If your cruise visits La Spezia in Italy, you should definitely consider visiting the beautiful Cinque Terre. In this post with accompanying video, we give you a step-by-step guide on how to visit the Cinque Terre from La Spezia cruise terminal, where to purchase the Cinque Terre Cards for unlimited travel for a day and we take a look some of the Cinque Terre villages themselves, including our recommendations of the ones not to miss.
We’ve created this guide specifically for cruise passengers who want to visit the Cinque Terre so we hope you find it useful.
La Spezia Cruise Port
Cruise ships dock at the Molo Garibaldi dock, which can accommodate two cruise ships per day. We have visited La Spezia on P&O Arvia and Celebrity Edge.
When you first step off your cruise ship in La Spezia you will need to take a shuttle bus to the cruise terminal building. There are no pedestrian areas in this cruise port so your cruise ship will organise a free shuttle bus to get you out of the port.
Ways to visit the Cinque Terre from La Spezia
Due to the limited transport links to the Cinque Terre you have two main options for visiting the Cinque Terre from La Spezia: train or ferry.
You can choose to do either or a combination of the two e.g. train to Cinque Terre and a ferry back to La Spezia.
If you decide to take the ferry back to La Spezia from Monterrosso (the furthest village in the Cinque Terre), you should allow two hours to ensure you don’t miss the cruise ship.
On the train you can get from Monterrosso to La Spezia Centrale in around 28 minutes so it’s definitely the quicker option if you want to maximise your time in the Cinque Terre.
Watch our video about how to visit the Cinque Terre from La Spezia.
How to get from La Spezia Cruise Terminal to La Spezia Centrale Train Station
Once you reach the cruise terminal building, you can take a 25-minute walk to the train station or get a taxi found across the road from the terminal building under the trees.
A taxi to La Spezia Centrale Train Station should be no more that €15 for two people sharing and takes about 10 minutes.
When you return to La Spezia Centrale Train Station at the end of your visit, we’d recommend walking back to the cruise terminal through the city centre. It’s a nice leisurely stroll and the centre is pedestrianised. You can walk along the shaded promenade that leads you directly to the cruise terminal building.
What does the Cinque Terre Card include?
If you are planning to visit the Cinque Terre from La Spezia, you should definitely purchase a Cinque Terre Card.
The Cinque Terre Card includes:
- Unlimited travel on the Cinque Terre Express trains between La Spezia and Levanto
- Access to the Cinque Terre hiking trails
- Travel on the bus to Cornelia (from Manarola and Corniglia train station)
- WiFi access on the train
- Use of bathrooms at the train stations in the Cinque Terre
- Reduced admission fee to the Civic Museums in La Spezia
To validate your Cinque Terre Card, you must write your name and sign the card. It’s worth knowing that you have a unique username and password on your card for the WiFi on the trains.
Make sure that you keep your Cinque Terre Card safe as there are train conductors, who will check tickets to ensure you have bought a ticket and it’s correct.
How to purchase a Cinque Terre Card to visit the Cinque Terre from La Spezia
Once you reach La Spezia Centrale Train Station, enter and take a right and you will find the Cinque Terre Card office.
The staff in this office are very helpful and will be able to explain how the card works, answer any questions you have and give you a map of the Cinque Terre.
You can also purchase the Cinque Terre Card in advance online but be aware, you must specify the date you require.
One-Day Cinque Terre Card Price
|4 – 11 years||€11.40|
|Family: 2 adults and 2 children (4 – 11 years)||€48.00|
The Cinque Terre Card price is the same, whether you purchase online or at the train station.
The advantage of purchasing the Cinque Terre Card in advance is that you don’t need to queue at the card office, you can simply start using it straight away (no validation required for e-tickets).
Cinque Terre Train Timetable
From La Spezia Centrale Train Station you need to find the correct platform for the Cinque Terre Express train going to Levanto. This will stop at all five villages in the Cinque Terre in the following order: Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza and Monterrosso.
Trains run about four times each hour so whatever time you get to the train station, you’re never waiting too long.
You may want to download the train timetable in advance, before you visit the Cinque Terre from La Spezia.
All of the Cinque Terre villages are short distances on the train. Below are the estimated travel times between villages on the Cinque Terre Express train.
|La Spezia – Riomaggiore||9 minutes|
|Riomaggiore – Manarola||6 minutes|
|Manarola – Corniglia||5 minutes|
|Corniglia – Vernazza||4 minutes|
|Vernazza – Monterosso||4 minutes|
If you want to visit Corniglia from the train station, you still need to walk up 377 steps or hop on the shuttle bus included with your Cinque Terre Card.
Visit the Cinque Terre from La Spezia by Ferry
There is a ferry that you can take from La Spezia to the villages in the Cinque Terre.
This offers excellent views of the Cinque Terre from the sea but it is not included with the Cinque Terre Card. Ferry tickets can be purchased online or at the ferry dock in any of the Cinque Terre villages. Prices are around €40.00 per adult.
Be aware that not all ferries from Monterrosso take you back to La Spezia, so check the timetable in advance.
Cinque Terre: Visit Riomaggiore
The first Cinque Terre village you will arrive at is Riomaggiore. It takes around 10-minutes on the train from La Spezia.
From the train platform at Riomaggiore, you can access the coastal footpath but you should only attempt this if you’re able to walk on uneven ground and don’t mind steps and a few inclines.
If you prefer to take a flatter route, exit the train station and follow the sign to Riomaggiore Centro. You’ll walk through a pedestrian tunnel and into the village.
Riomaggiore means ‘major river’ from when a river ran through the village. You can take some time to admire the view of the small harbour and pastel houses perched on top of the cliff. Riomaggiore is one of the best places to hire a kayak in the Cinque Terre so if you want to see the village from the sea, do it here.
This is one of the most recognisable villages in the Cinque Terre and we would highly recommend stopping in Riomaggiore if you visit the Cinque Terre from La Spezia. Not only is it very pretty, it is also the closest.
Cinque Terre: Visit Manarola
The second village you will come across on the train from La Spezia is Manarola. This village has the most grapevines in the Cinque Terre and you’ll be able to see them on the large terraced hills.
At Christmas time until February, you can see the largest nativity scene in the world here. There’s a information and the story behind this nativity displayed near the train station as you walk towards the town.
There’s only about 350 people who actually live in Manarola but this village can feel very busy once the visitors and tours start arriving. We’d recommend getting here early to enjoy the village before it gets too crowded.
From the train station you can walk down through the main street, which is lined with little cafes and shops. There’s also some nice places to stop for a coffee by the waterfront.
You’ll see people swimming in the crystal clear waters or just sunbathing by the rocks.
Nessum Dorma is a terraced restaurant that has quite a big presence on Instagram, partly due to its incredible view of Manarola. During the day, it offers pesto-making classes (must be booked in advance) and doesn’t open for aperitivo and dining until 4pm.
We’d recommend walking to the viewpoint by this restaurant to take in the beautiful view of Manarola, even if you don’t decide to visit this restaurant.
Cinque Terre: Corniglia
Corniglia is the third village in the Cinque Terre and is the only one that doesn’t sit directly on the coast. This means that it is slightly quieter than the other villages but is more difficult to access.
You may choose to visit the Church of San Pietro or wander through the small warren of streets with bars and restaurants.
From the train station you can take the zig zag stairs to the village centre.
Alternatively, you can wait for the shuttle bus from Corniglia train station to the village. This is included with the Cinque Terre Card.
If time is limited, we would recommend skipping Corniglia and going to one of the other villages that are easier to access.
Cinque Terre: Visit Vernazza
Vernazza is the only village in the Cinque Terre with a natural harbour and the most authentic fishing village in the Cinque Terre. We’d recommend spending plenty of time here when you visit the Cinque Terre from La Spezia. There’s a small beach and a square where you can sit and admire the view.
You can watch local children crabbing from the side of the harbour and also see Sant Margherita Church built on the rocks and overlooking the sea.
If you walk to the harbour wall, you can get a fantastic view of Vernazza and its terraced vineyards.
If you feel like Vernazza seems strangely is familiar, it may be because it was the inspiration for the village in Disney Pixar’s movie “Luca”.
There are plenty of small cafes and shops in Vernazza’s narrow streets. There are take away options too, so you can buy some focaccia, sandwich or fried fish to enjoy by the harbour. There are benches on the square to rest your feet for a little while.
Cinque Terre: Monterosso
Monterosso is the beach resort village in the Cinque Terre. When you arrive in Monterosso you can walk out of the train station on to sea front. You will see that this village is definitely very different to the others in the Cinque Terre.
Monterrosso can be divided into two parts with the long beach area near the train station. If you take a left turn from the train station stay on Via Fegina, you’ll come to a tunnel that takes you to the old town.
Before the tunnel, you can also walk up to the medieval tower of Aurora.
The old town is a warren of small streets with lots of restaurants and shops. We much preferred this to the beachfront area.
Monterrosso has a long tradition of cultivating lemons and so you’ll be able to buy lots of Limoncello, lemon granita, lemon gelato, lemon cakes and soap here – there’s even a lemon festival that takes place here in May.
Top tips to visit the Cinque Terre from La Spezia
- Visiting the Cinque Terre from La Spezia is do-able independently and we hope this guide has shown you how easy it is
- You can visit the Cinque Terre from La Spezia in one day on a cruise but it does mean that time is limited. You could see all villages in the Cinque Terre but you wouldn’t be able to spend much time in any of them
- We’d recommend focussing your time in Riamaggiore, Manarola and Vernazza because they are the prettiest villages in our opinion
- Start your day early because by lunch time the villages can get very busy with tourists
- Use the bathrooms in the train stations (free with the Cinque Terre Card) or buy a drink in one of the cafes and use the toilet there
- Cinque Terre is known for its wine, pesto, lemons and anchovies so try some of the local food during your visit
- Wear comfortable shoes if you plan to walk any of the coastal footpaths
- Keep your Cinque Terre Card safe as there are train conductors who will check your ticket on the train
If you have any questions about La Spezia and the Cinque Terre, please leave them in the comments section and we’ll try our best to answer them.
Check out our guides to seeing other Mediterranean cruise ports.