Cinque Terre

Photo of Cinque Terre

About Cinque Terre

The Cinque Terre is a collection of five fishing villages on a dramatically rocky stretch of the Italian coast. They’re a pastel-coloured spectacle, built, incredibly, like stacked Dolly Mixture squares, into the rocky cliffs and headlands, with misty, purplish hills behind them and a Klein blue sea beneath. Since 1997 these villages and the area surrounding them has been a World Heritage Site, and more recently the area has been made car-free too, so the villages are now only linked by wonderfully winding paths along the clifftops, or by the old train line which cuts through the rock. There's a good range of accommodation options to be had here too from charming agriturismo and guesthouses, to luxury hotels perched atop cliffs and with stunning seaviews. Our pick of the best places to stay in the Cinque Terre covers most bases and has something to suit all budgets.

It’s not just the five towns and the cliffs between La Spezia and Levanto that are protected, it’s also the surrounding hills and the corresponding marine region on the other side of the cliffs. On the land side are ancient stone walls and terraces built over millennia, olive grove-cloaked valleys and dry, stoney vineyards, among which you’ll find some welcome agriturismo and farmhouses converted into hotels, which are conveniently spaced for walkers of all standards. But we recommend that you spend some of your time staying in the villages themselves, which is where you’ll find the majority of the best places to stay in the Cinque Terre.

The higgledy-piggledy nature of the houses and lack of motorised transport really does make it feel as if you’ve travelled to a different time, as well as a different place. If you wanted to you could probably walk between all five towns in about six hours, but it would be a real rush, and most people plan to take two or three days. For more information on the routes, check out Walkopedia.

Where to Stay - Which Village?

  • At the very start of the Cinque Terre, La Spezia is often overlooked by those exploring the area because this is where you’ll find Italy’s largest naval base. But the base isn’t in the town proper, which is a collection of pastel-coloured houses hugging a sloping, palm-limed coastline, and arranged around a quintessentially Italian Old Town of winding, cobbled streets. In the very centre of town is a 13th century castle, and just below it is a marble-fronted basilica built in the 15th century. La Spezia’s period as a Roman trading town is a large feature of several of the town’s museums, and there are some fantastic art galleries too. So don’t be put off by the naval base.
  • Riomaggiore is a great base if you're going to explore the region on foot and you want to stay somewhere where you can wake up and start walking. From here the route takes you to Manarola, then it's two days — or a few hours if you're feeling energetic and it's not too hot — to Monterosso. Riomaggiore is the largest of the Cinque Terre villages, but, like its neighbours, it’s very steep, with a charming main street and a tiny, but pretty, harbour and marina, which is one of the region’s most photographed views.
  • If you like peace and quiet then Manarola is the village for you. Most people just walk through, because it’s only 852 metres away from Riomaggiore, so in the evenings you'll have the place largely to yourself. This is also one of the best places to stay if you enjoy painting. The locals are big on art, and there's a wonderful art gallery featuring paintings mainly of the five towns of the Cinque Terre. Manarola is also known for its sweet wine, and for its medieval relics, which support their claim to be the ‘original village’.
  • Corniglia is another quieter choice, it’s the highest of the villages, sitting 100 metres above the water and surrounded by vineyards on terraces. Corniglia doesn’t have a proper harbour or direct sea access, you have to navigate its rather steep steps to get to a rock cove by the water. There are two pristine beaches that glitter welcomingly in rocky coves on either side of the promontory, though. The alleys here are narrow, and to get to town from the station you need to climb 377 steps.
  • Vernazza is the steepest, and, for many, the most picturesque of the five towns and one of the best places to stay if you're a photographer. It's the only one with a harbour that offers a reliable landing point, and thus has been a working fishing village for around a thousand years. There's an ancient castle overlooking the colourful houses clinging to the cliffside, and an impressive church overlooking the cove and harbour. The town has grown wealthy from fishing and olive farming, and you can see the wealth in the elegance of the houses. Vernazza is also probably the best place for foodies. Apparently some of the world's best olive oil is produced here.
  • Last of the Cinque Terre towns, and most accessible by car, Monterosso is also the only one with a proper beach and large, fancy hotels, so it’s more suited for a resort style holiday. Monterosso’s beaches are lovely, and there’s nothing better than enjoying the town’s culinary specialities, lemons and anchovies, in a beachside restaurant.
  • Levanto is a larger seaside resort at the proper border of the region. You can reach the villages by train from here, or by boat, and it’s also got its own medieval castle, a 13th century Gothic church, an appealing town centre and safe, sandy beaches, so it’s a good option families.

As with much of Italy, this area is incredibly busy during the peak summer months, so if you want to guarantee your room in one of the best places to stay in the Cinque Terre, we'd recommend you get organised and book well ahead.

The Best Places to Stay in the Cinque Terre

For a great view

  • Small, stylish and contemporary, the best thing about the Hotel Marina Piccola has to be the view, across to the marina at Manarola. Though that’s saying quite a bit because the 13 modern rooms with their exposed original stonework, carefully chosen furniture and mod. cons., are really comfortable, the seafood restaurant specialising in Ligurian cuisine is excellent, and it’s got a fantastic terrace with views.
  • The Grand Hotel Portovenere is a grand hotel converted from a monastery right on the harbour of Portovenere. Most of its 56 rooms and rather grand suites have sea views, as does the elegant bar and innovative restaurant, which has a spectacular verandah overlooking the water. The decor is stylish and contemporary, with some really lovely individualised features in the suites. Perfect if you’re looking for somewhere luxurious and romantic.

For a Hideaway

  • Nestled into the hills above Levanto and its valley, La Sosta di Ottone III is a six room hotel with lots of charm and incredible views. The rooms are all individually decorated, some in quite a traditional style, some quite contemporary. As well as the views the other big draw of La Sosta is the Chef and Sommelier, who has previously worked in Michelin-starred restaurants and offers personalised cooking classes to interested guests.

For a beach hotel

  • Charming, in an old fashioned way, the Hotel Porto Roca is in a stunning location on the cliffs above the vineyards of Monterosso, looking out onto the bay from most of the 40 bedrooms — a pleasure that their large balconies make all the easier. The pool terrace has an incredible Mediterranean views too, jolly yellow and white umbrellas and the terraced restaurant is a picture with white wrought iron and bougainvillea and every table looks straight out to sea.

For Families

  • The Palazzo Vannoni is a beautifully restored historic villa in the elegant old heart of Levanto. There are just 11 rooms and suites, all of a good size, but the family suites are especially spacious, and they’ve all been modernised to a minimalist standard, except for the wonderful original frescoes, which have been beautifully restored, whether they grace the walls or the ceiling. Levanto isn’t in the Cinque Terre, but this hotel is five minutes from the train station, from which it’s about another ten or 15minutes to the Cinque Terre towns.
  • The Agriturismo Villanova is a rustic B&B that looks more like a villa than a converted farmhouse. It has just nine rooms, suites and self-catering apartments. It’s the apartments that occupy the farmhouse building, and these are the rooms we recommend for families. There’s plenty of space, indoors and out, and large, lush gardens complete with a play area and tennis courts. The location is back from the coast, just outside Levanto.
  • Le Ville Relais is a friendly, 12 room hotel that overlooks La Spezia and the ocean beyond. The rooms are light and spacious, with charming original features and some nice antiques. The infinity pool is a real highlight, offering incredible views over the water, and there’s a great little restaurant serving regional classics.

For great value

  • La Madonnetta, is a small B&B on the hills overlooking the Tyrrhenian Sea and Levanto. There are only eight rooms and suites, which brim with historic charm and pretty detailing, and many of them have sea views. They offer a Continental breakfast on the verandah, which also overlooks the water. You’re not within the Cinque Terre, but you’re only a couple of miles away.
  • For great value in one of the Cinque Terre towns consider the Ca' D'Andrean, a traditional hotel with ten rooms, most of which overlook the Ligurian Sea. The decor is pleasantly simple, with pale tiled floors and white walls, and there’s a lovely, tranquil garden terrace with lemon trees and places to sit outside.
  • On a hill behind Monterosso, the Hotel Suisse Bellevue has wonderful sea views which encompass the pretty houses of Monterosso and all the way across the bay. There are just 30 rooms and suites, decorated in a simple manner, and the best have private balconies. The hotel has a private beach, gardens and a wonderful sun terrace. There’s no restaurant but they do offer breakfast.

Prefer an apartment or villa?

  • If you’d prefer to stay in an apartment or private villa we recommend you visit our online partner, booking.com.

Travel information

  • Depending on where you’re travelling from Pisa International Airport, Florence Airport and Genoa Airport are all convenient. From the airport head towards La Spezia or Levanto on the train, and from either of those stations you can catch the Cinque Terre Express, which stops at all five towns: Monterosso, Corniglia, Vernazza, Manarola and Riomaggiore.
  • If you’re thinking about hiring a car we recommend checking what our online partners, Rentalcars have to offer.
  • Unfortunately the Cinque Terre is no longer the under explored treasure it was 30-odd years ago, and these days, especially during the summer months, the trails, and the train, between the towns can be busy. Many people come by for the day, so if you opt to stay in the towns you’ll at least experience quieter evenings, but if you’re planning a trip in July or August you should steel yourself for crowds. May and June are quieter, as are September and October, but the long, warm hours of sunshine are still very appealing, so it’s definitely worth booking in advance. Winter in the Cinque Terre is very beautiful, and it’s worth considering travelling at this time, though the days are obviously shorter.

Still not sure?

Weather

Monthly Weather in Cinque Terre

Best Hotels in Cinque Terre

  • Hotel Porto Roca Monterosso al Mare, Cinque Terre 40 rooms from £156

    Views  -  Stunning views over the bay of Monterosso
    Swimming Pool  -  Lovely Outdoor Pool
    Traditional
    Seaside  -  Ideal for a seaside holiday.

    Charming old fashioned hotel in the Cinque Terre. Stunning views from every bedroom most with a large balcony. Relax on a lounger by the pool and pretend you're part of the Portofino set. See More

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  • Agriturismo Villanova Levanto, Cinque Terre 9 rooms from £78

    Families  -  Lovely place for children with a play area, tennis courts and gardens, and with the coast just a short drive away
    Cooking classes  -  Villanova offers 1 day cooking classes in traditional Ligurian cuisine
    Great walks  -  Wide choice of paths that lead from Levanto to Cinque Terre
    Surfing  -  Great surf beaches and rental in Levanto
    Recommended by  -  Sawdays

    B&B villa. Rooms have rustic furnishings with wrought iron beds, terracotta tiled floors and pretty fabrics. Apartments are in separate farmhouse, very secluded. Breakfast is served in charming dining room or sunny terrace. Children's playground, making a wonderful choice for young families. See More

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  • Ca'D'Andrean Cinque Terre 10 rooms from £126

    Hideaway  -  Quiet location, views over the sea from the lemon tree garden, walkable seafood restaurants and the other Cinque Terre villages
    Great walks  -  Walks between the Cinque Terre villages; path between Corniglia and Vernazza has olive groves, rosemary and vines
    Sailing  -  Can be booked nearby.
    Local markets  -  Good for local colour.
    Recommended by  -  Fodors

    A traditional hotel overlooking the Ligurian sea. Charming, light-filled rooms with views and all the modcons. Lemon trees in the garden terrace add to the tranquil atmosphere. An ideal spot to explore the Cinque Terre villages and enjoy the scenery. Basic, but excellently positioned. See More

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  • Hotel Suisse Bellevue Cinque Terre 30 rooms from £130

    Hideaway  -  Outstanding views over the Cinque Terre, plenty of beaches and surf spots to explore, walking paths and fresh seafood
    Sights nearby  -  Fegina Beach, Monterosso Beach, and Vernazza Beach, Bonassola Beach and Porticciolo Di Framura.
    Views  -  Wonderful views over the Ligurian Sea
    Seaside  -  Ideal for a seaside holiday.

    A charming hotel overlooking Ligurian sea. Rooms are delightfully simple, some with balconies, all with new bathrooms and brightly painted walls. Stunning views across the bay. Private beach, gardens and sun terrace to enjoy. A perfect choice for a beach break. See More

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  • Hotel Marina Piccola Cinque Terre 13 rooms from £130

    Beach Life  -  Beaches, coastal walks with aloe and prickly pear plants. Fresh seafood throughout the 5 villages and stunning views
    Sights nearby  -  From Manarola, head to Punto Bonfiglio. Find a pretty park with a summer bar and children's play area
    Great walks  -  The coastal path which links all five villages is a wonderful route
    Views  -  Great views from hotel

    A contemporary chic hotel with bags of style in Cinque Terre. Rooms are modern with exposed bricks, white lines and all the mod cons. Excellent Liguirian cuisine in the seafood restaurant and stunning sea views. Beaches and other villages walking distance away. Perfect for a beach holiday. See More

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  • Grand Hotel Portovenere Cinque Terre 56 rooms from £167

    Beach Life  -  The area is known for its charming coastal villages, pristine waters, beaches and marine reserves, an ideal coastal retreat
    Cooking classes  -  Do one of the cooking classes arranged by the hotel and learn to make fresh pasta and pesto sauce or its famous tiramisù
    Views  -  Great views from hotel
    Sailing  -  Can be booked nearby.

    A grand hotel in a former monastery overlooking the harbour. The light-filled rooms are furnished in elegant fabrics and smart contemporary fittings. Expect innovative cuisine at the atmospheric restaurant on a spectacular verandah overlooking the sea. A luxurious harbourside base! See More

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  • La Sosta di Ottone III Cinque Terre 6 rooms from £200

    Good wine list  -  Chef and Sommelier Luca Palmero Scatena joined in 2013
    Cooking classes  -  Luca Palmero Scatena offers 'jam sessions'; personalised cooking classes to guests based on their interests and experience
    Sights nearby  -  The perfect base for exploring the villages that make up the Cinque Terre
    Views  -  Stunning views over the Levanto Valley towards the Med
    Recommended by  -  Sawdays

    Nestled in the Levanto Valley, La Sosta offers traditional & contemporary rooms with exposed wooden beams and stonework alongside incredible views of the Mediterranean Sea. Soak up the local history and sights or simply relax on the terrace and enjoy the culinary excellence of Luca Palmero Scatena. See More

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