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Explore Cinque Terre by Rail: A Complete Guide

By Railbookers Sunday, July 5, 2020 Read time: 4 minutes

Chances are you have quite a few European destinations on your bucket list. If you're like most travelers, many of them are probably in Italy. From the picturesque canals of Venice to Rome's architectural wonders to the mesmerizing villages of Lake Garda and sun-drenched Sicily, Italy is rich with unforgettable places and experiences. However, when it comes to a destination that's stop-you-in-your-tracks gorgeous, Cinque Terre on the Ligurian coastline takes the prize.

Manarola coastline in Cinque Terre

Cinque Terre, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is every bit breathtaking as you'd imagine. There's a reason nearly three million travelers flock here annually. No photos or postcards could do this place justice. You just have to visit and experience its beauty for yourself. Comprised of five distinct fishing villages—Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore—Cinque Terre is one of the most famous coastal landscapes not just in Europe, but in the world. And guess what? The best way to discover its quaint, cobbled streets, delicious cuisine and wine, picturesque harbors, sweeping vistas, winding cliff pathways, terraced vineyards, and pastel-colored houses is by train! Trains are the easiest way to get to and around Cinque Terre. Trenitalia has direct connections to La Spezia from Rome, Florence, and Pisa (the closest airport). Once in Cinque Terre, the Cinque Terre Express train runs between La Spezia and Levanto in Sestri Levante, stopping at each village. The trains run in each direction approximately four times each hour. All of our Cinque Terre vacations use either La Spezia or Sestri Levante as your base for exploring the five villages.

Your Guide to Train Travel in Cinque Terre

Monterosso al Mare

Monterosso in Cinque Terre

The Monterosso train station is the largest in Cinque Terre and about a 10-minute walk from the historic village center. It features a bar, public restrooms, a staffed ticket office, and luggage storage.

  • Levanto to Monterosso: 5 minutes
  • Bonassola to Monterosso:10 minutes
  • Deiva Marina to Monterosso: 16 minutes
  • Sestri Levante to  Monterosso: 20 minutes (intercity trains), 30 minutes (local trains)
  • Portofino (station of S. Margherita Ligure to Portofino) to Monterosso: 40 minutes (intercity trains), 50 minutes (local trains)

Vernazza

 

Vernazza by the sea
 

Vernazza's scenic train station is located directly above the village and can be reached on foot in about five minutes, or by bus if you prefer not to walk. The station features public restrooms, a staffed ticket office, and a waiting room. There is no bar or luggage storage available.

  • Levanto to Vernazza: 6 minutes
  • Monterosso to Vernazza: 3 minutes
  • Manarola to Vernazza: 6 minutes
  • Corniglia to Vernazza: 3 minutes
  • Riomaggiore to Vernazza: 6 minutes
  • Sestri Levante to Vernazza: 21 minutes
  • La Spezia to Vernazza: 14 minutes
  • Genoa to Vernazza: 1 hour and 11 minutes
  • Pisa to Vernazza: 1 hour and 18 minutes

Corniglia

Corniglia colorful buildings

Corniglia, the third of five villages in Cinque Terre, sits high above the train station. The village can be reached by a footpath known as Lardarina (377 stairs) located to the left of the station. Though panoramic, this is a difficult climb to manage with luggage. We recommend taking the convenient electric shuttle bus that runs every 10 to 15 minutes, which is included with the Cinque Terre Train and Trekking Card in all of our Cinque Terre vacations. It's the easiest way to travel between the train station and the town center. This station features a small bar, public restrooms, and a tourist information office. There is no staffed ticketing office or luggage storage available.

  • Manarola to Corniglia: 2 minutes
  • Vernazza to Corniglia: 3 minutes
  • Monterosso to Corniglia: 7 minutes
  • Riomaggiore to Corniglia: 6 minutes
  • La Spezia to Corniglia: 9 minutes
  • Levanto to Corniglia: 8 minutes
  • Genoa to Corniglia: 1 hour and 13 minutes
  • Pisa to Corniglia: 1 hour and 14 minutes

Manarola

Manarola at night

Perhaps the most famous of the five villages, Manarola is a must-see in Cinque Terre. This seafront station has staffed public restrooms and a tourist office. There is no bar, ticketing office, or luggage storage available. The center of Manarola can be reached by walking through a well-lit pedestrian tunnel.

  • La Spezia to Manarola: 7 minutes
  • Monterosso to Manarola: 10 minutes
  • Corniglia to Manarola: 2 minutes
  • Riomaggiore to Manarola: 2 minutes
  • Vernazza to Manarola: 6 minutes
  • Genoa to Manarola: 1 hour and 17 minutes
  • Pisa to Manarola: 1 hour and 10 minutes
  • Levanto to Manarola: 12 minutes

Riomaggiore

Riomaggiore with boats and ocean

Riomaggiore is the town furthest to the south of Cinque Terre. Just steps from the train station, you'll discover the trailhead to the coast's famed Via dell’Amore hiking trail. This train station features a bar, public restrooms, and a staffed ticketing office. You can reach the village through the pedestrian tunnel, which is about a five-minute walk. In addition to the popular hiking trail, the station is also located right next to the Cinque Terre National Park visitor center.

  • Monterosso to Riomaggiore: 7 minutes
  • Manarola to Riomaggiore: 2 minutes
  • Vernazza to Riomaggiore: 5 minutes
  • La Spezia to Riomaggiore: 5 minutes
  • Levanto to Riomaggiore: 12 minutes
  • Sestri Levante to Riomaggiore: 27 minutes
  • Genoa to Riomaggiore: 1 hour and 16 minutes
  • Pisa to Riomaggiore: 1 hour and 7 minutes

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