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For as long as I’ve been working with Bianca, the founder of Italian Fix, there has been one question we’ve been asked more than any other about the Cinque Terre — which village should I stay in?

That’s because the Cinque Terre isn’t one single place. As you might have guessed from its name (Five Lands is the direct translation), the Cinque Terre is a collection of five small towns along the Italian Riviera:

1. Riomaggiore
2. Manarola
3. Corniglia
4. Vernazza
5. Monterosso

If you’re going to stay here, you’ve got to choose one.

But which Cinque Terre town is the best Cinque Terre town?

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best beaches cinque terre monterosso

If you’ve got the Italian Riviera on your bucket list, you’ve probably already pictured yourself luxuriating on the best beaches in the Cinque Terre, Aperol Spritz in hand, Mediterranean sun warming your salty skin.

Of course the Cinque Terre is famous for its multicolored tower-houses stacked on cliffsides, its terraced vineyards climbing the hills for miles, and its winding hiking trails connecting pretty villages.

But let’s face it — that sparkling, turquoise sea is a pretty huge draw!

Trust us, you want to be in this crystal clear water as much as humanly possible. It is heaven on earth.

The thing is, the Cinque Terre isn’t really known for its beaches.

Riomaggiore’s is a small, rocky cove; you can sun tan on the boat ramp in Manarola, or leap off of the stone outcrops that jut from the water there; Vernazza has a spit of sand at the foot of its main piazza and a scrabbly stretch of pebbles on the other side of one of its cliffs; and Corniglia is perched on a hilltop, so trekking down to the tiny marina there takes some doing. Only Monterosso has an extensive proper beach, with sun umbrellas, loungers, and a boardwalk.

Don’t get us wrong — these spots are still all Instagram-worthy and we love them.

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When I first came to the Cinque Terre fifteen years ago, it was the kind of place that you could show up to without a reservation. You found out about it by word of mouth, usually from another backpacker.

“Chinka Terra?”

“Chin-kweh. Trust me, you have to go.”

You were as likely then to end up chatting on the stone steps down at the marina with a new Italian friend, drinking some home-brewed vino out of plastic cups, than you were another traveler. Everyone who came here felt like they were stumbling into a little pocket of undisturbed Italian realness.

Things have changed since then. A lot. The Cinque Terre are written up in the most popular travel mags and zillions of travelers have shared their “this place is amazing” thoughts online.

The result? More people on the streets. Especially in the high season, which typically runs from Easter all the way to the end of October. Try to show up now without a reservation and there’s a good chance you’ll be stuck without a place to sleep.

Planning to travel to the Cinque Terre in 2018?

As Cinque Terre experts, we want to distill what modern travelers need to know now.

Ta-da! Here are 10 things to know before you go. Continue Reading…