When it comes to Cinque Terre vs. Amalfi Coast, no matter which I choose, there are some things these destinations have in common. They are both exceptional if I want to experience coastal landscapes and green natural scenery. They are also perfect for couples, as the quaint villages and picturesque coastal views give it an air of romanticism.

These places are rich in history, with streets, churches and monasteries that transport tourists to a bygone era. And let’s not forget the beaches where people are allowed to soak up some sun.

The cuisine for both places is seafood-based, so if you love fish, octopus, or mollusks, you’re sure to stimulate your palette here.

But what makes these two places distinct from each other? In this article, we will go over the differences between the two in many different categories so you can make the best decision on where to visit.

What is the Cinque Terre?

Above view of the beautiful tow n of the Cinque Terre with a colorful houses.
The Cinque Terre is a coastal region located in the northwestern part of Italy, in the Liguria region.

Cinque Terre translates to ‘The Five Lands’. It is located in the region of Liguria and includes five unique fishing villages: Riomaggiore, Vernazza, Manarola, Monterosso al Mare, and Corniglia. You can easily arrive there from the airports at Rome, Florence, or Genoa.

The people of Cinque Terre have worked hard to keep the natural ecosystem of the area pristine. So Italy has declared the land a UNESCO World Heritage Site in order to preserve its natural wonders. Celebrities that have visited include Eli Roth and Chrissy Teigen.

What is the Amalfi Coast?

Areal view of the Amalfi Coast with luxury hotels and boats for tourist.
The Amalfi Coast is a coastal region situated in the southwestern part of Italy, in the Campania region.

The Amalfi Coast is a stretch of coastline 35-miles long located in Campania, Italy. It is known for its panoramic views, clear-water beaches, and scrumptious seafood. Its 500-ft cliffs cannot be missed and it Is considered one of the crown jewels of Meditteranean vacation spots.

Because of its unique landscape, the Amalfi Coast Is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It gets very crowded in the summertime so it is recommended to go in the spring or autumn. Celebrities like Michael Jordan and Christy Turlington have visited in the past. 

1. Landscape

The mountains in Cinque Terre vs. The Amalfi Coast are quite different. Cinque Terre is known for its mountains which keep the cool air circulating around the area. They stand high above the crystal clear sea and are dotted with colorful houses that were built into the crevice of the sloping rocks.

The Amalfi Coast has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1997 and for good reason. It is a long stretch of coastline that spreads over the Mediterranean. Its rocky areas can seem intimidating, but if you decide to explore a bit you find forests and other areas with lush vegetation.

2. Villages and cities

First up for Amalfi Coast is Positano, a picturesque resort town with scenic cliffside hillas and villas, colorful buildings and a number of beaches. Atrani is a small fishing village and a well preserved medieval town located on the side of a mountain.

Villages in Cinque Terre include Monterosso, which is the largest of the five. It is usually the most visited and has the only decently sized beach. Vernazza has been recognized as one of the most beautiful towns in Italy and is also known for its beautiful architecture.

3. Accessibility

A boat parked on the coast that offers private transport.
Cinque Terre and Amalfi coast prefer private transport as it is not very easy to travel by public transport.

When considering accessibility in Cinque Terre vs. the Amalfi Coast, there are many things to keep in mind. In the Amalfi Coast, walking is recommended if you want to get the most out of its tourist attractions. If walking is difficult, it might be prudent to pay for taxis and private services to help you get around.

Cinque Terre is not known for its accessibility unfortunately. It has lots of uneven terrain and its villages are located on steep hillsides. Hiking is very popular, especially during tourist season, so its not good for people with mobility issues. On the bright side, the railway stations of Cinque Terre have elevators for the disabled.

4. Attractions and activities

If you want stunning views of the Amalfi Coast, do not pass up Path of the Gods, a 3-hour moderately difficult mountain trail. (Protip: there will not be many people there if you go early.) The Villa Cimbrone Gardens is a mountain top villa that also gives excellent views of the Coast and is wonderful for wedding photos. Duomo di Amalfi is a medieval Roman cathedral with magnificent architecture and a beautiful crypt. Keep in mind that there is a long set of steps leading up to the building.

If you’ve come to Cinque Terre for nature, we recommend Parco Nazionale. It is great for hikers and also has restaurants, shopping areas, and beaches where you can jump into the sea. It gets crowded on the weekends in the summer so try to go on a weekday if you can. The Castello di Riomaggiore was established in 1260 and has wonderful views of the sea and the village. It requires a small hike to visit and can also be crowded in July and August.

5. Architecture

The main characteristics of Amalfi Coast vs. Cinque Terre architecture are the Amalfi Coast’s vaulted roof structures and pointed arches. It has influences from eastern and western cultures. The Amalfi Cathedral has striped marble that dates back to the 9th century, and the Cloister of Paradise, built in the 13th century, has Arab-style marble arches.

The oldest buildings of Cinque Terre have a tower shape and are surrounded by dry stone walls and are connected by steps. The very colorful homes found in the villages tend to only be three to four stories and are famous for being packed on top of each other!

6. Beaches

Many tourists enjoy bathing on the Amalfi coast beach.
The most famous beaches are found on the Amalfi coast

The Amalfi Coast is definitely known for its beaches. First you have Il Duoglio Spiaggia, which can be accessed by stairs or by boat. It is a bit hidden so it will probably not be very crowded. It has a nice restaurant and you can have drinks on the beach amid the crystal clear water.

Cinque Terre, on the other hand, is not known for its beaches. The only sandy beach you can visit is Scoglio di Monterosso. It is great for sunbathing and people watching and you can go swimming in the warm water.

7. Nightlife

Nightlife in Cinque Terre vs. Amalfi Coast really has no comparison. In the Amalfi Coast there are romantic places for nightlife like da Paolino where you can get away from crowds and relax with a nice limoncello. But if you prefer a dance hall with various DJs, try Masaniello Art Cafe.

The small villages of Cinque Terre are not known for their nightlife and the area tends to have a more casual vibe. There are some bars and pubs located in Monterosso open late like Bar Colpi di Timone Monterosso, but even then maybe it will only be lively in the summer.

8. Mass tourism

The amount of tourists can be a bit much. Amalfi Coast has started to implement new rules for the purpose of cutting down on tourism. For example, cars with odd numbered license plates can only drive on Amalfi Coast Drive on odd-numbered days, and the same for even numbers.

The quiet fishing villages of Cinque Terre have become very popular tourist attractions. As a result, there is a threat of ecosystem and coastal area collapse. Trail system connecting the five villages is always filled with hikers damaging the ecosystem. Tourism caps have been an idea, but as of yet nothing has happened.

9. Culinary culture

The couple is ordering their food at the restaurant.
Cinque Terre and Amalfi coast have their own typical foods of the territory

The cuisine of Cinque Terre vs. Amalfi Coast is actually very similar. Amalfi Coast cuisine is based on traditional Southern Italian cooking and is popular for unique culinary experiences. Sought-after dishes include seafood such as mollusks, shrimp, octopus, and sea truffles. Lemons are a staple of the Amalfi Coast as well as different types of wine.

Cinque Terre is famous for its gelato and the shops that sell it. It slso has traditional food like muscoli, anchovies that you can eat the same day they are caught. Other popular foods include focaccia, mussels, olives, lemons, and limoncino.

10. Transportation

Private tours through the Amalfi Coast are for those that want someone else to take the stress out of the journey. Drivers can pick you up and drop you off at your hotel. Consider a car if you decide to come outside the summer months when the traffic is not as bad. Buses are for those traveling on a budget, but they can be slow and crowded. Vespas might be the best way since you can avoid traffic easily and they are also great for parking.

Best method to get around Cinque Terre is by trains that run every 20 minutes. All villages are connected by this method and tickets are 5 euros. Keep in mind that trains may run late if there are many tourists.

11. Prices

Tourists enjoy bathing on the Amalfi coast beach with sunny weather.
The Amalfi coast is more expensive than Cinque Terre

Perhaps the most important detail when considering Cinque Terre vs. Amalfi Coast is the price. Amalfi is more expensive in terms of lodging or food, but there are more things to do. Cinque Terre is smaller and has less options for food. If you are traveling on a budget, Cinque Terre is better.

Both have wonderful beaches, delicious food, excellent places for walking, and spectacular picturesque landscapes. Cinque Terre is smaller, so it will be easier (and quicker) to get around. Because you will probably spend more time there, Amalfi Coast can be considered more expensive since there are more things to do.

FAQs about: Amalfi Coast vs Cinque Terre

Is Cinque Terre or Amalfi better?

It depends on what you’re traveling for. Amalfi Coast is larger, has many more activities to do, and has a more vibrant nightlife. It can also be the most crowded. Cinque Terre, on the other hand, is for those that want a quiet and more relaxing travel experience. It is also great for outdoors-type people who would enjoy hiking between villages.

Is it Worth Seeing Cinque Terre?

Of course! As stated before, it’s perfect for hikers. It also has delectable seafood cuisine, a train that connects the villages, colorful houses pressed into the hillside for you to explore.