My wife and I are planning a 4 week trip to Italy in April and want to stay in the Cinque Terre area for 5 nights. We are debating whether we want to stay in Monterosso or Vernazza and are interested in your opinions. We know that all trains to Vernazza will also stop at the other 4 CT towns so that is a plus for Vernazza, but we hear that it can be crowded with tourists. We probably won't be spending any time on the beach in Monterosso, but do like the selection of restaurants and lodging available there. We want to be able to do some trail walks as well as relax and enjoy the food and atmosphere. We will be coming from Siena and departing the CT for Milan afterwards, if that makes any difference. Looking forward to your recommendations and views, thanks!
Five nights is too long to stay in the small Cinque Terre.
I've stayed in both Vernazza and Monterosso, and I much prefer Monterosso due to it's larger size and more options. It also has better train connections as you're arriving and departing.
I have only stayed in Monterosso in the old town. I considered both Vernazza and Monterosso and chose Monterosso for a couple of reasons listed below. We stayed in June and enjoyed our time there. Early morning and later in the evening is relatively tourist free. Also, if you are willing to start early, you can just beat the crowds.
- More options for dining and activities in the evening
- Beach access (there were a couple of folks in our group with mobility issues and hiking was out, so they could relax at the beach
- Boat dock for sunset cruises (more options out of Monterosso
- Availability of lodging (we had a family of 6 and finding a place in Vernazza in June was tough
Have a great trip.
My suggestion would be to stay in Monterosso, for many of the same reasons mentioned by the others. Some of the reasons I like staying there.....
- it's the largest of the five towns, and therefore has the greatest number of accommodations, restaurants and other tourist amenities.
- there's a good range of accommodations there, from simple B&B style rooms to somewhat posh hotels with incredible views.
- there's a good range of restaurants in both parts of town.
- it has the best beaches of the five towns, with rentable lounge chairs and beach umbrellas.
- it's the only one that has more conventional hotels, with elevators, breakfasts provided and staff at the desk to help with sightseeing suggestions or whatever.
- it has a nice, vibrant atmosphere in the evenings.
- it has a full service rail station, and several direct Intercity trains to Milano Centrale each day (no changes, travel time about four hours).
- the local Ferries are easily accessible from the concrete dock.
As you mentioned I've found that at times, Vernazza can be dreadfully crowded with tourists.
I loved Monterosso and I highly recommend this hotel. The owners are super friendly and it has a great view! I spent most of my time hiking in Cinque Terre but there was plenty to do in Monterosso between hikes and it wasn't overly crowded (even in July).
It all depends on what you prefer. Monterosso is a lot more touristy, like being on a beach town with cheap souveniers. Vernazza gets tourists, but has nice local spots.