Backpacking Cinque Terre Part 1: Where To Stay

Cinque Terre is a gorgeous part of the world that relatively few backpackers visit. I admit, I hadn’t really heard much about it before my trip. But when you see photos of these five picturesque AF towns by the sea…

Manarola, Cinque Terre

Riomaggiore, Cinque Terre

You have to go, right?

So here I am, ready to show you how to do it!

I’ve split this guide into two posts – where to stay and what to do. As the first part is deciding where you’re actually going to stay, today I’m going to tell you your options.

Cinque Terre is fairly small so accommodation choices aren’t abundant. But you definitely have options!

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1) Do A Day Trip From A Big City

If you’re staying in nearby cities such as Pisa or Florence, there are frequent day trips to the Cinque Terre. They usually involve a quick pit stop in each of the five towns so it’s ideal if you’re low on time but still want to see this area.

A drawback to this option is that you can’t really escape the tour groups because you’re in one…

Vernazza Crowds

And it’ll be quite a whirlwind tour. But it’s great if you don’t have too much time spare.

Bella Italia Tours do a great Cinque Terre day tour for €79. Check it out here.

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2) Stay In Cinque Terre

Your second option is to stay in one of the five towns and explore the region from within it. Riomaggiore is the largest of the Cinque Terre destinations and has the most budget options out of the five, so I decided to stay in a hostel there.

I wasn’t too sure what to expect from my stay at Mar Mar Hostel, and it was definitely a unique experience. Rather than your conventional hostel set-up, this was more of an apartment that was renting out beds. So it had 10 beds set across 3 bedrooms with a large kitchen and terrace. The beds were singles and had a lot of room compared to a hostel dorm room so it definitely felt more spacious and homely.

Mar Mar Hostel, Riomaggiore

Mar Mar Hostel, Riomaggiore

It also had more of a community vibe as it had so few guests. So it was nice to hang out with everyone on the terrace in the evening.

Speaking of the terrace, views don’t get much better than this.

Mar Mar Hostel, Riomaggiore

Mar Mar Hostel, Riomaggiore

And location-wise you’re right in the thick it, above Riomaggiore’s bars and restaurants and a stone’s throw from the marina. The price for a night in Mar Mar Hostel is €25.

A plus to staying in Cinque Terre itself, is that most of the day’s tourists leave at night. So you get a version of Cinque Terre you wouldn’t normally see. A beautifully peaceful walk through the town, a spectacular sunset over the water and a more authentic view of the local life.

Riomaggiore at Night

Negatives are that hostels are so rare in Cinque Terre with Mar Mar only housing 10 guests! It also means that you’re quite restricted in the evenings as there’s not much nightlife in the towns themselves.

However, if you’re travelling solo and want to explore Cinque Terre in more depth, this is a great budget option.

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3) Stay In The Neighbouring Towns Of La Spezia Or Levanto

This is a popular choice with most Cinque Terre visitors. It gives you the ability to visit the region by train (which takes just a couple of minutes), but you still get to stay in a bigger town with more going on.

I stayed in Levanto at La Francesca.

La Francesca, LevantoLa Francesca, Levanto

La Francesca is a resort full of villas right on the edge of town and I was lucky enough to be invited to stay there for a couple of days. The resort was accessible to Levanto via a walk through a well-lit tunnel, and in turn accessible to Cinque Terre on the train.

La Francesca, LevantoAlthough this sounds like a bit of a mission, I really felt like this gave me the best of both worlds. I got to be close enough to explore Cinque Terre at my own pace, discover the beautiful town of Levanto with its world-famous Pizza and delicious gelato, and then come back to a peaceful and secluded villa!

La Francesca, LevantoLa Francesca, LevantoLa Francesca, Levanto

The villa itself was quite basic but was everything I needed on this kind of trip – comfy bed, gorgeous views of the sea, hot showers and croissants for breakfast!

La Francesca, LevantoLa Francesca, Levantohttp://www.villaggilafrancesca.it/en/La Francesca, Levanto

It also has a ‘Dirty Dancing’ vibe with its retro 60’s facades and camp signs!

La Francesca, LevantoLa Francesca, LevantoLa Francesca, Levanto

La Francesca, Levanto

You should be aware though that this is what I call ‘real nature’. I saw a few snakes and lizards, was bitten alive by Mosquitos and had to do a gruelling trek up the hill from the tunnel and my villa. Don’t worry, you forget all this when you see the view, just bring bug spray, yeah?

La Francesca, LevantoLa Francesca, LevantoLa Francesca, Levanto

The villas are a little pricer compared to the hostel option if you’re travelling solo, but I think this is the way to go if there’s two or more of you in a group. Prices are always changing but right now it is under £50 a night for a 2-person villa. Check out latest prices here.

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So there you have it, your three accommodation options when it comes to visiting Cinque Terre!

Stay tuned for ‘Backpacking Cinque Terre Part 2: What To Do’ for your guide on these five gorgeous coastal villages. Leave a comment below if you have any questions about where to stay in Cinque Terre, or tweet me @HeelsInBackpack!

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