Cinque Terre Day Trip From Milan (Tips By a Local!)

Planning a day trip to Cinque Terre? This comprehensive guide has everything you need for an incredible experience in these delightful Italian fishing villages. Table of Contents Show 1 Getting to Cinque Terre From Milan 1.1 From La Spezia 1.2 From Florence 1.3 From Pisa 1.4 From Milan 2 Navigating Cinque Terre 3 Top Things…

cinque terre day trip from milan

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Planning a day trip to Cinque Terre? This comprehensive guide has everything you need for an incredible experience in these delightful Italian fishing villages.

The five towns that compose Cinque Terre – Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza and Monterosso al Mare are amongst Italy’s most enchanting destinations. With colorful stacked houses, scenic harbors, cliffside trails, and delicious focaccia, there’s nowhere quite like it!

The colorful houses of Manarola in Cinque Terre

Having visited Cinque Terre many times over the years from my home city of La Spezia, I’m excited to share my insider tips to help you plan an epic adventure. Read on to discover:

  • Transport options from popular destinations
  • Expert advice on maximizing your time
  • Where to eat, swim, best photo spots
  • And so much more!

Let’s dive in and start planning your picture-perfect Cinque Terre day trip.

Getting to Cinque Terre From Milan

Reaching these colorful villages is fairly straightforward from several major Italian cities:

From La Spezia

I highly recommend starting your day trip from La Spezia. Well connected by train from cities like Rome, Florence and Pisa, the Cinque Terre towns are just 15-20 minutes away by rail.

Catch the local train from La Spezia Centrale station in the city center. It runs regularly year-round and costs around 5 EUR each way.

Or join a fantastic small group guided tour from La Spezia to Cinque Terre. Knowledgeable local guides will maximize your time in the villages and share insider tips.

Sunset over the waterfront of La Spezia, Italy

From Florence

The train journey from Florence to Cinque Terre takes around 2 hours. Driving cuts it down to 1.5 hours. This makes a Florence day trip doable, although still quite rushed.

If your home base is Florence, consider booking this phenomenal Florence to Cinque Terre small group guided tour instead. Relax on air-conditioned transports while guides whisk you effortlessly between the Tuscan capital and gorgeous Ligurian Sea villages.

View over the colorful houses of Riomaggiore in Cinque Terre

From Pisa

It takes just under 2 hours to drive from Pisa to Cinque Terre. The train involves a change at La Spezia and takes a bit over an hour.

To simplify logistics, book this phenomenal Pisa to Cinque Terre small group tour with boat ride along the coast. Knowledgeable local guides will handle transportation while you enjoy swimming and waterfront sightseeing.

Scenic view of the coastline of Cinque Terre

From Milan

I don’t really recommend the 3+ hour one-way train trip from Milan to Cinque Terre villages. But if your home base is Milan and you want to maximize sightseeing time, consider this stellar Milan to Cinque Terre full-day guided tour with transport, guides and coastal boat tour. Knowledgeable guides will handle all travel logistics so you can focus on enjoying the scenic coastal region.

View over the beautiful town of Manarola in Cinque Terre

Navigating Cinque Terre

Once here, getting around by train is easiest and most scenic. The winding, narrow roads and limited parking make driving extremely stressful.

Cheap, fast trains run every 20-30 minutes between towns, taking as little as 5 minutes. I highly recommend using a Cinque Terre train pass for unlimited train travel so you can hop seamlessly between villages to catch the best views.


Tours & Things to do hand-picked by our insiders


Top Things To Do

Trying to make the most of one day in Cinque Terre? Here is the quintessential whirlwind itinerary:

Soak Up Monterosso Al Mare

Kick off your visit in Monterosso, the largest and liveliest of the five villages. Meander through narrow streets lined with restaurants, gelato stands and lively cafes on your way to scenic Fegina Beach for swimming and sunbathing with uninterrupted sea views.

Sandy Fegina Beach with turquoise water in Monterosso

Hike From Monterosso to Vernazza

Next, hike a portion of the famous Sentiero Azzurro trail connecting Monterosso and Vernazza for nonstop vistas overlooking vineyards, the sparkling coastline and nearby villages. It takes 1.5-2 hours and includes some challenging stretches but finishing the rewarding hike in beautiful Vernazza makes it all worthwhile!

Looking out over the water on the Sentiero Azzurro hiking trail

Swim & Shop in Vernazza

After working up an appetite on the trail, it’s time for a refreshing dip in Vernazza’s pebbly cove beach. Famed for being one of the truest Italian fishing villages, this charming spot wows with its maze of car-free stone lanes dotted with little perfume shops and pizza takeaways plus a tiny harbor full of candy-colored boats bobbing in the emerald Ligurian Sea.

Vernazza village harbor filled with colorful fishtail boats

Marvel at Views from Corniglia

Catch the train one stop to reach lovely Corniglia, a pastel-hued village perched on a bluff 100 meters above sea level surrounded by lush vineyards. Soak up a quieter ambiance and jaw-dropping panoramas looking down on rocky coves and the aquamarine waters below after climbing the stairs from the train station into town.

Birds eye view of Corniglia village

Soak in the Sights of Manarola

No Cinque Terre trip is complete without visiting famously photogenic Manarola. You’ve likely seen iconic shots of the steep rocky hillside blanketed in Manarola’s rainbow row of houses – now see it in real life! Wind through narrow wine-scented streets down to the diminutive stone piazza by the sea for classic views.

The colorful stacked houses of Manarola village hovering over a marina filled with small boats

Cruise Along the Coast on a Boat Tour

One of my favorite things to do is explore Cinque Terre from offshore. Take a scenic boat ride for postcard coastal vistas of the five postage-stamp sized villages dotting the cliffs. Some La Spezia tours include a cruise, or book a private Cinque Terre boat excursion catered to you.

Aerial view of Vernazza's colorful buildings clustered by the sea from a boat

Watch the Sunset in Riomaggiore

Conclude your grand tour of Cinque Terre with a fitting sunset in Riomaggiore, one of the most charming villages.

On the pebbly Fossola Beach, watch the sky turn brilliant hues of pink and lilac as the sun disappears behind the horizon. Then wander maze-like alleys threaded between pastel stucco houses rising upwards from the sea until it’s time to board the evening train back to La Spezia after an incredible day!

Sunset over Riomaggiore's stacked colorful houses

Guided Tour Recommendations

To simplify trip planning logistics, join one of these phenomenal Cinque Terre day tours:

From Florence12 beautiful hours with optional hike and lunch

From La Spezia5 delightful hours with limoncello tasting and transport

From MilanUnforgettable full day trip with transport, guides and coastal boat sightseeing 

From PisaStress-free small group tour with refreshing boat ride along the spectacular coast 

When To Visit Cinque Terre

Peak summer is incredibly popular but very crowded. For fewer tourists, ideal weather and lower rates, I suggest visiting during shoulder season – May/June or September/October.

The Cinque Terre region essentially shuts down over the winter from November to early March when heavy rainfall can happen. Many businesses close and boat/hiking options become limited.

Where To Stay

I wholeheartedly suggest staying in La Spezia, the closest city to Cinque Terre. It offers easier access but is much more affordable than staying in the five villages themselves.

Here are my recommended La Spezia accommodations for any budget:

Budget: Grand Hostel Manin – Social atmosphere hostel with dorms located in the heart of the city

Mid-range: Hotel Nella – Charming boutique hotel offering beautiful views around La Foce

Luxury: La Spezia Suites and Rooms – Elegant contemporary rooms with gorgeous city and maritime views

What To Pack

Don’t forget:

  • International adapter and backup charger
  • Reusable water bottle (helps cut down on single use plastic!)
  • Lightweight hiking shoes
  • Quick dry travel towel (for swimming/sweating on long hikes!)
  • Underwater housing if wanting to capture swimming/coastline photos

With these hyperlocal tips and off-the-beaten-path secrets, you have everything needed to plan your dream Cinque Terre adventure! Let me know if any other questions come up while mapping out your visit.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I do Cinque Terre on a day trip from Florence?

Yes, it is possible to visit Cinque Terre on a day trip from Florence. The train journey takes around 2 hours each way. It makes for a long day, but you can see the highlights. Consider an organized tour to make travel easier.

Is a day trip to Cinque Terre worth it?

A day trip allows you to see the beauty of Cinque Terre, but spending a night or two allows more time to hike, relax and enjoy the area. Base yourself in the cheaper city of La Spezia.

Can Cinque Terre be done in one day?

It’s possible to see all five villages in a day, but you won’t have much time in each. Prioritize your must-see destinations, activities and meals. Two days allows a more relaxed experience.

How long is the train from Florence to Cinque Terre?

The train journey takes around 2 hours from Florence to La Spezia. From La Spezia, it’s another 15-20 minutes by local train to the Cinque Terre villages.

How many hours do I need in Cinque Terre?

Most travelers recommend 2-3 days to hike, sightsee, swim and relax without rushing. If you only have a day, starting early is essential to make the most of your time.

Which village to skip in Cinque Terre?

If limited on time, Corniglia is the easiest to skip. It requires climbing almost 400 steps from its hilltop train station down to the village and sea level.

Which Italian city is closest to Cinque Terre?

La Spezia is the closest city, located just 20 minutes away. It’s a popular base for exploring Cinque Terre while enjoying better value accommodation and dining options.

What is the fastest way to get from Florence to Cinque Terre?

The fastest route is taking the train from Florence to La Spezia Centrale station, then catching the local train onward to Cinque Terre. This takes just over 2 hours.

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