Nobody could claim that the Cinque Terre is undiscovered, but it’s still a magical part of the Italian coast. Cars are banned from entering Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore, so the best way to explore this nostalgic national park is by train or on foot. The simple, friendly guesthouses here are infused with the spirit of Liguria and wedged into narrow streets that plummet to historic harbours. Book your stay now with Culture Trip.
A celestial fresco rises over the stairway in the swankiest room in this handsome old house in Monterosso al Mare, but it’s the part-shaded rooftop terrace that elevates Locanda il Maestrale. Sit back on a lounger, flick through a guidebook with a spritzer in the shade, or just soak up the village views, then slip away to tasteful rooms decorated in bright, sunshiney colours.
A fragrant Italian garden envelops this pink-and-white 19th-century mansion in Monterosso al Mare. It’s on the hillside behind the seafront, set back from the beach bustle, and the neat, tiled bedrooms are calm, modern spaces to retreat to after jostling with the crowds to nab towel space on the sand. The buffet breakfasts feature local cheeses and charcuterie, and the garden comes into its own at sunset, which is best enjoyed alongside a glass of sweet local Sciacchetrà wine.
Agriturismo Buranco casts a watchful eye over Monterosso al Mare from a lush green vantage point on the hillside, ringed by cascading grapevines. Split between the vineyard and an old home in Monterosso al Mare, rooms are bright and elegant, with exposed ceiling beams, but you’ll probably spend more time on the bucolic terrace admiring the views. Guests can sample all sorts of farm-produced treats as part of home-cooked tasting menus.
Riomaggiore is stacked almost perpendicular to the harbour, and this snug guesthouse is right in the heart of things, just 20m (66ft) back from the waves. Rooms and apartments at this hotel in Riomaggiore are uncluttered and functional, with wooden floors, stylish bathrooms and eye-popping views of the harbour dropping away in front of you. Friendly local staff complete the Cinque Terre picture.
Rising over a sea-sculpted stretch of cliffs, Hanging Garden does indeed seem to float magically above the Cinque Terre coast. There are two self-contained apartments with all the mod cons – fast wifi, flat-screen TVs, new kitchens and icy air conditioning – set in a tall yellow house, just a gentle stroll from Corniglia or an easy shuttle bus ride in the opposite direction. It’s peaceful and private, and there are swoon-inducing sea views from many windows and the patio garden.
At the top of the village, beside the road plunging down to the harbour, Locanda Ca Da Iride serves up outdoor space with every room, from a pretty patio garden to a stylish flagstone terrace gazing longingly towards the sea. Rooms at this hotel in Riomaggiore are simple but decorated in appealing single colours, and the friendly owners go out of their way to immerse guests in the Cinque Terre experience.
Tiny Manarola is little more than a single road dropping down to a boat-filled harbour, where Arpaiu nestles into the cliffs, balanced perfectly above the ocean. This guarantees spectacular views over the sea and the rainbow-coloured fishing boats at the village quay. The breakfast terrace and bedrooms offer soaring vistas of a hazy sweep of coastline. Interiors are calm, white spaces with wooden floors and windows admitting the salty sea air.
Away from the hubbub this hotel in Riomaggiore, Cinqueterre Residence has an environmental ethos, based on saving energy and water. There’s also an onsite enoteca (wine shop), plus a sun-blessed terrace looking out over the village’s pretty cascade of houses, where you can crack open a bottle. Tidy, tiled rooms are daubed in bright, summery colours, and some have terraces – the apartment with its own private garden overlooking the village church is a dream.
The pastel-coloured village of Volastra is set high on the cliffs between Manarola and Corniglia, with commanding views over a blue swathe of sea. Set in a mustard-yellow, castle-shaped villa on the hillside, Luna di Marzo is topped by an expansive stone terrace and filled with spic-and-span bedrooms decorated in modern tones that make the most of the salty sea views. It’s a gentle 1km (0.6mi) walk downhill to Manarola; get back uphill on the bus.
Not found your ideal place to stay yet? Then look at the best hotels in the Cinque Terre, bookable now with Culture Trip. Make the most of your Italian holiday by venturing to nearby Florence, and book a stay in the city now.
Destinations Unlocked:Let our travel expert Stefano help you find your perfect Culture trip
Looking for an expert's perspective?Uncover my top 3 recommended places from each continent on the map.
1. GuatemalaAn express adventure for those with limited time off. Prepare yourself incredible experiences. You will hike a volcano, visit mayan temples and witness a ceremony and take in beautiful colonial Antigua.
2. BelizeA quick trip not too far away for those seeking a relaxing mini break. You will have plenty of free time to relax but also some awesome activities to experience the rainforest and the caribbean sea.
3. MexicoAn exciting mini trip exploring the lesser known colonial towns of central Mexico. This is hte perfect trip for someone with limited time off and still wants to turn on explorer mode and do something different.
1. EcuadorA remarkable 8 days adventure through the Andes and the Amazon rainforest. The best choice for adventure seekers wishing to visit the 2 most iconic areas of South America, in only 1 week and no flights.
2. PeruAn alternative itinerary to classic Peru, from Cusco to Arequipa. This itinerary is great combination of highlights Cusco and Machu Picchu with the lesser known Arequipa and Colca Canyon.
1. ItalyThe ultimate Italian experience from the vibrant streets of Naples to the breathtaking sceneries of the Amalfi Coast followed by Matera and down to Puglia with its golden beaches, intense flavours and fascinating destinations.
2. ScotlandEmbark on this great adventure starting from London all the way to Scotland with a true Scottish experience made of breathtaking sceneries, whisky tasting and ..lots of fun! Ideal for train lovers and explorers.
3. PortugalA wonderful train journey around Portugal, from the romantic city of Porto to the Douro Valley, to the beautiful Aveiro all the way to Lisbon and Sintra. The perfect trip to train, culinary and culture lovers.
1. South KoreaDiscover incredible temples, mountains and modern cities on this 10 day adventure. This trip is perfect for those seeking immersion in the cuisine, culture and natural wonders of South Korea.
2. ThailandFrom Bankgok to Angkor Wat to Ho Chi Minh City and everything in between - adventure through the heart of South-East Asia. Taste the delights, see history brought to life and unwind on a Mekong River cruise.
3. Sri LankaA fantastic adventure that showcases Sri Lanka's fantastic landscapes, wildlife and flavours. With 3 epic rail journeys, 3 UNESCO heritage sites and time to relax, this trip has loads to offer at a great price
1. MoroccoAn epic journey across Morocco: from Casablanca to Marrakech, through the blue city of Chefchaouen to the wonders of the desert and deep to the High Atlas Mountains - this trip has it all! Ideal for true explorers!
2. EgyptFrom Cairo to Aswan, this trip brings the land of the pharaohs to life. You'll visit the Pyramids, Valley of the Kings and Luxor Temple and cruise down the Nile in style. This is the perfect way to explore Egypt.
This is an updated rewrite of an article originally by Gillian McGuire.
Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip
meet our Local Insider
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.