CT by Sea
From approximately the beginning of April to the end of October, ferries are an alternate way of reaching most of the Cinque Terre villages and others along the Ligurian coast - including Portofino, Levanto and La Spezia. They’re not as fast or as inexpensive as the local train but are a nice way to get a different perspective of the cliffs, steeply terraced vineyards and tiny hilltop towns than you can see from land. Tickets may be purchased at the marinas of any of the ports the ferries serve, and are priced by distance: ours from Riomaggiore to Monterosso were €8 one way with shorter/longer point-to-points priced accordingly.
The website is multi-lingual (English, Italian, German, French and Spanish), provides maps and schedules, and allows you to figure ticket prices based on desired departure/destination points. Do note that:
• Ferries do not stop at Corniglia
• Service may be cancelled at any time due to rough seas
• They aren’t covered under any Cinque Terre park or park/rail passes: any info on the net stating otherwise is incorrect (previous passes that included ferries were discontinued)
• There are around 7-8 departures from CT villages every day but the earliest runs don't go to every village so check schedules carefully. Last runs are fairly early in the evening, and service to more distant locations isn’t as frequent as between the four Cinque Terre ports.
• There are also one-day tickets which allow you unlimited trips - either one-way or round trip - to all of the villages served. But because trains are more frequent and run earlier/later in the day, they are a better option for sightseers who only have 1 day.
• The website is not functional in the off season
- National/State Park
Cinque Terre Train
Special local train departing from La Spezia is the only possible way to get to Cinque Terre. It is very fast train but travelling underground most of the time. Too bad because scenic moments are very short and almost impossible to take any good picture. Good news is, travelling from La Spezia is very short in time.
AVERAGE DURATION OF TRAIN JOURNEY
La Spezia - Riomaggiore 9 min.
Riomaggiore - Manarola 2 min.
Manarola - Corniglia 4 min.
Corniglia - Vernazza 5 min.
Vernazza - Monterosso 5 min.
Parco Nazionale delle Cinque Terre should be explored by footpaths or small boats, called vaporetto, which connecting Monterosso-Vernazza-Manarola-Riomaggiore. Boat, however, doesn't stop at Corniglia because there is no harbor. Vaporetto offers the most spectacular view of the entire area of the park.
One way ticket in between two places cost 3 euros, return ticket is 4,5 euros. Daily trip which including all places of Cinque Terre is most convinient, cost 11,50 euros.
Three Ways to Get to Vernazza
Since we were doing without a rental car on our five week stay in Italy, we had three options of reaching Vernazza from our temporary home base in Riomaggiore: by ferry boat, rail, or by hiking. We chose the boat - not the cheapest, but a very pleasant ride with terrific views of the coast line.Related to:
Explore the Cinque Terre on foot
All five towns of the Cinque Terre are connected by scenic coastal paths. On my day trip to the Cinque Terre I walked 3 of these 4 paths: Riomaggiore to Manarola, Manarola to Corniglia and Monterosso to Vernazza.
My favourite path is definitely the Monterosso to Vernazza path. It is a stony small footpath which goes up and down and should not be underrated. It takes you at least 1,5 hours to walk, but you are often rewarded with great views of the coastline.Related to:
- Road Trip
- Budget Travel
Explore the Cinque Terre by boat
Four of the five Cinque Terre towns have their own harbours. Riomaggiore, Manarola, Vernazza and Monterosso are connected by a regular boat service. So for the lazier travellers this might be a good option to explore the beauty of the coastline.Related to:
- Budget Travel
To the Cinque Terre by train
I went to the Cinque Terre by train from Lucca in the Tuscany. The Cinque Terre is located on the La Spezia to Genua train line. All five towns of teh Cinque Terre have their own small train stations, which are mainly connected by tunnels.
If you buy your train ticket, you should make sure to stamp it before boarding the train. Now you can get on and off the trains as long as you reach your final destination within 6 hours. This gives you the chance to take a quick glance at each of the towns..Related to:
- Budget Travel
The train which runs along the Cinque Terre coast is extremely useful, and very good value.
If you buy a Cinque Terre pass (which you must have to walk the coastal footpaths) train travel is free. Otherwise it's remarkably cheap from a UK point of view: 1.10 euro from one village to the next.
It's not a particularly scenic ride, as most of the journey is in tunnels. But you do get glimpses of turquoise sea and rocky outcrops, and the frequency of the trains is excellent.
If you don't want to walk between villages, or can't, or don't have time, the train will let you see many or all of them in a day. It just requires a bit of forward planning using the train timetable provided by the Tourist Information office on Platform 1 of La Spezia station (and all the stations along the line).
Using the train, I was able to make a daytrip from Pisa, see a bit of La Spezia and still have time to wander round 3 Cinque Terre villages (and could have seen more, had i not wanted to visit a museum in La Sp before it closed).Related to:
- National/State Park
Actually walking is what the Cinque Terre is all about! There are lots of fabulous footpaths that will get you from one village to the other. They are clearly marked and you will get good information about the difficulties and distances and approximate time of walking.
The easiest portion is the Via Dell'Amore - the (paved) footpath between Riomaggiore and Manarola, the most difficult path is the portion between Vernazza and Monterosso. Please note that all these paths are within the Cinque Terre National Park, so you need to get a ticket to get in!
To be quite honest: we only walked the Via Dell'Amore and really enjoyed it! In Vernazza we walked a few yards on the footpath #2 in both directions and loved the views! But since both of us are afraid of heights we decided to just not overdo it and find other ways to enjoy this beautiful place!
Train between the Cinque Terre Villages
To travel to Vernazza, 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.Related to:
- Budget Travel
- Family Travel
Getting to Vernazza
There are several options for getting to Vernazza, as with all the Cinque Terre villages. We came once by train (from Monterosso) and once by ferry (from Manarola). Arriving by ferry at the pretty harbour it is easy to get your bearings, and from the station it is only a little more complicated – turn left and head downhill and you’ll be almost immediately on the winding main street that leads to that same harbour.
If you do choose to come by train, make sure you check the destinations carefully, as many of them stop only in Riomaggiore and Monterosso, passing straight through the smaller villages such as Vernazza without stopping.
There is more information about the trains and ferries on my Riomaggiore page, or check out these useful websites:
Trains ~ www.ferroviedellostato.it/
Boats ~ www.navigazionegolfodeipoeti.it/
Transport to Vernazza
Walking: The trail from Corniglia to Vernazza is about 1 1/2 hours in length of medium difficulty (note, it's much easier going from Corniglia to Vernazza than it is the other way around). The trail from Monterosso to Vernazza is about 1 1/2 - 2 hours in length and is the hardest coastal trail along the Cinque Terre route.
Boat: I can't remember the exact cost (10EUR) but you can take the boat, which leaves from any of the 5 towns (and Portovenere) to get to Vernazza. This is the easiest and most scenic option.
Train: The cheapest and easiest option. 1.10 Euro will take you from La Spezia up to Vernazza (approx. 25 minutes)
Drive: It is basically a 1-lane road into Vernazza so I wouldn't recommend driving here (there were a lot of bikers though). There were at least 2, maybe 3 parking areas (all filled over capacity) along the road down to Vernazza and the green bus will take you from the car park to the town.
To really enjoy the Cinque Terre it is a must to go on a boat tour from Monterosso to Riomaggiore (or vice versa)! Only that way you can appreciate the view of the villages snuggled against the mountains - with all bright colors of the houses and the vinyards all around!
We went on a boat tour from Monterosso to Riomaggiore, which cost € 8 per person one way. It is also possible to buy a day pass, so that you can hop on and off the boat and spend some time in the villages before visiting the next one!
Just be sure to watch the sun and the light before deciding which direction to take at what time of the day! Do check out the timetable here!
Please note that the service won't start before March 31st!!
Vernazza can easily be reached by train!
We arrived at Pisa airport and took a train from the trainstation Pisa Aeroporto to Pisa Centrale, on to La Spezia and then to Vernazza. Since we had an evening flight we did not have much choice but to take the Eurostar train (1st class only, reservations compulsory), but it was no problem to get a ticket for the train at the counter within the airport. Despite reservation and first class we only paid 11 € per person! On the way back we took a regional (2nd class) train and only paid € 4,85 for the same 92 km!!!
To go from one Cinque Terre village to the other, the train is very convenient as well! Just don't expect great views: it is mostly tunnels!
The closest airport to the Cinque Terre is Pisa, which was very convenient for us, since Ryanair just started to fly from Karlsruhe/Baden to Pisa in 2006! There are a lot of budget airlines flying into Gallileo Gallilei Airport, but of course all the regular airlines as well!
There are buses and a trainstation right there at the airport, so it is as easy as can be to get from the airport to whereever you want to go!
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