Monterosso in Cinque Terre is known as a summer destination in Italy, but what is it like in winter? I went to explore to see how it was.
We went on our honeymoon to Monterosso in Cinque Terre in the summer of 2013. It is located on the north-west coast in Italy around an hour away from Genoa by car.
You can also get there by train in 1 hour and 20 minutes from Genoa and 3 hours from Milan.
Cinque Terre means ‘five lands’ in Italian and it is not just one place it is five, hence the name. Cinque Terre has five villages that are called Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore.
These five villages are that idyllic colourful Italian destination that you see on the cover of travel magazines and all over Instagram.
Monterosso, Vernazza, Riomaggiore and Manarola are all built by the sea and Corniglia is built on the top of the cliffs.
Cinque Terre is a great place to hike within one of the villages or between each.
Monterosso al Mare
Monterosso’s full name is Monterosso al Mare. It is the largest of the villages and has a beach. In the summer months from April/May to September, Monterosso is a buzzing small town full of tourists.
When we went in June 2013 it was busy with mainly American and Australian tourists. I felt like I was not in Italy, as I hardly heard anyone speak Italian.
My husband is Italian from Genoa and when we were out one night, he asked ‘am I the only Italian in this restaurant?’ and he was apart from the owners!
But do not let this put you off, as it was still lovely and had an Italian atmosphere in the town. It is amazing how different it is to Genoa, as Genoa that is only an hour away and is never full of tourists.
Back to Monterosso!
Monterosso is easy to walk around and if hiking is not your scene the town it big enough to walk around and explore.
There are pretty shops, you can stop and have a drink and there is a promenade along the beach to walk along and you can sit on the beach and go for a swim.
When I was there in 2013, I was still in recovery from breaking my femur bone. I had learnt to walk again, unaided, but I could not walk very far and not for too long so Monterosso was perfect.
I recommend it if you have small children or you do not want to walk too far and stay local.
Monterosso in Winter
Monterosso in winter is completely different to the summer months, as it is a lot colder! Some of the restaurants and shops are closed up and the beach is empty.
This is nice if you like to walk along the beach, as in the summer the beach is covered with sun loungers, beach huts and beach bars.
There were quite a few tourists walking around, nowhere near as much as the summer months, but people were still visiting this beautiful area.
We had a nice day, we had a lovely walk, but the restaurant we wanted to go to re-live our honeymoon was closed.
As most of the restaurants were closed the choice was not as good, but we had nice lunch and made the most of it.
I would recommend going to Monterosso in the summer months either at the beginning of the season or end so May or September. June to August is very busy and very hot.
The reasons are, that you will experience the town in its full glory; sunshine, choice of restaurants and bars, all the shops will be open, you can go to the beach and even hike to the next towns.
I will be returning in the summer so I will be reporting back again.
What to Wear
If you choose to go to Monterosso in winter wrap up warm, as it is cold and windy. I recommend a woolly hat, scarf, gloves (ones that you can keep on and still use the touchscreen on your phone) and a warm jacket or coat.
Wear flat shoes or boots as some parts of the old paths and steps are uneven.
- Weather in winter: 5*C – 11*C
- Language: Italian and English is spoken
- Currency: Euros
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Have you been to Monterosso in winter? What would you recommend doing?
OMG! Brings back such amazing memories, Cinque Terra was one of my favorite places in Italy.
It is a beautiful place and it has a special place in my heart ❤️
I’ve only been there in the summer and love it. I think I would appreciate it during the quieter winter months too — something so tranquil about that.
It was nice in winter, great for taking photos. But you can’t beat it in summer 💙
I had never even thought about visiting Monterosso during the winter. I see why you recommend going when it’s a bit warmer and full of more life, but sometimes fewer tourists aren’t a bad thing!
It was lovely and quiet and I got lots of lovely photos. I just have lots of lovely memories of it in the summer ❤️
It always surprises me when I visit Italy in winter and it is cold as that is not what we automatically think of when we think of Italy. I was in Milan last weekend and it was biting cold. I think I would still like to visit in winter though when there are less crowds, then maybe return in summer to see the contrast.
It’s true, but in the north of Italy it get quite cold. It is beautiful in the winter, but in the summer it is a lot of fun.
Cinque Terre has long been on my bucket list and in spite of living in France which is not far, I still haven’t got the chance to go! I can imagine the hords of tourists in summer, and going off-season is probably the only way to truly appreciate the place nowadays… I like the colors in your pictures, very appealing!
You must go! Thank you, I enjoyed taking these photos as it was such a contrast from the summer. If you get the chance to go, go in April/ May then not too busy, but you will have some sun ☀️
I am hoping to go to this part of Italy in late May. But it sounds like it is so nice and peaceful during the winter!
Have a lovely time! You should be ok, it’s July and August when it’s packed.
Cinque Terre is so beautiful. I was fully expecting your report to be – go there in the winter and take advantage of elbow room and empty spaces. Instead, you said it was too cold and shops where closed. I love it when I learn something new about the world and travels from blogs. Thank you for passing that along.
Thank you! I think if I had never been there before maybe my opinion would be different, but I know how beautiful it is in the summer.
Monterosso looks absolutely beautiful- those views of the beaches are just incredible. I’ve never been, but I think if I planned a trip, it would be during the summer, so I can experience the area in it’s full glory, like you said.
It is a gorgeous place, but in the summer it is another world, even nicer!
I can’t imagine Cinque Terre would be too fun to visit if you couldn’t walk very far. You’ll have to return yet again, but this time in season. Cinque Terre is just one of those seasonal places where many shops and restaurants close down because it just isn’t profitable to stay open in the slow winter months. You’re right about September. It’s still warm, the weather is usually nice, and there aren’t as big crowds as the summertime.
I completely understand the reasons, but it is still a beautiful place to visit. I am just looking forward to visiting again in the summer and enjoy the walking part!
I was there during early spring some years back, but was just for few hours. We were on a road trip. Seeing your pics I am feeling that loss. Thanks for those tips on winter wear.
If you get the chance go again as it is a gorgeous place to visit even just for a whole day.
Personally, I love visiting places in the off season. Sure, it may not be at its full glory, but I think it gives an opportunity to experience the area while not having to worry about other people. As a photographer, I get a little tired of trying to find a moment to get a picture without people, and as a short person, I get tired of being stuck behind a taller person and unable to see. I tend to find my experiences more enjoyable and fulfilling this way.
Monterosso is a photographer’s paradise in winter, especially when the sun is out.
I am not surprised that many of the beach restaurants were closed in the winter. It would be a pity to visit such a beautiful place but not go into the waters. I had a similar experience in Croatia although we visited in fall and not winter, most beach restaurants and bars had already started to shut down and the crowds had reduced as well. Most parties had stopped happening and although I don’t mind having less people, I kind of missed the vibe.
I’m looking forward to going back in the summer!
Good information was shared, thanks for this.