore, you’ll pass through a long pedestrian tunnel beautifully decorated with a tile mosaic before you get to the main street. Our kids loved walking through this tunnel and pointing out the images in the tile.
We did our usual early morning walk through town and let the kids play before continuing on with our hike.The main street here is quite steep, so you’ll get a workout if you are pushing a stroller.
Be aware that the well known stretch of the SVA from Riomaggiore to Manarola, Via dell’Amore or the Way of Love, is also closed.
Have a blast singing these hiking songs with your kids.
Levanto with a Baby or Toddler
Though not officially part of the Cinque Terre, Levanto is still worth a visit for families and is found on the other side of Punta Mesco from Monterosso. You could even choose Levanto as your base as the train from Levanto to the Cinque Terre villages is only a 5 minute trip.
Levanto looks different (not as charming) than the rest of the villages, but the streets are still fun to explore.
Levanto also has a long stretch of beach and a boardwalk. Right behind the beach, you’ll also find a great square and playground for the kids.
If you are keen to do more hiking, you can also enjoy the beautiful hike between Levanto and Monterosso.
Perhaps our favourite part of visiting Levanto was the bike ride through mountain tunnel along a converted seaside rail line. Cycling Cinque Terre with kids was not what I had in mind when we planned our family trip, but it was a unique experience well worth doing!
Looking for an itinerary for Italy? This 10-Day Itinerary for Italy includes day by day instructions for 9 destinations in Italy, including Cinque Terre!
Final Tips on Cinque Terre with a Toddler or Baby
- Whether you are traveling to Cinque Terre with a baby or toddler, be sure to take your time. It’s the perfect place to just enjoy some quality family time together.
- If you plan on hiking Cinque Terre with kids, we recommend proper hiking shoes and a good baby carrier for hiking that will keep both you and your baby/toddler comfortable. Some of the hikes are quite difficult, so plan to trade off on carrying your baby if possible. Also, don’t forget plenty of snacks and water! We used this hydration pack in our backpack carriers to keep us all hydrated.
- Some of the restaurants had high chairs, but not all did. Plan to bring your own portable high chair for travel or hold your baby during meals.
- We recommend using a backpack or baby carrier instead of a stroller here. If you want to bring your stroller, make sure it is a lightweight one and bring a carrier as well.
- The Cinque Terre grocery stores were small, but we had no trouble getting milk and diapers. We managed to make our own meals by cooking at our Monterosso vacation home rental.
- It’s crowded in Cinque Terre. Get out early in the morning to avoid the crowds if at all possible.
Visiting Italy with A Baby or Toddler
- Rome with a Baby or Toddler
- Transportation from the Rome Airport to your Hotel
- Rome Playgrounds
- Naples, Pompeii, and the Amalfi Coast with a Toddler
- Venice Italy with a Baby or Toddler
- Florence with Kids
- Pisa with Kids
- Lucca with Kids