October 7, 2015

Day Excursion to Cinque Terre - Tips & Information

Traveling to Italy had been a dream of my for years and visiting Cinque Terre was at the top of places I wanted to visit.  I never dreamed I would actually make it there but using travel miles and money saved, I finally made it there. 
Not only did I make it to Italy, but several other countries as well.  
Since I was on a Mediterranean Cruise and was only in port for one day, I had to make the most of my time. You can see most of Cinque Terre in the length of time you have in port if you stay on schedule.  

We left Livorno, Italy and made a quick stop in Pisa.  Don't go to near Pisa and not stop! You can see get some great pics in just 30 minutes.  You can see my post about Pisa  HERE.  

It's about 1 1/2 hour drive from Pisa to Cinque Terre so much of your time is spent on driving, but don't let that stop you.  Cinque Terre is too amazing to miss.  I also spoke with several people on the ship that said their excursion to Florance was disappointing.  

We used Tuscany Tours (http://www.tuscanytours.net/).  Our driver picked us up right outside of the ship.  There was a group seven of us that pooled our money and hired the driver.  The cost was less than €100 each but going through the ship, the cost was €188 each.  The cost will depend on how many people travel together.

Here is the current price list (Nov 2015)


Length of the tour includes driving time.
NO EXTRA CHARGE for credit card payment, holiday service, night service. 

ONLY TRANSFER (one way) TO or FROM FLORENCE€ 180,00€ 220,001h 30 min.
FULL DAY FLORENCE and PISA€ 480,00€ 550,0010h
FULL DAY CHIANTI€ 480,00€ 550,0010h
FULL DAY SAN GIMIGNANO and SIENA€ 550,00€ 600,0010h
FULL DAY CINQUE TERRE€ 520,00€ 570,0010h
FULL DAY PISA and LUCCA€ 450,00€ 500,0010h
FULL DAY SAN GIMIGNANO and VOLTERRA€ 550,00€ 600,0010h
OUTLETS€ 520,00€ 570,0010h

He drove us to Pisa first, letting us out near the tower.  He told us we would meet back at the van in 30 minutes at which time we headed toward Cinque Terre.  The driver was not ver talkative but did answer our questions.  We were dropped off at the top of the hill at the first village, Riomaggiore.  We were handed a suggested itinerary and a train schedule.  We had enough time to visit four of the five villages as long as we stayed on schedule.  The driver met us at the last stop which was Manarola.  

It is very easy to get from one town to another by train.  They run about every hour and it only takes about 3 minutes to get from one village to the next.  We purchased our tickets at the first train station for about €10 which was good for the whole day.  There was one little problem; tickets need to be validated before you get on the train. The first box we tried didn't work, but thankfully we slipped by to the next stop where we were able to validate our tickets.  
 You will need to find one of the little yellow boxes located on the train platform.  Just slide the narrow end of your ticket into the slot in the machine and wait until you hear it stamp your ticket. 

Cinque Terre is actually a national park, a protected waterway and a Unesco World Heritage site. Most vehicle traffic is restricted inside the villages so don't plan on driving through the villages.  Go with a tour group or hire a driver.  

Tips if you are taking an excursion to Cinque Terre.
  • If you visit in the summer, expect the place to be extremely crowded.  We went March 2 and it was perfect.  There was very few people around and had the opportunity to explore without crowds.  The temperature was in the 60's and it was perfect.  We wore light rain jackets and ended up having to take them off by the end of the day.
  • Cinque Terre is actually a national park, a protected waterway and a Unesco World Heritage site. Most vehicle traffic is restricted inside the villages so don't plan on driving through the villages.  
  • Hire a driver to take you to Pisa and then on to Cinque Terre.  There are several to choose from so do your research. 
  • Read the reviews !  I can't stress this enough.  Get on Cruise Critic or Tripadvisor to see what others are saying about the experience.  Don't just go by the reviews on the company's page.  They can pay for those reviews.
  • There are plenty of places to purchase a food and drinks so it's not necessary to bring your own water and snacks unless you are trying to save money.  The food is not expensive (our soda was €1) so even a tightwad like me had no problem with any cost of anything.
  • Everything is on a steep hill so if you have severe mobility issues, this may not be a place for you.  Some people in our group had slight mobility issues and couldn't go up and down all of the hills but was still able to visit all of the villages.  Look at photos of the places you would like to visit and judge for  yourself what you can manage.  
  • I would also suggest you do something I didn't do and that is watch travel videos on Youtube.  If you want to get the feel for a place before you visit, check out other tourist videos and not the ones put out by tour companies.  I will NEVER make that mistake again.
  • In total, my daughter and I spent around €20 on lunch and one soda so you can easily take this excursion and not spend a lot of money.

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