GETTING THERE BY TRAIN
Cinque Terre is accessible by train from all over Europe. The main cities nearby are Genoa in the north (approx. 130 km) and La Spezia the south, just one stop from Riomaggiore.
From Genoa (Genova), near Nice and Milan:
Take the local train that goes to La Spezia and stops at all stations on the way (ferma in tutte le stazioni) or take an express train to La Spezia and back track.
From La Spezia on the Genova-Pisa line:
take the local train to Sestri Levante that stops at all stations on the way (ferma in tutte le stazioni).
Local trains: about one every hour. Be careful, if you sit too far back in the train when it stops in the villages your car might still be in the tunnel and you won’t be able to see the town’s sign.
The ticket offices in the stations are often closed, buy tickets at Tabbachi shops or bars. Tickets are good for 5, 10 and 20 kilometers, you have to stamp them at the machines in the station before you start your journey. They are valid for 6 hours. 10 km tickets are all you need for the 5 villages.
Tickets will be checked on the train! The trains run till about 11:30 pm .
Stamp the tickets at 5 Kilometer ticket
The trains that run through the 5 villages were disappointing to say the least with up to 1 hour waits at times when all you wanted to do is be walking or soaking up the sun elsewhere. Although the timetables are clearly readable, try and get yourself one that is ALL in English as there are lots of symbols on the timetable which indicate days where a particular train time will NOT run such as Sundays, public holidays etc etc. Unless you can read the Italian words for these days, you may find yourself waiting for a train that never comes. ( The 11.05 from Manarola still rings a bell to me as a ‘no show’ train ). The woman at the Riomaggiore station ticket office was very helpful in deciphering the timetable and spoke excellent English.
I have never had a problem with the trains, maybe because I can read some Italian. They run about every hour, more or less when the schedule says they run, though they can be up to 30 minutes late.
It’s more or less three hours from Florence and two hours from Pisa or Genoa (a 90km ticket works from them).If you’re not using a rail pass, try the Cinque Terre day pass for L5500 (specify 2nd class, La Spezia to Monterosso).
Don’t be fooled; it says “24 hours”, but expires at midnight (remember to write your name on it and stamp it).
– Paul Sullivan
Check out train travel in Europe at the Swiss Railway Web site. Timetable for trains in Switzerland and major routes in Europe.
Click on “Timetable Information” and just type in your point of departure and destination and it will tell you the best way to get there! The place names must be entered in the language of the country.
The Italian State Railway web site, train schedules.
GETTING THERE BY CAR
If you are traveling by car, Genoa and La Spezia also apply. I strongly recommend using the train to get to Cinque Terre, the roads are small and parking is limited. You can reach the Cinque Terre by car from La Spezia (14 Km) driving on the S.S. Litoranea delle 5 Terre. The nearest Highway exit is LA SPEZIA-S.STEFANO MAGRA on the A12 Genova-Livorno or A15 Parma-La Spezia. You can park your car above the villages along the road. Manarola and Riomaggiore have parking lots and are building covered car parks.
My brother and I visited Vernazza by car. It was difficult! I’d definitely encourage the train.
The roads were extremely narrow. You park above the town and walk in.
This certainly won’t happen to everyone, but when we left the next day, the road that we came in on was closed for construction for a week. We had to find a different way up and down on a new road that I don’t recall being on the map. It was beautiful and it was an adventure, but I was terrified at times on the drive. I would never drive again! I would definitely go again and I always tell my friends who will be visiting Italy to go, but I tell them they must take the train.
The nearest airports are
Pisa “G. Galilei ” Hrs 1.30-2 by car or train
Genova “C.Colombo” ” 2-2.30 ” ”
Milano “Malpensa” ” 3-4 ” ”
Roma “Fiumicino” ” 4.30-5 ” “