How to Visit Cinque Terre in One Day
Cinque Terre villages are beautiful but also very small, which allows you to spend less than an hour at each village and still see most of the village. Follow this guide for how to visit Cinque Terre in one day (and one night).
Tips for Visiting Cinque Terre in One Day
- At any Cinque Terre train station (including La Spezia and Levanto) you can buy the Cinque Terre Card which is valid for one day and allows you to ride the trains and hike the hiking trails. This card will also allow you to use the public restrooms.
- Get the train schedule and hiking trail maps from the information centers at the train station.
- Start the day early to see all five villages! Trains in Cinque Terre run very early (schedule changes depending on the time of year). The villages are very quiet and relaxing early in the morning.
- The hike from Corniglia to Vernazza is a must do! If you don’t have time to hike from Vernazza to Monterosso al Mare you can just do the beginning of the hike to get an incredible view of Vernazza.
- Stay in one of the villages in Cinque Terre to save time.
- Make sure to try the seafood. Cinque Terre has a lot of fresh and delicious seafood at a reasonable price.
How to Get to Cinque Terre
By Group Tour
If you are coming from Florence, you can book an organized tour to Cinque Terre. This tour takes you on a 2-hour bus/van ride to La Spezia from where you can take a train to the villages in Cinque Terre. You will start with exploring the romantic village of Manarola, and then take the train to Corniglia. You can go on a guided hike from Corniglia to Vernazza which offers incredible views. End the day with a boat ride along the coast from Monterosso to Riomaggiore (weather/season dependent).
The best way to get around Cinque Terre is by train, so you won’t have a need for a car during your day in Cinque Terre.
From Milan to Cinque Terre
There are Trenitalia trains to La Spezia and Levanto from Milan (Milano Centrale station) which take about 3 hours and cost about 30 euro for a direct train. If you are coming from Milan airport you would need to first take the Malpensa Express Train to Milano Centrale which takes about 45 minutes.
From Florence to Cinque Terre
There are Trenitalia trains to La Spezia and Levanto from Florence which take about 2.5 hours and cost about 15 euro.
There are not many parking options in Cinque Terre. If you are arriving by car (about 2.5 hours from Milan, 2 hours from Florence) the best option would be to park the car in La Spezia or Levanto and take the Cinque Terre train from there to the villages. There is a parking garage at the La Spezia Centrale train station.
Where to Stay in Cinque Terre
It is worth spending the money to stay in one of the villages for the experience and to save time. There are many Airbnb options in the villages where you can rent a room for a good price that only costs a little more than staying outside of Cinque Terre in La Spezia or Levanto.
All five villages are beautiful, but I would recommend staying in Manarola. There are less stairs here than some of the other villages which makes it easier if you have a lot of luggage. This village is stunning at night and enjoyable to walk around. It is not as expensive as Vernazza and there are many Airbnb options, just make sure to book early!
How to Get Around Cinque Terre
Cinque Terre has a train that runs between Levanto and La Spezia, stopping at each of the five villages. It is about five minutes between each village, and about ten minutes from Riomaggiore to La Spezia. Buy the Cinque Terre Card at the first train station you visit and use the trains freely throughout the day. You can ask for the latest Cinque Terre train schedule at the train station where you purchase your Cinque Terre Card.
You can also hike between some of the villages but not all of the trails are always open. You can check which trails are open at the information centers at the train stations.
Another option is to explore Cinque Terre with a boat tour where you can enjoy great views of the villages without the crowds.
What to Do in Cinque Terre in One Day
Spend your day in Cinque Terre walking around the villages and exploring different viewpoints. Eat delicious Italian seafood and cool down with gelato. Hiking between the villages is a must do, with incredible views of the cliffs and the villages. Make sure to check which trails are open at the information centers at the train stations before starting your hike.
Recommended hiking trail: Corniglia to Vernazza
During your one day in Cinque Terre, I highly recommend hiking the trail from Corniglia to Vernazza. This trail offers many incredible views of the ocean, cliffs, and villages.
Trailhead: The trail begins in Corniglia center next to the church
Time: 1.5 – 2 hours
1. Take the shuttle from the train station to Corniglia to save time and energy. The hike up from the train station to Corniglia has a lot of stairs and is very strenuous.
2. Wear sneakers, hiking boots aren’t necessary.
3. Bring plenty of water as a majority of the trail is in the sun.
The Five Villages
Start your day in Cinque Terre visiting Riomaggiore. This village has the most diverse colors. Most popular for its view from the harbor, this village is very enjoyable to walk around. This is the biggest village in Cinque Terre and has a lot of interesting streets and more to see and do.
1. Walk down to the harbor opposite the red house. Continue to the rocks to get this well known view of the village
2. Climb up the stairs to see a different perspective of the village from above (see below)
Manarola is the most tranquil and romantic village. It is beautiful at all times of the day and night, especially during sunset. The village is small but has several restaurants and is nice to walk around. If you decide to stay in Manarola, make sure to get there in time to enjoy the sunset.
Best Viewpoint of Manarola:
Walk along the trail on the west side of the village beside the water to see this view. This picture was taken during sunset.
This is a small village nested on top of a cliff. It is a very steep hike to the village from the train stations, but there is a shuttle that runs from the train station to the village and back.
Best Viewpoint of Corniglia:
The trail from Corniglia to Vernazza offers many beautiful viewpoints of this village
This village is the most popular with pastel colored houses and a small beach. It is the most expensive village to stay and eat but definitely worth a visit during your one day in Cinque Terre.
Best Viewpoint of Vernazza:
Follow the hiking trail from Vernazza to Monterosso Al Mare. About 20 minutes into the hike you will see this view from the first picture above.
Monterosso Al Mare
This village is very different from the other four. This village feels more like a small beach town with a large stretch of beach and great gelato. This is a great spot to relax, but expect the beach to be busy. End your day in Cinque Terre eating gelato on the beach in Monterosso Al Mare.
Best Viewpoint of Monterosso Al Mare:
Walk towards the end of the beach in the direction of Vernazza and you will see stairs that lead up to this view from the first picture above.
Sunset Boat Cruise
Finish your day in Cinque Terre with a sunset boat cruise from Monterosso. Enjoy a glass of prosecco with views of Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore. If you are interested, you also have the option to swim.
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