Last Updated on January 7, 2024 by Ingrid & Alex
Are you spending a few days in Florence or Tuscany and would like to go on a day trip to one of the prettiest areas in Italy? Here is the complete guide you have been looking for. We will guide you on how to get from Florence to Cinque Terre: fast, easy, and carefree!
The picturesque Ligurian coast towns should be on your bucket list and can easily be visited in only one day. Colorful houses, stunning views, delicious food, and small hidden beaches – the Cinque Terre offers you some of the most Instagrammable places in the whole country.
Thus, it would be a pity not to spend at least one day exploring the alluring region of Italy.
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How to get to the Cinque Terre from Florence
5 perfect options to choose from
Travel by train
I love traveling by train in Northern Italy. It is fast and easy. Moreover, it can also be pretty affordable as long as you book your ticket ahead of time.
Getting to the Cinque Terre Nationa Park from Florence by train can be done in less than 3 hours.
Take the regional train from Florence S.M. Novella to La Spezia, and from there hop on the Cinque Terre Express.
You won’t have to worry, because there are plenty of daily trains linking Florence to the second largest town in Liguria.
Book your train ticket on ItaliaRail from Florence to the final destination in Cinque Terre, or for the last part, buy the 5 Terre Express day ticket from the station in La Spezia.
Below is an example of a direct train linking the two Italian towns:
There are also faster options that will take you from Florence to La Spezia in 2 hours or a little over that. However, that comes with a price as you can see, and you will need to change trains once in Pisa or take the train from Firenze Campo Marte Train Station.
From La Spezia to Riomaggiore, the first village in Cinque Terre, the train takes roughly 8 minutes.
From La Spezia to Monterosso al Mare, the furthest town in the Cinque Terre, the train takes around 23 minutes.
The one-way tickets for the Cinque Terre Express are 4 EUR no matter the distance and for 14.8 EUR you can also buy the Cinque Terre Card, a daily ticket that will offer unlimited train rides between the 5 villages.
The only inconvenience when you choose to travel by train is that there is no direct line linking the Cinque Terre to Florence. But that’s not such a big problem after all, with only one change in La Spezia.
No matter, if you choose to get off in Riomaggiore, Vernazza, Manarola, or Monterosso, the train station, is steps away from the center of the village. The only exception is Corniglia – the only village perched on top of the cliffs. From the train station in Corniglia, you must climb hundreds of stairs all the way to the center of town, but it will be all worth it.
The second option to get from Florence to Cinque Terre by train
The second option, is a bit more complicated and suitable for those who are not traveling for the first time by train in Italy.
The ride would be a little bit faster, and it will cost similarly to the first option presented.
Take the train from Florence S.M. Novella to Pisa, from Pisa go to La Spezia, and from there take the 5 Terre Express:
As you can see from the above example, you will have plenty of time to change trains in Pisa, and the option is a bit faster because the train from Pisa to La Spezia is a fast one.
When you book this option, make sure to pay extra attention to the time available between trains, you don’t want to miss one of them.
Other things worth knowing when you travel by train in Italy
For regional trains you will have to validate your train tickets before getting on the train, otherwise, you will get “la multa” – you will be fined.
Make sure you get on the correct train, there might be several types of trains going in the same direction. You will have the number of the train written on your ticket and by the train’s door.
Also, it is important to know the exact name of the train station you are going to. That’s because most larger towns in Italy are serviced by more than one train station. However, most of the main stations have the word “Centrale”.
For the fast trains (Frecciarossa, Frecciaargento, Frecciabianca), booking usually opens 4 months in advance. Make sure to book your ticket ahead of time when you want to save money.
For regional trains, tickets have a fixed price and you can buy them online, from the machine at the train station, or from the train ticket office.
Italy is served by both public (Trenitalia) and private train companies (ItaloTreno).
Where to book your train ticket for Italy:
- ItaliaRail – it will offer you the best combinations and easiest way of getting from one place to the other, along with the option of booking your ride as well.
Make sure you arrive at the train station at least 15 minutes before the train’s departure. Check the “Partenze” for the platform.
Travel by car
Many will tell you that traveling by car on the Cinque Terre might not be the best idea. With such great train connections from Florence, I would also choose the first option.
However, I can also fully understand if you prefer to make your way to the Cinque Terre from Florence by car. You won’t have to worry about train timetables, validating the ticket, and taking the train from the correct platform.
When you travel by car, you can be your boss, make the schedule as you wish, and stop wherever you want to along the way. It is also a great option when you plan for a longer itinerary in Italy and won’t be returning to Florence, but will move further north.
Take the via A11/E76 from Florence to Riomaggiore, and you will be there in roughly 2 hours and 30 minutes.
Get ready to drive on winding roads, along the coastline, but also to search for a parking space, because that can prove to be challenging. And it can come with a price tag.
Where possible, parking fees are quite high, ranging between 12 and 25 EUR for a day, with Riomaggiore and Monterosso as the most expensive places for parking your car.
If you are traveling for the day alone, I would leave the car in La Spezia and travel by train or boat to the coastal villages. That would mean much less stress for you, and it might come with a more affordable price tag.
If however, you are planning to spend 2 or 3 days in Cinque Terre, make sure to ask your accommodation provider for a parking space. Most of them can help you with that, even if in some cases you will have to pay extra.
If you have decided that renting a car is the way forward for part of your itinerary, my go-to destination for the best prices is DiscoverCars.
It is a great aggregator that will help you find and book the best option for renting a car during your trip, helping you save up to 70% on your car rental. They have a pretty good cancellation policy that would give you options in case your flight or travel plans change.
Travel by train and boat
I absolutely love taking the boat whenever possible, no matter the destination.
And since the Cinque Terre are reachable by sea, I strongly encourage you to admire the colorful towns from the boat.
It is worth knowing that this option will only be available during the peak season, respectively from the 1st of April until the 1st of November. If you are traveling during spring or fall, this should be on your list!
NavigazioneGolfoDeiPoeti is where you can find the timetables and prices for the ferry getting from La Spezia to the Cinque Terre.
The ferry stops in 4 of the 5 villages except for Corniglia, but also in Porto Venere, and Levanto. You can book your ticket from La Spezia to Levanto, or choose to stop in any of the smaller villages.
You can also buy a ticket with 2 stops, as we did when we stopped in Porto Venere and went on the next boat all the way to Manarola.
By organized tour
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.
Here are the top 3 options to consider:
By private transfer
Traveling from Florence to the Cinque Terre by private transfer is a great idea when you don’t want to worry about a thing.
This option is especially convenient if you have luggage or prefer a hassle-free journey.
Moreover, private drivers often have local knowledge and can provide insights into the region, suggesting points of interest, restaurants, and activities along the way. This local expertise can enhance your overall travel experience.
On top of that, a private transfer can be more time-efficient than public transportation, as they eliminate waiting times for buses or trains. This is particularly valuable if you have a tight schedule or want to maximize your time in Cinque Terre.
Can you do a day trip from Florence to the Cinque Terre?
The short answer is yes, of course, you can. The distance is roughly 200 kilometers and there are plenty of options for linking the two of the most popular attractions of Italy.
On top of that, since the Cinque Terre doesn’t really offer museums or cultural attractions, you can spend one day exploring 2 or 3 of the 5 fishermen’s villages.
However, if you want to get to know the villages and allow yourself enough time to explore, we strongly encourage you to stay at least one night.
When you only plan for a day trip, you will need to wake up early and spend a lot of time on the road.
When is the best time to visit the Cinque Terre?
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 is amazing!
Where to stay in Cinque Terre?
The answer to this question will be different depending on your travel style, and who you are traveling with.
If you are traveling with kids or as a couple, you might choose different places to stay.
No matter what you are looking for, I have put together a comprehensive guide for the absolute best place to stay in the Cinque Terre that will answer all your questions.
What’s the fastest way to get to Cinque Terre from Florence?
The fastest way to get from Florence to the Cinque Terre would be by car, private transfer, or organized tour since you will be transferred by car.
However, if you choose to drive there, you might end up spending more time on the road or looking for a parking space.
What’s the cheapest way to get to the Cinque Terre from Florence?
The cheapest way to travel around Italy would almost always be by train. Especially when you choose regional trains, or if you book your fast train a few months in advance.
By traveling by train you won’t have to worry about spending extra money on parking, gas, or highway taxes.
What to do and see in the Cinque Terre
For comprehensive travel guides that will help you organize your days with easy-to-follow itineraries, here are my other resources:
Where to go Wine Tasting in Cinque Terre