Well, it is one of the most frequent questions you make to me. And the answer is not so simple … cause it depends on what you are going to do Liguria. Here below my tips for each mean of transport:
- Go to the seaside – especially when you want to explore the most beautiful beaches in Liguria, swim and get tan. The reason why the train is a better mean of transport to do that is very simple: PARKING PLACES. They are never enough for all the people who want to get on the seaside in high season, you need always much time to find a place where to park your car and then when you find it, you always spend a fortune! Travelling by train you don’t have all these problems 🙂 Another reason is TRAFFIC. In high season, the motorways and state roads close to the most popular sea hamlets are always congested! So if you arrive by car here, you have to be prepared that sometimes you will spend even hours in long lines.
- Visit Cinque Terre – DEFINITELY by train (or by ferry)! Even if during the high season they are both very crowded but it is still the more comfortable way of visiting Cinque Terre. You should know, that the road that connects 5 villages is very narrow, full of bends and leads through forests (so no panoramic views) and hillsides. It means also that even if the villages are very close one from another (max distance is 3 km) if you move by car it will take about 45 minutes to move from one to another village. What is more, in Cinque Terre villages is quite difficult to find a parking place. Even if they have parking places out of the hamlet’s centre but in high season they are always full and they cost really much.
- Visit Genoa – the city has 26 railway stations and they are all located close to all tourists attractions that are worth to be visited. On the other hand, if you are going to arrive in Genoa by car you should be prepared for chaotic, Italian traffic and expensive, always full parking places. In any case, if you arrive by car you will spend much of your time in the city traffic and by searching a parking place. Arriving by train, you don’t have such problems.
- Visit Portofino & San Fruttuoso – I want to notice that neither Portofino nor San Fruttuoso has railway station 😉 The closest is located in Santa Margherita Ligure. However, the train remains the most comfortable way to reach them. First, because in Portofino there is only one parking place, that during the high season is constantly full and costs 5,50€/h. Second, the only way to get San Fruttuoso via land is a mountain trail – so the car is absolutely useless to get there.
- Visit Liguria in high season, from June to September – actually for the same reasons I have mentioned above. Because of the high flow of the tourists, there is traffic, lines and crowds around popular, touristic places. You always spend much time for finding a parking place and then spend much money to have it at all. Travelling by train you don’t have all those worries.
- You are on a budget – a train ticket costs much less than motorway toll + car fuel + parking ticket.
- You wanna move quickly between different places in RIVERA – the train is the FASTEST way to move between the places on the Ligurian Riviera. For sure if you wanna move through Cinque Terre villages but also when you wanna visit other, beautiful places, like Levanto, Sestri Levante, Chiavari, Santa Margherita Ligure, Portofino, Camogli, Cogoleto, Arenzano, Savona, Noli, Finale Ligure, Albenga, Cervo, Laigueglia, Sanremo.
- Visit hinterland – definitely by car! The small, mountain hamlets are connected with the rest of the world with narrow roads and only local buses arrive there. What is more, with all the bus stops they have to do, the trips are often endless and the buses are not so frequent so you’d depend on a local bus schedule. Travelling by car, you are free and you move much faster.
- Off the beaten path – maybe you are not going to visit the most famous places in Liguria, but you prefer authentic, unknown places far away from crowds of tourists? In fact, it is very easy 🙂 It is enough to move away from the seaside and you will find yourself in totally different reality 😉 However, for visiting such places in a comfortable way, you need a car.
- In low season – it means from October to May – and even if you are going to stay in Riviera. In this case, using a car is the best way to visit the region. You won’t have problems with finding a parking place, often they are even for free, the traffic is much, much lower (apart from the days of bank holidays) and you can go wherever you want and you don’t depend on any schedule.
- Trekking – do trekking in Liguria is almost impossible without a car. With your car, you can arrive at the entrance to the mountain trail. You also don’t depend on bus schedules, so you can be carefree and tranquil that you will back to your hotel without problems 😉 With the train, it is possible but much less comfortable … Maybe apart from the trails of Cinque Terre that are easy to be reached from the train stations.
- You are interested in visiting archaeological sites – they are often located quite far away from the railway stations and simply it is easier to reach them by car 😉
- You like visiting without a strict schedule – if you are not in a hurry and you wanna taste slowly all visited places.
- Culinary trip – olive/grape harvest – the majority of olive groves and vineyards are in the countryside, far away from any mean of transport. That’s why if you are going to take a part of such activities, you definitely need a car.
I hope that this list can help you in making right choices 🙂
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