Last Updated on January 11, 2024 by Ingrid & Alex
We all have that Italy bucket list destination, and for me spending a few days on the Cinque Terre has been a dream come true. But what do you do when you don’t have that much time but still want to see the region? Simple: you take a day trip to Cinque Terre.
Thus, look no further for the complete guide on taking a day trip to the Cinque Terre. I’ll tell you all the Cinque Terre tips you’ll need to know, the best villages you must see, and which ones to skip, and where to stay in Cinque Terre if you decide to spend 2 days in Cinque Terre after all.
Read next: Steal this Huge Italy Bucket List!
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How to plan the Cinque Terre day trip from Florence
When it comes to planning a day trip, no matter where I always take into account certain factors:
- how much time do I have to spend
- how long will I be spending on the commute, and is that enjoyable as well
- is it worth staying overnight when I travel from a more distant location
- where should I be located in order to better organize my day trip
- should I choose an organized tour and what would be the advantages of that
Since the Cinque Terre is located somehow in the Northern part of Italy, yet close to some more central destinations, I think there are several options when considering a Cinque Terre day trip.
Traveling from Rome, Venice, Naples, or even Milan to the Cinque Terre might prove to be tricky because the commute is longer than what I would recommend when you are not considering spending the night. Thus, your trip will be not lived to the fullest.
Read before you go: All the things to know before traveling to Italy
However, there are certain towns to use as a starting point, and find it easy to organize an escape.
I’ll talk about all of them below, together with tips on making your way to Italy’s Coastline.
The easiest way of getting to the Cinque Terre from another larger town in Italy is to take a trip from Florence to Cinque Terre.
The distance from Florence to Cinque Terre by car is less than 200 km.
However, I wouldn’t plan to go from one town to the other by car.
The roads are perked on steep hills, endlessly winding, and finding a parking space can prove to be both tricky and expensive. Moreover, there are many places where you cannot go inside the village.
So the best thing it would be to drive from Florence to La Spezia, park the car there and take the train to the 5 coastal villages.
Getting from Florence to Cinque Terre by train would be a somewhat better option. The train ride takes roughly 2 h 30, and you don’t have to worry about anything except getting off at the right stop. And maybe that one change (“cambi” in the below screenshot) you must do in La Spezia from where you will take the Cinque Terre Express train.
As far as the train ticket price is concerned, as you can see the prices below, that varies a lot on the type of trains involved in the commute. In general, the faster the train, the higher the price.
Of course, I’ve checked just as an example, the prices from one to the other. I recommend you book your train tickets online with plenty of time in advance so that you can minimize the cost of your Florence to Cinque Terre day trip.
The Cinque Terre Card
The Cinque Terre Card is a valuable and versatile pass that facilitates exploration of the stunning Cinque Terre region along the Italian Riviera.
Available in different variations, the card provides access to a range of services and amenities, including unlimited travel on the Cinque Terre trains that connect the five picturesque villages—Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore.
In addition to train travel, the card grants access to well-maintained hiking trails that traverse the scenic landscapes, allowing visitors to enjoy breathtaking coastal views. These types of passes are available for 1 day (18.2 EUR), 2 days (33 EUR) or 3 days (47 EUR).
The price for a 1-day Pass that only offers access to the train is 7,50 EUR.
Of course, you can always choose to go on a Cinque Terre tour from Florence as well.
As travelers, we always try to make the best decision in order to optimize both our time on vacation and fit everything we want to see in one day.
Sometimes, we do book organized tours in order to avoid the hassle of wasting precious time on the road when getting to a place by public transportation. Or we just want to be less stressed and see the most we can in one day.
For that reason, we opt to pay something extra for the tour. While still roaming around on location on our own.
Therefore, taking a Cinque Terre tour from Florence might be an option for you. I would choose one when I want to get directly there, have a clear schedule, and fit as much as possible in a day, but still have the liberty to see the places by myself once I’m there.
Sometimes the train fees, boat fees, and all other costs, however, add up.
Other Cinque Terre important things to know
Getting around in Cinque Terre
The best way to get around Cinque Terre is by train or by boat. As you will see further, I strongly encourage you to mix the two. Furthermore, I suggest you take also a short hike and admire the amazing views from the top of the hills on the Italian Riviera.
Buy the Cinque Terre Card and forget about buying a ticket every time you want to jump on the train.
The distance by train from one town to the other is really short, and getting from one end of the line to the other (Livorno to La Spezia) will take you roughly 40 minutes.
Getting around by boat can be done from March to November and it is a scenic way of seeing the coastal villages.
The ferry leaves from La Spezia, Portovenere, or Levanto, and stop in almost every village except Corniglia.
On our trip to the Cinque Terre, we took the boat one-way from La Spezia. The ticket costs 39 euros and offers you the possibility to take the ferry how many times you want in a day.
As you can see, taking the boat is more expensive than taking the train, but it offers a more scenic way of visiting the Cinque Terre.
See what to wear in Italy in spring and come prepared
What to do on a Cinque Terre day trip from Florence
You either take a boat from La Spezia and end your journey in Vernazza.
Or, follow the below itinerary:
Vernazza – Corniglia (optional) – Manarola – Riomaggiore
Take the Cinque Terre Express Train to Vernazza and start your day with a coffee and a hearty breakfast at the restaurant on the waterfront.
Next, you can embark on an easy hike from Vernazza to Corniglia. The views are amazing and the hike doesn’t take a long time. But you’ll see why Corniglia is beautiful either from the sea or from a trek.
Stop for lunch in Corniglia or maybe hop directly on the train and head to Manarola – maybe the best village in Cinque Terre.
Find the best picture spots on the hill in between the vineyards. And don’t leave without taking a picture from the cemetery or having a bite at Nessun Dorma.
Your next stop will be Riomaggiore, from where you must admire the sunset directly from the rocks in the middle of the water. The colors of the houses with the sunset light are just amazing!
Best Village in Cinque Terre
It is so hard to choose only one of the five villages because all of them have a particular charm and have won me over.
I urge you to decide which one is your favorite village because everyone is looking for something different. However, know the following:
Monterosso is more your typical seaside destination, with a long pebble beach strip. Still colorful, but not on the hill it might be a good location when you don’t want to climb all the stairs.
Vernazza has as well a small strip of beach, that might be extremely crowded during summer. The city center is not very big, but the views are lovely and you can easily access the port.
Corniglia is the highest up the hill, and you will have to take a whole lot of stairs to get to the train station. Even so, it is the most affordable and authentic location in the Cinque Terre.
Manarola might be named by many of the best villages in the Cinque Terre, mainly because of the views, but also because the train station is steps away from the city center.
Riomaggiore – we stayed here and I honestly find this place very charming. And once the sun set, the streets were empty.
Can you see them all in one day trip to Cinque Terre?
I guess that would be doable when using the train to get from one place to the other. You could take it one town at a time, and allocate an hour for each.
But that won’t leave you any time for going on a hike or taking the boat.
And you would have to leave out Porto Venere, which is one of the most charming places in my opinion.
For that reason, I wouldn’t urge you to try to see all of them but rather check the pictures of each beforehand, take all the information I shared with you right now, and make your decision.
Sometimes I think it’s better to see something you love than see everything.
I have put together the most comprehensive guide for where to stay in Cinque Terre here!
When is the best time to go on a Cinque Terre tour
As with almost any destination in Italy, I couldn’t insist more you should go outside of the high season.
For me, the perfect time to visit would be somewhere during the shoulder season: either from the second part of March to the middle of May or from the second part of September to the second part of November.
We have been in the second part of April and everything was just perfect! Prices are reasonable, not that crowded, and the weather amazing!
Whenever I travel to Italy for a long weekend, I always tend to keep my budget on the low side, while not refusing myself all the things that bring joy to life.
I won’t take the plane ticket into account, because I am always traveling from within Europe and the price of tickets can be sometimes very low. Especially from Romania to Italy.
That being said, a meal in the Cinque Terre set us back somewhere around 30 EUR per person for dinner and a little below that for lunch.
Italy Travel Resources
- Why not include the Amalfi Coast on your one week in South Italy Itinerary?
- Or head North for another 7 days in Italy itinerary.
- Make your trip longer and stop for one day in Rome, spend 3 days in Cinque Terre, and finish it off with one day in Genoa. Or do it differently, but however, take a Cinque Terre day trip.
- Looking for those authentic Italian villages? Check out my list of 11 less known Italian towns to add to your list of places to see next in Italy.
- Taste great food and explore red streets in 2 days in Bologna.
- How many days in Venice? That’s the question you might ask yourself and I got you covered. Together with all the best attractions to include on your list.
- Did you know that you can see the French Riviera on a day trip from Genoa? Check out my complete list of great day trips from Genoa.
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