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Lake Garda Cinque Terre – In December 2022 we both had the idea to make a little round trip through Italy by train in 2023! Have any of you done this before?

To be honest, we have always shied away from it… Firstly, because of the high ticket costs and you are not much faster, then there are the well-known delays of Deutsche Bahn.

After some research on the Internet, however, we became curious, because after all, the journey begins with the train ride.

From Lake Garda to Cinque Terre and Rome – The Planning

Who knows the Interrail ticket? As I said, we are absolute newbies when it comes to train travel in Italy. My first experience was in spring when I took the train from Germany to Lake Garda. That’s how we came across the Interrail ticket for Italy and it sounded very good. Especially at that time there was still a discount of 10%.

But since we weren’t so sure how the whole thing would work, we went straight to the train station and got advice at the travel center. Well, you know the book: The trip was free 🙂 More I do not have to say now!

So we booked the ticket online and that’s what we did. At home, we sat down at the computer again and studied the topic intensively. We wanted to take a test drive and just see how it all worked.

Lake Garda Cinque Terre - Train entrance station Rovereto

In the end, we were the proud owners of two Interrail Italy passes (1st class) for 3 days of travel within a month. Within 11 months we had to make the train journey. This was not a problem for us, as we had planned the short trip for October. The price of the Interrail ticket was 152,- Euro per person.

Finally, we decided to visit the Cinque Terre and then make a side trip to Rome. So we booked trains for the following routes:

Rovereto – Cinque Terre Monterosso – Rome – Rovereto

Seat reservations were required for some routes, but could not be booked until 4 months before the scheduled train trip. The total cost for the seat reservation was 45,- Euro per person.

Since there were no direct connections, we had to change trains a few times, but this was not a big problem for us.

From Lake Garda to Cinque Terre – Arrival Day 1

After some deliberation, we decided to park our car near the Rovereto train station and chose the Rovereto Centro parking garage.

Cost: day rate 4,- €, night rate 3,- €, so 7,- € for 24 hours. The total price from Sunday morning to Thursday evening was 32,- €.

The first stage by train took us from Rovereto to Verona. There the first transfer to Milan took place. The train from Milan went directly to the Cinque Terre in Monterosso without stopping. We each had enough transfer time so that we could relax at each station.

Arrival in Monterosso

Arriving in Monterosso there was a lot of activity, many tourists, especially from the USA, England and Asia. We were very impressed by the view of the sea and the coast. On the 10-minute walk to our accommodation, the first thing we did was treat ourselves to an Aperol Spritz right on the beach promenade.

The price was 7,- Euro, which is absolutely okay for a supposed tourist stronghold. Käthe had a fruit cup with ice cream and I had an affogato with Sciacchetrà, a liqueur wine typical of the region.

Aperol spritz monterosso | Gardasee-inside

Our Albergo Marymar was located close to the center in a small side street. Our room was very clean, lovingly decorated and the owner very helpful. It is recommended to take earplugs, especially if you leave the window open at night. The Albergo Marymar is definitely recommended.

Before dinner we took a walk and explored Monterosso. We were particularly taken with the waterfront. We ate at Da Eraldo. For me there was pasta with seafood, Käthe had a vegetarian version, pasta with pesto (typical for the region). The food and service were very good, the price reasonable.

The Cinque Terre: a journey through picturesque villages and breathtaking landscapes – Day 2

After an amazing first day traveling from Lake Garda to Cinque Terre, we were looking forward to further exploring this picturesque corner of Italy. Beautiful panoramas, charming village streets and of course the incomparable Italian culture promised us the second day.

After a good breakfast – cappuccino and brioche – at Pasticceria Bar Laura, our adventure began at the Monterosso train station. To have the flexibility between hiking and train riding, we opted for a combo ticket that gave us one day of unlimited train riding and one day of hiking. For those who don’t know, there is a charge for one or two of the hikes.

From Lake Garda to the Cinque Terre – The Cinque Terre Card

The Cinque Terre Treno MS Card (train plus trails) costs 18.20 euros per person (as of 2023) and can be purchased directly at the station. We thought that was a pretty good deal, especially considering how much freedom it gave us. Of course, the value of such tickets varies depending on individual preferences and plans, so it’s a personal choice which option is best for exploring Cinque Terre.

With our tickets in hand, we hopped on the train from Monterosso to Riomaggiore, the southernmost town in the Cinque Terre, full of anticipation (at least that’s what it felt like while hopping 😂). Even the drive there offered magnificent views of the sea and the surrounding landscape, a foretaste of what was to come.

Cinque Terre - View of Monterosso

Arriving in Riomaggiore, we decided to enjoy the panorama first. We just drifted until we came across a path that gave us a breathtaking view of the coast and the azure sea. Despite the very mild autumn weather, which gave us pleasant temperatures of over 20 degrees, the colors around us glowed – from the pastel-colored houses to the lush green of the hills and the deep blue of the water.

We had hoped to also walk the famous “Way of Love” (Via dell’Amore), but unfortunately this picturesque path that connects Riomaggiore with Manarola is closed for maintenance until July 2024. But we had read that on the Internet beforehand.

After our hike, we took the train to Manarola and enjoyed the convenience of the trains that run every half hour between villages.

In Manorola we first satisfied our hungry stomachs with a delicious piece of Focaccia Pomodoro. I don’t know if it was the fresh air, the exercise, or just the Italian charm, but this focaccia was a culinary delight – or maybe we were just really hungry!

Lake Garda Cinque Terre - Manorola photographed from the Chiesa di San Lorenzo

Freshly fortified, we set out to visit the famous church Chiesa di San Lorenzo. The path to the church led us uphill and with every step we were offered an increasingly impressive view.


Hiking in the Cinque Terre – Riomaggiore

We were so fascinated by the beauty of the surroundings that instead of following a concrete plan, we decided to just hike. As the saying goes, “the journey is the destination”. Or in our case, “Where does this damn road go?”

The steps we took became steeper and steeper and the beaten path looked more and more like a via ferrata than a leisurely walk.

At some point we looked at Outdooractive and realized with slight despair: We were actually on the way back to Riomaggiore! We laughed at our talent for running in the exact opposite direction of our actual destination. You could say that our inner compass was a little off track that day.

Difficult to walk trail from Manarola to Riomaggiore

So back to the station and on to Corniglia. Arriving at Corniglia train station, we faced the challenge of climbing 337 steps up to the village. Arrived at the top and a few breaths later it was first “Pranzo”. Here we were in the Ristorante La Posada and we can only recommend it. We had a nice place in the garden overlooking the sea. Well fortified, we set out on the right hiking trail to Vernazza. The adventure could continue!


Hiking in the Cinque Terre – Corniglia to Vernazza

The trail from Corniglia to Vernazza is part of the famous “Sentiero Azzurro” and offers impressive views all along the way. The route is about 3.5 km long and takes between 1.5 and 2 hours, depending on walking speed, conversation and breaks.

The path winds through olive groves and terraced vineyards. There’s also a bar or two along the way, and at the highest point of the blue trail we fortified ourselves with a really refreshing Fresh Fruit Smoothie.

Corniglia in the Cinque Terre photographed from the hiking trail to Corniglia

Arriving in Vernazza, we were at first startled by the crowds, as there wasn’t much activity on the trails. We suspect that many arrived by train and there were also some large tour groups. This could be seen well by the guides with their flags held high😋. Actually, we wanted to go for a drink or an ice cream, but since there was so much going on, we immediately continued walking towards Monterosso.


The last stage – From Vernazza to Monterosso

The stretch between Vernazza and Monterosso is shorter than some other sections of the famous trail, but still offers its own challenges and rewards. In some places, the trails were so narrow that it was difficult to clear the way for passing hikers. The path led constantly up and down and partly over irregular rock steps. We had to take a breather 1-2 times to get the pulse down again. It must be really brutal in the summer with the sunlight, it wouldn’t be feasible for us. And then the paths are also totally overcrowded! So we arrived after 2 hours tired but happy in Monterosso and first treated ourselves to an Aperol.

Vernazza in the Cinque Terre, picture from the hiking trail towards Monterosso

From Lake Garda to the Cinque Terre – our conclusion

Our day was a perfect blend of exercise, breathtaking views, delicious local cuisine, and immersion in the relaxed way of life that characterizes the villages of Cinque Terre. Although our visit was short, the memories we created are lasting. The next adventure was already waiting for us: The next day we continued by train to Rome.

FAQ – From Lake Garda to the Cinque Terre

How much does the Interrail ticket cost in Italy?

The price of the Interrail ticket depends on the booked class and the number of days you want to travel by train. We paid 152,- Euro per person for 3 days and a first class ticket. In addition, there was 45,- Euro per person for the seat reservation.

Information about the Interrail ticket can be found on the Interrail website.

Is a seat reservation necessary?

Yes. We didn’t know that at first either, but the express trains always require a seat reservation. Excluding regional trains (e.g. from Lake Garda to Verona).

How much does parking cost in Rovereto?

The daily rate for the parking garage “Rovereto Centro” in Via Manzoni is 4,00 € (from 07.00 to 21.00), the night rate is 3,00 € (from 21.00 to 07.00). We paid a total of 32,- Euro for the 4 days.

How long does the train ride from Lake Garda to Cinque Terre take?

The train ride took us (with changes in Verona and Milan) about 6 hours. Riding the train was very relaxing.

Is it possible to go by car from Lake Garda to the Cinque Terre?

In principle, you can also go to the Cinque Terre by car. However, the places are difficult to reach by car, parking is possible only on the outskirts. We therefore recommend the stress-free journey by train.



When is the best time to travel from Lake Garda to Cinque Terre?

We were there in October and it was absolutely fine both from the temperatures and the number of tourists. We recommend not to visit Cinque Terre in high season (June, July, August). Then it is very hot there, which makes hiking unbearable. In addition, the places are then overcrowded.



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