A wonderful day trip from Florence is the iconic coastline of the Cinque Terre. Cinque Terre translates in English to “The Five Lands”, a chain of five coastal towns that have never had automobile access. Here you can explore each beautiful town, hike along the coastal trail, dine on seafood, or lounge on the beach. The five villages in order from the La Spezia train station are: Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza, and Monterosso.You can rent a car, driving there in just under 2 hours or opt for a tour such as the ones on this link that will handle all the logistics. We recommend parking your car in La Spezia and taking the train to Riomaggiore and on. The Cinque Terre can be reached by train from Florence, connecting through Pisa on to La Spezia then Riomaggiore, check the train schedule here, but it makes a day trip challenging because it takes a minimum two-and-a-half hours each way reducing the amount of time you’ll have to enjoy exploring the Cinque Terre for the day.
A train system runs through the five villages, making it easy to get to each village. When you arrive at La Spezia train station, purchase a day pass for the train for €12. This ticket allows for unlimited train use all day and access to the hiking trials that is another way to get from village to village.
At the first of the five towns, Riomaggiore, so charming with its pastel houses “tumbling” down the cliff to the sea, head for the water, find a café and for the price of a cappuccino take in the timeless views of the marina and rugged coastline. After some quality relaxing time, hop on the quick train ride to Manarola.
Manarola is a great place to savor seafood that the Cinque Terre are renowned for.
Unlike the rest of the towns, Corniglia is not directly on the sea. It tends to be one of the less crowded towns for this reason. Enjoy Corniglia for unbelievable views and maybe a scoop of gelato.
A hiking trail links the 5 towns as well, the Via dell’Amore links Riomaggiore and Manarola. Check at the La Spezia train station for a trail map and to find out if any of the paths are closed. If the trails are open, the hike between Vernazza and Monterosso will take your breath away. From up here you can see the picturesque houses and the town as a whole. You will hike along the clear blue sea and amongst small family owned vineyards. The hike begins with a steep 20 minute uphill walk, but then levels out. Make sure you wear hiking shoes for this activity. Don’t forget sunscreen and a water bottle.
Once in Monterosso, explore the charming village. If you brought your bathing suit enjoying lounging. There are beach chairs available to rent if you would like, or just lay down on the sand. From the vantage point you can enjoy the sunshine and views of the beautiful Ligurian coast.
It is possible to visit all five towns in one day, but we recommend narrowing it down to two or three so you can get the most out of each town.