If you are planning a day trip to Cinque Terre, you need to be strategic! The little Italian town is easy to get to, but a little bit out of the way, and you want to make the most of your limited time here.
why visit cinque terre?
If you’re thinking What the hell is Cinque Terre? then you’re not alone! However, it is much more popular than you may think. Cinque Terre literally translates to “Five Lands” and consists of five coastal villages in northern Italy. These villages are connected by train, roads, and (in my opinion what you should come here to for) trails. Yes! You can hike village to village and get amazing views of the colorful villages with an ocean backdrop. It’s also more than likely you’ve seen images of this place. It’s often the main cover of an Italy calendar or a computer screensaver. If you haven’t, please just Google image Cinque Terre if you’re still not convinced already!
HOW TO GET to cinque terre
Those Google image results sealed the deal, didn’t they? So now that I have you persuaded this is a worthwhile trip, you need to figure out how to actually get to Cinque Terre. I personally think it is easiest to add a day trip to Cinque Terre on your itinerary if you will be in Florence for an extended time. Florence’s train station has multiple trains departing to Riomaggiore (the first town to comprise the 5 villages of Cinque Terre) each day. I booked all of my train tickets through Trenitalia online in advance.
what to pack for a day trip to cinque terre
Depending on the time of year, this could vary greatly. Keep in mind: I planned a day trip to Cinque Terre to hike through the towns, so my list is specifically tailored to someone who has hiking on the agenda. Here is a list of my must-haves:
- Small backpack (Much easier to stuff items in than a purse, especially when hiking these trails)
- Comfortable walking clothes (It was chilly when I was here, so I wore work out leggings, a short sleeve top with a sweatshirt over that. Be mindful of the weather)
- Rain jacket (You’ll be more likely need this if you’re coming in the off season)
- Hiking or running shoes (Something with good grip as the trails can be slippery. Do NOT wear sandals or flip flops. If anything pack flip flops for after your hike)
- Swimsuit and towel (If it is warm enough, the village of Monterosso is the best spot to swim at after a day of hiking)
- Camera (The views are out of this world. Make sure you have your footing before you snap away)
- Water bottle (After a day trip to Cinque Terre filled with hiking, you will sweat and you will need this)
the big adventure: hiking in cinque terre
When you arrive, there will be a few options of trails to take. Since we came in the fall, the coastal trail was closed for the season. Because of the rain, it was unsafe for anyone to walk. Luckily, there are still other trails with great views!
We opted for a trail that gave us great views of the villages and ocean down below and a bit more moderate in terms of difficulty. We arrived right after a storm had hit, so everything was a little slippery, but I still thought the views were gorgeous. If this is what the cities look like at their “worst,” I can’t even imagine how breathtaking they are when the sun is shining on them.
As I mentioned above, Monterosso is the best place to hop in the water. Even though it was chilly, there were several children frolicking around when we arrived. This is also where we grabbed a quick bite to eat, except I’d be lying if I recommended any one village over the other – all of them have exceptional seafood.
A day trip to Cinque Terre is memorable even if it was a bit rainy how I experienced it. If hiking isn’t your ideal way to spend a day, maybe just hike from the first village to the second. From there, purchase the all-day train pass and “village hop.” Make sure you keep an eye on the time so you are all set to take the train back to Florence (or whatever original destination you arrived from).