Amalfi Coast or Cinque Terre? The Important Italian Coastal Question...

If you’re planning at visit to Italy and want to take in those breathtaking views that come with a journey to the notable coastal Italian villages, you may be asking yourself - Amalfi Coast or Cinque Terre?

Oh, how life is full of difficult decisions! Yours can’t be too bad if you’re trying to decide between these two beauties… but if you’re never been to either and only have time for one, it’s a toss-up.

Since there is a little something for every type of personality in both Amalfi and Cinque Terre, I’ll break down the differences based on what type of jet-setter you are… or want to be to your Instagram followers. ;)

The view of Manarola, one of the five "Cinque Terre" towns...

The view of Manarola, one of the five "Cinque Terre" towns...

If you want to break a sweat…

If you’re someone who likes to strap on a pair of hiking boots, throw on a backpack and really get the heart pumping before 10am, you’ll want to book that flight for Cinque Terre.

The “five towns” that make up Cinque Terre are connected by old foot paths that were once the only way to get from town to town. Now it’s a hiker’s paradise with unbelievable views. You can decide which towns you’d like to hike between based on length of time to reach your destination and level of difficulty.

The view from the Vernazza hiking trail in "Cinque Terre"...

The view from the Vernazza hiking trail in "Cinque Terre"...

If your idea of cardio is swiping your AMEX…

If you’ve already decided that you will travel to Italy with an empty suitcase in tow for all the shopping you plan to do, you’ll want to head to the Amalfi Coast.

While Cinque Terre has a few cute boutiques and plenty of souvenir shops, you won’t find the high-end brands and variety that you’ll find in Sorrento or Positano. There’s a reason the Amalfi Coast is a holiday destination for the rich and famous.

 

If you can’t handle pain-in-the-ass transportation…

I may be the odd one out here as most travelers that I have come across complain about how difficult it is to get to Cinque Terre, but I hate nothing more than difficult transportation and very much preferred Cinque Terre on this front.

Perhaps it’s more difficult for airline travel but by train and for travel amongst the villages once you arrive, Cinque Terre is far superior to the Amalfi Coast.

I had to take a very long, hot and rickety train ride from Naples to Sorrento to get to the Amalfi Coast and once there the only options between Sorrento and other spots like Positano, Ravello, Amalfi and Capri was a bus (on winding, two lane mountain roads often with lots of traffic) or a boat.

Even a trip out to Pompeii proved challenging with trains running every 30 minutes and often so packed you couldn’t get a seat.

For Cinque Terre, once you get into La Spezia via train it’s easy to hop on one train that takes you to each of the five towns. I visited all of them in one afternoon with only about 10 minutes between each one. You never had to wait more than 10 minutes for a train and the process to get tickets was easy and efficient.

 

If your idea of “roughing it” is a four-star hotel…

If your idea of “getting away from it all” is a lounging by a pool with a view while munching on room service and drinking champagne, look no further than the Amalfi Coast.

In Cinque Terre it’s all about getting outdoors and enjoying the scenery which is obvious in the area hotels and their lack of amenities. I had a hard time finding accommodations there and it was overpriced, dirty and lacking reliable Wi-Fi (which is critical for a digital nomad).  

On the other hand, Amalfi Coast had a hotel for every budget and most of them had pools with spectacular views, continental breakfast, room service and all the amenities you’d expect of a city known as a getaway for the rich.

The views of Positano in the Amalfi Coast are right out of a movie...

The views of Positano in the Amalfi Coast are right out of a movie...

 If you’re a foodie…

This one is a toss-up. I consider myself a huge foodie and frankly, neither disappoints. Hell, it’s Italy!

If pesto is your jam, Cinque Terre is the birthplace for this green gift from the gods. I mean, I almost fell off a cliff after biting into some epic pesto lasagne in Vernazza. They also do seafood pretty damn well.

If anything lemon gets you going, that’s the specialty of the Amalfi Coast. Lemons are everywhere, and they’re huge and delicious! I ate lemon pasta for almost every meal and I still dream about it.

Lemon pasta for days... literally. In the Amalfi Coast...

Lemon pasta for days... literally. In the Amalfi Coast...

Regardless of your decision, you really can’t go wrong in Italy… on the coast. The wine is cheap and forever flowing. The pasta is al dente, as it should be, and usually homemade. The views are some of the best I’ve seen in the world, and the people are pretty laid back. It’s “la dolce vita” after all.

Anna Grymes