The scenery is spectacular and each of the 5 villages has a unique character....we always stay in Riomaggiore for the small (but rocky) beach and the spectacular apartments over the harbor. YOu can catch a boat or take the train to the other villages, each of which merit a day to explore on their own. Monterroso has the largest beach but to me it is the most touristy. Vernazza is charming but full of Americans. If you are in good shape, the hiking trails are the most scenic way to get from village to village....though I have heard they are now closed after the devastating floods of last Fall (2012). If you are visiting Italy, allocate at least a few days to explore Cinque Terre...the birthplace of pesto sauce!
If you own or manage Parco Nazionale Cinque Terre, register now for free tools to enhance your listing, attract new reviews, and respond to reviewers.