Train between the Cinque Terre Villages, Manarola
To travel to Manarola, and between the five villages of the Cinque Terre you can catch the train that runs between La Spezia and Genoa.
Besides hiking, it is the easiest and quickest way to travel from village to village, but not very scenic - most of the time you are in tunnels through the mountains, with only an occasional glimpse of the ocean.
The train is pretty slow, and not that frequent. There is usually 1-3 trains per hour in summer, and less as the weather gets colder. Some trains don't stop at all the villages, so make sure you check the timetable in advance.
A one ride ticket costs around 1.50 euro and there is a day pass that you can buy too. Tickets are available at each of the towns stations, and make sure you pick up a timetable as well.
If you are going to the Cinque Terre you are going to want to hike the trails so you'll need a pass anyway. If you get it in La Spezia you can get to any of the towns and hike the trails, and use the towns little busses without spending another dime. Plus its fun.
I have to update this tip as I just found out that the train is no longer included in the price of the card. You will need a separate train pass to go between the 5 towns and La Spezia.
Manarola train station is a little walk through a tunnel away from the village.
There are several trains per day in each direction. Train fares are very low, for instance we paid 1 € to go from Manarola to Vernazza in 2006. You might also want to buy a Cinque Terre Card, which includes train transportation.
Just do not count on seing beautiful landscape while sitting in the train - it is mostly tunnels!
There is a commuter train that runs between the five villages with great frequency during the day, roughly about every 15 minutes. However the train does not always stop at every village, so be sure to check the train schedule. Maranola is not one of the villages that is on the schedule alot, there is at train that runs through Maranola about every 30 minutes.
After our brief (less then an hour) visit of the town, we headed back to the train station for the quick 3 minute train ride back to Riomaggiore.
Waiting at train stations in Europe and especially in small villages like this gives you time to collect your thoughts and take a view of everything that you are surrounded by.
We were there on a Saturday and the time was about 6:00 p.m. (18:00), but I think no matter what the time during the slower months of the year for tourists you will find a very nonchalant atmosphere all around you.
We happened to visit on a mostly cloudy day (which was actually good for hiking purposes) and although there were some tourist in the area (the 2 of us included) things were very quiet.
I like the small collection of pictures I took while waiting for our train to arrive. The couple just easing through the day leaning against the Manarola sign post and the small dog checking the sounds along the track.
The last picture in this series is a picture of the comfy seat that this regional train had. Probably the best seat out of all the Trenitalia trains we rode during the week.
This is not an answer, it's a question. My group is in a similar situation. We're staying in Tuscany and want to go to Cinque Terre for a day trip. Right now the plan is to drive our rental car to Luca,(about 10k's from our villa) take a train to LaSpezia, and then take a train to the 1st of the 5 towns (I believe it's Manarola) and then walk. When we get tired, we'll just jump back on a train to LaSpezia. Based on the map I have, it appears that we should get round-trip tickets from LaSpezia to Levanto which stops in all the towns. Is this the right way to do this??? Also, I can't seem to find a website that shows train schedules from LaSpezia to Levanto and then return from Levanto to LaSpezia. Should I be looking for schedules from LaSpezia to Genoa instead???
It is easy to get to Manarola by train. Perfect direct way to get there either from the south or north. Getting around Manarola is straight forward. Enjoy the view from the foot path along the sea but don't expect to get to Corniglia - paths have been locked off - looks like there was a place or two that had a rock slide.