Cinque Terre is one of the most stunning places in Italy. Of course, Italy is full of beautiful cities and amazing things to do, yet Cinque Terre has a unique, captivating hold over visitors. The tiny, cliffside villages and towns with colorful houses look like they’ve leaped straight off a postcard. Cinque Terre has a wow factor that beats even the Amalfi Coast.
The villages sit in the Cinque Terre National Park, which covers a stretch of the Ligurian coast. You’ll definitely want to pick the best place to maximize your experience.
Introducing the Cinque Terre villages
So, you want to know where to stay in Cinque Terre. The first thing to note is that there are five Cinque Terre villages. Italian speakers will have guessed this as Cinque Terre translates as five lands.
Each village has different qualities. Some are serene, with just olive groves and the ocean for company. Others have a lively nightlife that might shock you for their size.
Monterosso al Mare is the largest of the villages in Cinque Terre. You’ll find many hospitality venues, a medieval old town, and Monterosso al Mare Beach – which is popular because it’s sand, not pebbled.Corniglia is the only village set back from the ocean. Instead, this village has an agricultural atmosphere and is surrounded by vineyards. If you don’t mind sacrificing having the beach on your doorstep, Corniglia is a peaceful place to stay.Riomaggiore is a classic village in Cinque Terre. Sat on a rocky beachfront, the village is full of colorful houses with traditional slate roofs. Riomaggiore is smaller than Monterosso al Mare, so perfect if you want a quieter but not completely quiet experience. It is also known for its great hiking trails.Manarola is another classic. You won’t find a beach, but everyone swims in the harbor. Manarola has a tiny piazza, a few hiking trails, and an old-worldly, authentic Italian character. If you want the experience you’ve seen in photographs, we’d recommend Manarola as a great option.Many say that Vernazza is the prettiest of the Cinque Terre villages, but we’ll leave that for you to decide. The little fishing village is full of history, and you can explore its medieval castle and historic buildings. Vernazza is surrounded by olive groves, so you can expect delicious olives and olive oil.Of course, you don’t have to choose one of the Cinque Terre villages. La Spezia is a popular place to stay and is located just outside Cinque Terre. Easier to access, usually cheaper for accommodation, and still only a short distance from the villages, you shouldn’t rule out when choosing Cinque Terre accommodation.
1. Monterosso al Mare
Monterosso al Mare is the largest in Cinque Terre National Park. In short, it is the most visited, busiest, and has the most hospitality venues.
Why is Monterosso al Mare so popular? Primarily because of its sandy beach. Monterosso is the only one with a sizeable sand beach out of all the towns. When deciding where to stay in Cinque Terre, you should consider whether having a sand beach is an essential factor for you.
Monterosso al Mare also has the best nightlife on the Ligurian coast. Naturally, as the largest town, it attracts the most people and is the most sociable of all five towns. You’ll find plenty of bars if you want to head out on an evening. Similarly, since Monterosso is home to the biggest hotels, you’ll also find bars and more nighttime entertainment in your hotel.
Sadly, the only downside to Monterosso al Mare is caused by its own popularity. The town is packed with tourists in summer, and you should expect fully booked hotels and tours. The beach and the town’s restaurants will also be very busy, and prices may rise in the summer season. Of course, there are positives to Monterosso being busy. The nightlife gets better, and the atmosphere is friendly and entertaining. If you don’t mind a busier place to stay in Cinque Terre, then Monterosso is perfect for you.
Luxury: La Casa del Gigante Luxury Collection
La Casa del Gigante is our number one suggestion for luxury accommodation in Monterosso al Mare. Rather than a standard hotel room, you’ll have a two-bedroom apartment, complete with a private terrace overlooking spectacular sea views.
The property is in a stunning location, just a minute’s walk from Fegina Beach. Guests receive free wifi and a complimentary airport shuttle – setting the luxurious tone from the get-go.
Mid-range: Locanda A Ca Du Gigante
Fancy a sleek hotel stay in Cinque Terre? This Cinque Terre hotel has a mixture of single rooms, double rooms, and suites for you to book. Most rooms also include an Italian-style breakfast, served every morning in the garden or breakfast room.
The hotel is just a minute’s walk from II Gigante Beach, and you can pick up complimentary beach towels from the reception. Private parking is available for a small surcharge. However, the property is conveniently located only 400 meters from Monterosso train station, so you can catch the train to cut costs.
Budget: La Rosa Dei Venti
Budget places to stay in Cinque Terre don’t get much better than this traditional hotel set in Monterosso’s center. La Rosa Dei Venti ticks all the boxes while keeping its room prices low and affordable.
Just five minutes walk from Monterosso Beach and ten minutes from the train station, La Rosa Dei Venti has a great location to explore the town. The property’s rooms are just as impressive and are good value for money. Each comes complete with air conditioning, coffee facilities, a TV, and a safety deposit box. There are double rooms and balconies available as well if you wish.
VRBO: Apartment Overlooking The Beach
It doesn’t get more beachfront than this two-bedroom apartment. You can wake up slowly with a cooked breakfast and coffee on your private balcony overlooking Monterosso Beach below.
The apartment features an additional patio space plus ample living space. This property is an excellent vacation rental choice if you want an alternative to Cinque Terre hotels. It is a cozy space to relax when staying in Monterosso.
If the thought of summer crowds gives you the shudders, Corniglia is where to stay in Cinque Terre. Corniglia is the quietest village and place to stay in Cinque Terre.
Corniglia is set high up on the cliffs, away from the ocean. It attracts fewer tourists since many people visit Cinque Terre wanting a scenic beach holiday. But, if you are happy taking a day trip when you want to have a beach day, we’d highly recommend considering Corniglia. In Corniglia, you’ll have a quiet, peaceful experience of visiting Cinque Terre.
The village is surrounded by vineyards which are great for wine tasting and, as we mentioned, has an agricultural atmosphere. Corniglia is one of our best Cinque Terre accommodation options if you want to indulge in the ‘dolce far niente’ – the sweet art of doing nothing. You can spend your days enjoying the small things in life, like sipping local wine and admiring the historic buildings.
Corniglia does have a lot of steps. Three hundred fifty, to be exact. And to reach the village from the train station, you have to scale all of them, so this Cinque Terre village does require a bit of effort before you get to reap its rewards. However, the train line still connects Corniglia to the other Cinque Terre towns and makes it logistically accessible.
Luxury: Residenza Solferino
Some of the best hotels offer luxury in the form of apartments, not private rooms. Residenza Solferino does just that.
The recently renovated units feature modern rooms and stylish furnishings. If your idea of bliss is a home away from home, this property is the best luxury accommodation option in Corniglia. After a day exploring Cinque Terre, you can settle in with free wifi, lots of living space, and air conditioning.
Mid-range: Amare Il Mare Affittacamere
Okay, Amare Il Mare Affittacamere is pretty luxurious for a mid-range place to stay in Cinque Terre.
The property’s suite apartment features an incredible terrace, which is covered and has a gorgeous sea view. While, for slightly less money per night, the deluxe double room features a balcony with sea views. Inside all available apartments, the design has been recently renovated, and each has stylish, ocean-themed decor.
Each room features air conditioning, coffee-making facilities, and a TV. For guests driving, the property also offers valuable free parking.
Budget: Ostello Corniglia
There aren’t many hostels in Cinque Terre, let alone Corniglia. So, if you are looking for budget-friendly accommodation, count your lucky stars that you’ve stumbled across Ostello Corniglia.
Guests can choose between private and dormitory rooms, with female-only dormitories available. From a shared lounge to a garden, you’ll have all the homely facilities that you could wish for. Plus, Ostello Corniglia is a fantastic place to stay in Cinque Terre if you’d like to meet new people or are traveling alone.
VRBO: Elegant Apartment With Sea View
Why not stay in one of Cinque Terre’s colored houses for yourself? This vacation rental is on the second floor of a traditional Ligurian building, painted bright yellow and perched on Corniglia’s cliff slopes.
The apartment is surrounded by citrus and olive trees – a serene location to settle into Cinque Terre’s laidback atmosphere. You’ll have sea views from the master bedroom and living room, plus a balcony for relaxing outdoors.
Riomaggiore might not have the crazy crowds of Monterosso al Mare, but it certainly has character. Riomaggiore attracts medium-sized crowds, making the town a little busy in summer. Think of it as the middle ground – not too busy and not too quiet.
Riomaggiore has a pebbled beach for sunbathing and swimming. However, you should be careful when swimming in the ocean since this area of the sea can get rough, and the beach is unsupervised. Riomaggiore Beach is lovely and spacious, so there will be plenty of room to relax on land if the sea is having a bad day.
Riomaggiore has a classy Cinque Terre aesthetic, with pastel-colored houses and a small stone marina with traditional fishing boats. Riomaggiore’s slow-paced atmosphere makes it where to stay in Cinque Terre if you want a relaxing coastal break. The town still comes alive at night, though, and you’ll find a handful of great bars to let your hair down in the evening.
This Cinque Terre town is also the best choice if you want a base to explore all five towns. You can purchase the Cinque Terre Card to access all the hiking trails and receive unlimited train travel. You can easily use it as a base to explore other Cinque Terre towns, so Riomaggiore is a fantastic option if you are stuck trying to choose.
Luxury: Agave Room Rental
Agave Room Rental is a stunning place to stay in Cinque Terre. The guest house is excellently located within walking distance of Riomaggiore’s center, and there is even a jacuzzi for guests to enjoy.
The property features a range of room choices, each with shared access to a lovely garden and roof terrace. In true luxury, Agave only has sea view rooms – so you can be reassured that you’ll have gorgeous views no matter which room you choose. Agave Room Rental is also just a couple of minutes’ walk from Riomaggiore Beach, making it the perfect coastal getaway.
Mid-range: 5 Terre Discovering
Another guest house to consider is 5 Terre Discovering. For luxury at a mid-range price, this property is where to stay in Riomaggiore.
You can expect modern rooms and modern amenities at this guest house. The interior is fresh and well-decorated, additionally featuring thoughtful details like hypo-allergenic furnishings. Guests receive daily housekeeping, 24-hour reception support, and the option to purchase an airport shuttle package.
Comfortable and convenient, 5 Terre Discovering is a great place to stay in Cinque Terre.
Budget: Controvento al Mare
Riomaggiore isn’t known for its budget-friendly accommodation options. But Controvento al Mare is a great place to stay in Cinque Terre.
While still a little pricey, the one-bedroom apartment is much cheaper than other options in Riomaggiore. You get excellent value for money too, with free wifi and lots of living space – all with the hotel bonus of a 24-hour reception desk.
Controvento al Mare is only 300 meters from Riomaggiore Beach, so prepare yourself for a beach holiday of a lifetime.
VRBO: Ocean View Apartment
The apartment is traditionally decorated and has tiled floors that are great for keeping the property cool in summer. The rental also features a terrace with sea and mountain views, with a retractable cover for optional shade. Fully furnished for a relaxing stay, it is a great place to stay in Cinque Terre.
Manarola is the picture-perfect place to stay in Cinque Terre. From the piazza with al fresco restaurants to the small stone harbor and colorful houses, Manarola defines a Cinque Terre experience.
The town is surrounded by hiking trails, most of which lead to incredible viewpoints and historical attractions. The most famous viewpoint is the Manarola Scenic Viewpoint – which many of you may recognize from postcards, social media, and magazines.
Manarola has less nightlife than Monterosso al Mare and Riogmaggiore. For those that want to fall asleep to the sound of waves crashing rather than the top charts, Manarola is where to stay in Cinque Terre. It is one of the best towns for a quiet holiday on the Italian Riviera.
Like the others, this Cinque Terre town has a train station that regularly connects it to other towns. Manarola is a relatively easy place to reach when carrying luggage.
As we mentioned previously, the only downside to Manarola is that there is no beach. However, everyone swims at a particular swimming spot by the harbor. You’ll be able to spot it by the giant ladder leading from the rocks to the water. Only strong swimmers should use this spot, and you should always swim with someone since it is deep open water. But, if you don’t mind having a swimming spot rather than a beach, Manarola is a fun place to stay.
Luxury: La Torretta Lodge
La Torretta Lodge is one of our most luxurious Cinque Terre accommodations. The guest house takes luxury extremely seriously, from outdoor hot tub access to a complimentary aperitif every evening.
The lodge is built in a converted medieval tower and has beautiful sea views. Each room option features trendy contemporary artwork, complimentary soft drinks, and a Nespresso coffee machine. La Torretta has thought of everything – there is even a free bags service from Manarola Train Station.
This lovely hotel is a serene spot to enjoy Manarola and has a private garden for guests to relax outdoors. Guests can opt for single and double rooms. Double rooms have a private terrace for added outdoor space.
Budget: Su Per I Coppi
Su Per I Coppi is budget-friendly and located right in Manarola’s Old Town? It hardly sounds believable, does it?
The hotel features bright, unfussy rooms with balconies. Every room is equipped with a fan to combat Cinque Terre’s summer heat and has free wifi and toiletries. Even better, the property is just 400 meters from Manarola Beach.
VRBO: Manarola ‘Mansion’ Apartment
If you visit Manarola as a group, this property is a great choice. The spacious apartment sleeps up to five guests, with the ability to welcome small children.
Location-wise, the apartment could not get better either. The property is located in one of the main colored buildings above the harbor – meaning you’ve probably seen it already in the famous pictures of Manarola.
If you are desperate for a Cinque Terre town with a beach, Vernazza has two to choose from. There is a small sandy beach next to the harbor and Vernazza Beach, a decent-sized pebbled beach popular for sunbathing and swimming.
Vernazza is one of the prettiest places to stay in Cinque Terre. When you aren’t on the beach, there is plenty to see in the town. There are no cars, so the streets are made for walking, shopping, and al fresco dining and drinking.
The town has a lot of history and has the 15th-century ruins of Vernazza Castle in its center. You could easily spend a few days exploring Vernazza before venturing off to Cinque Terre’s nearby towns.
Vernazza is also still a fully functioning fishing village, so it has an agricultural feel, lots of fresh seafood, and a constantly buzzing harbor. The surrounding olives groves make for some tasty olive oil for cooking seafood, and freshly plucked olives are a popular starter dish. Vernazza is a great spot on the Italian Riviera if you love sampling new foods and fresh dishes.
Out of all our Cinque Terre towns, Vernazza has everything you are probably looking for and has lots of attractions without the crazy crowds. Of course, good things come at a price, and staying in Vernazza can be expensive. Weigh up how much you are prepared to budget to stay in Cinque Terre and look at our accommodation options below.
Luxury: El Nin ApartmentIn Vernazza
The best luxury you can find is a brilliant location. El Nin Apartment ticks this box. The two-bedroom apartment is minutes away from Vernazza Beach and has fantastic sea views from its terrace. With an ATM and mini-market on-site and all the amenities you need, El Nin Apartment has the best conveniences. If you want a luxury base to explore Vernazza, this is the accommodation for you.
Mid-range: Candidina 2
If luxury is location, it’s only fair that Candidina 2 is our runner-up. The one-bedroom apartment is located amid Vernazza’s Old Town and has incredible sea views.
A mid-range apartment is perfect for guests who value practical amenities and generous living space. While you’re in Vernazza, Candidina 2 is an ideal hideaway – giving you a private space to treat as home and refresh after a day of sightseeing.
Budget: Affittacamere PZ
Sea view rooms with private balconies might sound like a pipe dream when sticking to a budget in Vernazza. But Affittacamere PZ makes it a reality. The property is bliss, from spacious en-suite rooms to a beautiful garden with loungers.
You can find stunning budget-friendly accommodation with excellent facilities by staying just outside of Vernazza. This hotel is a thirty-minute walk from the Old Town but is conveniently located on a bus route. It also offers private parking for those driving in Cinque Terre.
VRBO: Residential Vernazza Flat
This rental property is a stunning place to stay in Vernazza and is just fifty meters from the sea. It is an excellent accommodation choice, with traditional stone features and an incredibly central location.
As a cozy one-bedroom flat, this property is ideally suited to couples or solo travelers visiting Vernazza. You’ll arrive in a homely atmosphere and have all the amenities you need.
6. La Spezia
La Spezia is the capital of its region, La Spezia Province. The city is south of Cinque Terre, and it is connected to the Cinque Terre railway. Many refer to La Spezia as the ‘gateway to Cinque Terre’, and it is easy to see why.
However, don’t just drop your bags and rush out of La Spezia. The city has lots to offer apart from just being in a great location to explore Cinque Terre. The city’s coastline is lined with sandy beaches – so get your fill of sand in La Spezia before heading to Cinque Terre’s rocky shores.
Staying in a city also has its benefits, as you’ll never get bored with all the attractions and things to see and do. La Spezia is fantastic for history lovers. The city is home to Castello San Giorgio, a 14th-century castle famous for its views and historical artifacts.
It also has a modern art gallery, naval museum, and a swimming spot named after the renowned romantic poet Lord Byron.
When planning a last-minute trip to Cinque Terre, La Spezia tends to have more availability. Naturally, as a large city, La Spezia has lots more hotels and hostels than the towns in Cinque Terre. You may find this best if you want to stick to a budget or pick from less limited accommodation.
Luxury: Elegant Apartments 5 Terre La Spezia
Who needs to stay in one of the Cinque Terre hotels when you have the perfect location in La Spezia? Elegant Apartments is situated between Saint George’s Castle and Amedeo Lia Museum. For history and culture, you can’t pick a better spot.
The modern hotel offers luxury apartments to choose from, ranging in size and style and sleeping up to six guests. Each apartment is fully furnished for home-away-from-home living. From a satellite TV to a dishwasher, you’ll find all the luxuries you take for granted at home.
Mid-range: Alchimia di Mare
If you want a mid-range base to explore Cinque Terre, Alchimia di Mare is perfect. The guest house is just a three-minute walk from La Spezia Centrale Train Station, where you can catch the train directly to Cinque Terre’s five villages. For easy access to Cinque Terre, this is one of the best hotels in La Spezia.
Most rooms include daily breakfast at a nearby restaurant. Each room also features a mini-fridge and coffee-making facilities, so you can indulge in refreshments in your room. The décor is fresh and trendy, and the hotel is in an art nouveau building.
Budget: La Casa dei Treni Affittacamere
This property is a fantastic budget alternative to Alchimia di Mare. Also, just minutes away from La Spezia Centrale Train Station, it has the ideal location to explore Cinque Terre’s five villages by train.
Each room has a coffee machine, air conditioning, and a TV. If you want to splurge a little, you can book rooms with a patio or city views. La Casa provides incredible value for money, and the hotel interior is recently renovated and trendy.
VRBO: The Sea in Piazza Apartment
In La Spezia, this property is one of the best rentals you can book. A short walk from the sea, port, train station, bus station, and Porto Mirabello (La Spezia’s hospitality district), its location covers all bases.
The interior is sleek and classy, with a black and white color scheme. For location and property quality, we highly recommend this apartment.
How to get to Cinque Terre
If you fly into Pisa, the best way to reach Cinque Terre is by train. You can catch a train to Monterosso al Mare, with a quick change at La Spezia Centrale. The whole train journey takes under two hours.
Another option is to drive to Cinque Terre. However, getting around Cinque Terre is quite impractical, which we will explain later. Similarly, you could take a taxi, but it is very pricey. You can expect to pay upwards of $200 for a one-way transfer to Cinque Terre from Pisa.
Getting around Cinque Terre
Getting around Cinque Terre is surprisingly straightforward. There is a regular train service connecting all the towns and ferries and independent boat trips. You can choose to hop between stations and harbors – the choice is yours.
If you choose to use the train system, consider purchasing the Cinque Terre Card. The card has one and two-day options, providing holders unlimited train travel on these days. The card may work out cheaper than buying individual tickets, so it is worthwhile adding up beforehand.
However, you should be aware that while you can access the five towns by train, some train stations are located outside of the town centers. For example, in Corniglia, you have to walk up 350 narrow steps to reach the town from the train station – which is a challenge not everybody will want to complete. Always consider your fitness abilities when choosing which town to visit by train.
If you have a good fitness level, the towns also have hiking trails linking them together. Outdoor activity and fitness enthusiasts can enjoy the challenge of hiking from town to town. To access the hiking trails, you purchase a special Cinque Terre Card. You can choose the card that gives you hiking trail access and unlimited train travel, or just the trail access alone.
Cars are the worst way to get around Cinque Terre. In wet months, the mountain roads are narrow and often experience landslides and loose rocks. Some towns, like Vernazza, don’t permit cars either, so you’ll be unable to access certain places in Cinque Terre when driving. Even in the larger towns, finding a parking space will be difficult. Any car parks are usually expensive and far from the town center.
How long to spend in Cinque Terre
How long to spend in Cinque Terre is a tricky question. How long you should stay in Cinque Terre depends on what you want to cover on your trip.
Are you happy with picking one town and staying there your whole trip? You should allow at least two days and three nights – regardless of which place you choose. Three to four days is a perfect amount of time to relax in Cinque Terre life, visit a few attractions, and possibly take a day trip to another nearby town.
Of course, many people travel along the Ligurian coast, staying at each of the five towns on their way. In this case, we suggest allowing a minimum of ten days so that you can fully enjoy each town you stop in. Really, you could stretch this trip over a fortnight extremely easily.
Visiting Cinque Terre is a trip of a lifetime. You will have a fantastic time, as the Ligurian coast has some of the best towns and prettiest scenery that you’ll find in Italy. We recommend finding a good balance of days embracing the ‘dolce far niente’ and days sightseeing all the coast has on offer.
Once you’ve visited Cinque Terre, you’ll probably find a favorite town that you leave already desperate to re-visit. Yes, there are a lot of places to choose from when visiting Cinque Terre, but that is the beauty of the destination. You’ll have the best experience when you see them all.