My husband and I (22 and 27) want to go to the Cinque Terre in October. Is that a good time to go? What are the highlights of this trip? Budget and length is up in the air and flexible.
The weather is very nice that time of year in Liguria. Cinque Terre can overflow with tourists in high season. Those small towns just can't handle the crush of large crowds.
Hiking between the towns is the high point and so is approaching them by sea on a boat. Riomaggiore and Vernazza are my favorites. I didn't find Corneliano d'Albaor Manarola nearly so interesting.Monterosso al Mare is larger and has better road access but lacks the feeling of the smaller scenic towns. Most memorable for me was the view of Riomaggiore as you approach from the sea on a boat. We stayed in Porto Venere and took a boat to the towns from there (a good decision). The other most memorable moment would be the views of Vernazza as you approach on the hiking trail from the south.
When you contemplate visits to scenic seashore towns in Italy, the views of the town can be more satisfying than actually touring the town on foot. There isn't anything too exciting about tourist shops selling T Shirts made in China. This is not only true for Cinque Terre, but also for other scenic towns like Positano and Amalfi.
Here is a photo of Riomaggiore
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It's hard to say, I went in June, but I know the weather is very fickle that time of year. The problem is you could have a great time, slightly cheaper since summer is over, but you could run into bad weather which would mean roads are closed, hiking trails are destroyed and getting from one town to the next may not be possible. The beauty of this town was the water and soaking in the sun, you may lose out on that in October. If this is the only time you can go I would say you should check it out, but I might suggest a different month if you are flexible, just to be 100% sure you'll get the most out of your vacation.
For me personally, the best part of my trip was seeing the different cities, exploring the small streets and back alleys and enjoying some AMAZING pesto. I became obsessed with pesto because of this region. I also loved that they had some very unique dishes, for example, testaroli, a pasta that looks like a pancake and trofie (a twisted pasta - looks like a unicorn tusk. My favorite restaurants in this region were Osteria a Cantina de Mananan in Corniglia and Trattoria da Sandro in Vernazza.