Art, Travel & Life in Italy & Europe

How to get to Cinque Terre from Florence

The Cinque Terre is one of the most desired destinations for American visitors to north-central Italy. I often hear of students and tourists who plan a day-trip to the Cinque Terre from Florence, which is feasible, although as with all the areas of Italy, I believe it takes a longer stay to get a good understanding of the area. In this article you’ll find instructions on how to get to Cinque Terre from Florence and how to get around between towns. If you’re interested in learning about sustainable tourism in this area, take a look here.

Coast towns of Cinque Terre, photo: Wikipedia

Travel by Train

To travel to Cinque Terre by train from Florence it is best to take a train departing from Firenze S. M. Novella station, you can purchase tickets from the Trenitalia website or at the ticket window in the train station.

To arrive at Cinque Terre you take the Regionale train to La Spezia Centrale (NOT La Spezia Migliarina).  *Note some trains stop at Pisa Centrale at which point you need to switch trains to make the final destination to La Spezia.  Tickets (2nd class economy) currently cost 13.50 euro each way (updated summer 2016). Remember to validate your ticket by stamping it at the box near the platform before riding to avoid a fine.

Riomaggiore, photo: Wikipedia

Once you arrive at La Spezia Centrale, you take a short local train to Riomaggiore (the first town of the Cinque Terre). This train timetable can also be found on the Trenitalia website (departing from La Spezia Centrale and arriving at Riomaggiore). This train departs a few times each hour and takes less then 10 minutes of travel. *Note the fast trains departing from La Spezia do not stop in every one of the 5 towns.  Some only stop in Monterosso (town #5) and Riomaggiore (town #1).

Manarola, photo: Wikipedia

Traveling between towns in the Cinque Terre

The towns of Cinque Terre (Moterosso – town #5, Vernazza – town #4, Corniglia – town #3, Manarola – town #2, Riomaggiore – town #1) are minutes apart by trains departing hourly or by boat, depending upon the season. The train travels between towns in two directions – per Genova (northbound) or per La Spezia (southbound) they depart in hourly intervals which can be viewed on the TV monitors located in the stations. Ticket prices were raised in 2016 and it now costs €4 for travel between any of the towns (whether you go between 2 close together or across the whole area). Be sure to stamp your tickets before hopping on board.

If you plan on taking the train frequently during your visit, there is a Cinque Terre Card with train package that includes the local train, elevators for the mobility impaired, access to the main hiking trail, and discounts on museums. This card is discounted if you stay overnight in the Cinque Terre.

Vernazza, Cinque Terre, 2005

If you are  feeling active you can hike between the towns.  The hiking trails that connect the towns is a great way to see the area and soak in the beauty and colors of the coast. If you choose to hike, be sure you are prepared with sunscreen and water to avoid heat exhaustion if visiting in the hot summer months, and wear proper shoes. Be informed about any trail closures: the famous via dell’Amore is closed in two sections, between Riomaggiore and Manarola, and from Manarola to Corniglia. This closure is long term due to landslides.

Monterosso, photo: Wikipedia

After enjoying a lovely day throughout the towns of Cinque Terre it is best to make your way back to La Spezia Centrale and hop on a regional train.  A few of the local trains that you used to connect towns within Cinque Terre do travel to larger destinations such as Pisa and Milan however it is much faster to ride a larger train departing from La Spezia. Especially if you have come on a day trip, make sure to write down the departure time of the last train for the evening and all the other connections you need to make. Given that trains are often late, it is best to take the second last train, rather than the latest one.

Corniglia, photo: Wikipedia

Travel by coach or car

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An alternate, perhaps slightly more costly way of visiting Cinque Terre is through an organized tour. For just over 100 euro per person you can save yourself the trouble of thinking about train connections – most tours include transportation by bus, departing within the city center of Florence, as well as a tour in English and a lunch. I recommend the Mercedes cars and drivers of the small group tours by Prestige Rent – click the banner above for more information.

You cannot reach Cinque Terre easily by private car because the towns’ historical centers are not accessible to anyone by car, not even residents! If you do have to go using your own/rental car you’ll need to park in La Spezia.

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By: arttrav

Alexandra Korey aka ArtTrav is a Florence-based art historian and arts marketing consultant.

  • Studio Art Centers Internation

    Thanks, Alexandra! This is very helpful for SACI students and others interested in traveling to this beautiful seaside.

  • http://www.arttrav.com arttrav

    Thanks Chiara! I hope SACI students can enjoy the Cinque Terre and maybe stay a bit longer than many study abroad students do. It’s a chance to connect with the territory, if one creates these opportunities (if you’re sharing the article with students, make sure to tell them about, or link to my article, sustainable tourism in the area).
    Thanks for reading
    Alexandra

  • Ming Zheng

    I am having a hard time booking the tickets from Florence to Riomaggiore in the USA. I believe it is the regionale trains. Any ideals?

    If I buy the ticket at the Florence Firenze S M Novella. Is it one ticket from Florence to Riomaggiore? And can I buy a round-trip ticket? Thank you for your help.

  • http://www.arttrav.com arttrav

    Hi Ming
    As the tickets are regional, they can be purchased only 1 week in advance, and there are no reserved seats. So there’s no reason to buy them in advance, just get them at the station the day you travel, or at any time when you are in Italy.
    The tickets should be Florence to La Spezia. To get to Riomaggiore you’ll buy a little bus-ticket kinda thing for the little train that goes between the towns.
    Enjoy the trip!
    Alexandra

  • D’Leigh Mezzatesta

    How long is the train ride from Florence to La Spezia?

  • http://www.arttrav.com arttrav

    Hi, It’s 2 to 2.5 hours depending on the train type. I checked for you on trenitalia.com where you can see the hours and trip lengths.

  • http://www.arttrav.com arttrav

    Glad you found it useful, Patrick! I hope the weather gets less windy for you!

  • http://www.arttrav.com arttrav

    glad to be of help!
    Do check out the Florence section of this blog for lots more florence ideas, especially exhibitions and ” off the beaten track” tips.
    Best regards
    Alexandra

  • Krisen

    Hi Alexandra! I’m going to Italy for 5 days and I much prefer smaller cities/ greenery. I definitely want to make a trip to Cinque Terre from Florence, but are there any tour groups you know of/ recommend? Thank you!

  • http://www.arttrav.com arttrav

    Hi Krisen,
    Sure, if you don’t feel like taking a train by yourself, there’s this really good quality private tour company that I know, called Prestige Rent. They do a day trip to Cinque Terre, here it is: https://www.prestigerent.com/small-group-tours/florence-tuscany/cinque-terre-pisa
    If you (or anyone else reading this) contact them please tell them that Alexandra from arttrav sent you – Saverio is the owner’s name, and you might ask for Giovanni as a driver, he’s a great guy!

  • Mireia

    Hello! What about the 5Terre Card? Do you think is a good option? We will sleep 1 night at La Spezia and we can get to Riomaggiore by car. Is it better to use the car or to get there by train from La Spezia Centrale? Do you know if the card is valid to travel from La Spezia Centrale to the towns?
    In the other hand, the prize of the rides in between towns is higer in the trenitalia website (3,60€) than you said (1,80€). Is it a different company?
    Thank you! The post was so useful! :)

  • http://www.arttrav.com arttrav

    Hi
    I’m afraid I don’t know about the Cinque Terre Card! I just looked it up on their websit e and I get the feeling that it’s not something really necessary, since all the park areas I’ve been to were free – unless maybe they have started charging for things recently. I am going to tweet to the official manager of the card asking them to answer your question on this blog. If you’re on twitter look at @arttrav and @parco5terre

    Similarly it’s possible that the regional train ticket has gone up in price since this post is from quite some years ago. It is indeed still Trenitalia – that’s the ONLY company! Perhaps the 1.80 cost was between single towns but not if you were to take the train from say, the first to the last all at once?!

  • Alexis

    Very helpful! We’re staying in the Cinque Terre and then would like to head from there to Maremma. However, I’m having trouble finding out how to get from Cinque Terre to Maremma by train or bus – do you happen to have any information about this? Thanks in advance!

  • http://www.arttrav.com arttrav

    Hi Alexis
    Unfortunately, the public transportation system in italy works on central hubs. Maremma is also not well connected to start with, so it’ll depend where in the maremma you’re trying to get to… and once you are there, you’ll need a car to actually see anything.
    To get to say, Grosseto or Castiglioncello from Cinque Terre there is a train line that runs down the coast (I just looked that up for you), so you’d be doing local trains from La Spezia to Pisa, livorno, and then down the coast the whole way. It takes 4 hours on the local train – I actually thought it would be worse. But like I said, to explore Maremma, you’ll want to do that with a car. PS search Maremma on this blog, i go there a lot!

  • Jacquie

    Hello! we just purchased tickets from florence to la spezia centrale from the trenitalia website and were wondering if the times on the ticket are strict? We were hoping to spend a few hours in Pisa before heading to Cinque Terre but haven’t the slightest idea what the train system is like in Italy. If we simply stamp our tickets before the train we get on is that alright? Also I was pretty sure we chose the “return” tickets but we weren’t given an option for a train to head back to Florence. Do we need to purchase separately? Thanks in advance!

  • http://www.arttrav.com arttrav

    Hi Jacquie,
    It depends what kind of train tickets you booked. If they are regional trains, you don’t have assigned seats, so the ticket is valid for 3-4 months (can’t recall which) and you just VALIDATE it before getting on board, and so you can take whatever train time you choose.
    If they are intercity trains the reservation is obligatory, so you do have to pick the train time, and no, that’s not flexible :).
    If you are just doing a day trip to Cinque Terre from Florence it’s a very full day already without stopping in pisa. If you take a hired car service they do often stop at the leaning tower for literally half an hour on the way back, but if you’re doing it by train, you’re really going to need all the time you can get. The last train out is not very late at night, and the whole thing is so slow. You’ll barely have 6 hours in the cinque terre as is!
    Enjoy (nonetheless)
    Alexandra

  • Poni

    Hello! I’m checking the timetable at trenitalia website and find the time between changing train is quite short, e.g. train from Florence to La Spezia and La Spezia to Riomaggiore are only 5 minutes apart. Is this enough time to take out the luggage and find the right platform? Do we need to validate the tickets again for the 2nd route? Thank you for your help!

  • http://www.arttrav.com arttrav

    Hi Poni
    You do need to validate the ticket for the second part of the route UNLESS you actually buy a single train ticket that goes to riomaggiore, which might be the case. (I mention buying a local ticket between towns, so in that case you’d have to validate that one.)
    I believe the local train from la spezia to the towns runs pretty often and i would plan on taking the next train so you’re not rushing. 5 minutes is not a lot of time, especially as the first train will probably be late. Never assume less than 8 minutes delay on any italian local train (the only ones that run on time are the freccia rosso/argento and Italo). That said, the second train may also be late so you might make it! The word of the day is FLEXIBILITY – you can always try to make the connection but don’t be disappointed if you have to wait a bit for the next train. Have a cappuccino :)

  • Gwen Kolb

    Hi Alexandra! Do you recommend buying train tickets online and printing them out? Thank you!

  • http://www.arttrav.com arttrav

    absolutely, if you can make your way through the trenitalia website okay – it’s certainly more practical than waiting in person.
    The only downside is that if you buy online you need to respect the train time you choose, whereas buying in person, your ticket is valid to use for 4 months.

  • Gwen Kolb

    Hmmmm so the line is usually long in person? Is there a chance of a train getting sold out? We are also planning on taking a train from Cinque Terre to Rome, do you know if we can get the tickets there? I just don’t know if I have access to print tickets

  • http://www.arttrav.com arttrav

    Hi Gwen
    At Florence’s train station and other major stations there is always a long line to buy tickets in person. At small stations like in the cinque terre probably there is no line up, but there also may be no humans. However, there are machines to buy tickets.
    The eurostar fast trains may sell out (at least in the good price range of tickets at the hours one wants) while the regional trains don’t have assigned seating, so they don’t sell out per se, they just can be crowded.
    Trains are so much fun aren’t they :) !
    The fact is: don’t worry about it too much. You’ll get there!
    Alexandra

  • Jigeeshu Joshi

    Hi Alexandra,
    very useful and practical bit of info. I did like to know few more things. I am going to spend 4 full days in florence which are very less. I wish to visit cinque terre for a day. Besides that which places do you recommend. I wish to see siena and san gimignano. And one or two day i will spend in florence. Do you think i can go somewhere else skipping the places that i mentioned here.

  • http://www.arttrav.com arttrav

    Dear Jigeeshu Joshi
    I think you have a very short time in Florence and Tuscany – 4 days in Florence, of which you will also go to Cinque Terre, Siena and San Gimignano!? Cinque Terre is a bit more than a day trip but if you are going just for the day from Florence, I suggest you take a private bus tour like the one mentioned in the comments above.
    For other places, I recommend you stay in Florence, which has a LOT to see – you will never get to know the city, its artisans and fashion as well as museums and churches, without being there for 3 full days or even a week! Siena and San Gimignano can be done together as a day trip – again, if you can afford a car with driver contact these guys and tell them alexandra at arttrav sent you: https://www.prestigerent.com/contact-prestige-rent#.VUxUABfV_-c – it’s a lot more efficient to go this way instead of public transportation, and if you have so little time, I think you should use it wisely.
    There are LOTS of other things to see around Florence, but given your limited time, I really suggest you don’t go anywhere else.
    Best regards
    Alexandra

  • Lin Louis

    1. if i want to go from florence to monterosso where my hotel is, should i buy a ticket from firenze SMN direct to Monterosso? or just purchase a ticket from Firenze to La spezia Centrale, then purchase another train tickets from La spezia to Monterosso? also, when in cinque terre, but the Cinque Terre Card?
    2. if i want to visit Pisa leaning tower, should i buy separate ticket on my return trip from cinque terre to Florence, i.e. one ticket from La spezia to pisa , then another from Pisa to Firenze? so that to allow sufficient time for site seeing in Pisa?

  • http://www.arttrav.com arttrav

    Dear Lin,
    I’m afraid I don’t work for the train company and cannot answer all your questions. I can tell you that a regional ticket lasts 6 hours so I don’t think you can fit in a pisa visit, so you need to break up that trip into two sections.
    Best regards
    Alexandra

  • Pingo

    “If you do have to go using your own/rental car you’ll need to park in La Spezia.”

    Not correct – there is parking at the entrance of Riomaggiore.

  • http://www.arttrav.com arttrav

    Thank you.

  • Ozimandius

    Thanks, this helps. I’ve planned a 12 day vacation in Italy and the first hotel I booked was in Manarola. Now I’m trying to figure out what the best way to Cinque Terre is if I were to arrive at Rome > Siena > Florence > Pisa.

  • http://www.arttrav.com arttrav

    Hi there. Wow, if I were you I would give myself a day’s rest after flying in to complete travel towards the Cinque Terre. If you’re flying into Rome, why not acclimatize for a few days, then make the trip on the local train from Florence? Depending where you’re flying from, Pisa would be the best option – Pisa is the closest airport to the Cinque Terre.

  • Simi

    I have planned 2 days in florence & then go to venice but them want to visit lasspezia on my way to pisa & get back to florence in aday, is it possible

  • http://www.arttrav.com arttrav

    Hi Simi
    I think you are trying to fit too much into one day – and possibly into your whole itinerary! Since this area is not super well connected by train, it’s best to leave a whole, very long day for this day trip. There’s not much to see in La Spezia, you have to go from there into the rest of the cinque terre.
    If you have money to spend on a private driver, there’s a link to one I suggest on this page – let them know that I recommended them and ask for a good rate – that might be the only way to fit it all into one day. best regards
    Alexandra

  • Marc-André Garneau

    Thanks for this article. It helped a lot. Me and my friend are planning to spend 2 days in Florence and then take the train the next morning to Cinque Terre. We will be sleeping there and leaving the next morning. Will we have enough time to see the musts? Also, should we book our night in one of the Cinque Terre or in La Spezia to save money? Thanks again!

  • http://www.arttrav.com arttrav

    Hi Marc
    I guess you will have enough time to do a small hike and see some of the coast. I’m afraid I don’t really have any sleeping recommendations. If you don’t have to leave very early in the morning if it were me I’d work my way in to the cinque terre on the exploration day, sleep at the far end and then start on the regional train to begin my trip back.
    Alexandra

  • Edith Weinstein

    Hi Alexandra, Thanks for your informative piece on the Cinque Terre. I’ll be in Florence with my 10 year old grandson for 12 days in early May. I have found an organized day trip through Viator to Cinque Terre. Should we do that or is it more efficient just to do it on our own? He speaks Dutch and Hungarian and I speak English and Hungarian. We have been planning other day-trips as well. Still I wonder if one day is enough to spend at Cinque Terre. Thanks, Edith

  • http://www.arttrav.com arttrav

    Hi Edith,
    You know what, I think the day trip with a tour bus IS a good idea. It’s not going to be the most adventurous and of course you’ll be around other people, but it’s one of the best ways to get there without having to worry about anything and have a good long day. With a young person, too, it’s best just to keep it simple – good choice, and enjoy! Send me photos! Alexandra

  • Edith Weinstein

    Thanks, Alexandra, I will send you photos

  • Zutopia

    Hello Alexandra, Great read and thank you for sharing this information. I will be staying in Florence for 3 days, followed by traveling to Cinque Terre for a 3-4 days. Would it be efficient staying in La Spezia while taking day trips out to Cinque Terre and maybe some other places around La Spezia? Thank you! Jim

  • http://www.arttrav.com arttrav

    Hi Jim
    As I mention in a lot of the comments on this article, I live in Florence and am not a cinque terre expert. But I don’t think that the cinque terre is about efficiency. I wouldn’t stay in la spezia, being the least charming town. If you’re actually staying 3 days there, that is GREAT because most people just go for the day, and it really deserves a slower form of travel. Find a cute place in the middle! I don’t think there is must “around” la spezia, but honestly, i’ve never traveled around the area.
    Alexandra

  • nixit

    Hi Alexandra, people like makes traveler’s life so easy :).
    I need your help to understand how to do the cinque terre day trip with a toddler, we are 2 couples with 2 boys less than 2 years old and are not able to figure out what is the best way to do it? Can you suggest something or give is a few tips. Tanks in Advance.

  • http://www.arttrav.com arttrav

    Hi Nixit
    I am not a real expert on the Cinque Terre as a destination, but have just written about the logistics of the day trip. But as mentioned in the article, I don’t actually recommend doing this day trip as it is a really long day out, and very tiring. So frankly if i were you i would not do it with two children under 2 years old. If possible book 2 nights in the area and stay for 3 days, the children will enjoy the beach and you can carry them on some short hikes. If you desperately want to go there, and can pay for it, pay for a private driver with a 10 seat van (there’s a recommendation in this post as a banner, if you write to them please mention that arttrav sent you). If the appeal of the cinque terre is the coast and you want a cheaper, easy and child-friendly solution to see the sea for the day, you can take the train to viareggio in one hour. Good luck!
    Alexandra

  • Bibi Ndala

    Hi Alexandra!
    Great article and very helpful
    Any particular attraction or city and cinque terre you recommend more then others?

    Thank you