Last Updated on October 27, 2023 by Ingrid & Alex
Are you planning for a longer Italian itinerary and want to get from Rome to Cinque Terre? Or are you considering going on a day trip from Rome and looking at the colorful Ligurian villages as a destination?
Is a Rome to Cinque Terre day trip a good idea or even possible?
Bear with me and you will find all the answers to your questions. I have done all the work so that you won’t have to!
After visiting Italy extensively for the last 10 years, having studied and worked in the country, I can easily say I’m more than familiar with its transportation options and most of its destinations.
I love Italy and would never say no to an escape, but some places are just too further away from each other for a day trip. Let’s see if that’s the case for Rome and Cinque Terre.
This post contains affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission at no additional cost to you. Read more about it on our disclosure page here.
How to get from Rome to Cinque Terre?
Getting from Rome to Cinque Terre by train is a good idea, with many available options. No matter if you are traveling for the day or are planning to spend more time in Cinque Terre, there are high-speed trains or regional trains linking the two.
I always prefer traveling by train in Italy, especially in the northern part, mainly because all the major towns are conveniently linked, but also because it can prove to be more affordable and time-saving.
If you plan to travel on a fast train, make sure to book your ticket in advance if you want to save money. Tickets are usually available 4 months in advance, and you can book them online on ItaliaRail.
For regional trains prices don’t change, so you can buy your ticket at the train station. However, this would not be a good option if you are only going for a day trip.
Look for trains leaving from Rome and heading to La Spezia.
Here is a simulation:
As you can see, the time for the train ride can vary a lot and can take anywhere between 3h15 minutes and up to 7 hours.
Another thing you might notice at first glance is the price difference and the number of changes along the way.
In the above example, the fastest train is also the most expensive, but it is also a direct train. So you basically pay for speed and the lack of stress.
Of course, the ticket can cost much more, depending on the option you choose:
- Super Economy – doesn’t offer much flexibility, you cannot change the date or time of the ticket, and you cannot get your money back. You will have the name on the ticket and might be asked to show an ID.
- Economy – you pay a bit extra for the possibility to chance the date or time of the ticket, by paying the difference of price (if any).
- Base – you have full flexibility and can change the date or time of the ticket, itinerary, number of passengers etc
- Young people under the age of 30 and seniors over the age of 60 have lower prices
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 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).
Make sure you arrive at the train station at least 15 minutes before the train’s departure. Check the “Partenze” for the platform.
Traveling by car
As you can see, no matter which itinerary you choose when driving from Rome to Cinque Terre, the time is similar.
Of course, that could be different depending on the traffic situation at the moment of departure, and the part of Rome you are leaving from.
In my opinion, driving to Cinque Terre from Rome for a day trip is not an option, and can only be one if you choose to wake up very early in the morning.
On top of that, driving along the Cinque Terre is neither easy nor fun, since it can prove to be difficult to find a parking space. And it also costs a lot when you manage to find one.
That being said, I would drive from Rome to Cinque Terre if I would plan for a longer itinerary in other parts of Italy as well. I would also choose an accommodation option with parking, and that would make things much easier.
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.
Traveling by bus
Traveling by bus from Rome to Cinque Terre is possible and doable. However, that wouldn’t be an option for a day trip, since the ride lasts between 6 and 7 hours.
There are several bus companies that operate on this line and you will need to get to Rome Tiburtina for the bus terminal.
Some buses have pretty affordable prices, and you can end up paying less than for the train.
However, it is also worth knowing that you won’t get all the way to Cinque Terre, but to La Spezia. From there, you will have to take the 5 Terre Express train.
Is Rome to Cinque Terre day trip a good idea?
It can be if you travel by train, book in advance, and have the whole itinerary planned.
Any other way of travel would not be suitable for a day trip from Rome to Cinque Terre and would leave you with too less time on your hands to explore.
Yes, it would mean you must wake up very early in the morning, but you can sleep on your way there. Trains in Italy, and especially fast trains, are very comfortable.
Make sure to also check the returning trains, and book your ticket in advance as well.
A simple option, would be to leave with that 6:25 AM train, get to Riomaggiore by 9:40 AM, and come back with the 6:18 PM train, in Rome at 10 PM. That would leave you a little over 8 hours to explore at least 2 or 3 of the Cinque Terre.
Which villages I would visit on a day trip?
With only 8 hours available for exploration, you have two options available, both with advantages and disadvantages.
Option 1: choose to see all 5 villages
That would mean you are in a hurry from one place to the other, and would not have the time to really enjoy them.
However, most towns are small and don’t have so many attractions apart from their streets, stunning views, and colorful buildings.
The 5 Terre Express train links all the 5 villages and takes roughly around 10 minutes between each village and the other. Thus, in 40 minutes you can be from one end to the other.
Option 2: Choose 2 or 3 of the villages you would like to see and stick to those
Yes, you won’t get to see them all, but you will have more time to relax and really get to enjoy your day. You can even choose to go hiking on one of the easier hikes, enjoy lunch with a view, do aperitivo and see the sunset before you go.
I would choose Vernazza, Manarola and Riomaggiore, mainly because they are the most colorful villages in the Cinque Terre.
Take the train all the way to Vernazza, explore the village, hop on the train or boat and go to Manarola, and finish your day in Riomaggiore and back to Rome.
Check out my guide for a comprehensive day trip to Cinque Terre, packed with useful information and things to do and see.
Other useful travel information for Cinque Terre
Your comprehensive 3 days in Cinque Terre itinerary
Choose the best place to stay in Cinque Terre
Where to go wine tasting in Cinque Terre