While doing our research of places we want to visit during our 2 month Europe trip, we came across Cinque Terre (CT) and almost immediately decided that this is definitely on the list! The only issue was that being an only recently-popular place, there wasn't too much information available. And that brings me to this blog on our recommendations on how to navigate CT - hope you find this helpful in planning your trip (and we would definitely recommend that!)
Things to do in Cinque Terre:
#1 Choose 1 village as base and visit the other 4
As you would have read, Cinque Terre or "Five Lands" (in English) is actually that - a bunch of 5 villages - Riomaggiore, Monterosso, Manarola, Vernazza, Corniglia. The first issue you'll face is deciding where to stay between these five - we read quite a bit, compared accommodation prices and then took a punt with Riomaggiore. These five villages are connected by Cinque Terre Express train, which has a pretty decent frequency (and a standard cost of 4 Euro per person) - so that makes life easy to travel across.
From Amalfi (which was our previous stop), we had a long long journey to CT and we geared up for it. Super early in the morning, we took the first bus out to Salerno and then caught our pre-booked train to Florence. After a quick snack, we took the next train to La Spezia and then CT Express to Riomaggiore. All this costed us 17 Euro per person (pre-booking discounts, of course). Lugging our bags, we decided that we'll book a cab to get to our hotel...but to our complete shock, there was absolutely no public transport! And welcome to Riomaggiore! It is so quaint and untouched, that there are no cabs, no buses and all shopaholics hold your breath - no Mango, Zara or other branded shops!
Riomaggiore is basically just an inclined road with houses and tiny shops and restaurants lining it.
We had made our reservations at Banchi. While we knew it is a couple of floors, we weren't prepared for the narrow staircase and very high steps! #protip: speak to your hotel/ apartment people beforehand - there are porters who can carry your luggage from the station to your room for 4 Euros per bag. The room was clean and spacious enough for both of us. The best part of the apartment was the terrace - which was perfect for the star-studded skies of Riomaggiore! We saw tons of satellites and I swear, I saw a shooting star (Achal doesn't believe me!).
In retrospect, Monterosso would have been a good option as well, given that its the largest village (hence many more accommodation options in every range), has a sprawling sandy beach, a shopping area and quite a few eating options. But exactly for those reasons, it is also a very touristy village and not quaint like Riomaggiore.