We took our day trip from Florence and bought round trip train tickets to La Spezia (where you will purchase your entrance fee and train tickets into Cinque Terre) for EUR 23,30 each. You can also reach Cinque Terre from Levanto, which we’ve heard is another gorgeous Mediterranean town worth exploring if you have the time. From Florence to Cinque Terre, the trip was about 2.5 hours each way, with a transfer in Pisa, however you can reach La Spezia on a direct train from Florence’s central station (Firenze Santa Maria Novella) if you are willing to pay more or if you are lucky and find a cheap ticket. Tickets can be purchased at the station.
MAKE SURE YOU CHECK WHEN THE LAST TRAIN LEAVES FROM LA SPEZIA TO FLORENCE! It’s never any fun being abandoned at the end of a long day without your belongings and having to book a hostel or hotel last minute. Trust us.
Once you arrive at La Spezia, find the ticket booth inside the train station. Basically, just follow the crowd. We found that most people spoke English in case you have to ask anyone for directions. Here (or at Levanto), you have the choice of purchasing a EUR 8,00 Cinque Terre card that grants you access into the towns, or a EUR 16,00 Cinque Terre card that grants you access into the towns and the trains that go between them. GO WITH THE EUR 16,00 CARD!!!
Eating in Cinque Terre
Heres where your budget can reeeeally skyrocket.
As romantic as all those coastal restaurants looked, we weren’t in the position to spend our entire days budget on one meal. Instead of eating out at Cinque Terre, we bought pre-made sandwiches (they cost about 3 EUR each) and snacks at the train station in Florence before we left for the day. This way, Patrick and I each had three sandwiches (and some snacks) for about 10 EUR each. Plus, we had a romantic picnic while hiking between Vernazza and Monterosso al Mare on top of a mountain with the most amazing view!
There’s a certain romantic pull Cinque Terre has, making it the perfect destination for couples. From luxury honeymooners to shoe-string backpackers, Cinque Terre offers something for every kind of travelling couple. Here are some things to do in Cinque Terre that we didn’t get the chance to do on our day trip, but will definitely be trying on our next visit to Italy.
- Diving: What better way to spend the day with your significant other than exploring the reefs of the Italian Riviera? There are three diving centers located in Cinque Terre, located in Riomaggiore, Monterosso, and Levanto. You can get information on their locations and phone numbers by clicking here. Don’t have your diving license? Don’t worry! There are plenty of places to rent snorkel gear along the waterfront.
- Sunset Boat Tour in Manarola: A Cinque Terre must-do for honeymooners, Angelo’s Boat Tours offers private lunch and sunset tours. Enjoy the view of the colorful Italian Riviera from the ocean with the sunset as your backdrop! Pricing for this trip varies based on group size, tour type, and time of year.
- Swim: The best beaches for swimming in Cinque Terre are Manarola (on the way to Corniglia), Vernazza, and Monterosso.
- SUP/Kayak: With kayak and stand up paddle board rentals all throughout the five coastal towns, let your feet take a rest and travel between each village on the water! Each town is only about 30 minutes away from one another via sea kayak. This is a great option in the summer, as you can leave the crowds behind on the trains and trails, as well as cool down with a dip into the Atlantic ocean.
- Wander the Back Alleyways: Cinque Terre has many back alleyways begging to be explored. Get off the beaten path and away from the more touristy areas and explore some of the tiny streets and trails on the outskirts of the towns. You won’t be disappointed!
So the trip set us back about a hundred bucks for the two of us. Not too shabby if I do say so myself, considering we probably would have spent the same amount of money on activities in Florence (entrance to see the Statue of David costs about 16,50 EUR, and the Galleria degli Uffizi costs a whopping 26,50 EUR *Gasp!!*).
All in all, Cinque Terre isn’t just a place you visit, it’s a place you revisit. We plan on staying for longer next time, as the romantic, rustic charm of these fishing villages deserves more exploration than we were able to give it. If we were to do it over again, we definitely would have splurged on a hotel to spend the night here and done a diving trip early the next morning, as there are some nice reefs up the Ligurian coastline.
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– Sara & Pat