Camping in Cinque Terre, Italy.

By Posted in - Big Trip & Budget Travel & Camping & Cinque Terre & Europe & Italy on July 13th, 2011

A trip to Cinque Terre is a must if you are visiting northern Italy. The five towns that cling to the seaside cliffs look like they are ripped straight out of a guidebook and they are a lot of fun to wander around. There is a train that stops at each village, but if you’re able bodied and want a more in-depth look while visiting Cinque Terre, then you should try the hike that connects all the towns.

It is possible to do the trial in one day, but it would make for a busy hike with little time to meander and enjoy each spot. I recommend you spend at least two nights in the area so you can space out the time on your hike, check out each village and relax a little. You can buy a bottle of wine and a pizza to go and sit on the cliffs as the sun sets, or you can take the time to check out the little watering holes and spend some time swimming in the Mediterranean.

There are plenty of hotels and hostels in the five towns, but they are not necessarily budget. A hostel typically costs about 25 – 35 euro/night and with the two of us that adds up pretty fast. Our solution for staying on a budget in Europe was to camp and Cinque Terre was no exception.

Camping La Sfinge - The campground we stayed at.

There are a few campgrounds in the towns surrounding Cinque Terre (which is a National Park), but there are no campsites at all within the park. We did some research and settled on staying in Deiva Marina–a small town about 20 minutes north by train.

We decided to stay at Camping Valdeiva, which was 20 euro a night and had the added benefit of a van pickup at the train station. By the time we made it to Deiva Marina it was around 8 p.m. and getting dark. The campground told us to call them at a nearby payphone and they would come get us. We searched around for a payphone, and when we eventually found one, we couldn’t figure out how to use it because we couldn’t read the instructions. It didn’t have an obvious slot for change and it looked like you needed a card to use it. We didn’t have a phone card or a bank card with a ‘pin & chip’ so we were out of luck. (Not having a pin & chip card actually screwed us in a couple of spots in Europe, but they aren’t common in the United States, so we had no idea what they were until we needed one. We’ll write more on this at a later date.)

We went back to the train station and started walking down the long, dark (no streetlights) road to the campground. It was actually a little nerve wracking–we had no idea where we were, where we were going or how long it would take to get there. We only had a vague idea that the campground was down that road and while walking blindly in the dark, with heavy bags, it was a bit too much. I’ve watched too many zombie movies so after a half mile or so we decided to turn back. It was now about 10 p.m. and we were starting to get worried about where we would stay. The town had pretty much shut down and since we didn’t see much of it in the daylight, we had no idea if there were any other places that we could stay at.

The beach at Deiva Marina. This place was pretty nice!

Luckily, when we got back to the train station a shuttle for another campground had arrived. We jumped in it and ended up staying there, which ironically was right across the street from the one we had initially tried to camp at. The name of this campground was La Sfinge and the spot was great–everyone was nice, it was basic but clean and quiet. It was 18 euro a night, and they had WiFi but it barely worked and it wasn’t free. La Sfinge also had a small shop with basics (pasta, cheese, bread, etc.) as well as a laundry room. Because we were last minute, we ended up at the tippity top of the campground with about 120 stairs between us and the bathroom. It was great for exercise but a real pain the butt when you just came back from a day of hiking and realized you forgot your toothpaste in the tent. If you make a reservation there, you can probably stipulate which site you want (they had plenty of drive in sites too) so keep that in mind if you don’t want to run up and down a million steps a day.

The best part is the shuttle, which runs hourly (until 10 p.m.) to the train station–you don’t need to call. This campground was a bit cheaper than the one we originally planned on; though, they didn’t have as many amenities. However, if you wanted to grab a bite to eat you could just walk across the street to the Valdeiva campground, which has a restaurant (some of the best pizza I had in Italy) and WiFi. Because we weren’t guests at that campground we had to pay for WiFi, but if we were staying there we wouldn’t have been charged. Both campgrounds were great and both are good options if you want to to camp in Italy near Cinque Terre.

The building in the back left is where the train station is. The bridge to the right leads to the beachside campground.

Deiva Marina was actually a really cute town. It’s a seaside village with a beautiful beach and friendly people – a great place to chill. As it turned out there was actually one campground almost right next to the beach, but we didn’t see it the first night. We went over to check it out on the last day, I think it was about 20 euro per night but it didn’t have WiFi. If you don’t need the Internet, then it would probably be a great option.

Camping Fornaci - this is the campground right by the beach.

For two days we hiked around Cinque Terre and then trotted off to sleep in our tent at night. It was completely budget friendly and we had a great time. We planned to stay for 4 – 5 days but the third day we got rained out and literally woke up in a puddle of mud. We were exhausted and dirty, and decided we needed time to catch up on work and grab a little R&R. We still had a couple days before we were due in Tuscany for our WWOOFing in Italy adventure so we decided to blow our budget andΒ  stay in a fantastic hotel that was right on the beach. Free, fast WiFi and breakfast were included, so for two nights (about $75/night) we sat in our cozy room at the Hotel Lido and watched the clouds pour down as the huge, stormy waves broke on the beach. I like camping, but I have to say the days in the hotel were a nice getaway and felt very relaxing.

The view out our room from Hotel Lido.

Apparently, I didn’t take any photos of the other campground. Sorry about that– it looked very nice though and like I said the pizza was great! If you’re headed to Cinque Terre on a budget be sure to check out Deiva Marina. This little seaside town is a perfect place to relax for a few days in between hikes. The hotels are cheaper and the campgrounds are perfect if you’re on a shoestring. You might also get lucky and meet these guys at the grocery store a couple blocks from the beach.

Italian boys love to have their photos taken!

*Please remember all photos on this website, unless otherwise noted, are copyrighted and property of Beers and Beans Travel Website, Nariko’ s Nest Weddings & Bethany Salvon. Please do not use them without my permission. If you want to use one of them please contact me first because I do love to share and I would be flattered. Thanks!

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*Please remember all photos on this website, unless otherwise noted, are copyrighted and property of Beers and Beans Travel Website, Nariko’ s Nest Weddings & Bethany Salvon. Please do not use them without my permission. If you want to use one of them please contact me first because I do love to share and I would be flattered. Thanks!

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(21) awesome folk have had something to say...

  • Seattle’s Travels -

    July 13, 2011 at 7:24 am

    Looks lovely! I haven’t been camping there, but I’ve been camping in Southern Italy, and it was amazing. Great post! Love the photos as always, even if there’s none of the camp ground πŸ˜€

    • Bethany -

      July 20, 2011 at 12:50 pm

      I would love to camp in Southern Italy! We didn’t do any camping there but I saw some campgrounds in Sorrento that looked really nice! @Seattle’s Travels,

  • Christy @ Ordinary Traveler -

    July 13, 2011 at 12:45 pm

    I’m so bummed I missed Cinque Terre when I was in Italy! It’s definitely on my list when I get back there. Hopefully sooner, rather than later. Damn Europe flight prices.

    • Bethany -

      July 20, 2011 at 12:51 pm

      Def. check it out when you go back. It was an awesome spot. It was the time that I really felt I was in Italy. My AHA moment πŸ˜‰
      @Christy @ Ordinary Traveler,

  • Scott -

    July 13, 2011 at 6:38 pm

    I will be spending a nice chunk of time in Europe next summer, and camping will be an option for me to save money. One question (that may seem dumb to someone with camping experience) I have is whether or not these places provide tents? or do you bring your own or is it like a tent already set up for you? I have never really camped and don’t own a tent, so just curious. Looks like a great option!

    • Bethany -

      July 20, 2011 at 1:03 pm

      Hi Scott – so sorry to get back to you late on this. Somehow I missed a bunch of comments on this post. I don’t think that they rented tents here. In Iceland it was very common for people to rent tents at the campground and I ‘think’ (not 100%) that the campground in Paris also rented tents. However I want to let you know that you might want to just bring your own. In Iceland I know it was about $10/night extra to rent the tent and to top it off all the rental tents I saw were in good condition but they weren’t true tents. When I think of a tent I think of something that goes over you and between you and ground – the rentals were more like pitches that went over you (looked just like a tent) but I noticed that they didn’t actually wrap underneath. They were staked down and there was a separate bottom that people put down. This means there is a space between the tent top and the ground which is open for little animals, rain, etc. to get right into your tent. They do not set it up for you, you have to set it up yourself.

      We bought this tent and it is really lightweight and was completely waterproof. We used it all through Europe and it was great:

      It’s also super easy to set up.

      As a note too – all the campgrounds in Europe rent little cabins if you need something besides a tent but they aren’t necessarily heap. We were on a huge budget and camping really helped keep us on track. Good luck!

      My other recommendation is to get a good sleeping pad – it will be worth it in the long run. I tried cheap ones and they didn’t work for me (but did for Randy). I paid about $150 for mine (which i thought was insane but nothing else worked) but it was extremely comfortable and I loved sleeping in the tent every night because of it.


      • Scott -

        August 8, 2011 at 11:50 pm

        thank you so much for the detailed response. This will help me out next fall for sure!

  • Indigo Airlines -

    July 14, 2011 at 9:04 am

    I will be there in Europe by next month…
    I want to enjoy my trip to european countries to its fullest….
    thanks for sharing this valuable information here….

  • Debbie Beardsley @ European Travelista -

    July 14, 2011 at 10:28 am

    I really like your idea of wine and pizza sitting on the bluff overlooking the ocean. Sounds like a perfect meal to me!

    Camping actually sound fun and I’ve wondered about the tent issue too.

    • Bethany -

      July 20, 2011 at 1:16 pm

      Hi Debbie! Yeah we did that one day, wine & pizza on the bluffs – it was great! Camping was fun, budget friendly and convenient. I highly recommend it. I don’t think that they rented tents at the campground we stayed at. Some campgrounds did and other didn’t. If you want to do a bit of camping you’re better off just investing in a lightweight tent and taking it with you. One reason is because the rental tents I did see didn’t wrap completely around they were like 2 separate pieces – a bottom piece and a top piece. So rain or little animals could crawl in. We used the Marmot Limelight 2 tent and we loved it. It was lightweight and rainproof. Here is a review we did of it a while back if you want to see it.

      Let me know if you go! It was a lot of fun. πŸ™‚

      @Debbie Beardsley @ European Travelista,

  • Shamis @ Gawaya Travel Blog -

    July 15, 2011 at 1:59 am

    While I think camping is an adventurous activity especially for guys, I’m yet to try it out myself. Summer sure is the best time for it too. Nice post so I shared on my fan page

    • Bethany -

      July 20, 2011 at 1:18 pm

      Thank you for sharing this on your fan page. Camping is fun and relaxing and a great way to keep costs down. @Shamis @ Gawaya Travel Blog,

  • Mara -

    July 20, 2011 at 3:35 am

    Love the picture of the blue umbrellas!

    We’ll likely be in this area next summer, so I’m really appreciating the tips.

    • Bethany -

      July 20, 2011 at 1:19 pm

      Thanks Mara – I’m glad you like it. πŸ™‚ I have a ton more photos of Cinque Terre that haven’t even been processed yet – they will def. get you excited to go. It was a GREAT place. πŸ™‚ @Mara,

  • Leigh -

    July 20, 2011 at 5:59 am

    Cinque Terra, the Puglia region and the Dolomites are the three places that still call me in Italy. We had to change hiking plans recently in France because of torrential rain so I know the feeling though your change from camping to a hotel sounds like it totally worked out for you – plus it always feels good to get rid of the work pressures.
    Also love the blue umbrellas photo.

    • Bethany -

      July 20, 2011 at 1:22 pm

      Thanks Leigh! Yeah, I loved Cinque Terre – I have yet to make it to the Dolomites and Puglia – hopefully next time! @Leigh,

  • Brooke vs. the World -

    July 20, 2011 at 3:42 pm

    Love your camping tips… it really makes me want to do more of it all over the place πŸ˜‰ And I would never have thought for Cinque Terre!

  • Raymond @ Man On The lam -

    July 21, 2011 at 7:45 am

    I missed Cinqueterre as well, but if I did go, I would camp. I camped in Bari and Lido, and it was some of the best fun. Plus it was way cheaper than a hostel…

  • Justin -

    September 10, 2013 at 7:01 am

    What were the wild camping possibilities in the Cinque Terre?

    • Bethany Salvon -

      September 13, 2013 at 9:44 am

      Hi Justin,

      Thanks for commenting and asking your question. It’s a good one and I don’t have a solid answer for you. I do know that it is illegal to camp within Cinque Terre National Park and there aren’t even any campgrounds in the park itself. We camped a bit outside at Dieva Marina where there were several campgrounds. It seemed that’s what most people did who camped. As far as finding a place to camp in the wild that would be totally up to you and I’m not sure what would happen if you got caught. Most of the land along the famous hiking trail is owned by individuals and a really good portion of it is covered in vineyards (they make a really special wine there) so it wold be hard to just find a spot to camp.

      But then again there could be plenty of small trails that jut off that we did not explore. The thing is that you would be camping on someone’s land most likely and if they cultivate it, that would make it very tough and probably not right to do. You might be able to find a local and see if they would let you camp on their land for a few euros but again you’d have to be there and just be looking for that specifically.

      I wish I could be of more help with this! You might have better luck free camping outside the National Park. The land surrounding our campground was very wooded. I did not see anyone camping on the beach.