Are you dreaming of staying in Italy’s beloved Cinque Terre but unsure where to begin? Fortunately, this Cinque Terre travel guide covers the details of the five Cinque Terre villages to help you select the best town for your travel style. It will also help you find the best Cinque Terre accommodation for your budget, so whether you seek a spacious Cinque Terre hotel or a cozy apartment with a view, this Cinque Terre guide has it all! #cinqueterrewheretostay #monterosso #vernazza #riomaggiore

Best Cinque Terre Town to Stay in Based on Your Travel Style


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Are you dreaming of staying in Italy’s beloved Cinque Terre but unsure where to begin? Fortunately, this Cinque Terre travel guide covers the details of the five Cinque Terre villages to help you select the best town for your travel style. It will also help you find the best Cinque Terre accommodation for your budget, so whether you seek a spacious Cinque Terre hotel or a cozy apartment with a view, this Cinque Terre guide has it all! #cinqueterrewheretostay #monterosso #vernazza #riomaggiore

Best Cinque Terre Town to Stay in Based on Your Travel Style


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Before visiting Italy for the first time, I scoured the corners of the internet to find the best Cinque Terre town to stay in.

Since Italy’s five Insta-famous villages were on my bucket list for a long time, I was determined to make the right call on where to stay in the Cinque Terre.

Spoiler Alert: After countless hours of research, I wasn’t any closer to reaching a decision.

While I found some general insight on the towns, I also found a lot of conflicting information. As you may imagine, this made my decision of selecting the best Cinque Terre town all the more difficult and confusing.

Finally, it was days later and my accommodation prospects were noticeably thinning. Little did I know then that I’d already committed the fatal mistake of waiting until the last minute to book a Cinque Terre accommodation. (I’ll get into more on why this is a bad idea later.)

In any case, after poring over numerous articles and Tripadvisor forums and coming up short, I made a promise to myself. I decided that no matter where my husband and I ended up staying, I was going to put together this guide to help you avoid the time-sucking, mind-numbing Google scroll that I fell victim to.

It’s my sincere hope that this Cinque Terre guide will be the resource I so desperately sought out when I was in your shoes.

So whether you’re also frustrated from probing the internet for the best Cinque Terre town or you’ve landed here in the very beginning stages of your trip planning, you’re in the right place!

This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through these links, I will earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. Read the full disclosure here.

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Are you dreaming of staying in Italy’s beloved Cinque Terre but unsure where to begin? Fortunately, this Cinque Terre travel guide covers the details of the five Cinque Terre villages to help you select the best town for your travel style. It will also help you find the best Cinque Terre accommodation for your budget, so whether you seek a spacious Cinque Terre hotel or a cozy apartment with a view, this Cinque Terre guide has it all! #cinqueterrewheretostay #monterosso #vernazza #riomaggiore

Pssst....A Secret About the “Best” Cinque Terre Town

Before we go any further, I’m going to let you in on a little secret…

…There’s no “best” Cinque Terre town.

I know, I know, I lured you in with the promise of revealing the best town and now this?! I get it.

But before you bounce, there’s something you should know.

If you stick with me until the end of this post, I’ll help you determine the best Cinque Terre town for you.

You see, the concept of finding the “best” town is subjective. In fact, I’ve encountered numerous people who have shared their opinion on the “best” one – and every single village was mentioned as someone’s favorite!

Ultimately, your pick for best town will come down to your personal preferences and how you like to travel.

With that all said, I did want to mention that while each town definitely has its pros, each has its cons as well.

In reality, the only surefire way to know which town is really best for you is to see them all!

However, in the meantime, I’m going to help you make an informed and confident decision about where to base yourself in the Cinque Terre.

Let’s dive in!

Best Cinque Terre Town According to Your Travel Style

Monterosso al Mare

Travel Style: You love a good sand beach and you prefer accommodations that are more luxurious than charming.

Are you dreaming of staying in Italy’s beloved Cinque Terre but unsure where to begin? Fortunately, this Cinque Terre travel guide covers the details of the five Cinque Terre villages to help you select the best town for your travel style. It will also help you find the best Cinque Terre accommodation for your budget, so whether you seek a spacious Cinque Terre hotel or a cozy apartment with a view, this Cinque Terre guide has it all! #cinqueterrewheretostay #monterosso #vernazza #riomaggiore

Monterosso al Mare Pros:

  • Only one of the five towns with a true sand beach
  • Upscale accommodations and spa resorts available
  • Large and relatively flat town

Monterosso al Mare Cons:

  • Considered “less charming” than the other towns
  • Lacks the iconic colorful harbor
  • Somewhat removed from the other villages

Monterosso al Mare is the northernmost village along the Cinque Terre. It’s also the largest of the five towns in terms of area.

Monterosso also happens to be the only town of the five with a legitimate sand beach, a rare find in the Mediterranean (and otherwise nonexistent in the Cinque Terre).

This beach runs along the majority of the coastline and is heavily frequented by visitors as well as locals, particularly in the high season.

Are you dreaming of staying in Italy’s beloved Cinque Terre but unsure where to begin? Fortunately, this Cinque Terre travel guide covers the details of the five Cinque Terre villages to help you select the best town for your travel style. It will also help you find the best Cinque Terre accommodation for your budget, so whether you seek a spacious Cinque Terre hotel or a cozy apartment with a view, this Cinque Terre guide has it all! #cinqueterrewheretostay #monterosso #vernazza #riomaggiore

Monterosso is technically divided into two parts: Fegina (the new section of town that’s home to Spiaggia di Fegina) and the old town.

Another perk of Monterosso is that it’s relatively flat compared to the other villages, so it’s much easier to get around.

While a quick glance at this village may give the false impression that it’s a beachy resort town with no real substance, I’m happy to report otherwise!

Although I’d read plenty about Monterosso lacking charm, I actually felt it was strong in the charm department. The old-world allure is simply not immediately obvious as it is in the other towns because it lacks the characteristic colorful harbor.

Instead, you’ll need to venture away from Monterosso’s beachfront into the village to find it.

Are you dreaming of staying in Italy’s beloved Cinque Terre but unsure where to begin? Fortunately, this Cinque Terre travel guide covers the details of the five Cinque Terre villages to help you select the best town for your travel style. It will also help you find the best Cinque Terre accommodation for your budget, so whether you seek a spacious Cinque Terre hotel or a cozy apartment with a view, this Cinque Terre guide has it all! #cinqueterrewheretostay #monterosso #vernazza #riomaggiore

Fortunately, once you do, you’ll discover some really beautiful streets!

Are you dreaming of staying in Italy’s beloved Cinque Terre but unsure where to begin? Fortunately, this Cinque Terre travel guide covers the details of the five Cinque Terre villages to help you select the best town for your travel style. It will also help you find the best Cinque Terre accommodation for your budget, so whether you seek a spacious Cinque Terre hotel or a cozy apartment with a view, this Cinque Terre guide has it all! #cinqueterrewheretostay #monterosso #vernazza #riomaggiore

The Bottom Line

Despite what many say, there’s plenty of charm to be had in Monterosso, you’ll just have to look beyond the surface to find it. Although the town’s northern location puts it a bit out of reach, you’ll find plenty of restaurants options and lots to keep you busy here.

Ultimately, if beaches and larger, more upscale accommodations are a priority, Monterosso is your best bet. Additionally, if you’re traveling as a family and require more space and/or someone in your group has limited mobility, Monterosso is the clear winner.

Vernazza

Travel Style: You love old-world charm, appreciate convenience, and enjoy being in the heart of it all.

Are you dreaming of staying in Italy’s beloved Cinque Terre but unsure where to begin? Fortunately, this Cinque Terre travel guide covers the details of the five Cinque Terre villages to help you select the best town for your travel style. It will also help you find the best Cinque Terre accommodation for your budget, so whether you seek a spacious Cinque Terre hotel or a cozy apartment with a view, this Cinque Terre guide has it all! #cinqueterrewheretostay #monterosso #vernazza #riomaggiore

Vernazza Pros:

  • Breathtaking harbor area
  • Lively with great restaurant options
  • Easiest access to the train station

Vernazza Cons:

  • Exposure to train station noise
  • Daytime crowds around the main street
  • Accommodations tend to book up quickly

As you head south from the northernmost town of Monterosso, the next town you’ll hit is Vernazza, the most popular village along the Cinque Terre.

Although I said earlier that the “best” Cinque Terre town is subjective, it’s also my personal opinion that Vernazza is the best!

FUN FACT: It just so happens that Rick Steves shares my love of Vernazza, so clearly I’m in good company here.

Vernazza and Manarola (which I’ll cover later) are typically tied for most beautiful town and I can definitely see why. They’re both stunning to photograph from sea level or from the hiking paths, which I’ll delve into in a separate guide.

Vernazza, however, is the only town with a natural harbor and it’s absolutely stunning in person!

That said, since the ideal photo spot is from the opposite perspective (looking into the harbor), the majestic and dramatic quality of the mountains is somewhat lost in many photos.

Are you dreaming of staying in Italy’s beloved Cinque Terre but unsure where to begin? Fortunately, this Cinque Terre travel guide covers the details of the five Cinque Terre villages to help you select the best town for your travel style. It will also help you find the best Cinque Terre accommodation for your budget, so whether you seek a spacious Cinque Terre hotel or a cozy apartment with a view, this Cinque Terre guide has it all! #cinqueterrewheretostay #monterosso #vernazza #riomaggiore

Fortunately, I went with my gut instinct and booked an apartment in Vernazza hoping it would be my favorite. Suffice it to say, it quickly won my heart and my vote for the best Cinque Terre town.

My husband and I stayed at Tagià, which not only met our expectations, but exceeded them.

In addition to its convenient location just five minutes walking distance from the train station, our apartment was spacious and even included a large terrace!

Are you dreaming of staying in Italy’s beloved Cinque Terre but unsure where to begin? Fortunately, this Cinque Terre travel guide covers the details of the five Cinque Terre villages to help you select the best town for your travel style. It will also help you find the best Cinque Terre accommodation for your budget, so whether you seek a spacious Cinque Terre hotel or a cozy apartment with a view, this Cinque Terre guide has it all! #cinqueterrewheretostay #monterosso #vernazza #riomaggiore
Are you dreaming of staying in Italy’s beloved Cinque Terre but unsure where to begin? Fortunately, this Cinque Terre travel guide covers the details of the five Cinque Terre villages to help you select the best town for your travel style. It will also help you find the best Cinque Terre accommodation for your budget, so whether you seek a spacious Cinque Terre hotel or a cozy apartment with a view, this Cinque Terre guide has it all! #cinqueterrewheretostay #monterosso #vernazza #riomaggiore

Plus, our hosts were incredibly gracious and even offered to hold onto our luggage after check-out so that we could explore the town freely before our departure.

PRO TIP: Snag an apartment with a balcony if you can find one! This way, you can enjoy your morning coffee outside and live like a local.

Keep in mind, however, that it’s super competitive to get a property in Vernazza. Ideally, you’ll want to snag something at least a month in advance.

In many ways, Vernazza is the heart of the Cinque Terre.

As a result, the harbor area tends to get incredibly crowded as early as the late morning. If you want to enjoy it without the crowds, you’ll need to visit in the early morning.

That said, keep in mind that you won’t find the colorful collection of boats here until later in the day.

Another alternative for escaping the mid-day tourist scene is to leave the main street where people tend to congregate.

Instead, climb up to the tower of the fortress that offers beautiful views of the coast and/or walk one of the hiking trails.

Again, I’ll get into more information on hiking the Cinque Terre in a separate guide.

The Bottom Line

If you’re truly torn on where to stay in the Cinque Terre after reading this guide, I suggest booking a place in Vernazza. In my opinion, it’s the safest bet and the most middle-of-the road-option of all the towns.

Although it’s not necessarily everyone’s top favorite town, many people rank it as a close second. Plus, I have yet to hear someone say they outright didn’t like Vernazza, whereas I have heard this said about some of the other towns.

Corniglia

Travel Style: You’re the “off-the-beaten-path” type and you don’t require beach time to feel like you’re on vacation.

Are you dreaming of staying in Italy’s beloved Cinque Terre but unsure where to begin? Fortunately, this Cinque Terre travel guide covers the details of the five Cinque Terre villages to help you select the best town for your travel style. It will also help you find the best Cinque Terre accommodation for your budget, so whether you seek a spacious Cinque Terre hotel or a cozy apartment with a view, this Cinque Terre guide has it all! #cinqueterrewheretostay #monterosso #vernazza #riomaggiore

Corniglia Pros:

  • Least touristy of the towns
  • Quieter, more local vibe
  • Stunning mountain views

Corniglia Cons:

  • Steep (and unavoidable) hill leading into town
  • Only town that’s unreachable by boat and doesn’t offer direct sea access
  • Little-to-no nightlife

Of all the towns, Corniglia surprised me the most – in the best possible way.

But here’s the sad reality – many people never even make it there!

During my initial stages of researching the best Cinque Terre town, I quickly discovered that Corniglia had a bit of a reputation – and not a positive one.

In fact, I’d go so far as to say that Corniglia is often viewed as the proverbial red-headed stepchild of the towns. It’s frequently misjudged, overlooked, and/or neglected completely.

So just imagine my surprise when I ended up falling in love with it! In fact, I consider it to be my second favorite of the five towns.

Are you dreaming of staying in Italy’s beloved Cinque Terre but unsure where to begin? Fortunately, this Cinque Terre travel guide covers the details of the five Cinque Terre villages to help you select the best town for your travel style. It will also help you find the best Cinque Terre accommodation for your budget, so whether you seek a spacious Cinque Terre hotel or a cozy apartment with a view, this Cinque Terre guide has it all! #cinqueterrewheretostay #monterosso #vernazza #riomaggiore

This is a reminder to take what you read online with a grain of salt. If I had listened to all the naysayers, I never would’ve known how beautiful Corniglia is.

Why Corniglia Is Often Overlooked (& Why You Should Visit)

So….why all the hate for Corniglia?

Well, Corniglia is definitely the most different from the other towns and I think that turns many people off.

The first major difference is noticeable immediately, as in right after you step off the train.

Instead of walking through a tunnel or simply strolling into town, you’ll need to reckon with the rather massive hill leading up into the village.

You have two options for reaching Corniglia:

Option 1: Climb 350+ steep steps
Option 2: Take the shuttle bus that departs from the train station

While there’s a small cost associated with option two, the fee is nominal. Also, keep in mind that if you’ve already purchased the Cinque Terre pass, you can simply show that to the driver to ride for free!

Alternatively, you can purchase a ticket at the ticket booth by the train station.

Personally, the choice to take the shuttle bus is a total no-brainer in my opinion. It only takes a few quick minutes and you can enjoy the views as you head uphill rather than cursing the steps and feeling exhausted once you arrive in town.

The other main difference between Corniglia and the other towns is that it’s the only one without direct sea access.

So, what does that mean exactly?

Ultimately, it means that you can’t reach the town by boat (you can only get here by hiking or taking the train). It also means that a beach day in Corniglia is out of the question.

However, we frankly didn’t feel the need to travel to any of the towns by boat, nor did we feel we were missing out by not having a beach/harbor in Corniglia.

Instead, we appreciated the town for what it was – incredibly charming with insane views.

While you admittedly won’t get the iconic harbor views that the Cinque Terre is famous for here, nature’s panorama will surely make up for that!

Are you dreaming of staying in Italy’s beloved Cinque Terre but unsure where to begin? Fortunately, this Cinque Terre travel guide covers the details of the five Cinque Terre villages to help you select the best town for your travel style. It will also help you find the best Cinque Terre accommodation for your budget, so whether you seek a spacious Cinque Terre hotel or a cozy apartment with a view, this Cinque Terre guide has it all! #cinqueterrewheretostay #monterosso #vernazza #riomaggiore

The main village in Corniglia is also incredibly idyllic with its narrow alleyways, adorable shops, and stone facades a-plenty.

Plus, Corniglia is the smallest of the five villages, and by that I mean you can literally walk from one side to the other in a matter of minutes.

So even if the town ultimately doesn’t meet expectations, you won’t “waste” a lot of time here and you can easily hop back on the next shuttle bus heading downhill.

The Bottom Line

Don’t listen to the naysayers! Set aside some time for Corniglia on your itinerary and I’m sure you won’t regret it. Just remember to bring your Cinque Terre pass for the shuttle bus and leave the swimsuit behind.

Manarola

Travel Style: You love beautiful views and quiet evenings equally.

Are you dreaming of staying in Italy’s beloved Cinque Terre but unsure where to begin? Fortunately, this Cinque Terre travel guide covers the details of the five Cinque Terre villages to help you select the best town for your travel style. It will also help you find the best Cinque Terre accommodation for your budget, so whether you seek a spacious Cinque Terre hotel or a cozy apartment with a view, this Cinque Terre guide has it all! #cinqueterrewheretostay #monterosso #vernazza #riomaggiore

Manarola Pros:

  • Breathtaking harbor views
  • Relaxed vibes
  • Home to the Instagram-famous restaurant, Nessun Dorma

Manarola Cons:

  • Town can be a bit sleepy
  • Somewhat lacking in terms of activities
  • Can be eerily quiet at night

When I was originally researching the best Cinque Terre town to stay in, I was ultimately torn between Vernazza and Manarola.

From what I read, the views from each were equally spectacular, but Vernazza was the “rowdier” option of the two. Since I tend to prefer quieter environments, I actually leaned toward Manarola at first.

It wasn’t until I landed on a Tripadvisor forum where someone was complaining about Manarola’s extreme quiet in the evenings that I decided to reconsider.

While I’m all for chill vibes, this particular reviewer said that he was hushed and scolded by a local for speaking at a normal volume at the dinner table. Granted, he was eating at a restaurant located directly below this person’s window, but it was apparently a typical dinner time and he was (supposedly) speaking normally.

Needless to say, reading about that incident really stuck with me. Plus, since I couldn’t find anything equally troublesome from my Vernazza research, I ultimately decided to go with that.

Fortunately, I never regretted my decision to stay in Vernazza once.

So here’s the thing about Manarola.

Is it beautiful? Absolutely and undeniably.

Did it hold my attention? Not really.

I can’t quite put my finger on it, but Manarola didn’t capture me the way I had anticipated. While it arguably has one of the most beautiful harbor views of all the towns, it lacked that “wow” factor for me.

Now, I definitely don’t want to discourage you from staying in Manarola if you’re leaning that way. Plus, I know of more than one person who considers it to be the best Cinque Terre town, so this is obviously all subjective!

However, my purpose with this guide is to give you my honest impressions of all the Cinque Terre towns to help you better plan, even if those impressions don’t align with those of the masses (as they often don’t).

That all said, Manarola looks like a postcard and is extremely photogenic.

It also has a cute village, which you can see from above when you exit the train station.

Are you dreaming of staying in Italy’s beloved Cinque Terre but unsure where to begin? Fortunately, this Cinque Terre travel guide covers the details of the five Cinque Terre villages to help you select the best town for your travel style. It will also help you find the best Cinque Terre accommodation for your budget, so whether you seek a spacious Cinque Terre hotel or a cozy apartment with a view, this Cinque Terre guide has it all! #cinqueterrewheretostay #monterosso #vernazza #riomaggiore

However, I am purposefully emphasizing the word cute here, as Manarola is the second smallest of the villages and you definitely feel it.

While I personally found the village to be a bit lacking compared to some of the others, it certainly has plenty of charm.

In addition, Manarola is also home to Nessun Dorma, one of my favorite restaurants along the Cinque Terre.

The Bottom Line

Postcard-worthy Manarola is as beautiful as it appears in photographs. If you prefer a slower vibe and quiet evenings with the bonus of an Instagram-famous restaurant mixed in, Manarola just may be the best Cinque Terre town for you.

Riomaggiore

Travel Style: You love staying busy, nightlife is your jam, and you’re always chasing Insta-famous views.

Are you dreaming of staying in Italy’s beloved Cinque Terre but unsure where to begin? Fortunately, this Cinque Terre travel guide covers the details of the five Cinque Terre villages to help you select the best town for your travel style. It will also help you find the best Cinque Terre accommodation for your budget, so whether you seek a spacious Cinque Terre hotel or a cozy apartment with a view, this Cinque Terre guide has it all! #cinqueterrewheretostay #monterosso #vernazza #riomaggiore

Riomaggiore Pros:

  • Great nightlife (if that’s your thing)
  • Most photogenic harbor of all five towns
  • Lively vibe

Riomaggiore Cons:

  • Loud nightlife (if that’s not your thing)
  • Tends to draw massive crowds to its Insta-famous harbor area
  • Long walk from the tunnel at the train station into town

Riomaggiore has the largest population of the five towns, with over 1,500 residents who call it home.

This town was one of the biggest surprises to me, but unfortunately, not exactly in a positive way.

While many claim that Riomaggiore is one of the most peaceful options of the five villages, my husband and I had a completely different experience here.

In fact, it was the one town where we felt overwhelmed by tourists and didn’t have a desire to visit more than once.

While Riomaggiore may have been under the radar in years past, the secret is certainly out now! The harbor area, in particular, has gained tremendous notoriety on Instagram, and the crowds that congregate here are proof of that.

PRO TIP: If you want to take pictures by the harbor without people in them, you’ll need to get here early, ideally around sunrise. We arrived around 10AM from Vernazza and the harbor area was mobbed.

However, while I didn’t necessarily have the best first experience here, I know multiple people who consider Riomaggiore to be the best Cinque Terre town.

And there’s a common link between every single one of them – they’ve all based themselves here!

This brings me to a theory that I’ve developed about the Cinque Terre…

I believe that whatever town you base yourself in – regardless of which one it is – will become your favorite (or at least one of them).

While I obviously have no documented proof of this, I’ve definitely discerned a pattern with people developing a preference for the town they spend the night in.

Here’s why I think there’s validity to this argument.

The Cinque Terre has undoubtedly become a tourist destination and is no longer the hidden gem it (presumably) once was.

However, there’s a silver lining.

Many tourists skip the overnight stay in Cinque Terre and opt to do a day trip from a larger city like Florence instead.

In these cases, they tend to arrive in one of the towns in the late morning/early afternoon and leave in the early evening around sundown (when many tour groups depart).

Fortunately, this can be your lucky break as an overnight visitor because you’ll have access to whatever village you’re staying in at all hours. This includes early morning and after sundown when the crowds have thinned.

And I definitely don’t think I’m alone in saying that I prefer my surroundings without a crowd!

Are you dreaming of staying in Italy’s beloved Cinque Terre but unsure where to begin? Fortunately, this Cinque Terre travel guide covers the details of the five Cinque Terre villages to help you select the best town for your travel style. It will also help you find the best Cinque Terre accommodation for your budget, so whether you seek a spacious Cinque Terre hotel or a cozy apartment with a view, this Cinque Terre guide has it all! #cinqueterrewheretostay #monterosso #vernazza #riomaggiore

For this reason, I think it’s easy to become enamored with whatever town you wake up and go to bed in because you can truly enjoy it without a lot of noise and distractions.

That all said, the main thing that surprised me about Riomaggiore was the harbor area. Frankly, I had built up really, really high expectations from seeing it all over Instagram and it fell a bit short for me in person.

While the harbor is certainly beautiful with its iconic colors, it actually felt a lot smaller in real life than I was expecting.

Are you dreaming of staying in Italy’s beloved Cinque Terre but unsure where to begin? Fortunately, this Cinque Terre travel guide covers the details of the five Cinque Terre villages to help you select the best town for your travel style. It will also help you find the best Cinque Terre accommodation for your budget, so whether you seek a spacious Cinque Terre hotel or a cozy apartment with a view, this Cinque Terre guide has it all! #cinqueterrewheretostay #monterosso #vernazza #riomaggiore

I think this is because many of the pictures taken here are captured with a wide angle lens, making the harbor appear larger than it is in reality.

However, I think it’s one of the most photogenic spots along the Cinque Terre, without a doubt. Just keep in mind that it may not exactly live up to expectations, especially if you visit during a busier time of day.

The Bottom Line

Riomaggiore is the Instagrammer’s paradise. If you prefer a harbor area with a lot of action and exciting nightlife, this is probably the town for you.

How to Coordinate Your Stay in the Cinque Terre

Another subject of confusion I faced when planning our trip was how to organize our stay.

In case you’re somewhat unfamiliar with the Cinque Terre, it’s important to know that the towns are pedestrian-only. While some people prefer to keep a car in a lot outside of the villages, I personally think that having a vehicle is an unnecessary hassle and expense while visiting.

That said, I was uncertain whether to book a stay in several different villages and then hike between them each day or to base ourselves in one town.

Now that I’ve experienced the Cinque Terre for myself, I can say without hesitation that it makes much more sense to choose one village as your home base.

You can then branch out from there and visit the other villages easily via train or by hiking.

Although my initial concern was that the hikes would take a day or more to complete, they actually can be covered in around 90 minutes or less.

In addition, you also have the option of taking the train back for the reverse trip, provided you stick to the train schedule.

When to Book Your Stay in the Cinque Terre

One of the mistakes I made while planning this trip was waiting too long to book our stay.

I had no idea just how competitive it was to get a place within one of the five towns.

The reason for this is that the majority of properties you’ll find along the Cinque Terre are locally-owned, self-catering apartments and there’s a very limited number of them.

However, there are more options if you decide to book something outside of the villages in La Spezia and then take the train into the towns each day.

That said, I think the novelty of staying directly in one of the storybook towns is one of the most special aspects of this trip, not to mention the convenience factor.

However, much to my surprise, most of the places I was interested in were already fully booked when I was finally ready to pull the trigger. Fortunately, I got lucky and found something on a whim about two weeks before our trip.

So if you’re also looking to stay in one of the five towns, I recommend booking your accommodations several months in advance to be secure.

What If You Misjudge What the Best Cinque Terre Town Is?

I realize that this may sound silly, but I legitimately had a fear of selecting the “wrong” town to stay in and regretting my decision.

Since this was our first trip to the Cinque Terre and it had been on my list for so long, I wanted everything to be perfect.

Well, if you’re at all concerned about this as well, let me tell you what I wish someone had told me: There is no wrong choice.

Ultimately, even if you don’t end up favoring the town you stay in, you can still have a perfectly wonderful time.

In the worst case scenario, you visit all the towns and then spend the majority of your time in whichever one you like best. In fact, you can literally hop on a train and be in a new town within minutes, so it’s really as simple as that!

Honestly, despite my goal of helping you make an informed decision about where to stay, my best advice is to not overthink it!

Go with your gut. That’s what I did and it worked out for me.

Plus, realistically, even if I had gone with Manarola, I still would’ve had a fantastic trip and probably would’ve spent additional time in my favorite town of Vernazza.

In any case, I sincerely hope that this guide has helped you determine the best Cinque Terre town for you.

Since I’ve covered a lot of information in this post, here are some key takeaways:

  1. There’s no one-size-fits-all “best” Cinque Terre town.
  2. It’s best to select one town as your home base and then venture out from there.
  3. Consider your travel style and select a home base that most closely matches it.
  4. Don’t overthink your decision. Go with your gut.
  5. Book your accommodations a few months in advance to ensure you secure the property you want.

Regardless of where you ultimately decide to stay, I wish you a wonderful adventure in the Cinque Terre!

Have you ever visited this region of northern Italy before? What do you consider to be the best Cinque Terre town? Let me know in the comments below!

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Are you dreaming of staying in Italy’s beloved Cinque Terre but unsure where to begin? Fortunately, this Cinque Terre travel guide covers the details of the five Cinque Terre villages to help you select the best town for your travel style. It will also help you find the best Cinque Terre accommodation for your budget, so whether you seek a spacious Cinque Terre hotel or a cozy apartment with a view, this Cinque Terre guide has it all! #cinqueterrewheretostay #monterosso #vernazza #riomaggiore
Are you dreaming of staying in Italy’s beloved Cinque Terre but unsure where to begin? Fortunately, this Cinque Terre travel guide covers the details of the five Cinque Terre villages to help you select the best town for your travel style. It will also help you find the best Cinque Terre accommodation for your budget, so whether you seek a spacious Cinque Terre hotel or a cozy apartment with a view, this Cinque Terre guide has it all! #cinqueterrewheretostay #monterosso #vernazza #riomaggiore
Are you dreaming of staying in Italy’s beloved Cinque Terre but unsure where to begin? Fortunately, this Cinque Terre travel guide covers the details of the five Cinque Terre villages to help you select the best town for your travel style. It will also help you find the best Cinque Terre accommodation for your budget, so whether you seek a spacious Cinque Terre hotel or a cozy apartment with a view, this Cinque Terre guide has it all! #cinqueterrewheretostay #monterosso #vernazza #riomaggiore

Before visiting Italy for the first time, I scoured the corners of the internet to find the best Cinque Terre town to stay in.

Since Italy’s five Insta-famous villages were on my bucket list for a long time, I was determined to make the right call on where to stay in the Cinque Terre.

Spoiler Alert: After countless hours of research, I wasn’t any closer to reaching a decision.

While I found some general insight on the towns, I also found a lot of conflicting information. As you may imagine, this made my decision of selecting the best Cinque Terre town all the more difficult and confusing.

Finally, it was days later and my accommodation prospects were noticeably thinning. Little did I know then that I’d already committed the fatal mistake of waiting until the last minute to book a Cinque Terre accommodation. (I’ll get into more on why this is a bad idea later.)

In any case, after poring over numerous articles and Tripadvisor forums and coming up short, I made a promise to myself. I decided that no matter where my husband and I ended up staying, I was going to put together this guide to help you avoid the time-sucking, mind-numbing Google scroll that I fell victim to.

It’s my sincere hope that this Cinque Terre guide will be the resource I so desperately sought out when I was in your shoes.

So whether you’re also frustrated from probing the internet for the best Cinque Terre town or you’ve landed here in the very beginning stages of your trip planning, you’re in the right place!

This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through these links, I will earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. Read the full disclosure here.

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Are you dreaming of staying in Italy’s beloved Cinque Terre but unsure where to begin? Fortunately, this Cinque Terre travel guide covers the details of the five Cinque Terre villages to help you select the best town for your travel style. It will also help you find the best Cinque Terre accommodation for your budget, so whether you seek a spacious Cinque Terre hotel or a cozy apartment with a view, this Cinque Terre guide has it all! #cinqueterrewheretostay #monterosso #vernazza #riomaggiore

Pssst....A Secret About the “Best” Cinque Terre Town

Before we go any further, I’m going to let you in on a little secret…

…There’s no “best” Cinque Terre town.

I know, I know, I lured you in with the promise of revealing the best town and now this?! I get it.

But before you bounce, there’s something you should know.

If you stick with me until the end of this post, I’ll help you determine the best Cinque Terre town for you.

You see, the concept of finding the “best” town is subjective. In fact, I’ve encountered numerous people who have shared their opinion on the “best” one – and every single village was mentioned as someone’s favorite!

Ultimately, your pick for best town will come down to your personal preferences and how you like to travel.

With that all said, I did want to mention that while each town definitely has its pros, each has its cons as well.

In reality, the only surefire way to know which town is really best for you is to see them all!

However, in the meantime, I’m going to help you make an informed and confident decision about where to base yourself in the Cinque Terre.

Let’s dive in!

Best Cinque Terre Town According to Your Travel Style

Monterosso al Mare

Travel Style: You love a good sand beach and you prefer accommodations that are more luxurious than charming.

Are you dreaming of staying in Italy’s beloved Cinque Terre but unsure where to begin? Fortunately, this Cinque Terre travel guide covers the details of the five Cinque Terre villages to help you select the best town for your travel style. It will also help you find the best Cinque Terre accommodation for your budget, so whether you seek a spacious Cinque Terre hotel or a cozy apartment with a view, this Cinque Terre guide has it all! #cinqueterrewheretostay #monterosso #vernazza #riomaggiore

Monterosso al Mare Pros:

  • Only one of the five towns with a true sand beach
  • Upscale accommodations and spa resorts available
  • Large and relatively flat town

Monterosso al Mare Cons:

  • Considered “less charming” than the other towns
  • Lacks the iconic colorful harbor
  • Somewhat removed from the other villages

Monterosso al Mare is the northernmost village along the Cinque Terre. It’s also the largest of the five towns in terms of area.

Monterosso also happens to be the only town of the five with a legitimate sand beach, a rare find in the Mediterranean (and otherwise nonexistent in the Cinque Terre).

This beach runs along the majority of the coastline and is heavily frequented by visitors as well as locals, particularly in the high season.

Are you dreaming of staying in Italy’s beloved Cinque Terre but unsure where to begin? Fortunately, this Cinque Terre travel guide covers the details of the five Cinque Terre villages to help you select the best town for your travel style. It will also help you find the best Cinque Terre accommodation for your budget, so whether you seek a spacious Cinque Terre hotel or a cozy apartment with a view, this Cinque Terre guide has it all! #cinqueterrewheretostay #monterosso #vernazza #riomaggiore

Monterosso is technically divided into two parts: Fegina (the new section of town that’s home to Spiaggia di Fegina) and the old town.

Another perk of Monterosso is that it’s relatively flat compared to the other villages, so it’s much easier to get around.

While a quick glance at this village may give the false impression that it’s a beachy resort town with no real substance, I’m happy to report otherwise!

Although I’d read plenty about Monterosso lacking charm, I actually felt it was strong in the charm department. The old-world allure is simply not immediately obvious as it is in the other towns because it lacks the characteristic colorful harbor.

Instead, you’ll need to venture away from Monterosso’s beachfront into the village to find it.

Are you dreaming of staying in Italy’s beloved Cinque Terre but unsure where to begin? Fortunately, this Cinque Terre travel guide covers the details of the five Cinque Terre villages to help you select the best town for your travel style. It will also help you find the best Cinque Terre accommodation for your budget, so whether you seek a spacious Cinque Terre hotel or a cozy apartment with a view, this Cinque Terre guide has it all! #cinqueterrewheretostay #monterosso #vernazza #riomaggiore

Fortunately, once you do, you’ll discover some really beautiful streets!

Are you dreaming of staying in Italy’s beloved Cinque Terre but unsure where to begin? Fortunately, this Cinque Terre travel guide covers the details of the five Cinque Terre villages to help you select the best town for your travel style. It will also help you find the best Cinque Terre accommodation for your budget, so whether you seek a spacious Cinque Terre hotel or a cozy apartment with a view, this Cinque Terre guide has it all! #cinqueterrewheretostay #monterosso #vernazza #riomaggiore

The Bottom Line

Despite what many say, there’s plenty of charm to be had in Monterosso, you’ll just have to look beyond the surface to find it. Although the town’s northern location puts it a bit out of reach, you’ll find plenty of restaurants options and lots to keep you busy here.

Ultimately, if beaches and larger, more upscale accommodations are a priority, Monterosso is your best bet. Additionally, if you’re traveling as a family and require more space and/or someone in your group has limited mobility, Monterosso is the clear winner.

Vernazza

Travel Style: You love old-world charm, appreciate convenience, and enjoy being in the heart of it all.

Are you dreaming of staying in Italy’s beloved Cinque Terre but unsure where to begin? Fortunately, this Cinque Terre travel guide covers the details of the five Cinque Terre villages to help you select the best town for your travel style. It will also help you find the best Cinque Terre accommodation for your budget, so whether you seek a spacious Cinque Terre hotel or a cozy apartment with a view, this Cinque Terre guide has it all! #cinqueterrewheretostay #monterosso #vernazza #riomaggiore

Vernazza Pros:

  • Breathtaking harbor area
  • Lively with great restaurant options
  • Easiest access to the train station

Vernazza Cons:

  • Exposure to train station noise
  • Daytime crowds around the main street
  • Accommodations tend to book up quickly

As you head south from the northernmost town of Monterosso, the next town you’ll hit is Vernazza, the most popular village along the Cinque Terre.

Although I said earlier that the “best” Cinque Terre town is subjective, it’s also my personal opinion that Vernazza is the best!

FUN FACT: It just so happens that Rick Steves shares my love of Vernazza, so clearly I’m in good company here.

Vernazza and Manarola (which I’ll cover later) are typically tied for most beautiful town and I can definitely see why. They’re both stunning to photograph from sea level or from the hiking paths, which I’ll delve into in a separate guide.

Vernazza, however, is the only town with a natural harbor and it’s absolutely stunning in person!

That said, since the ideal photo spot is from the opposite perspective (looking into the harbor), the majestic and dramatic quality of the mountains is somewhat lost in many photos.

Are you dreaming of staying in Italy’s beloved Cinque Terre but unsure where to begin? Fortunately, this Cinque Terre travel guide covers the details of the five Cinque Terre villages to help you select the best town for your travel style. It will also help you find the best Cinque Terre accommodation for your budget, so whether you seek a spacious Cinque Terre hotel or a cozy apartment with a view, this Cinque Terre guide has it all! #cinqueterrewheretostay #monterosso #vernazza #riomaggiore

Fortunately, I went with my gut instinct and booked an apartment in Vernazza hoping it would be my favorite. Suffice it to say, it quickly won my heart and my vote for the best Cinque Terre town.

My husband and I stayed at Tagià, which not only met our expectations, but exceeded them.

In addition to its convenient location just five minutes walking distance from the train station, our apartment was spacious and even included a large terrace!

Are you dreaming of staying in Italy’s beloved Cinque Terre but unsure where to begin? Fortunately, this Cinque Terre travel guide covers the details of the five Cinque Terre villages to help you select the best town for your travel style. It will also help you find the best Cinque Terre accommodation for your budget, so whether you seek a spacious Cinque Terre hotel or a cozy apartment with a view, this Cinque Terre guide has it all! #cinqueterrewheretostay #monterosso #vernazza #riomaggiore
Are you dreaming of staying in Italy’s beloved Cinque Terre but unsure where to begin? Fortunately, this Cinque Terre travel guide covers the details of the five Cinque Terre villages to help you select the best town for your travel style. It will also help you find the best Cinque Terre accommodation for your budget, so whether you seek a spacious Cinque Terre hotel or a cozy apartment with a view, this Cinque Terre guide has it all! #cinqueterrewheretostay #monterosso #vernazza #riomaggiore

Plus, our hosts were incredibly gracious and even offered to hold onto our luggage after check-out so that we could explore the town freely before our departure.

PRO TIP: Snag an apartment with a balcony if you can find one! This way, you can enjoy your morning coffee outside and live like a local.

Keep in mind, however, that it’s super competitive to get a property in Vernazza. Ideally, you’ll want to snag something at least a month in advance.

In many ways, Vernazza is the heart of the Cinque Terre.

As a result, the harbor area tends to get incredibly crowded as early as the late morning. If you want to enjoy it without the crowds, you’ll need to visit in the early morning.

That said, keep in mind that you won’t find the colorful collection of boats here until later in the day.

Another alternative for escaping the mid-day tourist scene is to leave the main street where people tend to congregate.

Instead, climb up to the tower of the fortress that offers beautiful views of the coast and/or walk one of the hiking trails.

Again, I’ll get into more information on hiking the Cinque Terre in a separate guide.

The Bottom Line

If you’re truly torn on where to stay in the Cinque Terre after reading this guide, I suggest booking a place in Vernazza. In my opinion, it’s the safest bet and the most middle-of-the road-option of all the towns.

Although it’s not necessarily everyone’s top favorite town, many people rank it as a close second. Plus, I have yet to hear someone say they outright didn’t like Vernazza, whereas I have heard this said about some of the other towns.

Corniglia

Travel Style: You’re the “off-the-beaten-path” type and you don’t require beach time to feel like you’re on vacation.

Are you dreaming of staying in Italy’s beloved Cinque Terre but unsure where to begin? Fortunately, this Cinque Terre travel guide covers the details of the five Cinque Terre villages to help you select the best town for your travel style. It will also help you find the best Cinque Terre accommodation for your budget, so whether you seek a spacious Cinque Terre hotel or a cozy apartment with a view, this Cinque Terre guide has it all! #cinqueterrewheretostay #monterosso #vernazza #riomaggiore

Corniglia Pros:

  • Least touristy of the towns
  • Quieter, more local vibe
  • Stunning mountain views

Corniglia Cons:

  • Steep (and unavoidable) hill leading into town
  • Only town that’s unreachable by boat and doesn’t offer direct sea access
  • Little-to-no nightlife

Of all the towns, Corniglia surprised me the most – in the best possible way.

But here’s the sad reality – many people never even make it there!

During my initial stages of researching the best Cinque Terre town, I quickly discovered that Corniglia had a bit of a reputation – and not a positive one.

In fact, I’d go so far as to say that Corniglia is often viewed as the proverbial red-headed stepchild of the towns. It’s frequently misjudged, overlooked, and/or neglected completely.

So just imagine my surprise when I ended up falling in love with it! In fact, I consider it to be my second favorite of the five towns.

Are you dreaming of staying in Italy’s beloved Cinque Terre but unsure where to begin? Fortunately, this Cinque Terre travel guide covers the details of the five Cinque Terre villages to help you select the best town for your travel style. It will also help you find the best Cinque Terre accommodation for your budget, so whether you seek a spacious Cinque Terre hotel or a cozy apartment with a view, this Cinque Terre guide has it all! #cinqueterrewheretostay #monterosso #vernazza #riomaggiore

This is a reminder to take what you read online with a grain of salt. If I had listened to all the naysayers, I never would’ve known how beautiful Corniglia is.

Why Corniglia Is Often Overlooked (& Why You Should Visit)

So….why all the hate for Corniglia?

Well, Corniglia is definitely the most different from the other towns and I think that turns many people off.

The first major difference is noticeable immediately, as in right after you step off the train.

Instead of walking through a tunnel or simply strolling into town, you’ll need to reckon with the rather massive hill leading up into the village.

You have two options for reaching Corniglia:

Option 1: Climb 350+ steep steps
Option 2: Take the shuttle bus that departs from the train station

While there’s a small cost associated with option two, the fee is nominal. Also, keep in mind that if you’ve already purchased the Cinque Terre pass, you can simply show that to the driver to ride for free!

Alternatively, you can purchase a ticket at the ticket booth by the train station.

Personally, the choice to take the shuttle bus is a total no-brainer in my opinion. It only takes a few quick minutes and you can enjoy the views as you head uphill rather than cursing the steps and feeling exhausted once you arrive in town.

The other main difference between Corniglia and the other towns is that it’s the only one without direct sea access.

So, what does that mean exactly?

Ultimately, it means that you can’t reach the town by boat (you can only get here by hiking or taking the train). It also means that a beach day in Corniglia is out of the question.

However, we frankly didn’t feel the need to travel to any of the towns by boat, nor did we feel we were missing out by not having a beach/harbor in Corniglia.

Instead, we appreciated the town for what it was – incredibly charming with insane views.

While you admittedly won’t get the iconic harbor views that the Cinque Terre is famous for here, nature’s panorama will surely make up for that!

Are you dreaming of staying in Italy’s beloved Cinque Terre but unsure where to begin? Fortunately, this Cinque Terre travel guide covers the details of the five Cinque Terre villages to help you select the best town for your travel style. It will also help you find the best Cinque Terre accommodation for your budget, so whether you seek a spacious Cinque Terre hotel or a cozy apartment with a view, this Cinque Terre guide has it all! #cinqueterrewheretostay #monterosso #vernazza #riomaggiore

The main village in Corniglia is also incredibly idyllic with its narrow alleyways, adorable shops, and stone facades a-plenty.

Plus, Corniglia is the smallest of the five villages, and by that I mean you can literally walk from one side to the other in a matter of minutes.

So even if the town ultimately doesn’t meet expectations, you won’t “waste” a lot of time here and you can easily hop back on the next shuttle bus heading downhill.

The Bottom Line

Don’t listen to the naysayers! Set aside some time for Corniglia on your itinerary and I’m sure you won’t regret it. Just remember to bring your Cinque Terre pass for the shuttle bus and leave the swimsuit behind.

Manarola

Travel Style: You love beautiful views and quiet evenings equally.

Are you dreaming of staying in Italy’s beloved Cinque Terre but unsure where to begin? Fortunately, this Cinque Terre travel guide covers the details of the five Cinque Terre villages to help you select the best town for your travel style. It will also help you find the best Cinque Terre accommodation for your budget, so whether you seek a spacious Cinque Terre hotel or a cozy apartment with a view, this Cinque Terre guide has it all! #cinqueterrewheretostay #monterosso #vernazza #riomaggiore

Manarola Pros:

  • Breathtaking harbor views
  • Relaxed vibes
  • Home to the Instagram-famous restaurant, Nessun Dorma

Manarola Cons:

  • Town can be a bit sleepy
  • Somewhat lacking in terms of activities
  • Can be eerily quiet at night

When I was originally researching the best Cinque Terre town to stay in, I was ultimately torn between Vernazza and Manarola.

From what I read, the views from each were equally spectacular, but Vernazza was the “rowdier” option of the two. Since I tend to prefer quieter environments, I actually leaned toward Manarola at first.

It wasn’t until I landed on a Tripadvisor forum where someone was complaining about Manarola’s extreme quiet in the evenings that I decided to reconsider.

While I’m all for chill vibes, this particular reviewer said that he was hushed and scolded by a local for speaking at a normal volume at the dinner table. Granted, he was eating at a restaurant located directly below this person’s window, but it was apparently a typical dinner time and he was (supposedly) speaking normally.

Needless to say, reading about that incident really stuck with me. Plus, since I couldn’t find anything equally troublesome from my Vernazza research, I ultimately decided to go with that.

Fortunately, I never regretted my decision to stay in Vernazza once.

So here’s the thing about Manarola.

Is it beautiful? Absolutely and undeniably.

Did it hold my attention? Not really.

I can’t quite put my finger on it, but Manarola didn’t capture me the way I had anticipated. While it arguably has one of the most beautiful harbor views of all the towns, it lacked that “wow” factor for me.

Now, I definitely don’t want to discourage you from staying in Manarola if you’re leaning that way. Plus, I know of more than one person who considers it to be the best Cinque Terre town, so this is obviously all subjective!

However, my purpose with this guide is to give you my honest impressions of all the Cinque Terre towns to help you better plan, even if those impressions don’t align with those of the masses (as they often don’t).

That all said, Manarola looks like a postcard and is extremely photogenic.

It also has a cute village, which you can see from above when you exit the train station.

Are you dreaming of staying in Italy’s beloved Cinque Terre but unsure where to begin? Fortunately, this Cinque Terre travel guide covers the details of the five Cinque Terre villages to help you select the best town for your travel style. It will also help you find the best Cinque Terre accommodation for your budget, so whether you seek a spacious Cinque Terre hotel or a cozy apartment with a view, this Cinque Terre guide has it all! #cinqueterrewheretostay #monterosso #vernazza #riomaggiore

However, I am purposefully emphasizing the word cute here, as Manarola is the second smallest of the villages and you definitely feel it.

While I personally found the village to be a bit lacking compared to some of the others, it certainly has plenty of charm.

In addition, Manarola is also home to Nessun Dorma, one of my favorite restaurants along the Cinque Terre.

The Bottom Line

Postcard-worthy Manarola is as beautiful as it appears in photographs. If you prefer a slower vibe and quiet evenings with the bonus of an Instagram-famous restaurant mixed in, Manarola just may be the best Cinque Terre town for you.

Riomaggiore

Travel Style: You love staying busy, nightlife is your jam, and you’re always chasing Insta-famous views.

Are you dreaming of staying in Italy’s beloved Cinque Terre but unsure where to begin? Fortunately, this Cinque Terre travel guide covers the details of the five Cinque Terre villages to help you select the best town for your travel style. It will also help you find the best Cinque Terre accommodation for your budget, so whether you seek a spacious Cinque Terre hotel or a cozy apartment with a view, this Cinque Terre guide has it all! #cinqueterrewheretostay #monterosso #vernazza #riomaggiore

Riomaggiore Pros:

  • Great nightlife (if that’s your thing)
  • Most photogenic harbor of all five towns
  • Lively vibe

Riomaggiore Cons:

  • Loud nightlife (if that’s not your thing)
  • Tends to draw massive crowds to its Insta-famous harbor area
  • Long walk from the tunnel at the train station into town

Riomaggiore has the largest population of the five towns, with over 1,500 residents who call it home.

This town was one of the biggest surprises to me, but unfortunately, not exactly in a positive way.

While many claim that Riomaggiore is one of the most peaceful options of the five villages, my husband and I had a completely different experience here.

In fact, it was the one town where we felt overwhelmed by tourists and didn’t have a desire to visit more than once.

While Riomaggiore may have been under the radar in years past, the secret is certainly out now! The harbor area, in particular, has gained tremendous notoriety on Instagram, and the crowds that congregate here are proof of that.

PRO TIP: If you want to take pictures by the harbor without people in them, you’ll need to get here early, ideally around sunrise. We arrived around 10AM from Vernazza and the harbor area was mobbed.

However, while I didn’t necessarily have the best first experience here, I know multiple people who consider Riomaggiore to be the best Cinque Terre town.

And there’s a common link between every single one of them – they’ve all based themselves here!

This brings me to a theory that I’ve developed about the Cinque Terre…

I believe that whatever town you base yourself in – regardless of which one it is – will become your favorite (or at least one of them).

While I obviously have no documented proof of this, I’ve definitely discerned a pattern with people developing a preference for the town they spend the night in.

Here’s why I think there’s validity to this argument.

The Cinque Terre has undoubtedly become a tourist destination and is no longer the hidden gem it (presumably) once was.

However, there’s a silver lining.

Many tourists skip the overnight stay in Cinque Terre and opt to do a day trip from a larger city like Florence instead.

In these cases, they tend to arrive in one of the towns in the late morning/early afternoon and leave in the early evening around sundown (when many tour groups depart).

Fortunately, this can be your lucky break as an overnight visitor because you’ll have access to whatever village you’re staying in at all hours. This includes early morning and after sundown when the crowds have thinned.

And I definitely don’t think I’m alone in saying that I prefer my surroundings without a crowd!

Are you dreaming of staying in Italy’s beloved Cinque Terre but unsure where to begin? Fortunately, this Cinque Terre travel guide covers the details of the five Cinque Terre villages to help you select the best town for your travel style. It will also help you find the best Cinque Terre accommodation for your budget, so whether you seek a spacious Cinque Terre hotel or a cozy apartment with a view, this Cinque Terre guide has it all! #cinqueterrewheretostay #monterosso #vernazza #riomaggiore

For this reason, I think it’s easy to become enamored with whatever town you wake up and go to bed in because you can truly enjoy it without a lot of noise and distractions.

That all said, the main thing that surprised me about Riomaggiore was the harbor area. Frankly, I had built up really, really high expectations from seeing it all over Instagram and it fell a bit short for me in person.

While the harbor is certainly beautiful with its iconic colors, it actually felt a lot smaller in real life than I was expecting.

Are you dreaming of staying in Italy’s beloved Cinque Terre but unsure where to begin? Fortunately, this Cinque Terre travel guide covers the details of the five Cinque Terre villages to help you select the best town for your travel style. It will also help you find the best Cinque Terre accommodation for your budget, so whether you seek a spacious Cinque Terre hotel or a cozy apartment with a view, this Cinque Terre guide has it all! #cinqueterrewheretostay #monterosso #vernazza #riomaggiore

I think this is because many of the pictures taken here are captured with a wide angle lens, making the harbor appear larger than it is in reality.

However, I think it’s one of the most photogenic spots along the Cinque Terre, without a doubt. Just keep in mind that it may not exactly live up to expectations, especially if you visit during a busier time of day.

The Bottom Line

Riomaggiore is the Instagrammer’s paradise. If you prefer a harbor area with a lot of action and exciting nightlife, this is probably the town for you.

How to Coordinate Your Stay in the Cinque Terre

Another subject of confusion I faced when planning our trip was how to organize our stay.

In case you’re somewhat unfamiliar with the Cinque Terre, it’s important to know that the towns are pedestrian-only. While some people prefer to keep a car in a lot outside of the villages, I personally think that having a vehicle is an unnecessary hassle and expense while visiting.

That said, I was uncertain whether to book a stay in several different villages and then hike between them each day or to base ourselves in one town.

Now that I’ve experienced the Cinque Terre for myself, I can say without hesitation that it makes much more sense to choose one village as your home base.

You can then branch out from there and visit the other villages easily via train or by hiking.

Although my initial concern was that the hikes would take a day or more to complete, they actually can be covered in around 90 minutes or less.

In addition, you also have the option of taking the train back for the reverse trip, provided you stick to the train schedule.

When to Book Your Stay in the Cinque Terre

One of the mistakes I made while planning this trip was waiting too long to book our stay.

I had no idea just how competitive it was to get a place within one of the five towns.

The reason for this is that the majority of properties you’ll find along the Cinque Terre are locally-owned, self-catering apartments and there’s a very limited number of them.

However, there are more options if you decide to book something outside of the villages in La Spezia and then take the train into the towns each day.

That said, I think the novelty of staying directly in one of the storybook towns is one of the most special aspects of this trip, not to mention the convenience factor.

However, much to my surprise, most of the places I was interested in were already fully booked when I was finally ready to pull the trigger. Fortunately, I got lucky and found something on a whim about two weeks before our trip.

So if you’re also looking to stay in one of the five towns, I recommend booking your accommodations several months in advance to be secure.

What If You Misjudge What the Best Cinque Terre Town Is?

I realize that this may sound silly, but I legitimately had a fear of selecting the “wrong” town to stay in and regretting my decision.

Since this was our first trip to the Cinque Terre and it had been on my list for so long, I wanted everything to be perfect.

Well, if you’re at all concerned about this as well, let me tell you what I wish someone had told me: There is no wrong choice.

Ultimately, even if you don’t end up favoring the town you stay in, you can still have a perfectly wonderful time.

In the worst case scenario, you visit all the towns and then spend the majority of your time in whichever one you like best. In fact, you can literally hop on a train and be in a new town within minutes, so it’s really as simple as that!

Honestly, despite my goal of helping you make an informed decision about where to stay, my best advice is to not overthink it!

Go with your gut. That’s what I did and it worked out for me.

Plus, realistically, even if I had gone with Manarola, I still would’ve had a fantastic trip and probably would’ve spent additional time in my favorite town of Vernazza.

In any case, I sincerely hope that this guide has helped you determine the best Cinque Terre town for you.

Since I’ve covered a lot of information in this post, here are some key takeaways:

  1. There’s no one-size-fits-all “best” Cinque Terre town.
  2. It’s best to select one town as your home base and then venture out from there.
  3. Consider your travel style and select a home base that most closely matches it.
  4. Don’t overthink your decision. Go with your gut.
  5. Book your accommodations a few months in advance to ensure you secure the property you want.

Regardless of where you ultimately decide to stay, I wish you a wonderful adventure in the Cinque Terre!

Have you ever visited this region of northern Italy before? What do you consider to be the best Cinque Terre town? Let me know in the comments below!

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Are you dreaming of staying in Italy’s beloved Cinque Terre but unsure where to begin? Fortunately, this Cinque Terre travel guide covers the details of the five Cinque Terre villages to help you select the best town for your travel style. It will also help you find the best Cinque Terre accommodation for your budget, so whether you seek a spacious Cinque Terre hotel or a cozy apartment with a view, this Cinque Terre guide has it all! #cinqueterrewheretostay #monterosso #vernazza #riomaggiore
Are you dreaming of staying in Italy’s beloved Cinque Terre but unsure where to begin? Fortunately, this Cinque Terre travel guide covers the details of the five Cinque Terre villages to help you select the best town for your travel style. It will also help you find the best Cinque Terre accommodation for your budget, so whether you seek a spacious Cinque Terre hotel or a cozy apartment with a view, this Cinque Terre guide has it all! #cinqueterrewheretostay #monterosso #vernazza #riomaggiore
Are you dreaming of staying in Italy’s beloved Cinque Terre but unsure where to begin? Fortunately, this Cinque Terre travel guide covers the details of the five Cinque Terre villages to help you select the best town for your travel style. It will also help you find the best Cinque Terre accommodation for your budget, so whether you seek a spacious Cinque Terre hotel or a cozy apartment with a view, this Cinque Terre guide has it all! #cinqueterrewheretostay #monterosso #vernazza #riomaggiore