Boy on walkway on left looking toward sea and colorful buildings of Vernazza, Italy.

Cinque Terre Tour From Florence – Our Experience

Are you in Florence and craving a visit to the Cinque Terre but you don’t have time to spend a few days in the area? 

Perhaps you’re set on day-tripping to the Cinque Terre from Florence but you’re feeling overwhelmed by the transport and planning out your day.

Either way – a guided tour from Florence to the Cinque Terre could be a good choice for you.

I’m a mamma of three living here in Tuscany, and I travel around Italy with my kids and help plan their trips to Italy. 

I’ve visited the Cinque Terre many times, but had never taken a day trip.  Why?  Because I think it’s best to spend at least a few days visiting the area – hiking, trying local specialties like pesto and fresh seafood dishes at its restaurants, taking a dip in the sea, and soaking up the views of the colorful villages.  There’s so much to see and do in the Cinque Terre.

However, as a trip planner, I’m often asked about visiting on a day trip from Florence.  Rather than guess, I decided to see what it’s like and report back.  

I just came back from the GetYourGuide day tour of the Cinque Terre from Florence.  Spoiler: We had a blast!

Below you’ll find my thoughts on the experience, plus details on the structure of the day.  I hope it helps you decide if a day tour is right for you!

Disclosure: Thanks to GetYourGuide for the gifted experience of this day tour to me and my 6-year-old son.  The review and opinions are our own.

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Florence to Cinque Terre Day Tour – The Basics

Boy holds onto railing on sidewalk and looks out at sea and beach in the Cinque Terre town of Monterosso al Mare.
My son, walking between the old and new parts of Monterosso al Mare, one of the villages visited on the day tour

Company: We made the booking with GetYourGuide and the tour was operated by City Wonders.
Tour We Took: From Florence: Cinque Terre Day Trip & Optional Light Hike
Price:  We paid €194 for an adult and child.  You can see the up-to-date rates for the tour at the link above.
Options:  Our tour options included free time in the Cinque Terre or a guided light hike.  We chose the guided light hike (at a slightly higher price). 
Start/End Time: 7:15am to 7:20pm.  We had to arrive 20 minutes before the 7:15am departure time. 
Number of Guests: about 20

Important:  These were the details for our specific day tour.  Always check the confirmation email for the details of your tour.  Times and places may vary.  For example, the Vernazza portion of our tour will be replaced by a stop in Pisa.

Florence to Cinque Terre Day Tour – Should You or Shouldn’t You?


  • You want a ‘hands off’ day of travel.  You don’t have to worry about any logistics on this tour – just meet in the designated spots and the designated times!
  • You want an introduction of the Cinque Terre.  This tour really makes the most of your limited time in the area.
  • You want to travel with a guide.  Our guide Jessica was organized, kind, helpful, and gave us fun facts and info throughout the day.
  • You want guidance but want to do your own thing. 
  • You want to sample fresh pesto at the source!


  • You don’t like having to stick to a strict schedule.
  • You don’t want to follow the flag that the guide holds up in train stations and busy places.
  • You want to visit all five villages.
  • You want a personalized tour of the Cinque Terre.  This is a group tour.
  • You are traveling in the late fall, winter, or early spring and would be disappointed if it’s not sunny all day.  The weather can be iffy (but we had a lovely, sunny day on our tour in March).
  • You want to take a boat trip in the Cinque Terre.  There’s not enough time, unless you can organize a boat rental or pedal boat in Monterosso.
  • You’re visiting during the late fall, winter, or early spring and want to see all shops and restaurants open.  Some establishments close up during the quieter months.

How to Book Your Florence to Cinque Terre Day Tour

Woman in orange coat stands next to orange building covered in vines in Monterosso al Mare's old town. Arch on left and people in street past arch.

The easiest way to book your day tour to the Cinque Terre is on the GetYourGuide website or app.  I used the website, but also find the app to be easy to use. 

Once you’ve chosen your tour and paid, you’ll receive a voucher with a QR code for each participant in your group. 

The voucher can be printed or you can show it on your phone (email or in the app). 

Once you’ve booked, you’ll receive important info like the exact meeting point (and finishing point, if it’s different) and contact info for your tour organizer. 

Helpful Tip:  Before booking, check out the reviews and see if there’s anything that may affect your enjoyment of the trip.  For example, when looking at the reviews for this day tour, I noted there were comments on the small group size, which I wanted.

Florence to Cinque Terre Day Tour – Our Experience

Meeting the Group: We were instructed to meet at Piazzale Montelungo (on the northeast side of the SMN train station).  It’s a 5-10 minute walk from the front of the station.  We were coming from our hotel in Florence, so we took a taxi from near Santa Croce (€14). 

There were other groups meeting in the same place, but we were able to find a representative from City Wonders holding a flag (just like the booking details stated). 

After checking in, we waited for the rest of the group to arrive.

Good To Know:  The meeting point has a small kiosk where you can buy coffee and snacks.  There are no toilets, so be sure to use the bathroom before you come to Piazzale Montelungo.  If it’s raining, there’s not much covering except in the small bus stops. 

Our Guide: We were led by Jessica, a native of Northern Italy.  She spoke English well, and did a great job of keeping the group organized and on schedule in an easygoing way.  She also gave out info on each of the places we visited, and she provided us with her favorite places for food in the villages. 

Other Travelers: Our day tour companions were from all over the world.  We didn’t really mingle much – everyone did their own thing, but we found everyone to be friendly and respectful of the meeting times.

The Bus Ride to La Spezia:  The bus ride to La Spezia (just south of the Cinque Terre) was about 2.5 hours, including a snack and bathroom stop.  The windows were clean, the seats comfortable, and we had seatbelts and tray tables.  The windows were clean so we enjoyed the views of the Apuan Alps and the marble quarries (where Michelangelo sourced his marble!).  Our guide gave us some info on the Cinque Terre on the way.

Taking the Train to the Cinque Terre: The bus dropped us off near the station and we followed our guide’s flag to the platform.  The train was a double-decker, and my son insisted on a top-floor seat.  The trains in the Cinque Terre are clean, comfortable and crowded. 

Good To Know:  You can charge your electronics with USB-A or an Italian plug charger.  You’ll see limited sea views on the left side of the train.

First StopVernazza:  We explored the village’s playgrounds, beach, tiny lanes, and snacked on focaccia with pesto.

Second StopMonterosso al Mare:  We had the most time in Monterosso, and we spent it eating, playing at the beaches, and exploring the old town.   

Third Stop – Manarola: We did the optional group hike with our guide.  It took about 20 minutes and brought us above town on a trail passing through the terraced hillside amongst vineyards and gardens.  The views of Manarola were beautiful!  After, we explored the village, had gelato, and of course, visited the scenic playground.

The Bus Ride Back to Florence: After taking the train back to La Spezia, we met our bus and had a 2+ hour bus ride (there was some traffic on the Autostrada) back to Piazzale Montelungo. 

It was a long, exhausting, beautiful, colorful, and worthwhile day tour to the Cinque Terre!

The Timing of Our Day Tour to the Cinque Terre

Boy stands at window on bus looking out at Cinque Terre village.
My son on the train in the Cinque Terre

6:55am – arrive in Piazzale Montelungo (Florence) to meet the group

7:15am – board the bus to the Cinque Terre

8:30am – stop at gas station café for snacks and toilets

9:00am – back on the bus to continue the drive

9:40am – arrive in La Spezia and walk (5-min) to the La Spezia train station to take the train to the Cinque Terre

10:40am – arrive Vernazza

11:30am – meet to take the train to Monterosso al Mare

11:45am – arrive Monterosso al Mare, walk 10-15 minutes to old part of town

2:05pm – meet to walk back to new part of town to take the train to Manarola

2:40pm – arrive Manarola

4:20pm – meet to take the train back to La Spezia and walk to meet bus

5:00pm – board bus for drive back to Florence

7:20pm – arrive Piazzale Montelungo (we had quite a bit of traffic on the way back)

Florence to Cinque Terre Day Trip – Our Thoughts

As I mentioned above, the day tour to the Cinque Terre from Florence was exhausting but worth it.  It was an easy way to get an intro to the area in a short amount of time, and I loved not having to worry about any of the logistics like catching trains.

My son had a blast, and I think the movement to three different places was exciting for him and kept things interesting.  He had so much fun at the beaches and enjoyed the region’s food (and gelato!). 

I still think it’s best to spend more time in the area if you have it.  But, if you only have a day to spare and really want to see the Cinque Terre, this is an excellent overview.  The three places we visited were all different enough to make it interesting.  At times it felt rushed, but I knew that it would coming into it.

Did our expectations match reality?  Yes.  I knew it would be a beautiful, tiring day, and that there would be a lot of movement on trains, buses, and our two feet. 

I would caution off-season travelers to think about weather.  We had a gorgeous, sunny day, but it definitely would’ve been a different experience in the rain.

If you’re interested in beach time, the best place for you is in Monterosso at Fegina beach.  It’s pebbly and sandy and there are free and beach club sections. 

What to Pack for Your Florence to Cinque Terre Day Tour

Boy at the edge of the water at the beach in Vernazza, Italy. Rocky cliff in background.
Wear layers – we started the day wearing our jackets, but ended up in short sleeves
  • Comfortable shoes – They need to be comfy but you don’t need technical hiking shoes or anything fancy. The walk is doable in sneakers.
  • Backpack or waistpack
  • Hat and/or sunglasses
  • Sunscreen
  • Swimsuit and towel – If you plan on swimming.
  • Camera
  • Snacks – Yes, you can also buy them in the Cinque Terre, but it’s nice to have some with you for emergencies and so you don’t have to spend time finding them.  We had little bags of raisins and peanuts.  We did end up buying snacks like focaccia and gelato!
  • Water – There are water fountains in the villages or you can purchase bottled water.
  • Rainjacket
  • Ziploc bag (for valuables)
  • Euros (cash and credit card)
  • ID
  • External charger for your phone (I used up all of my external charger’s battery!)
  • Baby wipes or tissues for spills or bathroom breaks
  • Something to do on the bus (or just chat!)

Cinque Terre Day Tour Logistics

Hand holds up paper cone with lemon slice and fried anchovies in the Cinque Terre village of Manarola.
Fried anchovies make a great snack!

Toilets – You can find them on trains and in the villages.  Villages have a paid public option, or you can use the toilet at your restaurant or bar.  There is also a bathroom stop on the bus ride between Florence and La Spezia. 

Snacks – We brought snacks and I’m glad we did, so we didn’t spend time looking for them in the Cinque Terre.  You can get snacks at grocery stores in Florence the day before the tour, or you can buy snacks at the small supermarkets in the villages (we saw Coop and CRAI). 

Pharmacies – The villages have pharmacies, so you can get first aid supplies, medicines, and baby products while you’re there.

Lunch – You can pack your own lunch (eat on the beach!), get takeout in Monterosso, or go to a sit-down restaurant.  I recommend a takeout meal (fried fish! focaccia with pesto!) so you have more time to explore Monterosso al Mare.

Bringing Kids on the Florence to Cinque Terre Day Tour

Children playing at colorful playground in Monterosso al Mare in the Cinque Terre, Italy.
You have enough time to explore playgrounds on the Cinque Terre day tour!

While most people who take this tour are adults, kids are welcome.  I did the tour with my 6-year-old son.  He was the only child on our tour, but he had a blast visiting the Cinque Terre with his mamma!

As far as a recommended age, it depends on the individual child, but I think 6 years old is a good age.  Kids need to be able to (and enjoy!) walking, to understand the meeting times (and group aspect), and be able to keep up with the fast pace of the tour.  My 9 year old would enjoy this tour, but I wouldn’t bring my 3 year old (I’m sure he’d have fun but it would be too fast-paced for him).

We had snacks, and water, and we tried local treats from the area, like focaccia with pesto and lemon gelato.

I recommend bringing something for the bus trip. I had a pencil and notepad with me and my son brought a handheld water game. He slept the entire bus ride back to Florence.

This day tour is not stroller-friendly.  You could use a baby carrier if you have a little one that can’t walk.

Check out our Fun & Easy Day Trips from Florence with Kids

Alternatives to a Florence to Cinque Terre Day Tour

While I think this is the easiest way for visitors to day trip to the Cinque Terre from Florence, you do have other options:

  • Drive from Florence to La Spezia, park in one of La Spezia’s lots or garages, and take the train from La Spezia to the Cinque Terre villages.
  • Take the train from Florence to La Spezia and then to the Cinque Terre villages.
  • Hire a private driver (NCC – noleggio con conducente) to drive you from Florence to the Cinque Terre and back.  This is a pricey option (unless you have a bigger group and could fill up the van) and you’ll need to organize your time in the Cinque Terre.  You could also hire a guide to help you in the Cinque Terre.

Florence to Cinque Terre Day Tour – FAQ

Can we swim on the day tour?

Yes, you can swim!  It was too chilly on our March day tour, but we still spent time at the beach.  Bring your swimsuit and towel if you’re visiting in the summer.

Can we leave things on the bus?

No, you can’t leave anything on the bus.  Bring a backpack or comfortable bag and don’t overpack, because you’ll be carrying it all day.

Are there grocery stores and pharmacies in any of the towns?

Yes, you can find grocery store and pharmacies in the villages on the day tour.

What happens if I’m late to pickup?

The group departs on the bus at 7:15.  You need to arrive to check-in before the departure time.  Don’t be late, or you’ll miss the day tour!

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