We will be driving a rental car to CT and need to know where to stay so we can park our car. We will be going in May. Thanks.
I have heard from a couple people now that driving to and from cinque terra can be a mess, very crowded with stalls and stop and go traffic. I haven't experienced this myself but we go by train. Just thought I'd let you know. The train in and out is very quick and easy and there's no driving once you're there anyway. Just thought I'd let you know. Have a great trip!
I'm also trying to figure out the same thing. I have heard that there are parking lots where you can leave your car near the La Spezia train station or closer into the towns, but outside the historic areas. Has anybody ever done this? Do you know how much they cost per day or how to find them?
Cheryl, A previous poster said they parked in public parking in Monterossa for 10 euro per day. I read on another website that Riomaggiore has a multi-level parking lot. Having been there (but not having driven) it makes the most sense to park at one end - either Riomaggiore or Monterossa. However, no matter where you stay, there will be a public lot even if it looks like parking at the little league ball field. I can tell you that you won't be able to drive into the towns - there's just no room. My taxi driver deposited me in a parking lot outside Manarola and I had to walk in. The ride TO the towns is winding, twisting, narrow, up and down. So good luck! It's a beautiful place though.
It is really easy to get around in that area because of the train. I suggest staying elsewhere and then taking the train in. Or go to Monterosso and take the train to your hotel.
The first time I went (in May), I stayed in Leivi above the town of Chiavari at Ca' Peo. The apartments are a bit strange but great for a family or more than one couple. We had a nice balcony with a fabulous view. The hotel has a restaurant that has won a Michelin star. Well worth the money! The best meal I have ever had in the most romantic of settings. We drove down to Chiavari and parked our car by the train. It was a beautiful sunny hot day. We took the train to Rio Maggiore (very crowded) and walked until Corniglia. Quite honestly, most of that trail is almost too easy. If it weren't so beautiful we would have been disappointed. But the trail up ahead looked challenging and beautiful. The crowds dropped off as we got further away from Rio Maggiore. However, we had other plans so that was it for our hiking this trip.
The next visit to Italy, we flew into Milan and drove to Camogli where we stayed along the water. The next day we drove to Monterosso. There were plenty of parking lots there. Fortunately our car had a trunk that we could hide our luggage in. We then hiked to Monterosso and took the train back to our car. It is a challenging hike - sometimes we were scrambling on our hands and feet up rocks perched on the side of a cliff. It is not for anyone with a fear of heights. It was cold and misty all day and rained hard at the end of the day. We were glad we had water and a snack with us. My mom who is 65 struggled with the trail and was glad I forced her to buy hiking boots. It was a long day. We then drove to Florence to find a hotel for that night (it was always our plan - we could have stayed in the area).
I realized that in my long post, I didn't include the all important information that the train serves ALL the towns along the coast. You could stay in Portofino and take the train down to the Cinque Terre. Just make sure the town you choose to stay in has a stop! It is really easy- much easier than driving especially after a long day of hiking. I admit that there were some other hikers (not Americans) that were really malodorous on the train. It isn't a fancy or nice train - not even as nice as Amtrak. More like a subway car.