Your guide on how to get to Cinque Terre so that you can experience the amazing five villages of Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore for yourself.
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Nestled in Northern Italy, near Genoa, overlooking the Ligurian Sea, Cinque Terre consists of five small fishing villages that are a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
They’re connected by centuries-old hiking trails that take you through lush vineyards and olive groves. The hiking is incredible, which is why we offer a self-guided hiking tour of Cinque Terre.
Did I mention it’s surrounded by lush vineyards and olive groves and you can have dinner or gelato overlooking the sea? No wonder it’s considered one of the best walking holidays in Italy!
Each of the five villages is unique and offers something special to experience. Cinque Terra is very popular among tourists because it’s so picturesque, and there are plenty of activities to do. Check out our travel tips for Cinque Terre and you’ll see what I mean.
While some people visit Cinque Terre as a day trip, there’s so much to see we recommend spending at least several days there, or more if you want to soak it all in and explore beyond Cinque Terre as well, like what we do on our self-guided hiking tour.
Related Reading: Where to Stay in Cinque Terre
How to get to Cinque Terre?
Being one of Italy’s most popular destinations, it’s well connected by regional trains from the Italian cities of Milan and Pisa. Here are five ways that you can reach Cinque Terre:
1. By Plane
There’s no airport in Cinque Terre. The closest major airports are Pisa, Florence and Milan.
- Pisa Airport: 120 km (1:30 hours by car) to Cinque Terre
- Florence Airport: 178 km (2:10 hours by car) to Cinque Terre
- Milan Airport: 267 km (3:12 hours by car) to Cinque Terre
While Galileo Galilei Airport (the Pisa International Airport) is the closest airport to Cinque Terre, I find that it’s often cheaper to fly to Florence or Milan rather than to Pisa.
So travelling the extra distance may be worth it depending on where you’re flying from and the price difference.
Related Reading: 11 Best Cinque Terre Tours
Makes a great gift for the Italy lover in your life
2. Get to Cinque Terre By Train
When you’re coming from one of the major cities, the easiest and most convenient way to get to Cinque Terre is by train. Plus, you’ll also get to experience Italy’s high-speed intercity trains!
Trenitalia is the Italian government’s train service provider across the whole country. Although there are other train service providers, Trenitalia Intercity is their primary train operator. You can see all the trains going to Cinque Terre from Omio, a search aggregator
If you’re travelling to different parts of Italy and not just Cinque Terre, then you’ll want to look into the Trenitalia pass, which is made specifically for tourists and allows visitors to visit different parts of Italy. for unlimited train travel
The Pass is dedicated to foreign citizens residing outside Italy. It can be purchased at Italian ticket offices, from Italian and foreign travel agencies and tour operators.
According to their website, your travel can range from 3 different options. Ranging from 7 to 30 days of consecutive travel. They offer Easy, Comfort, and Executive options. Prices also depend on the type of passenger.
Whether you’re an Adult, Senior, or Youth, you can travel on high-speed Frecce trains, FrecciaLink, Intercity, Intercity Night, and EuroCity Italy-Switzerland trains (on domestic routes within Italy).
Train from Milan to Cinque Terre
If you are coming from Milan, there are two direct trains daily between Milan and Monterosso. Both leave from Milan Centrale Train Station. The direct trains take 3 hours but check before you buy since other trains have one or two changes and take longer. You can either buy your train ticket in advance online or at the train station, but buy it before you board the train.
Train from Florence to Cinque Terre
From Florence, you’ll take the high-speed Frecciarossa express train to La Spezia Centrale station. Then, you can either hop onto the regional Trenitalia train to Levanto, where you can catch a connecting bus to Monterosso al Mare, or continue to Portovenere, where you can change trains again to arrive in Manarola.
You can expect a minimum of one change, and it takes 2:23 hours, but most trains have two connections and take between 3-4 hours.
If you only have one day to visit Cinque Terre, then do this 1-day small group tour from Florence. You’ll be transported in an air-conditioned minivan with a maximum of 8 people and it even includes a boat tour (weather permitting).
Train from Pisa Centrale to Cinque Terre
Pisa International Airport is only about 1km from the Pisa Centrale Train Station. It takes just 5 minutes via the Pisa Mover line links Pisa Airport to the train station. Talk about convenience!
Once you get there, you can purchase a ticket to one of the five Cinque Terre villages. You can also purchase in advance via Trenitalia or on Omio as I did.
The train departs every thirty minutes or so. If you take a direct train from Pisa Centrale to Cinque Terre it takes 1:12 hours. More common train with one connection and that takes around 1:45 to 2 hours.
Besides Trenitalia, you can also ride the Circumvesuviana. Circumvesuviana is an electrically powered railway network that also connects the five major towns of Cinque Terre with Rome.
Related Reading: Cinque Terre Hiking Tour: Self-Guided
Travelling From Village to Village in Cinque Terre By Train
Each of the fishing villages has a railway station, so trail travel is convenient regardless which village you’re going to. Plus, the train journey is very scenic in parts, especially among the rugged coastline!
Once you’ve arrived in Cinque Terre, look at buying the Cinque Terre Card, which depending on your travel plans, is often cheaper than purchasing a single ticket. You’ll need the trekking card to access the hiking trails from Monterosso to Vernazza and from Vernazza to Corniglia. The other trails don’t require it.
In most cases, you’ll want to combine it with the Cinque Terre Train Card, which includes unlimited train travel between villages since most hikers will hike from one village to the next and then take the train back. It’s also great if you don’t plan on hiking since it allows you to reach each of the villages easily.
You can purchase the Cinque Terre Trekking and Train Card at every train station in Cinque Terre, at the Tourist Information Points in Cinque Terre, and also in the nearby towns of Levanto and La Spezia.
The price of the combined Cinque Terre Trekking and Train Card for 2022 are:
- 1 day: €18.20
- 2 days: €33
- 3 days: €47
During the regular season, the trains run ~ 4 times an hour in each direction. But if you’re travelling in shoulder season the trains don’t run as regularly so check the train timetable posted at one of the train stations and take a picture of it.
3. Reach Cinque Terre By Boat
If you like boat trips like me, there are public ferry services, sailing trips, and private tours that run between villages. The public ferry rides can get crowded and do sell out so buy your ticket in advance.
Ferries run regularly throughout the year and provide a fast way to travel across the Ligurian Sea.
Levanto is the closest town to Cinque Terra. that you can reach by boat If you are travelling to Levanto from Portovenere, boats depart regularly from here and cost €15 per person.
The are also boat connections from Viareggio, Marina di Massa and Carrara to the Cinque Terre. The service includes a stop of one hour in Portovenere and 3 hours to visit Monterosso.
Great news for our furry friends is that small and medium-sized dogs are allowed on board the public Cinque Terre boats! They even travel free of charge. However, it is required for them to be on their leash and muzzled. Small dogs must be kept in bags or carriers not running around the boat.
And even if you don’t need to reach Cinque Terre by boat, you’ll want to do this boat sunset tour for an incredibly romantic look at Cinque Terre by the sea. The small group tour includes apertifs and prosecco.
4. Get to Cinque Terre By Car
For road trip lovers, Cinque Terre offers spectacular views and some challenges. However, I really DON’T recommend travelling to Cinque Terre by car since cars aren’t allowed in most of the villages so you won’t end up using it. You’ll be paying a lot of money for parking a car that you won’t use. Parking spaces are limited and expensive.
Renting a car in Cinque Terre is also expensive. Not to mention the limited options when it comes to parking facilities.
If you do decide to come by car, then stay in either Monterosso In or Riomaggiore as they have more parking for non-locals.
Cinque Terre is best explored on foot, like on our self-guided walking tour, or by train if you don’t want to want from village to village.
La Spezia (1h 15 mins hour, 83 km from Pisa) and Levanto (1h 45 mins, 110 km from Pisa) are the larger towns outside Cinque Terre and have more ample and affordable short and long-term parking lots so if you insist on driving you could stay in one of these places, then take the train to Cinque Terre.
They’re also within the Cinque Terre Express train network, so travelling between the villages is quicker and more convenient.
Related Reading: Best Things to Do in the Aosta Valley (Valle d’Aosta)
5. Get to Cinque Terre By Bus
Given that the train is regular, affordable, and a more pleasant mode of transport, we don’t recommend getting to Cinque Terre by bus. There also aren’t many options. You can see all the bus options here.
More Helpful Tips for How to Get to Cinque Terre
- You can buy tickets online for the train ride to the Cinque Terra, which we recommend. Be sure to purchase them in advance as the trains fill up quickly during the peak season.
- When you visit Cinque Terre be prepared for crowds. During summer, expect long lines at the ticket booths. Be patient and wait for the next available slot.
- Be aware that some boats may not run when the weather is bad.
- Check promos and discounts for train passes, and ferry boat rides. We recommend Omio which shows you all the options so that you can easily compare timetables and prices.
- Try to get a window seat when possible. The view is spectacular whatever time of day it may be.