One of the most beautiful things you can do in Italy is to hike in the Cinque Terre. Its hiking trails are some of the most stunning in Europe. If you love the outdoors or want to get in some exercise while enjoying the breathtaking coastline of Italy, this is the best way to do it.
You must be prepared to hike the Cinque Terre. Being well-informed will help you make the difference between a rewarding hike and a tiring trek. We’ve compiled a guide to help you get the most out of your Cinque Terre hike. We’re happy to help you if you don’t find what you’re looking for in the guide. Our guide to visiting the Cinque Terre during the off-season has more information.
Where to hike in Cinque Terre
The Cinque Terre’s most well-known network of hiking trails is Trail #2 or Sentiero Azzurro.
Trail #2, also known as the Sentiero Azzurro or “Blue Trail”, is the most popular way to explore the Cinque Terre by foot. It consists of four paths that run along the coast. The entire route can be completed in six hours if you stop for short breaks. However, many hikers prefer to walk it slowly and enjoy the towns as they go.
You can start in either direction (Monterosso heading south or Riomaggiore going north), Here’s a tip. Start at Riomaggiore where the paths are more paved and easier, then work your way up to the more difficult trails. You can stop whenever you want, and if necessary, head to the nearest station. Here’s a guide for using the Cinque Terre train.
Remember that Trail #2 admission requires the purchase of the Cinque Terre Card (5-7 Euro/day trail access and museum access; 10 Euro/day trail, museum, and unlimited train access).
The Via dell’Amore, from Riomaggiore to Manarola
It doesn’t matter how many trails have you walked, it’s hard to not fall in love with the Cinque Terre’s “Lover’s Lane”. This section of Trail #2 is wide, flat, and paved. It’s also famous for its love tunnel and kissing statue. It takes 40 minutes to walk.
Manarola to Corniglia
The section between Manarola and Corniglia is a relatively easy one, with stunning gardens and breathtaking sea views. It takes approximately 1.2 miles (2 km) to walk.
From Corniglia to Vernazza
Here is where things get more difficult! The trail ascends to the highest point in the Cinque Terre and back down, so be prepared for some climbing and descending. The trail is classified as medium difficulty. However, the stone steps are steep and uneven, and they can be difficult to maintain. For walkers who need extra assistance on steep inclines, a trekking pole or a walking stick is recommended for this section.
Although it is more strenuous physically, the views are breathtaking. Along the route, you’ll find exotic plants and flowers as well as lush olive groves. It takes approximately 2 miles (4 km) to walk.
Vernazza to Monterosso
This section is the longest and most difficult hike on Trail #2. It has many stairs and narrow passages. This section is another where hikers will often use trekking sticks or walking sticks. This is also one of the most beautiful views. The view of all five Cinque Terre villages is one of its highlights. It takes approximately 1.8 miles (3km) to walk.
Trails Off The Beaten Path
Trail #2 is the most popular hiking trail in Cinque Terre, but it’s not the only one. There are many trails that can be accessed from the back roads, which will allow you to get away from the crowds.
The Trail of Sanctuaries
For a taste of Cinque Terre’s history, follow paths #3, 6, 7 and 8 to visit the area’s famous sanctuaries: Nostra Signora della Salute, Nostra Signora delle Grazie, Nostra Signora di Montenero, Nostra Signora di Reggio and Nostra Signora di Soviore. These paths are harder than #2 so be ready! Bonus: They are also free! ).
Are you feeling adventurous? For more challenging hikes along the mountains, head inland! The most remote and least visited trails are the 4, 6, 9, and 10. These trails are not recommended for novice hikers. You will not find many places to purchase water or provisions on these trails so make sure you have plenty of fluids.
How to prepare for hiking in Cinque Terre
Except for Trail #2’s most easy paths, the Cinque Terre trails aren’t meant to be walked. They are designed for hiking. Dress appropriately and be prepared!
This means that you must wear the right shoes. While comfortable sneakers are sufficient for trail #2, most other trails require hiking boots to provide ankle support and traction. High heels are not recommended and flip flops are not an option.
You should bring a bag or a backpack with your essentials.
Hydration is essential. It will be extremely hot if you travel in summer. Both heatstroke and sunburn are common conditions in the Cinque Terre hiking trails. Insider tip: Avoid buying drinks in towns like the Cinque Terre by purchasing water and snacks beforehand.
Layers of breathable clothing are a must, especially in winter and fall. In the spring and summer, remember to wear sunscreen, hats, sunglasses.
You must also remember your swimsuit (in the summer and spring) and your camera. The perfect reward for a hike is a swim in the Ligurian Sea. It’s a beautiful place to relax and enjoy the stunning views from the trail.
When is the best time to hike Cinque Terre
It is best to hike the Cinque Terre between April and October, September, September, or October. It’s also more comfortable because the temperatures are lower. These months attract fewer tourists. During peak summer, narrower sections on trail #2 can become extremely crowded.
To avoid the scorching heat of the midday, plan your trip for summer.
Winter is more pleasant and less crowded, but heavy rains can cause landslides or unsafe hiking conditions. In 2013/2014, large sections of the trails were closed due to rock slides and trail wash-outs caused by heavy rains. If you are planning a winter vacation, make sure you check the forecast. The Cinque Terre National Park website has the most up-to-date information about trail closures and a lot of helpful links.
You want to hike in Italy? You should check out our posts about trekking through Italy, and Italy’s best outdoor adventures… Beyond the Cinque Terre!