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This Scenic Train Visits 5 Of Italy’s Most Beautiful Coastal Towns For Only $20 This Spring

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Italy is back to being on everyone's radar now that temperatures across the Mediterranean basin are rising as we bid farewell to the bleak winter months.

If you can't wait until summer to experience some of that dolce vita yourself, then you don't want to miss this:

Colorful Buildings In Riomaggiore In Cinque Terre, Ligurian Coast, Italy, Southern Europe

There is a scenic train visiting five of the country's most beautiful coastal towns that costs only $20 to book, and lucky for Americans who are coming all the way from across the pond, it is not a remote spot that's tricky to get to: there are at least four major airports in the vicinity.

If it's Italy you have your heart set on this spring, this UNESCO-listed stretch of coast should be at the top of your bucket list:

A Train Pass Visiting Beautiful Colorful Towns

Cinque Terre means ‘Five Lands', and as the name suggests, it comprises five different spots along the Ligurian Coast: these are Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore, a group of historic villages that date back centuries.

Harbor Town Of Vernazza In Cinque Terre, Ligurian Coast, Italy, Southern Europe

If you've ever wondered where you could see those postcard views of colorful, small Italian towns bordered by the azure Mediterranean could possibly be, look no further: Cinque Terre and the wider Italian Riviera, is where you'll find them.

Unlike other areas of Italy, where renting a car is recommended for exploring in depth, Cinque Terre is a lot more accessible to regular public transport users, as all towns are served by a scenic train traveling along the coast, and costing only €18.20, or just under $20 to book.

Cinque Terre Train Traveling Along The Ligurian Coast, Italy, Southern Europe

Ticketholders are allowed unlimited travel on all trains on the Levanto – La Spezia line, which includes stops on the five villages, as well as the neighboring commune of Levanto and the larger city of La Spezia, the official gateway to Cinque Terre.

The whole of Cinque Terre is only 3 miles long, with each section of the journey taking between 3 and 25 minutes tops. All-day tickets are valid until midnight on the day of validity, and you can definitely see all five towns in a single day, as distances are short.

What Else Does The Cinque Terre Pas Include?

Young Tourist In The Hiking Path Towards A Town In The Cinque Terre, Ligurian Coast, Italy, Southern Europe

The day ticket, which can be acquired here, also includes entry to the hiking path, which leads to hidden swimming spots, dramatic views, and of course, passes the ‘Five Lands' like the train, except it requires about six hours to complete.

We would still recommend you spend at least three days in the area to avoid rushing through some of the most picturesque Italian towns you can visit, go hiking, and have some time left to relax on Monterosso beach, but if you're only in the Riviera for a day, using the train is best advised.

Cinque Terre Arriving From Tunnel In Manarola, Ligurian Coast, Italy, Southern Europe

Staying longer, you can opt either for a two-day or three-day pass, costing €33 ($35.81) and €47 ($51) to book, respectively. Tickets include access to the train, as well as the restricted hiking trails from Monterosso to Vernazza and Vernazza to Corniglia.

There are discounts available for children, seniors, and families. A family of two adults and two children, for instance, may be eligible for a €19.60 day ticket, though travelers who fall into one of these categories are still advised to contact the local tourism office to check for updated prices.

What Is Every Cinque Terre Town Famous For?

Manarola, A Charming Coastal Village In The Cinque Terre, Ligurian Coast, Italy, Southern Europe

Each ‘Terre' has a distinct character and charm:

  • Monterosso is the largest one, home to the only sandy beach in the Riviera, and a relatively-flat Old Town with a high concentration of guesthouses and aperitivo bars
  • Vernazza sits on a narrow harbor, and its most popular attractions are the sea-facing piazza, flanked by pastel-tone buildings, and its ancient, hilltop castle
  • Corniglia is built on a tall cliff 100 meters above sea level, and it's the ‘terre' furthest inland out of the five, as well as the least accessible: from the station, it's 382 steps up
  • Manarola, on the other hand, is easily distinguished for its multicolored houses resting on cliff faces, on what's possibly the most rugged patch of coast in the Riviera
  • Riomaggiore is arguably the prettiest ‘terre', with its iconic brightly-painted buildings, gelato shops and picturesque harbor

How To Save Money On Accommodation While Visiting The Cinque Terre

Tourists Admiring The View Of Vernazza In The Cinque Terre, Ligurian Coast, Italy, Southern Europe

Cinque Terre may be the stuff fairytales are made of, but it is not cheap. Due to the limited number of restaurants and hotels along the coastal strip, you should expect tourist prices to be significantly inflated, especially if you're staying in the heart of the zone.

An overnight stay at the luxurious La Torretta in Manarola will set you back by a shocking $779 per night, and it's not even the high season yet, while a harbor-facing Terra Prima Suite in Riomaggiore is not too far behind, costing $767 to book in spring.

Hilltop Village Of Corniglia, Part Of The Cinque Terre, Ligurian Coast, Italy, Southern Europe

That being said, you don't need to stay overnight in the Cinque Terre: remember La Spezia, the last stop on the line? It is a lively port city with over 90,000 inhabitants, and plenty of affordable hotels to pick from, where nightly rates start from a much more reasonable $59.

How To Get To Cinque Terre This Spring?

If you're visiting from the United States, the nearest airport hosting nonstop U.S. flights is Milan Malpensa. From Milan to Malpensa, it's a three-hour train ride to La Spezia, with tickets booked in advance costing as cheap as $22.79.

Panoramic View Of La Spezia, On The Ligurian Coast Of Italy, Southern Europe

There are at least three other international airports in the area, though they are typically served by intra-Europe flights: Genova City Airport (just over an hour to Levanto), Pisa International (roughly an hour away from La Spezia) and Florence Airport (1h30 away).

If you're landing in Rome, the culturally-charged capital of Italy, home to the ancient Colosseum and the Vatican Museums, and the main entry point into Italy for Americans, the fastest train to La Spezia takes 4h30, with advance tickets averaging only $30.

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