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Plan Your Cinque Terre Hiking Tours

A Lovely Cinque Terre Walk

The pounding surf hits your ears before your eyes take in the breathtaking azure blue of the Ligurian Sea in Monterosso Al Mare, Cinque Terre, Italy. Cinque Terre, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is considered the alternative to the French Riviera.

The famous 5 cities of Cinque Terre are connected with hiking trails along the stunning coastline and are the perfect spot to get in a nice hike on your trip to Italy. Here is all you need to get in inspired and plan your Cinque Terre hiking experience. 

Cinque Terre Villages

Like a strand of pearls, the famous Cinque Terre villages are lined up along the Italian coast. You can get from village to village on foot, boat, car, bus, or train. It does get crowded there, especially in the summer, while in the winter, many smaller shops, restaurants, and inns close for the season. The best time to go is in the spring and fall. Here are the 5 Cinque Terre towns from North to South: 

  • Monterosso al Mare
  • Vernazza
  • Corniglia
  • Manarola
  • Riomaggiore

How to Get to Cinque Terre

You can reach the Cinque Terre (The Five Lands) by car or local train from Genoa and La Spezia. I prefer the independence of having a vehicle in the countryside rather than depending on public transportation. Convenient car rentals at Fiumicino International Airport (Leonardo da Vinci) just outside of Rome allow easy access to the Autostradale, the ring road around Rome, and avoids any nightmare driving in the city.

Cinque Terre Hiking Tours

If you don’t want to drive or take public transport, you can join one of these Day Trips to Cinque Terre from various cities in Italy. However, only some of them include hiking in Cinque Terre. It is still a great way to see and experience these stunning coastal villages. So pack your hiking gear and lets go!

>From La Spezia: Sailing Tour to La Palmaria and Cinque Terre (no hiking)

>La Spezia: Cinque Terre Guided Hiking Tour (hiking trip)

>Cinque Terre Day Tour from Milan (no hiking)

>Cinque Terre Small Group Tour from Pisa (no hiking)

>All-Inclusive Cinque Terre Day Tour from Florence (some hiking)

>From Florence: Cinque Terre Villages Full-Day Tour (some hiking)

 

Cinque terre street with cafes and restaurants on the sidewalk

Cinque Terre Hiking Trails

Cinque Terre Region

Milan is the closest major airport to the Cinque Terre as well as a major hub for train travel in northern Italy. However, Rome was my entry and jumping-off point on this Italy trip. Making a big circle (which is my routing habit), I explored central Italy, the west coast (Lucca, Pisa, and the Cinque Terre), then departed from Rome.

The Cinque Terre region is a national park, Parco Nazionale, and there is an entrance fee to hike the trails. With the Cinque Terre Card you can access the park, have guided tours, and add on train transportation.

The beach in Monterosso, touted as the only sandy beach in the Cinque Terre, it is quite pebbly and not soft sand. Not to worry, however. It is still one of the most beautiful places to rent a lounge chair and umbrella and gaze out on the water and relax.

Where to Stay in Cinque Terre

If you are slow traveling and want to get the most out of your time here, book two or three night’s lodging in Monterosso Al Mare. Spend two days hiking Cinque Terre, enjoy the coast and other trails in the area. Dine well in the evenings and live like the locals. Also don’t miss the stunning beaches. Take a look at our guide to the best Cinque Terre Beaches

If you are on a budget and pressed for time, you can start early in the morning, take the train to the last village, Riomaggiore, and work your way back by trail and train. It is possible to see all the villages in one long day.

Take a look here for the best prices and deals for hotels in Cinque Terre

Our Lady of Saviore

The Sanctuary of our Lady of Soviore has a church dating back to the ninth century. The monastery, located on the hill above Monterosso, provides an outstanding view of the sea. They accommodated me with budget lodging for two nights and meals. As a solo female traveler, I felt safe and secure, and I enjoyed the simple meals they served.

Pink old building with green window shutters

Cinque Terre Itinerary – Ristorante N Santuario Nostra Signora di Soviore. The window with open shutters belonged to the photographer (that would be me).

My Cinque Terre Hiking Tour

Morning in Italy

Lost time while waiting for the tardy morning bus into Monterosso set my full-day excursion timing awry. I decided to hop in my rental car and drive down to town. 

A steep and winding road leads down to the coast, so be sure to buckle up. There is a car park (it looks seedy so don’t leave anything of value in your car) right next to the gorgeous beach. It is convenient and easy to find.

 

Parking lot at entry to the village of Monterosso Al Mare

Parking lot at entry to the village of Monterosso Al Mare

Hiking from Riomaggiore to Corniglia

Because my day started later than I planned, and after traversing the coast trail from Riomaggiore to Corniglia, I took the train back from Corniglia to Monterosso Al Mare and missed Vernazza. That village is the most difficult to access by very steep switchback steps. A certain amount of fitness is required to make this hike in one day, and I regret not allowing more time for this destination.

I share these images with you so that you can see the area before the landslides (circa 2006) and know what to expect when the trail is opened again, hopefully, in 2021.

Best Cinque Terre Hiking Trails

There are 5 amazing, picturesque hiking trails in Cinque Terre. But before you head out, take a look at our Hiking Packing List that covers everything you need from a leisure walk to a hardcore hike.

As tourist numbers rise, they plan to establish a virtual waiting list that hikers have to sign up for. As of now, there are definite plans, but keep an eye out for this, if you are looking to go hiking in Cinque Terre in the next couple of years. 

Here are the top 5 Cinque Terry Hiking Trails:

Blue Path Trail:

Tragically, Blue Path Trail has been closed for a number of years due to a landslide. However, they plan to reopen the 7.5 mile (12km) path in 2021. Once it reopens, you can soak up the culture and heritage of the villages on your path. It starts in Monterosso Al Mare and ends in Riomaggiore. If along the way, you feel it gets too hard, feel free to hop off the trail and take the train back to town or plan an impromptu train tour. 

Riomaggiore Ring Path:

This ring around the rosy of a hike is 2.2 miles (3.5km). The beautiful cliffs you traverse along this path are breathtaking, but the monuments you encounter are just as mesmerizing. This trail is more of a leisure walk on a rocky road but nevertheless, beginner-friendly.

Via Dell’Amore:

Like Blue Path Trail, this lovely stroll is temporarily closed down because of the 2012 landslide. It’s currently under construction, however, about 200 meters of the path is open for you to bask in the romantic feel of this Italian trail. Once the path reopens in April of 2021, you can gaze lovingly at your partner or soak up the love inspired art work and monuments.

Corniglia:

Of this 3.4 mile (5.5km) trail, you can only explore about 300 meters of it. Corniglia is famed for being a fairly difficult hike so for those of you who live for a challenge, try this path after its reopening in 2021. Despite being difficult, the picturesque panoramic view is most definitely worth the hard work. 

From Vernazza to Monterosso:

This path is fairly dangerous and difficult due to its winding narrow paths. But like Corniglia, the views you experience is worth the heart racing hike. The 2 mile (3km) trek allows you to see almost ever village around and not to mention the gorgeous beaches that surround the area.

Monterosso Al Mare

Beach chairs and umbrellas at Monterosso Al Mare beach

Cinque Terre Hike – Beach chairs and umbrellas at Monterosso Al Mare beach. The photographer (that would be me) is standing on the breakwater in the Ligurian Sea.

  

The best beach in Cinque Terre is at Monterosso Al Mare. Crystal clear azure water washes up on the pebbly coast

Hiking Cinque Terre – The best beach in Cinque Terre is at Monterosso Al Mare. Crystal clear azure water washes up on the pebbly coast.

 

Map of Monterosso Al Mare

A Cinque Terre Hike – Detailed map on a street sign posted near the parking area of Monterosso Al Mare.

 

Vibrant red geraniums at a restaurant window greet visitors entering the village of Monterosso Al Mare.

Fun Cinque Terre Itinerary – Vibrant red geraniums at a restaurant window greet visitors entering the village of Monterosso Al Mare.

 

The spectacular coastline of the Ligurian Sea at Monterosso Al Mare on the Italian Riviera.

A Leisure Cinque Terre Walk – The spectacular coastline of the Ligurian Sea at Monterosso Al Mare on the Italian Riviera.

 

Train station at Monterosso Al Mare - pink building and train tracks

Cinque Terre Hike – Train station at Monterosso Al Mare.

 

Riomaggiore

Hill view at Riomaggiore train station - Part of Red building in front of lush green hill in the background

Hiking Cinque Terre – Hill view at Riomaggiore train station.

 

Construction on train tracks/tunnel

Cinque Terre Hike – Start your hike along the Cinque Terre coast trail from the Riomaggiore train station. Heading towards the tunnel, turn right on the path just before the tunnel entrance where you will find the hut to purchase your Cinque Terre Card. The gate to Via dell’Amore is on the right.

Coastal Hiking Trail Cinque Terre – Through the Front Door

Entrance to Riomaggiore hiking trail in Cinque Terre - people walking on coastal hiking trail

This is the “front door” to the coastal hiking trail in Cinque Terre accessed from Riomaggiore train station. Note the hearts overhead on the gate at Via dell’Amore – Lover’s Lane. This gate has been locked for several years due to a landslide which has not yet been repaired.

 

Rugged grey Cliffs at the start of the coastal hiking trail at Riomaggiore

Hiking Cinque Terre – Cliffs at the start of the coastal hiking trail at Riomaggiore.

  

graffiti on Via dell’Amore coastal trail

Famous and historical graffiti on Via dell’Amore coastal trail near Riomaggiore.

 

Covered Pedestrian walkway near Riomaggiore designed to make the trail safer and keep it open

Pedestrian Cinque Terre hiking trail near Riomaggiore designed to make the trail safer and keep it open.

 

Inside of covered Pedestrian hikeing trail in Cinque Terre

Pedestrian tunnel with historical graffiti between Riomaggiore and Manarola.

Love Cinque Terre Hikes

Statue representing two lovers in front of a view of the ocean

Iconic Lover’s Lane silhouette overlooking the Ligurian Sea. Closing a padlock on a bridge or railing with your lover signifies that your hearts are locked together forever. Beside Bar Centrale, you can buy on of these locks, if you’re so inclined.

 

Sign of Bar dell' Amore - Bar of Love

Bar of Love on coastal walkway Via dell’Amore. It used to be a gunpowder warehouse to supply construction of the train line in the 1920’s.

 

Bruscetta and beer on table overlooking the ocean

Cinque Terre Itinerary – Refreshments on Lover’s Lane – enough said!

Manarola

Colorful houses on the back side of the hills of Manarola

Colorful houses on the backside of the hills of Manarola.

 

Train tracks and Manarola on the coast of Cinque Terre

Cinque Terre Hike – Train tracks and Manarola on the coast of Cinque Terre.

 

Looking down on the train line from the village of Manarola

Looking down on the train line from the village of Manarola.

 

Direction signs on the coastal path in Cinque Terre

Direction signs on the coastal path in Cinque Terre

Day in the Life in Manarola

Pedestrian tunnel in Manarola

Pedestrian tunnel in Manarola.

 

Colorful houses on pedestrian street in Manarola

A normal day on the pedestrian street of Manarola. This is actually the connection of the coastal trail between Manarola and Corniglia.

 

Colorful Street in Manarola

Hiking Cinque Terre – Entering Manarola from the coastal trail.

 

Parco Nazionale coast trail between Manarola and Corniglia with houses emerging out of the stone.

Parco Nazionale coast trail between Manarola and Corniglia with houses emerging out of the stone.

 

Corniglia and Manarola direction signs on the coastal trail Cinque Terre

Cinque Terre Trail – Corniglia and Manarola direction signs on the coastal trail Cinque Terre.

 

People walking on the Pedestrian coastal trail into Manarola

Hiking Cinque Terre – Pedestrian coastal trail into Manarola.

 

A view of Manarola from the rocky cove to the terraced peak above.

A view of Manarola from the rocky cove to the terraced peak above.

 

view of Manarola perched on the cliffs depicting a lifestyle with colorful buildings, swimmers, and boats in the cove.

Cinque Terre Trail – A breathtaking view of Manarola perched on the cliffs depicting a lifestyle with colorful buildings, swimmers, and boats in the cove.

 

Unpaved and treacherous trail between Manarola and Corniglia

Cinque Terre Walk – Unpaved and treacherous trail between Manarola and Corniglia.

 

Lush green hill dropping into the blue ocean

The trail winds down the hillside through terraced fields in the Cinque Terre and made over hundreds of years by the residents who trekked from one town to another. In some places it is a mule track, as that is how they transport some of their goods even today.

 

Swinging Rope Bridge with green ropes on trail between Manarola and Corniglia

Cinque Terre Trail – Be careful crossing the bridge between Manarola and Corniglia.

 

Corniglia Cinque Terre

Pink building in front of Train tracks - Corniglia train station in the Cinque Terre.

Corniglia train station in the Cinque Terre.

A Lovely Cinque Terre Hiking Tour was written and photographed by Julie Diebolt Price, a professional photographer, freelance travel writer, and teacher of photography and business. Along with extensive travel in the United States, she has many European, Mexican, and Chinese stamps in her passport. She enjoys planning, researching, creating and sharing experiences.

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