Cinque Terre Hiking – Things to Know Before You Go
In Italian, a trail is called a sentiero. The plural form of that is sentiere. Cinque Terre has 48 total trails, but many of them are lesser known or rarely trekked. This is mostly due to the fact that the routes near the sea offer far superior views to the other trails. If you only have a limited amount of time on your vacation to dedicate to exploring, you won’t want to waste it on anything less than the best.
So what IS the best?
Cinque Terre Hiking Map of Top Trails
What’s the Best Hiking Trail in Cinque Terre?
The Blue Trail–also known as Sentiero Azzurro, Trail no. 2, Sentiero no. 2, or the Blue Path–is by far the most popular hike in Cinque Terre. It spans 11 kilometers (7 miles) and connects together all five villages of the Cinque Terre by a walking path that runs along the coast. Depending on your schedule, free time, and hiking experience, you can choose to complete just one segment of the trail or opt to hike the entire trail length. Certain sections of the Blue Trail, such as the Via dell’Amore path that runs between Riomaggiore and Manarola, are more popular than other parts of the same trail. To help you decide which routes you’d like to take, here’s a quick guide and summary of what to expect:
The Blue Trail | Trail #2
If you want to hike the entire trail, it’s best to start in Riomaggiore–the southernmost of Cinque Terre’s five villages. The full trek takes approximately five hours and concludes in Monterosso. The sea will remain on your left shoulder as you walk, and if you start in the morning, you will keep the sun on your back instead of in your face.
Riomaggiore to Manarola Coastal Walking Trail – The Via dell’Amore (Path of Love)
The Riomaggiore to Manarola trail–affectionately dubbed the Via dell’Amore or Path of Love–is by far the most popular footpath in Cinque Terre. It’s an incredibly short, easy, and beautiful hike, so it’s not hard to see why so many people adore it. The Path of Love requires just 20 minutes to traverse, and the total distance crossed doesn’t even reach a full mile. The trail is 0.57 miles, to be precise, or 920 meters long. The ground is flat, never changes altitude, and even offers disability access.
The most definitive attribute of the Via dell’Amore, however, is the way in which the entire pathway has been carved into the side of the cliff face. It winds its way around the rocky outcrop like a slithering serpent, and your eyes can’t help but be drawn to its striking presence. Perhaps that’s why it’s acquired a reputation for romance and luring lovers to revel in its embrace. The entrance to the Path of Love is marked by a fence full of love locks and charming restaurants.
Manarola to Corniglia Hike
The Manarola to Corniglia portion of the Sentiero Azzurro is 2.5 kilometers (1.6 miles) and takes approximately 45 minutes to traverse.
Corniglia to Vernazza Hike
The Corniglia to Vernazza coastal trail stretches 2 miles (3.2 km) and requires approximately an hour and a half to cross. Before you leave Vernazza, stop to dine at one of my favorite Cinque Terre restaurants–a seaside castle that dates to around 1000!
Vernazza to Monterosso al Mare Hike
This short and easy coastal walking trail is the second most popular hike in Cinque Terre–surpassed only by the Via dell’Amore. The Vernazza to Monterosso al Mare trail spans just 2.1 miles (3.3 km) and takes a little over an hour to trek. You’ll barely even notice the time pass by though because you’ll be focused on the gorgeous ocean views. The final approach into Monterosso–as you round a corner and the village comes into view, towering overhead–is the best part and will simply take your breath away. Monterosso is also known for having some of the best beaches in Cinque Terre!
If I Don’t Have Time To Hike the Full Blue Path, Which Segment Do You Recommend I Choose?
If you must choose just one segment of the Blue Trail, then I highly recommend the Vernazza – Monterosso al Mare hike–the final section of the coastal walk between the 5 villages. It’s a fairly easy trail and has incredibly pretty views. It also connects my two favorite villages–Vernazza and Monterosso–so you’ll get the chance to see them both. If you don’t have time to explore all five villages of the Cinque Terre, those are two that you really wouldn’t want to miss.
Other Popular Walking Trails & Hikes in Cinque Terre
Although the Blue Trail is the most popular, there are a few other walking trails and hiking paths that offer rewarding views. You may also like:
The High Path | Trail No. 1
This trail also runs parallel to the coast except it is set back much further away from the shore and obtains a much higher altitude. There’s an 800 meter elevation gain and loss across the 40 kilometer long trail, so this trek is not for beginner hikers. If a segment of the Blue Trail is closed at the time of your visit, however, you may consider hiking a short segment of this trail to get from one Cinque Terre village to the next. Like the Blue Trail, the High Path connects all five villages together and offers rewarding views of the Italian Riviera. The trail actually begins in Portovenere before reaching Riomaggiore and then moving along to the other Cinque Terre villages.
Cinque Terre National Park – Does It Cost to Hike in Cinque Terre?
The Cinque Terre is actually part of a national park–Parco Nazionale dell Cinque Terre–so you will need to pay a small fee to access the walking trails. You will need to purchase a Cinque Terre Card. Unfortunately, this pass cannot be bought in advance, but you can easily get one at any Blue Path trailhead as well as at Cinque Terre train stations, buses, or tourist information centers in any of the five villages.
Edit: You can now buy the Cinque Terre Card online! Get it here.
The Cinque Terre Card has two available options to suit your needs:
- The Cinque Terre Treno MS Card – This pass includes unlimited train rides along with access to hiking trails.
- The Carta Parco (or sometimes just referred to as The Cinque Terre Card or the Cinque Terre Trekking Card) – This pass provides entry to the trails but does not include any train service.
Both cards can be purchased as either one or two day passes. For current prices, you can check the park website here.
Trails frequently close due to weather, safety, and overpopulation concerns, so it’s best to check for trail closures before you head out to your preferred path. The official park website keeps an up-to-date list of the status of each trail, so you can rely on them to keep you informed.
When’s the Best Time to Hike Cinque Terre?
During high season, the trails can quickly become over-saturated, so for the best views, avoid the crowds and come sometime near April. The weather is nice, but the paths aren’t yet packed with people and tourists.
Dining on the Trail – Cinque Terre Restaurants with Amazing Views
How to Get to Cinque Terre
It’s easiest to reach Cinque Terre by train. (More info coming soon.)