Where to Stay in Cinque Terre
Northwest of Florence is a string of five seaside towns called Cinque Terre. Once isolated by the dramatic mountainside, these towns developed their own colorful style that has stood the test of time. If you stay in Cinque Terre, you’ll see vibrant homes with perfectly preserved architecture. There are also networks of winding paths that lead into the hills, and no cars to speak of.
Cinque Terre’s harbors are filled with fishing boats, and its restaurants serve up tons of delicious seafood. Here they are also known for focaccia, a flat Italian bread flavored with herbs and olive oil. So no matter where you go in Cinque Terre, you’re sure to find beautiful sights and tasty treats.
Going east to west, the towns are:
- Monterosso al Mare
Important Note: Cars have been banned from Cinque Terre. But you can travel from town to town by the local train. Each stop is only a few minutes from the next. You can also use the hiking trails to get from one place to the next.
Best Town to Stay in Cinque Terre
All five charming towns have a lot in common, and you can easily travel between them. So it might seem unimportant where you stay in Cinque Terre. Still, the differences among the towns are big enough to affect your stay.
That’s why I have gone through the trouble of describing the atmosphere in each town. Whether you want nightlife, romance, or good, family fun, I’ll help you find the town for you.
Romantic Stay: Manarola
If you’re looking for a romantic stay in Cinque Terre, head to Manarola. It is the oldest of the five towns and one of the most photographed. With winding streets, rocky seascapes, and colorful homes, Manarola is the quintessential Cinque Terre experience. It is also quieter than some of the other towns so you can enjoy the romantic views without all the noise.
Manarola also has access to Sentiero dell’Amore, the Way of Love. It is a pedestrian path from Manarola to Riomaggiore that overlooks the sea. As the name suggests, the Way of Love has many stunning and romantic views. Perfect for you and your partner!
Families: Monterosso al Mare
Of all the towns in Cinque Terre, Monterosso al Mare stands out the most. It is the largest town, the flattest town, and the only town with access to a beach. If you just want to relax with your family by the sea, this might be the place for you.
Monterosso actually has two parts: a historical one and a modern one. So you have options. You can stay somewhere with newer amenities or visit a place with that old world charm. But be sure to check out Miky, my favorite restaurant in Cinque Terre, where you can find inventive takes on classic Cinque Terre cuisine.
Vernazza is one of the busiest towns in Cinque Terre, and it’s not hard to see why. Like the other towns, Vernazza has colorful homes and wandering streets among the mountains. But it also has a quaint port, which is featured time and time again in photos. The Doria Castle and Church of Santa Margherita are two other great sights to capture with your camera.
Another reason Vernazza is a great place to stay in Cinque Terre is the size. Similar to Monterosso, you’ll find a large number of restaurants and hotels. So there’s plenty to do. Just be aware that the price of accommodation may be higher due to the town’s popularity.
Since Corniglia is the only town not directly on the sea, fewer people travel there. But this gives it a quiet feel and a local charm. Not to mention, it’s cheaper in Corniglia. There are still gorgeous views of the sea below. You just don’t need to deal with a lot of noise or large crowds of tourists.
Aside from peaceful evenings, you can spend your time hiking the paths that connect each town. Corniglia is the middle town, so you can spend a few hours moving one way or the other. Then you can take the train back to rest your legs at the hotel.
Cinque Terre isn’t a bustling party location by any means. You’re not likely to find crazy, alcohol-fueled ragers with college kids all around. But that doesn’t mean you can’t have a good time while you stay in Cinque Terre. And Riomaggiore is the best place if you’re looking for nightlife.
Riomaggiore has the highest number of restaurants and bars, so it’s a great place to socialize. Accommodation is also very affordable. These two factors draw a lot of young travelers. Keep that in mind if you want to find like-minded tourists and a lively atmosphere. If not, you should probably consider one of the other towns.
After You Stay in Cinque Terre
Once you decide where to stay in Cinque Terre, you should start planning more trips in Italy. For another romantic location like Cinque Terre, take a trip to Venice. The city’s canals are the stuff of legend. Or head to the historic city of Florence, whose art and architecture are known worldwide.