How to get from Genoa to Cinque Terre?
According to e.g. Wikitravel, there should be "regular local trains with high frequency" from Genoa (Genova) but it doesn't give any details.
Which of the five villages can I get to by train from Genoa? (Apparently all of them have stations but some are only used by local trains within Cinque Terre.) Also, how often do the trains run, and what's the approximate price?
From Genova (Piazza Principe or Brignole), take a regional train with the destination of La Spezia Centrale. There are direct trains to 3 of the 5 villages, so depending on your preference, buy a ticket to one of:
- Monterosso (northernmost)
- Vernazza (2nd from north)
- Riomaggiore (southernmost)
But note that there are many more direct connections to Monterosso than to Vernazza and Riomaggiore.
To Monterosso travel time is 1h 45 min, and it costs 6.60€ (Nov 2012). Buy the ticket from the station; remember to stamp it on one of the Italian-flag-coloured devices near the platform before boarding the train. There's roughly one regional train per hour, from 04:53 until about 22:00.
Here's an example of the timetable for one such regional train:
There are also direct intercity trains to Monterosso every few hours that take 1h 15min and cost 9.50€.
For more details, try the Trenitalia online search (e.g. Genova Piazza Principe to Monterosso).
In my case it was slightly run-down urban 2-storey carriage with dirty windows. Not as charming as the villages, but gets you there quite smoothly. :)