The Perfect Cinque Terre Day Trip from Florence

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by Olivia Ellis

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Planning a Cinque Terre day trip from Florence is an excellent way to visit this iconic site on the Ligurian coast without having to take too much time away from your jam-packed trip to Italy. While Cinque Terre is a dreamy destination looking to fulfil any traveler’s Italian travel needs, its location is a bit off the tourist path for a classic Italian travel itinerary.

Consequently, if you’re hoping to witness the marvel of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Cinque Terre without spending a lengthy amount of time in the area, taking a day trip is the perfect option to explore this stunning corner of the Liguria.

Getting from Florence to Cinque Terre

By Organised Tour

While many people prefer to visit locations such as Cinque Terre alone and explore independently at their own pace, others prefer to visit with an organised tour.

Visiting Cinque Terre with an organised tour gives a social environment as well as takes the pressure off of planning and transportation. If you’re under the latter, the following tours are ideal options for a Florence to Cinque Terre day trip.

This full-day tour or this full-day tour is perfect for those who have a keen interest in hiking. With pick up and drop off directly from Florence, you’ll have the opportunity to explore the five Cinque Terre towns as well as take part in a 3.5-mile hike or boat tour with a local guide, offering unique insights into the region.

Another option is this full-day tour or this full-day tour that offers pick up and drop off from Florence in a comfortable coach with a tour guide, and time to explore four of the five villages making up Cinque Terre. On the tour, you’ll also be given the opportunity to dip into the local Ligurian waters and enjoy Cinque Terre the way the locals do.

Finally, if you prefer to go on a smaller tour then a number of options such as this small-group tour or this fully private tour.

Village of Vernazza
Village of Vernazza

By Train

If you decide to visit Cinque Terre independently, the easiest way is to take the train. Aside from being the easiest mode of transportation, it’s also the cheapest and most enjoyable way to reach the Italian Riviera.

From Florence’s Santa Maria Novella Station, you’ll find regular Trenitalia services throughout the day (around one every hour) to La Spezia Central Train Station, your next point of travel before heading onwards to Cinque Terre.

There are no direct trains to the villages of Cinque Terre before La Spezia, so changing trains in the port city of La Spezia is a necessity. You can view train schedules here.

After a journey of around 2 ½ hours from Florence to La Spezia, the next and final leg of your journey to Cinque Terre will be to take the scenic Cinque Terre Express to whichever village(s) you’d like to visit during your time in Cinque Terre.

Trains run around every 20 minutes and cover the route from La Spezia to Levanto, with all five villages (Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manorla and Riomaggiore) connected in between.

Manarola Train Station
Manarola Train Station

By Bus

Although not the most convenient or quickest method of transportation, the bus is also an option.

Bus companies such as Flixbus or Busitalia offer routes to La Spezia in around 2 ½ to 3 ½ hours depending on traffic, and from there you’ll need to either take the Cinque Terre Express train or a ferry boat ride to your chosen village(s) of the region.

If you decide to take the Cinque Terre Express, continue with the guidance in the train transportation category of this article.

Otherwise, if you wish to take the ferry to Cinque Terre from La Spezia, it’s important to know that the ferry only runs seasonally between March 25 and November 1 and that the ferry does not stop in the village of Corniglia, as it’s the only village without water access.

Individual ferry tickets between the villages and La Spezia vary in cost depending on your departure and arrival points. You can also take a speedboat tour from La Spezia.

But, if you’re planning on hopping around the Cinque Terre region, an unlimited ticket is available for purchase with unlimited ferry rides between the ports of Levanto, La Spezia, and Portovenere, as well the villages of Cinque Terre.

City of La Spezia
City of La Spezia

By Car

If you’re hoping to drive when seeing Cinque Terre in one day, there are a few important key points to know and keep in mind.

Cars aren’t allowed in any of the five villages of Cinque Terre, so your best option will be to take the 2-hour drive from Florence to La Spezia.

From there, it’s best to try and find a spot at La Spezia Station’s car park and then take the Cinque Terre Express to Cinque Terre, although it can be extremely difficult during the spring and summer to find spots. If you need to book a car for your trip, you can browse

Alternatively, you can drive to the outside perimeter of the Cinque Terre villages to park and then walk into the villages, but parking is in high demand in these areas and you can expect to pay at minimum, a high daily price for parking.

Aside from expensive parking costs in La Spezia and the villages, other prices such as tolls can become quite expensive, making your journey to Cinque Terre by car quite pricey, with the added inconveniences previously mentioned.

My recommendation is to leave the car and head to the train station for a quick and affordable day trip.

Old Town of Riomaggiore
Old Town of Riomaggiore

Cinque Terre Day Trip Itinerary

Although I do highly recommend visiting all five unique villages, this is best if you’re visiting the region for a longer Cinque Terre itinerary as opposed to a day trip.

For one day, it’s best to choose around 3 of the villages to spend your day in to immerse yourself in the culture and atmosphere of a few rather than rush to make your way around five.

As for getting around the villages, I recommend purchasing the Cinque Terre Card for unlimited train transportation on the Cinque Express, which will save you money in comparison to purchasing individual tickets.


For the sake of an unforgettable view at sunset to close the day, your trip will start at Cinque Terre’s oldest and second-to-last village of Vernazza – that is, unless you simply want to enjoy the Monterosso to Vernazza hiking trail.

Vernazza is a stunning medieval village that is easily one of the most famous and visited towns of Cinque Terre, with good reason.

Known as one of the most beautiful villages in Italy, Vernazza’s lively, colorful atmosphere and stunning views are unbeatable, making it a must-visit village.

Vernazza Old Town is characterized by its narrow, winding streets, ancient buildings, and stunning views of the sea.

Wandering through the quaint streets and alleys of Vernazza transports you back through time and the main square of Vernazza, Piazza Marconi, the heart of Vernazza, offers charming insights into the local, everyday life of Vernazza along with opportunities to shop, eat and grab a coffee to begin your day.

Located at the highest point of Vernazza, the Church of Santa Margherita d’Antiochia is worth visiting during your one day in Cinque Terre, offering stunning views looking over the turquoise Ligurian Sea.

As a historic church that dates back to the 13th century, the church is not only a religious site but also an important cultural and historical symbol for Vernazza, keeping the village together in times of natural disaster. In Gothic and Romanesque architectural styles, the church has a simple yet elegant interior, adorned with intricate decorations.

A short walk from the Church of Santa Margherita d’Antiochia will bring you to the Doria Castle. This medieval fortress, perched on a hill overlooking the village, offers a captivating glimpse into the town’s history and provides breathtaking views of the coastline.

You can explore the castle’s ancient walls, towers, and courtyards, immersing yourself in its rich past. Inside, you’ll find a small museum that showcases artifacts and exhibits related to the area’s history.

Vernazza - one of the five towns of Cinque Terre
Vernazza – one of the five towns of Cinque Terre


The second Cinque Terre village that you’ll visit is easily the most overlooked and undervalued of the five, Corniglia. Corniglia is often missed, as it’s the only village without water access, but it’s a dreamy pocket worth settling into.

The perfect off-the-beaten-path destination, Corniglia offers a tranquil and secluded atmosphere, in comparison to the other villages overflowing with busy tourists.

As a village with an abundance of local character, pastel buildings, picturesque views, and a relaxed vibe, Corniglia’s Charm will make you wonder why the town is often forgotten, but glad that this only gives you more space to enjoy the village.

Get a glimpse of local life at the village’s main square at Piazza Largo Taragio, and visit the village’s local church, the Church of San Pietro to fully understand the heart and soul of this peaceful village nestled in the heart of the Cinque Terre National Park.

For those keen to go wine tasting in Cinque Terre to enjoy the local varieties, Corniglia is the perfect spot, as it’s the home to one of the most famous wines of the Cinque Terre DOC.

The La Polenza vineyard in the leafy vineyard area of Corniglia is a great spot to head to enjoy a local wine tasting, sit back, and relax.

If you’re hoping to take a dip into the buttery Ligurian Sea, Corniglia is the optimal village to visit. Although Corniglia itself does not have a beach, you can venture to Guvano Beach, located near the town to enjoy the water without a large crowd.

It’s likely at this point in your day you’ve built up an appetite, and Cinque Terre is a great location to be hungry. Corniglia is full of local restaurants serving up local Ligurian delicacies such as fresh fish and seafood, pesto al Genovese and fluffy, salty focaccia.

My suggestion for Lunch is to head to A Cantina de Mananan, a quaint restaurant located in the heart of Corniglia.



Built on a high rock, 70 meters above sea level, the last village you’ll visit is the striking and romantic village of Manarola.

With picturesque, colorful homes cascading down the cliff lining the village, it’s easy to say that Manarola is also the most recognisable and photographed village of Cinque Terre.

The heart of Manarola is its small marina, which provides a picture-perfect setting with fishing boats gently bobbing in the water. From the marina, stroll along the waterfront promenade, explore the charming narrow lanes, and take in the idyllic village full of rich cultural heritage, natural beauty, and friendly locals.

At the top of the town, you’ll find the main square, Piazza Papa Innocenzo IV, along with one of the most iconic landmarks in Manarola, the Church of San Lorenzo. This medieval church, with its striking bell tower, stands proudly in the village and is a testament to the town’s historical significance.

For hikers and outdoor enthusiasts, Manarola offers direct access to the Via Dell’Amore (The Way of Love), a famously beautiful path beginning in Manarola and leading to the village of Riomaggiore.

If you’re interested in getting some hiking in with a remarkably unforgettable view amongst the contrast of the emerald greens of the region against the deep blues of the sea, make a point to even just walk a small portion of the trail.

For famously outstanding panoramic views of Manarola, make your way to the Punta Bonfiglio viewpoint past the Marina of Manarola.

While there, you can just hang out outside while taking in the famous views of the bright charming village, or visit the local bar Nessun Dorma, to enjoy an aperitivo or glass of sciacchetrá, a sweet, fortified wine made from the local grapes of Manarola.

It’s safe to say that there’s no better way to wrap up your day than by taking in the evocative, watercolour sunset hues of Manarola.

Sunset in Manarola
Sunset in Manarola

Where to Stay in Florence

Hotel Bellavista – This mid-range hotel is a great option in Florence for those looking for a central location that’s also a great jumping-off point for day trips around Tuscany such as Pisa. There are a range of different rooms available with the option to include breakfast in your nightly rate.

25hours Hotel – This luxury hotel is perfect for those looking for a high-end option while visiting the Tuscan capital. They offer a range of lovely rooms, a fantastic location, breakfast is available daily and there are plenty of other amenities for guests to enjoy.

Ostello Bello Firenze – If you’re looking for a good budget option or are travelling solo, then this hostel is an excellent choice. They have both dorms and private rooms available along with great common areas.

Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse more Florence hotels!

Planning a day trip to Cinque Terre from Florence is a great way to see this part of the Italian Riviera if you’re short on time. While you could certainly spend a lot more time exploring the area, a day will give you a good taste of everything this beautiful region has to offer.

Are you planning to visit Cinque Terre? Have any questions about this trip? Let us know in the comments!

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Olivia is a writer for The World Was Here First. Originally from Michigan, USA, she is currently living in Athens, Greece exploring Europe and filmmaking. When she’s not travelling or writing, Olivia can be found cooking delicious new recipes from around the world, reading, and spending time outdoors.

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