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Best villages in Cinque Terre

My wife and I are planning our 25th anniversary for September of 2022. We want to spend 5 nights in Cinque Terre, to hike and relax. We’ve been to Italy a few times, so no need to “see the sights”.
Can someone recommend the best places to stay that would offer the following:
1. View from terrace to take coffee/wine daily
2. Village with memorable restaurants, especially in the evening after the crowds have left
3. We would be open to splitting the trip into 2 villages if that is recommended
4. We often use AirBnB, but are open to a small guesthouse if it offers all of the above
After Cinque Terre, we plan on a few days at the beach in Nice or surrounding cities. We will. Be flying into Genoa and out of Nice.
Cheers!
Tom

Posted by
13 posts

Based on those criteria, Manarola seems like the obvious choice. You don't want to stay in Corniglia if access to other villages is a priority. We usually stay in Monterosso for access to the beach and a bit more lively of a scene in the evenings, but you do not get the scenic cliffside views in Monterosso that you can get in Manarola and Vernazza. Vernazza would not be a bad choice, but to me, Manarola not only offers better scenic views, but also has a more charming village center and better restaurants and cafes.

I don't have much to say about Riomaggiore - it is my least favorite of the villages. I also don't think there's any need to split across villages - they are a very short train ride away from one another.

Posted by
5838 posts

I agree Manarola or Vernaza. With only 5 nights you don't want to waste one day mid trip futzing with moving hotels -- with early departure times and then later check in at the next hotel. Pick one and enjoy the rest of your time.

Posted by
1115 posts

We stayed in Monica Lecari's honeymoon suite and loved drinking wine and morning coffee from the balcony overlooking the Sea. Contact her at alcastellovernazza@yahoo.it.

I have La Torretta on my list for the next trip. This is in Manarola. torrettas.com

Make sure you stop in to Nessun Dorma in Manarola. The view over the village is fabulous.

You can envoy dinner and sunset at each of the villages and then take the train back to your hotel village. Explore each of them!

Posted by
572 posts

Manarola looks great, but never stayed there so can't recommend. Vernazza was amazing. Look at Gianni Franzi (www.giannifranzi.it). A few steps up to get to it, but the view from the terrace is amazing!

Posted by
283 posts

Well...I guess one persons least favorite is another persons favorite. I love Riomaggiore! Vernazza is way too crowded in an already crammed CT. Don't get me wrong, there is something to love about each of the villages and in Riomaggiorre, its the fantastic apartemento we have found. Probably one of the best terrazze in all of the CT! PM me if you would like the information about it. In between the CT and Nice there are the wonderful towns of Camogli and cute little Noli. We stayed in both towns after visiting the CT in 2019. You can view my husbands trip report here.
https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/trip-reports/the-italian-riviera-beyond-the-cinque-terre

Posted by
4390 posts

Another vote for Riomaggiore! The higher up in town your place, the more potential opportunity for overlooking views, but then you’ve got more of a climb. You’re planning on hiking, though, so a few more steep steps shouldn’t be a deterrent. You’re at the end of the row of five, a spectacular setting, and just a bit better for the town to sleep in than suggestion #2, Vernazza.

Posted by
31218 posts

Tom,

I'm going to differ from the majority and suggest staying in Monterosso. It's the largest of the five towns (there are two parts to the town) and therefore has the best selection of hotels & other accommodations, restaurants and other facilities. It also has a larger rail station so slightly better connections.

A few thoughts on the points you listed.....

  1. View from the terrace to take coffee/wine daily. Is this what you had in mind - https://www.villasteno.com/ . I would highly recommend that hotel. I always stay in hotels but I believe there are some B&B's in the old town as well that will provide the view. If you want a splurge for a special occasion, you could also look at - https://www.portoroca.it/ .
  2. Village with memorable restaurants. There's a good selection of memorable restaurants in both parts of Monterosso, and this is a big favourite with many here - https://www.cantinadimiky.it/ . If you want more recommendations, I'm sure the group here will have lots of suggestions.
  3. Splitting up the villages. Not necessary as the five towns are only a few minutes train ride from each other. Best to stay in one town.
  4. Air BnB. I don't use Air BnB but some of the others on the forum may be able to provide information on that point.

As I recall, it's about a five hour trip from Monterosso to Nice (usually one change at Ventimiglia). Of course, no one knows at this point which facilities will reopen after the pandemic but that situation should be clarified by Sept. 2022.

Posted by
157 posts

We stayed in Monterosso al Mare and reserved a seaside room with a balcony at Hotel La Spiaggia. The view was amazing and the hotel was an easy walk from the train station with luggage. Some rooms have a terrace. It is a very welcoming hotel and we enjoyed a great breakfast there as well. I would recommend Monterosso. There are several good hotel choices there with views. It is easy to take the regional train from there to the 5 villages, and we hiked from Vernazza to Monterosso and got some fantastic pictures that we later put on canvas and framed..

Posted by
1119 posts

Ah yes, everyone has a favorite! I always stay in Vernazza because I get a room where I don't have to climb hundreds (literally) of stairs. Monterosso, to me, is too touristy with all of it's cheap shops by the beach, selling cheap tourist stuff. Have never stayed in Manarola or Riomagiorre, but visit them often and there are nice places to eat. Corniglia is nice, but it is just not on the water. You need to take the bus to get into the town, or walk a steep hike.
The villages are approx. 5-10 minutes apart by train, so you can easily get to them.

Posted by
1590 posts

We stayed in Riomaggiore but decided we would stay in Manarola "next time."

Posted by
11929 posts

We stayed in Manarola at La Torretta and loved both the town and the hotel.

One day we hiked over to Vernazza and were appalled at the crowds. We were hungry for lunch after our hike but all the restaurants were full, with people waiting for tables. We scored some piadini at a bakery (we got the last ones) and then had trouble finding a place to sit and eat—-every bench was occupied, as were the spaces along low stone walls. We finally asked a shop if we could sit on their steps if we did not block them, and they said OK as long as we came inside to shop after eating (which we did). We wanted to stroll down to the harbor but the street was so full of people we gave up and walked up to the train station to catch a train back to Manarola. The platform was so crowded there was no room for us, nor was there room on the first two trains that came along. . . . We were very happy to return to Manarola, which was much less crowded. We swam from the rocks and wandered through the vineyards to enjoy the views.

Our room at La Torretta had a large terrace with a table and cushioned chairs. Bougainvillea spilled down the wall that separated our terrace from one adjacent. I looked for this room on the website and did not recognize it, but I believe it was either room 6 or 8 (we had one and our daughters had the other, without a balcony or terrace). Someone brought our breakfast in a basket each morning and we ate that on the terrace.

The hotel is not a single building but a series of structures and terraces that spill down the hillside. Our room was not in the main structure but in a sort of annex. There was a VERY steep set of stairs to reach it, but it was just up one level. It wasn’t unsafe, just difficult for a short person like me because the rise of each step was about 16 inches—-twice the usual for a stairway. There are various outdoor common spaces for relaxing, some with chairs and some with lounges.

The owner Gabriele (I don’t recall his surname) made us dinner reservations at Trattoria da Billy and that was a good choice. We were treated very well there (perhaps due to our two very pretty daughters, whom the waiter admired) and the food was excellent. We saw Gabriele sitting on the steps outside the kitchen with the trattoria’s owner when we left. Thinking back, that was probably the reason for the excellent service.

My husband called this “the most beautiful hotel in the world”. (Full disclosure—-we don’t often stay in places this nice, so he wouldn’t really know, would he?). Unfortunately their prices seem to have doubled since we were there in 2010. I’d still stay there again for a splurge.

Posted by
1724 posts

Top choice would be Manarola.
Is where we stayed and clicks all of the boxes for you.
We stayed at the Creme Caramel which is pricey but a very romantic option for your 25th anniversary ; huge private terrace with views!

Vernazza would be 2nd for me but does have 1 rather large advantage over Manarola as well as a large disadvantage.

Definitely NO to splitting your time between 2 villages.
Any place with a view has a PITA stair climb with luggage to get to so would want to limit those check-in ; check outs as much as possible. Plus the villages are literally minutes away from each other and the train runs fairly late so you linger late in a town you are not staying in.

Vernazza's big advantage to Manarola is access to the hiking trails and more ability to walk to/from other towns.
Manarola's big advantage on Vernazza is although can be very crowded it does not get the same amount of crowds and there are parts of the town with lodging and great views that tourists don't go to. Vernazza is condensed and crowded in comparison ; though in Vernazza only a short walk up either trail/steps from the town you can escape the crowds that way.

The other 3 towns I would also stay in, but they do not have quite the same amazing views as Manarola and Vernazza.
They are usually less expensive though as Vernazza and Manarola is the top choice for many.
Last I checked most all of the Cinque Terre lodging options are listed on Airbnb and have been for many years. That is actually the best website to use no matter what type of accommodation you are looking for in the CT villages.

Monterosso is the only of the 5 villages with hotels ; the others basically have B&B's without the breakfast in most cases.