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Boy plays with ceramic octopus artwork in Monterosso in the Cinque Terre, Italy.

Monterosso with Kids – How to Visit the Cinque Terre’s Most Family-Friendly Village

Do you want to visit the Cinque Terre with your kids but you’re put off by all of the stairs, tiny villages, and rocky drop offs into the water?

If so, keep Cinque Terre on your list – and visit its most family-friendly village – Monterosso al Mare.  Monterosso is – by far – the easiest place to visit in the Cinque Terre with kids! It’s the only Cinque Terre village that I would spend a lot of time in with a baby or toddler.

True, it doesn’t have the ‘colorful villages clinging to a cliff’ vibe that the other four villages do, but its facilities (including the area’s best beaches) help make it feel like a vacation for everyone in the family (yes – even you, mom and dad). 

I’m a mamma of three living in nearby Tuscany.  If we’re in the area, I try to include Monterosso because it’s got the main draw for my kids (beach), it’s a stress-free place to visit, and it also makes a good base for spending the night. 

Let’s take a closer look at what a visit to Monterosso with kids is like, including:

  • why Monterosso al Mare makes a good stop on a family trip to the Cinque Terre
  • where Monterosso is, and how the town is set up
  • when you should visit (or avoid) Monterosso with your kids
  • kid-friendly activities in Monterosso
  • where to eat and sleep with kids in Monterosso al Mare
  • how to get to Monterosso with kids in tow
  • family logistics in Monterosso (strollers, diaper changes, etc)

Why You Should Visit Monterosso al Mare on Your Family Trip to the Cinque Terre

Boy looks over rock wall out to the sea in Monterosso in the Cinque Terre, Italy.
Checking out the views with my 6-year-old

If you want to visit the Cinque Terre with your family, know that this is the easiest of the five villages to visit with kids.  Monterosso is:

  • flat-ish (especially in comparison to the other four villages)
  • stroller-friendly
  • home to two playgrounds
  • full of plenty of places to get something to eat
  • home to basic services like grocery stores,

But, the thing I appreciate most about Monterosso, compared to the other Cinque villages – there is plenty of space for kids to run around and explore.  It’s much less cramped and has many places for kids to run around. 

If, however, you only have time to visit one Cinque Terre village and you’re craving the colorful villages tucked into the hills above the sea – Monterosso isn’t your village.  It’s beautiful, and it has lovely beaches, but it doesn’t have the same look as the other villages you’ve seen.  If you want family-friendly plus those, try to combine Monterosso with one of the other villages. 

Where is Monterosso al Mare?

Monterosso al Mare is the northernmost village of the Cinque Terre.  Vernazza is to its south (less than 5 minutes by train), followed by Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore.  The next town to the north of Monterosso is Levanto, and the next major city to the north is Genoa. 

Monterosso al Mare’s Unique Setup

Monterosso is split into ‘old’ and ‘new’ Monterosso.  It’s important to know this because you’ll likely want to see/do things in both, and it takes about 7-10 minutes to walk between them (more or less, depending on where you’re heading). 

New Monterosso has the train station and newer housing.  It’s also home to the area’s best beach – Fegina (more on it below) and a playground. 

Old Monterosso also has a (smaller) beach, the charming historic part of the village, and Monterosso’s best playground.

Between the two, you either walk through a tunnel pathway (stroller-friendly) or up and over a cliffside hill (steps, fantastic views).

When to Visit Monterosso with Kids

Like other Cinque Terre villages, Monterosso is at its best when the weather is nice and it’s not crowded – but that’s a combo that doesn’t occur. 

However, Monterosso’s beaches are still fun for kids even if they can’t swim – so you can still have a fun day with your family outside of the typical swim season (June, July, August).  On my last visit with my 6-year old, we had a blast on Monterosso’s beaches – in March.

Keep in mind that spring and fall can be fine weather-wise, but you may also see rain and poor weather.  And, there’s not much to do in the Cinque Terre if it’s raining (especially with kids).

Read more about visiting Italy in JanuaryFebruaryMarchAprilMayJuneJulyAugustSeptemberOctoberNovemberDecember.

Kid-Friendly Things to See & Do in Monterosso al Mare

Play at the Beach

Boy throws a rock into the waves at the edge of the water in Monterosso in the Cinque Terre, Italy.
My son on the small beach at Monterosso’s old town

In Monterosso, your family has two main choices for beaches.  The old town’s is smaller.  The new town has a long beach that’s kind of split into two and it’s considered the ‘main’ beach of the Cinque Terre village.  It’s pebbly/sandy, large, and you have choice between public and private beaches.  Although it looks like one long beach, it’s actually made up of two beaches – the larger Spiaggia di Fegina (Fegina Beach) and the smaller Spiaggia della Gigante (Giant’s Beach).

Rent kayak or pedal boat.

Look for sparkles in the sand at the old town beach.  Play in the little ‘river’ that runs to the sea.

Get Out on the Water

If you don’t feel like swimming, you can still get out on the water in Monterosso.  Your main options are to:

  • Take a ferry ride to another village.  I definitely recommend doing this with kids, as it gives you such a different perspective on the Cinque Terre than you get from land.  Monterosso’s ferries arrive and depart from the old town’s harbor.
  • Rent a pedal boat.  You can find them along the beach, including at Stella Marina beach club at Fegina Beach.
  • Go on a private boat tour.  While this is the priciest option, you have more flexibility with timing and where you go.  The best place to get a private boat tour on the day is to check with companies along the water in old Monterosso (or better yet, reserve online before you arrive in Monterosso).

Spend Time at One of Monterosso’s Playgrounds

Our favorite playground in Monterosso is in the old town, between the harbor and a piazza.  It’s a lovely local hangout that’s got something for kids of all ages.  The ground is padded, it’s fenced, and there are plenty of benches.  My son loved it because it’s full of local kids.  As a parent, I’m not a huge fan because there’s no shade, but my son’s smile and joy made up for it.  It’s also really close to the public toilet (red building on the right side of the beach), which is clean and has a diaper changing table.  The toilet is €1 during the season, free during off-season. 

If you’re in the new part of Monterosso, stop by the playground in front of the Giant’s Beach.  It’s also padded, kind of fenced, and has tons of benches, but not much shade.  It’s got climbing structures, slides, swings, and toys.  It’s next to a fruit stand.

Get Gelato

Boy holds up gelato cone on the seaside path in Monterosso in the Cinque Terre, Italy.

I know – if you’re traveling in Italy with kids, stopping for gelato on the regular is a given.  The Cinque Terre is full of lemons – so be sure to sample some gelato al limone! 

Find the Giant

Large giant statue of Neptune in Monterosso in the Cinque Terre, Italy.

Head to the end of the Spiaggia della Gigante (in the new town) to say hello to the Giant hanging off of the cliff.  You can’t miss him!  This depiction of Neptune (the Roman god of the sea) is known locally  as ‘The Giant,’ and stands at a whopping 14-feet tall. 

If your kids are wondering where his arms and trident are (mine asked me), know that they were bombed in World War II.

Look for Cool Rocks & Sea Glass

Child's hand in pebbles at the beach in Monterosso in the Cinque Terre, Italy.

It may sound silly, but this is one of the best places we’ve seen sea glass in Italy!  My son also loved searching for ‘cool’ rocks, like the flat, round and thin ones that look like coins. 

Shop for Local Treats

Boy runs under colorful archway in Monterosso in the Cinque Terre, Italy.

Head to the old part of Monterosso for the best selection of shops.  You’ll find trinket shops and artisan shops with products like homemade ceramics and linens. 

We took home a few organic foodie items from The Pesto Lab – taggiasche olives, anchovies in salsa verde, and the local lemon liqueur, limoncino.

Helpful Tip:  While you’re strolling the main drag, Via Roma, show your kids the water flowing beneath the road (look and listen at the metal grates). 

Hike to a Viewpoint

Boy walks on path high above the water in Monterosso in the Cinque Terre, Italy.
On the path to the St. Francis statue and terrace

For kid-friendly walks in Monterosso, try:

  1. The uphill (then downhill) walk on the point between the old and new parts of Monterosso.  You don’t need to go all the way up to the Cappucin Convent to get great views – the view from the terrace with the statue of St. Francis of Assisi are excellent!  If you start on the new town side, stop and let your kids pose with the huge anchor.  This walk isn’t stroller-friendly (steps), and I recommend having your kids wear normal shoes or sneakers (vs flip-flops). 
  2. Another option is to walk along the flat (and stroller-friendly) seaside path in old Monterosso, along the western side of the harbor (the Molo dei Pescatori). This is a really gentle stroll.  Heads up that there are no railings or barriers between the path and the water.

Good To Know:  If you’ve got older kids or teens who enjoy hiking, you can do the part of the Blue Trail between Monterosso and Vernazza.  Leaving Monterosso the steps up are steeper than those leaving Vernazza.  If you worry about kids being able to walk on downhill steps at the end of the hike, start in Monterosso.  If you want a more gentle start to the hike, start in Vernazza.  You need to pay for a permit for this hike (online or in Monterosso at the Cinque Terre tourist info or the trailhead).

The easiest ‘hike’ on the famous ‘Blue Trail’ that runs between the Cinque Terre villages is the path between Manarola and Riomaggiore – the Via dell’Amore (Path of Love). 

Eating with Kids in Monterosso al Mare

The Cinque Terre villages have kid-friendly fare like pesto (great on trofie pasta or bread) and focaccia, and Monterosso is no exception.

We think the easiest thing to do is grab food to go and eat it at the beach, or eat at a beachside restaurant – so adults can finish a meal (or have aperitivo) while kids get back to important business (playing at the beach).

A favorite place of ours for a sweet snack is Gelateria La Scogliera (on the walkway between the old and new towns).  The gelato is made onsite.  Mamma and papa – be sure to try the Crema 5 Terre – with cream, lemon crunchies, and liquor.  Lemon is also delicious (and kid-friendly).  There are few choices, but they’re delicious!  Sit on the bench out front and look at the sea or walk a little toward the new town for more benches and views.

Where to Stay with Kids in Monterosso

Boy walks on sidewalk between new and old town in Monterosso in the Cinque Terre, Italy.
Walking with my son on the path between the new and old parts of Monterosso

As you know by now, Monterosso al Mare has two parts – old town and new town.  Both areas have the basics you’ll need, like hotels and restaurants.  The old town is more charming and has more options for restaurants, but if your kids love beaches, you’ll want to be closer to Fegina Beach in the new town.  Plus, if you stay in the new town, you don’t have to get your luggage from the train station to the old town.  Before deciding, check rates – there is much more room inventory here than in the other Cinque Terre villages so you should be able to find decent value rooms.

With kids, be sure to ask:

  • If there are steps to get to the hotel/apartment
  • If the windows or balconies are kid-proof (are there bars or high railings?)

How to Get to Monterosso with Kids

The best way to get to Monterosso with your kids is by train, either from the north (Genoa) or the south (La Spezia).

From those cities, you’ll enter the Cinque Terre National Park (Parco Nazionale Cinque Terre), and you’ll ride on the Cinque Terre Express trains, which run frequently between the five villages. 

Other options include hiring a private driver, driving a rental car, or taking a day tour. 

I’m normally not big on driving to the Cinque Terre villages, but Monterosso has the best parking options of any of them. 

Read about our Day Tour to the Cinque Terre from Florence

Monterosso al Mare Family Logistics

Strollers – Monterosso is the only stroller-friendly village in the Cinque Terre.  You can move freely with your stroller between the two parts of town.  If you’re planning on traveling to one of the other villages from Monterosso, keep in mind that the trains get really crowded and the other villages aren’t stroller-friendly (so bring baby in a carrier instead).

Diapers – Take advantage of bathrooms in restaurants or use a portable changing pad.  There are benches at the two playgrounds and you can change diapers there. 

Breastfeeding – If you need to feed your baby, you can do so wherever you feel comfortable.  I’ve breastfed here on ferries, in restaurants, on the hiking trail, and down by the water (sitting on a rock).  You can also breastfeed in the small playgrounds, especially the upper one (likely to be less crowded).

Baby Supplies – Monterosso has a pharmacy near the train station, where you can get medicines and basic supplies like diapers and diaper cream.  The main supermarket is the Crai Market in the old town, and you can find diapers, diaper cream, etc. 

Toilets – The main public toilet is on the western side of the old town harbor.  It has a diaper changing table.  Free in the winter, but €1 otherwise.

Safety Precautions – Like all villages in the Cinque Terre, Monterosso has safety hazards that you need to be aware of as a parent.  The biggest ones are: water, poor or nonexistent railings, and windows without bars.

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Monterosso with Kids – A Basic Itinerary

View of the harbor from above in Monterosso in the Cinque Terre, Italy.
Looking at Monterosso’s old town beach

This is really simplified, but it gives you an idea of what you could realistically do in Monterosso I a day with your kids. 

  1. Get off train in new town (your only option).
  2. Walk to the new town’s beach to see the Giant.  Stop to play at the new town’s small playground on the way.
  3. Walk to the old town.
  4. Have lunch in the old town.
  5. Explore the old town.  Check out the shops, look at the river underneath the main street, and play at the old town playground.
  6. Play at the new town beach (or head back to the larger beach at the old town).
  7. Walk back to the train station in the old town (stop for gelato at La Scogliera on the way).

Things to See and Do with Your Family Near Monterosso

Boy points to the sea while standing on rocks at the edge of the sea. Colorful buildings of Vernazza on the left in the background.
Vernazza

From Monterosso, you’re just a quick train or boat ride from the other Cinque Terre villages of Vernazza, Corniglia (train only), Manarola, and Riomaggiore. 

You could take your kids to a soccer game in nearby La Spezia (they play in Serie B, our second league).

If your kids like aquariums, head north to Genoa’s – it’s our favorite one that we’ve been to in Italy.

I hope this has helped you get an idea of how to spend your day in Monterosso with kids.  Enjoy your visit!

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