We all have that Italy bucket list destinations, 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 in Cinque Terre 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 day trip to Cinque Terre
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 for that
Since the Cinque Terre are placed 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 or 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. Of course, the easiest way is to organize a Cinque Terre day trip from La Spezia. Or to get there in the first place from Florence, or even on a day trip from Lucca.
And I’ll talk about all of them below, together with tips on making your way to Italy’s Coastline.
Day trip from Florence to Cinque Terre
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.
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 until La Spezia from where you will take the Cinque Terre 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 fastest 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.
Of course, you can always choose to go and 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 fitting 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, fit as much possible in a day, but still have the liberty to see the places by myself once I’m there.
And sometimes the train fees, boat fees, and all other costs, however, add up.
Here are the top 3 options to consider:
Pisa to Cinque Terre day trip
The closest big Italian town to the Cinque Terre, Pisa is perfect for a day trip to the coastline.
Roughly 120 kilometers by road will get you directly to the incredible Italian gem. However, I’ll have to warn you once again about the things you must take into consideration when renting a car and doing a trip to the Cinque Terre.
TIP: When I decide to rent a car, I always book way in advance and use Skyscanner to find the best prices.
As the case when going from Florence to Cinque Terre by car, you’ll have to factor in the road, finding a parking space, and the price of parking.
In all of the 5 villages, access by car is not allowed, and once you get there you’ll understand why.
By far the fastest way of getting from Pisa to the Cinque Terre, a train ride could last as low as 45 minutes. In addition, prices start from a bit below 8 EUR.
As always, I suggest booking your ticket in advance. Save not only money but also the time at the train station.
I honestly don’t think an organized tour from Pisa would be an option, since getting from Pisa to the Cinque Terre by train is so easy, fast and affordable.
If however, you find an organized tour might be more efficient, here are a few options.
Milan to Cinque Terre day trip
Now, this is a more delicate subject. A day Cinque Terre day trip from Milan is not impossible, but it is not perfect either.
Since both by car and by train, you will find yourself spending more than 3 hours on the commute, one way, I would recommend considering to spend one night in Cinque Terre. That’s if you want to make the best out of the trip.
Or you can always choose Genoa as your location, and go on a Genoa to Cinque Terre day trip. Furthermore, you will have plenty of things to do in Liguria’s capital as well.
And yes, there is always the option of taking a private tour for your Milan to Cinque Terre day trip. It takes 14 hours and will make you see the beautiful Italian riviera villages, without you worrying about transportation and organizing such a stressful trip. This is one of those times I would go for an organized trip rather than make it on my own.
Getting around in Cinque Terre
The best way for getting around in Cinque Terre is by train or by boat. As you will see further, I strongly encourage you mixing 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.
Is one day in Cinque Terre enough?
I will be honest with you and tell you the truth: no. I loved spending the night there and exploring the area, and could have stayed for weeks on.
However, if you only have one day, it is better than nothing and I suggest jumping to the opportunity!
Always make the best out of your time and enjoy your visits wherever. That’s not just something I preach, but that I also do myself.
See what to wear in Italy in spring and come prepared
What to do on a Cinque Terre day trip itinerary
Option A – coming from the Northern part of Italy
La Spezia – Porto Venere – Riomaggiore – Manarola – Corniglia (optional) – Vernazza
Take the train all the way to La Spezia and from there take the boat with the 2 stops option.
Stop in Porto Venere and take a stroll on the coquette streets, then hop on the boat and go for Riomaggiore. As you will approach this town you’ll see that it’s beauty is mostly enjoyed by the sea. Half an hour would be enough to explore Riomaggiore, then had to the train station and towards your next stop: Manarola.
Once you have seen the center of Manarola, maybe have drunk a glass of Spriz Aperol at Nessun Dorma, head towards the hills and vineyards.
You can either take the hike from Manarola to Corniglia or skip it and take the train directly to Vernazza.
If you go for the hike, make sure to bring on some water and some good walking shoes.
End your Cinque Terre exploration with a sunset meal and some pictures in the photogenic Vernazza.
TIP: If I would have had only one day for visiting Cinque Terre, I would have replaced Monterosso al Mare with Porto Venere.
Option B – coming from Florence or the South
I just realized there are 2 options to my option B Cinque Terre day trip itinerary.
You either make the same thing as in option A: from La Spezia take a boat ride and end your journey in Vernazza.
Or, follow the below itinerary:
Vernazza – Corniglia (optional) – Manarola – Riomaggiore
Take the train all the way 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 in the train and head to Manarola – may be 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 is 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 on 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 village 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 to be very charming. And once the sun sat, 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.
And there’s always the organized day tour option.
Where to stay in Cinque Terre
Here are a few options for accommodation for when you decide you want to allocate more time to this region.
As I said, we chose to stay in an Airbnb in Riomaggiore, with the most stunning views. If you are new to the platform, you can book by using this link and you will get 47 EUR off on your first trip, and I’ll get a small amount as well without any additional cost for you.
I love to have a view, the place needs to be accessible and close to any means of transportation, the price should be somewhere in the mid-range, and I’m open also to apartments. That’s just my style of travel.
I’ve been in the place where the price was a major factor, and the hotel/apartment was just a place to lay my head. But I’ve now reached that place in life where I really want to enjoy it. Enjoy the morning and the evening views, have great connections, and still not spend a fortune. And, yes it is possible.
Since in Cinque Terre there are very few hotel options, and if you like what I like as per the above, here are some great accommodation options in the Cinque Terre.
- Alla Marina Affittacamere – it cannot get better than this, right in the Marina of Riomaggiore with a colorful view under your eyes. And the best part? Not hundreds of stairs to climb to get to this place.
- “Ivory house” Luxury apt – stay in one of the iconic colorful buildings of Manarola, with a view! Have the whole apartment to yourself and get ready to watch the stunning sunset from your own private balcony.
- Seaview apartment in Vernazza – it is definitely worth every effort getting to this place, which will enchant you with the best views of Vernazza. Make sure to travel light, and try the family-owned La Torre restaurant at the beginning of the footpath from Vernazza to Corniglia.
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 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 withing Europe and price 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 a dinner and a little below that for a lunch.
Italy Travel Resources
- Why not include the Amalfi Coast on your one week in South Italy Itinerary? I’m sure you’ll want to take all those great Instagrammable pictures in Positano.
- Or head North for another 7 days in Northern Italy itinerary.
- Check out the ultimate Italy 10 days itinerary and plan your trip with these 2 options.
- 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.
- 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 one or 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.
- Can you not travel to Italy or you want some inspiration? Check out these Italy virtual tours!
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