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Where to Stay in Cinque Terre in 2024 – 6 Best Areas

Find your perfect Cinque Terre stay: a quick guide highlighting the best areas, charming accommodations, and must-visit spots in this picturesque Italian destination.
Where to Stay in Cinque Terre

Nestled along the Eastern Riviera of Liguria lies the enchanting Cinque Terre. This cluster of five towns, a scenic jewel in the province of La Spezia, has proudly been on UNESCO World Heritage list since 1997. If Italy is calling your name for a vacation, the Cinque Terre should be at the top of your list. And let’s not forget, it’s also where the spectacular Cinque Terre National Park unfolds in all its glory.

From west to east, you’ll find Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore. You’ve likely seen those postcard-perfect shots of colorful houses clinging to cliffs. And while at first glance they might look similar, each town offers something unique.

This guide is your key to picking the perfect Cinque Terre spot. Whether you’re after a romantic retreat, love hiking, or are planning a family trip, you’ll find a town that fits just right.

1. Monterosso al Mare, where to stay in Cinque Terre for families and kids

Monterosso al Mare

Monterosso al Mare really stands out in the Cinque Terre. It’s the largest of the five and boasts the unique feature of a sandy beach, setting it apart from the rest. The town itself is a maze of narrow pedestrian streets, and it’s relatively flatter compared to its siblings.

If you’re vacationing with kids or you’re a beach enthusiast, Monterosso al Mare is a no-brainer. It’s home to the main beaches, Fegina and Via Corone, both well-equipped with beach bars, loungers, and umbrellas.

Choosing Monterosso al Mare hits the sweet spot of enjoying a picturesque Italian town and indulging in relaxing beachside holidays.

This town is the liveliest of the lot, offering the widest variety of accommodations. Plus, if you’re into vibrant nightlife, Monterosso’s numerous bars will keep your evenings buzzing.

Best Hotels in Monterosso al Mare

2. Vernazza, the most picturesque village of Cinque Terre

Vernazza is the showstopper of Cinque Terre, perfectly matching what most visitors imagine in their minds. Trust me, you’ll want to capture every corner of this town with your camera and explore its every nook and cranny.

Dating back to the 11th century, Vernazza is a treasure trove of wonders. The Doria Castle, the charming little harbor, and the Santa Margherita church are just irresistible. I might be biased, but Vernazza might just be my favorite of the towns, blending historical sights with natural beauty.

Besides its captivating landmarks, Vernazza offers a delightful swimming experience. Whether it’s the small sandy beach near the harbor or the pebbly Vernazza beach, you’re in for a treat.

Vernazza is quite the magnet for visitors, so booking your stay early is a smart move, even though it boasts a variety of hotels. And for the foodies out there, Vernazza’s culinary scene will absolutely live up to your expectations.

Best Hotels in Vernazza

3. Corniglia, a quiet place to stay in Cinque Terre

Corniglia

Corniglia is the hidden gem of the Cinque Terre, known for its tranquility. Unique among its siblings, it sits atop a hill, serenely distanced from the sea. To reach it, brace yourself for a climb of 380 steps from the train station – so pack light!

If you’re in search of a peaceful retreat, away from the bustling crowds, Corniglia is your go-to. Imagine unwinding for a day or two, sipping wine while soaking in views of quaint streets and historic buildings. It’s a chance to enjoy the simpler joys of Italy.

Even if your heart is set on a more lively location, I’d still recommend a day trip or an overnight stay in Corniglia. It’s a serene escape that offers a different flavor of the Cinque Terre experience.

Best Hotels in Corniglia

4. Manarola, the most romantic place in Cinque Terre

Manarola, in my opinion, is the dreamy pick for a romantic getaway in the Cinque Terre, especially if you or your partner are into photography. It’s peaceful in the evenings, making it perfect for leisurely strolls to admire the colorful houses perched dramatically on the cliffs.

While Manarola doesn’t boast a typical beach, the local secret is swimming near the harbor. Adventurous souls can dive into the water from a large staircase leading down from the rocks.

Sunset in Manarola is a spectacle not to be missed. It’s the golden hour for a romantic walk, painting the town in breathtaking hues.

Here’s a tip: for a romantic dinner, try Nessun Dorma. The view is stunning, and the food is delectable – a perfect end to a day in this charming town.

Best Hotels in Manarola

5. Riomaggiore, a vibrant town to stay in Cinque Terre

Riomaggiore

Riomaggiore is your go-to in the Cinque Terre if you’re young, or just young at heart, and crave a vibrant atmosphere with some nightlife. But don’t get me wrong, it’s not just about the after-dark scene.

This town is a visual feast with its brightly colored houses and has an almost aristocratic charm. Riomaggiore comes alive at night with its bars and restaurants, adding a lively buzz to the evenings. And yes, it’s also family-friendly! The pebbly beach is perfect for a swim or sunbathing session.

Riomaggiore draws a crowd, but it’s not as packed as Monterosso al Mare. It boasts some lovely hotels that make for a comfortable stay.

And if you’re planning to hop through all the Cinque Terre villages, Riomaggiore is a great starting point.

Best Hotels in Riomaggiore

6. La Spezia, where to stay close to Cinque Terre on a budget

La Spezia

Another savvy way to explore Cinque Terre is by making La Spezia your base camp. As the capital of the region, La Spezia isn’t part of the Cinque Terre villages but is a mere 15-minute train ride away.

La Spezia is a larger city that’s equally charming and less swamped by tourists compared to the Cinque Terre towns. It boasts a lively nightlife and a plethora of dining options.

The real draw here is the variety and affordability of accommodations. You’ll find a wider selection of places to stay at prices that are kinder to your wallet than those in Cinque Terre. It’s an excellent choice if you’re budget-conscious and don’t mind a short train ride to reach the wonders of Cinque Terre.

Best Hotels in La Spezia

How to Get to Cinque Terre (and move around)

Fly into Genoa, Pisa, or Milan for starters. If Pisa is your landing spot, hop on a train to Cinque Terre. The journey, passing through La Spezia Centrale, is less than 2 hours – pretty convenient, right?

Landing in Genoa? You’re looking at a 1.5-hour train ride to Monterosso al Mare. Milan, on the other hand, requires a bit more planning. Catch a train to La Spezia and change at either Parma or Genoa. The total travel time from Milan to Cinque Terre is about 3 hours to La Spezia, plus a short train ride to the villages.

My advice? Skip renting a car. It’s impractical and, in places like Vernazza, not even allowed. The best way to navigate is by train, which links all Cinque Terre villages. Bonus: the stops are just 3-4 minutes apart. Consider grabbing the Cinque Terre Card for hassle-free train travel.

And if you’re into hiking like me, I highly recommend exploring the trails linking the villages. Just double-check in advance to ensure they’re open.

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