The Complete Guide: Cinque Terre & Monterosso Al Mare

Cinque Terre  or “Five Lands” is in the Northwest region of Italy along the Italian Rivieria. It's a National Park with winding trails through vineyards and along the stunning coast of the Mediterranean.  You've definitely seen pictures of the famous colored buildings!  It's one of my favorite places we've visited because of the scenery and hiking!  Since we've been twice, I decided I could give you some good recommendations.  

You can find specifics about the hiking trails in my post here.

The Villages:

Monterosso Al Mare

 It has a great beach and a fun vibe here!  There's tons of options for dining and lodging because of the two different sections. The two sections, the “new” part, where the beach is and some trendier restaurants by the water.  This is the spot if you want to swim or just soak up the sun under one of those classic striped umbrellas! The second area is the “old town”.  There's also a smaller beach on this side, but the restaurants and shops are tucked back away from the shore.  We enjoyed eating in the old town the most!  The food felt more authentic to us and by far our best meals were here! The prices were lower as well!  But it just depends on what you want! 



Most people's favorite village! It's very picturesque and there's plenty to do and see!  I don't know why, but I don't love Vernazza, but it makes for great photos!


In my opinion, the most underrated village.  Yes it's small, but that also means it's often not as crowded as some of the more popular villages.  We had lunch at this little tiny sandwich place to refuel after our hike and it was so tasty!  You have to climb many steps from the train station, but if you're coming from the trail, you'll just come down the hill to the village.



My favorite village! I love the vibe here!  It gets crowded because it's so popular, but for a good reason!  The water against the backdrop of the colorful houses on the cliff is just gorgeous!  



This is not one of the "official" 5, however, it's worth stopping here for a quick break! A quaint little village you'll pass through on the Blue Trail coming into Manarola (from Corniglia).   We were hiking with friends and stopped here to have lunch and rest our legs.  It's so quiet, but awesome because we weren't fighting the main lunch crowd down in Manarola!  There's also a little market we stopped through a few times to grab some snacks and lemon sodas (so good)!  



I have probably spent the least amount of time here, not sure why! I think it's because we were just starting our hikes, so we were excited to get started and didn't linger.

How many nights?  

I recommend 3-6 nights.  This place is kind of our jam, so we stayed for 6 and loved it, with our last day doing a day trip to Portofino.  I think this is the type of place that you won't fully appreciate if you just do day trip.  I recommend 3 nights if you less of a hiker, but you still want to experience this place!  

Where to stay?  

Monterosso.  We stayed at Marvit Affitta Camere (both trips) and loved everything about it.  Modest accommodations, but excellent service and cleanliness.  Off the beaten path was a plus for us!   It’d also fun to rent an apartment in one of the other towns, like Manarola or Riomaggiore. and you can easily take the train between towns! The ride is about 10-15 minutes!  I think it'd be fun to stay in one of the other towns, we just loved this place so much!

On the hiking trail

Where to Eat (Monterosso Al Mare)

Emy's We loved this place!  We met Emy, and he is hilarious!  I recommend the pesto pizza!  When we finished eating, let us taste some of his homemade Limoncello (Cinque Terre is famous for it’s fresh lemons)!  Wow it was good!  He closes when he runs out of food, so you might want to try to get there a little earlier or go for lunch!   

L'Osteria  right next door to Emy's a slightly finer dining experience and excellent food!

 La Cantina Di Miky  Eat here for being right on the water and pinch yourself that you're really in this beautiful place!  

 Slurp Gelato.  My favorite flavor was the Crema 5 Terre.  It's a lemon cookie flavor and I was hooked!

Some Cinque Terre specialties: Limoncello, pesto and seafood.   They are all so fresh here, you won't regret these tasty treats!

Honestly, every place we picked in the old town was great!  I recommend just getting a spot in a little alley way, you'll sit close to other guests and make some new friends!  We met a great group on our last night and talked about how much we loved this place!  To me, that’s what travel is all about, meeting amazing locals or other tourists and getting a little glimpse of their lifestyle and hearing their stories!

Which Hikes?  

If you are really short on time, I recommend doing at least Monterosso to Vernazza, and Corniglia to Manarola is my absolute favorite (and the toughest)!

Happy Adventuring!


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