When we were planning for our trip to Cinque Terre, one of the challenges was deciding on where to stay. Choosing your accommodation in Cinque Terre depends on several factors: budget, objective of the trip, time of visit, and where you are coming from or heading to.
While becoming a very popular tourists’ destination, Cinque Terre remains traditional and primitive in many ways. There is almost no sign of first world technology, neither should you expect any form of luxury and convenience. But this is precisely what reiterates the essence of Cinque Terre, and every climb to the next terrace speaks of an unadulterated joy that hikers and all other visitors indulge in; the feeling of overlooking the Ligurian Sea that is dotted with colourful villages is a priceless reward, and one experience so humbling that it is little wonder people from all over the world flock to this star of Italy for a vacation. Here is a guide on planning for your stay in Cinque Terre, including the pros and cons of staying at each village.
For a start, Cinque Terre has five main villages – Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza and Monterosso. If you are traveling in a big group or with elders, Monterosso is the most tourist-friendly spot because the land is flat, and unlike the other four villages, there are no steep slopes and long stairs.
Monterosso has a resort feel to boast, and if a beach getaway is what you are looking for, go ahead and book a room or apartment here. However, it is also perhaps the most touristy of all villages, and lacks that unspoken Cinque Terre vibe.
Corniglia is perched on the highest ground, and getting there requires you to take a little hike of 365 steps upon exiting the train station before you reach the town. Manarola and Riomaggiore have their fair share of steps too, and though not as physically-demanding as Corniglia’s, these two villages are directly connected to the towns with some stairways and long walking paths.
We would suggest staying at Vernazza. Less the part about it being our favourite among all five villages, it is relatively easier to lug your luggage’s around (as compared to Manarola, Corniglia, and Riomaggoire). After exiting the train station, you would immediately find yourself at the entrance of the town. Accommodations here are much more accessible, too.
Alternatives include staying in Levanto (which comes with an equally gorgeous beach) and La Spezia – where it is significantly cheaper and more convenient without all the crazy climbing. The only hassle is the train frequency – there are mostly only one to two trains every hour. Otherwise, it is a quick 10-minute train ride to the heart of Cinque Terre wherever you crave the magnificent views of the iconic colourful houses perched on the cliffs.
During our trip, we put up at Hotel Punta Mesco – a small property that is just a stone’s throw away from the station. It was nothing luxurious, but was nothing short of comfortable and sufficient. A clean room that is tidied up daily, complete with stable and unlimited wifi, and breakfast is also provided every morning.
A tip for travelers: the peak period is between April and October, so do book your accommodation way in advance to secure a roof over your head. Choices are not aplenty to begin with, and the majority of the hotels are not listed on booking websites. The usual way is to book directly from the respective properties’ websites or to write in for their availability.
If you go during the off-peak season (November to March), expect a sleepy town with limited options for both lodging and food.