If we could describe Cinque Terre in a word, it would be breathtaking! We wonder how one cannot fall in love with this place. Five charming villages are perched on stone cliffs overlooking the ocean, making it one of the most picturesque destinations in Italy. If you plan a visit, you’re probably wondering where to stay. Don’t worry; we’ve got your back! This guide will help you choose the perfect place to stay based on your needs. We’ll highlight the unique features of each town and provide you with the pros and cons of staying there. So, whether you travel solo, with friends, or with family, we guarantee you’ll find the perfect base for your Cinque Terre itinerary. So, let’s get started! 

1. Vernazza 

Vernazza is often referred to as the most beautiful town of Cinque Terre. However, it depends on what you like, though! Vernazza has a special harbour because it’s natural. The tall houses there look even more impressive next to the blue water. One option for your leisure time is to relax by the harbour and observe the passersby, or alternatively, you could taste some of the local seafood. There are some old ruins of a castle from a long time ago that you can visit, and they have a great view of the town and the sea. There’s also a church from hundreds of years ago that’s right by the water and looks nice. If you like hiking, a Sentiero Azzurro path connects Vernazza to two nearby towns. Walking only takes an hour and is a great way to see the area. But if you want to explore all the towns by the sea, you should also take a ferry. It’s an excellent way to see the coast!

Pros of staying in Vernazza:

  • You can enjoy breathtaking coastal views and picturesque landscapes
  • It has excellent colourful buildings and narrow streets that make it feel like you’re in a storybook. 
  • There are some scenic hiking trails near the ocean that you can explore. 
  • You can also try some yummy fresh seafood and authentic food at top restaurants in Italy. 

Cons of staying in Vernazza:

  • It’s expensive for an average traveller. 
  • Limited parking options and challenging transportation for visitors. 
  • Steep paths may pose difficulty for people with mobility issues.

2. Monterosso Al Mare

In terms of area, Monterosso Al Mare is the largest village of the Cinque Terre. And it will not be wrong to say that it is the busiest, most visited, and most hospitality venue. This is the perfect spot for those who wish to relax on soft, sandy beaches! There are many great places to stay and delicious restaurants to try out in Monterosso al Mare. You can also do lots of fun water activities like kayaking and taking a boat tour along the coast. Near Fegina Beach, you’ll find an interesting 46-foot-tall statue called Statua del Gigante. It’s perfect for taking photos! Don’t forget to walk through the small alleys called Carrugi and check out the shops where you can buy Monterosso’s famous salted anchovies.

Pros of staying in Monterosso al Mare:

  • Largest town with the busiest and most awaited atmosphere. 
  • Abundance of hospitality venues, including bars and nighttime entertainment.
  • Boasts the only sizeable sandy beach in Cinque Terre.
  • It has the best nightlife on the Ligurian coast, offering a friendly and entertaining atmosphere.

Cons of staying in Monterosso al Mare:

  • Overcrowded with tourists, especially during the summer season.
  • Challenges in securing hotels and tours due to high demand.
  • Busy beaches and restaurants, with potential for increased prices in the summer.

3. Riomaggiore

Riomaggiore is a pretty town in Italy! It’s not too busy like other towns nearby, but it’s still cool. There are many cute houses in pastel colours and a little marina where fishing boats go out. If you want to chill out by the sea, Riomaggiore is a great place to stay in Cinque Terre. The town gets busier at night, and some fun bars are available. Riomaggiore is also close to La Spezia – you can get there in less than 10 minutes by train. And it’s close to Tuscany too! If you’re looking for things to do in Riomaggiore, there are some fantastic things to see. The Castello di Riomaggiore is an ancient fort from the 13th century, and it has incredible views of the coast. It’s just a short walk from Via Colombo. There are also some beautiful churches, like the Oratorio di San Rocco, the Oratorio di Santa Maria Assunta, and the Church of San Giovanni Battista of Riomaggiore. Overall, it is an excellent place to stay in Cinque Terre.

Pros of staying in Riomaggiore:

  • Riomaggiore has an authentic, lively atmosphere with a colourful vibe and slow-paced coastal break. 
  • Various must-see sights involving Castello di Riomaggiore and several charming religious buildings. 
  • Medium-sized crowds provide a balance between a bustling atmosphere and a tranquil setting.
  • Balances lively and peaceful ambience for a relaxing coastal break.

Cons of staying in Riomaggiore:

  • Sometimes, finding a place to stay can be hard, especially when many people want to visit simultaneously. 
  • There may be fewer enjoyable evening activities Compared to larger towns.
  • The place might have hills that can be tricky to walk on if someone has trouble moving around.

4. Manarola

Manarola is a village located in Cinque Terre. It is situated on top of a cliff and is surrounded by vineyards. Manarola offers a variety of accommodations and serves as an excellent starting point for several hiking trails. So, Manarola is a great home base if you plan hiking. The village also has many things to see, like the 14th-century Gothic-Baroque Chiesa di San Lorenzo and the beautiful harbour. 

You should go to the Manarola Overlook Point to take an iconic picture of the cascading houses. It’s the perfect vantage point to take that perfect snap. If you’re looking for a great spot to eat, Nessun Dorma is a lovely and popular restaurant nearby. They offer drinks, appetisers, and dreamy views of the coast, village, and harbour. Book in advance to guarantee a spot, as Nessun Dorma is always fully booked. It’s also a relatively easy place to reach, even when carrying luggage.

Pros of staying in Manarola:

  • Manarola is a beautiful place that looks like a picture on a postcard.
  • You can stay in fancy hotels like La Torretta or family-friendly places like Ca’D’Andrean.
  • The site is perfect for people who want to go hiking in Cinque Terre. 

Cons of staying in Manarola:

  • It offers less nightlife than Monterosso al Mare and Riomaggiore. 
  • Manarola lacks a traditional beach. 

5. Corniglia

Corniglia is a small village in the middle of the Cinque Terre villages. Out of all five villages, it is the quietest but also the hardest to get to. The town doesn’t have a harbour, and even the walk from the train station takes a lot of leg work. You’ll need to climb the 382-step Lardarina to reach the village from the train station, so it may not be the best choice if you have difficulty walking. 

However, there is a shuttle bus that runs between the train station and the village, but it costs about €3 one way, which can add up if you’re staying for multiple days. Despite the challenges of getting there, waiting in Corniglia offers a much more peaceful experience. Beautiful vineyards and lush greens surround the village, and the colourful buildings are stacked on a cliff overlooking the ocean. If you love exciting architecture, visit the Oratory of San Caterina and the Parish of San Pietro. And if you enjoy hiking, Corniglia has some exciting hiking trails, like the Sentiero Azzurro.

Pros of staying in Corniglia:

  • It provides a quieter and more peaceful place to stay in Cinque Terre. 
  • It offers you interesting architecture to look at. 
  • You will find plenty of exciting hiking trails here. 

Cons of staying in Corniglia:

  • There are no adequate transportation services available in the village. 
  • Reaching Corniglia is difficult.  

6. La Spezia

If you want a budgeted option to stay in Cinque Terre, you should consider La Spezia. La Spezia is south of Cinque Terre and is connected by train. People call La Spezia the “gateway to Cinque Terre” because it’s easy to get to Cinque Terre from there. But don’t just leave La Spezia right away! The city also has many things to offer. You can visit sandy beaches along the coastline before going to Cinque Terre’s rocky shores. La Spezia is also connected to other towns by ferry or train, so it’s a great place to stay if you want to explore nearby places like Biassa. You can travel by train from La Spezia to Riomaggiore, which takes less than 10 minutes. From there, each village in Cinque Terre is only five minutes apart by train. La Spezia also has incredible things to see, like San Giorgio Castle and the Basilica of Santa Maria Assunta. If you like naval history, you might visit The Naval Technical Museum. 

Pros of staying in La Spezia:

  • You can enjoy your time here without spending much money because many affordable accommodation options are available.
  • It has a well-connected transportation system, such as ferries and trains, so it’s easy to get around. 
  • The place has a fantastic waterfront area full of life and excitement. 
  • This place has many beautiful buildings, including castles from the 13th century.

Cons of staying in La Spezia:

  • La Spezia has a more urban and bustling environment that can be less appealing for those who want a quieter village experience. 
  • Compared to the unique character of Cinque Terre villages, La Spezia may feel more like a typical urban centre with fewer distinctive local touches. 

On a Final Note

Cinque Terre boasts several beautiful villages and towns to lodge in, but choosing the right one that suits your needs is crucial. Location, cost, and accessibility can help you make an informed decision. Therefore, carefully weigh your options and select the most suitable place to stay in Cinque Terre. Where you stay can make a difference to your trip to Italy. So, make sure you make the best choice! Have fun on your trip!