If you want to swap the breath-taking cultural highlights of Florence for tranquil coastal villages of Liguria, Cinque Terre ticks all the boxes. These five pastel-colored villages cascade down hillsides like icing on a cake, and each is unique, filled with winding narrow streets, trattorias and charming specialty shops which you can browse until your heart’s content. It’s easy to walk or take the express train between the five villages of Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza, and Monterosso Al Mare, but most importantly how do you get from Florence to Cinque Terre first? Here’s our guide to give you some ideas on how to visit Cinque Terre from Florence.
Getting from Florence to Cinque Terre by Train
Florence and Cinque Terre may be located in two different regions of Italy, Tuscany and Liguria, but it’s relatively easy to visit one from the other, and presents a beautiful view of the countryside. Frequent trains depart from Florence’s Santa Maria Novella train station to La Spezia on the Italian west coast. Tickets for this first leg of the journey cost between $16.50 and $25 USD, depending on the time of day you travel and how far in advance you book.
When you arrive in La Spezia, you can jump on the train to Cinque Terre. The journey time from La Spezia to Riomaggiore, the first village of Cinque Terre, is just 9 minutes. If you wish to disembark at other villages further along the coast, the journey time is around 2 and 5 minutes between each village on the train.
It can be a little confusing travelling by rail throughout Cinque Terre for the first time. However, if you remember there are only 2 platforms at the village railway stations it helps. One platform says ‘Per Genova’ – trains at this platform head north towards Monterosso Al Mare, and the other says ‘Per La Spezia’, which runs south towards Riomaggiore and La Spezia.
The current cost of a Cinque Terre railcard for unlimited one-day use between La Spezia and Levanto costs around $20 USD per adults and $12 for children from 4-12 years. Alternatively, you can purchase a Cinque Terre family card including the train for up to 2 adults and 2 children under 12 for $53 for the day.
Driving from Florence to Cinque Terre
There’s no better way to experience the Italian countryside and coastline than by car. If you plan to hire a vehicle during your stay, you can drive to Cinque Terre in 2.5 hours from Florence. Simply take the A11 route north of Florence and drive towards Viareggio on the Tuscan coast. Here you will join the E80 coastal route which takes you past picturesque Marina di Pietrasanta, upscale Forte dei Marmi (where you may wish to break for designer shopping) and to the Gulf of Poets and La Spezia.
Depending on where you wish to begin your exploration of Cinque Terre, you can continue on the E80 to the furthest village of Monterosso Al Mare or drive along La Spezia’s palm-lined seafront boulevard to reach Riomaggiore first. There are great places to stop for lunch en-route and beautiful seaside towns such as Portovenere to break at along the way. As most of Cinque Terre’s villages are tumbling down a hillside, you can’t take cars into the village centers, however there are dedicated car parking spots atop the hills and minibuses and taxis can transport you to the shore.
Taking a Guided Tour from Florence to Cinque Terre
If you prefer to travel to Cinque Terre via guided tour from Florence, why not take a Hiking Day Tour of the five villages? You will meet your guide early morning in Florence and begin your journey to Cinque Terre. As each village can be accessed on foot from the other, this will form most of your day, hiking between each one, stopping off to browse shops and discover historic sites and landmarks along the way. With verdant vineyards, charming piazzas, hilltop sanctuaries and secluded beaches to explore, you will be spoiled for choice. The tour is perfect for active solo travelers, couples and groups offering a unique perspective of Cinque Terre, and allowing you to gain some amazing photographs too!