Twenty tears ago, the Cinque Terre was a largely undiscovered region known to only a few savvy travelers. But today, hundreds of thousands come each year to hike the trails, drink the wine, and enjoy the spectacular scenery.
So much so that there’s a considerable amount of wear on the trails. Cinque Terre National Park, which was created in 1999, is responsible for maintaining the trails. To fund their upkeep, they created the Cinque Terre Card.
There are three types of cards available: Basic, Train, and Ferry. And they include transportation, admission to attractions, and access to the hiking paths. They can be purchased at the National Park Information Centers near the stain stations, and at the train stations in Levanto and La Spezia. The cost ranges from 5.40 to 50 euros, depending on inclusions and duration.
The Basic card covers use of the shuttle buses that run from the parking lots to town and elevators at Riomaggiore and Manarola train stations; hiking on the Number 2 Blue Trail; entrance to the anchovy factory in Monterosso al Mare, the Virtual Aquarium in Monterosso, museums in Levanto, Manarola, and Riomaggiore; and discounts in the Park shop.
The Train card includes all the features of the Basic card plus unlimited train rides on the La Spezia – Levanto line. This is really convenient because you can hike one way and the return by train. The train runs up and down the Cinque Terre pretty frequently.
The Basic and Train cards are valid for one, two, three, or seven days.
Another great option is to hike and then take a ferry back, or vice versa. The Ferry card includes the ferries in the protected marine area and train transportation so you have either option. The ferries stop in all the Cinque Terre towns except Corniglia. The ferry card is available for one day only.
Since the seas are sometimes rough, it’s nice to have the train as a fall-back in case the ferries aren’t running. Manarola, especially, is sometimes inaccessible.
The card comes with a map of the park that describes the hikes and the time it takes to complete them, plus train and ferry schedules.
When you get your card, you’ll need to fill in your name and nationality. And you’ll need to validate it in the yellow machine at the train station or check point.
If you don’t plan to do a lot of hiking, there are some walks you can do for free. And there’s no change for the upper (Number 1) hiking trail.
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Cinque Terre views Image Flickr: raffaelesergi1977