Getting from the Cinque Terre to Florence (and Vice Versa)

florence_arnoYou’ve just spent a lovely few days (or more, if you’re lucky) taking in the Ligurian coastline’s favorite cluster of tiny villages, the Cinque Terre, and you’re heading back inland to continue on your Italian adventure. You’re headed to the cradle of the Renaissance, Florence.

Perhaps you thought you’d have to skip that quintessential Italy vacation photo-op in Pisa, the one where you’re standing with your hands held up so that it looks like you’re propping the leaning tower of Pisa from falling over, but you’re in luck. The best way to get from the Cinque Terre to Florence often includes a stop in Pisa – so you can get your photo and be back on the train in an hour or two.

Even if you’re not following my perfect 2-week Italy itinerary, linking the Cinque Terre and Florence isn’t that uncommon – in fact, some people do day-trips from Florence to the Cinque Terre. (I don’t necessarily recommend this, but it’s something people do.) If you’re doing that, you’ll just need to sort of reverse these directions.

And you might notice that there are only a couple of options listed below – taking the train or driving. Yes, there are buses in Italy, but they’re regional rather than national. And since the Cinque Terre is in one region (Liguria) and Florence another (Tuscany), connecting the two by bus is a bigger headache than anyone should inflict upon themselves. If you’re someone who loves buses more than anything in the world, the best way to get between these two places by bus is on a big-bus tour departing from Florence as a day-trip to the Cinque Terre.

Taking the Train from the Cinque Terre to Florence

As is often the case in Italy, the best option for this route – getting from the Cinque Terre to Florence – is the train. All trips on this route require a change at some point, but in at least one case you can make that work for you – especially if you’re the “checking things off my Italy to-do list” type of traveler.

Depending on which of the five villages you’re in, you’ll either head for Monterosso (the northernmost and largest village) or you’ll go south to La Spezia, the largest city close to the Cinque Terre and just south of Riomaggiore. In most cases, going to La Spezia is your best option, as most trips from Monterosso-Florence indicate a change at La Spezia anyway. There are some trips which skip La Spezia and go from Monterosso straight to your other train change, so if that itinerary works with your schedule and you’re already staying in Monterosso then that’s the way to go. The clerks at the train station in Monterosso will be able to tell you which routes are available to you at what times.

Almost without exception, you’re going to need to change trains once between the Cinque Terre and Florence, even if you’re leaving from La Spezia. The cities where you can change trains varies depending on the time you’re leaving and the route you choose – options include Sarzana, Viareggio, and Pisa. So unless you’re making a beeline for Florence and don’t plan on seeing anything of the train-change city than the train station, I highly recommend you choose the itinerary that lets you spend an hour or two in Pisa.




pisatowerBecause the trains that you’ll be taking from the Cinque Terre to Florence don’t require reservations, you’ll just have tickets for the journey (or a railpass), which don’t have specific train times associated with them. To make a 2-hour stop in Pisa, then, you don’t need to do anything but get off the train in Pisa, go into the city center to see the leaning tower, and then get on the next train from Pisa to Florence. It’s incredibly simple, and a very popular way to see Pisa. There are luggage lockers at the Pisa train station so you can stow your bags if you don’t want to cart them into the city center, and if the lockers are full there’s also a slightly more expensive luggage storage area that’s operated by a couple guards.

A train ticket from the Cinque Terre to Florence is going to vary in cost, depending on which of the five villages you start in and how many changes you have to make. A ticket in first class can range from €12-21, and in second class a ticket will range from €9-15. Some trains only have second class cars, too. The length of the journey itself is also going to vary, but you’re talking about roughly 2.5-3.5 hours of train time – not including time between trains at your transfer point, or any time you spend in your transfer city.

>> If you’re stopping in Pisa, be sure to check out booking tickets to the leaning tower of Pisa in advance so you can make the most of your time there.

Driving from the Cinque Terre to Florence

florencedrivingDriving in Italy isn’t for the faint of heart, and there are few places where that’s more true than on the roads of the Cinque Terre. The roads that wind along the coastline offer some stunning views, but they’re extremely narrow and winding, and they’re shared by cars, scooters, motorbikes, trucks, and gigantic tour buses alike. You’ll need to honk as you approach every turn to alert drivers coming in the opposite direction, and you’ll likely have to stop quickly and reverse now and then to allow a giant bus to get around a corner.

If this sounds like some kind of amusement park ride or video game and makes you look forward to driving in the Cinque Terre, may I recommend that you invest in whatever extra insurance the car rental company wants to sell you? (If this doesn’t sound like any fun at all, then stick with the train.)

I do recommend getting a good Italy driving map if you’re going to be hitting the road, but in general you’ll be heading for La Spezia via the Cinque Terre’s windy roads and then looking for the A12 Genova-Rosignano in the direction of Livorno. Around Viareggio, you’ll begin looking for signs for the A11-12 Firenze-Pisa Nord in the direction of Lucca (the A11 and A12 are the same road for awhile, which is why it’s got both numbers). After Lucca, begin looking for the signs to change to say A11 Firenze-Pisa in the direction of Firenze.

Now that you’re in Florence…

florenceduomoHere are some posts I’ve written which may be handy:


  • Here’s my Florence travel guide, which includes links to lots of other stuff I’ve written about Florence.
  • Looking for ways to spend your time in the Renaissance capital? This article will give you an overview of what to do in Florence.
  • Stuck with not much time? This article lets you hit the highlights with my recommendations for the top 10 things to do in Florence.
  • If you need a place to stay, I’ve visited and reviewed several hostels in Florence, and there are plenty of hotels in Florence, too.
  • Quick search for cheap hotels in Florence:

  • Don’t forget to indulge in lots of gelato in Florence – the city is incredibly well-known for it, so you might as well, right?

Here’s a quick video someone took driving along the Cinque Terre coastline:

photos, from top to bottom, by: teachandlearn, trixnbooze, scottgunn, Robert Crum

[display_feed=;title=Other articles about Florence;items=10;desc=0]

33 thoughts on “Getting from the Cinque Terre to Florence (and Vice Versa)

  • Pronto

    This sounds like a wonderful journey journey to take. I’ll certainly be trying it, as I have been looking for this sort of holiday in Italy.

    I was in Lake Garda last year and it was amazing and we hired a car to drive to Bologna. I think I’ll try this now though.


  • Cristoforo Magnino

    I did not see in your article about taking the train any comment about getting your train ticket validated at the little yellow kiosks. Has that changed in the last few years?
    My wife and I spent a month in Italy and covered the entire peninsula by train. I would not do it any other way!
    Great article!

  • Jessica Post author

    No, that hasn’t changed – it just depends on the kind of ticket you’re getting whether it needs to be validated in those yellow machines or whether you just hop on the train. You can read more on my train travel in Italy page:

  • Julie

    My family will be traveling to Rome in June for my sisters wedding. I have never been to Italy so I am excited about the trip. My husband and I are planning to stay on for another week. So after a week in Rome and since Italy will be crowded I was hoping to avoid some of the crowds by leaving Rome to go to Cinque Terre for 2 or 3 nights, from there to Bologna for 2 or 3 nights; partially because I hear the food is amazing and my husband is a Ferrari/Lambo junkie but it seems like it might be less crowded and the hotels are less expensive than Florence? Could we do a day trip to Florence from Bologna? We’ll end in Venice for 2 nights with our return flight early morning after our 2nd night in Venice. What do you think? Also, what is the luggage space like on the trains as that is how we plan to travel between cities. Do we need to stick to the carry-on bag size as a gauge for what will work best on the train or would a medium sized checked bag work, like a 25 inch roller? I think this type of info would be a helpful addition to your site unless it is already there and I just haven’t found it. Your site is extremely helpful so thank you for all your hard work and sorry for the long post!

  • Jessica Post author

    Hi, Julie:

    What a great excuse to spend time in Italy – after your sister’s wedding! Here are my thoughts on your questions:

    * The Cinque Terre will also be incredibly crowded in June – that’s the high season, and the Cinque Terre is very popular. So if you’re going to escape crowds, that’s not the place. If you’re including that on your agenda just because you want to anyway, that’s another story.

    * Bologna is definitely not as touristy as Florence, and although there’s a huge university there you may not find as many student crowds in the city even, since it’s the summer. Day-trips to the Ferrari and Lamborghini museums are both easy from a home-base in Bologna (that’s what we did).

    * Florence as a day-trip from Bologna is totally do-able. You can get on one of the new “Frecciarossa” high-speed trains and it’ll only take you 40 minutes to get from Bologna to Florence’s main station, Santa Maria Novella (be sure that’s the one you’re going to). And if you go for a slightly slower train, it’s still right around an hour. So absolutely day-trip material.

    * With one week, I (personally) think Cinque Terre, Bologna, and Venice is too much. I’d cut one of those places out, myself, and spend more time in the other two – with day-trips as desired. But that’s just me. 🙂

    * The luggage question – it really depends on how crowded the trains are and what class of ticket you buy. On first class there’s more room and fewer people vying for it. In second class there are more people and so less luggage space. The smaller your bag, the better, because you can hoist it overhead and store it on the overhead rack – there’s almost always space up there. Otherwise you’ll need to leave it at the luggage-holding end of the train car or cross your fingers that you luck out and get a seat that’s back-to-back with another seat with space for a suitcase in between. But generally speaking, smaller is better – and with two weeks total in nice weather, you should be able to go carry-on only if you wanted to.

    I hope that helps. 🙂

  • Julie

    Thank you for all the information. I guess it is easy to underestimate the time it takes to travel between cities even on the train! While we’d love to do EVERYTHING while we are in Italy it is still a vacation. 🙂 Based on your advice I’m thinking Rome – Bologna – Venice with a day trip to Florence from Bologna so we don’t have to change hotels. I appreciate the insight! I guess renting a car in Bologna would make sense for one day maybe to get to/from the Ferrari and maybe Lambo museums? Thanks again for such a helpful website! Do you have a place where people can leave comments when they return from Italy after following your advice?

  • Jessica Post author

    Hi, Julie:

    Renting a car to get to the Ferrari and Lamborghini museums is a good idea – they’re not exactly easily reachable via public transportation. But don’t try to drive the car into Florence – for that day-trip, take the train.

    I don’t have a feedback form, if that’s what you mean, but I do love hearing from people when they’re back from their trips! You can send me an email ( or leave a comment on a post like this.


  • Angela

    Hi Jessica,

    I wasn’t quite sure about the train from florence to Cinque Terre/La Spezia. I am trying to go on a one day trip with a stop at pisa before heading over to La Spezia. I was on the trenitalia website and couldn’t find any good layovers to pisa. Should I buy two train tickets instead but on your website you mention that taking trains from the Cinque Terre to Florence don’t require reservations and there is no specific time associate with those, which trains are you refering to and does it work from florence to cinque terre?

    Any insight to this will be greatly appreciated!
    Thanks in advance,

  • Jessica Post author

    Hi, Angela:

    What I’ve said above about the trains from Cinque Terre to Florence is going to hold true for the trains going the other way, too – all that will change are things like train departure times. So you’ll be able to stop in Pisa on your way from Florence to the Cinque Terre the same way I describe above, just in reverse. And because these tickets are so easy to buy, you can do it from Florence when you get there – just tell the ticket agent you want tickets from Florence to Pisa, and then from Pisa to La Spezia (or wherever you’re trying to go).


  • Sharon Dorey

    I loved your website and travel advice. Can you tell me what’s the best way to go about doing the following itinerary with what we have booked for 2011.

    Toronto – Rome – Apt. booked in Piazza Navone from May 31st – June 4th
    Villa Booked from June 4th – 11th:
    Via della Montagna 6/8
    53045 Montepulciano (Siena), Italy

    We would also like to go to Cinque Terra for 2 days and down to the Amalfi Coast & Naples. We have 2 1/2 weeks to do this trip so what’s the best way to get around using train & car for this Itinerary. We could change the dates of the Rome apartment if need be to make this itinerary work.

    • Jessica Post author

      Hi, Sharon:

      Thanks for your note. Based on what you have scheduled already, and the places you’d also like to see in addition to Rome and Siena, it looks like you have roughly 1.5 weeks already spoken for, which leaves you with one week. Am I reading that right? With one week left in your trip, and with the Cinque Terre and the Amalfi/Naples area in two completely different directions, I’d almost suggest picking one and skipping the other for a more relaxed trip. But if you absolutely must do both, you could head up to the Cinque Terre from your Montepulciano villa, stay for two days, and then go down to the Amalfi/Naples area for the rest of your trip (until you need to fly home).

      I’d try to avoid driving in the Cinque Terre and the Amalfi/Naples area if I were you, and driving in Rome isn’t necessarily fun, either. Really, the time you’ll enjoy having a car is for the week or so that you’re in the rental villa. Otherwise, you can very easily get around by train.

      I hope that helps!

  • Dave Edward

    Hi Jessica

    We’d like to do a day trip from Florence to Cinque Terre and back. What would be the cheapest way and best route (train/bus) to do so including, say, three of the five villages if seeing all five would be too exhausting.?
    Mille grazie

    • Jessica Post author

      Hi, Dave:

      Your transport options from Florence to the Cinque Terre for a day trip are going to be the same ones outlined in the post above for a trip in the opposite direction. So for a day trip, unless you have a car, you’re looking at taking the train. Unfortunately, it’s a 2.5-3.5 hour trip one-way and that’s not including the stop midway that’s almost always included in that trip – so it’s not an easy day trip from Florence.

      If you’re up and at ’em bright and early, you could probably visit a few of the villages (taking the train between towns) and do at least one hike. If you’re taking the train between them you can pick whichever villages you like (and if one of them bores you, just hop on the train again and visit the next one!) – but if you’re more interested in the hike then read up on which hikes are easier/harder so you know what you’re getting into first:

      There are more relaxed day trip options from Florence that I’d recommend over the Cinque Terre, and if you’re really intent on seeing the Cinque Terre I’d recommend spending one night so it’s less of an exhausting day for you. But that’s just my two cents. 🙂


  • Linh

    Hi Jessica,

    Your article about the trip from Cinque Terre to Florence with the 1-2 hrs stop at Pisa is very useful. That is what we are planing to do. We plan to stay 2 nights in Cinque Terre and then head to Florence.
    1) We will arrive at Cinque Terre by train from Rome. Currently, we are not sure which village we should stay so it is convenient for our trip to Florence. Any suggestions, please?
    2) How and when do we buy the train tickets from Cinque Terre to Florence?
    Thank you.

    • Jessica Post author

      Hi, Linh:

      The 5 villages of the Cinque Terre are so close together that it really doesn’t matter which you stay in – the distance between Florence and the furthest village (Monterosso) isn’t that much greater than the distance to the closest village (Riomaggiore). But if you really want the closest, it’s Riomaggiore – the southernmost village. You can read more about each one here:

      Buying train tickets from Cinque Terre to Florence is like buying train tickets anywhere else in Italy – there are ticket windows at every train station. Learn more about taking trains in Italy here:


      • Linh

        Hello Jessica,
        Thank you very much for your reply. The info is very useful.
        I don’t think we have a chance to stay in one of the villages. Everything is booked up for a weekend which is a month from now :-(. Right now, I booked a hotel in La Spezia and plan to take a train to Cinque Terre. I hope to have a chance to wait up and see the sea view from a window of a room hanging out of a cliff. *sigh*

        • Jessica Post author

          La Spezia is a decent option if everything in the Cinque Terre is booked – it’s very close by train, so you can still spend each day exploring the villages, and accommodation there is sometimes cheaper.

  • wei

    Hi Jessica, you mentioned about the trip from Cinque Terre to Florence with 1-2 hrs stop at Pisa.This is what we are planing to do. May i clarify with you in order to do so, should we buy a train ticket to pisa and then from pisa buy another ticket to florence or we can just buy a ticket to florence and alight at pisa in the middle of the journey and hop on the next train whenever we want?
    Thanks in advance for your guidance.

    • Jessica Post author

      Hi, Wei:

      First you need to make sure the train you buy tickets for is routed through Pisa and requires a train change there. Then, you can buy tickets all the way from Cinque Terre to Florence from your station in the Cinque Terre – but because it’s two separate trains on the route, you’ll get two separate tickets. There aren’t reservations required, so you just get on the train from your Cinque Terre town to Pisa, get off the train in Pisa (because you have to anyway), stow your bags at the luggage storage area in the Pisa station (if you want to), and visit the sights of Pisa. When you’re done, go back to the station in Pisa, collect your bags, and get on the next train bound for Florence with the second ticket for your journey.

      The only word of caution is that you need to pay attention to the train schedules to make sure you don’t stay so long in Pisa that you miss the last train to Florence, but otherwise, it’s a great stopover.


  • irene

    Hi Jessica,
    What if I’m planning to go to Vernazza from Firenze and than I continue my journey to Roma?
    From Firenze to Vernazza you have describe it very clearly (thank you for that). The stop over is via Pisa and I can put my luggage on the locker.
    But from Vernazza to Roma, I’ve check from trenitalia website, the stop over only at La Spezia.
    My problems is my luggage, is there any locker at La Spezia station?
    Thanks in advance,

    • Jessica Post author

      I’m confused… Are you planning to leave your luggage at La Spezia? You’re not bringing your luggage with you on to Rome? Or are you just thinking of stopping for a couple hours in La Spezia before going to Rome?

      Honestly, I’d say if you want to spend time in La Spezia, that you do it as a day trip from Vernazza – that is, assuming you’re staying in Vernazza long enough to take a day trip. Otherwise, if you’ve spent 2-3 days in the Cinque Terre already I’m not sure you’ll find La Spezia to be worth a brief stop.

      As for luggage lockers, here’s my article about finding out whether train stations in Italy have luggage lockers – you can use these tips to find out about any station in the country:

  • Sue

    Hi Jessica- I’m starting to freak out. I’m planning my 25th wedding anniversary. Booked flights and booked hotels for July. Fly into Rome spend 3 nights want to take train to Florence and then rent a car and booked two nights in San Gimignano and plan on day trip to Siena, back to Florence for 2 nights then 3 nights in Cinque Terre and off to Venice for two nights then home. I’ve booked accommodations, but what I’m freaked out about is getting to each location. Train seems pretty simple from Rome to Florence. The train from Florence to Cinque Terre seems confusing. I like the idea of getting out in Pisa to take a picture, but looking at the train schedule it doesn’t give enough time. Or is that only if you don’t reserve? Should we just get trains when we are there in July? I’m afraid I might be bitting off more than I can chew planning this myself. Great website you have, very informative.

    • Jessica Post author

      There are enough trains running from Florence to Pisa and then Pisa to the Cinque Terre throughout the day that you’d just buy tickets from Florence to the Cinque Terre – making sure the route you choose includes a transfer at Pisa – and then spend an hour or two in Pisa before getting on the next train (whenever it is) bound for the Cinque Terre. These are trains where, typically, no reservations are required – so you just need a ticket. It’s easy to book tickets when you get there, yes – if you’re concerned about it taking too long, go to the train station the day before you want to travel. And also be sure to check the schedule for trains from Pisa to whatever Cinque Terre you’re heading for before you leave the Pisa station.

  • Kar

    Hi Jessica,
    Really love your website ! Lots of very useful information. And it gave an idea of how to include Cinque Terre into my itineray from Venice to Rome. Initially, i thought i had to leave it out but i really wanted to viist. Can i ask you if late nov is an okay time to visit Cinque Terre ? Also, will train tickets be cheaper if we book in advance. Do you know about children tickets? How do i book them ? Thanks!

  • liana

    Hi Jessica,
    Thank you fo giving me the courage to do Italy on our own!
    I love your 3 week itinerary of Italy, however I was hoping to minimise the travel time between venice and Cinque Terre and avoid the 2 stops.
    What do you think about heading from Venice to Verona for a couple of nights, then to Turin for 2 nights, pop down to Genoa for a night, Cinque Terre for two nights and then on to Florence for a few nights with a day trip to Pisa?
    How would we get to each city? Would you still recommend going for 6 hours from Venice to Cinque Terre?

    • Jessica Post author

      I think it’s really up to you – what you want to include on your itinerary and how long you want to spend in transit. If you wouldn’t have visited Verona, Turin, and Genoa, then it seems like spending a half-day on the train is better than adding 5-6 days of destinations you wouldn’t have visited otherwise. But those are great cities, so if you’re interested in seeing them, then hopping from one to the other en route to the Cinque Terre is a good way to break up what would have been a long travel day. And since each is easily reached by train, that’s still a good way to go.

      You can check out all the train schedule options using the Rail Ticket Search box here:

  • Derek Jackson

    Hi There.
    Me and my spouse are going to be in Italy
    March 31st to April 9th
    I have booked two days in Venice, followed by 3 days in Florence , two days in Rapallo, then overnight the next day in Florence and fly back home.How far from Rapallo to cinque terre?If we were to make a day trip, should it be by car or train,Was thinking of renting a vehicle in Florence to do excursions in and around and then drive to Rapalllo and then back to Florence.
    I have also booked all the hotels and now feel a little confused as to how to get to place?


    • Jessica Post author

      I’ve not been to Rapallo, but it appears it’s a little less than one hour by train from Rapallo-Monterosso (the northernmost town of the Cinque Terre). You can look up exact train schedules for your travel dates here:

      I don’t typically recommend driving within the cities (including Florence), but if you’re planning a couple days of excursions that are primarily in the countryside away from cities/towns then yes, you’d need a car. Just make sure to ask someone at your Florence hotel about parking beforehand, because that can be an issue in the city center.

      I’m not sure what you mean by your last question, that you’ve booked all the hotels but are confused as to how to get to the place? Which place do you mean? If you’re confused about getting to the hotels, but you’ve already booked them, then you should contact the hotels for directions.

  • KS

    Hi Jessica,

    I have a question about the stop in Pisa enroute from Cinque Terre to Florence. This will mean 2 tickets. Cinque Terre to Pisa and Pisa to Florence, is that right? Or can I just want to buy a single ticket from Cinque Terre to Florence, and then hope at Pisa for an hour or two. Don’t I need a seat reservation? When will I need a seat reservation and when will I not? Appreciate your advice! Thanks!

    • Jessica Post author

      From the post above: “Because the trains that you’ll be taking from the Cinque Terre to Florence don’t require reservations, you’ll just have tickets for the journey (or a railpass), which don’t have specific train times associated with them. To make a 2-hour stop in Pisa, then, you don’t need to do anything but get off the train in Pisa, go into the city center to see the leaning tower, and then get on the next train from Pisa to Florence.” And here’s more information on the difference between train tickets & train reservations, & how to tell when you need reservations:

  • Thomas

    How far is the train terminal in Pisa from the airport? Can you get a train from the airport? We are flying into Pisa, and then looking to take a train to LaSpezia.

  • Thomas

    Do the trains run from Pisa to LaSpezia on a regular basis? Thank you for your help. We have incorporated many of your suggestions into our itinerary — Cinque Terre, Florence, Venice. Always enjoying reading your suggestions.

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