Top 4 things to do in Cinque Terre in winter
Is there anything that I can do in the Cinque Terre in the winter? Of course there is: this remarkable cluster of villages, traditions, flavours and colours bustles in its own way for 365 days a year! Forget all about the heat and the chaotic droves of people that you see here in the summer. In this article we will discover the Cinque Terre together in its winter version, with everything that makes it so special even at this time of year.
But first of all let’s respond to a basic question: why should you visit the Cinque Terre during the winter?
Simply: why not? As you can imagine, during this season and at this time of the year, the overwhelming wave of tourists who arrive from all over the world has subsided. What remains is the tranquility and authenticity of these incredible places.
What can I do in the Cinque Terre in the winter? Experience the sea
1. Explore the coast between Monterosso and Vernazza
Thanks to the mild winters and the not so rigid temperatures of the Ligurian Sea, winter is a great season in which to both enjoy the sea and explore the coast. We have talked about this in various blog posts as it’s a subject that is very dear to the hearts of the Outdoor Portofino Team: you can enjoy and live your life on the sea all year round!
(If you are interested in this subject, we recommend that you also read The sea in Liguria: 12 activities for enjoying it 12 months a year)
In particular, in an area as exploited by mass tourism as the Cinque Terre, living on the sea in winter is a true gift. In particular the stretch of coast between Monterosso and Vernazza is full of treasures just waiting to be discovered: marine grottoes, calm natural pools and freezing waterfalls. All within the space of just a few miles! Thanks to the fact that these places are almost deserted during the low season, visiting them becomes a very exclusive experience. The best way to discover these marvels is certainly with a kayak tour. Travelling by canoe in fact you will have the chance to get really up close and observe every crevice of the coast; furthermore it allows you to remain (relatively) dry, without suffering the cold.
What can I do in the Cinque Terre in the winter? Experience the colours
2. Enjoy the sunset from Riomaggiore
Riomaggiore is the Easternmost village of all of the Cinque Terre. Enjoying the sunset from the tiny port, perhaps together with a good glass of local wine, is one of those experiences to be had at least once in your life. But why in winter? Because at this time of year, the sea, clouds and sun give their very best at the end of the day. The sun dives directly into the sea, highlighting the colours of the waves and houses with its final rays. I know that describing a sunset with words might just become a writing exercise, so I will leave you now with a photo and an invitation: go and see it for yourself!
What can I do in the Cinque Terre in the winter? Experience the traditions
3. Visit the Manarola nativity
Perhaps not many of you know that it’s exactly in the Cinque Terre where you can see the largest illuminated nativity scene in the world! This majestic installation, inaugurated in 2007, is the result of more than 60 years of hard work and passion. Every year, through the entire Advent period, this nativity with its 300 figures takes shape, illuminating all of the village from the hill named Tre Croci, or three crosses. Thus every evening this work of art fills the air with magic and Christmas spirit, amazing, enchanting and lifting up the hearts of all of its spectators.
Furthermore, since 2008, the entire installation has become eco sustainable. In fact a special photovoltaic system has been created to produce the energy needed for the more than 1700 light bulbs present in the nativity.
What can I do in the Cinque Terre in the winter? Experience the surrounding area
4. Descend (and ascend) the Monesteroli steps
You may well have caught on social media photos of this highly scenographic stone staircase. In the last few years in fact Monesteroli has started to become more and more famous in its own special way. This handful of stone houses is situated inside the National Park of the Cinque Terre, midway between Riomaggiore and Portovenere. The tiny hamlet can be reached exclusively by sea or alternatively via the long set of stone stairs. The most famous trail to get there is the sentiero 4b trail which starts off from Campiglia. After an initial stretch between the vines with a view over the gulf islands of Palmaria, Tino and Tinetto, you get to the first steps of the long flight of steps.
If you are from Liguria you are probably well used to climbing stairs and certainly you will not be shocked if I reveal that this one has more than 1000 steps. But one thing is certain: you have certainly never seen a staircase like this! For the entire length of the descent, your view is lost in the blue of the sea from East to West, not meeting anything else on the horizon. The descent is really thrilling, accompanied by slight goosebumps given the surrounding empty space, making the experience even more memorable.
So here it is, my personal top 4 of the experiences to be had in the winter in the Cinque terre. But trust me when I say that I would have still many other things to add to this list. As we have already seen, the magic of this place goes well beyond the summer season. In fact on the contrary – it is exactly the lower season that exalts its traditions and that makes it so special.