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The Five Cinque Terre Towns: Where to Stay and Why

Wed 23 Mar 2022

The Five Cinque Terre Towns: Where to Stay and Why

Updated April 8th, 2024.

The breathtaking scenery of the Italian Riviera along Liguria’s rugged coastline simply has to be seen to be believed. The jewels in this spectacular coastal crown are the five fishing villages known as the Cinque Terre, jaw-droppingly and gravity-defyingly situated on a 10-kilometer
 stretch of sheer cliffs that tumble precipitously into the glittering waters of the Mediterranean. But where to stay in Cinque Terre?

The five towns that make up the Cinque Terre - Riomaggiore
, Manarola, CornigliaVernazza and Monterosso - began life as medieval fortified settlements, each protected by a castle overlooking the sea guarding against Saracen raiders. These days, the pirate threat is long gone, and the Cinque Terre’s picturesque pastel-coloured villages have taken their well-deserved place as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Each of the five towns has its own vibe, so read on to get to grips and better understand where you should stay when visiting Cinque Terre. 

Where to Stay in Riomaggiore

Sailors Rest/Views/Great Staff

The largest of the towns in the Cinque Terre, Riomaggiore’s brightly-colored dwellings with their unmistakable green-shuttered windows are an indelible symbol of the Ligurian riviera. The easternmost village of the five, Riomaggiore, is frequently chosen as a home base by visitors to the region thanks to its accessible location and wealth of hotels. Make the climb up to the medieval castle that looms over the town, erected in the 13th century as a lookout and defense against pirate raids. The views from the ramparts over the twinkling sea far below are out of this world. Riomaggiore’s tiny, picture-perfect marina meanwhile encapsulates the Cinque Terre at its breathtaking and authentic best. The evocatively named Via dell’Amore is a breathtaking cliff-top trail that leads from Riomaggiore to nearby Manarola - check before you travel to see if the route has reopened, as this is one of the world’s most picturesque treks. 

The Best Hotels in Riomaggiore

  • Sailors Rest: The garden! I shouldn't have to say anything else. Those views, that tranquility. Unforgettable!

  • La Giare: Modern, clean and crisp. Throw in sea views and a fantastic location, and you are well on your way to a winning formula. It is a great base from which to explore the region.


Where to Stay in Monterosso

Sunrise Apartments / Entire Apartment / Sleeps 4

Monterosso is immersed in a spectacular verdant landscape of vineyards, olive trees and lemon groves that scent the air for miles around. Thanks to its relatively larger size Monterosso offers an array of accommodation options, from seafront hotels to `casual guesthouses and farmstays in the surrounding countryside, so it makes a good base for exploring the region. The historic old town is a tangle of atmospheric narrow lanes that hide plenty of excellent restaurants, while in the more modern Fegina quarter (reached via an underground tunnel), a giant statue of Neptune overlooks the only stretch of sandy beach in the Cinque Terre.


Our Favorite Hotels in Monterosso

  • Sunrise Apartments: This beautiful and modern apartment is well equipped with all the modern amenities, but with that balcony, who cares what the interior looks like? With two bedrooms, it's a perfect spot for families.

  • Hotel al Terra di Mare: Strictly speaking, this 4-star Hotel is located about a 20-minute drive to Monterosso, but a frequent shuttle service into town makes it a great base. If you get too tired from hiking, be sure to make use of the magnificent pool and spa facilities.


Where to Stay in Vernazza

Marconi Square Apartment/3 Bedrooms/Incredible Terrace

It’s not difficult to get your bearings in diminutive Vernazza, widely regarded as one of the most beautiful towns in Italy: a single main street charts a steep course downwards from the train station at the top of the town all the way to the water’s edge at Vernazza’s harbor. Cobbled Via Roma is lined with enticing cafes and bars, perfect for soaking up the Mediterranean sun and a spot of people-watching before you continue the descent to Piazza Marconi right on the coast. Here, the tiny port is ringed with picturesque pastel-colored houses that you won’t be able to resist photographing, with the looming presence of the medieval Belforte castle a reminder of the pirate threat that was once an ever-present feature of life here.

Our Favorite Hotels in Vernazza

  • Marconi Square Apartment: This 3-bedroom apartment with AC and a stunning terrace is perfect for families. The facilities are basic but clean, and the views from the terrace are truly jaw-dropping!

  • La Torretta de Merli: This one-bedroom apartment sleeps 4, as long as you are all close enough not to worry about privacy. But the main bedroom, looking out to the verdant slopes and azure sea, makes this a perfect spot for couples.


Where to Stay in Corniglia

Madüneta 5 Terre/Guesthouse/Recent Renovation

Traditionally considered to be the most tranquil of the five villages, Corniglia is the middle town of the Cinque Terre and the only one that isn’t located directly on the seafront. Instead, the tiny borgo is spectacularly sited on a promontory more than 100 meters above the water. Reaching the village from the train station is something of an undertaking itself: a 382-step brick pathway called the Lardarina that snakes across the mountainside. But what splendid rewards await! Surrounded by fertile vineyards and terraced gardens, Corniglia was a prosperous agricultural center in antiquity, and its historic center is a maze of brightly-painted houses and narrow cobbled streets that seem immune to the passage of town. At the far side of town, a magnificent panoramic terrace (the Belvedere di Santa Maria) offers up heart-stopping views across the Mediterranean, and all 5 of the Cinque Terre are visible from here at once. 

Our Favorite Hotels in Corniglia

  • Madüneta Guesthouse: This sumptuously designed guesthouse pays homage to the wine of the region, with each room decorated to match the numerous local grape varieties. Luxuriously decorated, perfectly located, and all at a great price.

  • Luxury Penthouse: This newcomer to the region offers a breathtaking sea view from the terrace of the entire Gulf. The one-bedroom, one-bathroom Penthouse can accommodate up to four guests but is perfect for couples.


Where to Stay in Manarola

La Lampara/Amazing Views/Sleeps 5

The sight of picturesque Manarola tumbling down a rocky cliff towards its little harbor far below is probably the most iconic view of the Cinque Terre. The route from the top of the town down to the waterfront will take you along steep
carrugi, the characteristically narrow laneways typical of Ligurian towns and cities. An eclectic array of fishing boats are usually pulled up on the ramp leading into the water, a reminder that the sea’s bounty has been the lifeblood of the Cinque Terre for centuries. Beyond its romantic beauty, Manarola is renowned for the local Sciacchetrà wine, a sweet white with notes of candied citrus, dried fruit, and aromatic herbs on the nose. The town is surrounded by terraces thick with vines, and witnessing the annual harvest is a special experience. 

Our Favorite Hotels in Manarola

  • La Lampara Sea Views:Located in a typical tower house, La Lampara dates back to the Xi Century, but the facilities are definitely not old-fashioned. More importantly, the view from the terrace is timeless!


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