Introducing Cinque Terre
Cinque Terre is a jewel of natural beauty, located along the Ligurian coastline. Beautiful nature and the lively culture and gastronomy have made this region one of the most popular holiday destinations in Italy.
The Italian name Cinque Terre, which translates as the ‘Five Lands’, refers to the five historic seaside villages that you’ll find here – Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore. Quaint, colourful houses are nestled between the cliffs and the ocean in these idyllic villages. The winding streets, beautiful architecture, and gastronomic delights make a visit to the Cinque Terre delightful. Not only can you enjoy great swimming and sunbathing on the beaches, but you can also go hiking up the cliffs behind the villages. After all that activity, there is nothing better than settling down in a village restaurant to sample some delicious local seafood.
Taking the train from Genoa to Cinque Terre
The rugged cliffs and the villages with tiny winding streets do not make the Cinque Terre the most car-friendly destination. Luckily, Trenitalia operates a heritage railway line that has been running through the Cinque Terre for more than a century. Cutting through the hills and cliffs that separate the villages from each other, a series of tunnels and bridges create a scenic pathway for local trains. In each town, the train station serves as the focal point of social, cultural, and commercial life. Trains bring you straight to the heart of each village, within easy walking distance of all attractions, bars, restaurants, and beaches.
The Cinque Terre Express
The Cinque Terre Express offers a reliable train service, operating every 15 minutes between La Spezia and Levanto and stopping in all five Cinque Terre villages. You'll first need to take an Intercity train from Genoa to Levanto – the journey lasts about one hour. Trains for the Cinque Terre depart either from Genova Piazza Principe, in the city centre, or from Genova Nervi, a quiet, picturesque fishing district in the east of the city. From Levanto, hop on the Cinque Terre Express and choose which of the five villages you want to visit first. The regular trains mean you can be flexible, and stop off somewhere for an unscheduled lunch, or decide to go for a hike in the hills between the villages.
Genoa to Cinque Terre - day trip
Because of its accessibility, the Cinque Terre is an ideal destination for a day trip from the city of Genoa. If you like, you can even travel to several of these destinations in one day. Here are some options for a memorable day trip.
Monterosso al Mare
Monterosso al Mare is the first Cinque Terre village you’ll encounter on your journey down from Genoa. The fastest journey time from Genoa to Monterosso is about 1h 10m. This is the largest village in the Cinque Terre, offering the most amenities, such as shops and restaurants. If you've forgotten sunblock, a hat, walking shoes, or your swimwear, you’ll find everything you need in the village. Monterosso is an ideal destination for a day by the beach, as it is the Cinque Terre town with the longest stretch of sand from which to enjoy the ocean. Nearby, you can wander through the narrow roads of the Old Village with its quaint architecture and charming restaurants. If you're feeling particularly adventurous, you can even hire a kayak and explore the caves and coves along the coast near Monterosso.
A train ride of just a few minutes will bring you from Monterosso to Vernazza, the next village along the Cinque Terre coast. Vernazza is a little fishing village with a horseshoe harbour, enclosed by dramatic cliffs. The tiny port is lined with colourful buildings and typical Ligurian houses. After visiting the town and the small beach, replenish your energy at one of the bars and cafes on the charming little Piazza Marconi, or buy some Italian gelato in the speciality shops by the sea. A steep walking trail up through the village brings you to the sanctuary of Nostra Signora di Reggio, perched at the very top of the hill behind the village. The bird's-eye view over Vernazza and the sea make the climb worth your while.
No matter which Cinque Terre village you wish to visit from Genoa, the travel times are always quite similar. The train ride from Vernazza to Corniglia only takes three minutes, so you can just as easily choose this village as the target of your day trip. Corniglia is located on a plateau about 100 metres above sea level. There are usually fewer tourists here, as you need to walk down a steep path of brick steps to reach the sea. Needless to say, the views are superb. Stroll through the old streets and take in the scenes of daily Ligurian life. Stop in at a cafe along Fieschi Road, or try out your Italian on some friendly locals.
A walk between any of the Cinque Terre villages makes for a great day trip, but the stretch between Corniglia and Manarola is particularly popular. However, even though the two villages look close together on a map, the hike does require some physical strength. Trails between the villages lead either over rugged, hilly terrain or down 33 flights of steep stairs. Of course, it's much faster to take the train, which will bring you from Corniglia to Manarola in just two minutes. Either way, Manarola is a great place for a lunch break, if you've had an early morning start. Admire the colourful buildings clinging onto the cliffs above the sea, then take your pick of the many fresh seafood restaurants packed into Manarola's central piazza.
If you took the train to Manarola and are now looking to get a bit of exercise after lunch, the “Lover's Lane” path to Riomaggiore is a perfect choice. This is a gentle walk over flat terrain that only takes about 20 minutes, making it ideal for anyone wanting to enjoy seaside views without breaking a sweat. It's by far the easiest walk connecting two Cinque Terre villages. In Riomaggiore, bright colourful houses nestle in a narrow gorge, leading down to the twinkling turquoise waters. Riomaggiore is known for its delicious wines, which have been cultivated here since the 13th century. Take a seat on one of the peaceful seaside terraces, and sample a glass of the local vintages. Wander towards Riomaggiore's impressive train station, wedged between the rocks above the natural harbour to catch a train back to Genoa, or on to your next destination.
Although Riomaggiore is the last village that officially belongs to the Cinque Terre region, the small town of La Spezia is also well worth a visit. Fast trains from Genoa to La Spezia will bring you to this destination in less than one hour. Much larger port town than the Cinque Terre villages, La Spezia offers cultural attractions, such as St. George's Castle and the mysterious Church of St. Peter, balanced on a rocky spur over the Ligurian Sea. It's also a great place to buy some Italian clothes or other souvenirs, as the selection of shops is much greater than in the Cinque Terre villages.
As you see, there are numerous options for day excursions in the Cinque Terre, or for a longer holiday walking from one village to the next. So start planning your itinerary today, book your train tickets with us and make your journey perfect.