Cliffside village in Cinque Terre National Park in Italy

La Spezia Italy Cruise Port Guide to DIY Shore Excursion Options

La Spezia is a popular Mediterranean cruise port, and a perfect gateway to explore the surrounding region. While La Spezia itself is charming, the real draw is the stunning Cinque Terre National Park with its five UNESCO-listed cliffside villages, easily reached by train. If you have more time, consider a DIY day trip from La Spezia Cruise Port to Pisa, Florence, or Genoa.

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La Spezia Cruise Port: Is a DIY Excursion Easy? Depends…

My DIY Shore Excursion Rating for La Spezia depends on where you’re headed for your independent exploration. La Spezia is small and in my opinion, you would have a more enjoyable day going a bit further to the following; see what my DIY Shore Excursion Rating means here:

For the rest of this guide, I will cover the port essentials for La Spezia and specifically how to reach the main train station if you’d like to visit Cinque Terre, Pisa, Florence or Genoa. As always, if you have any accessibility needs, please do not rely on information on this site to determine available facilities & services to visit the port yourself.

Pro Tip: If you have a choice in cruise itineraries then:
– Choose La Spezia if you want to see Cinque Terre
– Choose Livorno if you want to visit Pisa or Florence, because it’s much closer than from La Spezia!
– Choose Genoa if you want to visit Portofino

La Spezia (Italy) Port Essentials: What You Need to Know

  • La Spezia Cruise Port Schedule: speziacarrara.cruises/en/cruise-calendar/
  • La Spezia Cruise Port Address: Largo Michele Fiorillo, 19124 La Spezia – see this marked on my La Spezia Cruise Port Map below ๐Ÿ‘‡

Getting from La Spezia Cruise Port to Cinque Terre, Pisa, Florence or Genoa

1. La Spezia Cruise Port to Train Station

  • How far is the train station? La Spezia train station is 2 kms (~1.2 miles) from La Spezia cruise port.
  • Best Option: Getting from La Spezia cruise port to La Spezia train station is best on a bus or taxi. There is a taxi rank just outside the cruise terminal.
  • Walk from Cruise Port to Train Station? I did do the walk and in heavy rain, too! I regret to inform you that there isn’t much to see in La Spezia town itself. If you want to do a bit of shopping, then by all means walk through the town centre on your way back!
  • Is there a port shuttle? If you mean a shuttle that takes you from the ship to the cruise terminal, then yes. It’s a 90 second ride though. I’ve read quite a few online reports that suggested that La Spezia port provides a free shuttle to the city centre. When I was last there in October 2023, there was definitely no shuttle bus to the town centre. So don’t rely on there being one. Your cruise line may offer a shuttle to the city centre though.

Here’s how to catch a bus to La Spezia train station and my La Spezia cruise port map – click on upper right corner for bigger map, use buttons on bottom left corner to zoom in/out:

  • Walk to Piazza Europa: Walk outside the cruise terminal gates and take a left on the main road. Then cross the road at the first set of lights. The cross-street is called “Piazza Europa”. Keep walking for 3-4 mins to the end of Piazza Europa. The bus stop, called “Comune” should be on your left. (See the route on Google Maps here).
  • Bus to Station: The “Comune” bus stop has a huge number of buses which stop there. The most convenient bus to the train station (Stazione La Spezia Centrale) is Line 3, Line L or Line S.
  • Tickets: Unfortunately no cash tickets on board, so purchase a ticket first for โ‚ฌ1.50.
    • If you’re using the Comune bus stop above, the bookstore “Liberia Paoline” and the bar “Veneto 25” at the bus stop sells them.
    • Return trip: On the way back, there is a bus ticket machine outside the train station for your return bus tickets back to the port.

If in doubt, check using Google Maps or use the La Spezia bus route journey planner. Enter the departure point as “Terminal Crociere della Spezia” and the arrival point as “Stazione La Spezia Centrale”.

2. Train from La Spezia to Cinque Terre National Park

Manarola fishing village at dusk with street lights visible, Cinque Terre National Park, Italy
Manarola, the oldest village in Cinque Terre. Photo by Bjorn Snelders on Unsplash

Visiting the Cinque Terre National Park requires you to purchase a Cinque Terre Card for the day. The 5 fishing villages of Cinque Terre are all within the National Park, so it is a must!

The “Cinque Terre Treno MS Card” is the train version of the card. It includes your admission to Cinque Terre National Park, your return train fare from La Spezia train station to any of the Cinque Terre villages plus unlimited train travel between the villages.

You can purchase the card online to skip the queue. I’m not a big fan of pre-booking too much stuff, just in case my cruise ship has to skip a port for whatever reason. It’s particularly tricky for Cinque Terre National Park, as the park may be closed depending on weather conditions.

Once the park is closed, the sale of the card will be suspended, too. So best to wait till your cruise ship has docked. You can purchase the card on your phone once your cruise ship has docked and you’re on your way to La Spezia train station.

Of the five villages, Riomaggiore is the largest. Manarola is the oldest while Corniglia is the only village with a viewpoint where you can see all five villages.

It is possible to see all five villages in one day as train services run between them frequently. Check train times on Trenitalia’s website.

Note that while it is possible to hike from one village to the next, some of the trails have been closed due to mud slides pending repair. So do take the time to check the status of the park before you go, if you plan to hike from one village to the next.

3. Train from La Spezia to Pisa, Florence or Genoa

Pisa Cathedral (Duomo di Pisa) and the Leaning Tower of Pisa next to each other with blue skies
Photo by alexey turenkov on Unsplash

Most cruise ships will aim to stay in La Spezia for at least 12 hours. As the major draw cards of Florence & Pisa are 2-3 hours away, a stop in La Spezia cruise port needs to accommodate passengers who want to travel to Florence & Pisa.

DIY day trips to Pisa & Florence are definitely possible if your cruise ship is docking at La Spezia cruise port for a full day. Train services from La Spezia to Pisa are more frequent than Florence. But as with all DIY port excursions, allow plenty of time to return to port, in case of train delays!

Train journey times will vary depending on which train you take:

  • Fast Frecciargento trains from La Spezia to Pisa takes as little as 40 minutes. Regional Regionale Veloce services take up to 90 minutes each way
  • Fast Frecciargento trains from La Spezia to Genoa takes just over an hour. Regional services can take up to 2 hours each way
  • Fast Frecciargento trains from La Spezia to Florence takes 90 minutes. Most other services require one change of trains and can take up to 2.5 hours

So if you would like to visit Pisa, Florence or Genoa during your port day at La Spezia, do weigh up travel times against sightseeing time. A group tour may be a good option, simply because the guide would have group access to popular attractions, reducing queuing time that otherwise couldn’t be avoided.

Decided to head to Pisa? Read my DIY Guide on Pisa – Beyond the Tower: Your Perfect DIY Excursion to Pisa or My DIY Genoa Guide including tips on a DIY Focaccia tasting tour!

During peak summer months, most attractions in Florence will also require pre-booked tickets to minimise queuing time (or simply to get in!). That’s why a group tour in Florence is an attractive option during the peak summer months of July and August.

Hope this DIY Port Guide for La Spezia has been useful to you! Wishing you a most wonderful day at port in La Spezia!

If you would like us to write a separate DIY guide to Cinque Terre, Pisa, Florence or Genoa, listing out the attractions and suggested itinerary, please drop us a line below!

Featured Image by Udo from Pixabay

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