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
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Coastal Hiking Trail Cinque Terre – Through the Front Door
Love Cinque Terre Hikes
Day in the Life in Manarola
Corniglia 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.