The Cinque Terre Train: A How-To Guide

May 02, 2013

You’ve bought your flights, booked your hotels, and made the excruciating choice between the Cinque Terre and Amalfi Coast (or if you still need help with that, check out our blog on how to decide between Italy’s most popular coastlines) – you’re going with the Cinque Terre! Now you just need to find out how to get there and get around when you’re there. We’re here to help!

Even though the Cinque Terre is famous for its hiking, you might not always want to hoof it from one town to the next. That’s especially true if you’re short on time, since several of the hiking paths take 2 or 3 hours. (Not to mention can be difficult, risky, and even closed!). Driving between these seaside towns, on the other hand, simply isn’t an option. That’s where the train comes in. Walks of Italy also offers a day trip to Cinque Terre from Rome, for a taste of this beautiful region on a fully-guided tour by high-speed train.

Vernazza

Yes… you can reach beautiful Vernazza on the train!

Taking the Cinque Terre train is easy, but if you’re trying to figure it out for the first time—especially from far away—it can look more complicated than it is. Here are some of your most common questions, answered! (And here’s our guide for figuring out train travel in Italy in general!).

Where does the Cinque Terre train line go?

The Cinque Terre trains connect six stops: La Spezia (just to the southeast of the Cinque Terre, and the main transport hub for the area), the “official” Cinque Terre towns of Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza, and Monterosso, and the town of Levanto, in that order.

I’m coming from somewhere else in Italy, like Florence. How do I connect to the Cinque Terre train line?

Usually, you’ll have to connect in La Spezia. This station near the Cinque Terre is connected to cities across Italy, including Florence, Milan, and Venice (although in some cases, you’ll have to switch trains en route to La Spezia, as well).

But you don’t have to book your tickets to La Spezia, and then on to your chosen Cinque Terre town, separately. Instead, just plug in your starting point (say, Florence) and destination (say, Monterosso) on Trenitalia. The resulting page will tell you exactly what route to take (and where to switch trains). If you don’t opt for Trenitalia, why not try easy-to-use ItaliaRail? It provides 24/7 English-speaking customer service, facilitates multiple currency options and allows you to purchase tickets for up to 20 passengers in one booking. Oh, and it has a VIP Lounge in Rome Termini Station!

How long does it take to get between towns in the Cinque Terre on the train?

From La Spezia to Riomaggiore is 10 minutes. And between the actual Cinque Terre towns, it’s less than 5 minutes.

How often does the train run?

Ah, now that’s what makes this harder. The train doesn’t run very often—in fact, generally once an hour. Here’s the timetable for the Cinque Terre train for 2015, although it’s worth double-checking on the Trenitalia site for the most up-to-date information.

How expensive is it, and can I save money with a day pass?

Like most local trains in Italy, it’s very cheap between close stops. Vernazza to Corniglia, for example, costs €1.80. However, to save a little bit of money – and to avoid having to constantly buy, and validate (more on that later!) your tickets – you might want to get a Cinque Terre card. The card includes unlimited train travel on the whole Levanto to La Spezia line, as well as access to all hiking paths and some museum entrances. It costs €10 for one day or €19 for two days, and you can buy it at any of the area’s train stations.

How do I validate my train ticket?

We’re so glad you’re asking! Because the train tickets you buy aren’t time-stamped, they’ll need to be before you get on the train – so that, if you’re checked, the conductor knows that you haven’t used the ticket more than once. You can do this at one of the validation machines located on the train platform (they’re small and yellow). Just slide the narrow end of your ticket into the slot in the machine and wait until you hear it stamp your ticket.

 

by Walks of Italy

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366 responses to “The Cinque Terre Train: A How-To Guide”

  1. Another great way to hop between the Terre is by water. The view from the sea is spectacular, whereas the train ride is mostly through tunnels. You can combine boat, train and walking over several days of leisurely exploring and chilling out. Bliss!

    • Bud says:

      Can you provide some more details about boat rides please.

      • Kerrie says:

        The ferries run between the five terraces and Portovenere all day.We are staying in Riomaggiore now and have caught the ferries no problems and they run every half hour and sometimes less if it’s busy.

    • Annie says:

      Are there toilets on the ferry? Silly question, but essential!

      • Walks of Italy says:

        Ciao Annie, many of the ferries are equipped with toilets but we suggest asking the company before departing if having a bathroom on board is essential. Do let us know if you have any questions!

    • Dina says:

      Hi.. I will be visitng cinque terre on July for 2 nights. I have read that one day is enough to see and experience the beauty of CT. On my 2nd day, i am planning to go to Pisa. Is it possible to go there in the morning and back to CT in the afternoon? If so, would you mind helping me how to get to Pisa from CT and vise versa? Your suggestions would be a big help. Thank you in advance. 🙂

      • Walks of Italy says:

        Ciao Dina, we suggest traveling from CT to Pisa (and vice versa) by train, which usually takes an hour to ninety minutes. Buon viaggio!

    • Justin says:

      Hi Oliver, We will be visiting Porto Venere on a yacht and will be anchored locally. We would like to explore the CT north of Porto Venere by tender. If you only had a day and half to explore, what towns and sights would you focus on?

      • Walks of Italy says:

        Hi Justin,

        It so depends on what you’re interested in! If you’d like to hike along the famous trails in the area, you could even hike from Portovenere all the way to Riomaggiore, then take a ferry back. (Our article on Hiking Cinque Terre might help). This will take at least a half a day, but hiking in Cinque Terre is one of the most popular reasons to visit! Or if hiking isn’t your thing, try taking the train that connects the five towns together. They are all very close, and you could tour them each in a day and a half, though you wouldn’t have much time to stop. If you’re looking for just one town, we love romantic Vernazza!

    • Neveen says:

      Hello,
      we will be cursing the Mediterranean and arriving to La Spezia as one of Ports of Call. How can we get to the Terre? and what are good sea tours available between all the Terre? Thanks!

      • Walks of Italy says:

        Hi Neeven,

        You can get to Cinque Terre from La Spezia using a convenient and brief train. From there, a train connects all five of the towns together – each one is just 1-2 minutes away by train! Have a great trip!

  2. Thea says:

    This is very informative especially for someone like me who is about to visit CT in about two weeks. I am coming from Genova and I believe the closest station is the Prinsipe Stazione (sp?). Our guide will meet us at Rommagiorre. Thank you so much for this information!

  3. Geniene says:

    Hi, so happy we have found your informative website. We are planning 4 nights in Cinque terre. Just wondering what the fastest train route from Venice would be, and then on our departure from CT to Rome?
    Any suggestions welcome! Thanks,
    Ciao

    • Hi Geniene,
      Thanks for reaching out! Four days in the Cinque Terre sound wonderful. From Venice, you’re going to want to take the fast train to Florence, then switch to a train to La Spezia. The route takes 5 hours, and you can see the various options by putting in “Venezia” to begin and “La Spezia” to end on trenitalia.it. In La Spezia, you’ll then have to switch to the local, Cinque Terre train to get to the exact town you want to go in.

      From CT to Rome, you’ll go back to La Spezia, then on to Rome. Again, you can see the solutions on the Trenitalia site for your specific date. It’ll take about 4 hours.

      Let us know if we can help with anything else!

      • Donna says:

        There are 4 “venezia” options on trenitalia.it…which one is correct? Thanks!

        • Hi Donna,
          It depends on which train station you want to go to! The main one is Venezia-Santa Lucia. However, if you’re in doubt, look at Google maps to see which one might be closest to your hotel or to where you want to go.
          Let us know if we can help with anything else!

      • Reading the 2014 Cinque Terre train schedule, I’m confused about travel on Sundays. We need to leave Riomaggiore for La Spezia and on to Roma on Sunday, 27-July. Is the only choice the train at 9:00? If that is the only choice, I will choose an earlier train from La Spezia to Roma. Thanks for any help!

        • Walks of Italy says:

          Ciao Teresa! Since the Riomaggiore-La Spezia route is on a regional train, the schedule usually is not posted until a few weeks before the departure. Tickets can be purchased online one week in advance for this route. Let us know if you have any questions 🙂

          • Seniz says:

            Hi there, I too am leaving Riomaggiore on 24 August 14 but headed for Venice. I am planning on taking a train from La Spezia to Milan and swapping trains to get to Venice. I see from the above post that you say the schedule from Riomaggiore to La Spezia isn’t released until a few weeks before, but more generally, can you please tell me how frequent these trains are and what is the earliest they usually begin from. I am keen to catch a 7:47am train from La Spezia to Milan but want to make sure I can get to La Spezia from Riomaggiore in that time.
            Thanks for your help.

          • Walks of Italy says:

            Ciao! The first train usually leaves around 5:13 and runs once an hour, but this can depend on the day of the week. We suggest taking a look on the Trenitalia website a week before your trip or asking at the station when you arrive in Cinque Terre. Let us know if you have any questions!

  4. Joe Price says:

    Are reservations on the CT train:
    a) Possible?
    b) Required?

  5. Angie says:

    Great little blog. We are arriving in CT from France, by car. Would you know if there are any long-term car parks where we can leave the car for 10 days? Levanto? La Spezia? Is it possible to book car parking in advance? And how much is it likely to cost?! If really expensive, we might consider leaving the car elsewhere and travelling the last few hundred miles by train! Thank you for any advice you may be able to give.

    • Hi Angie,
      Good question! In La Spezia, there is free parking at the Piazza d’Armi parking lot, which also is connected to the city center via a free shuttle bus (more here). For information on parking in the Cinque Terre, check out the useful site here.

      Let us know if we can help with anything else!

      • Ida says:

        great blog that I have just stumbled on! Just a few questions, can we leave our car overnight in the car parks for free? Also, do we need to book the carpark?
        And last question, how long is the train ride from La Spezia to Riomaggiore?
        Thanks for your time.

        • Walks of Italy says:

          Ciao Ida! In La Spezia, there is free parking at the Piazza d’Armi parking lot, which also is connected to the city center via a free shuttle bus. For information on parking in the Cinque Terre, check out the useful site here. The train from La Spezia to Riomaggiore is approximately 7 minutes.

          Let us know if we can help with anything else!

  6. Mark says:

    What is best route if we are coming from Rome and want to see potofino and CT and end our travels in milan?
    Any hotel suggestions in C T?

    • Hi Mark,
      From Rome, you’ll want to take the train to La Spezia (don’t miss our post on how to travel Italy by train for help). To get to the Cinque Terre, you can then take the local train we talk about in this article. To get to Portofino, you’ll have to return to La Spezia and then take the regional train from there to Santa Margherita Ligure-Portofino; Portofino is 5 km away, which you can then access by either bus or by ferry. From there, you’ll want to return to La Spezia, or Genoa, and take the train to Milan.

      In the Cinque Terre, it depends on which town you want to stay in. No matter where, though, we’d recommend looking into B&Bs (check out their reviews on a site like Tripadvisor before booking anything), which tend to be the area’s most charming and also economic options.

      Let us know if we can help with anything else!

  7. Sandy says:

    Our cruise ship docks in La Spezia. How do we get to Florence from there. We only have the one day to tour Florence. Looking for the fastest and most cost effective way to do this.

    • Hi Sandy,
      Unfortunately, we don’t currently offer transfers between La Spezia and Florence, as it takes about 4 hours by car each way. Your fastest option instead is the train, which will take you 2 hours each way (it includes a train change at Pisa). To save on your fare, book your trains in advance, as this way you often can take advantage of discounts. You can do so on the Trenitalia site (click on the flag on the upper right of the page to change the language to English). Let us know if we can help with anything else!

  8. Jenn says:

    Hi, planning a day trip from milan. Any good recommendation on where to go?

    • Hi Jenn,
      We’re happy to help. What would you like to know, particularly? Most people like to visit at least a couple of the towns (especially Vernazza) and hike one or two of the trails between the villages. If you’re doing a day trip from Milan, that’s also about as much as you’ll have time to do. Let us know if we can help more specifically!

  9. Eria says:

    Hi,
    Is there a train from CT to Milan?

  10. Kathleen says:

    Hello Walks of Italy, I am super glad to have come across you guys and book a tour for tomorrow. I may save this question for ourguide tomorrow, but what is the best way to get from Rome to La Spezia? My friend and I are going to be in LS for three days and then spend maybe a half day in Pisa before we fly to Paris. Any tips? I feel nervous. Thank you 🙂

  11. Shirley Owens says:

    Hi our family of four are coming from Florence to Monterosso in October what is the best way to get there?

    • Hi Shirley,
      You’ll want to take the train to La Spezia, and then switch to the local Cinque Terre train to Monterosso. You might find our post on taking the train in Italy helpful for answering questions you might have about taking the train to La Spezia. Let us know if we can help with anything else!

      • Kate says:

        Hello,

        I am working on planning my train trip from Florence to Monterosso in July. When I search on trenitalia it tells me no travel solutions were found. Is this because the schedule hasn’t been posted yet? I was able to book my Rome to Florence tickets a while ago for just a couple days before we’re headed to Monterosso.

        Thanks!

        • Walks of Italy says:

          Ciao Kate! The train from Florence to Monterosso is a regional train and the timetable is usually posted just a few weeks before the departure. Please note that tickets can be purchased online only a week before. Buon viaggio!

  12. irene moore says:

    Hello We are hoping to go to milan to see the last supper we will be staying in sirmione in september
    I understand the nearest station is Desenzano I have looked but can’t seen to work out the return day fare this is for 4 adults we are thinking of the 11th or12th
    can you help Thanks Irene

    • Hi Irene,
      We’re happy to help! Prices start from 10 euros each way, and trains take an hour or 1.5 hours. You can look at the fares and times by going to trenitalia.com, clicking on “Tutti i treni” and putting in your starting point and destination.
      Let us know if we can help with anything else!

  13. Ankit says:

    Hi, cold you please help me figure out the best way to travel from Monterosso to Cannes, France.
    The only option i could figure was “Monterosso – Ventimiglia – Cannes” but it takes me a full day to do that as i have to leave at 8am and get to cannes at 4 pm..

  14. Chelsea says:

    Hi, I am travelling to CT in September we are catching the train to Monterosso from Milan which has been booked already. When leaving we are heading to Rome on the train. I looked on trenitalia website and they a train ticket all the way from Monterosso to Rome that changed over in La Spezia. I was wondering is it worth booking this or should I just use the local train to get to La Spezia at whatever time best suits and just book my ticket from La Spezia to Rome online? Thanks 🙂

    • Hi Chelsea,
      The leg from Monterosso to La Spezia isn’t likely to sell out, so that option would be fine. But if you don’t book that in advance, you wouldn’t want to book the second leg in advance either, as the time you’ll want to leave La Spezia will depend on when you get there 🙂 We’d recommend going to the Monterosso train station and booking the whole route at once at a kiosk or the desk there.
      Let us know if we can help with anything else!

  15. francis grech says:

    I am going to be in Florence and I want to go to Cinque Terre, how?
    When there in CT from where to take a boat trip? thank you

    • Hi Francis,
      You’ll want to take the train from Florence to La Spezia (go to trenitalia.com for times). From there, you’ll want to take the local Cinque Terre train that we talk about between the towns. Alternatively, yes, you can take a ferry between any of the CT towns. Here’s the current schedule, valid until September 8; if you are traveling after that, then just keep checking back here for updated information.

      Let us know if we can help with anything else!

  16. Antoinette says:

    Hello! Planning to be in Cinque Terre at the end of this week. I was wondering, is it recommended to base myself in La Spezie and just do day hikes back and forth, or do you recommend hopping from one town to the other, staying a night here, a night there, etc. I prefer not to move around too much and just have as much leisure time. Also, any “cheaper” accommodations you can recommend in each town?

    • Hi Antoinette,
      How lovely! We’d recommend actually staying in one of the five Cinque Terre towns, if you can find accommodation at this point, and not switching from night to night. The towns are very close together (it’s only 5-10 minutes between them by train), so since it’s so easy to spend the day in one even if you’re staying in another, the hassle of booking separate hotels, moving with your luggage, etc. probably isn’t worth it. For cheaper accommodation, look for B&Bs or apartment rentals. There especially are a number of B&Bs in Monterosso al Mare; we especially like Le Giare, B&B Marisa, and Manuel’s Guesthouse.

      Please let us know if we can help with anything else, and enjoy your trip!

  17. Margo says:

    Hi there,
    I am planning a trip for Feb 2014 and I’m curious on your opinion for coast to coast train travel. We would be taking the train from Venice to Genoa, see the sights in Portofino and CT, ending the coast trip in Pisa, and taking the train back to Venice (flight departs from there). OR we can reverse the trip and take the train from Venice to Pisa, ending in Genoa, and returning to Venice to fly home. Is this possible and/or what do you recommend? Oh, and try to do it all in 3-4 days

    • Hi Margo,
      In 3-4 days, that would be a very full trip indeed! 🙂 Keep in mind that it takes 5 hours or more to take the train from Venice to Genoa alone, so that will cut into your sightseeing time. (You can look up schedules and fares yourself on trenitalia.com). With that in mind, you might want to cut down on what you do on the “other” coast—say, see the CT but not Portofino, or vice versa—or, alternatively, consider sightseeing closer to Venice instead. If you like the idea of the small towns and spectacular scenery on the Ligurian coast, why not look into sightseeing around Lake Garda instead, which has small towns and a beautiful, huge lake backdropped by the Dolomite mountains? You could also visit Verona, which is one of our favorite towns in Italy.
      Let us know if we can help with anything else!

  18. Bert says:

    We are 3 retired couples arriving Civitavecchia port from cruise ship, docks at 0500am. We want to go immediately from port to Cinque Terre to spend 2 nights in one of the Ct towns. Need details on best way to get from dock to train station to Cinque Terre . What town and hotel would you recommend to spend 2 nights in CT. Nothing real expensive, but something nice with view etc. Any info to help us would be appreciated

    • Hi Bert,
      We’re happy to help! To get from Civitavecchia to Rome, you’ll want to take the train, which takes an hour. (Complete info about how to do this here). From there, take the train to La Spezia Centrale, which takes about 3 hours. You’ll then have to switch to the “local” CT train to the town you want to stay in. So it’s a journey, but worth it if you can spend two nights! As for where to stay, you’ll find the most options in Monterosso al Mare, especially on a budget; we’d recommend looking at reviews on venere.com or tripadvisor.com for a place within your budget. Be aware that many B&Bs require a bit of a climb up staircases to get to, worth keeping in mind if you have any mobility issues.

      Let us know if we can help with anything else!

  19. Kari says:

    Hello! We are flying into Pisa from France; what is the best way to get to CT?

    • Hi Kari,
      You’ll want to take the train from Pisa to La Spezia, and then switch to the local Cinque Terre train from there to get to the town you want.
      Let us know if we can help with anything else!

      • Charlotte Kool says:

        HI there, do you think you need to reserve the train in advance from Pisa to CT? And also how long does it normally take to get out of the airport in Pisa and to the centrale station?

        Thanks

        • Walks of Italy says:

          Hi Charlotte,

          The train from Pisa to Cinque Terre is a regional one, meaning there are no seat numbers so you can’t reserve it in advance. You’ll get your tickets and right before you board the train you validate them in a yellow box, stamping them with the date and time. Have a great trip!