Where to Stay in Cinque Terre: Best Towns

Where to Stay in Cinque Terre: Best Towns

Where to stay in Cinque Terre? Cinque Terre is a scenic group of long-enduring seaside villages lining the beautiful coastline of the Italian Riviera. Located in the Liguria region of northern Italy, this picturesque area offers charming, colorful houses and vineyards along its steep, terraced coastline, giving you many attractive choices of where to stay in Cinque Terre. 

The charming harbors display a large array of fishing boats, and the nearby trattorias serve flavorful seafood specialties and the best pesto sauce available anywhere.

Visitors can follow the Sentiero Azzurro cliffside trail for hiking during their stay in Cinque Terre, which connects these villages along the cliffs with exquisite panoramic views of the sea below. 

This hiking path was once an ancient network of footpaths. Even today, it is the ideal way of visiting this charming series of fishing towns. Until recent years, these villages were reachable only by rail or water. 

Cinque Terre is known worldwide for its unique natural setting and beauty. Throughout the centuries of its existence, residents have constructed cliff-side terraces for cultivating olives and grapes. The region’s steep, rugged terrain extends up to the clifftops that offer stunning views of the Mediterranean Sea. 

Visitors marvel at the spectacular scene below, which includes the sea and the colorful harbors with numerous boats of varied types and sizes. Adding to this captivating scene are intriguing medieval fortresses and an abundance of grape vines and charming homes.

The Cinque Terre area was recognized by the UNESCO Mankind’s World Heritage in 1997. Today, these colorful historic villages form a National Park and Protected Marine Area for the purpose of safeguarding this uniquely beautiful natural cultural treasure. 

The Cinque Terre climate is generally sunny and mild with only slight variations in temperature since this area is protected from northern winds by mountains.

During the winter season, the Mediterranean Sea keeps the surrounding temperature at approximately 12 degrees C. The average summer temperature is about 30 degrees C. When rain occurs, it usually lasts only briefly, but it is somewhat more frequent during the autumn and spring months. The ideal time to stay in Cinque Terre is from mid-March until the end of October.

Best Towns to Stay in Cinque Terre

By staying in one of the following scenic and fascinating towns during your visit to Cinque Terre, you can experience the full enchantment and history of this uniquely beautiful Italian coastline:

1. La Spezia

Where to stay in Cinque Terre: La Spezia

This welcoming community is home to approximately 90,000 residents. It is located on the border between Liguria and Tuscany and is near to the world-famous cities of Pisa, Genova (Genoa) and Firenze (Florence). 

The main street of the village, Via Prione, displays a wide array of charming shops offering Italian clothing. There is also an active fish and vegetable market available on the street each morning for residents and visitors.

La Spezia has a primary seaport in the Gulf of Poets. From here, you can take a boat ride to the fishing communities of Lerici, Portovenere and the Palmaria island during your stay in Cinque Terre. You can also book an excursion boat from La Spezia harbor to the other colorful villages of the Cinque Terre. 

This town is the best choice to stay in Cinque Terre in for anyone who plans to take day excursions by train to the other Cinque Terre villages, Genoa, Portofino, Lucca, Florence or Pisa.

Main Visitor Attractions and Noted Sites

During your stay in Cinque Terre at La Spezia, you can enjoy seeing many intriguing historical sites, including the Basilica of Santa Maria Assunta and the Castle of San Giorgio with its Archaeological Museum

Another spectacular sight is the stylish modern bridge supported by white cables, Ponte de Thaon de Revel, which offers a beautiful walking area that connects the public gardens to Porto Mirabello. On the first Sunday in August, you can view an exciting rowing competition, the Palio del Golfo.

Arriving at the Village

You can reach La Spezia by car or by train at one of its three railway stations. The nearest airports are the Pisa Galileo Galilei (110 km. away) and the Genova Cristoforo Colombo (80 km. away). The main international airport for this entire coastline area is the Milan Airport.

Where to Stay in Cinque Terre in La Spezia

Near the railway station and throughout the village, you will find attractive and cost-efficient hotels. The hotels and villas feature seasonal outdoor swimming pools, lounges and gardens. These accommodations also offer dazzling seaside views and free WiFi. Bed and breakfasts and hostels are also available for travelers, all at very reasonable prices.


2. Riomaggiore

Where to stay in Cinque Terre?

This village is situated the farthest south of all of the Cinque Terre fishing communities. Located between La Spezia and Manarola, it was settled during the 8th Century when residents of the Vara valley moved toward the coastline. They were seeking a warmer climate for cultivating grapes and olives in a region where they could avoid raiding pirates. 

This village winds upward across the steep cliff ridges and has charming stone houses with slate roofing and colorful façades

The Via dell’Amore (Lovers’ Lane) originates in Riomaggiore. This romantic pathway offers beautiful terrain and leads to the village of Manarola nearby. 

At a distance of about 350 metres from the sea along this rugged, lofty coastline, you will find a coastal roadway along which you can visit the lovely Sanctuary of Madonna di Montenero. You can also marvel at the breathtaking picturesque scene of the entire coastline during your stay in Cinque Terre.

Major Visitor Attractions and Noted Sites in Riomaggiore

At the scenic harbor where the boats dock, you can enjoy taking photos with other travelers visiting the village. The famed footpath, Via dell’Amore, connects Riomaggiore with the next town of Manarola. 

At the Castle of Riomaggiore (built in 1260), you can view a breathtaking sight of the sea below. You can also visit the impressive Gothic style Church of San Giovanni Battista (built in 1340) and the beautiful Church of San Lorenzo (built in 1338). This church has a glorious rose window that originates from the 14th century.

Arriving at the Village

You can reach Riomaggiore by car, although the train is the best transportation to take to the village during your stay in Cinque Terre. 

Running frequently, the Cinque Terre train offers a travel card that gives riders unlimited train trips on the La Spezia to Levanto line. This card also includes free rides on the eco-buses, free use of all walking pathways and free entrance to multiple museums. 

Nearby airports include the Cristoforo Colombo international airport in Genoa, Galileo Galilei international airport in Pisa and Florence Airport.

Where to Stay in Riomaggiore

This village has stylish hotels and villas with amazing views that are also within close walking distance of the shops, restaurants and local attractions. You can stay in a hotel with WiFi and an outdoor swimming pool and terrace garden. 

If you prefer, comfortable hostels and B&Bs are also nearby. These offer a choice of single rooms or dormitories, clean linens and bathrooms.


3. Monterosso al Mare

Stay in Cinque Terre: Monterosso also offers spectacular beaches.

This scenic village is the largest of the coastal communities known as Cinque Terre. Located on steep hills abundant with grape vines and olive trees, Monterosso also offers spectacular beaches

The gorgeous reefs and crystalline sea have made this ancient town one of the most popular visitor destinations along the Ligurian Riviera. 

The stalwart medieval tower of Aurora separates the village into two distinctive parts. The newer part of town, Fegina, is lively and inviting, with excellent restaurants, cafés, bars, hotels, clubs and parties. 

The celebrated concrete statue of the Giant is a major focal point of interest in Fegina during your stay in Cinque Terre. It stands beside a villa terrace. Produced by an architect and a sculptor, Levacher and Minerbi, at the first of the Twentieth century, the Giant is Neptune, the god of the sea. It has since come to symbolize the village of Monterosso. 

The old village of Monterosso is known predominantly as home to the castle ruins and for its narrow medieval streets and lanes with multi-hued terraced homes. 

This part of town offers the single large sandy beach in all of the Cinque Terre region, extending across the majority of the coastline. It is a very popular attraction for both local residents and visitors.

Major Visitor Attractions and Noted Sites in Monterosso

During your stay in Monterosso, you can visit the well-known Church of San Giovanni Battista in the main square of the old village. This church dates from the 1200s and displays the Gothic-Genovese style of architecture, and its interior includes a fresco of the baptism of Christ. 

This village hosts the Lemon Festival each year on the third Saturday in May. The entire village is adorned with lemons, and delicious limoncello and lemon cream, lemon cake and lemon marmalade are served to all. 

On the 14th of August, Festa della Madonna Assunta includes an evening of brilliant fireworks over the sea as a highlight of your stay in Cinque Terre.

Arriving at the Village

Monterosso can be reached by car or by train. Boats running from La Spezia to the other villages of the Cinque Terre are operated by the Consorzio Marittimo Turistoco. The nearest airports are Cristoforo Colombo in Genoa, Galileo Galilei in Pisa and the Florence Airport. The major international airport is the Milan Airport.

Where to Stay in Monterosso al Mare

Monterosso offers hotel accommodations nearby the best beach area in the village, including four-star hotels. The view is splendid, and these hotels are within easy walking distance to attractive shops, restaurants and cafés. 

They are also in close proximity to the village train station. Hotel staff members are always friendly and helpful, and these hotels provide pristine rooms, WiFi and guest parking. There are also inviting B&Bs and hostels with clean, comfortable rooms, dorms and bathrooms for guests.


See also: Where to stay in Rome, where to stay in Florence

4. Vernazza

Vernazza is often referred to as the town that best characterizes all of the Cinque Terre to stay

This village is often referred to as the town that best characterizes all of the Cinque Terre. This small fishing town is also considered one of the the most beautiful communities in all of Italy. 

This intriguing village had its origins about 1000 A.D. Beginning in 1276, it was controlled by the Republic of Genoa. During the mid-1500s, the medieval castle of Belforte was constructed to safeguard the community from pirates.

This stunning village is the most breathtaking when approached by boat on the Mediterranean Sea. The very small port of Vernazza is gently colorful, and the enchanting piazza has excellent bars and restaurants. 

The village is framed by steep terraces filled with olive groves, which produce some of the highest quality olive oil throughout Italy while adding rich natural hues to the historic stone buildings.

Main Visitor Attractions and Noted Sites in Vernazza

While in Vernazza, you can visit the majestic Church of Santa Margherita di Antiochia, situated on sparkling rocks far above the sea. The Tower of the Doria Castle, constructed in the 15th century to guard the village from pirate raids, stands above the bay and the very small port. 

On the 20th of July, you and other travelers can take part in the Feast Santa Margherita di Antiochia. The Feast of Pirates in also held at various times throughout the year.

Arriving at the Village

You can reach Vernazza by car, by train or by a boat from La Spezia. Nearby airports are Cristoforo Colombo in Genoa and Galileo Galilei in Pisa as well as Florence Airport. The main international airport for the region is the Milan Airport.

Where to Stay in Vernazza

During your visit in the fascinating ancient village, you can enjoy staying in the warm, welcoming atmosphere of several family-style hotels or B&Bs. There are also friendly hostels available to backpackers and other travelers offering both private rooms and dormitory-style accommodations. Some local residents also rent rooms in their homes to village visitors.


5. Corniglia

Where to stay and visit in Cinque Terre: Corniglia

This ancient Roman village has a rich agricultural history and is bordered on three sides by verdant vineyards and terraces. Its architecture is distinctive for its similarity to structures found in rural inland communities rather than a seaside town. 

Located in the center of Cinque Terre, this fascinating village is situated on a small cape at a height of 100 meters above the sea.

Corniglia is the only town in this coastal series of villages that has no access by water. This tiny town is linked to a train station by a footpath called Lardarina (377 stairs). Similar footpaths connect Corniglia with the other Cinque Terre villages. 

Visitors are captivated by visiting the historic 18th century square largo, Taragio, with its beautiful Oratory Santa Caterina.

Main Visitor Attraction and Noted Sites in Corniglia

In historic Taragio square, you can view a captivating theatrical scene set between the homes and the Parish of San Pietro. This parish exhibits the Gothic Ligurian style and is considered among the most fascinating monuments on the coastline. 

Constructed in 1334, this parish also displays statues of the major evangelists along with a polyptych (a painting consisting of several panels) in honor of the Masters. 

On June 29th, visitors can enjoy the San Pietro and Paolo Feast featuring the traditional cake, Torta dei Fieschi.

Arriving in the Village

You can reach Corniglia by car or train during your stay in Cinque Terre. The closest airports are Cristoforo Colombo in Genoa, Galileo Galilei in Pisa and the Florence Airport. The main international airport for the region is the Milan Airport.

Where to Stay in Cinque Terre in Corniglia

Corniglia offers visitors charming and inviting, smaller family-style hotels, B&Bs or hostel accommodations. Rooms are also often available in private homes for rent by travelers. 

Wherever you stay in this beautiful ancient village with its breathtaking scenery and views, you will spend most of your time outdoors enjoying your lovely surroundings during your stay in Cinque Terre.


6. Manarola

Manarola one of the best towns to stay in Cinque Terre

This romantic village is built on rock located 70 metres above sea level. Its tiny, welcoming harbor has a convenient boat ramp, and a group of multi-hued, charming houses face the sea. The town has excellent seafood restaurants and a small piazza for relaxing and visiting with fellow travelers or new acquaintances. 

This village has no beach area, but it offers some of the very best deep-water swimming available in Cinque Terre. This scenic village has many steep, narrow carrugi (alleys) leading to the sea below.

If you walk to the uppermost points of Manarola, you will arrive at a beautiful church, which is both a religious center and a meeting place for the town residents. In years past, the bell tower served as a lookout point for sighting potential raiding pirates.

Another well-known spot in the village is a white cement pyramid. Its peak can be viewed between the houses, and it serves as a helpful reference point for boat pilots navigating the seas.   

Main Visitor Attractions and Noted Sites in Manarola

You will remember that Manarola is linked to Riomaggiore by the famed Via dell’Amore (Lovers’ Lane), a romantic walking path carved into ancient rocks above the sea. 

You can also take in the amazing view from the beautiful Church of San Lorenzo, which was constructed in 1338 and displays Gothic Ligurian style. It also served as a defense tower against pirate invasions in earlier years. The San Lorenzo Feast is celebrated on August 10th each year. 

For winter visitors, from December 8th until January 31st, the entire steep hillside is aglow with over 200 figures and 12,000 lamps as the largest lighted nativity scene worldwide. 

Arriving at the Village

Manarola is reachable by car and train during your stay in Cinque Terre. You can also arrive via a boat from La Spezia operated by the Consorzio Marittimo Turistoco. The closest airports are Cristoforo Colombo in Genoa, Galileo Galilei in Pisa and the Florence Airport, and the primary international airport is the Milan Airport.

Where to Stay in Manarola

There are small and mid-sized family-run hotels in Manarola for a comfortable, relaxed and enjoyable stay. B&Bs and hostels are also available, although many travelers prefer to book a room in a private home to get to know more about the village, its residents and its history.


7. Levanto

Stay in Cinque Terre: Levanto

This popular village is a well-known seaside resort on the Italian Riviera just 80 km. to the east of Genoa. You can reach the other villages of Cinque Terre from Levanto within a few minutes by train. 

This attractive resort is bordered by a lush green valley filled with olive groves, vineyards and pine forests. This seaside town is a favorite of many surfers, divers, sunbathers and hikers.

Levanto is famous for its splendid long, sandy beach, its excellent restaurants and its entertaining nightlife at parties, clubs and bars.         

This lively town offers colorful shops displaying delicious Italian foods and other items as well as an open-air marketplace selling stylish clothes and shoes every Wednesday. Each week, from Monday through Saturday, you can visit the covered market that offers irresistible fresh fruits, vegetables and fish. 

Levanto has a network of footpaths that link this village with the National Park of Cinque Terre.   

Main Visitor Attractions and Noted Sites in Levanto

Sites of special beauty and interest in Levanto include the stunning Sant’ Andrea Church and the magnificent Oratorio di San Giacomo. Another fascinating place is the medieval castle and tower. 

After seeing the sights, you can enjoy relaxing with other travelers and friends in Piazza della Loggia (Loggia square) or Via Garibaldi (Garibaldi street). 

Swimming enthusiasts can take part in the January 1st Un tuffo nell’anno nuovo (New Year’s Day swim). Summer visitors can enjoy such yearly events as the Festa di San Giacomo on July 25th, a seaside festival with a religious procession, flag-throwing and fireworks.

Where to Stay in Cinque Terre in Levanto

There are numerous fine quality three and four-star hotels that welcome visitors throughout the year in Levanto. There are also some delightful B&Bs near the sea with spectacular romantic views. 

You can also book a room in a private home to enjoy experiencing the Cinque Terre lifestyle with its residents. Hostels are also available with private rooms and dorms.

Arriving at the Village

You can arrive at Levanto by car or train. You can also reach this charming community by boat excursion from La Spezia with maritime consortium Golfo dei Poeti. Nearby airports include Cristoforo Colombo in Genoa, Galileo Galilei in Pisa and the Florence Airport. The major international airport for this region is the Milan Airport.


8. Portovenere

Best towns to stay in Cinque Terre: Portovenere

This intriguing medieval fishing village is located on the Italian Riviera. Known worldwide as “Portovenere on the Gulf of Poets,” this town is now a UNESCO World Heritage site. The beautiful harbor is decorated with bright, colorful neighboring houses.

Narrow, winding medieval streets and lanes filled with attractive shops lead the way up the steep hillside from the historic city gate to the lofty castle above.  

A series of ferries along the coast offer visitors the opportunity of seeing first-hand one of the most spectacular seaside landscapes of the Mediterranean region. A rocky area of coastline called Byron’s Cave is where the British poet Byron liked to swim. 

From this scenic coastline, you can take a boat to the nearby picturesque islands of Palmaria, Tino and Tinetto. 

Main Visitor Attractions and Noted Sites in Portovenere

A popular sightseeing trip for visitors to this village is the 3-Island Tour that stops at the splendid islands of Palmaria, Tino and Tinetto (also reachable from Levanto). 

The historical site of the Church of San Pietro is located on a majestic, jutting point of cliff rock above the sea. Built in 1277, its architectural style is Genovese Gothic. 

Stalwart Doria Castle was built in 1161 and restored in 1458. Its formidable structure is the perfect example of Genoan military architecture. 

Arriving in the Village

There is no train station in Portovenere. La Spezia Centrale is the nearest railway station, and from there, visitors can walk a short distance to Via Garibaldi to catch a bus along the coastline. 

You can travel to the village by car, and there is boat service from La Spezia from April to November each year. Nearby airports are Cristoforo Colombo in Genoa, Galileo Galilei in Pisa and the Florence Airport. The main international airport for the region is the Milan Airport. 

Where to Stay in Portovenere

Portovenere has some outstanding four-star resort hotels with outdoor swimming pools, lovely gardens, daily continental breakfast and WiFi for your stay in Cinque Terre. There are also excellent quality B&Bs, apartment and villa rentals and friendly, comfortable hostels for backpackers in this village. 

Some local residents also offer room rentals for travelers who prefer to get better acquainted with this fascinating village and its people.  

Favorite Aspects of Your Stay in Cinque Terre 

Most visitors to the fabulous, sparkling coast of Cinque Terre from May until October want to swim in the beautiful azure water of the Mediterranean Sea and the coastal village harbors. Others enjoy sunbathing on the shining pebbled beaches. 

Monterosso has a long, sandy beach while Vernazza offers a small sandy beach adjoined by large flat rocks that are ideal for sunbathing.

Corniglia has a long stretch of pebble beach as well as the Guvano beach nearby, a quiet, peaceful nudist beach. Riomaggiore offers a public beach made of boulders beside crystalline water. 

Levanto has a long and beautiful sandy beach (public and private access) offering seaside refreshments and swimming, boating and surfing. 

Hikers, bikers, strollers, history buffs and sightseeing enthusiasts will all delight in the wide array of activity, beauty, history and everlasting enjoyment to experience in the fascinating, scenic villages of Cinque Terre. 

If you plan to visit this spectacular coastline of northern Italy from June to September, it is important to book your accommodations in advance. However, during the low season, you can arrive and stay in Cinque Terre when you wish. 

Simply contact the Tourist Offices nearby the train stations to find your ideal hotel, villa, B&B, private home, apartment or hostel for room rental when you arrive. A wide array of reasonable prices and enjoyable amenities await you. 

Whichever you choose, you are sure to enjoy a highly engaging yet relaxing, amazing and unforgettable stay in this breathtakingly beautiful international haven.


Photos: Shutterstock

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