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

Florence to Cinque Terre day trip
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Planning a Florence to Cinque Terre day trip? In this guide, we’re sharing all you need to know for your day trip, including a complete itinerary, a transportation guide, tour options, and tips on how to make the most out of your visit to Cinque Terre.

The Cinque Terre are five villages sitting along the coast of the Italian Riviera. The picturesque views, multi-colored coastal houses, and incredible scenery make this one of the most popular spots to visit in all of Italy.

We have been to Cinque Terre several times, including a day trip from Florence. This day trip is very doable, and we’re sharing the perfect itinerary to see Cinque Terre in one day.

With a mix of hiking, sightseeing, and even swimming, you’ll experience a bit of everything on this adventure filled day trip from Florence.

How to Get from Florence to Cinque Terre

Water in 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 get to Cinque Terre, take the train from Florence Santa Maria Novella station to La Spezia Centrale. The journey takes around 2.5 hours each way.

There are two train routes from Florence to La Spezia. The first one is a direct route and the second one has a stopover at Pisa Centrale. Both take similar amounts of time, so it doesn’t matter which route you choose.

We highly suggest booking an early morning train that arrives no later than 9:30AM. You will need the entire day for this Cinque Terre day trip.

Our train left Florence at 7AM and arrived in La Spezia at 9:30AM. This included a change in Pisa. Our return ticket was booked for 8PM, and we felt like that was plenty of time for a full day.

Booking train tickets in Italy

Book your train tickets online in advance using the Trenitalia website or app. Try to purchase your tickets at least 3 weeks in advance to get the best prices.

We recommend downloading the Trenitalia app to book all your train tickets in Italy. It’s the easiest and most convenient way to get around, since everything is all in one place.

La Spezia to Cinque Terre

Once you arrive in La Spezia, you need to change trains to access the Cinque Terre via the Cinque Terre Express train. This is a completely different train system, and you need to purchase the Cinque Terre train card. We’ve included more information on these tickets in the next section.

Florence to Cinque Terre by car

Many people wonder if they can drive to Cinque Terre? While it is possible, we do not recommend it, especially for a day trip from Florence.

Parking is difficult to find and it’s more of a hassle than taking the train.

If you plan to drive, here is our recommendation. Drive to La Spezia and park there – do not try to drive to each village because it’s very difficult to navigate.

The drive from Florence to La Spezia takes between 1 hour 45 minutes to 2 hours. Parking is available near the train station.

From the train station, hop on the Cinque Terre Express train and navigate between the villages via the local train system.

The Cinque Terre Card

Vernazza in Cinque Terre

The Cinque Terre Card is your all-access pass to the trains and hiking paths around the 5 towns.

There are two types of passes:

We recommend buying the first option, the Cinque Terre train card, so you have access to both the hiking trails and trains for the entire day.

You can either purchase the train card online in advance or in-person at the La Spezia train station when you arrive. Book the card online to avoid the long lines at the station!

Trust us, we made the mistake of waiting to buy the card in La Spezia, and it almost took us an hour to get it. Cinque Terre gets extremely busy during the summer, and you’ll be grateful to avoid the lines once you arrive.

The trains depart from La Spezia a few times every hour, so you’ll have plenty of opportunities to catch the trains throughout the day. The journey time between each of the villages is only about 4-6 minutes.

Check the timetable for the 2024 Cinque Terre Express trains here.

High Season in Cinque Terre

During the high season (May – September), the trains can get very crowded. We visited at the end of September, and we could barely squeeze onto the trains because they were so packed (see photos below).

Crowds in Cinque Terre

If you are visiting Cinque Terre during these months, plan for an extra 30 minutes of waiting time between each village.

Cinque Terre Ferry

There is a ferry service that runs between all of the towns except Corniglia. The ferries operate from March 23, 2024 – November 3, 2024.

The ferry runs less frequently and takes much longer than the train, which is why we would advise against taking the ferry for your day trip. If you are looking for a scenic boat ride, then you could take it from one town to the next and take the train the rest of the way.

Here’s the link to the ferry company and the current timetable.

Hiking in Cinque Terre National Park

Vernazza to Corniglia Hike
Views on the hike from Vernazza to Corniglia

Hiking in Cinque Terre National Park is one of our favorite things to do in all of Italy! The views are absolutely stunning everywhere you look.

The most popular trail is the Blue Trail, which is 7.5 miles (12 km) long and takes you to each of the five towns. The hiking path starts in Riomaggiore and ends in the last village, Monterosso al Mare or vice versa.

Sadly, there were mudslides a few years ago, so a couple of the trails are closed.

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

There are alternative trails for these routes; however, they will take much longer. Check out this site for updates and current statuses on all of the trails in Cinque Terre.

Two of the trails are still open for hiking during the spring to fall seasons.

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

We hiked between Vernazza and Corniglia on our day trip to Cinque Terre from Flornece, and we absolutely loved it! If you had to choose one hike, then we recommend this one. We’ll share more on this below.

Itinerary for your Florence to Cinque Terre Day Trip

Monterosso al Mare Beach

The Cinque Terre are made up of five charming fishing villages: Riomaggiore, Vernazza, Corniglia, Monterosso al Mare, and Manarola.

Our day trip itinerary includes a bit of everything – hiking, sightseeing, and swimming if the weather permits.

We recommend starting your day in Monterosso al Mare, the furthest town from La Spezia, and making your way back to Riomaggiore at the end of the day.

Note: You can take your day trip at your own pace and use our tips to tailor the day towards your preferences. Not into hiking? Spend more time at the beach in Monterosso. Prefer more hiking? Hike between 2 villages instead of 1.

With that being said, here is our suggested Florence to Cinque Terre day trip itinerary.

Monterosso al Mare

Monterosso al Mare

Once you arrive in La Spezia, hop on the Cinque Terre Express train to Monterosso al Mare, the northernmost town of the five towns. It takes about 25 minutes to get there from La Spezia.

Monterosso al Mare is the largest of the five towns and is known for its beaches. This is the place to go swimming or hang out at the beach.

Monterosso is split up into two sections: the old town and the new town.

The train station is in the new town, so from here, you can walk to the only sandy beach in all of the Cinque Terre and go for a swim. It’s a stunning beach with classic Italian striped umbrellas and endless views of the Mediterranean.

Make your way to the old town via the tunnel and visit the Aurora tower, discover the ancient castle ruins, and walk through the small streets.

From here, you can either hike to Vernazza along the Blue Trail or walk back to the train station and take the train.

The hike to Vernazza is 3.3km and takes around 1.5 hours to complete. Make sure to have your Cinque Terre Card on hand, as you’ll need to show your pass to use the trail.


Vernazza Cinque Terre Day Trip

Vernazza, in my opinion, is the most beautiful of the five towns. The small harbor is surrounded by vibrant colored buildings and endless sea views. This is the Cinque Terre you see in all of the postcard worthy photos.

The best views of Vernazza are up the hill and on the trail that leads from/to Monterosso. If you hike to Vernazza, then you’ll get to enjoy the stunning views along the trail.

If you take the train, then it’s definitely worth it to hike up the hills for the panoramic views. Just google the trail to Monterosso and walk up to the starting point for the best photo spot.

We stopped for a pre-lunch snack at Batti Batti’ Foccaceria for a slice of delicious focaccia pizza. You’ll need it to fuel you for the hike from Vernazza to Corniglia.

Colorful buildings in Cinque Terre

After exploring the quaint streets and old fishing port, we made our way up many steps through the town to continue our journey to Corniglia.

Tip: There is a public tap in the main square near the beach that you can use to fill up your water bottle. Make sure to have a full water bottle for the hike to Corniglia. All taps that say “Aqua Potible” have potable water.


Corniglia, Italy

The hike from Vernazza to Corniglia is one of our favorite parts of the day trip from Florence to Cinque Terre. The path winds you through terraced vineyards and ancient olive groves and offers endless views of the Mediterranean sea.

You can even stop at a little shop on the way to get a lemon and orange granita. Hot tip: it’s delicious and refreshing!

The trail to Corniglia from Vernazza is 4km and took us about 1.5 hours. It is a dirt trail with a few uphill and downhill climbs. Overall, it’s a pretty moderate hike.

Hike to Corniglia

If you decide to take the train from Vernazza to Corniglia instead of hiking, then you’ll have to climb up 382 steps from the station to get to Corniglia. It’s on a hill and is not easily accessible – this is why we think it’s best to hike there instead.

Corniglia is smallest of the five towns and is worth a quick walk around before heading to the next town.


Manarola Italy

Since the trail is closed between Corniglia and Manarola, you will need to catch the train from Corniglia.

Manarola is one of the most picturesque towns and is known for being the best out of the five towns to watch the sunset. Head to the Punta Bonfiglio viewpoint for the most iconic view of Manarola.

This is also a good opportunity for some swimming or rock jumping. You’ll find many people swimming around the rocks near the small port.

Swimming in Riomaggiore

If you are hungry and want to pick up a late lunch or early dinner, we recommend Trattoria da Billy for delicious food and beautiful sea views.



Riomaggiore is the fifth and final stop on your Cinque Terre day trip. This is one of the larger towns, so take your time to wander through the streets for a while and visit some of the local shops.

For the best view of the town, make your way down to the harbor and walk along the rocks until you have a nice full view of Riomaggiore. Take some time to enjoy the breathtaking views of the city all lit up during sunset.

There are plenty of restaurants here if you want to stop somewhere for dinner. We heard from a friend that the Michelin recommended restaurant Rio Bistrot is excellent and also has picture-perfect views of the harbor. Just make sure to call and reserve at least one week in advance.

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

View from Riomaggiore in Cinque Terre

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?

Yes! One day in Cinque Terre is plenty of time to explore all five towns, enjoy a hike or two, and go swimming. We have been to Cinque Terre several times, twice on day trips, and we always felt like we had plenty of time to see everything.

To make the most of your day trip, arrive to La Spezia no later than 9:30AM and leave after 7:00PM.

If you want to spend more time exploring Cinque Terre, then we recommend spending two full days here. One day for hiking and exploring the towns. The second day for relaxing at the beach, going on a boat ride, or visiting the nearby town Porto Venere.

Tips for Visiting Cinque Terre

cinque terre day trip
  • Make extra time for the trains – During the high season, the trains get really busy and packed. We know this from first hand experience. Unfortunately, Cinque Terre has become extremely over crowded from May to September, so expect train delays and plan on extra time getting between towns. We had a few experiences where we weren’t able to get on a train because it was too packed and had to wait for the next one (which was also crowded).
  • Visit during the shoulder season or low season – If you want a more calm experience during your day trip to Cinque Terre, we recommend visiting in between April – May and late September – October.
  • Be prepared – Bring a hat, sunscreen, and a water bottle to refill. The days get hot and the sun is harsh, you’ll be happy to have these things with you.
  • Bring comfortable shoes – Bring sturdy shoes if you’re hiking the trails. The trails are rocky and uneven, and it’s helpful to have comfortable shoes for day. If you want to hike in sandals, you can wear Birkenstocks or similar shoes. We hiked with someone who was wearing these and they did fine.
  • Buy your Cinque Terre card in advance – To avoid the lines, buy your Cinque Terre Card online. This way you can make the most out of your day trip from Pisa to the Cinque Terre without wasting any time.
  • Bring a swimsuit – If you’re visiting during the warmer months, bring a swimsuit to go for a swim in the Mediterranean sea! With the beach in Monterosso and swimming opportunities in Manarola, you should definitely take advantage and enjoy the water.
  • Leave early – Try to take the train from Pisa to La Spezia early in the morning (around 7am or 8am) to beat the crowds. You’ll also have more time during the day and won’t feel as rushed with this extra time.
  • Make lunch and dinner reservations in advance – If you plan to eat either lunch or dinner at a proper restaurant in Cinque Terre, then do your research ahead of time and book in advance (at least a day or two). There are plenty of options to grab and go (pizza, sandwiches, etc.), but for a dine in experience, you’ll need to make a reservation by calling a couple of days ahead of time.

More Information for your trip to Italy


Italy Travel Insurance – Should you get travel insurance for Italy? YES! We always get travel insurance before all of our trips for peace of mind. Check out Travel Insurance Master to find the best plan for you.

Italy Rental Cars – Is it safe to rent a car in Italy? Yes! We’ve rented a car in Italy too many times to count, and it’s definitely the most convenient way to get around the countryside. We rented our car through Discover Cars (our go-to rental agency), which helps you find the best rates no matter where you are traveling.

Italy Phone Plans – If your phone plan does not offer free coverage in Italy, then we suggest getting an eSIM. We used Airalo during our trip to Italy, and we had fantastic coverage the entire time. It’s easy to download and you can even top up via the app if needed.

Italy Hotels – Wondering where to book your accommodations for Italy? We’ve been reserving all of our hotels through Booking for years. Their messaging tool makes it easy to communicate with the hotels, and there are endless options to choose from.

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  1. Hi Colin and Jenoa, Thank you very much for all your info, we are going to Italy in May, visiting Milan , Florence and Rome.
    Thanks, regards

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