Vernazza with kids: all you need to know for a perfect stay with family
Vernazza with kids travel guide: all you need to know to visit the most photographed town in Cinque Terre. Travel guide to Vernazza, including things to do, how to get there, how to avoid the crowds and tips for visiting Vernazza with kids.
Vernazza is one of the prettiest, most photographed and most visited towns in Cinque Terre.
It is a picture-perfect little place, a traditional fishing village with colorful houses and boats bobbing on the waters of a small harbor.
If you have found yourself planning a trip to Cinque Terre based on photos, there is a high chance the place you are dreaming of is Vernazza; photographers love it!
Because of its beauty, Vernazza appears on all classic Italy itineraries and while there are good reasons for it, this means that the village has a distinct tourist flavor, especially at busy times.
Despite this, I love Vernazza and I always recommend making time to visit.
My last visit to Vernazza happened this June just gone.
This time, I went with the kids and while we had some rain while there, we had a lovely time in Vernazza and the surrounding area.
Based on our experience from this trip and my previous visits, these are our top tips for visiting Vernazza and our travel guide for visiting Vernazza with kids.
Why visit Vernazza
There are many good reasons why Vernazza is worth a visit.
- The town has the typical colorful houses of Cinque Terre, which makes it one of the most recognizable and iconic in the area.
- Vernazza is one of the best places to take photos of Cinque Terre views and panoramas, thanks to its high viewpoints and pretty skyline.
- Vernazza is the only natural harbor in Cinque Terre, a characteristic that makes it unique.
- Hikers will love Vernazza for its high walking trails.
- Vernazza is very romantic, perfect for a quiet couple’s escape, a honeymoon or a proposal!
- Vernazza has a lovely small beach that is great for toddlers to splash and play safely.
- Older kids and adults will enjoy Vernazza’s caruggi, the small village alleys that meander up the mountains like a maze!
- Vernazza is a good starting point for boat trips and snorkeling trips in the area.
Why not visit Vernazza
There is no reason why you should avoid Vernazza for a quick visit.
However, there are a couple of things to keep in mind.
- Vernazza is difficult with people with mobility issues.
There is a flat port and a manageable main street, so a quick day trip here poses no problems.
However, the town is full of small alleys and steps, which make it unsuitable for a more extended stay if you have mobility problems or are traveling with very young kids: in that case, we recommend Monterosso instead.
- Vernazza is very touristy.
It appears on all classic Italy itineraries, and it is one of the most visited towns in Cinque Terre, so if you are looking for a hidden gem or a secluded getaway, this is not it!
Vernazza is a popular destination for day trips especially: coming here for a few hours in high season (July and August) means finding yourself in large crowds and seeing a town with little local flavor.
If possible, I highly recommend coming here at a quieter time (see below for the best time to see Vernazza) or staying the night to have the town for yourself after the day trippers have gone. It doesn’t get empty at night, but it improves significantly!
Vernazza with kids
Vernazza was one of the highlights of our family trip to Cinque Terre.
However, it is not a typical kid-friendly place so I feel it is important to know what to expect if planning a visit here, especially if you are thinking of making it not a flying stop but your base for exploring.
Things you need to know before visiting Vernazza with kids:
- Vernazza has a lovely, small, safe sandy beach right at the harbor that is perfect for small kids and toddlers. The beach is great for splashing and sand castle making; however, it doesn’t offer great swimming or snorkeling options to older kids who may find it limiting.
- Vernazza is not stroller friendly.
- We did not find a playground in Vernazza and there are no kids’ attractions as such.
The closest playgrounds are in the nearby towns of Manarola and Monterosso, which are a short train ride away.
You can find here >> our guide to the best playgrounds in Cinque Terre
Because of this, I recommend Vernazza to families with kids who are happy to hike the trails, explore the maze-like alleys of the village and to go on day trips, rather than to families who look for a seaside town to relax and sunbathe.
The best things to do in Vernazza
Vernazza is a tiny village with limited but pleasant entertainment options. Yhe best thigns to do in vernazza are
Take photos of the colorful wooden boats
Vernazza has a delightful small port that houses colorful wooden boats.
They are one of the first things you notice as you arrive from the water, and they are an adorable sight and a photographer’s delight!
Make sure you take a short stroll on the pier to see them – walking on the port pier, you will also catch lovely town views without having to trek uphill!
Tip your toes in the water at Vernazza’s small beach
Vernazza has a tiny sandy beach right in front of the port.
The area is small but pretty and famous: it is a great place to put your toes into the water, catch the sun or let little kids splash about!
Take a stroll down the main village road
Vernazza is crossed by a main pedestrian street dotted with shops and restaurants, Via Roma.
The road is pleasant and buzzing with visitors and worth seeing if you want to get a gelato, shop for souvenirs, get pretty clothes or need essentials.
You also find here essential grocery stores and a pharmacy.
Catch a stunning view of Vernazza walking up to the starting point of the path to Monterosso
One of the best places to catch views of Vernazza is the starting point of the path to Monterosso.
As you walk down Vernazza’s main road, you will notice street signs indicating the route and meandering into the little alleys of the pretty town.
After that, the passages go uphill and meander through houses and yards, where you will meet locals and the resident cats.
As you get above the buildings, the path becomes scenic and you will see lovely town views behind you!
To reach the first viewpoint, you only need a few minutes and do not need any hiking experience.
If you go further, you do, however, enter proper hiking terrains so make sure you only tackle the actual trail with the correct gear and preparation.
Walk up to the other starting point of the path to Manarola
Vernazza’s most iconic photo spot is the start of the path to Manarola.
Like the one to Monterosso, you find street signs indicating the sat of the path as you wank down Vernazza’s main road, and you will quickly find yourself climbing up steep alleys or steps.
Quickly, you will find yourself at a lovely lookout and you will be able to get lovely views of Vernazza’s colorful homes, the tower bell of the church of Santa Margherita and the remains of Doria Castle!
Good to know: the path up this lookout is rather steep. If, like us, you find yourself visiting Vernazza on a rainy day, be extra careful and wear not slippery shoes.
Go on a boat trip
One of the best ways to enjoy Vernazza and the whole coast is by joining a local boat trip.
If you are on a budget, the local ferries will give you an excellent opportunity to see Cinque Terre from the water if you can spend a bit of money on it, you can spend a few hours to a whole day in the water and even snorkel!
Boat tours may start from Vernazza or depart from Monterosso, nearby, which has a larger marina and can lead you to the other towns of Cinque Terre or as far as Porto Venere.
Have a photoshoot in Vernazza
Vernazza is one of the most scenic and photographed towns in Cinque Terre and a favorite place for photographers who also offers photo sessions here.
My go-to companies for vacation photography are Flytographer and Localgrapher.
Catch a train to Monterosso, Manatola, Corniglia and Riomaggiore
As well as a pretty village, Vernazza is a great base to explore the other towns of Cinque Terre: Monterosso, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore are all short train hop away, and when I mean short, I really mean it.
Each is only a handful of minutes on the train from the next!
By train, it is also very easy to reach Levanto, which is pretty and has a nice cycling route to Bonassola, easy also with children.
Where to eat in Vernazza
Vernazza is full of eateries and restaurants serving anything from pesto to take-out seafood to pizza and gelato.
If you are looking for something special, an iconic Vernazza place is Belforte: this restaurant is a bit of a Vernazza classic and has a stunning view, so if you’re looking for a wow factor, this is an excellent place to be! Try taglioni di farro con zucchine e gamberi.
If you prefer a more informal, smaller meal, you will find plenty of lovely takeout places and bakeries to taste local focaccia, pesto and fried seafood.
Where to stay in Vernazza
Vernazza is tiny and all accommodation inside the village will put you in close proximity to the station, the port, and all of Vernazza’s shops and attractions.
If you prefer to stay away from the main center and have a more secluded experience, many local hosts offer rooms and apartments further up on the mountain: they can be a great alternative to the town but do take into account that at busy times, traffic gets intense and the roads here are often narrow and winding.
Do enquire about the details of the location and transport options if opting for a place outside of the village.
How to get to Vernazza
The best ways to reach Vernazza are by ferry and train.
The ferry connects Vernazza with the other tows of Cinque Terre, Levanto and Porto Venere.
The service operates in the good season only and has regular rides: you can get tickets online in advance here or on the day at the kiosk at the port.
You usually do not need to book but, in the busy seasons, there will be some queuing to get on board.
The train is the fastest and most efficient way to get to Vernazza.
Vernazza train station is in the town center and trains are frequent.
However, it does get busy! The station is tiny and it is better though if as a bus stop more than a place to leisurely wait for a train.
I highly recommend you only come here right before your train’s departure time and if you need to wait, go to one of the nearby cafes instead.
Vernazza is car-free mainly, so if you have a car, make sure you park it either at accommodation outside of it or get accommodation with parking a little out of the main village.
If you are reaching this area by plane, find here >>> the closest airports to Cinque Terre
How long to stay in Vernazza
Vernazza is a small village and you will enjoy it in as little as a couple of hours, including time for a relaxing coffee.
The presence of the beach and the many restaurants, however, make it also enjoyable for a more extended stay and even as a base for a few days in the area, especially if you don’t have small kids who may find the terrain hard.
How to enjoy Vernazza without the crowds
Finding Vernazza with small crowds is not easy but there are ways!
My tips to avoid the crowds in Vernazza are:
Come outside of the main holiday times. Easter (especially if later in April), July and August are very busy, but May and June are already much better, so in September.
We visited at the end of June and there were visitors but it was very manageable;e and we didn’t need to book anything with large notice.
Unless you want to hike or go on boat trips, do not rule out slightly colder months such as October and March – even with grey sky, Vernazza can be lovely if you embrace the special charm of the sea in winter: just make sure you do not leave it so late in the season to find hotels and restaurants closed.
Stay overnight in the area so you can visit before and after the day trippers.
Leave the main road. The main Vernazza street is bustling, but its small streets are quiet and charming.
Whether you are hiking or not, make sure you venture up the town’s small alleys: you will quickly find a world of no crowds, local cats and a true local atmosphere!
What to pack for Vernazza
Find here >>> our packing list for Cinque Terre