Things to do in Milan

Milan to Cinque Terre day trip: Here’s everything you need to know before planning your holiday

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Cinque Terre (pronounced Chin-kwa Terr-e with a rolled 'r') is a string of five charming little villages neatly tucked away in Northern Italy. With its rustic authenticity, picture-perfect coastline and mouth-watering seafood, it’s often dubbed as every traveler’s dream. The romantic atmosphere in Cinque Terre has often been captured by famed poets like D H Lawrence, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Lord Byron, and most notably, Eugenio Montale, who wrote, “Standing on the dramatic cliffs of Cinque Terre, I have no wants, needs, or concerns. I am simply coexisting with the land…”

Located just three hours from the hustle and bustle of cosmopolitan Milan, this UNESCO World Heritage Site, with its sun, sand and wine, is ideal for a relaxing getaway. It is, therefore, a must-visit destination on your top day trips from Milan. Here’s everything you need to know to plan a seamless day trip from Milan to Cinque Terre.

Cinque Terre - Home To Italy’s Fabulous Five!


Anyone who's ever been to Cinque Terre before knows that this coastal region is synonymous with the word "paradise". So if you've never been before, this is your chance to experience a slice of heaven in Italy!

Located in a romantic corner of the Italian Riviera, the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Cinque terre is comprised of 5 picturesque and lazy towns: Manarola, Corniglia, Riomaggiore, Monterosso and Vernazza. Leave behind your traffic woes as you come to this city, filled to the brim with jovial locals (and tourists)! The villages' ruggedness presents accessibility challenges today, but that provides an isolated angle for tourists, making it all the more exciting!

Why take a day trip from Milan to Cinque Terre?


milan to cinque terre

It’s near impossible to narrow down from the myriad of reasons why the five towns of Cinque Terre -- Manarola, Corniglia, Riomaggiore, Monterosso and Vernazza -- should be on every traveler’s bucket list. But we'll try.

There's history, architecture, and culture around every corner

Experience the best of the Italian Riviera with its beautifully-preserved architecture along a magical coastline! A centuries-old castle in Riomaggiore, Ligurian Gothic styled Church of San Pietro, the 13th century Church of San Lorenzo, and Doria Castle in Vernazza are just some of the landmarks that represent this coastal region's history, architecture, and culture.

The food is to die for!

If you're a fan of seafood, you've come to the right place. Originally fishing villages, these five towns have seafood etched into the authentic cuisine of the Cinque Terre. Stuff your face with calamari, prawns, and fish, along with anchovies, pesto sauce, focaccia, and then some.

Be one with nature

Calling all nature lovers! Cinque Terre has dozens of hiking trails for the adventurous at heart. From calm leveled paths to rugged mountain trails, you'll find them all here. Bird lovers will have a fun time spotting exotic and native birds here.

There's plenty of wine & Limoncello

Cinque Terre is home to some of the most serene vineyards that produce world-class wines, but here's another reason why you should visit: the sweet, alcoholic, lemon liquor, Limoncello, is actually from Liguria! (Tip: Montersso holds a lemon festival every year on the 3rd Sunday of May!)

Eat your body weight in Gelato!

Hiking along Cinque Terre's trails or swimming in the Mediterranean will sure work up an appetite. When in Italy, do it right: eat gelato. Soft and muted signs outside gelato stores invite you in, and encourage you to sample two or three flavors per serving!

Best Milan To Cinque Terre Day Trips


Guided Tours from Milan To Cinque Terre

If you're looking to squeeze in a 12 hour round-trip day tour from Milan to Cinque Terre, what you need is an efficient organized tour. You will be picked up from Milan bright and early and begin your journey to the Italian Riviera with an expert guide by your side.

A Milan to Cinque Terre day trip typically includes visiting the Manarola vineyards, dining at Monterosso's whimsical cafes, and a chance to soak up the local culture: all while presenting great backdrops for your photographs. You’ll be dropped back in Milan just after dinner, giving you a full night to rest after a long day.

Self Guided Tours from Milan to Cinque Terrre

If you're one to venture into a new land on your own, consider a self-guided tour. You can soak up your surroundings at your own pace while making pitstops of your choice. If you’re looking for a convenient option to seamlessly travel, you can purchase a Cinque Terre travel card. You can get it at any train station or just buy it online.

It is an all-encompassing card that offers unlimited access to train services, hiking trails, public washrooms, WiFi and more. It’s far more convenient than buying separate tickets for different activities or the commute between the five towns. The Cinque Terre card costs €16 for adults and €10 for children. Alternatively, you can also buy a family ticket that covers two adults and two children for €42.

Planning a day trip on your own is not easy. Allow us to help you curate your very own itinerary with the must-visit locations and must-try experiences!

A quick guide to all five towns of Cinque Terre


Top things to do in Cinque Terre


Picture thick Italian accents, the sea spray from the Mediterranean, and mountains of gelato- that's right, Cinque Terre is the place to be in Italy.

1Best lookout point

VIEWPOINT •BIRDS EYE VIEW

Perched high above Riomaggiore, Santuario di Nostra Signora di Montenero is one of Cinque Terre's favorite lookout points. There is a walk up to the viewpoint and a hike down, so make sure you carry a few bottles of water, sunblock, and a hat. Even so, you're privy to some of the best views in Cinque Terre from this must-visit lookout point.

Milan to Cinque Terre-Santuario di Nostra Signora di Montenero

2Visit Portovenere

UNESCO LISTED SITE • PHOTOGRAPHY

One of the more overlooked destinations around Cinque Terre is Portovenere, a stunninng village on the Ligurian coast. Although not technically one of the 5 villages of Cinque Terre, this UNESCO site is a mere stone's throw away and is dotted with beaches, caves, ancient architecture, and clifftop fortresses.
Tip: Hit the local markets on Mondays and catch the Madonna Bianca Festival in August!

Milan to Cinque Terre-Portovenere

3Sunset at Stella Marina Beach

SUNSET • PHOTOGRAPHY

You'll be spoilt for choice looking for sunset lookout points in Cinque Terre. But if you're thinking of seeing 4 of the 5 villages together at sunset, head over to Stella Marina Beach, Monterosso and watch the sun dip behind Punta Mesco while munching on calamari and sipping on local wines.

Milan to Cinque Terre-Stella Marina Beach

4Swim in Manarola

SWIMMING • BEACHSIDE VIEWS

Whether you're in Manarola or Monterosso, make sure you take a dip in the refreshing beach waters. Granted, these fishing villages aren't your typical white gleaming sand beaches, but the harbor areas offer a sense of belonging you won't find in other upscale locations.

Milan to Cinque Terre-Manarola

5Cinque Terre by boat

SIGHTSEEING • FAMILY FRIENDLY

Many independent boat tours operate in Cinque Terre, letting you enjoy Cinque Terre's gleaming waters. Most tours top off your evening with tapas, wines, and antipasto. Enjoy an intimate outing on the waters, a great way to relax after a day exploring Cinque Terre by foot.

Milan to Cinque Terre-by boat

Choosing Between Self Visits & Guided Tours


One of the most common questions that crosses every tourists’ mind is whether to take a self-guided tour or a guided tour with a professional guide. Although both are thoroughly enjoyable and informative in their own way, there are certain differences that one must consider before making this decision. Let’s dive into these differences and see which makes more sense for you:

Cost

One of the key factors in deciding which tour to take is definitely the cost. For a day trip like this, there are quite a few costs involved including transportation, food, boat rides etc. Although a self-guided tour may appear cheaper on the surface, there are lot of other aspects to account for, including the time and energy taken to find the right mode of transportation, procuring these tickets, finding out where exactly to go and what not. For a short trip like this, a guided tour makes the most sense.

Tour Guide

Never underestimate the comfort of having a good, local guide. More often than not, these guides have a full-time job of helping tourists explore the area and learn more about its history. Since they do this day in and day out, they will have the utmost knowledge of where to go and what to see and more importantly, what not to see.

Hassle-Free Experience

No one wants to waste precious time on their vacation planning and organizing tours for themselves. Taking a guided tour completely eliminates this from the equation as they take care of everything. However, if you did do research beforehand and know exactly what you want to do and see, a self-guided tour is the way to go.

Safety

It is well known that in popular tourist destinations and attractions, there is an abundance of tricksters and scamsters just waiting to take you for a ride, especially if you are in a foreign country. By taking a guided tour and being a part of a group, you can save yourself from these troubles and enjoy the tour without any stress of losing your money.

Not Missing Out on Anything

With a guided tour you have the added advantage of not missing out on any of the key sights and attractions, as you will be travelling with a local expert. On the flipside, if you are traveling on your own, you may very well come across something that is not there in the tourist magazines and discover a new place yourself.

Best way to get from Milan to Cinque Terre


Mode of Travel Time Cost Best For
Train 3 hours from €30 Fastest route, most popular
Boat 3 hours 10 minutes from €30 Scenic travel
Car 3 hours 20 minutes €30-€45 (approx fuel cost) Freedom to stop at leisure
Organised Tour 12 - 14 hours roundtrip from €135 (all inclusive) Seamless, no hassle travel

The distance between both regions is roughly 200km and the most popular way to get to Cinque Terre from Milan is by train or boat. Other lesser used travel options include car and helicopter. Other cities close to Cinque Terre are Pisa (80km), Genoa (80km), Florence (152km) and Rome (400km). Cinque Terre does not have its own airport, but you can fly to Milan’s Malpensa Airport and commute from there.

Going from Milan to Cinque Terre - All your options listed


Milan to Cinque Terre by train

The fastest and most economical way to reach Cinque Terre is by train. There is a train service that runs locally between all five towns in Cinque Terre through the day, departing every few minutes from their respective train stations.Train providers like ItaliaRail and TrenItalia allow you to book a direct train from Milano Centrale railway station to Monterosso. For most journeys, we recommend purchasing tickets online to avoid waiting in lines or running into a risk of sold-out train tickets.

To commute between the five towns of Cinque Terre, you can use your travel card and just hop-on-hop-off according to your schedule. The rail travel distance between each town varies between 4 to 6 minutes:

  • Monterosso - Vernazza: 4 minutes
  • Vernazza - Corniglia: 4 minutes
  • Corniglia - Manarola: 5 minutes
  • Manarola - Riomaggiore: 6 minutes

Milan to Cinque Terre by boat

Traveling to Cinque Terre by boat is another option to consider if you’re looking for an opportunity to admire the stunning coastline. Ferries run frequently from La Spezia and Portovenere to Monterosso, Vernazza, Manarola and Riomaggiore. Corniglia is the only village inaccessible by ferry. Note that ferry tickets cannot be purchased online in advance. You may buy them at the ticket counters 30 minutes before you depart.

Milan to Cinque Terre by car

While you can travel by road from Milan to Cinque Terre as well, this option isn’t frequently picked by travelers. The five villages are vehicle-free zones, so you would have to park your car outside Monterosso or in La Spezia at the rail station and still have to take the train to commute between the five towns. So, essentially you’ll be paying for a car and expensive paid parking without really using the vehicle through the day. The drive takes about three hours, but requires nerves of steel due to the narrow roads and dangerous hair pin curves.

Organized tour

You can avoid the hassle of planning the day trip by simply booking an organized tour. No more waiting in lines, worrying about planning a step-by-step itinerary and arranging travel from scratch. Soak in the best of these scenic towns with this guided tour from Milan to Cinque Terre. Book an organized tour from Milan to Cinque Terre here.

Best time to visit Cinque Terre


Typically, April to October is the ideal time period to visit Cinque Terre, with July and August being the busiest. During the summer, travelers make the most of what the five towns have to offer: be it hiking, leisure visits to the beach and generally exploring the narrow, crooked streets without worrying about rain or biting temperatures. However, the best option would probably be to visit between April to May or September to October, since you can experience Cinque Terre to the fullest without having to navigate through thousands of tourists.

Where can I eat in Cinque Terre?


There is a myriad of adored eateries in Cinque Terre. Here are the top 5 recommended restaurants:

Cinque Terre Restaurants
Trattoria Dal Billy

Find longstanding fisherman traditions being followed at this much-adored trattoria. Enjoy freshly-caught fish off the coast at this seaside dining spot, perfect to curb your seafood cravings. Whether you order to salted anchovy appetizer or the squid ink pasta, you'll leave feeling satisfied.

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Cinque Terre Restaurants
Enoteca Il Pirun

The small town of Corniglia does not have too many dining options for you, but anywhere you go, you're bound to find an excellent meal. At Il Pirun, find fried anchovies, gnocchi con pesto, paccherri pasta, spaghetti and mussels, and a plethora of Italian wines.

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Cinque Terre Restaurants
Ristorante Miky

Fresh seafood and pasta is Ristorante Milky's specialty, and is adored by tourists and locals alike. Buy yourself cappellini with tomatoes, baked fish in puff pastry shells, and a wide selection of local wines.

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Cinque Terre Restaurants
Il Pirata delle 5 Terre

Enjoy a slice of Sicily at It Pirata, run by two Sicilian borthers. A balance between sweet and savory dishes gives you plenty of options to choose from: homemade pastries, panzerotti with ricotta, millefeuille with chantilly cream compete against bruschetta with pesto, sausage rolls, arancini, panini, and more.

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Cinque Terre Restaurants
A Pie’ de Ma’

A Pie' de Ma' serves a little piece of paradise in a simple and fresh manner. Choose from an extensive menu of pasta and seafood dishes, paired perfectly with aperitifs and wine.

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Where can I stay in Cinque Terre?


Thinking of extending your trip for another day or two? Here are some hotel recommendations to check in for the night.

Hotel Ca' D'Andrean

Ca' D'Andrean is conveniently in central Manarola, set in the popular Cinque Terre Park, only 1300 feet away from the coastline. Wake up to an amazing view and devour an Italian-style breakfast of croissants, cappuccinos and fruit juice.

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Hotel Villa Argentina

Hotel Villa Argentina is located in Riomaggiore, in the Cinque Terre National Park, a mere 10-min walk from Riomaggiore Train Station and a 20-min drive from La Spezia. Get yourself a room with a small terrace overlooking the Ligurian Sea, and enjoy a buffet-style breakfast in the morning.

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Hotel Verdeacqua

Located in Monterosso al Mare, a mere 0.6 miles from Monterosso Old Town Beach, hotel Verdeacqua has a garden, non-smokinng rooms, and free WiFi throughout. Enjoy family rooms in the guest house! The Genoa Cristoforo Colombo Airport is 43.5 miles from Verdeacqua.

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Shopping in Cinque Terre


Cinque Terre has a host of things to take back home with you. After the vacation you've had, you're going to want to have souvenirs to remember this remarkable trip by. Be it cheese and wine, shoes and jewels, or hand-crafted pottery and ceramic objects you'll find it all. In these small fishing villages, you'll find local craftsmen, small shops, food markets, weekend pop-up markets, and more- do not expect high-scale boutiques.

Tips for your day trip to Cinque Terre


milan to cinque terre

  • If you’re buying the Cinque Terre travel card, consider purchasing it in the evenings to avoid the morning crowd. Also, don’t forget to validate it before use!
  • Local police and forest officials are fining tourists for wearing flip-flops and sandals on hiking trails. You can avoid a fine of up to €2500 by simply wearing appropriate hiking shoes
  • Stay hydrated! The bright sun can easily drain your energy. Always carry a reusable bottle of water along which you can refill at coolers present in different pockets of the towns
  • Carrying sunscreen, hats and any other protective gear will do you good
  • Taking photographs during the day is difficult due to the glaring sunlight. For the perfect photo, early mornings or late afternoons is the best time
  • If you’re looking for a quick snack, pick up a Friggitoria (bite-sized seafood in a cone), some crepes or bruschetta at a nearby bakery or grocery store

Milan to Cinque Terre Guide

More day trips from Milan


Once you've climbed the roof of Milan's Duomo, elbowed your way through to get a peek of Leonardo Da Vinci’s The Last Supper and tasted atleast 5 flavours of gelato from the umpteen street vendors around Milan, you can hop out of the city to experience a little more of the Italian country and culture. Milan is so beautifully located that you can visit the Swiss Alps or go to Venice from the city in just a day and be back by night! Check out these 8 day trips from Milan that are worth your time!

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