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About three and a half hours from Florence lie the 5 small villages known as Cinque Terre. Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza, and Monterosso each have their unique picturesque charm. A Cinque Terre day trip from Florence is the perfect way to get out of the city and get some hiking and beach time in during your Italy vacation! The 5 towns that make up the Cinque Terre, also known as the Italian Riviera, are majestic and a must-see for anyone who is traveling to Italy. The English translation of Cinque Terre is Five Terraces.
When I lived in Italy I worked as a social media manager, blogger, and marketer for a travel company specializing in student travel. Over the summer we ran low on guides and that was my entrance into the real of tour guiding! I led Cinque Terre day trips every other weekend for several months so I got to know the area pretty dang well!
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Leaving from Florence, I generally recommend hopping on the 6:00 train which will put you in Riomaggiore around 9:45, depending on your connections. The ticket there costs €17, and if there are just a few of you, I recommend buying your return tickets at the train station in Cinque for more flexibility. The return ticket will cost about the same. This helps if you need to leave earlier due to bad weather, or if you’re just having so much fun you want to stay later! It is easy to buy tickets directly at the train station from the booth or the self-serve station.
If you don’t feel like planning the trip yourself or want a direct bus tour and someone to navigate for you, you can always book a tour with a guide!
Here is a great option on Viator!
Keep it simple and light. Remember if you’re doing the hike, you’re going to have to take your bag with you. pack everything in a small comfortable backpack.
Wear athleisure clothing for the hike. I usually end up in denim shorts and a tank with my Nikes or Tevas. A ball cap and my good sunglasses with UVA protection complete the ensemble.
If you’re in it for the gram (and let’s be real, who isn’t?) wear something light and loose. A breezy oversized shirt or dress works nicely. It also is a lot easier to just strip at the beach wearing a loose dress than trying to change out of athletic clothes!
Start your day off with the hike. Trust me when I say THIS IS A HIKE. If you’re not into climbing 57 flights of rugged terrain for one of the most amazing views you will ever see, you might want to reconsider these trails. I’m not trying to scare anyone off, but I’ve seen many people opt out of climbing it before, and no judgments held if that’s your decision.
The hike is short but laborious. Steep incline for a short amount of time.
Keep in mind it is 100% worth the pain for a view this amazing.
The trails for Cinque Terre are part of a national park and require a fee. At the time of writing to get on the costs of the trail around €7.50, but you can usually convince them to give you a student rate at €4.50 a person. Other options are available for unlimited train and ferry rides as well, which is great if you’re going to be visiting each town.
I’ve done most of the trails at Cinque Terre and one piece of advice is to check before you go to make sure there are no landslides. My favorite trail scenic-wise is the trail from Riomaggiore to Manarola. This offers the view of the perfect colorful Italian homes set into the side of the hill. It is one of the most stunning views in the world. This is one of the more straight uphill climbs. This will take you around an hour, as it isn’t one of the longest trails.
The other trail I recommend that is usually open tends to be more convenient for people since you end up in the largest city. This is the hike from Vernazza to Monterosso. Equally as beautiful in its own right, the more challenging part of this hike is making sure you don’t slip on your way down!
This trail is a little bit longer than the others and is around 4.5 miles, and generally takes me around an hour and a half to complete.
If you’re a true hiker and love to exercise (YGG), to hike the entire trail and do all 5 towns will take around 6 hours. This isn’t something I have personally done yet, but plan to eventually!
Monterosso is the largest of the 5 towns and the one that most people head to as it has the largest beaches.
When you get off the trail in Monterosso just keep walking past the first beaches you see. Go through the tunnel and keep walking until you get near the train station. Here is where they sell fried calamari and all sorts of other seaside goodies. You can get sandwiches and giant margarita buckets. The bar there has dubbed these as “Drunk Ass Buckets”. They aren’t wrong.
If you opted to do one of the other hikes just take the train or ferry from whichever town you’re into Monterosso. The trail will cost you around 3€ and the ferry will cost a little more and you can purchase those at the ferry pier of each town.
If you can’t find a place to put your blanket on the public beach, head over to one of the beach chalets and buy a chair to sit in for the day. A chair generally costs around €12 and with an umbrella, it can be around €16-18. Tourist season can get pretty crazy in Cinque Terre and in August it is filled with Italians on vacation.
Swim in the crystal clear waters, and enjoy the beautiful Italian Riviera. Drink your wine or margarita and soak in the views. This is Paradise.
There are plenty of other things to do while you are visiting Cinque Terre besides hiking and visiting the beach!
Doria Castle – Located in Vernazza this stunning little castle offers great views of the city. It is believed to have been built in the 13th century, though nobody is sure.
Church of San Giovanni Battista – Located in Monterosso and built in the 13th century. You can find this striped church in the center of town.
Porto Venere – Often overlooked by most during a Day Trip to Cinque Terre, Porto Venere is well worth the visit. Its medieval streets look like something out of a fairy tale. If you have the time, be sure to make a stop at this “sixth” town of Cinque Terre.
Take a Boat Tour – While seeing everything from land is fabulous, there are several boat tours in the towns of Cinque Terre that can offer you different views of the Italian Riviera. Here are some amazing boat tours you can check out.