If you are planning to visit the Cinque Terre either at the beginning or the end of your trip to Italy, flying into (or out of) one of the nearby international airports can save you lots of travel time and hassle.
I used to fly in and out of Italy’s largest hubs (Rome and Milan) because ticket prices were always lower. However, once I factored in travel expenses (not only getting to the airport but oftentimes a nearby hotel for early departures or late arrivals) I soon realized it made more sense to pay a little more for my ticket to use the closer airports. Plus, there’s the convenience factor—these airports, although international, are small and super easy to navigate.
Here are my top choices for airports, starting with my favorite:
PISA GALILEO GALILEI INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT (PSA)
Aeroporto di Pisa
This is my top choice airport as it’s connected directly to the railway line and it couldn’t be simpler to reach (for tickets on the TrenItalia website or app enter Pisa Fermata Aeroporto as your station of choice). And did I mention that from the Cinque Terre it takes as little as 1 hour and 20 minutes to reach the airport? Of course, it all depends on the trains you choose—some will take 2 hours—but that’s directly to the airport with no other means of transport necessary.
GENOA CRISTOFORO COLOMBO INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT (GOA)
Aeroporto di Genova
Genoa is also very close to the Cinque Terre (as little as 1 hour and 9 minutes away by train), but this airport slips to my second choice because the airport is not connected directly to the railway line. This means you’ll need to take a shuttle bus (called Volabus) from the airport to either of Genoa’s main train stations: Genova Piazza Principe or Genova Brignole. The bus ride from the airport to the train station will take approximately 30 minutes. Check the train schedule in advance (either via the TrenItalia app or the TrenItalia website) so you know which of the two stations you should head to.
FLORENCE INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT (FLR)
Aeroporto di Firenze-Peretola (formerly Amerigo Vespucci)
This is my third choice airport to fly in and out of. Florence is further from the Cinque Terre (approximately 2 1/2 hours by train) and you’ll have to take a twenty-minute shuttle bus (called Volainbus) or a twenty-minute tram ride (on the T2 line) to transfer from the airport to the Firenze Santa Maria Novella train station (Florence’s principal station). Oftentimes visitors already have Florence on their travel itinerary so it can make sense to fly in or out of this airport.
If you’re not keen on traveling by train to or from the airport, you can opt for hiring a N.C.C. (that’s short for noleggio con conducente, which is a hired car with driver). To explain to people what these are, I liken them to the black car limousines in NYC (they are usually nicer than a taxi and you have to call or arrange for them in advance, they won’t be at the taxi stands). While obviously more expensive, this is the stress-free way to travel (there’s something to be said about someone standing at the arrivals gate with a board with your name on it). Heads up: If you are 4-6 people oftentimes the price won’t be a whole lot more than what you would spend on the train.
TIP: If you’re staying in Riomaggiore or Manarola I recommend booking 5Terre Transfer as they can drive down into the villages unlike any other N.C.C. (be sure to let them know you were referred by me to get the best rates). Also, if you’re flying into Pisa or Florence they can work in a stop at the Leaning Tower along the way.
I hope you find these practical tips helpful!
P.S. Isn’t my graphic designer awesome? He pulled this map of Italian airports out of his hat for me today. Props to 5Service! Always proud to #supportlocal