Cinque Terre is an absolutely breathtaking National Park region in the Northwest of Italy. The region is made up of 5 picturesque seaside towns on the Ligurian Coast. From North to South, these towns are Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore. Visiting Cinque Terre by train is the absolute best way to see it, so keep on reading to find out why and how!
There are a few different ways to get around Cinque Terre. The top three ways are by train, by hiking, or by ferry. I’m going to focus on going around Cinque Terre by train, but I’ll also mention hiking a bit. Going by ferry is another option, but Corniglia isn’t accessible by ferry so I think seeing Cinque Terre by train is the best option.
Train, Ferry, or Hike?
There are 3 ways to experience Cinque Terre: by train, by ferry, or by hiking. Hiking is a really popular way as you really get to take in the views from the ground and take the time to enjoy them while walking between the 5 towns. However, a storm came through and destroyed the hiking paths between Corniglia and Riomaggiore. Until it’s fixed, you can only hike from Monterosso al Mare to Vernazza to Corniglia. The rest of the way is closed, meaning you’ll need to take the train or ferry half of the way if you decide to hike. You can buy a trekking pass at any of the tourist information spots or online in order to access the trails.
HELPFUL TIP: In early 2019, the national park authority banned open-toed shoes (sandals, flip flops, etc.) on the hiking trails. Wear appropriate footwear if you’re hiking, or you could end up paying a fine!
The next option is to take the ferry. The ferry is a beautiful option and gives you a view you could never possibly get from land. The ferry goes between Levanto, La Spezia, Portovenere, and the towns that make up Cinque Terre. However, keep in mind, the ferry does not go to Corniglia. Corniglia is up on a hill way above the water, so it isn’t possible for the ferry to reach this town. If you choose to take the ferry, you have to be strategic with how you plan your day up as the ferries don’t run super frequently. The ferries only run every 30 minutes or so, depending on the route you’re taking.
Take the Train!
The last, and most ideal option is to take the train. The trains run between the towns every 5 or so minutes, making it extremely convenient. You don’t have to do nearly as much planning with what time you want to leave one town to move onto the next because if you miss a train, the next one will be there in a few minutes. The train is also the fastest way in between cities, as it only takes about 5 minutes. If you’re planning on visiting Cinque Terre in only 1 day, the train truly is the most efficient way to do so.
Getting a Train Pass
Rather than paying for each individual train you take, the national park sells a Cinque Terre Train Pass. This train pass gives you unlimited rides on the Cinque Terre train system from Levanto – Cinque Terre – La Spezia. You can buy these train passes at any of the Cinque Terre tourist information points located right within or by the train stations in Levanto, La Spezia, and each of the 5 towns.
You’re also able to order the Cinque Terre cards online now. Keep in mind, they need to be shipped to your house. If you’re looking at getting the card more last minute, you should plan to pick one up at one of those tourist information points. I’ve never ordered one online, but it’s not something I’d trust to show up in a few days via mail.
Be mindful of time if you choose to get your tickets at the tourist information offices. Most offices open around 7-8 am and don’t close until 7-8 pm. The hours of each office will be posted on the outside of the building. Additionally, you can pick up a map and a train timetable at the tourist office. I ended up pulling up the train timetable on my phone from Cinque Terre’s official website, which I also found to be easy (assuming you have access to the Internet). Below are all the prices for the train passes.
ADULTS (12+ Years Old)
1-Day Cinque Terre Train Pass: €13
2-Day Cinque Terre Train Pass: €23
1-Day Cinque Terre Train Pass: €16
2-Day Cinque Terre Train Pass: €29
3-Day Cinque Terre Train Pass: €41
CHILDREN (4-12 Years Old)
1-Day Cinque Terre Train Pass: €7,30
1-Day Cinque Terre Train Pass: €10
FAMILY (2 Adults + 2 Children)
1-Day Cinque Terre Train Family Pass: €31,50
1-Day Cinque Terre Family Train Pass: €42
Low Season: November 4-March 15
High Season: March 16-November 3
The train pass comes with access to the restrooms at all of the train stations, wi-fi, ecological park buses, and the hiking paths. Unless you’re at a restaurant, restrooms aren’t exactly easy to come by, so this access is really big. Sometimes there were lines for the restrooms, so keep this in mind if you’re trying to rush to a train.
Now you’re equipped with all the information you need to successfully visit Cinque Terre by train! Don’t forget to check out my blogs about where to stay in Cinque Terre and the perfect 1-day Cinque Terre itinerary!