Last updated on January 26, 2024 by Stefano Ferro, founder of MEL365, following extensive travelling in Tuscany

Where to stay in Cinque Terre

You may already know that the Cinque Terre are 5 amazing, romantic and picturesque coastal towns.

In this guide, you will see where to stay in Cinque Terre, which town works best with or without a car, for couples, families, nightlife, or a relaxed stay.

Every town has its own character, its own personality, its own style and vibe.

But let’s dig into it

You can read also

Manarola at sunrise
Manarola at sunrise

Where to stay in Cinque Terre – in a nutshell

If you have only 2 minutes of time, here are a few important points.

However, if you keep reading, you will learn so much more about the towns and why they may work best for your kind of trip.

  • What are the 5 towns: they are Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore. You can read more below about them, including a handy map.
  • Where to stay in Cinque Terre with a car: this is an area of Italy that became well famous for its isolation from the country and the world. You may be able to drive to a few towns of the Cinque Terre, however, parking can be really a huge nightmare. There are just no spots available. The town of Monterosso is the one where you will find much more parking availability and even a few accommodations that will offer it for free. Read more below on a trip by car, including a few parking suggestions.
  • Where to stay in Cinque Terre with family: There is a simple answer for this, again Monterosso. It has a nice beach where you can spend some time with the kids when you are not busy visiting the Cinque Terre and it’s an easily reachable place. Read more on a trip with the family below.
  • Best place to stay in Cinque Terre for couples: I would personally suggest Vernazza because it’s so romantic. It can be busy, however, especially during the day. If you are more about a relaxing and quieter spot, then Corniglia is the place to be. Read more below if you are travelling with your partner.
  • Cheapest town to stay in Cinque Terre: this is not the cheapest area to stay in Italy, however, you can still find some bargains, especially if you book well in advance. Manarola is probably the town with the best prices for accommodations. Read more on Manarola and a budget stay.
  • Best nightlife in Cinque Terre: most of the towns tend to “shut down” at dinner time, not much happening. Riomaggiore is the only one with some late dinner options and a few bars to have a drink even after midnight. Check out below for more on nightlife.
  • Most picturesque town: The Cinque Terre is now world-famous thanks to the sunrise photos of the Vernazza pier. I am sure you have seen them everywhere. It’s a beautiful town to walk around, busy with day trips, however, so much quieter in the evening. Read more about Vernazza below.
  • Where to stay outside of Cinque Terre: I have no doubts on this subject too. It has to be Portovenere. This town is a destination by itself, so beautiful. You can even visit it on a day boat trip from the Cinque Terre. Read more on Portovenere below.
  • Stay in La Spezia or Cinque Terre: it’s a completely different experience. Personally, if you have travelled as far as La Spezia, then make it to Cinque Terre or Porto Venere. La Spezia has more of the city feel. Cinque Terre and Porto Venere are really unique in their own way. La Spezia may be cheaper but you need to budget in also the daily transportation cost, besides the time spent on it, not worthy in my opinion.
  • How to travel between Cinque Terre villages: by train, as easy as that, very quick too. Read more on my train chapter below where I talk also about the possible cards you can buy.
  • Where to fly to for Cinque Terre: you have two options. The first one is Genoa. Go to the Genova Brignole Station and from there you can catch a direct train to Monterosso (1.5 hours). The second option you have is to fly to Pisa (the low-cost airport of Tuscany). From the Central Station (10 minutes from the airport by light rail), you can catch a train to Riomaggiore (1.5 hours). You can also fly to Florence, however, add another hour on top
  • How do you get to Cinque Terre from Florence: the train trip takes about 2.5-3 hours and involves a change at the Pisa station and possibly at the La Spezia station. You can also drive there, however, you would not save much time and you would have the problem of parking. If you are in Florence and you want to see the Cinque Terre then another possibility is to join an organised day-trip as the one by Tour and Travel Services. It’s an intensive day, however, it’s such an unmissable destination.
  • Where to stay in Cinque Terre in winter: the most lively towns are Riomaggiore and Monterosso. Everywhere else is quiet or empty and most of the accommodations are closed. This is not to say you should not go. In fact, you can have a great and unique time, shared only with a few travellers around. The weather tends to be warmer than in most of North Italy. 
  • How is Cinque Terre in June? It’s the best month for a trip, in my opinion. The weather is still not that hot and tourism is not at its peak. Rain is rare but possible, especially in the late afternoon.
  • How is Cinque Terre in July? It’s the month with the highest number of sunny days. It can be hot in the afternoon so plan your walks in the morning, as early as you can. It’s a popular month with travellers and the weekends are usually booked out well in advance.
  • How is Cinque Terre in August? It’s the holiday month in Italy. You will hardly find a room unless you book well in advance. Very busy everywhere. A month I would suggest avoiding if you can. Really, too many people around.
  • How is Cinque Terre in September? It’s very similar to June, still with nice long days and not as many tourists, in fact, less than June. Rain is possible and not as rare.
  • What about the other months? Autumn and Spring are ideal seasons if you are not into sunbathing or swimming. You will have much more choice in hotels, lower prices and only a few travellers around, especially during the week.
  • How to spend 48 hours in Cinque Terre: Once you have decided where to stay in Cinque Terre, then buy a Cinque Terre Card for unlimited access to the trails and/or train. This is the best way to move around. I personally suggest spending a day visiting the towns and the other one exploring the coast through the trails. A really memorable experience.
  • Best 3 experiences when you are in Cinque Terre

    • The Cinque Terre Boat Cruise will give you the possibility to see the coastline from the water, which is an experience by itself. If you have a spare day, then this cruise has to be 🙂
    • The Cinque Terre Sunset Boat Tour is another great option and a fantastic way to close the day with the best view.
    • The Cinque Terre Kayak Tour is instead a more active possibility to experience this amazing area of Italy. From 2 hours up to 6 hours, plenty of options.

    Boat Cruise  Sunset Boat Tour  Kayak Experience

    Most of these experiences have free cancellation policies up to 24 hours in advance. My tip here is to book the activity to avoid any disappointment, and if plans change, just cancel, free of charge.

Best place to stay in Cinque Terre with a car – Monterosso

I would avoid driving to Cinque Terre, I did it in the past and it was not that easy (limited space) and expensive too.

In saying that, if you have a rented car than Monterosso has the easiest road access and a few parking areas too. 

If you stay in the modern part of the town, called Fegina, there are a few accommodations that offer the parking included in the room rate (very convenient).

If the hotel does not provide parking options than book a spot at the Parcheggio Loreto or the Parcheggio Monterosso (up to euro 25/day, based on the season).

Should you stay in Monterosso or leave the car and take a ferry/train to another town?

It really depends on the kind of experience you are looking for. 

If you are travelling as a couple, for example, I would probably go to another town. Same if you are looking for some nightlife.

If you find accommodation with parking included, then I would stay in Monterosso and travel by train to the other towns, just easier, besides being better value

This Seaside Apartment has two things that make this accommodation unique, the most amazing view over the beach and sea (see photos here) and free parking (unheard of in this town area). 

Walking distance to the train station, with a lovely balcony and spacious rooms. So easy to get around the Cinque Terre

Check availability at Seaside Apt

If you are travelling with kids, you may also check out the Mansarda 5 Terre, a bit more spacious (see photos here), but still with free parking and a good price too

Check availability at Mansarda

Where to stay in Cinque Terre with Family – Monterosso

Monterosso has the best beaches of all towns in the area, and by a big margin.

In this respect, I think Monterosso is the best place to stay in Cinque Terre for a family

You can explore the coastal towns and attractions till noon, have lunch and in the afternoon spend some time at the beach with the kids. Everyone is happy.

Moreover, the train to the other towns is such great fun for kids and it’s quick too, just a bunch of minutes, literally.

Monterosso has an old and a new centre. The historical centre is more romantic and characteristic. However, it can be tricky if you have a pram, as you may have to go up and down through steps or steep lanes.

The Costamare is one of the most beautiful apartments in the new part of town. Absolutely stunning view with a nice typical interior (see photos here).

It’s meters from the beach and the train station. It is a 2-BR unit that can host up to 5 people. Rita, the owner, is a gem full of tips.

Check availability at Costamare

Monterosso Beach
Monterosso Beach

Best place to stay in Cinque Terre for couples

Cinque Terre is a great destination for couples looking for a relaxing and romantic spot to spend a few days.

True, some of the towns can be busy, especially in summer, but you can always find a spot off the radar.

Here below two towns that are absolutely gorgeous, each in their own category

Vernazza (the most photogenic and romantic town)

If you are after a beautiful landscape photo, and probably the most iconic image of the Cinque Terre, then visit Vernazza.

The little harbour is so photogenic, with the small castle right on top of the town.

For the best view, walk up along the walking trail that connects Vernazza to Monterosso, just a few hundred meters.

Where to stay in Cinque Terre
Viewpoint on Vernazza

That is where you will have the best view of the small pier and the main street ending in the square and the tiny beach.

The best light for this photo is either at sunrise (October/November will be right in front of you) or at sunset (September works great with the sun setting in the water).

Vernazza is a lovely romantic town, especially at night when most of the day visitors leave. Probably the most romantic place to stay in Cinque Terre.

The main street (Via Roma) can be quite busy during the day, but turn left or right in one of the many small lanes and get lost to experience the real Vernazza, with the locals still living and chatting outside their home.

The MaDa Charm Apartment with Jacuzzi has really all you need for a memorable stay. Location and position are impossible, in the good way (see photos here)

It would be hard to find a more romantic place in the whole of Vernazza and they are clearly used to having couples.

Check availability at MaDa

If you are more on the budget, then you should check out the 5 Scogli where you will sleep at the sound of the waves with a unique view (see photos here)

The interior is more on the traditional side but at this budget price, you can’t ask too much

Check price at 5 Scogli

View from just above La Torre Restaurant
View from just above the Torre Restaurant

Are you thinking to visit the Doria Castle, up there on top of the town?

Let me be honest with you, it’s not well maintained and you will find mostly stones. The view is nice though.

A better viewpoint to visit in town is, in my opinion, the Doria Tower

Alternatively, plan a dinner at the Torre Restaurant. The pesto pasta is spectacular and the view of Vernazza at sunset is so lovely.

The Pirata delle Cinque Terre is a must-go place for breakfast with super yummy pastries.

And for a wine tasting section, contact the Cantina Cheo (+39 333 959 4758). The owner will meet and greet you. The Cheo website, as well as Google, provides opening hours that are not really trustable, I think.

Walking from Monterosso to Vernazza – amazing, but at the right time.

The walk from Monterosso to Vernazza is probably the most demanding of all the walks in Cinque Terre, however not impossible.

It requires good shoes, possibly trekking shoes. Budget 2-3 hours.

I heard many complaints about how busy is this walk, too many people stop for a photo, etc. The thing is that it’s way too spectacular not to stop for photos. 

My tip here is to either do this walk offseason (April-May or September-November) or plan a very early start in the morning.

You will be rewarded with an amazing experience, shared with just a few people. Access to the walk is 7 euro (buy the ticket the day before).

I would not recommend this hike with small kids. It can be dangerous in a few spots.

Vernazza beach
Vernazza beach

Corniglia (for couples looking for a quiet stay)

Corniglia is the best place to stay in Cinque Terre if you are looking for a relaxing, quiet and isolated romantic town.

Access to the village from the station is through the steep and scenic Lardarina staircase. Alternatively, catch a bus (5 minutes ride). 

Worthless saying that if you carry a suitcase, then grab the bus, so much easier!

Corniglia is the smallest of all the towns and it gets super quiet once day visitors leave.

In this respect, it is the best location to enjoy the local life, the Cinque Terre as it used to be.

Still, you are very well connected with every town, literally just a max of 7 minutes away by train.

The Rossi Tramonti Studio is absolutely a must stay if you decide for Corniglia.

Just imagine yourself having breakfast with this view (see photos here)

If you can find it available (it’s a popular place to stay) then book it straight away (you can always cancel later for free if you change your mind).

Check availability at the Studio

Corniglia Lardarina staircase
Corniglia Lardarina staircase

Keep in mind that the bus from the station up to the historical centre runs only till about 9:30pm (see ATC website for an updated schedule). After that, the over 300 steps are the only option for you.

For lunch and “aperitivo” head to the Terza Terra Bar. You will have the best view from Corniglia and the fairest prices in Cinque Terre. 

For dinner, I suggest visiting Mananan, a cosy “osteria” locally run with fresh products. Good value for money, as in most of Corniglia. And for a late glass of wine, have a seat at Er Posu.

For water, refill your bottle at the fountain on top of the Lardarina staircase or go to the local supermarket

Cheapest town to stay in Cinque Terre – Manarola

If you approach Manarola from the sea, you will be open mouth not only for the colourful buildings castled on the enormous cliff but also for the terraced vineyards that frame this beautiful village.

This is probably the town with more steps in Cinque Terre. It’s steep everywhere. And this is probably what makes this town as romantic as tiring to move around.

This may be the reason that accommodations are usually cheaper than in other towns.

The Da Baranin is a great family-run hotel with offers spacious rooms, a few with a superb view of the mountains (see photos here).

Best of all, the already well-priced rooms include also a gorgeous homemade breakfast. The perfect way to start the day with some healthy food….already saving some euros.

Check price at Da Baranin

Manarola by day
Manarola by day

I would also suggest Manarola to anyone that is not worried about walking and, in fact, is thinking to explore also the inland made of amazing terraced vineyards on an impossible steep land.

I highly suggest taking the trail 6p from the San Lorenzo Church for a 45 minutes walk to the Azienda Agricola Capellini. You will experience a view that will stay in your memory for a long while.

Moreover, you will be rewarded with a great selection of wines and a fabulous lunch based uniquely on local products.

For the best viewpoint for your photos, head down to the port and walk on the west side, on the little path.

At sunset, be prepared to share this place with many others. The Cemetery front yard is also a good viewpoint.

Cappun Magru is a great value eatery for lunch or early dinner (they close at 7:30pm). They have a wide selection of local wines and they will take the time to explain to you the differences and the best wine to go with your meal.

Nessun Dorma is still my favourite spot for a sunset aperitivo and/or dinner. The food selection is not very wide, but all based on local products. The view of the town and the coast is just priceless.

There are no beaches in Manarola but you can have a swim in the small rocky harbour.

Best nightlife in Cinque Terre – Riomaggiore

Riomaggiore is the biggest town in Cinque Terre where you will find most of the accommodations too. It also has more events than any other village.

The most noticeable one is probably the procession of San Giovanni Battista on the 24th of June. Head to the church where at 9pm the procession starts along the major streets of the town.

Expect an enormous amount of people, of course, really an amazing event to remember for a while.

The town is designed along a central street (Via Colombo) and many small lanes that spread out left and right.

Most of the bars and restaurants are in Via Colombo and that is where you can have drinks till late, even after midnight.

Riomaggiore is a fantastic place to stay in Cinque Terre for singles and couples that are looking for a bit of social time after dinner. With a nice glass of wine in a beautiful setup.

Try to get accommodation on a side lane. It will be much quieter and still meters away from the action.

The Affittacamere Le Giare is in the perfect location and it offers nice rooms at a bargain price

The rooms are simple and clean, even with a rooftop view (see photos here)

Positioned in a silent place and a short walk to bars and restaurants.

Check price at Le Giare

Riomaggiore access to the water
Riomaggiore access to the water

For an aperitivo with a beautiful view, go to the Piè de Mà, right next to the station and just over the cliff.

The Vertical Lounge Bar is still the place to go for a late drink. The owner, Fiorenzo, is usually behind the bar making and serving the drinks. And when there is enough spare time he is a lovely guy to talk with. 

For some wine tasting, go to the Terra di Bargon where Roberto will tell you more about the wine and the history of his land.

Tutti Fritti is a good fish & chips option. For a nice dinner out, check the Cantina del Macellaio, a lovely restaurant with great food at a reasonable price.

The most famous trail, the “Via dell’Amore” (path of love), starts from Rio Maggiore. It is however closed since 2012, following an accident. The repair should have been already completed, however, it is still not. For an update, check the Wiki page.

Where to stay outside of Cinque Terre – Portovenere, so beautiful and unmissable

Do you want any proof of how beautiful is Portovenere and the surroundings? 

Well, Portovenere and the three islands of Palmaria, Tino and Tinetto have been added to the Unesco World Heritage list, for the unique multicolour “tower” buildings, the Doria castle and the San Lorenzo Church dominating the beautiful Gulf of Poets.

Portovenere is also better value than anywhere else in Cinque Terre, both for rooms and food.

It’s a 20 to 30minutes public bus trip from the city of La Spezia, which makes it so convenient if you do not have a car. 

If you are driving from La Spezia, you will be there in no time and parking is not as problematic as in the Cinque Terre (although not that easy anyway)

The Torre Porto Venere is one of the well kept secret places to stay in town. Why? Because it’s in a 16th-century tower (see photos here).

The rooms are nicely furnished with a romantic touch.

Really a unique stay, close to restaurants, cafe and bars. Parking is also available, but it’s not complimentary.

Check availability at the Torre

Portovenere view from the sea
Portovenere view from the sea

Even if you decide to stay in another town, you should definitely spare a day to visit Portovenere

The best way to arrive from any of the towns in Cinque Terre is by boat.

Besides also being the easiest way, the trip along the coast is by itself breathtaking.

At the port, have a walk up to the castle for the best viewpoint. Explore the town through the countless small lanes and have lunch at the Aciua, an Italian “rosticceria/deli”, or at the Portivene restaurant, for the great pesto gnocchi.

In the afternoon, have a walk along the coast and, on a summer day, spend a couple of hours at the Arenella Beach. What a great day!

The best night to stay in Portovenere, but also the busiest, is the 17th of August, for the celebration of the Madonna Bianca.

On this night, the town is illuminated exclusively by lanterns in commemoration to a miracle happened over 600 years ago. Just incredible.

If you decide to book at least a night in Portovenere, then you should plan a short ferry trip to Palmaria Island, the only public island (the other two are managed by the army).

This island is a National Park with fabulous walks and amazing beaches.

Best village in Cinque Terre

I visited Cinque Terre for the first time over 25 years ago.

All the five villages have now become actual towns, with plenty of accommodation choice, great restaurants for any budget, events (especially in summer) and organised experiences.

It has been a pleasant change since 25 years ago, without globalizing too much this destination.

In fact, locals still live in Cinque Terre as they used to do 25 years ago (something that, for example, is changing in Venice where more and more Venetians are leaving).

This is a map of the area with the best towns to stay in Cinque Terre

Best village in Cinque Terre
Best village in Cinque Terre
  • Monterosso: undoubtedly the best beach town in Cinque Terre. This is a great destination for families with kids and travellers that want to mix exploration and sunbathing. In 2018 Ansa (The National Press Agency) has ranked Monterosso beach in the top 15 most beautiful beaches in Italy. Monterosso is divided into a modern area called Fegina (west of the station) and a historical centre (east of the station)
  • Vernazza: probably the most photographed town in Cinque Terre. It is the only village with a small harbour where you can catch a ferry to other destinations in Liguria. The historical centre is close to the traffic with the main street going from the station to the sea full of bars and little restaurants. Venture in one of the many alleys to find some gorgeous boutique restaurants
  • Corniglia: probably the quietest village in Cinque Terre with no access to the sea. Once arrived at the station, you have two options, climb the over 300 steps of the Lardarina staircase to the historical centre or catch a quick bus. It’s the smallest town of the five, perfect location for a relaxing time
  • Manarola: a picturesque town famous not only for its colourful buildings castled on an enormous cliff but also for its wine. In fact, the background of this village is a never ending landscape of terraced vineyards. So beautiful. 
  • Riomaggiore: the biggest town in Cinque Terre with beautiful tall narrow buildings in pastel colours along the steep coast and inland area. This is probably the village with more restaurants, bars and events that run either at the Riomaggiore Castle or the main square (Vignaioli). An excellent base to explore the area and be exposed to a bit of nightlife.
Exploring Riomaggiore
Exploring Riomaggiore

And if you have some spare time, I would add another destination, well overlooked by the mass but so easy to reach and as beautiful: the colourful Portovenere, a jewel that should deserve at least a day trip from the Cinque Terre.

The towns are so close to each other (just 3-5 minutes by train) that make more sense to book a place for the entire stay than moving accommodation from town to town.

And if you are planning to visit Tuscany, then you should read the guide I wrote on on the full region, including suggested itineraries, with or without a car.

How to move around the Cinque Terre

The easiest way to arrive in Cinque Terre is by train, either from La Spezia, on the east side of Liguria, or from Genova, on the west side.

Riomaggiore train station
Riomaggiore train station

If you have a car with you, then you have two possibilities:

  • drive to Monterosso (the easiest access point) and leave it in a parking place. Expect to pay 20-30 euros/day
  • drive to La Spezia (city, easier to drive around) where you can park the car (the Autorimessa San Giorgio can be well priced, based on the length of your stay)

I would definitely not suggest moving in the Cinque Terre with a car. It takes so much longer and you will always have to pay big money for parking (usually far away from the historical centre).

The train is the easiest, quickest and most effective mean of transportation. It’s very cheap too. A trip between the two towns at the extreme (Monterosso and Riomaggiore) takes only 15 minutes.

You can also mix walks and train trips, of course. There are many trails connecting the towns, some of them follow the coast, others more inland.

You would need to pay for a day ticket to enter the walks in the National Park.

If you stay a few days in the area, then you may check the Cinque Terre Card for unlimited access to the trails and/or train. It is a great option that will help the National Park in the maintenance of this unique corner of Italy.

You can buy this card online or simply at any Information Centre or Train station, easy.

Monterosso view from the top
Monterosso view from the top
Stefano Ferro - MEL365.com Founder and Editor

About the Author

Stefano is a seasoned travel expert and the visionary founder of MEL365.com, a leading travel website with traffic across 6 continents. With a rich background in the travel industry, Stefano spent four pivotal years at Amadeus Travel Distribution System, gaining invaluable insights into travel technologies and distribution.

1 thought on “Where to stay in Cinque Terre [best town with or without car]”

  1. Hi Stefano,

    Thanks for sharing these insights! It’s helpful to know more about each town in Cinque Terre and what they offer, depending on the type of trip you’re planning. Whether you’re traveling with family, as a couple, or seeking budget-friendly options, there’s something for everyone in these beautiful coastal villages.

    Reply

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