The Cinque Terre, the five villages on the Ligurian coast in western Italy, is a hikers paradise. The five villages of the Cinque Terre are linked together by a series of hiking trails all. The main trails range from very easy to very difficult. Additional hiking trails veer off from the main trails wandering up steep hills and through vineyards. The villages, trails and beaches are all beautiful, not just a hikers paradise but a photographers as well.
All of the main trails offer spectacular views of the Mediterranean Sea. With the exception of the trail linking Vernazza and Corneglia which leads away from the water the paths take you along cliffs high above the Sea.On a sunny day the colors are mesmerizing
On the trail from Monterossa al Mare to Vernazza you will hike through vineyards, over stone walls and along the Mediterranean Sea. The trails that run from Monterossa to Vernazza and Vernazza to Corniglia are the most difficult of the four trails. You will need a light weight hiking boot or hiking tennis shoe to make the trip comfortably. There are few handrails and the trail can be narrow in places so you need to bring a walking stick if you have balance problems. If you do not feel that you can walk the whole trail you can walk part of it and enjoy the view. You may encounter bees, bugs and birds so be prepared with an antihistamine (like Benadryl), bug spray and your binoculars.
The trail between Corniglia and Manarola is an easy dirt trail that leads you along the sea. You will have a spectacular view of the Ligurian coast.
The trail between Manarola and Riomaggiore is not a trail at all but a wide cobblestone walkway known as the Via dell’Amore (Love’s Way). There are benches along the path where you can sit and enjoy the view. It is here that you will often see women hiking in heels, even though signs forbid it.
There are places along all the trails where you can take a break and enjoy a picnic lunch. On the more difficult paths you will be sitting on the ground or a low wall, on the easier paths there are either benches or picnic tables. There is a small restaurant located on the main path from Riomaggiore to Corniglia.
Rain is a common occurrance so bring a lightweight rain jacket.
Regardless of which trails you choose to walk don’t forget your camera! The Cinque Terre has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage site and it is an Italian National Park so if you visit the Cinque Terre, please respect the environment and stay on the marked trails.
About the trails of the Cinque Terre:
Monterosso al Mare to Vernazza: This is a difficult trail that is 2.5 miles (4km) with many up’s and down’s. It will take most people between 1.5 and 2 hours depending on how many stops you make to admire the view.
Vernazza to Corniglia: This is the most difficult of the four trails and has the least number of ocean views. It will take most people about 2 hours to hike this 2.5 mile (4 km) trail. The terrain is uneven in places and you will have to be able to hike up and down hills.
Corniglia to Manarola: This is an easy 45 minutes walk and you have an ocean view for the entire walk. The trail is less than 2 miles (3km).
Manarola to Riomaggiore: This .5 mile trail (.6 km) is an easy stroll on a paved walkway. It will take about 30 minutes to walk the path.