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Cinque Terre is a truly magical set of towns, nestled on the coast of Italy. Located only 2.5-3 hours outside of Florence, this seaside region is nothing like the large cities of Italy. For those of you who are not familiar with the area, Cinque Terre is more accurately a region, rather than a singular city. The region of Cinque Terre is made up of five waterfront villages: Riomaggiore, Monterosso, Vernazza, Manarola, and Corniglia.
Cinque Terre Basics
Where is Cinque Terre located? Cinque Terre is located in the Liguria region, just above the region of Tuscany. It is a series of 5 small coastal towns.
How far is Cinque Terre from Florence
Luckily, Cinque Terre is located relatively close to one of Italy’s major cities, Florence. The distance between Cinque Terre and Florence is about 200 kilometers, or 125 miles. The towns of Cinque Terre are located northwest of Florence, along the coast. Depending on your mode of transportation, while I will outline below, it should take 2.5 to 3 hours to travel from Florence to Cinque Terre.
How much time should I spend at the Cinque Terre?
While it is possible to visit Cinque Terre on a day trip, I personally recommend spending at least 2 nights. We spent 2 nights in Cinque Terre on my last visit, which allowed us one full day to explore without worrying about trains or buses. If your timeline allows, I would add a few extra days on to your time in Cinque Terre, to enjoy the slow, peaceful towns.
How to get from Florence to Cinque Terre
Traveling from Florence to Cinque Terre by car is definitely one of the fastest ways, however it is not the easiest. This is because the roads in Cinque Terre are narrow and windy. It can also be quite difficult to find parking, especially cheap parking. If you do want to travel from Florence to Cinque Terre by car, I recommend leaving it at the train station in La Spezia, and finishing the journey by train. You won’t need a car to explore the area, so this will makes things much easier for you! You can reach the first town of Riomaggiore from La Spezia by train in about 10 minutes.
For these reasons, if you only have one day to spend in Cinque Terre and won’t be overnighting before returning to Florence, then I definitely recommend booking a guided tour.
In my opinion, if you do not have your own car in Italy, the train is by far the best way to get from Florence to Cinque Terre. You will start your journey at the Firenze Santa Maria Novella station, and make your way to the La Spezia Centrale station located just outside of Cinque Terre. Oftentimes this means changing trains in Pisa, which will add some time onto your journey, but there are a few direct trains between the two stations. If you manage to catch a direct train, you can make the journey in about 2.5 hours.
Once you arrive in Spezia, you will need to transfer to a new train to make your way to one of the five coastal villages, or “cinque” terre. Travel times vary depending on which village you are starting at, however you can reach the first village of Riomaggiore in approximately 10 minutes. Once in Spezia, make sure to purchase your Cinque Terre Train Card.
One-way tickets from Florence to Riomaggiore start at $19.
There are also trains that connect in Pisa on the way to Spezia. While this won’t save you any time or money, it could be a good opportunity to see Pisa’s famous tour on the way. We stopped here on our way back to Florence, stored our luggage at the train station for a small price, and spent the day exploring.
Your journey to Cinque Terre will start the same with a train ride to La Spezia. However, once you arrive you are able to finish your journey on a ferry for a scenic ride. This method takes considerably longer than the quick train ride, but it’s a beautiful experience if you have the time.
You can purchase either a one-day or half-day ticket, which will allow you to hop on and off the boat between the different villages. A one-day ticket costs 30 euro ($36). As a note, the boat does not stop in Corniglia, but you can reach it by hiking or taking the train from one of the other villages if you wish to visit.
Best Time to Visit Cinque Terre
In my opinion, the fall is the best time to visit Cinque Terre. Although the weather wouldn’t be as “perfect” as the summer months, it will be much less busy! This is also the best time to find cheaper flights and hotel options.
Florence to Cinque Terre Day Trip
I’m not usually one to recommend a guided tour, however if you’re planning to travel from Florence to Cinque Terre on a day trip it is a great option. As I mentioned above, traveling from Florence to CInque Terre with a private car can be quite complicated. Between traffic, narrow windy roads, and expensive parking fees, having your own car in Cinque Terre can be more of a hassle than anything. However, taking the train both ways on a day trip can also be time-consuming.
If you are planning to take a one-day guided tour to Cinque Terre from Florence, you should expect a long, full day. Most tours are 12-14 hours.
Getting Around Cinque Terre
As I mentioned above, you definitely do not need a car to get around Cinque Terre. Each of the towns are super walkable, and they are well connected by boats and trains.
Cinque Terre Train Card
Getting around Cinque Terre by train is definitely the fastest and easiest method! The Cinque Terre Train gives you access to both the hiking trails and unlimited train rides for the duration of your pass. Tickets are valid until midnight on the date of purchase.
|1 Day||16 euro|
|2 Day||29 euro|
|3 Day||41 euro|
The boat is a great option for getting around Cinque Terre during the summer months if you have plenty of time. The travel time between each town is much longer, but it’s almost like taking a mini cruise (with the best views).
|1 Day Cinque Terre + Portovenere||35 euro|
|Afternoon only Cinque Terre + Portovenere||27 euro|
|1 Day Cinque Terre Only||30 euro|
|Afternoon only Cinque Terre||27 euro|
Luxury: The First – La Vista di Marina
If you’re looking to splurge then The First – La Vista di Marina is right place for you. With ocean-facing rooms, equipped with large balconies. If you’re traveling in a group, I recommend the penthouse apartment.
Mid-Range: Alla Marina Affittacamere
Located right by the little harbor in Riomaggiore, this cozy spot is just a 5 minute walk from the train station. The room is pretty basic, but the location is absolutely prime (and even better if you snag a sea-view room). Breakfast is included with most room rates.
Where to Stay in Cinque Terre
Budget: Ostello Tramonti
Ostello Tramonti is a great option for travelers on a budget. Located just 2 kilometers outside of the villages, in a town called Biassa, Ostello Tramonti is an affordable hostel option. This location allowed for us to get an early start in Riomaggiore, as well as enjoy the sunset in the villages without having to rush back to a far off larger city. This hostel is the ideal location for travelers on a budget! They offered a delicious, but small, breakfast for 3,50 euros, as well as very delicious dinner sets for approximately 10 euros. For the convenience of the guests, the hostel provides a shuttle to and from Riomaggiore. The shuttle runs from 8:30am to 10 am and then again from 8:30pm to 10 pm, for 1 euro each way.
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