Where to Stay in Cinque Terre: A Guide to Choosing Your Favorite Village

The Cinque Terre is deservedly known as one of Italy’s most beautiful places. Dotted along the gorgeous Italian Riviera coastline, there’s a string of five enchanting and colorful villages.

To one side, the villages are flanked by the azure sea, while the sprawling Cinque Terre National Park beckons on the other, with its olive groves and hiking trails.

Most people choose to stay in one of the five villages of the Cinque Terre, as it makes visiting super easy – and the atmosphere is delightful. If you can, I highly recommend staying in one of these villages as there’s nothing like it.

In this guide, I’ll help you find the best village to stay in the Cinque Terre.

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Should I stay in the Cinque Terre or nearby?

Centuries old, these Cinque Terre villages on the Ligurian coast are made up of a hodge-podge of bright and magical buildings that seem to hover over the deep blue sea.

Photo of entrance to Cantine Burasc in Manarola village on a summer day
Cantine Burasca in Manarola village, Cinque Terre, Italy

The incredible sight is so unique that the entire coastline is designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The villages are petite, yet very popular. As a result, prices can be steep – however, there are accommodation options to cover a range of budgets, from Italian villas with a private pool to small B&Bs.

Another option is to stay somewhere nearby on the Italian Riviera and drive or train in. You’ll be sacrificing a little bit of the wow factor, but you’ll still get a chance to explore the Cinque Terre.

So, in this guide, I’ll also look at some places to stay near the Cinque Terre.

What You Need to Know About Italian Hotels

It’s really important to:

  • Check out on GOOGLE MAPS the street leading to the property. Does it have thousands of steps?
  • READ THE REVIEWS because many hotel pages don’t show you pictures of, for example, the bathroom. It’s impossible to know if you’re room smells of something nasty if you haven’t read the reviews.
  • Owners change, and if a hotel has pictures taken before the pandemic, it might not be so sparkling clean now!
  • TRY AND FIND AN OUTSIDE SPACE. The Cinque Terre has very few chain hotels. Look for rooms with balconies or terraces so that you can sit outside and watch the sea. But make sure you see the balcony.
  • In Italy, rooms advertised with balconies are often tiny Juliet balconies that are really just some fancy ironwork across the window. And finally,
  • BOOK A ‘FREE CANCELLATION’ ROOM so that you can book several and then have a chat with the hosts. Ask all the questions you need and then choose the place that sounds the best (this is part of the reason I love Booking.com). Italians are generally extremely warm and generous!

OK, now go pick a village!

Where to stay in the Cinque Terre: the Towns of the Cinque Terre

The five towns of the Cinque Terre are Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Riomaggiore, and Manarola.

Map of Cinque Terre Villages in Italy
Map of Cinque Terre Villages Italy

While it’s completely understandable to agonize over which Cinque Terre village to stay in, the good news is – they’re all beautiful. Trust me. You could stay in any of them, and you’re sure to fall madly in love.

However, to help you make the best possible choice for you – let’s take a closer look at each.

Monterosso al Mare: the largest town to stay in the Cinque Terre

One of the most popular places to stay in the  Cinque Terre is the town of Monterosso al Mare.

Photo from the sea of the beach and town of Monterosso al Mare in the Cinque Terre in Italy in the late afternoon sun
Cinque Terre Italy

This village is the most westerly of all the villages of the Cinque Terre and is the first you’ll stumble upon if driving from Milan or Genoa. and this is partly what makes it popular.

Monterosso is the largest of all of the villages of the Cinque Terre and is divided up into a “newer” and an old town section, which is linked by an underground tunnel.

As a result of this, it has the widest range of accommodation options and can be the most budget-friendly of the towns along the Cinque Terre.

Some visitors to the Cinque Terre feel that Monterosso is the least “authentic” of the five. It’s the most accessible by car, which makes traveling more convenient – but also eats into some of the traditional charms.

Monterosso al Mare beach with its iconic orange and green umbrella on a bright summer day
Monterosso al Mare beach

That said, it’s still pretty delightful with its abundant lemon trees and anchovies.

Another big tick for Monterosso is that it boasts Cinque Terre’s best beach, Fegina Beach (yes, I said it!).

With a long stretch of soft sand and ubiquitous umbrellas, it’s a fabulous place for spending a few hours soaking up the sun along the Italian Riviera.

If you’d like to know where the best beaches of the Cinque Terre are, read: What’s the Best Cinque Terre Beach?

Best accommodation in Monterosso al Mare

The most popular place to stay along the Cinque Terre is Vernazza, and there are plenty of good reasons why it’s taken the #1 crown.

Aerial photo of the harbor and village of Vernazza cinque terre, Italy
Vernazza Cinque Terre Italy

As with each of these villages, Vernazza is astonishingly beautiful, dripping with traditional charm and historic beauty. 

The octagonal tower of the spectacular church of Santa Margherita d’Antiochia is always in your sights when you’re in Vernazza.

It’s particularly easy to enjoy this as there are no cars in the village, meaning there are no modern distractions to take away from its charming good looks.

It’s the place to go to enjoy the charm of the village and its surrounding nature – one of the most popular things to do in Vernazza is to hike to the nearby village of Corniglia, taking in amazing views along the way.

Another highlight of Vernazza is that it enjoys not one but two beautiful beaches.

Nearby, you’ll find lots of eateries and gelaterias, so it’s an incredibly charming place to enjoy a day by the sea. Just be prepared to share the beach with many other visitors!

Vernazza Streets with brightly colored apartments and green shutter on a sunny day
Street in Vernazza

The crowds are the biggest downside to staying in Vernazza, so it may not be ideal if you’re looking for a peaceful stay.

Due to its popularity, it can also be one of the more expensive villages to stay in the Cinque Terre and can book out if you are visiting Cinque Terre during the popular summer season.

So, be prepared to book early to secure your spot (and the best deals) in this beautiful village.

TIP: If you book less than 6 months ahead, you are left with a vastly reduced range of light and airy options at prices that won’t make your eyes water.

And as with most accommodations of 2 stars and above in these five villages, you will find double rooms, free wifi, and air conditioning as standard – along with sumptuous breakfasts that truly pack on the calories!

Best accommodation in Vernazza

Corniglia: the quietest village in the Cinque Terre

While parts of the Cinque Terre can be overwhelming, Corniglia is like a little oasis of calm. Set back from the sea, it occupies an elevated location which means it gets stunning panoramic views. 

Photo of Corniglia village Cinque Terre, Italy, from above the town at dusk, surrounded by the sea
Corniglia Village, Cinque Terre Italy

The maze-like streets are lined with beautiful and historic buildings, while the calm atmosphere allows its authenticity to shine through. Perhaps best of all? You’ll only share it with a few other tourists.

Photo of stone apartments and connecting archways in Corniglia village, Cinque Terre
Corniglia homes, Cinque Terre, Italy

What’s the catch, you may ask? Well, Corniglia’s peacefulness requires some sacrifice. You see, from the train station it’s found at the top of 350 steps – not an easy climb, but oh so worth it if you can do it.

The lactic acid is nothing compared to enjoying the beauty of this rustic and authentic village and getting a taste of what traditional life is like along the Cinque Terre.

Best accommodation in Corniglia

Riomaggiore: the Goldilocks village of the Cinque Terre

In many ways, Riomaggiore is the “Goldilocks” village of the Cinque Terre. It’s not too big but not too small; not too crowded, but not too quiet, either.

Photo from the pier of Riomaggiore harbor and village on a bright day, Cinque Terre, Italy
Riomaggiore, Cinque Terre

So, if you’re looking to enjoy a little bit of everything while staying overnight in the Cinque Terre, Riomaggiore is an excellent choice.

It boasts some of the most beautiful views of any of the villages, with the panoramas out over the sea being particularly captivating.

One of the most popular places to take in the beauty of the surroundings is from the Castello di Riomaggiore… from here, you can take in some of the most stunning sunsets imaginable.

Nature lovers will also surely love the abundance of hiking and walking opportunities around Riomaggiore.

One of the most popular is the Via dell’Amore (the romantically-named Walk of Love) which stretches between Riomaggiore and Manarola (see below).

Photo of section of Via dell'Amore beside the sea at sunset, Cinque Terre, Italy
Via dell’Amore, Cinque Terre Italy

So you plan on letting your hair down a little in one of the most beautiful places on earth? I certainly don’t blame you! If so, then Riomaggiore is a great choice.

This is one of the bigger villages in the Cinque Terre and has established itself as offering some of the best dining and nightlife of all of the villages.

Best accommodation in Riomaggiore

Manarola: Peace, quiet and panoramas in the Cinque Terre

If you loved the sound of Corniglia’s serenity but weren’t so keen on those 350 steps, Manarola may be an equally enchanting choice.

Photo taken in the Morning hours from the sea of Mararola harbor and village, Cinque Terre, Italy
Morning hours in Manarola Village, Cinque Terre

This village is the Cinque Terre’s second smallest, having once been part of Riomaggiore. Today, it’s considered a village in its own right – albeit a pint-sized one!

Manarola is particularly ideal for those who want to enjoy the famous Cinque Terre hikes, all the while taking in pinch-yourself views.

The village itself is beguiling, and the surrounding landscapes just add to the wow factor. You certainly won’t regret choosing Manarola for where to stay in the Cinque Terre!

Old stairs with iron balustrades leading to a higher street in Manarola village, Cinque Terre
Manarola Village, Cinque Terre

Unfortunately, Manarola doesn’t have a beach, however, it does have a very picturesque harbor that you can explore. It’s magical at sunset and serves as Manarola’s defacto beach.

As it is the second smallest village, it offers fewer amenities such as shops and restaurants, but you’ll still find some traditional options to enjoy.

Plus, it’s within walking distance to Riomaggiore (30 minutes)  if you’re looking for more options. For a more peaceful choice, beautiful and still close to the action of Riomaggiore, look no further than petite Manarola.

Best accommodation in Manarola

Where to stay outside of the Cinque Terre

As you can see from my enthusiastic descriptions above, I highly recommend staying in one of the villages of the Cinque Terre. It’s such a unique place, and it’s truly magical to explore the villages after the day-trippers have left.

Photo of Porto Venere taken from the water of the beach and colorful seaside apartment blocks, Liguria, Italy
Porto Venere, Liguria, Italy

A short walk down any winding street brings you encounters with charming crumbling buildings and stairways, cats sunning themselves on boats, and tiny cafes. 

However, there may be some cases (such as when your time is very short) where you should stay in a larger city near the Cinque Terre and visit on a day trip.

In this case, you’ll need to either drive or catch the train to the Cinque Terre. If you are catching the train, just be sure to leave plenty of leeway in your transfers. Italian trains are notorious for running late, and you don’t want to miss yours!

The Cinque Terre lies about halfway between the well-known cities of Genoa and Pisa. Between Genoa and the Cinque Terre are some stunning beach towns.

Porto Venere (pictured above) and La Spezia are known as the towns that form the gateway to the Italian Riviera. They are conveniently located for exploring the Cinque Terre and have plenty of accommodation options.

Best accommodation in La Spezia

Yet another option is to stay in the seaside resort town of Levanto (pictured below) with its long sandy beach, about 20 kilometers away from La Spezia. 

Photo of Levanto village and beach in the afternoon summer sun, Italian Riviera, Italy
View of Levanto, Italian Riviere

Best accommodation in Levanto

Further Resources

  • There are so many things to do in Cinque Terre, Italy. See all of the best things to do in the Cinque Terre, from Get Your Guide here
  • Traveling to the Cinque Terre? See my comprehensive guide on how to get to the Cinque Terre.
  • If you’ve decided to stay in the beautiful village of Vernazza on Cinque Terre, see my detailed guide to this colorful UNESCO village here, and if you’re considering staying in lovely Manarola, read Magical Manarola:
  • If you’re on a lovers’ trip to Europe, consider that other iconic destination, Santorini. Browse all of my Greece and Italy articles for more travel inspiration.