Travel the Cinque Terre Train – Do you need the Cinque Terre Pass?

What is the Cinque Terre Train Card and do you need it to travel on the Cinque Terre Train in Italy? Read my guide about train travel in Cinque Terre and whether or not you should buy the Cinque Terre Pass to stop at the Cinque Terre train stations to explore these colorful seaside villages in Italy.

Do you plan to visit the popular 5 villages that make up the Cinque Terre in Italy? But how can you travel on the Cinque Terre train and what is the Cinque Terre Pass? I explain how to use the Cinque Terre Card to travel by train to the Cinque Terre train station in this ultimate guide for Cinque Terre Train Travel

The 5 villages that makeup Cinque Terre in Italy are immensely popular and for a good reason. Colorful buildings sit edged on craggy cliffs, overlooking the turquoise waters of the Mediterranean Sea, all connected by the Cinque Terre Train. The food is amazing, all 5 village ooze cuteness and it is an amazing experience to hike from one village to the next. Cinque Terre is included in a lot of Italian itineraries and when you research your visit to Cinque Terre, you sooner or later come across the concept of the Cinque Terre train card. I’ll explain what this pass is and if you need it to travel on the Cinque Terre train.

Short introduction to Cinque Terre, Italy

Cinque Terre is the name of the 5 villages on the Ligurian coast. 80 km (50 miles) south of Genua and 100 km (62 miles) north of Pisa, this region can be easily incorporated in your Italian travels.
Cinque Terre is made up of 5 villages: Monterosso el Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore. All 5 villages of Cinque Terre are connected via the La Spezia – Levanto railway. To travel from La Spezia train station to the other end of Cinque Terre doesn’t take more than 30 minutes.

Harbour view of Riomaggiore. Do you plan to visit the popular 5 villages that make up the Cinque Terre in Italy? But how can you travel on the Cinque Terre train and what is the Cinque Terre Pass? I explain how to use the Cinque Terre Card to travel by train to the Cinque Terre train station in this ultimate guide for Cinque Terre Train Travel
Harbour view of Riomaggiore.
Lovely Manarola village in Cinque Terre. Do you plan to visit the popular 5 villages that make up the Cinque Terre in Italy? But how can you travel on the Cinque Terre train and what is the Cinque Terre Pass? I explain how to use the Cinque Terre Card to travel by train to the Cinque Terre train station in this ultimate guide for Cinque Terre Train Travel
Lovely Manarola village in Cinque Terre.

The best way to get around Cinque Terre is by train as cars are not allowed in the villages and driving from one village to the next is nearly impossible. Another option is to hike between the villages. The Cinque Terre is part of the National Park Cinque Terre and within the park, many hiking trails are set out.
The most popular and famous one is the trail connecting each village with the next (*due to heavy landslides, not all routes are open. Check accessibility of the trails. At the moment, you can only walk from Monterosso to Vernazza and from Vernazza to Corniglia or vice versa).

Eating foccaccia for breakfast in Riomaggiore. Do you plan to visit the popular 5 villages that make up the Cinque Terre in Italy? But how can you travel on the Cinque Terre train and what is the Cinque Terre Pass? I explain how to use the Cinque Terre Card to travel by train to the Cinque Terre train station in this ultimate guide for Cinque Terre Train Travel
Eating foccaccia for breakfast in Riomaggiore.
The tangy fragrance of Lemons in Cinque Terre. Do you plan to visit the popular 5 villages that make up the Cinque Terre in Italy? But how can you travel on the Cinque Terre train and what is the Cinque Terre Pass? I explain how to use the Cinque Terre Card to travel by train to the Cinque Terre train station in this ultimate guide for Cinque Terre Train Travel
The tangy fragrance of Lemons in Cinque Terre.

Cinque Terre Pass

City cards and passes are very popular in bigger cities these days. I loved the Granada Card and recently took full advantage of the Istanbul Museum Pass. Cinque Terre has its own card: the Cinque Terre Pass.

This is a card for tourists to be allowed to hike in the Cinque Terre National Park and use the buses in the park.
The Cinque Terre Train Card also includes free (unlimited) travel on the Cinque Terre Train from La Spezia train station to Levanto that connect the towns of Cinque Terre.

Buy your Cinque Terre Card online in advance here.

La Spezia train station to Levanto – the Cinque Terre Train

The five villages of Cinque Terre are connected by rail and are part of the La Spezia-Levanto train line. In high season, almost every half hour a train leaves La Spezia train station in the direction of Levanto and vice versa. There are regional trains stopping at all 5 train stations of Cinque Terre or an intercity with only a stop in Monterosso.

La Spezia is well connected to the bigger Italian towns and cities in the north and east of the country, so you can easily take the train from Pisa to Cinque Terre or travel by train from Rome to Cinque Terre. Levanto is connected to Genua and the north so you can also take the Milan to Cinque Terre train.

Panorama view of Vernazza. Do you plan to visit the popular 5 villages that make up the Cinque Terre in Italy? But how can you travel on the Cinque Terre train and what is the Cinque Terre Pass? I explain how to use the Cinque Terre Card to travel by train to the Cinque Terre train station in this ultimate guide for Cinque Terre Train Travel
Panorama view of Vernazza.

Cinque Terre Train Stations

Each of the 5 villages of Cinque Terre is tiny, hence, the train stations of Cinque Terre reflect that. From south to north on the la Spezia-Levanto train connection you’ll find:

Riomaggiore Train Station

The first train station in Cinque Terre when you travel from La Spezia to Cinque Terre. The village of Riomaggiore is famous for it’s red and yellow tall houses near the small harbour. The Riomaggiore train station only has 2 tracks, one north, one south. The train station of Riomaggiore is connected to the village via tunnel with a passageway. You can find several machines and a ticket office at the train station. The Cinque Terre tourist office is right next door.

Panaroma view of Riomaggiore. Do you plan to visit the popular 5 villages that make up the Cinque Terre in Italy? But how can you travel on the Cinque Terre train and what is the Cinque Terre Pass? I explain how to use the Cinque Terre Card to travel by train to the Cinque Terre train station in this ultimate guide for Cinque Terre Train Travel
Panaroma view of Riomaggiore.

Manarola Train Station

From one tunnel to the next, you’ll just have found a place to sit (or more likely stand) and you’re already in Manarola. At Manarola, there are 2 tracks and it can get crowded when you need to descend the underpass by stairs when everyone else leaves the trains. At Manarola train station, you’ll find the ticket machines and there is a restroom (€1). When you go right, behind Manarola train station, you can walk towards a restaurant with a view and see the Via dell’Amore path towards Riomaggiore. At the moment of my visit, this part of the Cinque Terre hiking trail was still closed. It might open in the future. If you go left into the tunnel at Manarola train station, you’ll find the village.

Lovely Manarola village in Cinque Terre. Do you plan to visit the popular 5 villages that make up the Cinque Terre in Italy? But how can you travel on the Cinque Terre train and what is the Cinque Terre Pass? I explain how to use the Cinque Terre Card to travel by train to the Cinque Terre train station in this ultimate guide for Cinque Terre Train Travel
View on Manarola.
Sunset of Manarola. Do you plan to visit the popular 5 villages that make up the Cinque Terre in Italy? But how can you travel on the Cinque Terre train and what is the Cinque Terre Pass? I explain how to use the Cinque Terre Card to travel by train to the Cinque Terre train station in this ultimate guide for Cinque Terre Train Travel
Sunset of Manarola.

Corniglia Train Station

The part of the Cinque Terre train line before Corniglia is almost the only part where you’ll have an ocean view and can see something of Cinque Terre. The train station of Corniglia is at sea level and there is a bus at Corniglia train station that can bring you to the village (and back).

If you don’t like waiting for the bus (or it is jamm packed) you can walk the pathway and climb up to the village. It was an easy hike up but for my sorry-as-f*ck-condition, it was a grueling ascend. The bus from the train station to Corniglia town is free when you have the Cinque Terre pass with train travel in Cinque Terre.

Corniglia and Vernazza in the distance. Do you plan to visit the popular 5 villages that make up the Cinque Terre in Italy? But how can you travel on the Cinque Terre train and what is the Cinque Terre Pass? I explain how to use the Cinque Terre Card to travel by train to the Cinque Terre train station in this ultimate guide for Cinque Terre Train Travel
Corniglia and Vernazza in the distance.
Hiking up from the Corniglia train station to the town. Do you plan to visit the popular 5 villages that make up the Cinque Terre in Italy? But how can you travel on the Cinque Terre train and what is the Cinque Terre Pass? I explain how to use the Cinque Terre Card to travel by train to the Cinque Terre train station in this ultimate guide for Cinque Terre Train Travel
Hiking up from the Corniglia train station to the town.

Vernazza Train Station

You don’t need to walk far to get from Vernazza train station to the town as it is right in the center of all the action. One part of the Cinque Terre trail is on one end of the train station, the next trail on the other side. From Vernazza train station, you walk straight to the harbor and can climb the castle. As the train station is very small, it can happen that your carriage stops inside one of the connecting tunnels.

Or when you’re waiting for the train, the platform can get very crowded as people only go into the tunnel to wait at the last moment. I found it a bit scary so I advise you to stand back at all times and take your time boarding and de-boarding the Cinque Terre train.

View of Vernazza and Monterosso in the back. Do you plan to visit the popular 5 villages that make up the Cinque Terre in Italy? But how can you travel on the Cinque Terre train and what is the Cinque Terre Pass? I explain how to use the Cinque Terre Card to travel by train to the Cinque Terre train station in this ultimate guide for Cinque Terre Train Travel
View of Vernazza and Monterosso in the back.
Overlooking the torquoise waters of Cinque Terre. Do you plan to visit the popular 5 villages that make up the Cinque Terre in Italy? But how can you travel on the Cinque Terre train and what is the Cinque Terre Pass? I explain how to use the Cinque Terre Card to travel by train to the Cinque Terre train station in this ultimate guide for Cinque Terre Train Travel
Overlooking the torquoise waters of Cinque Terre.

Monterosso Train Station

The biggest of the Cinque Terre train stations, Monterosso al Mare has 3 tracks and the intercity train stops here too. If you leave Monterosso train station, you can go straight to the beach. The Monterosso train station has a bar, restrooms, and luggage storage.

You can walk from the old part of Monterosso al Mare (where the train station is) to the newer part where also the Cinque Terre hiking trail starts.

The beach of Monterosso el Mare. Do you plan to visit the popular 5 villages that make up the Cinque Terre in Italy? But how can you travel on the Cinque Terre train and what is the Cinque Terre Pass? I explain how to use the Cinque Terre Card to travel by train to the Cinque Terre train station in this ultimate guide for Cinque Terre Train Travel
The beach of Monterosso el Mare.
Mmmhhh. Gelatooooo!! Do you plan to visit the popular 5 villages that make up the Cinque Terre in Italy? But how can you travel on the Cinque Terre train and what is the Cinque Terre Pass? I explain how to use the Cinque Terre Card to travel by train to the Cinque Terre train station in this ultimate guide for Cinque Terre Train Travel
Mmmhhh. Gelatooooo!!

Quick tips about the Cinque Terre Train Stations and Travel on the Cinque Terre Train

As you can read from the above-mentioned descriptions of the train stations of the 5 villages of Cinque Terre, they all have things in common. Here are some tips to make travel on the Cinque Terre train easier:

  • All train stations are small. Most have only 2 tracks: one north, one south. Easy.
  • All train stations are old. The first train stations were built in 1874. Most were renewed in 1959 which still makes them old. Don’t expect new shiny passageways or fancy stuff.
  • Not all trains stop at the stations. There are trains running through the tunnels at high speed, passing the train stations of Cinque Terre without slowing down. Stand back! Keep behind the yellow line. It sounds childish but I found it quite dangerous.
The validation machines of Train Italia. Do you plan to visit the popular 5 villages that make up the Cinque Terre in Italy? But how can you travel on the Cinque Terre train and what is the Cinque Terre Pass? I explain how to use the Cinque Terre Card to travel by train to the Cinque Terre train station in this ultimate guide for Cinque Terre Train Travel
The validation machines of Train Italia.
Cinque Terre Train station. Do you plan to visit the popular 5 villages that make up the Cinque Terre in Italy? But how can you travel on the Cinque Terre train and what is the Cinque Terre Pass? I explain how to use the Cinque Terre Card to travel by train to the Cinque Terre train station in this ultimate guide for Cinque Terre Train Travel
Cinque Terre Train station

  • Always validate your ticket before entering the Cinque Terre train (or any train in Italy). It doesn’t matter if you’ve bought a ticket the minute before from the machine or from the ticket office. It doesn’t matter if you use the Cinque Terre Pass on the train or just a single journey ticket: ALWAYS VALIDATE IT. There are odd looking egg-shaped-looking machines to validate at the train station and when entering the platform.
  • Most of the Cinque Terre train stations have the platform in tunnels. You can wait partly in the tunnels (keep behind the yellow line) but most people do not do this. A platform can look very crowded but people will spread out.
  • The Cinque Terre trains are super busy. I traveled in the off-season and have never seen anything like it. During the day, it is easy to take the train from Florence to Cinque Terre on a day trip so it is very busy on the train. Early mornings or later in the evenings, things calm down a bit but expect the trains to be long, full. Luckily, the train rides are only short.
  • Catch a last-minute train or avoid lines at the ticket machines and offices. Buy your Cinque Terre card online here.
Do you plan to visit the popular 5 villages that make up the Cinque Terre in Italy? But how can you travel on the Cinque Terre train and what is the Cinque Terre Pass? I explain how to use the Cinque Terre Card to travel by train to the Cinque Terre train station in this ultimate guide for Cinque Terre Train Travel
Cinque Terre Train at Corniglia.
Do you plan to visit the popular 5 villages that make up the Cinque Terre in Italy? But how can you travel on the Cinque Terre train and what is the Cinque Terre Pass? I explain how to use the Cinque Terre Card to travel by train to the Cinque Terre train station in this ultimate guide for Cinque Terre Train Travel
Travel on the Cinque Terre Train.

Do you need the Cinque Terre Pass to travel on the Cinque Terre Train?

As mentioned before, if you wish to hike the Cinque Terre trails, you need the Cinque Terre pass. But they have 2 kinds of passes. You can buy a pass to hike Cinque Terre or you can buy a Cinque Terre train card that includes (unlimited!) train travel on the Cinque Terre Train between La Spezia and Levanto as well.

Read here for all information about what is included in the Cinque Terre pass and the prices.

Find here all the information and prices for the Cinque Terre Train Card. Obviously, the Cinque Terre Train Card is more expensive as you can travel on the Cinque Terre Train. A train ride from Riomaggiore to Manarola, for example, is €4,00 one way. You pay the same price if you want to travel from Riomaggiore to Monterosso.

The Cinque Terre Card with Rail Pass. Do you plan to visit the popular 5 villages that make up the Cinque Terre in Italy? But how can you travel on the Cinque Terre train and what is the Cinque Terre Pass? I explain how to use the Cinque Terre Card to travel by train to the Cinque Terre train station in this ultimate guide for Cinque Terre Train Travel
The Cinque Terre Card with Rail Pass
The Cinque Terre Card with Rail Pass. Do you plan to visit the popular 5 villages that make up the Cinque Terre in Italy? But how can you travel on the Cinque Terre train and what is the Cinque Terre Pass? I explain how to use the Cinque Terre Card to travel by train to the Cinque Terre train station in this ultimate guide for Cinque Terre Train Travel
The Cinque Terre Card with Rail Pass

I stayed for 5 days in Cinque Terre and based myself in Riomaggiore. We purchased a 2 day Cinque Terre Train Card and bought separate train tickets for the other days when we just went to another village to explore and have dinner.

You do not need a Cinque Terre pass to travel on the Cinque Terre train but if you plan to hike in the national park, the Cinque Terre pass is mandatory. If you plan to travel more than 3 stretches on the Cinque Terre train, buying the Cinque Terre train card might be more economical for you.

Cinque Terre Trains and Interrail and Eurail

If you want to include Cinque Terre on your Interrail or Eurail itinerary across Europe, that is a great idea! The passes are also valid on the Cinque Terre trains.

However, if you do wish to hike a portion of the Cinque Terre trails, you do need a Cinque Terre card, so you’re better of to save your Interrail and Eurail travel day for another time. As always, weigh off the value of a single train ticket against the price of your train travel days. It might be cheaper to purchase a single ticket out of pocket.

Budget Tip for Travel on the Cinque Terre Train (during off-season)

We purchased a couple of one-way tickets at one of the Cinque Terre train stations. We paid €4,00 if we wanted to travel for 2 minutes from Riomaggiore to Manarola or all the way to the other side of Cinque Terre to Monterosso. It quickly added up and we took full advantage of our Cinque Terre train cards as we hiked the Cinque Terre trails and took the train to all the villages.

But, if you travel in the off-season, I have a budget tip for you.

You can purchase your train tickets in advance, online at the trenitalia website or Rail Italia website.

A single journey from Riomaggiore to Monterosso will cost you €2,20. From Riomaggiore to Manarola only €1,60. You need to make an account, pay online and show your ticket on your mobile device on the train.

The tickets are only valid for the day and time mentioned on the tickets, so you have to take that exact train. I don’t have any experiences with this myself and it only works in the off-season (November 1st to April 1st) but it is worth it.

Have you ever been to Cinque Terre in Italy? Did you take the train or only go on a day trip? Did you buy the Cinque Terre pass to travel on the trains? Share your experiences in the comment section below!

Do you plan to visit the popular 5 villages that make up the Cinque Terre in Italy? But how can you travel on the Cinque Terre train and what is the Cinque Terre Pass? I explain how to use the Cinque Terre Card to travel by train to the Cinque Terre train station in this ultimate guide for Cinque Terre Train Travel. #train #cinqueterre #italy
Like it? Share on Pinterest
Do you plan to visit the popular 5 villages that make up the Cinque Terre in Italy? But how can you travel on the Cinque Terre train and what is the Cinque Terre Pass? I explain how to use the Cinque Terre Card to travel by train to the Cinque Terre train station in this ultimate guide for Cinque Terre Train Travel. #train #cinqueterre #italy
Share on Pinterest.

16 Comments

  1. Hi. Do you need to set dates for the Cinque Terre pass? I am going for 5 days and I am not sure (nor do I wish to plan!) what each day will entail. I want to hike some of the trails, I want to probably walk where possible from village to village and then maybe train back to Manarola where I will be based. And on some occasions will come back via the boat. Does the boat come into Manarola? Also, thinking of a day trip to Portofino and Sestri Levante. Thoughts/comments would be appreciated. I am there in early September.

    1. Hi Caroline, you buy the Cinque Terre Card for 1,2 or 3 days. When you wish to start, would be your first day. You need to fill out the date on the card and sign it. If you want a rest day the 2nd day, that is fine but then you’ll lose a day of the card to use it. So buy it online, take it with you and once you get to Cinque Terre, validate it and use it when you want. We also went for 5 days and only used the Cinque Terre Pass in the middle when we wanted to hike and take the card. I’m sure you’ll have an excellent time.

  2. Ricardo Harris

    Hi Naomi,
    I’ve been planning to get to Cique Terre by car, since I’ll have a rental car. I was planning to park the card outside of one of the villages and just get around by train and by foot. After reading this post I wonder if it would be better for me to park the car in Levanto for two days and ride the train to Cinque Terre and get my car on the way back into France. Can you give me any advice about that?

    1. Yesssss. My advice is to NOT drive in Cinque Terre. There is no room to park ‘outside’ the villages. The few parking spots that there are, are taken or 25€ a day. So just park it in Levanto or La Spezia and take the train into Cinque Terre. That is also what we did as we had a rental car and we parked it in La Spezia (for free). Have a great trip Ricardo!

  3. Tommy Ching

    I would like to visit Cinque Terre just for a day trip in mid September, would stroll around all five villages or perhaps one or two trails.
    Which trails you would suggest and how long would it take for it?
    Will it be worth to buy the Cinque Terre Train Card?
    Any places or villages you would suggest to eat?

    Thank you
    Tommy

    1. Hi Tommy, depending on where you come from (La Spezia, Pisa? Milan? or even Rome?) a day trip can be done, but it will be nearly impossible to visit all 5 villages and have time to walk around them. If you wish to walk 1 or 2 sections of the trails, you need to get the Cinque Terre card. If you take the train for more than 3 times in one day, the Cinque Terre railcard can be a big benefit. Both trails that are open are equally beautiful. I hike super slow, so I’m probably not a good guide to how long it will take. For food, you can’t go wrong. With only 1 day, I’d go to Monterosso look around, walk to Vernazza. Have lunch there. Depending on how you feel, either walk around Vernazza or continue to Corniglia. Have dinner there. If you don’t feel like hiking, visit Manarola for sunset and eat dinner there before you’ll leave Cinque Terre. Enjoy it!

    2. Tommy Ching

      Thanks for your prompt reply, it really helpful.
      I come from Florence. If it is impossible to visit all 5, then I may skip Riomaggiore. Train to Monterosso, stroll around and sit on the beach, train to Vernazza, walk around the village, after lunch, hike to Corniglia, walk around and train to Manarola and back to Florence. I think that may be better right?
      By the way, love your photos in Instagram!

      Thanks
      Tommy

  4. Janis Williams

    I love Cinque Terra. My last trip there, i stayed in Monterosa al Mare and traveled between the cities by train, trail, and ferry. I can hardly wait to go back for a longer stay. I’m excited about your blog and other destinations, but Italy is my favorite! BTW, we’ll be in Amsterdam in October. I’d love your suggestions.

    1. Hey Janis, I know the feeling, I’d love to go back to Cinque Terre for a longer period. My only tip for Amsterdam would be to not go there as I really don’t like the city but that’s probably not what you wish to hear. So I hope you like it a million times better than I do.

  5. Kurukafa

    Cinque Terre train card is still reasonable during low season if you will visit all 5 villages in a single day. It costs 13 Euros (until April 2019), whereas buying 6 separate train tickets starting and ending at La Spezia costs around 12.60 Euros. Considering the fact that the shuttle at Corniglia, the restrooms at stations, and wifi at the towns come as complimentary with the card, it is still wise to go for the day card rather than buying single ride tickets.

  6. thelma fox

    Hi we are a couple planning to visit cinque terre Jan 2019 do the trains travel all year round cinque t and can you recommend a hotel to stay overnight, whatever town you think would be nice

    thank you
    Thelma

    1. Exciting plans for next summer Thelma! The trains in Cinque Terre run year round but have a different schedule. Usually from November till March there are lesser trains but still enough to get you around. You can always find the updated schedules at the stations or online.
      Regarding a place to stay, I have several recommendations. You can find them all here: https://probearoundtheglobe.com/where-to-stay-in-cinque-terre-italy/ let me know if you need more information! I’m sure you’ll have a great trip.

  7. We’re in Cinque Terre at the moment. It’s very quiet, though there’s still some international tourists around. Yesterday was rainy, but today is lovely and sunny, albeit windy and with a very rough sea. It’s still gorgeous, although there’s a limited range of restaurants open, in particular in Manarola, where I’m staying.

    Most of the Cinque Terre info points to buy the passes are closed (definitely in Vernazza), so I don’t think it’s possible to buy the pass at the moment. I walked a short stretch along the trail from Vernazza to Monterosso, and there was no-one at the check point. We just bought tickets at the train station ticket machine, and it was €2.20 for a single journey, not the €4 rate. I read a sign that it’s the more expensive rate from about March to start of November, or similar.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.