Last Updated on January 7, 2024 by Ingrid & Alex
When you think about one of the most colorful places in the whole of Italy, you couldn’t possibly ignore the Cinque Terre. If you are planning for a longer Italy itinerary and want to know how to get from Pisa to Cinque Terre, here is where you will find your answer.
No matter if your journey starts in Pisa or you are making your way from another Italian town, reaching the Cinque Terre National Park shouldn’t be hard.
The closest airport to the Cinque Terre is Pisa International Airport, less than 100 kilometers away from Riomaggiore, the southernmost village in the Cinque Terre.
So no matter if you are landing in Pisa and spending your vacation in the Cinque Terre, or if you are planning a day trip to the Cinque Terre, I will help you plan for a smooth commute.
In this article, I will go through all the options you have at hand, which one I would choose, and lots of other valuable information for a great vacation.
So let’s dig in!
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How to get from Pisa to Cinque Terre
Travel by train
Traveling by train in Italy, especially Northern Italy, is my favorite means of transportation. While I was studying in Trieste I would go on day trips by train because tickets are affordable and connections are great.
There are a few things to have in mind before you book your ticket, but I will go through all of that in a few minutes. Mastering train travel in Italy is not hard, and you should consider it, especially in the northern part of the country.
Taking the train from Pisa to Cinque Terre is fast and easy. And it also can be affordable when you travel by regional train or book your fast train at least a few months in advance.
Prices for regional trains are usually the same even if you book on the same day, but prices for fast trains (freccia) are increasing as your date is closer.
Duration: Depending on the train you choose, but also your final destination, the travel time between Pisa and Cinque Terre will be between 1h 20 minutes to 1 h 45 minutes.
Where to buy train tickets from
I always use ItaliaRail to look for the best train combinations.
Below I have made a simulation and have chosen Riomaggiore as the final destination since that is the first village in the south of Cinque Terre, and Pisa Centrale Station as the starting point.
As you can see, all train rides have 1 change and that’s because you will have to change in La Spezia Centrale Station and hop on the Cinque Terre Express train.
Another thing worth noticing is that the time difference between the fast train (leaving at 9:56) and the regional train is not so important. However, for only a small difference it might be worth it to save 20 minutes. You be the judge of that.
As you do your search on ItaliaRail, make sure to choose all the train options, not only the high-speed options, by ticking the “slower train” box. You can check the train schedule in advance and book depending on your flights.
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 to the center of town, but it will be all worth it.
Where to buy train tickets in Italy
There are plenty of ways you can purchase your train tickets for Italy, and that includes booking them directly on the Trenitalia website, in their app, or on ItaliaRail.
Of course, you can also buy them in person from the train station. However, for fast train tickets, we would encourage you to book them in advance if you want to save on the train ticket price.
Other things worth knowing when you travel by train in Italy
For regional trains you will have to validate your ticket before you get 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 train number 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 website) and private train companies (ItaloTreno).
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
If you land at the Pisa Airport, pick up the car directly from the terminal, and make your way to Cinque Terre, you might get there in less than 1h and 30 minutes.
However, if you leave from the city center in Pisa, you could add an extra 15 minutes or so depending on the route.
Many might tell you that driving in the Cinque Terre is not an option worth considering, and I would tend to agree. That’s because the villages are very small and most don’t allow cars in the city center.
That would mean that either way, you will have to walk inside the towns, and most probably you will take the train between villages since finding a parking space could be a hassle.
If, however, you are spending the night in Cinque Terre and will be continuing your itinerary from there, renting a car and booking accommodation with free parking could be a great option.
Parking in the Cinque Terre is always challenging, especially during the peak season, with no parking lot for tourists in some of the villages. 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.
For a day of exploration only, I would encourage you to take the train, or if you really want to travel by car, you can find an affordable daily parking space in La Spezia and from there, take the train to the Cinque Terre.
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 ferry
I love taking the boat whenever possible, especially on the Italian Riviera. It is such a great way to have a different viewpoint and take some magical pictures as well.
Sometimes, traveling by boat can be a bit more expensive than the other means of transportation, but it could also give you the chance to see some new places as well.
If you are traveling for a day trip from Pisa to the Cinque Terre, you can hop on a boat in La Spezia. Either way, you would have to change the train at the station, why not take the boat instead?
It is worth knowing that this option will only be available during the peak season, 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 to Manarola.
Travel by organized tour
We don’t always go on organized tours, but in certain circumstances, we like to do that. It is a fun way to meet people, learn about the places you see, and also forget about having to think about transportation or timetables.
On top of that, you have a local guide with you, that knows the places well and how to organize the schedule so that you can see the most with the time on hand.
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 want to be less stressed and see the most we can in one day.
Another reason for doing that would be when a tour offers something more that we could do on our own, such as a cooking class, wine tasting, or sunset cruise.
So, if you are not landing in Pisa and looking for ways to get to the Cinque Terre to spend your vacation, and you only want to do a day trip, here is a top-rated organized tour option from Pisa:
From Pisa: Cinque Terre Small Group Tour – a 10-hour tour that includes a transfer by air-conditioning minivan and the chance to see Riomaggiore, Manarola, Vernazza, and Monterosso. Book your tour here!
Travel by bus
If you would rather take the bus from Pisa to Cinque Terre, you should know that no bus goes all the way to the villages.
However, you can take a bus from Pisa to La Spezia, and from there take the 5 Terre Express train or the boat, as mentioned above.
Check bus options on Omio.com
The one I found takes a little bit less than one hour and costs 6 EUR. However, you must add the price of the train ticket.
Travel by private transfer
Booking a private transfer from the airport can offer several advantages, depending on your preferences and specific travel situation.
Private transfers provide a hassle-free and convenient way to get from the airport to your destination. You don’t need to wait in line for a taxi or navigate public transportation systems.
Moreover, they often involve comfortable and well-maintained vehicles, offering a more pleasant and relaxed travel experience compared to crowded public transportation or standard taxis.
Also, if you are afraid that you may face language barriers, booking a private transfer in advance ensures that you have a reliable means of transportation without the need for verbal communication.
Ultimately, knowing that your transportation is pre-arranged can reduce stress, especially after a long flight. You can avoid the uncertainty and potential challenges associated with finding transportation upon arrival.
Of course, all that comes with a price and you will need to spend between 140 USD and 160 USD for a car or minivan.
Check out bus schedules and prices on Bookaway.com
Pisa Airport to Pisa Centrale
If you land in Pisa and want to get to the Cinque Terre, you will need to get from Pisa Airport to the train station.
The good news is the airport in Pisa is only a 6-minute drive away from the Pisa Train Station. Thus, you can easily take a taxi, or take the S1 train (or Pisa Mover).
A one-way ticket costs 5 EUR and you can book it online here or directly at the airport.
Understanding the Cinque Terre
If you don’t know where to go and most importantly where to get off the train, here is the map to the Cinque Terre and a few things worth knowing before you go.
Monterosso al Mare is the closest town to Levanto in the north, while Riomaggiore is the closest town to La Spezia in the south.
In between, you will find Vernazza, Corniglia, and Manarola, the other 3 of the 5 fishing villages.
Cinque Terre gets translated literally into “5 villages”, but the National Park has also other villages worth considering, such as Volastra or Porto Venere.
Looking for things to do in Cinque Terre and ready-made itineraries? Here are my resources:
What’s the fastest way to get to Cinque Terre from Pisa?
The fastest way to get from Pisa to Cinque Terre would be by car. However, you might want to take into consideration the extra time and effort you might put into finding a parking space. And of course, the extra cost.
What’s the cheapest way to get to Cinque Terre from Pisa?
The cheapest way to get from Pisa to Cinque Terre would always be the train. As mentioned before, if you plan your itinerary in advance, you can save even on high-speed trains.
Other tips for visiting the Cinque Terre
Transportation: Consider purchasing a Cinque Terre Card for unlimited train rides between the villages and access to hiking trails.
Footwear: Wear comfortable shoes suitable for walking, especially if you plan to explore the hiking trails.
Time Management: Be mindful of the limited time you have and plan your activities accordingly to make the most of your day.
Read also: Where to go wine tasting in Cinque Terre
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