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 and is one of the best travel destinations with toddlers. 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 with kids was just too good to pass up. We knew we wouldn’t be able to do the full hike between all 5 Cinque Terre towns in one day, given we were travelling with small children, so we compromised.
Our family spent a full week in Cinque Terre and are glad that we did. Hiking between the Cinque Terre towns was so amazing that we included it in our list of best hikes for babies and toddlers around the globe.
What You’ll Find in This Article on Cinque Terre with a Baby or Toddler:
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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.
Where to Stay in Cinque Terre with a Baby or Toddler
Figuring out where to stay in Cinque Terre with kids required a little more research since we had to look into all 5 villages. 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 finding a Cinque Terre village with a beach or playgrounds.
For our family vacation, Monterosso al Mare was the most kid-friendly Cinque Terre village. Monterosso al Mare is 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 Cinque Terre towns have beaches that are either rocky or more difficult to access with small kids.
We recommend you bring water shoes for everyone in the family. Water shoes are featured in both our lists of baby beach essentials and our toddler beach essentials, as they are especially good for the pebbly beaches in Italy.
Our family visited 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 to use 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 it was the best choice for our family as it has excellent good rail connectivity and easy access to groceries and playgrounds.
Once we had decided which of the Cinque Terre 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 Monterosso old town, right amongst all the shopping and restaurants.
If you’d prefer a family-friendly Cinque Terre hotel, we recommend using Booking.com. We use them extensively for our family hotel bookings as we really like their “Top Picks for Families” search filter.
Train Transportation in Cinque Terre
During our month-long family vacation to Italy, we travelled extensively by train. After visiting Isola d’Elba (the island of Elba) with kids, our next stop was Cinque Terre. To get from Elba to Cinque Terre 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 had a 15 minute walk from the train station to our rental apartment in old town.
While in Cinque Terre, we purchased several Cinque Terre Multiservice Rail 2-day cards which gave us access to the Cinque Terre National Park, as well as access to all the regional trains from Levanto to La Spezia.
6 Places to Visit in Cinque Terre with a Toddler or Baby
We had 6 days in our Italy itinerary for our visit to Cinque Terre with kids. This is more time than is usually recommended to allot to visiting Cinque Terre, but it allowed us to take some time each morning to hike between all 5 Cinque Terre towns and still give us time to find some fun things to do for our kids.
With so much Cinque Terre hiking planned, 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 in backpack carriers previously and knew they would be comfortable and happy in them for 2-3 hours.
This, along with plenty of toddler hiking snacks, allowed us to hike between two Cinque Terre villages each morning of our stay.
We structured each of our days in Cinque Terre with kids 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 a playground.
We would then do our planned Cinque Terre hike for the day, returning to our apartment rental for lunch and a nap for our 19 month old toddler. 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 are some fun things to do with kids in each Cinque Terre town (plus a bonus town):
Find all our best tips for hiking with babies.
1. Monterosso with a Baby or Toddler
Though it may not be the most charming of the 5 Cinque Terre towns, Monterosso Al Mare is very family-friendly. In Old Town Monterosso, there is a large playground (which we frequented quite often) and streets that are fun for kids to explore. The large square overlooking a beach and the Ligurian Sea is 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 by themselves 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 beautiful and fun boardwalk along the beach. Our kids enjoyed some gelato on the beach and climbing on the big rocks. We then followed the boardwalk to the end to find another toddler-friendly playground near the beach.
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 get terribly busy in the afternoon, so you will need to contend with the crowds when pushing your stroller.
2. 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. In particular, we loved the incredible views of Belforte Tower and Andrea Doria Castle while hiking from Corniglia to Vernazza.
We always intended on returning to explore the Belforte Tower one afternoon with the kids, but we simply ran out of time. 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 kid-friendly beach that is easily accessible with small kids.
Read this post for even more things to do in Cinque Terre!
3. Corniglia with a Baby or Toddler
On our first morning of hiking in Cinque Terre with kids, 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 of Corniglia 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 hundreds of stairs from the train station. Using one of these hiking backpack carriers or a toddler carrier would be a better option for visiting Corniglia with small kids.
See our recommendations for Best Baby Carriers for Travel here
4. Manarola with a Baby or Toddler
Manarola is only 500 meters from Riomaggiore, and is most likely the village you are familiar with when you think of Cinque Terre.
As was typical on our Cinque Terre itinerary, our visit to Manarola was early in the morning before most tourists arrived or emerged from their warm, comfy beds. Unfortunately, we found Manarola was full of vehicle traffic at this time of the day, so it wasn’t as conducive to letting the kids explore.
The beautiful walk between Manarola and Corniglia is closed for repairs (expected to be complete in 2025). 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 of Manarola. The view we did get in the morning was well worth the time spent in this charming little Cinque Terre village.
5. Riomaggiore with a Baby or Toddler
Riomaggiore is the first Cinque Terre village you will reach by train from the south and is the largest of the five villages.
When you arrive in Riomaggiore by train, 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 Riomaggiore and let the kids play before continuing on with our hike. The main street in Riomaggiore 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, was also closed (and is expected to remain closed until 2023-2024).
Have a blast singing these hiking songs with your kids.
6. Levanto with a Baby or Toddler
Though not officially part of the Cinque Terre, Levanto is still worth a visit for families. Located on the other side of Punta Mesco from Monterosso, families could even choose to stay in Levanto 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 Cinque Terre villages, but the streets are still fun for kids to explore.
One of the main reasons why you may chose to visit Levanto with your kids, is the long stretch of beach and a fun boardwalk. Right behind the beach, you’ll also find a great square and great 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 our family bike ride through a 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 great thing to do with kids and 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 Visiting 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 Cinque Terre hiking trails 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 Cinque Terre 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 in Cinque Terre instead of a stroller. If you want to bring your stroller, make sure it is a lightweight travel stroller 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 can get very crowded in the villages of Cinque Terre National Park. Get out early in the morning to avoid the crowds if at all possible.
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This post was written & edited by:
Celine Brewer is the owner of Baby Can Travel. Not only does she have years of experience traveling with babies & toddlers, but she's helped millions of new parents travel with their babies and toddlers for over a decade. In addition to writing on her baby travel blog, she has shared her expertise on traveling with a baby or toddler by contributing to articles about traveling with a baby with the Washington Post, USA Today, the Lonely Planet magazine and Pregnancy & Newborn magazine.
Celine also writes about family travel on the site FamilyCanTravel.com, which she co-owns with her husband. Being from the Canadian Rockies, she shares her passion about her home and travel to Banff National Park and area on their site TravelBanffCanada.com.