Easily accessible from Florence, Cinque Terre is an idyllic destination on the Ligurian sea made up of five villages that comprise one of the most famous national parks in Italy. From Vernazza’s picturesque landscapes, to Riomaggiore’s crystal-clear water; Monterosso’s winding streets, Corniglia’s sweeping views, or Manarola’s stunning buildings, each town has a different atmosphere worth experiencing.
So don’t miss out – check out our ultimate guide to visiting Cinque Terre from Florence and discover some of the best things to do, see, and eat in this unique UNESCO World Heritage Site.
How to go from Florence to Cinque Terre?
We recommend getting from Florence to Cinque Terre by train. Start the trip from the Santa Maria Novella train station, where you can buy a ticket to La Spezia centrale. The travel time is approximately two hours if you take the frecciabianca, frecciarossa, or frecciargento fast trains (or two hours and a half if you opt for a regional/intercity line). While most routes require a transfer at Pisa Centrale, there are some direct trains during the day, so make sure to check beforehand to save time.
Once in La Spezia, there are several ways to reach Cinque Terre’s charming villages:
Buy a single ticket called the “5 Terre Express“, which allows you to travel the five towns for the price of €18.20 for one day. You can also buy individual tickets if you don’t plan on visiting all of the villages.
The second way to get to the Cinque Terre is the most authentic: Book a boat excursion from La Spezia and arrive by sea for a cost of €37.
Those who like hiking can reach one of the towns by train from La Spezia and then walk through each on foot along paths that link them. The cost is €7.50 per crossing.
What is there to do in Cinque Terre?
Once you have arrived, there are many things worth experiencing in Cinque Terre. Here are our top recommendations for each of the five towns:
- Stroll down Riomaggiore’s ancient winding streets, where merchants and sailors would stop to rest on their long voyages
- Check out the Nostra Signora di Montenero sanctuary, which dates back to the 1300s
- Visit Riomaggiore’s shops, many of which have been in business for various generations
- Sit on the pebble-stone beach and soak in the sunset
- Walk down Via dell’Amore, a pedestrian path overlooking the sea, which connects the villages of Riomaggiore and Manarola (while it’s currently closed, it is expected to re-open in 2023)
- Visit the impressive Chiesa di San Lorenzo, a Ligurian Gothic-Style church constructed in 1338
- Take a dip in the Ligurian sea
- Have a delicious aperitif at Nessun Dorma bar, which features stunning views of the rugged coastline
Insider Tip: To experience more of the region’s culinary heritage, sign up for Nessun Dorma’s Genovese pesto-making class.
- Visit San Pietro church and check out it’s Baroque-style basilica
- Walk along Via Fieschi until you reach the terrace of Santa Maria, another very impressive seaside lookout
- Sit in one of the cafes in Largo Taragio while you relax and recharge
- Visit Il Santuario di Nostra Signora di Reggio, which dates to the mid-1300s
- Explore the Doria Castle –it’s tower, the Belforte, offers stunning views of Vernazza
- Visit Santa Margherita Church, located in the town’s old port
- Hike the Sentiero Azzurro, one of Cinque Terre’s most scenic routes
- Stroll down the port and indulge in some delicious gelato or fried seafood
Monterosso al Mare
- Enjoy the sun or a swim on one of the town’s many beaches – Our favorites are: Fegina, Il Gigante, Portiglione, and Tragagia
- Explore Monterroso’s pinteresque old town
- Visit Il Santuario di Soviore, Liguria’s oldest sanctuary
- Check out Il Giante, a 14 meter high statue which pays homage to Neptune
- Try anchovies from Monterosso, a local speciality which has Protected Destination of Origin (PDO) status
Where can you hike in Cinque Terre?
Once in the national park, Cinque Terre offers different trails for those who want to enjoy the impressive landscape that it offers from above (so if you choose to access the park via foot, you’ll have plenty more routes available!)
Cinque Terre offers four main trails: Monterosso to Vernazza, Vernazza to Corniglia, Corniglia to Manarola (via Volastra), and Manarola to Riomaggiore (via Beccara). Each provides visitors the opportunity to take in the areas lush olive groves, vineyards, orchards, monuments, churches, and overall impressive landscapes.
Our personal favorite is the route from Corniglia to Manarola, where you will find the stunning Santuario della Madonna della Salute – housed in a building that dates back to 1116.
Where are the best places to eat in each town?
Thanks to its location on the Ligurian sea, Cinque Terre’s local specialties tend to incorporate products from the sea, making it a great destination for any frutti di mare fanatic. Nonetheless, the cuisine is varied and offers traditional dishes for every palate.
Here are a few of our favorite spots:
- Batti Batti Friggitoria (Via Visconti, 28, 19018 Vernazza SP): Perfect for a quick snack stop; the fried fish is particularly tasty
- Gelateria Il Porticciolo (Via Visconti, 12, 19018 Vernazza SP): Featuring a wide variety of natural, fresh flavors, it’s among the best spots in Cinque Terre to try gelato
- Nessun Dorma (Manarola): An ideal place for an aperitif where you can also admire the beautiful town of Manarola
- La Cantina del Macellaio (Via Colombo, 103, 19017 Riomaggiore SP): Perfect for a more upscale lunch or dinner in Riomaggiore; be sure to order the cheese-stuffed onion as an appetizer
- San Martino Gastronomia (Via San Martino, 3, 19106 Monterosso al Mare SP): A favorite amongst locals, San Martino serves fresh pastas and a daily rotating menu. Try the spaghetti allo scoglio, which features a medley of freshly caught local seafood
- A Cantina da Mananan (Via Fieschi, 117, 19018 Corniglia SP): Offering a tasty selection of traditional Ligurian dishes with reasonable prices, it’s a great spot to discover local flavors without breaking the bank
Yareli is a Dominican travel writer based in the beautiful city of Lucca, Italy. Traveling and exploring every corner of Tuscany are her passions. She enjoys trying new flavors while traveling. As well as sharing her travel experiences through her blog Wandering and Tasting and Instagram @wanderingandtasting.