Jul 10th, 2014, 06:05 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Apr 2008
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Arriving in Portofino for a day, on a cruise.
Is Cinque Terre doable for the day, and any recommendations how to get there and back to the ship the same day?
barry3040 is offline  
Jul 10th, 2014, 06:12 AM
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It depends on what time you arrive and what time you depart and whether your cruise company is offering trips to CT. To do it yourself, you can catch a train from S Margherita (next to Portofino). there's a bus from Portofino that will take you into SML.

Purely from a personal point of view, I wouldn't attempt to do this in a day. CT is IMO overrated and majors on walking the trails between the villages. You certainly couldn't see it all in a day trip and although the villages are pretty enough, there are many others in Italy equally as nice.
Rubicund is offline  
Jul 10th, 2014, 07:50 AM
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I think the 5 Terre villages or really towns are exceptional in themselves, hiking between them or not and I have day tripped to them from Santa Margherita Ligure - the town rubicund talks about getting a train from - right by Portofino.

These string of five Lands or towns have been kep pristine clean from modern development so they exude an old-world atmosphere than most other similar sized towns in Italy IME do not - that said they can be very very crowded during the tourist season so that this ancient ambiance is lost - so when are you going - if between July and early September the tiny villages may be inundated by tourists - just like Portofino, one of the biggest tourist mob scenes I have ever been to.

But outside of those times the 5 Terre towns can be a real joy and on a day trip you can easily visit the 4 seaside towns by trains that trundle between them constantly or in season by boats that serve them - if you have time and energy do a hike between a couple of them.

If a vigorous walker you can do like I did and hike the whole seven miles between the 5 (though currently I think one section may be closed because of erosion of something).

Trains involved are mainly regional trains where with a ticket you just hop on any train - avoid the IC trains that require seat reservations before boarding and cost more are are marginally faster on that route. For lots of good stuff on Italian trains and using them check out these IMO superb sources: www.seat61.com; www.ricksteves.com and www.budgeteuropetravel - the latter two have some info on the Cinque Terre itself.
PalenQ is online now  
Jul 10th, 2014, 08:29 AM
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If you opt to skip the CT, travel a short distance to beautiful Santa Margherita Ligure, just down the road a short way from Portovenere.
HappyTrvlr is online now  
Jul 10th, 2014, 08:36 AM
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I believe you mean Portofino ot Portovenere.
bobthenavigator is offline  
Jul 10th, 2014, 11:28 AM
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I stayed in Santa Margherita Ligure and loved it - a good mix of tourism and a real town - watch the day's fish catch still being unloaded every afternoon - quite a show!
PalenQ is online now  
Jul 10th, 2014, 12:02 PM
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From Portofino, the hike out to the lighthouse is as fine and beautiful and challenging (because of the uphill climb) as any hike you might take in the CT.

I would spend the day visiting SML, San Fruttuoso, and hiking above Portofino. Portofino has a lovely small cathedral on the way up the hill. Nice yachts to see in SML, too.
tuscanlifeedit is offline  
Jul 10th, 2014, 12:34 PM
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Another vote for SML! I too thought CT was overrated.
Masterphil is offline  
Jul 10th, 2014, 12:55 PM
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We have stayed in Camolgi 3 times. Easy to get to the CT or Portofino.

Firt time to the CT we only did one town.

Last time with family [12] we walked four towms.

Took the boat from the first to the fourth town.

Eight made the whole four towns. The others took the train back.

Did it in one day and we drove from Lucca
iris1745 is online now  
Jul 10th, 2014, 03:55 PM
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But iris, were you on a timetable connected with a ship?
tuscanlifeedit is offline  
Jul 11th, 2014, 08:18 AM
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I think the time of year you travel to CT makes a huge difference as to just how attractive or repulsive you may find it - the tiny towns can be inundated with tourists - literally elbow to elbow at times it seems and this takes any luster or romance away from them.

I've been there during peak season and in January when no one was there but locals - I loved January much better than summer though I did not hike then.
PalenQ is online now  
Jul 11th, 2014, 11:45 AM
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Tuscan; You are right. No ship.

We don't know how much time Barry has, so the timetable is needed. But they are only a short distance to CT from the ship.

While I don't know if all the trails are now open, walking the four towns was about 6 miles. With half a day and a couple of stops for food or drink, it was so easy.

Being there twice in the summer, we found it busy, but certainly not overwhelming.

It's all in one's comfort level and remember, we are the tourists. Works for US.
iris1745 is online now  
Jul 11th, 2014, 12:58 PM
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I agree with tuscan, "spend the day visiting SML, San Fruttuoso, and hiking above Portofino"

We stayed three nights in SML. We day-tripped to Portofino, walked around, hiked up the hill for the views, and had lunch (very expensive town). Then we took a boat to San Fruttuoso and looked around there for an hour or so. It's very pleasant.

CT is nice, but I think you'd be too stressed to get there and back in time.
Tabernash2 is offline  
Jul 11th, 2014, 01:33 PM
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In some ways, it is much more difficult to hike in the Portofino national park or around Santa Margherita Ligure because the trails are not well marked and the hikes between towns are extremely long.

By contrast, it is easy to get to the train statin in Santa Margherita Ligure from wherever the ship docks and then take the 40 minute train ride to le Cinque Terre , where everything is well laid out for English speaking tourists and there is loads of info on the web.

There are nice options other than le Cinque Terre along the Riviera, but they need to be mapped out and people need to be aware of public transportation schedules unless they are prepared to dump a huge amount on taxi fares trying to get back to the ship. It is easy to miss one of the boats leaving San Fruttuoso and not have another for a long time, or to misjudge the difficulty of a hike around Portofino.
sandralist is offline  
Jul 12th, 2014, 08:21 AM
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I agree with the others saying to skip the CT on this go around. CT is nice, but with the limited time-frame...for me it would not be worth it.
Portofino is lovely. And Santa Margherita right next door is an enjoyable town to walk around and explore.
Whatever you decide, enjoy your trip!

chucktown_dobbs is offline  
Jul 12th, 2014, 09:24 AM
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Portofino is lovely> depends on the time of year - in season when I was there - a Spetember week day Portofino was just about the most jammed elbow to elbow mob scene I have ever seen - now if during off-season the town may be very lovely and no doubt is with tourist mobs in this small 'fishing' town that now angles mostly for tourist bucks - in the busy seasons to me it just wan't worth it hassle.

SMLigure however was - a place like others I really loved - a nice mix of tourism and a real town with a real fishing industry and market.
PalenQ is online now  
Jul 12th, 2014, 10:59 AM
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The hike from the town of Portofino to the lighthouse is extremely well marked. I wouldn't suggest any of the overland hikes as they are indeed lengthy and perhaps not well marked. I suggested the lighthouse walk because it is popular and the views are beautiful. Stops at a villa and the church on the way up are interesting and pleasant.

Boats to San Fruttuoso run on a schedule, as do boats along the CT coast. You can always get screwed up, I suppose.

But really do it the way you like. If you have your heart set on the CT, fulfill your dream.
tuscanlifeedit is offline  
Jul 12th, 2014, 01:01 PM
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>>Boats to San Fruttuoso run on a schedule, as do boats along the CT coast. <<


There is simply no way in or out of San Fruttuoso except by boat unless you are prepared to hike 2 or 3 hours to the nearest towns. Truthfully, the condition of the seas for ferry boats along that stretch of coastline is totally unpredictable. In the space of an hour or two, a perfectly sunny, windless day can turn to thunderstorms. In thunderstorms or agitated seas, the small ferry boats cannot dock in the cove. It is too dangerous for passengers.
sandralist is offline  

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