You may or may not know that arrival by car to the Cinque Terre can be a bit hairy and anything but convenient. The roads are very narrow and winding, parking is extremely limited (due to the unique geography) and also quite expensive, and the historical centers of the villages are pedestrian-only.
My advice? Ditch the car before hitting up the Cinque Terre. If that’s not feasible, you can do the next best thing and park it at the brand new underground parking garage at the La Spezia Centrale train station for €18 per day (or €8 for a half-day). Keep in mind that rates might be higher during peak months like July and August. You’ll definitely want to reserve your parking space online in advance (as when it’s busy the garage fills up). Keep in mind that you’ll have to “check-out” of the parking garage by noon on your day of departure (if you go beyond this time then you’ll be charged for an extra half-day). This place is pretty avant-garde for these parts with an elevator that will take you directly to the station, restrooms, 64 closed-circuit cameras to monitor the garage, PIN code access (to both the restrooms and the garage in nocturnal hours) and full automation. Of course, you’ll still want to follow common sense rules of thumb like locking things up and not leaving valuables in sight.
After parking you can hop on the Cinque Terre Express train to the Cinque Terre. To reach the Cinque Terre villages from the La Spezia Centrale train station, travel time is as little as…
- Riomaggiore: 7 minutes
- Manarola: 10 minutes
- Corniglia: 14 minutes
- Vernazza: 18 minutes
- Monterosso: 22 minutes
You can check train times and schedules here. Enter the station that you’d like to leave from (in this case, La Spezia Centrale) and the name of the station where you’d like to arrive… et voilà! You can purchase tickets in advance on the aforementioned website (it’s the official TrenItalia website) or you can wait and purchase them in person at the station (but know that the lineups can be long!).
Unable to book a parking space and wanting a Plan B option in case the garage is full when you turn up? Read my blog post detailing parking for free at the La Spezia Migliarina station here. If you’re not a fan of streetside parking, check out my post on two other public payment parking garages in La Spezia.
What happens if I want to book a space but the website says none are available?
Keep in mind that only a limited number of parking spaces can be reserved in advance and those are on the -2 level of the garage (which is the lower level and has its point of access from via Fiume). The remaining spaces at the -2 level and all of the spaces on the -1 level of the garage (with entrance at via Paleocapa) will be available on a first come, first served basis. There are automated signs at the entrance to both levels of the garage showing precisely how many spaces are available.
The website is asking me for the license plate number of the car but I’ll be using a rental car and I don’t know that info. Now what?
No worries! Simply enter RENTALCAR (or all zeroes) in the space provided.
Ok, I’ve booked a space. Now what will I need to do when I get there?
Proceed to the car park (the -2 level with access from via Fiume). Pull up to the gate and enter the code number you received when you booked your space. After you’ve entered your code the machine will print a ticket. Take this ticket and the gate will raise to allow you to enter the garage. It’s really important that you don’t lose your ticket as you’ll need it to exit (simply insert it into the ticket machine as you leave) and also to use the bathrooms or enter the garage at night. If you’ve overstayed the amount of time you prepaid for, you’ll need to insert your ticket at the payment machine and pay the difference before exiting.
I’m having technical issues with the site. What can I do?
Send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org Explain what’s going on and they’ll be able to fix the problem through their back office.