How to Plan a Day Trip from Florence to Cinque Terre: All You Need to Know (2024)

Setting off on a Florence to Cinque Terre day journey? Look no further! In this comprehensive guide, we’ve got you covered with everything you need for your excursion, featuring a full itinerary, transport pointers, tour choices, and insider tips to maximize your Cinque Terre experience.

Nestled along the Italian Riviera, the Cinque Terre comprises five charming villages. Renowned for their postcard-perfect vistas, kaleidoscopic coastal dwellings, and breathtaking panoramas, this destination ranks among Italy’s top must-visit locales.

Our team has frequented Cinque Terre numerous times, including a seamless day trip from Florence. Fear not, for this day jaunt is entirely feasible, and we’re divulging the ultimate itinerary to soak in Cinque Terre’s splendor within a day.

Encompassing a blend of trekking, sightseeing, and even a dip in the azure waters, prepare for a day brimming with adventure as you journey from Florence to Cinque Terre.

How to Get from Florence to Cinque Terre

The Cinque Terre are located 150km northwest of Florence. The best and quickest way to get from Florence to Cinque Terre is by train.

Florence to Cinque Terre by train

To reach Cinque Terre, board the train at Florence Santa Maria Novella station heading to La Spezia Centrale. The travel duration is approximately 2.5 hours for each leg of the journey.

There are two train options from Florence to La Spezia. The first is a direct route, while the second involves a stopover at Pisa Centrale. Both routes take a similar amount of time, so the choice between them is inconsequential.

It’s recommended to secure a morning train, ensuring arrival no later than 9:30 AM. A full day is needed for exploring Cinque Terre effectively.

Our journey commenced from Florence at 7 AM, with an arrival in La Spezia at 9:30 AM, incorporating a transfer in Pisa. Our return train was scheduled for 8 PM, providing ample time for a comprehensive Cinque Terre excursion.

Booking train tickets in Italy

For the smoothest journey through Italy, make sure to book your train tickets well in advance using the Trenitalia website or app. Securing your tickets at least 3 weeks beforehand ensures you snag the best deals. To streamline your travels even further, we highly recommend downloading the Trenitalia app for all your train ticket needs—it’s your one-stop-shop for convenience.

La Spezia to Cinque Terre

Upon reaching La Spezia, a pivotal hub for exploring the enchanting Cinque Terre, you’ll need to switch trains to embark on the Cinque Terre Express journey. Keep in mind that this entails a separate train system, and you must purchase the Cinque Terre train card for access. For more detailed insights into these tickets, refer to the subsequent section.

Florence to Cinque Terre by car

Perhaps you’re contemplating driving to Cinque Terre? While technically feasible, we strongly advise against it, especially if you’re planning a day trip from Florence. The intricacies of parking and navigation make driving more of a headache than it’s worth. Should you opt for this mode of transportation, here’s our suggestion: drive to La Spezia and park there—avoid attempting to navigate through each village individually, as it’s a daunting task.

The journey from Florence to La Spezia typically spans between 1 hour 45 minutes to 2 hours. Ample parking facilities are available near the train station, facilitating a smooth transition onto the Cinque Terre Express train. From there, effortlessly traverse between the picturesque villages via the local train network.

The Cinque Terre Card

The Cinque Terre Card

The Cinque Terre Card serves as your comprehensive ticket granting access to both the trains and hiking paths connecting the five charming towns.

There exist two pass variants:

  1. The Cinque Terre Train Card – grants unlimited train travel for the entire day alongside access to the scenic hiking trails (priced at €18.20/day for adults).
  2. The Cinque Terre Trekking Card – tailored specifically for hiking enthusiasts, offering access solely to the picturesque trails (available at €7.50/day for adults).

Our strong recommendation leans towards opting for the first choice, the Cinque Terre Train Card. This ensures uninterrupted exploration as it combines access to both hiking trails and trains throughout the day.

The acquisition of the train card can be executed either online in advance or in person at the La Spezia train station upon arrival. Securing the card online is advised to circumvent the lengthy queues at the station.

We speak from experience; delaying the purchase until La Spezia led to nearly an hour spent in queue. Given the bustling nature of Cinque Terre, especially during the summer months, preemptively avoiding queues will undoubtedly enhance your experience.

Departures from La Spezia occur frequently, providing ample opportunities to catch trains at various intervals throughout the day. The journey between each village is brief, typically lasting between 4 to 6 minutes.

High Season in Cinque Terre

During the peak season (May – September), expect the trains to be extremely congested. Our visit towards the end of September saw us struggling to find space on the packed trains (refer to the accompanying photos). If you’re touring Cinque Terre during these months, anticipate an additional 30 minutes of waiting time between each village.

Cinque Terre Ferry

A ferry service connects all towns except Corniglia from March 23, 2024, to November 3, 2024. However, it operates less frequently and has longer travel times compared to the train. Thus, we recommend against using the ferry for day trips. 

If you seek a scenic boat journey, consider taking the ferry between towns and switching to the train for the remainder of your journey. You can find the ferry company’s link and current timetable here.

Hiking in Cinque Terre National Park

Exploring Cinque Terre National Park through hiking stands as a cherished activity for us in Italy! The vistas greet you with absolute splendor at every turn.

Among the trails, the Blue Trail reigns supreme, stretching 7.5 miles (12 km) to connect each of the quintet towns. Originating in Riomaggiore, it culminates in the picturesque Monterosso al Mare, or vice versa.

Regrettably, some trails remain inaccessible due to past mudslides:

  • Riomaggiore – Manarola: CLOSED
  • Manarola – Corniglia: CLOSED

Yet, alternative paths exist, albeit longer. Stay updated on trail conditions via the designated site.

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Fortunately, two trails remain open for spring to fall treks:

  • Monterosso al Mare – Vernazza (3.5km / 1.5 hours)
  • Vernazza – Corniglia (4km / 1.5 -2 hours)

During our day excursion from Florence, we embarked on the Vernazza to Corniglia route and were enraptured by the experience! Should you pick just one hike, we wholeheartedly endorse this choice. More insights await below.

Itinerary for your Florence to Cinque Terre Day Trip

Itinerary for your Florence to Cinque Terre Day Trip

The Cinque Terre boasts five delightful fishing hamlets: Riomaggiore, Vernazza, Corniglia, Monterosso al Mare, and Manarola.

Our day-trip agenda offers a blend of activities – hiking, sightseeing, and, weather permitting, swimming.

We propose commencing your day in Monterosso al Mare, the farthest village from La Spezia, and concluding in Riomaggiore.

Please note: You have the freedom to pace your excursion and customize it according to your preferences using our recommendations. Not keen on hiking? Extend your beach time in Monterosso. Prefer more hiking? Explore between two villages instead of one.

Having said that, here’s our suggested itinerary for a day trip from Florence to Cinque Terre.

Monterosso al Mare

Upon your arrival in La Spezia, seize the opportunity to board the Cinque Terre Express train bound for Monterosso al Mare, the foremost among the quintet of towns. A mere 25-minute journey from La Spezia will see you alighting in Monterosso al Mare.

Renowned for its sprawling beaches, Monterosso al Mare beckons visitors to indulge in seaside delights. Here lies the ideal locale for a refreshing swim or a leisurely day basking in the sun.

Monterosso is demarcated into two distinct precincts: the historic old town and the modern new town. The train station stands in the latter, granting direct access to the sole sandy expanse within the entirety of Cinque Terre. Revel in the picturesque charm of this beach adorned with quintessentially Italian striped parasols, accompanied by unobstructed vistas of the Mediterranean.

Embark on a sojourn to the old town via the tunnel, where you’ll encounter the venerable Aurora tower, remnants of ancient castle fortifications, and meandering alleys steeped in history.

From this vantage point, you’re presented with two enticing options: traverse the Blue Trail to Vernazza on foot or return to the train station and resume your journey by rail. The trek to Vernazza spans 3.3 kilometers and entails approximately 1.5 hours of exploration. Remember to keep your Cinque Terre Card handy, as it’s requisite for accessing the trail.


In my personal view, Vernazza stands out as the most enchanting among the five towns. Its petite harbor is encircled by lively hued edifices and boundless vistas of the sea. This picturesque portrayal of Cinque Terre is reminiscent of the postcards you often come across.

For the most captivating perspectives of Vernazza, ascend the hill or follow the trail leading to or from Monterosso. Embarking on a hike to Vernazza promises a feast for the eyes with its breathtaking views along the pathway.

Should you opt for the train, don’t miss the opportunity to trek up the hills for a panoramic spectacle. Simply look up the Monterosso trail online and trek to its starting point for the ultimate photo op.

We indulged in a delectable slice of focaccia pizza at Batti Batti’ Foccaceria before lunch, replenishing our energy for the journey from Vernazza to Corniglia.

After meandering through the charming alleyways and historic fishing harbor, we ascended numerous steps through the town, continuing our expedition towards Corniglia.

Pro tip: There’s a public tap in the main square close to the beach where you can refill your water bottle. Ensure it’s brimming before you embark on the hike to Corniglia. All taps labeled “Aqua Potible” provide potable water.


Our cherished segment of the day trip from Florence to Cinque Terre is the hike from Vernazza to Corniglia. This enchanting path meanders through terraced vineyards and ancient olive groves, treating you to boundless vistas of the Mediterranean sea.

Along the way, you can indulge in a lemon and orange granita from a quaint little shop—a delectable and invigorating treat! The trail spans 4km and typically consumes about 1.5 hours to traverse. It features a dirt terrain with occasional uphill and downhill stretches, making for a moderately challenging yet immensely rewarding journey.

Alternatively, if you opt for the train from Vernazza to Corniglia, brace yourself for a climb up 382 steps from the station to reach Corniglia. Perched atop a hill, Corniglia isn’t easily accessible, further affirming why we advocate for the scenic hike instead.

Corniglia, the quaintest of the quintet, beckons for a brief exploration before venturing onwards to the next destination.


Due to the closure of the trail between Corniglia and Manarola, your best bet is to catch the train from Corniglia.

Manarola stands out as one of the most picturesque towns among the five, renowned for offering the finest sunset vistas. Make your way to the Punta Bonfiglio viewpoint for the quintessential panorama of Manarola.

This presents an excellent opportunity for some aquatic enjoyment, whether it’s swimming or indulging in some rock jumping. You’ll spot numerous individuals frolicking around the rocks near the small port.

If hunger strikes and you’re in the mood for a late lunch or early dinner, we highly recommend Trattoria da Billy. Not only does it serve up delectable fare, but it also boasts stunning sea views to complement your dining experience.



Riomaggiore serves as the fifth and final destination on your exhilarating Cinque Terre day excursion. As one of the larger towns, it’s worth dedicating ample time to meander through its charming streets and explore the array of local shops.

For an unparalleled vista of the town, descend to the harbor and stroll along the rocky shores until you’re greeted with a panoramic sight of Riomaggiore. Pause to relish the awe-inspiring scenery as the city basks in the golden hues of sunset.

When it comes to dining options, Riomaggiore doesn’t disappoint. Consider indulging in a delectable dinner at one of its many restaurants. Word on the street is that Rio Bistrot, a Michelin-recommended establishment, offers both exceptional cuisine and idyllic views of the harbor. Just remember to secure your reservation at least a week in advance to avoid disappointment.

Getting back to Florence from Cinque Terre

Take the Cinque Terre Express train back to La Spezia Centrale and hop on your scheduled train back to Florence.

We suggest booking your return ticket in advance to avoid paying higher prices.

Florence to Cinque Terre Tour Options

Prefer to take a guided tour instead of planning your own Cinque Terre day trip? Here are a few Florence to Cinque Terre day tours that we recommend.

Our top pick: Cinque Terre Day Trip from Florence with Optional Hiking

This 5-star rated, full-day guided tour takes you through all five villages with an option to hike one of the trails. It includes transportation by bus, a guide, entry tickets to Cinque Terre National Park, a boat ride (from end of March to end of October), optional lunch, and extra time to wander around on your own.

#2 pick: Seaside Beauty Day Trip to Cinque Terre

This Cinque Terre day tour takes you to Manarola, Vernazza, Riomaggiore, and Monterosso al Mare with a guide. From April 1 to October 31, you’ll get to enjoy a boat ride between Monterosso and Vernazza.

Additionally, the tour includes an optional lunch, transfer between Florence and Cinque Terre by bus, guide, and free time to explore the towns or go swimming.

#3 pick: Cinque Terre Private Day Trip from Florence

This highly rated private tour includes a visit to all five towns, lunch, and a wine tasting in Monterosso.

A private tour is a fantastic option if you are traveling with a group (up to 6) and want a more relaxed, tailored experience.

Transfer from Florence is included, plus extra time to explore and swim.

Is a day trip from Florence to Cinque Terre worth it?

Is a day trip from Florence to Cinque Terre worth it?

A single day in Cinque Terre offers ample opportunity to fully immerse yourself in the charm of all five towns, embark on a couple of invigorating hikes, and indulge in some refreshing swimming sessions. Our experiences in Cinque Terre have been numerous, including two memorable day trips, during which we always found ourselves with an abundance of time to discover every facet of this picturesque region.

For optimal enjoyment during your day excursion, it’s advisable to arrive in La Spezia no later than 9:30 AM and depart after 7:00 PM.

Should you desire a more leisurely exploration of Cinque Terre, we suggest dedicating two entire days to the endeavor. The first day can be devoted to traversing the scenic trails and delving into the unique character of each town, while the second day offers the perfect opportunity to unwind on the sandy beaches, embark on a delightful boat excursion, or venture out to the nearby gem, Porto Venere.

Tips for Visiting Cinque Terre

  • Allocate additional time for train travel – During peak seasons, the trains experience heavy congestion. Drawing from personal experience, we can attest to this reality. Regrettably, Cinque Terre becomes excessively crowded from May through September, resulting in potential train delays and necessitating the allowance of extra travel time between towns. On several occasions, we found ourselves unable to board packed trains, requiring us to wait for the subsequent one, which was similarly crowded.
  • Opt for visits during the shoulder or off-peak seasons – For a more tranquil experience during your excursion to Cinque Terre, we advise scheduling your visit between April and May, or from late September to October.
  • Come prepared – Remember to pack essentials such as a hat, sunscreen, and a refillable water bottle. Given the scorching temperatures and intense sun, you’ll appreciate having these items on hand.
  • Select appropriate footwear – If you plan on trekking the trails, ensure you wear sturdy shoes. The terrain is rugged and uneven, making comfortable footwear indispensable. Alternatively, if you prefer sandals, opt for Birkenstocks or similar alternatives. We once hiked alongside someone wearing these and they managed just fine.
  • Purchase your Cinque Terre card beforehand – To circumvent lengthy queues, procure your Cinque Terre Card online. By doing so, you can maximize your day trip from Pisa to Cinque Terre without squandering precious time.
  • Pack a swimsuit – If your visit coincides with warmer months, don’t forget to bring along a swimsuit for a refreshing dip in the Mediterranean Sea! With Monterosso’s beach and swimming spots in Manarola, seizing the opportunity to enjoy the water is a must.
  • Depart early – Aim to catch the earliest train from Pisa to La Spezia, preferably around 7 or 8 in the morning, to outsmart the crowds. This will afford you more leisurely time throughout the day, alleviating any sense of rush.
  • Secure lunch and dinner reservations in advance – If you intend to dine at a sit-down restaurant in Cinque Terre, conduct preliminary research and make reservations ahead of time (at least a day or two prior). While there are plenty of grab-and-go options available like pizza and sandwiches, securing a reservation for a dine-in experience necessitates calling ahead a couple of days in advance.


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