Known as the Italian Riviera, the Cinque Terre is nothing short of stunning. The rugged coastline of dramatic towering cliffs is home to the five iconic villages that have precariously perched here for centuries. No longer the isolated hamlets they were in the past, they open their doors to the many visitors who flock here annually to experience the jaw-dropping beauty of this unique stretch of Italian coast. Despite their popularity, each of the villages has retained its identity and a sense of authenticity, which is perfectly preserved in the colourful houses, the historic architecture and the welcoming Italian atmosphere.
We organise a wonderful day trip from Florence that takes you to this fabulous place for a full day to explore the five villages and the surrounding coast and countryside. It is a great tour if you have limited time and want to fit as much in as possible on your trip.
But when exactly is the best time to visit this place and what is the Cinque Terre weather like at different times of the year? You are really going to want to know this when planning your trip, especially if you’re keen to do the 14km hiking trail that links the villages and takes you right through the very heart of what this UNESCO World Heritage site is all about. Let’s take a look in detail.
What is the Cinque Terre Weather Like?
The great news for visitors is that the summer here in this beautiful part of western Italy lasts a long time. There is a definite change when summer arrives, with the hot days and warm balmy evenings lasting reliably through from May to September. The sun can produce high temperatures in the height of summer, but the southerly and south-westerly breezes from the sea keep it very bearable. There is very little rain here, even during the autumn and winter months, and the temperature hardly ever falls below zero. In short, you really can enjoy a trip at any time of the year, although do remember that there won’t be much open if you decide to show up in November!
The Cinque Terre Month by Month
Every month is very different when it comes to a visit here; which is best really depends on what you want to do. Here we break it down for you.
From mid-March the villages wake up after their near hibernation through winter and more boats begin to function between the villages to accommodate locals and tourists alike. The weather is still very pleasant and not too hot yet, so March to May is the perfect time if you want to take on the hiking trails without battling the summer heat. It is still considered a little too cold to swim, but if you have a wetsuit or are happy to brave the elements you can give it a go! Many locals do…
The average temperature is somewhere between 12 and 18 degrees centigrade.
Definitely the hottest time, this season attracts the most tourists. There is plenty of opportunity to swim, but be prepared for crowds and do remember that you will need lots of water and sun cream. The highest temperatures occur in August when most Italians sensibly take their holidays.
When we say you need lots of water, we really mean it, especially if you are hiking. The midday sun gets very hot and the breeze often disguises how high the temperatures really are. Luckily, you can stop at each village on the trail to stock up on bottled water and take a break in the shade.
Temperatures rise to 28-32 degrees centigrade and can often be higher.
This delightful time of the year is perfect for a visit. September can still be quite hot but significantly easier to hike in than in August. September and October are lovely months to take on the trails and you can still enjoy a warmish dip, too. The ferries still run until the end of October, so this season is very accessible if you are planning a visit but prefer the cooler temperatures and fewer crowds. If you do decide to come at this time of the year, it’s worth bearing in mind that the weather can be changeable. Even if the temperatures remain stable you may get rain and sometimes storms. We would recommend that you come prepared and make sure you have waterproofs (or at least a waterproof jacket) with you. Carry a small backpack with an extra layer in case you do feel the cold and go for your waterproof hiking boots instead of a lighter pair, just in case.
Temperatures sit at a pleasant 20-26 degrees centigrade on average.
Rain starts to fall on more frequent occasions through November, which can make this a tricky time to visit. The lack of public transport also makes it more difficult to negotiate a trip, which is a shame, as if you are in the area it’s worth visiting if only to see the gorgeously decorated villages; coloured garlands and Christmas nativity scenes abound.
Temperatures fall to 10-14 degrees centigrade.
When Does it Rain Most?
January and November are definitely the wettest months, with an average rainfall of around 140mm. As long as you are prepared for it though, it needn’t ruin your trip. Temperatures are still around 10 degrees centigrade, so an enjoyable visit is still very much a possibility if you find yourself in Liguria or nearby Tuscany at this time of the year.
The Best Time to Visit the Cinque Terre
It really does depend on what you want from your trip and, actually, you’ll find tourists visiting this part of Italy all year round. If we were forced to choose, however, most of us would say that we love the shoulder season of September and October. You can still get around on the train and ferry, hiking trails are quieter and, thanks to the shorter days, the villages themselves are bathed in a more gentle light. The pastel-coloured houses exude an almost golden halo as the sun sets lower in the sky and budding photographers will have a veritable field day in autumn. Temperatures are perfect too and you can still enjoy a dip in the sea if you fancy. What more could you want from your visit?
If donning your bikini and enjoying a swim in the beautifully clean waters that lap the coast is the main reason you’re coming, then you have a big window of opportunity when it comes to choosing the best time to visit. From the end of May until the end of September, the sea is warm and delightfully refreshing.
Is the Cinque Terre Open in December?
December is definitely the off-season but if you catch some nice weather you are in for a treat. The streets are almost empty (apart from the locals who will be out catching up after a busy and long peak season), which is wonderful if you’re keen to appreciate the true beauty of the place, but you do need to remember that many shops and restaurants will have closed their doors for the winter. That aside, if you come seeking tranquillity and authenticity, and are prepared to eat in whatever place you find still making its ‘pasta al pesto’ (it’s probably really good as they will be open for the people who live here!), then you will be rewarded.
A trip to this part of Italy comes highly recommended and the good news is that the Cinque Terre weather, although variable throughout the seasons, needn’t put you off planning a visit at any time of year. All seasons bring with them pros and cons, but in our opinion there really is never a bad time to visit. Of course, summer is glorious, but as we have described the other months have something to offer too. Decide what you want from your trip and go from there. Whenever you visit, you won’t be disappointed.
For more information on how to get to Cinque Terre we’ve written an article that describes all the transport options. Check it out here.
We are Walkabout Florence
Here at Walkabout Florence we have created some wonderful tours and many of our guests come back time and again. Every one of our team is passionate about Italy and we are all keen to share our knowledge and insider expertise. The amazing guides are dedicated to showing you the most authentic and immersive experience possible, no matter which tour you pick. With everything from riding a Vespa through Florence to exploring hilltop towns, and from wine tasting in Chianti to culinary experiences in a farmhouse, we’re here for you. Get in touch and get ready to make your next holiday memories with us!