The Cinque Terre is an incredibly popular tourist destination in Italy now, and since it’s a tourism hotspot on the coast of a country with so much seafront property, the Cinque Terre must have some pretty great beaches, right? Wrong. There are beaches along the Cinque Terre, sure, but those beaches alone shouldn’t be your top reason for heading to this part of Italy.
The truth is that while there are beaches along the coast of the Cinque Terre, they don’t rank even close to the top of any list of Italy’s best beaches. If sunbathing and hanging out on picturesque Italian beaches is your top priority on your holiday, then you should look somewhere other than the Cinque Terre. If, on the other hand, you’re visiting the Cinque Terre towns to enjoy the hiking, the seafood, and the spetacular scenery – and you might just like to lie on a beach or two during your stay – then here’s where you’ll find the best beaches in the Cinque Terre.
- Monterosso al Mare – The largest beach in the Cinque Terre, and the most quintessentially Italian, is the one in the harbor of Monterosso al Mare. Here, you’ll find the typical rows of beach umbrellas and beach chairs, which you can rent for the day. There are public areas – meaning they’re free of charge – on this beach as well, where you can spread out a towel on any available spot. Since the town of Monterosso is right next to the beach, you’re never wanting for refreshments – everything is close at hand.
- Vernazza – Vernazza has a small sandy beach in its harbor, and in Vernazza it’s all public. There are no pre-arranged umbrellas or beach chairs to rent, you just claim whatever space you can find for your towel. Again, the proximity of Vernazza to its beach means that you don’t have to tote a day’s worth of snacks and drinks with you – you can take turns popping into town for whatever you need.
- Guvano Beach – This is a beach that requires some effort to reach. It’s located between the towns of Manarola and Corniglia, and to get there you’ve got to find the sign for “Spiaggia Libera” (public beach) on the trail between the two towns. Then you’ll walk down from the trail to the beach, which is fairly isolated and (because of its relatively difficult access) generally not very crowded. Guvano beach is also known as a nude beach, so let that be a warning to those with delicate sensibilities.
Riomaggiore and Manarola themselves are right on the water, but they don’t really have beaches. Instead, they have rocky shores that people use as launching pads into the water below. There are also flat rocks in both towns on which people sunbathe, if that’s your main goal and you don’t care whether it’s sand or rock beneath you.
If you’re up for a brief train ride to get to other beach options, the nearby towns of Levanto, Framura, and Bonasola have beaches, too, and you can reach those towns by train from the Cinque Terre.