Already scheduled a trip but you have no clue what you could do with this cold? Trust me, Cinque Terre in winter have their own charm.
I’ll go straight to the point: if you enjoy nature, typical seasonal colors and want to avoid crowds, winter is the perfect time for your visit.
Why is that? Because low season pros are surprisingly a lot!
As I often write, the quickest and easiest way to visit the five villages is without a doubt the train. The advantage of low season is that the timetable is more or less the same as summer (a train every 15 mins) with small variations, but instead you’ll find the train basically all for yourself. And trust me, compared with a crowded Italian regional train car full of Japanese groups and 30°C it’s all but an asset.
Another thing you should consider planning the itinerary it’s the car: one of the benefits of winter here it’s the almost total absence of tourists, which means more parking spots! The cruise terminal is not active as in summertime and you’ll basically find just locals while visiting the villages. For this reason, even if the train would be cheapest, the car could be a great alternative to the train if, for example, you have kids.
I lived abroad for a long time and I honestly can tell you I enjoyed coming back to my hometown in winter more than summer just for its beautiful colors. During this time of the year the seascape and sunsets colors are something I cannot express with words. If you ask anyone around here what’s the best period to catch a perfect orange and red sunset they’ll surely tell you from November to February. Clouds are more dense, the sky is sharper and colors are at full power.
3. People..Or Not?
As I already mentioned, the flux of tourism is lower in winter and in the villages there will be probably just locals and cats. This could be a benefit or not, but if you are a solo traveler or you enjoy the silence you will be able to explore every tiny village high and low just pretending to be a local like me.
4. Few Locals But…
Here in Italy it’s well known: Ligurian people are a bit grumpy and the summer crowds do not help. Starting from the assumption that if that’s true it remains to be seen, in winter time it’s all easier. Locals are not stressed out by the huge number of tourists they have to face every day in august and they actually often want to have a chat with random people.
Every time I go for a trip I always try to observe locals and have a conversation with them about the place, so maybe it could be your occasion!
5. Lowest Prices
Another benefit of low season are obviously prices: starting from Airbnb amount per night to parking costs, in Cinque Terre in winter everiything is cheaper!
6. Christmas Gems
Did you know that in Manarola, the third of the villages, we have the biggest outdoor nativity scene (Presepe in Italian) in the World from 2007!? Here are some tidbits:
• It is all made with recycled materials, from plastic to lamps and glass. Today, in 2019, it counts more than 300 figures and 7 miles of electric cables
• It’s illuminated from the 8th of December of each year to mid January.
I don’t know about you, but I think it’s worth to visit just to see it!
Tips by a Local about this season:
– If you want to sleep in one of the villages (which I suggest you thanks to low season prices), choose an apartment possibly with kitchen, not a hotel: some of the restaurants could be closed in wintertime!
– Weather: If you are planning a brief visit from another town in Italy or a pit stop to admire Cinque Terre I suggest you to check the weather first, to organize your visit at your best.
+ Clothes: layers are always a good idea (in Italian we say “vestirsi a cipolla”: “dress as an onion” due to this vegetable structure😉). Here in winter is often windy and rainy, be prepared and it will be all right.
• No hiking with the rain: if you are coming to hike, be aware that landslides with rain could be possible, and sometimes trails could be closed due to heavy rain: why don’t you just enjoy some walks around our colorful houses while drinking an hot chocolate instead?
In any case, in this period always check the openness of hiking trails.
What About Snow?
I have to be honest: it’s all about luck. Some years it does not snow, some others it snows for a few days and you could enjoy an incredible scenary. Usually it happens around Christmas time or middle January, so good luck 😉
Hope you found it useful! If you liked the tips or have some questions feel free to leave a comment!