Here to help you navigate the stunning worlds of Cinque Terre. I give you the run down on how to get to Cinque Terre, answer all your pressing questions, and give you tips on how to plan the ultimate trip.
Getting around le Cinque Terre, one of Italy’s prime jewels, seemed like a difficult feat when browsing through the internet. There were trains to take, specific times of day to visit, it wasn’t clear where the trains began and ended. Luckily for my mother and I, everything was cleared up for us the minute we stepped onto our stay at La Sosta di Ottone III in the small village of Chiesa Nuova, just a few minutes from Levanto. We put down our bags and headed to the receptionist at La Sosta in search of answers. She kindly handed us a piece of paper with a timetable and all the directions and latest information for how to get to Cinque Terre, and we were off!
Best Place to Stay in Cinque Terre: Levanto Area
The Levanto area is a prime location to begin and end your Cinque Terre visit without being overwhelmed by the crowds. Not only are the stays more affordable, but they also offer authenticity and a unique more local crowd.
Where to Stay Beyond le Cinque Terre: La Sosta di Ottone III
What’s the best way to see Cinque Terre? By car, bus, train, or boat?
I can immediately remove one of those options for you, and that’s by car. Each of the Cinque Terre have a very small parking lot and if you are lucky enough to find space it costs a fortune. The drive from the top is nice for the scenic views and if you only plan on visiting just one town it’s not too bad, but otherwise I don’t recommend it. The best way to see the Cinque Terre is by train. It is the most efficient, fastest, and cost effective way to travel. The government built the Cinque Terre Express Train for a reason! And that was to help people get to Cinque Terre and the towns in an easier manner while keeping an eye on the number of people entering so as not to be overrun by tourism. By boat is a completely different experience and allows you to see the Cinque Terre from a new perspective, this option isn’t too shabby either if you’re able to get a personal boat to take you on the excursions.
How often does the Cinque Terre Express Train pass by the Levanto Train Station?
Le Cinque Terre Express train passes every 20 minutes by the city of Levanto. When I say train, I don’t mean an actual train. It’s a mini-version of a train with about 10 cars that resemble a mix between a subway and a train with ample seating. The Cinque Terre Express train travels exclusively between Levanto, the Cinque Terre, and La Spezia (the other entry point to Cinque Terre) so you don’t risk going to far down or getting lost at any point.
The Levanto train station is located directly in the center of town, just walking distanced from the city of Levanto and its beach. If you have a car, you can park it in the station parking lot for a few Euro. The benefit of taking the train from Levanto is that there will always be space in this parking lot.
This Coastal Levanto to Framura Path is the Cinque Terre Trail You Haven’t Heard Of…Yet
Prior to hopping onboard the express train that would take us to all five towns, we decided to explore the rather untouched coastal community of Levanto. I recommend you do so too so you’re able to see the difference between a Cinque Terre town and what the Cinque Terre towns felt like before they were discovered by tourism. More specifically we decided to explore the pedestrian and bike path called MareMonti in Levanto that would take us on a scenic coastal tour from Levanto to Framura. The Maremonti Levanto to Framura path had it all: pebbly beaches, coastal cities, reprieve from the heat or rain, and the opportunity for physical activity–only without the hype of the other coastal towns like the Cinque Terre medieval villages.
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How far apart are each of the Cinque Terre by train?
Each trip takes about 4 – 6 minutes. The first stop after Levanto is Monterosso, then Vernazza, followed by Corniglia, Manarola, then Riomaggiore. For instance, my mother and I only visited 3 towns, so we paid for 3 rides for a total of 12 euro each.
Where can I buy Cinque Terre train tickets and how much do they cost?
You have two options here:
- Option 1: Single Tickets: If you’re not looking to visit all five of the Cinque Terre or don’t have time, you can choose to purchase a single ticket every time before boarding a train. A single ticket costs 4 euro, no matter where you’re final destination is. You can purchase these single tickets at all the train stations from the machines or ticket booths.
- Option 2: Cinque Terre Card: The alternate option is to purchase the Cinque Terre Card. There are two types of cards you can purchase. The Cinque Terre Train Card is only 16 euro gives you access to the hiking trails between each town as well as unlimited train travel. The Cinque Terre Trekking Card is 7 euro 50 and gives you only access to the hiking trails/footpaths. You can buy these tickets day of or pre-order them online here.
If you choose to hike the trails…
Make sure to check that the hiking trails are open before you buy the ticket. Sometimes due to unforeseen circumstances, weather, landslides, or repairs, the hikes are closed. You can check for the latest up-to-date information here.
Why should I hike the Cinque Terre?
Why Are Le Cinque Terre a UNESCO World Heritage Site?
There is a reason why so many choose to get to Cinque Terre by hiking and it’s not because everyone is an avid hiker. Have you ever asked yourself why le Cinque Terre are a UNESCO World Heritage Site? I’ll stop you right there. It’s not why you think. It’s not because of the 5 quaint, medieval villages, it’s because of what’s protecting them–extensive landscape terraces. That’s why hiking these extensive landscape terraces is an important educational experience that helps people uncover for themselves and answer the question ‘why are le Cinque Terre a UNESCO World Heritage Site.’
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How do I use the Cinque Terre train tickets?
It is important that you validate each train ticket before you board, even if you have the Cinque Terre Train Card. A conductor is always patrolling the train cars and checking that each train ticket is validated and if so at what time. This way they know if you haven’t been paying for tickets. At each train station you will find small, usually yellow, timestamp machines on the platforms. You just slide in your ticket and they are time stamped.
Should I pre-order my tickets or buy them day of?
Lastly, I guess the most pressing and burning question is…do I need to pre-order my train tickets due to the high demand or can I just buy them day of? My mother and I visited the first week of September, which in many cases is still considered high season. We bought them on the spot and had no problem when it came to purchasing tickets. A lot of the tourists we saw usually arrived around lunch time and arrived by boat, the trains were pretty spacious and had plenty of room for people. I would recommend waiting it out, seeing how the weather is, and deciding last minute what ticket you want to buy and how you want to get to Cinque Terre.
>> Next: Tasting Cinque Terre at La Sosta, A Michelin Restaurant
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