How to Plan a Day Trip from Florence to Cinque Terre: The Ultimate Guide for 2024

Are you planning a trip to Italy and want to visit the stunning Cinque Terre on a day trip from Florence? Look no further! This comprehensive guide covers everything you need to know, including transportation options, a detailed itinerary, tour recommendations, and insider tips for making the most of your adventure.

The Cinque Terre, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is a must-visit destination in Italy, known for its picturesque coastal villages, colorful houses, and breathtaking scenery. While it’s possible to stay overnight in one of the towns, many travelers opt for a day trip from nearby cities like Florence. 

In this guide, we’ll share the best ways to get from Florence to Cinque Terre, the top attractions to see in each village, and practical advice to help you plan the perfect day trip.

Getting from Florence to Cinque Terre

Florence to Cinque Terre by Train

The most convenient and fastest way to reach Cinque Terre from Florence is by train. The distance between the two destinations is approximately 150 km (93 miles), and the journey takes around 2.5 hours each way.

Tips for Taking the Train

  • Book your train tickets in advance through the Trenitalia website or app to secure the best prices. We recommend purchasing your tickets at least 3 weeks in advance.
  • Consider downloading the Trenitalia app for easy booking and access to your tickets on your mobile device.
  • Aim to catch an early morning train from Florence Santa Maria Novella station, ideally arriving in La Spezia Centrale no later than 9:30 AM to maximize your time in Cinque Terre.
  • From La Spezia, you’ll need to change to the Cinque Terre Express train, which connects the five villages. More details on purchasing the Cinque Terre Card are provided in the next section.

Florence to Cinque Terre by Car

While driving to Cinque Terre is possible, we generally don’t recommend it for a day trip from Florence. Parking can be challenging and scarce, and navigating the narrow streets of the villages can be stressful.

If you choose to drive

  • The driving distance from Florence to La Spezia is approximately 1 hour 45 minutes to 2 hours.
  • Park your car near the La Spezia train station and take the Cinque Terre Express train to explore the villages.
  • Avoid driving directly to each village, as the roads can be narrow and parking is limited.

The Cinque Terre Card

The Cinque Terre Card

The Cinque Terre Card is an essential purchase for your day trip, as it grants you access to the hiking trails and trains connecting the villages. There are two options:

  1. Cinque Terre Train Card: (€18.20/day for adults in 2024): Provides full access to the trains and hiking trails for the entire day.
  2. Cinque Terre Trekking Card:  (€7.50/day for adults in 2024): Grants access to the hiking trails only.

We highly recommend purchasing the Cinque Terre Train Card to make the most of your day trip. You can buy the card online in advance or at the La Spezia train station upon arrival. However, buying online is advisable to avoid long queues, especially during peak season.

High Season in Cinque Terre

From May to September, the Cinque Terre region experiences its high season, with larger crowds and busier trains. If you’re visiting during this period, plan for additional waiting time between villages and prepare for potentially crowded conditions.

Cinque Terre Ferry

While a ferry service operates between the villages (except Corniglia) from March 23 to November 3, 2024, we advise against relying solely on the ferry for your day trip. The ferry runs less frequently and takes longer than the trains, which could limit your time in each village. However, if you’re interested in a scenic boat ride, you can incorporate the ferry into your itinerary for a portion of the journey.

Hiking in Cinque Terre National Park

One of the highlights of visiting Cinque Terre is the opportunity to hike along the stunning coastal trails, taking in panoramic views of the Mediterranean Sea and the colorful villages. The most popular trail is the Blue Trail, a 7.5-mile (12 km) path connecting all five villages.

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Current Trail Status

  • Riomaggiore – Manarola: Closed due to past mudslides
  • Manarola – Corniglia: Closed due to past mudslides
  • Monterosso al Mare – Vernazza: Open (3.5 km / 1.5 hours to hike)
  • Vernazza – Corniglia: Open (4 km / 1.5-2 hours to hike)

While some trails remain closed, the Vernazza – Corniglia hike is a must-do during your day trip, offering stunning views of the terraced vineyards, olive groves, and the sea.

Itinerary for Your Florence to Cinque Terre Day Trip

To make the most of your day trip from Florence to Cinque Terre, we’ve crafted a comprehensive itinerary that includes hiking, sightseeing, and even the opportunity for swimming if the weather permits.


This itinerary can be adjusted based on your preferences. If you’re not interested in hiking, you can spend more time exploring the beaches in Monterosso al Mare. If you prefer more hiking, consider adding another trail to your day.

Monterosso al Mare

Start your day by taking the Cinque Terre Express train from La Spezia to Monterosso al Mare, the northernmost village of the Cinque Terre. This journey takes approximately 25 minutes.

Monterosso al Mare is known for its beaches, making it the perfect spot to kick off your day with a refreshing swim in the Mediterranean Sea. Explore the old town, visit the ancient castle ruins, and stroll through the charming streets.

From Monterosso al Mare, you can either hike the 3.3 km (1.5-hour) trail to Vernazza or take the train, depending on your preference.


Renowned as one of the most picturesque villages in Cinque Terre, Vernazza boasts a stunning harbor surrounded by vibrant, colorful buildings and breathtaking sea views.

If you hiked from Monterosso al Mare, you’ll be treated to incredible vistas along the trail. If you took the train, consider hiking up the hills for panoramic views of Vernazza and the surrounding landscapes.

Refuel with a delicious slice of focaccia pizza from Batti Batti’ Foccaceria before embarking on the hike to Corniglia.


Fill up your water bottle at the public tap in the main square near the beach before starting the hike.


The hike from Vernazza to Corniglia is a highlight of the day trip, taking you through terraced vineyards, ancient olive groves, and offering stunning coastal views. Along the way, you can stop at a shop and indulge in a refreshing lemon or orange granita.

The 4 km (1.5-hour) hike is moderately challenging, with a few uphill and downhill climbs. Alternatively, you can take the train to Corniglia, but you’ll need to climb 382 steps to reach the village, as it’s perched on a hill.

Corniglia is the smallest of the five villages, but it’s worth a quick stroll through its charming streets.


Since the trail between Corniglia and Manarola is currently closed, you’ll need to take the train to reach the next village.

Manarola is renowned for its picturesque setting and is considered one of the best spots in Cinque Terre to witness stunning sunsets. Head to the Punta Bonfiglio viewpoint for the iconic view of Manarola.

If you’re feeling adventurous, you can go swimming or rock jumping near the small port. For a delicious meal with beautiful sea views, we recommend Trattoria da Billy.


iomaggiore is the fifth and final stop on your Cinque Terre day trip. As one of the larger villages, take your time wandering through the streets, exploring local shops, and soaking in the vibrant atmosphere.

For the best view of Riomaggiore, make your way down to the harbor and walk along the rocks until you have an unobstructed view of the town. Linger and enjoy the breathtaking sight of Riomaggiore illuminated by the sunset.

If you’re in the mood for dinner, there are plenty of restaurant options in Riomaggiore. One highly recommended spot is the Michelin-acclaimed Rio Bistrot, which offers delectable cuisine and stunning harbor views. However, be sure to make a reservation at least one week in advance, as it’s a popular establishment.

Getting Back to Florence from Cinque Terre

After an unforgettable day exploring the Cinque Terre, take the Cinque Terre Express train back to La Spezia Centrale, and then board your pre-booked train back to Florence.

Florence to Cinque Terre Tour Options

Florence to Cinque Terre Tour Options

If you prefer the convenience of a guided tour, there are several excellent options available for a day trip from Florence to Cinque Terre:

Our Top Pick: Cinque Terre Day Trip from Florence with Optional Hiking

This highly rated, full-day guided tour takes you through all five villages, with the option to hike one of the trails. Highlights include:

  • Transportation by bus
  • Professional guide
  • Entry tickets to Cinque Terre National Park
  • Boat ride (from late March to late October)
  • Optional lunch
  • Free time to explore on your own

#2 Pick: Seaside Beauty Day Trip to Cinque Terre

This tour covers Manarola, Vernazza, Riomaggiore, and Monterosso al Mare with a knowledgeable guide. From April 1 to October 31, you’ll enjoy a scenic boat ride between Monterosso and Vernazza. Additional features include:

  • Transfer between Florence and Cinque Terre by bus
  • Optional lunch
  • Free time to explore, swim, or relax

#3 Pick: Cinque Terre Private Day Trip from Florence

For a more personalized experience, consider this highly-rated private tour, which includes:

  • Visits to all five villages
  • Lunch
  • Wine tasting in Monterosso
  • Transfer from Florence
  • Extra time for exploration and swimming (if desired)

A private tour is an excellent choice for groups of up to six people who prefer a tailored, relaxed itinerary.

Is a Day Trip from Florence to Cinque Terre Worth It?

Absolutely! A day trip from Florence to Cinque Terre is well worth the effort, allowing you to experience the stunning beauty and charm of these coastal villages while enjoying activities like hiking, sightseeing, and swimming (weather permitting).

With an early start and efficient planning, one day in Cinque Terre is sufficient to explore all five towns, embark on a hike or two, and even take a dip in the Mediterranean Sea. However, if you have more time available, consider spending two full days in the region to fully immerse yourself in the experience. 

The first day could be dedicated to hiking and exploring the villages, while the second day could be reserved for relaxing on the beach, taking a boat tour, or visiting the nearby town of Porto Venere.

Tips for Visiting Cinque Terre

To ensure a seamless and enjoyable day trip from Florence to Cinque Terre, keep these tips in mind:

Make extra time for the trains: During the high season (May to September), the trains can become extremely crowded, leading to delays and potential difficulties boarding. Plan for additional waiting time between villages.

Visit during the shoulder season or low season: For a more peaceful experience, consider visiting in April, May, late September, or October, when crowds are smaller.

Be prepared: Pack essentials like a hat, sunscreen, and a refillable water bottle to stay comfortable and hydrated during your day of exploration.

Bring comfortable shoes: Wear sturdy, comfortable shoes suitable for hiking on rocky and uneven trails. Sandals like Birkenstocks can also be an option for the hikes.

Buy your Cinque Terre Card in advance: To avoid long queues, purchase your Cinque Terre Card online before your trip, ensuring you make the most of your day without wasting time.

Bring a swimsuit: If visiting during the warmer months, pack a swimsuit to take advantage of the swimming opportunities in Monterosso al Mare and Manarola.

Leave early: Catch an early morning train from Florence (around 7 AM or 8 AM) to beat the crowds and maximize your time in Cinque Terre.

Make lunch and dinner reservations in advance: For sit-down meals at restaurants in Cinque Terre, research and book your reservations at least a day or two in advance to secure your spot



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