Discover the stunning Italian coastline with our ultimate guide to getting around Cinque Terre! From the colorful fishing villages of Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza, and Monterosso to the breathtaking coastal views, our guide will help you navigate the best routes, transportation options, and local tips to make the most of your trip.
Cinque Terre is a beautiful area of Northern Italy on the Ligurian Sea that deserves to be explored. It’s easy to see all five towns during your trip and I’ll show you the best ways to get around Cinque Terre.
We’ve visited Cinque Terre National Park many times, by car, train, and boat, and want to share with you the best way to get around this amazing UNESCO World Heritage Site. I definitely recommend that you visit all the villages of Cinque Terre. It doesn’t take long and all five villages are unique and beautiful in their own way and each offers visitors something different.
Cinque Terre is a picturesque region in Italy on the northwestern coast of the country consisting of 5 towns. Cinque Terre translates to Five Lands and you will be absolutely blown away by the beauty of each one.
You can experience the beauty of northern Italy and explore Parco Nazionale delle Cinque Terre, the smallest national park in all of Italy. The 38.6 sq km area is exploding with captivating landscapes, seascapes, and views that span across 14.9 square miles along the coast near La Spezia province.
This awe-inspiring UNESCO World Heritage Site is not like your typical national park, as it has a total of 5,000 permanent inhabitants living in five towns: Corniglia, Manarola, Monterosso al Mare, Riomaggiore and Vernazza.
Not only is the Cinque Terre National Park renowned for its amalgamation of scenic, cultural, historical, agricultural, and natural elements; but it also stands out as a testament to human ingenuity. These towns are ingeniously integrated into the steep cliffsides in such an impressive manner that can only be seen here!
Getting to Cinque Terre is easy. It can be reached fairly quickly by train from many major cities in Italy. You will most likely take the train to La Spezia Centrale where you can connect to the Cinque Terre local trains. You can learn about how to get to Cinque Terre here.
Once you get to Cinque Terre, there are several different options for getting around.
Take the Train Between the Villages of Cinque Terre
By far, the easiest way, and the way I recommend getting around Cinque Terre, is to take the local train. Each town is just a short train ride away (several minutes), and the trains run very frequently back and forth between the train stations.
When you explore Cinque Terre by train you can pay per ride, but the easiest way to get around is to purchase a Cinque Terre Card, which gives you access to the trains throughout Cinque Terre for as many days as you choose. The Cinque Terre Train Card also gives you access to the hiking paths between towns.
The Cinque Terre Card includes:
- unlimited train travel on the La Spezia – Cinque Terre – Levanto railway line, on regional trains in 2nd class.
- Access to two of the Cinque Terre’s hiking paths- from Monterosso to Vernazza and from Vernazza to Corniglia. All other hiking paths are free. These normally cost to use between March 18 and November 5. Hiking paths are free between November 6-March17.
- Use of the bus services within the park area
- Reduced admission fee to the Civic Museums in La Spezia
If you’re visiting Cinque Terre in winter, I recommend just purchasing several one-way tickets between towns as needed. In winter a one-way ticket between two villages costs about 2.50 euros.
Cinque Terre Card Prices for Adults
- 1 Day – 18.29 Euros
- 2 Days – 33 Euros
- 3 Days – 47 Euros
Where to Purchase Your Cinque Terre Card
You can purchase your Cinque Terre train card at any train station in one of the five villages. They accept cash or card for payment.
Validating Your Train Tickets
Many people don’t know, but you must validate your train tickets before each ride. One nice thing about the Cinque Terre Card is that you only need to validate it before your first trip. To validate your ticket or Cinque Terre Card, get it stamped at one of the machines at the train station. If you’re unsure of how to find them or what to do, don’t hesitate to ask a train station employee, a local, or even another tourist.
You can learn more about train travel in Italy here.
Getting to Corniglia
Keep in mind that you can access Corniglia by train, but when you exit the train station, you’ll need to either climb 400 stairs up to the city or take the shuttle bus up, which runs quite frequently during peak season.
Hike Between Cinque Terre Towns
Many people visit Cinque Terre villages just to hike between them. The hiking trails between towns are beautiful and cover rocky cliffs, vineyards, stairs, village walking, and coastal paths along the breathtaking Ligurian coast. The walking trails are challenging, but doable. There is an 11-kilometer (6.8-mile) trail connecting Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore. It takes around 5-6 hours to hike the whole trail and some parts are easier than others.
We have hiked this trail and it was beautiful, but a lot of work! Some people will hike for several hours and backpack in with their things and spend the night, then move on the next night. With 4 kids, this wasn’t really feasible. We opted to hike one way and take the ferry back. It took us all day, but the great thing is you can stop for lunch or snacks one village at a time whenever you’re hungry. We ended up getting gelato in each of the villages of cinque terre and it was a fun and tasty challenge!
There is a fee to hike from Monterosso to Vernazza and from Vernazza to Corniglia. All other hiking paths are free. These normally cost to use, or are included in your Cinque Terre Card, between March 18 and November 5. All Cinque Terre hiking trails are free between November 6-March17.
See Cinque Terre by Boat
Another great way to get around Cinque Terre is by ferry. The ferries operate between the towns of Cinque Terre and offer breathtaking views of the coastline. The ferry service is not available all year round, so make sure to check the schedule before planning your trip. You can check the ferry schedule here.
The only Cinque Terre Village that you cannot access by ferry is Corniglia. The ferry doesn’t dock here. You can take a private boat trip that will drop you off, but you’ll need to either climb the 400 stairs up to the village or take the shuttle up the hill. So keep that in mind.
Cinque Terre by Car?
I’ll stop you right here, and just give you a simple no. The first time we visited Cinque Terre, we drove there. This was before the internet provided much information on anything travel related and we were just kind of winging it in our yellow 1990 110 Defender.
I will say, it was the most terrifying drive. There were chunks of the road missing and no parking once you get there. And if you wanted to drive between towns, it would just be ridiculous. There are no cars allowed in (except parts of Monterosso al mare) and you’d have to find parking in each of the villages. I would never recommend driving to Cinque Terre to anyone.
Can you get around Cinque Terre without a car?
Absolutely. In fact, I recommend not bringing a car at all. Cars aren’t allowed in most Cinque Terre Villages.
How do you get around towns in Cinque Terre?
The train is the easiest way to get around towns in Cinque Terre.
Is it easy to get around Cinque Terre?
Yep, super simple. The easiest way is to purchase the Cinque Terre train card and ride to your hearts content. No reservations needed. Just be sure to purchase at a train station, validate your ticket at a machine before your first ride, and keep your card on you at all times in the trains. They do check (ask me how I know)!
How long does it take to walk the 5 villages of Cinque Terre?
Hiking the 11 kilometers between all five villages will take about 5-6 hours without stopping. We did it in about 10 hours, but stopped for snacks, gelato in every village, and a long leisurely lunch. Wear good hiking shoes and bring trekking poles. I wish I’d had them! I did it in a dress and sandals, that’s just how I roll!
I hope this little guide was helpful and that you’re able to figure out the trains, hikes, and boats (and not cars) in Cinque Terre. However you decide to get around during your Cinque Terre trip, I know you’ll love your experience there!