What do event planners do for fun? Plan vacations.
Going to Cinque Terre (the beautiful, picturesque 5 cities located along Italy’s coastline) from Florence in just a day is totally doable. Especially when it’s been planned out for you.
Here’s my one day guide to doing Cinque Terre as a day trip from Florence!
The 5 Cities:
Riomaggiore This is the first of the 5 cities and is very laid back in it’s atmosphere. Lots of little restaurants, cafes, and bars provide cute outdoor seating to relax at.
Manarola The literal Cinque Terre picture-perfect town. It has a tiny harbor with a boat ramp, picturesque multicolored houses facing the sea, and a tiny piazza with seafood restaurants. In Manarola starts the famous path Via dell’Amore (Lover’s Lane) which is a very scenic path that leads you to Riomaggiore in only 20 minutes.
Corniglia Located in the middle of the five towns, it’s the only one not built directly at sea level. Corniglia is probably the least visited town.
Vernazza Maybe the most photographed village of the Cinque Terre, Vernazza has a natural pier that you can walk out on. The tiny port is surrounded by the typical colorful houses you picture when imagining Cinque Terre.
Monterosso The biggest of the five towns with the most amenities. There’s a lot of hotels, restaurants, and shops. Monterosso also has the only long and sandy beach (my favorite part) in the area where you can rent chairs and umbrellas or even a kayak if you want to explore some cool coves off the coast.
You’ll want train tickets from Florence’s Santa Maria Novella train station to Pisa Centrale and then from Pisa Centrale to La Spezia. La Spezia is the city hub located closest to Cinque Terre and where you’ll begin your journey.
This was our schedule:
7:00am Depart Firenze Santa Maria Novella
7:40am Arrive Pisa Centrale
8:28am Depart Pisa Centrale
9:11am Arrive La Spezia
*Most of these are regional trains and there are no assigned seats so you can wait to purchase these train tickets if needed. They’re also cheap 🙂
Once you get to La Spezia, enter the info center and purchase a Cinque Terre Day Pass. It’s 16 euros and allows you unlimited train rides between all the cities, all day long. This day pass also includes a wifi code, free bathroom use at every train station, and your hiking pass (which is 7.50 euros on it’s own). You can thank me later.
*MAKE SURE TO VALIDATE YOUR CINQUE TERRE DAY PASS. It’s over 50 EUR if you don’t. And don’t lose it, either.
*When you arrive at the La Spezia info center ask if any of the hiking trails are closed.
We hiked from Vernazza to Monterosso. They say this hike is only 2.5-3 miles but we all swear it felt like more than 5. There’s a lot of up hill and downhill and it’s pretty strenuous but it is absolutely beautiful. My best recommendation is to be prepared for it – tennis shoes, comfortable clothes to get dirty, and water. You may even want a bathing suit to enjoy the incredible Mediterranean Sea when you’re done & sweaty.
We chose this leg of the hike partly for the physical challenge, but mostly because it provides so many panoramic views of the ocean from up high.
What we did in each city:
Vernazza – Our starting place. We grabbed paninis from “Lunch Box”, a cute cafe near the exit of the train station, and ice cold water bottles. We took our sandwiches to go and walked down to the beach area to eat next to the water. From here we started the hike and went towards the next city, Monterosso.
Monterosso – The beach town! I can’t even explain my excitement for when we finally arrived to Monterosso after our crazy hike. The water is a beautiful turquoise blue color and there’s lots of tourists with excited energy. I’d been instructed to find a small, specific bar near the train station and order a “bucket of daiquiris” (see pics below). Sure enough, a small whole-in-the-wall type place was blasting American 90’s hip hop music and had plastic buckets with many straws serving almost any type of alcoholic drink you could imagine. I opted for a pineapple daiquiri. Yum.
Corniglia – We stopped off the train at Corniglia for just about 10 minutes. There’s not a lot to see here but we wanted to say we’d been to all 5 cities so here’s a nice pretty building.
Manarola – If you’re as obsessed with Instagram as I am, this is where you want to be. The PERFECT Cinque Terre picture came from here. Walk down the winding street and then follow the steep road up the side of the cliff. Near the top you’ll find a little cove with arches cutout and a small cemetery. This is where you’ll get that perfect photo. We also grabbed some calamari here, so delicious and so fresh.
Riomaggiore – It was starting to get cold and stormy as our Cinque Terre trip neared it’s end so we decided to stop off at a cute little cafe on the main street in Riomaggiore. We got glasses of local Cinque Terre wine and pesto bruschetta. It was the perfect end to the trip.