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Barcelona or Cinque Terre?

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Mar 10th, 2015, 12:55 PM
  #1
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Barcelona or Cinque Terre?

I know this is a strange pair but if you had not been to either one and could only visit one, which would it be and why. Thanks for any help. I like beautiful scenery, walking, eating , photography and relaxing.
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Mar 10th, 2015, 01:01 PM
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CT according to what you like. Barcelona is a big city, not known for its scenery except Parc Güell, and I would not goto Barcelona to relax. In spite of some spectacular architecture, I would not consider Barcelona to be a walking city, but it does offer good photography and the food is probably more varied than on Cinque Terre.
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Mar 10th, 2015, 01:14 PM
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What do you like to eat? In le Cinque Terre, the only exceptional food is small fatty fish & shellfish and some vegetarian pasta (nut-based, not tomato based, sauces). What other food there is in the villages -- pizza, hot dogs, hamburgers, sliced meats and poultry -- is shipped in from other locations to satisfy tourists tastes, and is usually of very poor quality.

Barcelona, by contrast, really has tremendous variety, and food and wine is of much higher quality.

To give you feedback more broadly on my dilemma, a lot of my decision about which to choose would be based on what the rest of my itinerary was and what my mood was for this particular trip. Sometimes I really need a vacation and a goof-off. Sometimes, I really want to use my time to explore a culturally interesting city.

AlthoughI wouldn't go to Barcelona to wander, get lost, relax, snap photos, and eat, I have friends who recently did precisely that, booking themselves into a hotel with a roof top terrace and pool. They spent about half their time loafing, and the rest of the time at bars, nighttime fun and tapas joints, and doing some shopping. I think they spent less than half a day in museums or churches. So if you'd rather relax in a cool urban scene, it's possible to do that in Barcelona, in the same way you might do it in LA or SF. Le Cinque Terre is more like a village full of tourists, and after 10pm or so, totally quiet. Nice for swimming, or for hikes if it is not too hot.
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Mar 10th, 2015, 01:28 PM
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I'd take the Amalfi Coast anyday over the 5 Terre, which is just too too too mobbed in season to enjoy - no peace, little tranquility but the Amalfi has towns just as nice but to me nicer a bit bigger to spread out crowds, etc.

Barcelona over the 5 Terre if in the tourist season for sure. don't get me wrong I loved the 5 Terre the times I've been there but in comparison to Barcelona not even close for whatever you reasons are in the tourist season.

Like Yogi Berra said or would have: Nobody goes to the Cinque Terre anymore because it's too crowded. In off season it can be nice.
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Mar 10th, 2015, 01:30 PM
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Thank you so much Michael and Sandra! We are planning to go the end of March so hopefully not too many tourists. One of my concerns is actually getting to the Cinque Terre from Milan. Do you have any information about easiest way?
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Mar 10th, 2015, 01:40 PM
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In March, the weather could make the decision. I use http://www.wunderground.com/
See train schedules at http://www.trenitalia.com
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Mar 10th, 2015, 02:02 PM
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Yorkshire makes a good point. Everytime I have been in Italy with plans for the CT, I have changed direction because of rain. Once even, was a close as Lucca, in late April, it turned quite cold and rained all day, every day. When the forcast called for it to contine for three more days, we packed up and went to Florence. I don't mind Florence or Rome in Rain, but some places just don't have the same appeal if you need boots and raingear. For me, the AC is the same. March into early April is iffy for nice weather. You may get there and have perfect weather, but good to know the possibilities.
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Mar 10th, 2015, 02:06 PM
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Hi, again Trekkie

End of March I would not make a trip to the Italian Riviera -- and I say that as someone who lives on the Italian Riviera! When my friends ask about coming to visit, I tell them to wait until at least the end of April -- and waiting until the middle of June is even better.

Of course it is pretty if the weather is sunny and the hiking trails will be open if it has been dry enough that week -- but the chances of it being sunny and dry at the end of March aren't even 50-50.
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Mar 10th, 2015, 03:56 PM
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end of March is great - the towns will be nicely real - I went there one January a few years back and enjoyed the peace and quiet - there were few tourists but local were fixing up their premises and it had the aura of a real place - unlike in summer.

Getting there from Milan?

A snap - trains from Milan Centrale go direct to Monterrosso but may not stop in the other villages but there is a local milk train that shuttles along between all five CT lands frequently so if not staying in Monterosso change there for a local train to any village.

There are direct trains about every two hours or so - at other times you can take a train to Genoa and change there to hourly or so regional trains to the 5 Terre.

Regional trains do not require seat reservations like most of faster Italian trains do so you can with a ticket just hop on any ole regional trains.

There are some IC trains that are marginally faster and cost more - your get the mandated seat reservation automatically when you buy your tickets - again little or no savings for buying in advance on any of these trains - just buy in Milan or at Milan Airport's train station if coming in there.

For lots of good info on Italian trains check out these IMO superb sites: www.ricksteves.com; www.seat61.com and www.budgeteuropetravel.com.

and don't worry ever about getting on those trains - you will rarely if ever encounter a full train IME - the worst would be to have to go first class which I highly recommend anyway - especially for folks with luggage - many fewer people traveling in first class so always lots of empty seats IME and on those trains it won't cost much more. www.trainitalia.com is the official site of the Italian State Railways - look for schedules and fares but again NO need to buy anything for these trips before you get to Italy.
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Mar 10th, 2015, 04:19 PM
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I don't want to get into a pointless discussion with other posters who once went to le Cinque Terre in January, but March isn't likely to be "great" weather-wise, and especially if you want to hike on the trails.

Your trip, your appetite for risk. You could luck out with sunshine. But in March you have a fairly good chance of arriving in le Cinque Terre to days of steady rain and no hiking, and next to nothing nearby to do. You can at that point take a train to Pisa and hop a flight to Barcelona. I think in March a last minute hotel booking should be easy. But then again, you might just want to go to Barcelona, and if the weather is lovely and dry in that area, there are pretty hikes and beach towns accessible by day trip. If the weather stinks, there is a whole lot to do indoors.
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Mar 10th, 2015, 06:25 PM
  #11
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As yorkshire noted, the weather is something I would consider seriously when making this choice.

Since my experience was apparently a bit different than that of another poster, let me say that I had some wonderful meals while in the Cinque Terre -- extraordinarily fresh fish one night, heavenly pasta with pesto (which I believe originated in this region) another night, a truly memorable bean soup after getting drenched by a rainstorm on one of the trails, all with some lovely wines....
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Mar 11th, 2015, 06:31 AM
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Were in both cities last Oct/Nov. To plot the almost month long trip and 19 day cruise went to fodors.com and destination for the cities we were going to and the site was spot on.

Where are you coming from? Can you do either one at the last minute? How long will you be in Europe?

Went to Spain starting 50 years ago and NEVER wanted to go to Barcelona. Went to Spain twice after, still said no to Barcelona--too Gaudi or modern for me!!! Got stuck going there about 5 years ago on a cruise and we LOVED it and have been back twice since.

CT on a cruise in Nov. I thought the 2 towns we saw were very nice. Our mistakes, yes plural. Got there on our own from Livorno and it was too much train travel so hubby who tires easily was worn out before we got there. Towns are small, steep and lovely but lots of tourists and a couple of groups from the ship.

Ct is SPECTACULAR from above when seeing all the villages together or from the sea on the ferry that goes between them. So I would try to get there by bus or tour group so you get that spectacular view of all 5 from above as ferry will begin March 28, 2015.

So, yes Barcelona is wonderful but CT is unique. Barcelona in any weather, CT needs anything other than rain.
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Mar 11th, 2015, 09:48 AM
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I don't want to get into a pointless discussion with other posters who once went to le Cinque Terre in January>

what is there to discuss - I have been in the 5 Terre in Jan and Oct and August - just comparing off season to high season - and the weather in Jan was in the 60s but unusually warm - I would say the best time if hiking is late spring to mid fall though these trails have periodically be closed on some segments due to mudslides, rock falls, etc even in summer. Check the condition of trails before you set out at the hiking trails ticket booths in each town (you must pay to get a hiking permit even if doing one segment IME).
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Mar 11th, 2015, 03:58 PM
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there is actually an overnight ferry - or all day and night ferry between a port close to the 5 Terre and Barcelona in case you want to easily do both and put a cruise into your trip plans!
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Mar 11th, 2015, 04:45 PM
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An overnight ferry in March is really problematic. I don't even know if they run all the time in Spring.

The Mediterranean coast is much stormier than most people realize. One of the reasons that local boy Christopher Columbus was such a great sailor, and that Genova has dominated the European shipbuilding industry for more than 10 centuries. is that the stormy nature of the coast and dealing with it teaches you an awful lot about dealing with unexpected. The poet great Romantic poet Shelley drowned not far from le Cinque Terre when he naively set out in a boat on a sunny day, never expecting how quickly the weather would deteriorate.

By and large, the most unstable and wet periods of weather in Ligura are spring and autumn, as the weather shifts from cold to warm, and then back from warm to cold again. Needless to say, it is not non-stop doom, death and destruction, but a great many people who spend a lot of money to get to le Cinque Terre "off-season" end up bummed out that they couldn't hike, couldn't enjoy eating outdoors, couldn't hang out for long on the beach. They basically stayed in their notel rooms, or got on a long train ride to Pisa or Genova, looking for something interesting to do.

Again, up to you if you want to roll the dice, and shrug off the money if you lose the bet weatherwise.
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Mar 12th, 2015, 06:54 AM
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Info on the ferry for 2015. as I noted above begins on March 28, 2015. http://cms.cnpstudio.it/USER_CONTENT...2896,754741669
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Mar 12th, 2015, 07:50 AM
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Yes keep your schedule flexible for the CT in spring if the not unusual wet weather moves in - day trips possible to Portofino or even Pisa is not too far or Genoa.
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Mar 12th, 2015, 01:57 PM
  #18
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Thanks so much folks for some really valuable information. I will be checking weather for CT. as the rain would really be problematic for hiking. I like the idea of less tourists though Love the input...it is my first time on the forum and so happy you were kind enough to respond.
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Mar 12th, 2015, 02:44 PM
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Welcome to Fodor's!
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