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charlottemarlowe Feb 22nd, 2016 07:35 AM

Cinque Terre/Nice or Almalfi Coast?
Hello everyone. I would love any advice you have for my family regarding a trip to Italy. My husband and I are traveling with our 2 year old and my parents (mid 60s). We are wondering 1) between Cinque Terre and Almalfi Coast which do you prefer? 2) do you think a particular town in either region is better for certain things? for us given our travel companions?

If we did Cinque Terre we were looking at Monterosso for 4-5 days (because of the beach for the little one) and then renting a car in La Spieza and driving to the Nice area for another 3 days (I especially liked the looks of Eze). A train ride of 5-6 hours is not something I would look forward to with a toddler. If we did this itinerary, do you recommend Eze? Another spot outside of Nice with a little room to roam and experience less busy city and more local town?

If we did the Almalfi coast, what is a less visited but still amazing spot that would work well for us? From there, is there a region you would recommend for the second leg of our trip? Naples? Island?

Or surprise me....give me your dream itinerary (given our limitations with toddler, et al) on the coast.

So many hugs for all the responses. You guys are the best :)

charlottemarlowe Feb 22nd, 2016 07:36 AM

Oh I forgot to mention, we are going in two months - end of April.

PalenQ Feb 22nd, 2016 07:49 AM

Will you get a steep drop-off charge for renting in Italy and dropping in France?

yorkshire Feb 22nd, 2016 08:16 AM

Do you wish to swim or just play in the sand--in April the sea will be quite frigid.
I would actually not do either with a toddler and any but the most spry 60-year-olds. CT is best when you are hiking, and the AC is full of steep steps and has transport "issues."

HappyTrvlr Feb 22nd, 2016 08:32 AM

I would chose a place other than Eze with a two year old. Look at Antibes and Cap Ferrat or Nice itself.

WWK Feb 22nd, 2016 09:06 AM

I wouldn't go to either the AC or Cinque Terre with a two-year-old. Too much rough terrain, too many steps to climb.

Nice might work, since most of the city is relatively flat with a long beautiful promenade on the sea. You can do many easy day trips by train, but even that with a toddler could be tricky.

nytraveler Feb 22nd, 2016 09:40 AM

Sorry - but April is too early to go into the water and can be warm or still chilly even sitting on the beach. Hotel pools usually open in mid to late May.

And with a toddler either CT or AC can be difficult due to the fact that they are cut into the side of cliffs above the sea and there ar often a lot of steps to get anywhere.

It sounds like you want a beach resort but are really too early except for southern Spain - will be warm enough there for beach and swimming (expect high temps in the 80s.

PalenQ Feb 22nd, 2016 10:37 AM

Eze is high up on the Corniche (cliffs) well away from the sea.
Cannes actually has the best beaches and is a nice place to base - Antibes would be nice too. But yes can still have cool waters even though temps may be rather warm at that time.

Blueeyedcod Feb 22nd, 2016 12:06 PM

You don't mention your budget or total time away - seven days? ten days?
Late April early May may be cool in the water but you could find it's not that bad - depends where you are from and what temperatures you are acclimatised to. I would suggest Sorrento but its hotel pools may still be closed then. The Amalfi Coast is not all cliffs and stairs. The town of Amalfi is shaped like a bowl with most of the village itself flat or rising slightly at the sides. It also has a black sand/pebble beach, although with lots of boats/ferries coming and going, it's busy. If you stay low in the village in Positano the stairs are very few and manageable. Best way to get there and away is train to Salerno and then either a ferry (beautiful way to arrive on the Amalfi Coast) or a private driver. Driver will cost you around 120 euro.

justineparis Feb 22nd, 2016 12:33 PM

Eze sur Mer ( beach) has no sand beaches.. just rocks.. not fun on anyones feet.. and Nice is exactly the same.. those rocks hurt my feet.. if you do go bring water shoes .. actually I just don't consider the beach at Nice suitable for tots anyways.. steep sort of walk down to waves. fine for an adult. not for toddler.

Cannes is sandy.

As said.. if you are looking for any sort of beach time as in suntanning and swimming.. its a bit too early. So its a good idea to at least go somewhere with lots to do other then lay about on beach..4-5 days in Cinque Terra is too much for your plan.

sandralist Feb 22nd, 2016 01:02 PM

April is too early to get reliably dry weather in le Cinque Terre, and if it rains it can be quite blustery and chilly.

If you are determined to be on a seacoast, you might give some consideration to one of the smaller villages south of the town of Amalfi, and rent a car so you can visit Paestum. As mentioned before, ferries from Salerno can take you along the scenic coast of the north (Amalfi, Positano) or to Capri, provided the seas are not too windy/choppy.

I have never stayed in this agriturismo, but it has a fine reputation if you read reviews (you should). Like I said, you would need a car to enjoy this area.

Since you are open to other possibilities, I would suggest that instead of the seacoast of Italy that you consider a flat, mainly pedestrianized town like Lucca for a week's stay. You can visit Pisa and Florence, and other smaller historic towns by train. If you rent a car for part of the time, you can visit le Cinque Terre if you plan it carefully (plus other small towns with castles and views). If you get a very warm day, you can go to Forte dei Marmi for a seaside lunch and dip-toes-in-cold-water.

sandralist Feb 22nd, 2016 01:03 PM

Oops -- forgot the link to the agriturismo on the southern coast:

charlottemarlowe Feb 25th, 2016 01:19 PM

PalenQ - Yes, we will be charged much more than I originally thought (470 extra!). We are dropping that plan!

I did some more research and it looks like there is lots to do and see along the coast. Plus, with the toddler, we will move slow and only see a couple things a day. Portofino, Santa Margharita Ligure, Rapello, Camogili, I especially like the looks of San Fruttousso. I also have a friend who swears Genoa is amazing even though it doesn't look it from the pictures! Now the big question is, do we stay in CT for some of the time and somewhere closer to the places I listed for the other part? Someone asked above, we will be there 1 week. Does anyone have a recommended spot?

Thanks for anything you have to offer!

yorkshire Feb 25th, 2016 01:38 PM

Those first four places are quite close together and of similar distance from CT. I would eliminate Portofino because it is terribly expensive and not on the train line.
If you wanted a city, then Genoa would be fine, but it sounds like you want somewhere smaller.
SML and Camogli both have small sand beaches. They also both allow easy access to San Fruttuoso.
At this point, I would let accommodations be the deciding factor--hard to go wrong.
I am the first to admit I have a bias against CT, as it is so crowded with day trippers, but I am also the first to say it is gorgeous. If you want to experience it in the am and pm, then split your time between there and one of the other spots. However, if you find a great accommodation in one of the other towns, I don't think you would regret visiting it as a day trip.

sandralist Feb 25th, 2016 01:42 PM

San Fruttuoso is only reachable by boat or hiking, and the hiking is much too difficult for a toddler. (it is several hours in steep terrain). The boats from Camogli operate all year (I am not sure if those from Portofino run as early as April).

However, on a recent trip to San Fruttuoso for lunch (I live near it), we got off the boat at the first stop (Punta Chiappa) because the windy seas were too rough for us, it was too alarming to be on a boat that small, pitching around and getting wet with spray. We noticed that the boat runs ceased operating for the day after that. Fortunately we were all fit enough to walk up the thousand steps (I am not exaggerating), and then down another thousand to return to Camogli. Would not have wanted to do that with a toddler, so make sure if you go to San Fruttoso that the weather forecast is for low-winds all day.

To answer your other question about where to stay: With a toddler, you are much better off staying in one of the relatively flat, mainly pedestrianized towns. Santa Margherita Ligure fits that description and so does Rapallo. Camogli is much smaller. All of them have train stations that make it easy to go to either Genova or le Cinque Terre. Another good choice would be Sestri Levante.

In April, you just need to brace yourself for the possibility that you might get wet, windy and chilly weather for a few days in a row. You might get all sunny weather, but you might not. With a toddler, it is hard to know what to recommend as a rainy day excursion. The acquarium in Genova is quite expensive. You can consider the naval museum in Genova. On the coast the pretty town of Chiavari has covered sidewalks, which mean at least you can walk around without getting wet.

jacolis Feb 25th, 2016 04:08 PM


We stayed in Sestri Levante with our children. I dont know if April would be warm enough to swim but it is on a sandy bay that is extremely calm and would be perfect with a toddler. We travelled by train to other little towns on the coast including the CT towns. It's quite a small town. Not sure if there would be more to do in a bigger place like SML/Portofino. We were coming from Nice so we also stopped in Genoa which we thought was worth it.

Here is the link to the hotel we stayed at Sestri:

sandralist Feb 25th, 2016 04:54 PM

There is not more to do in Santa Margherita Ligure than there is in Sestri Levante. In fact, for toddlers, Sestri Levante is much nicer. Thel carousel might even be running all year. I don't know. But Sestri Levante is extremely family oriented and quite pretty, and the food is better and cheaper.

StuDudley Feb 25th, 2016 05:17 PM

>>Or surprise me....give me your dream itinerary (given our limitations with toddler, et al) on the coast. <<<

I don't know if this April trip is in conjunction with your March trip to Berlin, but if your objective is some "beach" time in April (when the weather can be "iffy") for 7-8 days - I would just go to Nice. Plenty of stuff to do in Nice and surrounds for 7-8 days. You don't need a car to get around - but if you want to head into the wonderful Nice Hinterland and explore canyons, mountains (Alps), "cute little villages" - a car would certainly be helpful. I would get bored on the CT or even Sestri in 4-5 days in April if the weather is bad. Fortunately, when were on the CT for 4 days & also Sestri for 3 - we had fabulous weather.

Have you checked the car rental situation for La Spezia to Nice??? There is probably a hefty drop-off fee - but you never mentioned "budget" so that may not be important. It's a 3 1/2 hr drive from La Spezia to Nice through what seems like 100 tunnels. We've driven this route 4-5 times & we hate it. Plenty of opportunities to make a wrong turn around Genoa and find yourself on the streets of Genoa without a street map (did that once). We took the train the last time we went from La Spezia to Nice.

Stu Dudley

zmzm917 Feb 25th, 2016 06:00 PM

I was in santa margherita last year. Cinque Terre hiking if you are into that is worth it but if that is not your main idea to go, Amalfi coast is way better. Island hoping, its warmer, and the place is cheaper. So much more to do and see.

billandcindy Feb 27th, 2016 08:24 AM

Re places near Nice, we stayed in Villefranche-sur-mer for a month in April 2014. Great small port town just east of Nice. Very well situated; can easily take the bus east (to Monoco, Menton) or west (to Nice, Antibes), rather than drive. Also, took the train to Cannes & Grasse. Villefranche has a nice, smallish beach; great for kids. When we were there, had several "beach days." We often took the short bus ride to Nice, where one can easily connect to Eze, which didn't much impress us.

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