Thanks to their iconic monuments and marvelous landscapes, Florence and Cinque Terre are two of the most visited places in Italy, those places that you cannot miss, especially if you are planning your first trip to the country of “La Dolce Vita”. How to get from Florence to Cinque Terre is one of the most popular questions that people visiting Italy ask Google.
This post is the answer to your question with all the information you need to reach the colored Cinque Terre from Florence and vice versa.
How far is Cinque Terre from Florence?
Cinque Terre, literally the Five Lands, is not in Tuscany. Florence is the main town and regional capital of Tuscany. Instead, Cinque Terre is the name given to five small fisherman villages of Liguria, another region of Italy that borders Tuscany to the northwest.
Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza, and Monterosso are the Cinque Terre.
Florence and the Cinque Terre are not as close as many tourists may think. The distance between them is about 180 km, 112 miles. So, more than two hours, both by car and train.
How much time should I spend at the Cinque Terre?
The answer depends above all on the time at your disposal, but also on your way of traveling. If you have time, my suggestion is to spend at least one or two nights there. The best moments to enjoy Cinque Terre are in the late afternoon and evening when the crowd leaves, and early in the morning before the mass arrives.
Moreover, if you arrive early in the morning you can visit all the villages in one day. Once, I did it. I arrived in La Spezia, I bought the Cinque Terre train card, and then I went straight to Monterosso. The time for a quick tour and I started the panoramic path that brings me to Vernazza. From there I reached the other places by train. Another tip for you is to be in Manarola for sunset to see the colored houses during the golden hour.
How to get from Florence to Cinque Terre
My suggestion is to avoid, if possible, both Cinque Terre and Florence in Summer. Florence is sadly crowded and hot. Cinque Terre is a bit cooler thanks to the sea breeze but really overcrowded. Spring and Autumn are a bit better, at least with the weather. Winter is the coldest season but probably the best to enjoy these places out of the mass tourism.
As a local, I wish to encourage people to discover other wonders of Tuscany and of Italy when mass tourism overcrowds the must-see places such as Firenze and Cinque Terre. But I understand whoever can take a holiday only in summer.
To go from Florence to Cinque Terre you have plenty of ways: car, train, boat, and guided tours.
Driving your car
The only village of the Five Lands easy to reach by car is Monterosso. Arriving from Florence, Monterosso is the farthest. All the others are not easy to reach by car because of the narrow and dangerous bending road. There is also no way to park your vehicle.
Coming from Florence, my suggestion is to stop and park in La Spezia, the biggest town in the area, and the main HUB to explore the Cinque Terre. From there, you can easily get the train or the boat to move between the villages. This solution is good both if you have only a day and if you stay a few days sleeping somewhere in the villages.
Other solutions by car may be:
- Drive straight to Monterosso which is easier to reach and where it is easier to park. Book your room there and explore CT by foot, boat, or train.
- Book your accommodation in La Spezia and take the boat or train to CT every day.
- Pass the CT and go to Levanto, a lovely seaside village just out of the National park of Cinque Terre. Levanto is a perfect base to explore the CT and you find more choices of accommodation, bars, shops, and supermarkets. Then use the train and panoramic paths to reach Monterosso and the other iconic villages.
Take highway no A11 from Florence to Viareggio, then take the A12 going north, following the direction for La Spezia and Genova. The drive lasts about 2 hours to La Spezia, 2,30 hours to Monterosso, and 2,10 hours to Levanto.
If you have time, in between Florence and Cinque Terre there are many places that deserve a visit. I think about Pistoia, the walled town of Lucca, or the seaside Tuscan resorts such as Viareggio, Pietrasanta, or Forte dei Marmi. Very close to La Spezia you can also stop a few hours to visit Carrara and the famous white marble quarries where they extract the most precious marble in the world.
Travel slowly by train
A train from Florence to Cinque Terre is probably the best mean of transportation between these two popular destinations in Italy.
You enjoy the Tuscan landscapes out of your window without stressing yourself driving and looking for a parking slot.
Each of the five villages has a small railway station but you surely have to change the train in La Spezia Centrale which is the biggest and closest town to Cinque Terre.
My suggestion is to buy a ticket from Florence SMN to La Spezia. Once you arrive, if you haven’t done it online, you can buy the Cinque Terre Card that includes unlimited trips.
There are trains almost every 30/40 minutes from Florence SMN Train Station to La Spezia Centrale. Some of them are Direct trains, others require a change in Pisa Centrale. Direct routes do not mean faster routes. In this case, Regionale trains stop even in the smaller towns and the journey lasts more than routes with changes.
- The direct “Regionale” train brings you to La Spezia in about 2 hours and a half with no changes. La Spezia train station is also the end of the line and you can’t get wrong. The cost of a one-way ticket is approx. € 13,80.
- Routes with changes. In this case, you need to get a train to Pisa Centrale, then take another train direction, La Spezia. The trip will last approx. 2 hours and 10 minutes and the one-way ticket costs between € 13,80 and € 20,00.
You can buy tickets online on Trenitalia.com, through Trenitalia App, through the automatic machines at the station, and at the ticket office but usually, there is a long queue.
If you decide to use trains to travel, look for more info about how to travel in Tuscany by train here.
From Florence to Cinque Terre by Boat
During summertime, starting in the middle of June, you can reach Portovenere and Cinque Terre by boat departing from the coast of Tuscany. The Consorzio Marittimo Turistico 5 Terre – Golfo Dei Poeti offers a daily cruise to Cinque Terre departing from the marina of Viareggio, Forte Dei Marmi, Massa, and Carrara.
For example, you can reach Viareggio by car or by train and from there you get the boat that will bring you to CT cruising the Ligurian Sea. The itinerary usually includes one hour stop in Portovenere, then you will reach Monterosso, the last of the five villages. While cruising you have the opportunity to admire all the villages and their colored houses from the sea. In Monterosso, you have about 3 hours to enjoy the beach or walk around the tiny village before getting on board and going back to Tuscany.
Another solution is to reach La Spezia by car or train and get the boat from the marina. In this case, the ferry will stop in all the villages (except for Corniglia which is on top of the hill). Buying the daily ticket that costs € 35,00, you can use the boat service as much as you want and go back to La Spezia at the end of the day.
More info about costs and timetables is on the official website of the boat company Navigazione Golfo dei Poeti.
Book the best Escorted Tour
Personally, I wouldn’t recommend this solution but if you haven’t enough time and CT is a must of your Italy trip, a guided Cinque Terre Day tour from Florence is a valid alternative.
Be prepared for staying out for 12/13 hours, spending at least 6 hours in a minivan or big bus.
The good side of these tours is that you could meet nice people to travel with, especially if you are a solo traveler. It is always nice sharing nice moments with good people. It is part of the experience.
Some tours include also a short visit to the leaning tower of Pisa. In my opinion, this is totally insane. Avoid these and choose only full-day tours to the Five Towns.
Moreover, looking for the best day tours from Florence to Cinque Terre, I found this one that includes a stop at Portovenere, another fisherman-colored village that deserves to be seen.
Click here to book your Cinque Terre and Porto Venere Tour from Florence.
Cinque Terre Train Card
Once you arrived, if you plan to explore CT by train, which is my advice, there is a special card, called Cinque Terre Train Card that allows you to get unlimited trains along the route from/to La Spezia – Levanto.
You can buy the card online on the Parco Nazionale 5 Terre website, at La Spezia train station or at the “Centro Accoglienza” of every town.
The card is valid for 1, 2, or 3 days and it also includes free access to the walking paths of the National Park (otherwise you have to pay about 7 € each walk).
The cost for a single person for 1 day is € 16,00 and there are special rates for over 70 and families.
By buying this card, you can easily move from one place to another without the stress of buying tickets every time. Also, you save money because every run would cost you € 4,00 per person.
Please note that you are not allowed to walk along the panoramic path of the National Park without proper shoes. So, don’t visit Cinque Terre with Flip Flops!