I am just all about them day trips in Italy. And Cinque Terre can 100% be done as a day trip from Florence. I went to Cinque Terre for legit one day of hiking.
I had heard about Cinque Terre from friends who studied abroad in Florence. They said it was a easy day trip from there and after seeing their photos, I knew I wanted to visit.
Cinque Terre means “five towns” in Italian. It is a region, not a place. A hiking path (and train) connect five towns along the northern coast of Italy.
There are several organized trips from Florence (I like Viator or if you’re a student, Bus2Alps) but you can also get there by taking the train to La Spezia, the largest station at the base of Cinque Terre.
La Spezia is actually a fairly large city! It looked a lot like Florence which we were surprised by. It had those cobblestone streets I love and cute outdoor cafes. Don’t count it out. It’s worth walking around as well.
Before heading to Cinque Terre, do your research about hiking conditions. When my friend Chelsea and I arrived in La Spezia, we discovered that due to the threat of landslides, we couldn’t hike from Cinque Terre’s first town to the second town or the second town to the third town.
If hiking isn’t your thing, you can take the train between the five towns. There is an easy, fast hike that is best for a one day hike or you can do a longer hike through the mountain. We weren’t able to do this during my visit due to the landslide threats.
OK I’m going to use the word beautiful a lot but like guys, it is actually all so perfectly perfect and beautiful! We had to take the train from La Spezia to Cornelia, the third town, because of the landslides. It was absolutely beautiful (there’s one). It was so small and no one spoke English.
The hike from Corniglia to the fourth town, Vernazza, was about an hour. It wasn’t too hard. We wore sneakers and work out clothes.
The fourth town, Vernazza, was a bit more touristy. It had more people and we saw a giant group of tourists following a guide with a flag. So it was definitely more popular. But it still had the quaint alleys, cobblestones and cafe.
The hike between the last two towns is more difficult. It takes over an hour and there were countless stairs. I heard a rumor it was 365, one for each day of the year. But who’s counting!? Get ready to sweat on this part of the hike!
The paths were not very wide, sometimes only one human foot wide, so we kept having to stop.
Monterosso, the last town, has the largest beach and there were clearly people who came there just to enjoy the sun. We loved having the Sea to jump in after our long, sweaty hike!
In all, the hike took us 3 hours but remember, we had to start at the third town. We took the train back to La Spezia. It would have been an easy day trip from Florence but we didn’t mind having a night there.