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Hiking Italy's Cinque Terre

The city of Manarola.

The city of Manarola.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) lists Cinque Terre as one of 845 culturally significant sites in the world. With its natural and manmade beauty working together to create breathtaking views over the course of 7.5-miles, it is no wonder why this part of Italy is one of the most sought after tourist destinations in the region and country. Meeting three of the ten requirements to be a World Heritage Site, Cinque Terre’s long history can be seen carved within the landscape and the architectural stylings of the stone roofs in each town.

Cinque Terre is a remarkable cultural landscape created by human endeavor over a millennium in a rugged and dramatic natural environment. It represents the harmonious interaction between people and nature to produce a landscape of exceptional scenic quality.

UNESCO World Heritage Sites

There are several hiking options (48 different paths in all) for all experience levels around Cinque Terre. Some even combine hiking with train rides between more challenging ascents. For those looking for scenic views without breaking too much of a sweat, the Via Dell’Amore, or the Way of Love Trail, is a mere 0.6 mile long stroll along the coastline between the Riomaggiore and Manarola Railway Station. There’s even a graffiti “tunnel of love” to pass through along the way.


The most popular trail is The Blue Trail or Trail Number 2 which links all five lands together in one 7.5-mile hike. This can be accomplished in a variety of combinations from hiking the entire way to taking the train between towns with more challenging trail sections. Whatever your decision in between, we recommend starting in Riomaggiore and hiking to Monterosso so that you can end your hike with a dip in the ocean. The first leg of the hike between Monterosso and Vernazza is one of two challenging sections, but the views are more than worth the leg work. In Vernazza, you can pop into a cafe or grocery store and get a restorative pastry and espresso or picnic lunch. If the first portion of your hike was more than you were expecting, taking the train to Corniglia is a good way to rest up for the rest of your hike!

When you arrive, the train station is much higher than the trail, so you’ll “hike” down a winding set of stairs before heading to Vernazza. Some of the most spectacular views are on this portion of the hike. You’ll wind your way past vineyards that are hundreds of years old and be rewarded with scenic cliffside ocean views. While in Vernazza, why not celebrate your success a little early before heading to the final land in Cinque Terre with gelato. We recommend Gelateria Il Porticcolo, which we’ve heard is some of the best gelato in all of Italy! Finally, it’s on to Monterosso when the beach awaits! This final section of the trail is strenuous. For travelers that want a difficult hike, but don’t want to spend all day on the trail, we recommend hiking just this portion of The Blue Trail. You’ll definitely work up a sweat in the approximate two hours it will take you to get between towns, but just picture yourself here — we know you can do it!

The beach at Monterosso.

The beach at Monterosso.

Things to keep in mind:

1) Though you might be tempted to move all of your belongings with you day to day between towns, the train is the most efficient way to return to your belongings at the end of the day no matter which town you hike to in any direction.

2) The internet is often full of inaccurate information regarding trail closings, best to check with the locals when you arrive. Either way, there’s plenty of trail to walk no matter where you want to go.

3) Most trails are free, but the Blue Trail will cost you €7.50.

4) The Cinque Terre Card combines the cost of trains between the villages and a hiking day-pass for €16. A 2-day pass is €29.

5) You can hike year-round, but the best weather and most tourist-free times are March-May and September-October.

Finally, you’re in Italy and on vacation. Just pack your sunscreen, a swimsuit, some water, and a snack. That’s all you really need after all on the Italian coast.