Where to stay and how to get to the villages
The last few years Cinque Terre really becomes a top destination to visit in Europe. There are tourists coming from all over the world to explore these five villages; and although there is plenty of info how to get there, what to visit first and what to do during the stay, here is my travel story:
We visited Cinque terre in February, which it might sound not the best time but actually the weather was really mild and spring-like, there were less people around, definitely not as crowded as in the summer and still the shops, bars and restaurants were open for business.
If you are arriving from abroad, (like us from UK) the nearest international airport is Pisa International airport (PSA). Operating over 20 airlines including low-cost airlines, most flights in to Pisa arrive from other European destinations.
Pisa Airport has its own train station (Pisa Aeroporto), where shuttle is connecting the airport and the nearest station Pisa Centrale. Tickets cost €2.40 and can be purchased from the information office at the airport (just to have in mind purchasing from the information office cost more; we were charged extra fee for the service) or an automatic machine at the station.
From Pisa Centrale we took the train to La Spezia, the best option where you can accommodate before starting your journey. The town is the starting point of the Cinque terre train line, plenty of bed and breakfast, hotels and also can offer a really good food and wine as well as amazing view of the pier.
If you prefer to rent a car and ride to La Spezia or travel around Tuscany and Liguria you can find a good fair from the airlines, just make sure you have a credit card, in case you don’t you will have to pay a lot more for insurance and this will be a bad surprise since the explanations on the website are not clear and could be tricky. There are different and safe parking space in the town marked with different colours – white (for free), yellow (residents) and blue (that require payment).
Once we were in La Spezia we settle in bed and breakfast close to the station. This is the most popular accommodation in the region and Cinque Terre and tourist usually will be staying in the host’s private home. This can be an apartment just for yourself and your friends and family or in a private room with a bathroom, but in the second option is most likely to share a dining area and a kitchen with other people.
Breakfast can be served in the bedroom, a dining area or the kitchen and can include a coffee or tea, juice, croissant and some small pastries. In some cases the host will offer you a coupon to the nearest cafe where you can enjoy your breakfast and choose between a freshly baked cornetto with marmalade (croissant), plain focaccia, a panino or other baked goods and a creamy cappuccino.
After having a light and really tasty breakfast the next morning we took the train – Cinque Terre express – a fast-regional train on which we travel comfortably between La Spezia Centrale, Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza, Monterosso. Like most local trains in Italy, it’s very cheap to travel between close stops. Vernazza to Corniglia, for example, costs €1.80. However, to save a little bit of money and to avoid constantly buy and validate your tickets, you might want to discover the UNESCO World Heritage Park with the 5 Terre Express Card. We bought the card from the train station but this is also available on the Train Italia website (also check it before having your trip for any news a and updates). The card includes unlimited daily train travel on the whole Levanto to La Spezia line as well as access to all hiking paths, toilets and some museum entrances. It costs €10 for one day or €19 for two days, and you can also buy it at the train stations.
Before departure, remember to validate the ticket for a single trip, to be carried out within 75 minutes of validation. If you prefer using Cinque terre Express Card then you need to fill your name of the card.
And this is where our Cinque terre journey begins. Stay tuned for the next part of the travel guide where I’ll share you what was our experience, what were my impression of the villages and also what to eat and buy as a souvenir.
Xxo, Rosie 💐