Have you been wondering where to stay in Cinque Terre?
Most visitors that come want to squeeze in all five towns during one stay. And while that’s possible, it’s best to pick your home base and go from there. When it comes to where to stay in Cinque Terre, each village has something special to offer.
Come and stay on the beautiful Ligurian coastline. Here, you’ll find that these five towns are connected by way of rail line, hiking trails, and the sea. Each one offers breathtaking views of the ocean as well as multi-colored houses. But don’t be fooled by the similarities in aesthetic. Each has its own unique character and sometimes, even dialect. When you’re wondering where to stay in Cinque Terre, I have got you covered. First, I’m going to give you a few insider tips.
Insider Tips on Cinque Terre
Don’t Try to Bring a Car
Here’s a word to the wise. Don’t try to bring a car to Cinque Terre. Parking is incredibly limited and all of the streets are clearly designed for pedestrians. Add in cobblestone streets and narrow alleyways and this quaint Italian paradise becomes any driver’s worst nightmare. To save yourself some stress, take the mellow route in via train and then walk around the cities. Just make sure you check in on the train and boat schedules before you head out. You don’t want to get stuck with a hike back after dinner.
Know That These Aren’t Your Typical Beaches
Yes, the scenery is beyond gorgeous and in the summer, the water is warm. But you won’t find any stretches of sand here. Instead, the beaches are lined with countless pebbles. Or in Riomaggiore, you’ll find enormous flat rocks where locals spread out a towel and lounge. For diving, Vernazza is the place to be.
If you’re seeking out a more traditional beach scene, you’ll find it in Monterosso. Just keep in mind that most of the coastline are blocked off for private beach clubs which charge entry admission. But you can rent out some comfy chairs and umbrellas. So, the trade off isn’t bad.
Forget About Luxury Hotels
Cinque Terre is not by any means a jet set destination. And that’s why we love it. While it has been exposed to mass influxes of tourism (thanks, Rick Steves), the coastal towns have still managed to maintain an authentic feel. Most of the accommodations you will find are private rooms in family-owned homes. If you plan ahead, you can score some pretty sweet deals.
Here’s something I learned along the way. Pack lightly and bring a backpack, not a rolling suitcase. Trust me. They are not made for braving the bumpy cobblestone streets. Not only will carrying a backpack make it easier to get from the train station to your Airbnb but it will also mean that you’ll be less out of breath as you wind up those steep cliffside stairs. The smaller and lighter your bag can be, the better you will feel on the trek.
Look Outside of the Cinque Terre, Too
As beautiful as the Cinque Terre is, it’s also worth it to take some outside trips if you have the time. For example, La Spezia is just ten minutes away by train and definitely has a better night scene than those five seaside villages. Go from flat bike trails to scenic beaches all in one day.
Here’s Our Take on Where to Stay in Cinque Terre
Alright. It’s time to get to the good stuff. We are here to walk you through the five towns and give you a better idea of where to stay in Cinque Terre. Here is our list in no particular order.
Riomaggiore is the first of the seaside towns and the second largest in size. Throughout the middle, the railway line divides it into two parts. Next to the docks, you’ll find the fisherman’s village (borgo dei pescatori) where painted boats gently float in the blue-green water. Walk along the rocky beach and scope out the coastline. This is a fun place to come and enjoy a hot cup of coffee in the early morning.
The locals are friendly and the weather couldn’t be better. On the other side of the tracks sits the farmer’s village (borgo dei contadini). In stark contrast with the gently sloped beaches are steep terraced gardens and lush vineyards.
As the Cinque Terre’s second oldest town, Manarola is signature sweet wine and priceless medieval relics. Consequently, it has the strongest ties to the land. Look above the town. Steep terraces give way to plentiful olive branches and lemon trees. Lush green hills open up to an expanse of trails winding their way throughout the coastline.
Work your way up the trail and towards Corniglia. Here, you’ll catch a great view of the harbor, fishing boats coming in and out of the bay, and the vibrant water below. If you’re looking for a great place to post up and have a picnic, this is it.
As the only Cinque Terre village that is not on the water, getting to Corniglia is a trek. We hope you came prepared. Some 33 flights of stairs and 400 steps later, you’ll reach the entryway to this hilltop village. But don’t be too discouraged. When you get to the top, the views alone make it all worthwhile.
Just make sure to go before the evening. I made the mistake of going later in the day. By the time I made my way over and reached the top, all of the shops and restaurants were closed. If you’re looking for some peace and quiet, this is the place to be.
When I was wondering where to stay in Cinque Terre, I took Rick Steve’s recommendation and went to Vernazza. We’re sure you’ve seen this town on a postcard at least once before. Designated as one of the most beautiful towns in Italy, it was this coastal gem that first brought wealth and security to the local region.
While you’re here, make sure to visit the castle on the hill. At the heart of the town (aka Piazza Marconi), you will find a myriad of cute shops, cozy cafes, and authentic eateries. Make sure to stop by Ristorante Belforte for lunch. Not only are the views spectacular but the lobster pasta is to die for. With affordable prices, this place literally couldn’t get any better.
We’ve made it to the last of the towns, Monterosso. It’s divided up into two parts: the old and the new. You’ll also find the largest beach on the entire coast here, speckled with colorful umbrellas and adjacent to a fun promenade. Since it’s the most visited town, there is much more of a nightlife scene here than you would find in the other villages.
Take a peak around the small shops in the historic center or stop and soak up the sun in Piazza Garibaldi. If you’re wondering where to stay in Cinque Terre, this town is a great choice for families with younger children or those who would otherwise have a difficult time traversing the region’s steep steps. It’s also accessible by car. Remember, these towns are all built into a rugged cliffside. When you’re not taking the train, these hikes are no joke. You will work up a sweat.
Where to Stay in Cinque Terre: Where Would You Like to Go?
A cultured region rich in history and natural beauty, this region offers so much to explore. Wondering where to stay in Cinque Terre? Ask yourself what kind of vacation you are seeking. There is something here to suit the tastes of every traveler.
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