In Cinque Terra we stayed in a really cute little apartment in the village of Monterosso de Mar. We found that taking the train into each village worked the best for us with one trip by ferry to to get a sea view of the 5 villages.
We enjoyed the first 3 villages the most, with the second one, Venazza, being our favorite. The other two villages were way too hilly for us to fully explore.
There are a couple of other villages just past Cinque Terre which you can take the train or the ferry to and I actually thought they were much more picturesque from a sea view with the sailboats and a castle I passed in Portovenre. The town of La Spezie, where I got off to return by train, has so many trendy shops very close to the big the port there.