Traveling from Florence to Cinque Terre is one of those journeys that pops up on a huge number of vacations in Italy: who wouldn’t want to see both the Cradle of the Renaissance and the colorful Ligurian fishing villages of Cinque Terre on a single trip?
Plus, there’s also the fact that Florence and Cinque Terre look so temptingly close to each other on a map–but there’s a bit more to the journey than meets the eye.
Planning to travel from Florence to Cinque Terre?
We’ve traveled around the region extensively, visiting both destinations many times.
Here’s what you need to know before hopping in the car or on a train to travel between Cinque Terre and Florence!
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Our #1 Tip: Don’t take a day trip by public transport.
We’ll cover this in more detail below, but as it’s one of the most common questions about traveling between Florence and Cinque Terre, we’ll address it right up front: we don’t believe that taking a day trip between these two spots is a great idea.
And, if limited travel time makes it necessary, taking a day trip from Florence to Cinque Terre (or vice-versa, though that’s much less common) is a case where booking a popular organized tour like this is by far the best option.
Because the journey takes an average of 3 hours each way!
You can get it down to 2.5 hours each way if you time your transitions perfectly or are able to hit the direct train in both directions (and it doesn’t run late)—but 3 is much more common, with 4 being far from unheard of.
You do have the option of driving yourself, and that will give you far more flexibility than taking the train.
If you do that, though, be prepared to park your car in the garage at La Spezia’s train station and hop the train to get into Cinque Terre proper from there.
Now, I’m not saying it’s impossible–just that there are a thousand other, arguably better, ways to spend one of your precious days in Italy.
Ideally, we recommend booking a well-reviewed tour like this if you want to take a day trip to Cinque Terre from Florence.
That way, you’ll have the benefit of a driver who knows the way, you won’t have to pay for (potentially pricey) car rental fees, parking, or gas, and your itinerary will be in the hands of an expert.
More on that below–but keep it in mind.
Traveling From Florence to Cinque Terre By Train
To take the train from Florence to Cinque Terre, you’ll first need to travel from the Firenze Santa Maria Novella station to La Spezia Centrale.
This will frequently involve changing trains, most commonly in Pisa.
If you keep an eye out for it, there is also a direct train between the two places, which takes about 2.5 hours and runs every couple of hours.
If you hope the hit this going both directions, be sure to plan carefully ahead of time!
You can check the train schedule for your dates and buy tickets via Omio, a ticket aggregator we use often throughout Europe.
Keep in mind, of course, that once you get to La Spezia, your journey isn’t over!
From there, you’ll need to switch trains and head to Cinque Terre itself.
The closest village to La Spezia Centrale is Riomaggiore, which is about 10 minutes away by train.
The furthest village is Monterosso al Mare, which is about 25 minutes away.
This option is best for…
… people who intend to spend at least one night in Cinque Terre.
Check train times and ticket prices for traveling between Florence and Cinque Terre today!
Traveling From Florence to Cinque Terre By Car
With ideal conditions, driving from Florence to Cinque Terre takes about 2.5 hours.
However, we actually don’t recommend taking your car all the way to Cinque Terre.
Instead, if you’re driving from Florence to Cinque Terre for a day trip, we recommend parking your car at the garage next to La Spezia Centrale and hopping the train (see distances in the train section above) to your village of choice after.
Florence to La Spezia Centrale is still a 2-hour drive with ideal conditions, though, so keep that in mind.
What are ideal conditions?
You don’t hit traffic, you don’t get lost, you don’t have to make any stops, and you don’t drive more slowly when heading home after dark.
Unfortunately, those conditions–especially the traffic–are not all entirely likely to be met, especially going both directions.
We’ve personally hit bad traffic driving to and from La Spezia more than once.
If you’re traveling from Florence to Cinque Terre and you’re planning on spending the night in the villages (or adjoining La Spezia or Levanto), we recommend not renting a car at all and simply taking the train instead.
If you are spending the night and wish to book a car, we recommend searching for cars via Discover Cars to find the rental option with the best combination of price, good reviews, and fair terms.
Check prices and shop rental cars for your trip to Cinque Terre today!
This option is best for…
… people who are hoping to take a day trip to Cinque Terre from Florence but don’t want to book a tour.
Taking a Day Trip From Florence to Cinque Terre Via Tour
Ultimately, we fully believe that if you’re traveling from Florence to Cinque Terre for a day trip, an organized tour like this is your best option.
Booking a day trip is far less hassle than taking the train, and far less of a headache than driving yourself.
It also comes with excellent benefits like a guide who will make sure you see the best of the villages on a very tight schedule!
Cinque Terre is best seen on an overnight visit–even one full day in the villages (without 5+ hours of travel time as a day trip from Florence inevitably entails) is a better experience and absolutely does not require a tour.
However, when you’ve traveled all the way to Italy and are carefully counting your days in the country, we understand that time is at an absolute premium!
If you have your heart set on taking a day trip to Cinque Terre from Florence, taking an organized day trip like this wildly popular one is absolutely the best way to optimize your time.
This option is best for…
… people who have a tight schedule and want to take a day trip from Florence to Cinque Terre.
6 thoughts on “How to Travel from Florence to Cinque Terre (By Train, Car, or Tour)”
Do you recommend a overnight trip to Cinque Terre with a 4 yr old?
I would say it depends on the four-year-old! Generally, though, I’d imagine an overnight trip to Cinque Terre is easier with kids than a day trip–less pressure to move quickly and fewer crowds to deal with that way.
How many days/nights would you suggest staying in this area? We would like to stay in Monterosso, but do you have any suggestions on which town you enjoyed the most? Thank you!
On average, I’d say two full days (not including the day you travel to Cinque Terre or the day you leave) is long enough to get a good overview without being rushed.
Our personal favorite village is Vernazza, in large part due to the amazing views on either side of the town, but we adore them all and they all have their benefits!
I’m planning a trip to Florence/Cinque next year (assuming everything is open for Americans by then, right now it’s not). But is there a particular time in the year where it’s less crowded with tourists? When would you suggest would be the best time to travel to avoid hi cost and crowds? We’re also going to Spain btw. Thanks!
Hi Adrian! In Cinque Terre, winter is absolutely the best time for avoiding tourists and staying on a budget, though of course it will be closed and some attractions will be closed. Early spring/late fall would give you slightly better weather, but you still won’t want to swim!