Hiking from Monterosso to Vernazza

Explore Pisa and Cinque Terre in one day

Do you have time to stare at the Leaning Tower of Pisa and soak up the atmosphere in Cinque Terre in just one day? I think you do, but there won’t be any time to dillydally. And if you want to visit all five villages of Cinque Terre I wouldn’t recommend cramming them into a combined one day Pisa/Cinque Terre itinerary. Instead, you should pick out one or two of the five villages you want to see so you really have time to get the feel of the chosen villages. The whole point, in my opinion, of going to Cinque Terre is to gear down, relax, stroll around in the small alleys, enjoy some seafood, a cold crisp glass of white wine and dip your toes into the Ligurian Sea. And if you can’t get enough of the Italian coastline you might also decide to go to the Amalfi Coast. But let’s start with Cinque Terre.

In this guide, you begin in Pisa, go to Vernazza and end up in Monterosso which is the biggest of the five villages of Cinque Terre. To get the full advantage of your day trip I recommend you start in Pisa no later than 10 am.

Day trip: Pisa and Cinque Terre

You start at the train station, Stazione Pisa Centrale, and go to:

  • Corso Italia (the walking street)
  • Arno River
  • Food market at Piazza delle Vettovaglie
  • Piazza Dei Cavalieri (Knights’ Square)
  • The Leaning Tower of Pisa
  • Il Duomo (The Pisa Cathedral)
  • Lunch in Pisa
  • Train to Vernazza
  • Hop on a boat in Vernazza
  • Monterosso

Corso Italia (the walking street)

Corso Italia is Pisa’s main walking street and like many other big walking streets of the world, it is stuffed with shops like Mango, Zara and Foot Locker. There is nothing special about Corso Italia, and you won’t see anything you haven’t seen a 100 times before, but the street leads you to the other side of the Arno where you will experience a more authentic Pisa. When I visited Pisa in April some sort of flower festival took place and the whole city was covered in flowers and plants, which made it quite enjoyable to walk Corso Italia.

Day trip: Pisa and Cinque Terre
Piazza Garibaldi at the end of Corso Italia.

The Arno River

To get to all the known sights of Pisa you have to cross the Arno River if your starting point is the train station. The Arno River is the largest river in the Tuscan region and flows through Pisa and Florence. The river is  241 km/150 mi long.

Day trip: Pisa and Cinque Terre

Market at Piazza delle Vettovaglie

Piazza delle Bettovaglie is very close to the Arno River – about five minutes on foot, so you should definitely drop by to get a good look at the fresh vegetables, fruit and so on. Me – I’m a sucker for food markets, and I love watching the locals buy their usual stuff and haggle with the farmers.

Day trip: Pisa and Cinque Terre

Piazza Dei Cavalieri (Knights’ Square)

After leaving Piazza delle Vettovaglie follow Via Domenico Cavalca and make your way to Piassa Dei Cavalieri, also called Knights’ Square. In the Middle Ages, the square was the political heart of the city, but today students have “taken” the square as Palazzo della Carovana is part of city’s university. Besides Palazzo della Carovana you find the following buildings in the square: Church of Santo Stefano dei CavalieriStatue of Cosimo IPalazzo dell’OrologioChurch of St. RoccoPalazzo del Collegio PuteanoPalazzo del Consiglio dei DodiciCanonica and Muda Tower.

Day trip: Pisa and Cinque Terre
Palazzo della Carovana.

The Leaning Tower of Pisa

The Leaning Tower of Pisa is a bell tower and was constructed between 1137 and 1399. Due to the settling of its foundations, it started to lean under construction, and in 1990 the tower was leaning with a 5.5-degree tilt (4,5 metres/15 feet). When the tower was built it was supposed to soar 60 meters/196 feet into the sky, but that never happened due to the “leaning”. Its actual height is 56,67 meters/185,95 feet on the highest side and 55,86 meters/183,26 feet on the lowest side.

During the centuries many attempts to stop the tower from moving slowly to the ground have been made, and in the 21st century, someone finally got it right. Of 2001, the tower was officially declared stable for at least the next 200 years.

If you want to climb the Leaning Tower of Pisa, you can. Book tickets here: Tickets.

Day trip: Pisa and Cinque Terre

Il Duomo (The Pisa Cathedral)

You can find Il Duomo on the Field of Miracles – just like the Leaning Tower of Pisa and two other important buildings: Camposanto Monumentale and the Pisa Baptistry. Together the four buildings are considered one of the finest architectural complexes in the world, and every year tourists flock to see the grand buildings.

The construction of Il Duomo – or the Pisa Cathedral –  began in 1064 by the architect Buscheto and was finished in 1118. For more info on Il Duomo, click here: Il Duomo.Day trip: Pisa and Cinque Terre

Lunch in Pisa

If you arrived in Pisa at 10 am it is probably about 1 pm now, and it is time for some quick lunch. On your way back to the train station drop by I Porci Comodi. It is a small shop where you can buy different meats and cheeses. You basically get Italy on a plate. The shop is very small, so most people bring their platter of food to the small park next to the shop. It is quick, good and cheap to eat at I Porci Comodi, but you shouldn’t go if it is raining. I imagine it is not much fun to eat porchetta in the rain.

Day trip: Pisa and Cinque Terre

Train to Vernazza

After filling your belly with food and wine, you should head to the train station. You find the timetable for the Pisa-Cinque Terre trains here: Trenitalia. The trains run fairly often, but you would be wise to book your ticket in advance. In the weekends it seems like all of Pisa migrates to Cinque Terre. Now – the train from Pisa takes you either directly to Monterosso or to LaSpezia, a station southeast of the Cinque Terre.  If the train stops in La Spezia you jump on the Cinque Terre Express. It is a train that runs between La Spezia and the five villages of Cinque Terre: Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza, and Monterosso. It takes you about two hours to get from Pisa to Cinque Terre. I suggest you start exploring Cinque Terre in Vernazza and end up in Monterosso where you have dinner at one of the many beautiful restaurants. You can also start in Monterosso if it is a hot day – Monterosso has the best beach of all the five villages of Cinque Terre.

Hop on a boat in Vernazza

After you have strolled around in the small alleys of Vernazza, enjoyed the view from the harbour and taken loads of pictures you can hop on a boat and get the full seaside view of Vernazza. There are private boats you can charter, but you can also buy a ticket for one of the boats that sail between the villages on a regular basis. You can get a day ticket (25 Euro) or an afternoon ticket (20 Euro) – see timetable and prices here: Cinque Terre boat excursions.

Sailing is one way to get to Monterosso, but you can also hike or go by train.

You might also like this post: Hiking from Monterosso to Vernazza

If you want to go by train – just hop on. If you buy the “big” trekking card you can travel by train between the five cities an unlimited number of times. The card costs 12 Euro and can be bought in any of the five villages.

Day trip: Pisa and Cinque Terre

Day trip: Pisa and Cinque Terre


You are probably a bit tired by now, and your legs might be aching a bit, but there is no need to worry. In Monterosso, you find a wide range of restaurants, bistros, tavernas etc. where you can sit down and relax, listen to the ocean and smell the seafood being prepared in all the small kitchens. Monterosso is the biggest of the five Cinque Terre villages, but it is by no means a busy city. It is a city where you wind down and enjoy life. I like it so much that I have decided to move there when I grow old. Imagine waking up to the sound of the Ligurian Sea, feeling the breeze, eating fresh fish and spending all day on the town square talking to all the other old ladies in the sun.

Hiking from Monterosso to Vernazza
Monterosso has some really nice beaches.

That was it. If you have any questions or comments, don’t hold back. I’d love to hear from you.

If you want some more inspiration on how to spend your time in Cinque Terre, check out this travel guide to Cinque Terre.

And if you liked this itinerary – why not pin it? You have to do the hover-thing:-)

A step-by-step guide to visiting Pisa and Cinque Terre in one day. You'll have time to gaze at the Leaning Tower of Pisa and soak up the atmosphere in beautiful Cinque Terre. #Cinqueterre #Pisa #daytrip #Italy

34 thoughts on “Explore Pisa and Cinque Terre in one day”

  1. Thank you The Ingvertsen family for the inspiration. I visited Pisa (minus villages) a few years ago and quite frankly don’t remember a lot. Reading about your adventure made me realize how much I’d love to go back there, not only to Pisa but also Italy. I just may do it this summer. Happy travels
    p.s. your “Italy on the plate” image looks sooooo delicious.

    1. Line

      Hi Eva, I love Italy. It just seems to have it all – good food, wine, an interesting history, nice beaches and a great climate. Yeah – I want to go back again:-)

  2. I think when I grow up I’d like to move to Monterosso! Wow, stunning little town. Sounds like a very full day of exploring – how did your kids fare? I look forward to reading your post about trekking from there to Vernazza.

    1. Line

      Hi Valerie, I went on my own. I was supposed to go with my boyfriend – it was a birthday present, but he got sick, so I had to go on my own… but kids can surely do the trip. Had they been with me, we would probably have bought some food at the market, brought some toys and done a boat trip in Vernazza. They would have loved that.

  3. Pisa and Cinque Terre weren’t too high on my list, but honestly the beaches and that river make it super appealing… I’m also a huge lover of markets and food, so that charcuterie board lunch in Pisa is making me super hungry haha! I also love the idea of hiking from Monterosso to Vernazza… Adding it to the list of treks!!

    1. Line

      You do that – you’ll have a great time:-)

  4. I am so pleased there is another travelling family out there that managed to pack Pisa and Cinque Terre into one day! I spent less than 1 hour in Pisa and almost ran from the train station to see it then back! It shows that with a little bit of planning you can make the most when you are short on time. Also, your wonderful photos brought back nostalgic memories of hearing the sea in Vernazza so thank you very much for sharing.

    1. Line

      Hi Anna, thank you. And yes, with a bit of planning you can do it, but I could spend a whole week in Cinque Terre if I had time. I loved that place.

  5. Although I visited both Pisa and the Cinque terre 4 years ago, I always love reading about them as I enjoyed this trip so much. I would actually do the tour all over again because although is fun traveling with a big group of friends you also don’t get to see as many of the places I feel. Vernazza was my favorite of the villages if I remember correctly 🙂

    1. Line

      Hi Julia, I liked Vernazza as well. And Riomaggiore. And Monterosso. And…..I loved the whole area. You can’t help but relax in a place like that. It just invites you to enjoy life. I hope you get to go again.

  6. I’ve been to Italy so many times over the years but have never thought to combine the likes of the leaning tower with the coastal villages. We hate rushing through places if we don’t have to – and would rather opt out of seeing something if we can’t see it properly. I agree that if you do try and make this into one trip that isolating a couple of the villages is your best bet. This area deserves some more time – I’d probably easily unwind and give it a long weekend at a minimum. Sun, Sea and Wine – yes please.

    1. Line

      Hi Dominic,
      I know – Cinque Terre deserves more time, but sometimes time can be sparse.

  7. We did something similar: drove from Pisa to La Spezia, then took the train. Taking the boat would be a great experience, I’d think! Maybe next time 🙂 What time of year did you go? We had to literally fight our way through the crowds in CT 🙁

    1. Line

      Hi Jenia, I went about a month ago, which is probably too early for the crowds. But I was in no way alone – there was people….but not so many I had to use my elbows:-)

  8. When I visited Pisa, it was basically just as a quick bathroom stop to see the Tower, and then get back on the road to the next town. You did a lot more there though!! I don’t think I’d want to combine Cinque Terre with Pisa though, Cinque Terre is worth so much more time than just an afternoon. This is a good suggestion if you don’t have the time, however!

    1. Line

      Hi Maggie, I agree with you. You should only do it if you are pressed for time. Cinque Terre deserves more time.

  9. Danila Caputo

    I’m Italian and thus I always have a bit more time to visit, so I didn’t really think you can do both Cinque Terre and Pisa in one day! Trenitalia and Italo are our favorite way of exploring Italy tho, great choice!

  10. I wouldn’t of thought to combine Pisa with the coastline but it looks like a wicked combo, I agree with you that travelling is no fun rushing, much better to choose less places and see them properly. I’m looking forward to venturing back to Italy so i’ll keep this post pinned, thanks 🙂

  11. Pisa AND the Cinque Terre in one day? Only if you are desperately pressed for time and on a “if it’s Tuesday it must be Belgium” travel itinerary. The Cinque Terre needs to be, as you indicated, savored, enjoyed, appreciated. And that mandates at least one night stayover, preferrably several.

  12. Paula Morgan

    I loved Cinque Terre and spent 3 days there but I think for people with limited time your itinerary makes perfect sense. I liked would suggest the lovers walk from Riomaggiore
    to Manrola would be worth including before jumping back on the train to Vernazza. I would cut my time short in Pisa for that.

  13. Wow, it had never occured to me to the Pisa and Cinque Terra as a combined day trip! Though I think you’re definitely right that you shouldn’t try to jampack the day with all five fishing villages… that would be the opposite of el doca far niente 🙂 Although I’ve been lucky to have explored quite a bit of Italy, I haven’t yet made it to Cinque Terra, despite it being high up on my list. I’d never really thought about travelling from one village to another by boat since I’ve always considered the route as more of a hike, but seeing your pictures of the blue, translucent waters may have swayed me a bit!

    1. Line

      Hi Erica, I’m glad I could sway you😊. The water is very inviting!

  14. I think this is super helpful for people who simply don’t have enough time to spend a day in both Pisa and the Cinque Terre. I would love to visit in April as well so I can see the flower festival, looks lovely! I didn’t know the Leaning Tower of Pisa was so old, originating from the 1100’s… wow!

  15. I did a pitstop in Pisa on the way to Cinque Terre on my visit and then stayed 2 nights in Vernazza. I really wish I had stayed for 3 however if you only have a short time I think your itinerary is a great idea.

  16. Cinque Terre! <3 Simpelthen bare sådan et billedskønt sted, man umuligt kan blive træt af! 😀 Især synet af byen fra en båd lige ude på vandet, er utroligt!

    1. Line

      Hej Danny, ja, der er så fantastisk smukt. Jeg skal helt sikkert tilbage.

  17. Michelle

    Maggie…I’m going to Europe with my 13 year old twins this summer. I want to do a day trip from Florence to Pisa and Cinque Terres. Would you recommend we go Pisa or Cinque Terres first. Also, what are the must see town of CinquesTerres and what order would you recommend seeing them in. Thanks

    1. Hi Maggie, lucky you. I think I would do Pisa first and end up in Cinque Terre. Only because it must be magical to enjoy dinner in one of the cities when the light is fading. And you can finish the day off with a swim. I chose to go to Monterosso and Vernazza, and they were both very beautiful. I think you’ll find any of the cities charming, but Monterosso is the biggest and has the most restaurants. I would also plan to spend a lot more time in Cinque Terre than Pisa. Maybe I would even just drop Pisa if you only have one day. Hope you have a great trip.

  18. Wow! Interesting! I will be travelling to Italy on August, thinking of iterirary in florence. Pisa is definitely in my bucketlist. Upon searching for tours after a visit to Pisa, i came across your blog. This is really informative! I did not consider cinque terre at first but by reading your blog, i got fascinated and interested in going to cinque terre especially knowing that the villages can be reached through trains. I just wonder if shops/pisa are open on 14 aug as ferragosto will be on the 15 aug.

    1. Hi Abi,

      Thank you for your kind words. I try to be as informative as possible. And good choice – going to Cinque Terre. You won’t regret it. I wish I could help you with your question, but I just don’t know if the shops will be open the 14th of August. Maybe you could try the tourism office.

      Best regards

  19. Julie

    Hi. If we wanted to visit Pisa, Cinque Terre area but not stay in Florence, where would you recomend we stay along the coast?

  20. Agnes

    Dear Line,

    Your itinerary is very useful for us ! We are going to visit Italy in October and have only one day for Pisa and Cinque Terre. We will have a car ( as we are continuing to the northern part of Italy after it ,so we can’t take the train from Pisa.
    What would be your suggestion ? Where to leave the car ? I like very much the boat trip, but it will drop us out in a different village. Or to go back we take the train ? Would you recommend like this ? thank you in advance – Agnes

    1. Hi Agnes, sorry for the late response. I would leave the car in La Spezia and use the train to commute between the villages. I would buy the card that allows you to travel an unlimited number of times between the cities – then you can also do the boat tour without having to worry. If you only have one day for Pisa and Cinque Terre, you don’t want to waste any time looking for a place to park the car. But if it was me – I would drop Pisa and spend a full day in Cinque Terre. Pisa is okay, but nothing compared to Cinque Terre. Happy travels. Hope I helped you:-)

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