The question is, in which village you should stay in Cinque Terre. Each of the five villages has its own charm and character. Accommodation is plentiful in the area, and you will find everything from luxurious hotels to romantic guest houses and family-friendly vacation rentals.
Monterosso is the largest of the five towns and has the most amenities. Beach-lovers should definitely stay here. The town has several beaches, both private and public ones. In Fegina you will find Bagni Eden, the best beach in Cinque Terre, famous for its orange and blue striped umbrellas.
Monterosso also has the biggest selection of cozy Airbnbs and hotels near the beach, and it is a popular base from which to explore. There are plenty of aperitivo bars and restaurants in the old part of town.
Monterosso is almost entirely flat, ideal for anyone who has mobility issues or just not want to climb a lot of stairs. It is great for families with small kids, as there are long stretches along the beach where you can walk with a stroller.
Vernazza is one of the most picturesque of the five villages. The tiny harbor is surrounded by colorful typical Ligurian houses and the charming piazza is lined with good restaurants and bars. Vernazza’s seafront has a small sandy beach to the side of Santa Margherita Church. Because of the town's small size, its streets can get rather congested in high season, particularly during the afternoon. You will be rewarded with all of its gorgeousness in the much less busy evenings.
There are only a couple of small hotels and some really romantic Airbnbs in the center of Vernazza, with amazing views over the main square and the colorful small harbour.
Vernazza is the perfect starting point for hiking along the blue trail to Monterosso and Corniglia. If you are not able to do the full hike to the next village, Vernazza offers some great photo spots on the trails before you reach the checkpoints. This means you can do the initial part of the hike, around 10 minutes, enjoy the scenery and take some photos and return the way you came without needing a Cinque Terre Card.
Corniglia is located in the heart of the Cinque Terre National Park, on the top of a rocky promontory, 100 meters above sea level. It is the smallest of the five villages and also the least accessible. You have to climb the 382 steps to reach the village or you can take the shuttle bus from the train station. Perched high up on the cliffside, this is the only town that is not right on the water. Once you are up in the village, it is relatively flat.
For those who are looking for a quiet place to stay in Cinque Terre, Corniglia is the right place. Because of its size and relative inaccessibility, fewer tourists stay here, so there is more of a local feel. There are a few high-quality hotels in Corniglia, all with amazing sea views. There are bars and restaurants here, but no real nightlife.
Corniglia is definitely a place for hikers and nature lovers. Here starts the two most spectacular scenic trails connecting Corniglia with Vernazza and Manarola (via Volastra).
Manarola is one of the most famous villages of the scenic Cinque Terre coast. The tall, colorful houses are leading down to the small harbor. You can enjoy lunch at one of the fish restaurants in the small square next to the harbour. The harbor area is filled with colorful rowing boats and becomes the main sunbathing and swimming spot of the village from morning until dusk. In fact, this is the perfect place to spend a lazy day sunbathing and watching people jumping off the cliffs.
There are some really nice Bed & Breakfasts in Manarola with a relaxing atmosphere and spectacular sea views. If you are traveling with a group of friends or family, renting an apartment in Manarola can be a better choice.
Do not miss Nessun Dorma, a restaurant that allows you to enjoy the gorgeous views with a glass of Cinque Terre wine or an Aperol Spritz in hand. This place has become super popular lately, and thanks to the Nessun Dorma app you can digitally queue for your table whilst exploring the town or hanging out by the water.
In Manarola starts the scenic hike to Corniglia, via Volastra, which leads you through ancient wine terraces that decline to the sea.
Riomaggiore is basically a cascade of multi-coloured houses in typical Ligurian style, all tightly clustered around a tiny colorful harbour filled with fishing boats. There is a pebble beach located near the boat docking point and the picturesque harbor.
We recommend Riomaggiore to young travelers or couples looking for a romantic place to stay. As the sun starts to set, many people gather to sit on the rocks by the harbor to watch the sunset. There are also numerous restaurants and bars open until 1am. Near the small picturesque harbor there are some romantic Airbnbs in Riomaggiore with fantastic sea views.
Riomaggiore is one of the best villages in Cinque Terre for offering some sort of activity. If you would like to get out on the water, there are a number of companies around the harbor offering boat and kayak rentals, as well as private boat tours.