Hiking the Cinque Terre
The Cinque Terre trails are some of the most beautiful I’ve walked and at times the scenery is literally breathtaking. Each one is different with its own level of loveliness. Here is a map of the walks, each one is numbered.
You can buy a Cinque Terre card for €16 which covers all hikes, train travel, buses and free entry to all toilets at railway stations! A card just for the hikes is €7.50. They are valid until midnight on the day of purchase. 2 and 3 day cards are also available.
The start of the walks is clearly signposted and along the trails are markings on posts or on the rock in red and white with the walk number. There are also signposts at all junctions.
Please be aware that at present the Corniglia – Manorola and Manorola – Riomaggiore sections of the trail are closed due to landslides and won’t re-open until April 2022.
Hiking the Cinque Terre Trails – Monterosso to Levanto
So I’ve based myself in Monterosso which I think is the ideal village for hiking the Cinque Terre trails. Today I walked the Monterosso to Levanto section. There is a choice of 2 routes, I opted for the longer, more scenic route which takes around two and a half hours. On the map it is walk No. 10. You can walk it either direction and catch the train back. The train takes 5 minutes and there are 38 a day.
A Steep Climb
The first part is a relatively steep climb, lots of ups for almost an hour. I’m extremely fit but my heart was racing by the time I reached the top. The path is very easy to find and is signposted. There are some quite steep steps in places, especially if you have little legs like me.
I didn’t see another person for the first hour. My only company was the chorus of cicadas, a few little lizards and some very beautiful butterflies. It was very calm and tranquil.
Through the Forest
Part of the walk is under a canopy of trees or through the forest, other sections are exposed. Despite it being July, the heat was not unbearable. I think this was a combination of the height, a slight coastal breeze and the cooling forest. I would recommend an early start, I wouldn’t want to do it in the afternoon heat. The contrast between coast and forest was lovely.
Views of Monterosso and Levanto
It is a very beautiful walk with lovely panoramic views of Monterosso and Levanto. The colours were so vibrant. Everywhere there were flowers in beautiful tones of pinks, reds and purples, providing more splashes of colour.
Some parts of the trail are on natural stone paths. Some are a little steep and I imagine if it is wet, they could get quite slippery. Suitable, sturdy shoes are needed for this trek, along with plenty of water and a hat.
The views are spectacular!
Hiking the Cinque Terre Trails – Monterosso to Vernazza
This section takes around one and a half hours and is a very beautiful walk. Head out of Monterosso taking the coastal road up towards the Hotel Porto Roca. The footpath is marked in the stone in red and white and is also signposted. There are lovely views back across Monterosso.
As with most of the walks the next section has many steps, although they are not as steep as the Montorosso to Levanto section. Your heart will be racing by the time you get to the tip. There are a few distractions along the way. I was entertained by an accordion player at one stage.
Reaching the Top of the Stairs
When you finally reach the top of the stairs the path levels out. There are some beautiful views along the coastline, a very dramatic backdrop for the walk. You will also pass agricultural properties and small vineyards.
In parts the path is quite narrow with no guard rails. However it was nowhere near as bad as I envisaged from reading other reviews and this comes from someone who is not good with heights. The lack of people on the trail obviously helped. Some of the walk is shaded with trees, streams and a little stone bridge. Other sections are exposed to the sun.
Views of Vernazza
As Vernazza comes into sight the views become breathtakingly beautiful. I had to smile at 2 young Italian teenagers who were doing a TikTok challenge on the trail. What a brilliant backdrop for it, I felt like doing a little dance myself!
Again there were very few walkers and I felt so privileged to be able to enjoy the peace, tranquility and beauty, lost in my own thoughts. I had a big smile on my face for the whole duration.
Vernazza is a lovely little place to while away a couple of hours. There is a lovely little harbour with brightly coloured boats and a stone church. It is also possible to climb the steps to the Castello. Although if you have done the walk you have probably had enough of steps and had better views of Vernazza. I did it anyway.
Rather than take the train back today, I caught the boat, which is a small ferry.
Hiking the Cinque Terre Trails – Riomaggiore to Telegrafo
The trek for this begins right at the top of the town past the police station and just past the car parking. It is no. 3 on the map. The hike up to Telegrafo takes approximately 2 hours. It is a circular walk, there is an alternative, quicker return to Riomaggiore from the Madonna Di Monte Nero which takes around 1 hour, the return by the same route is slightly longer.
This is a beautiful walk through some lovely countryside. The 1st part of the walk like all of the walks is up, for maybe 45 minutes. The incline though is not steep and the meandering paths beautiful framed by ferns, pine trees, olive groves and wild flowers. Everywhere was different shades of green with bursts of red from the wild poppies, then pink and purple.
Wildlife and Nature
Butterflies played, dragonflies danced, lizards darted everywhere. On this walk you are immersed in nature. For 2 hours I didn’t see a single person. There is something so magical about walking through a forest. Looking up there stretched trees and vineyards, looking back were views of Riomaggiore and the coastline.
The path soon levels off. At one point the path crosses the road. Turn right and walk on the,road for only 50 metres before the path continues.The first stop was at the Santuario Della Madonna Di Montenegro, a small 14th century church. It’s a beautiful little spot to rest, admire the views and there are also benches and picnic tables.
Hike through the Vineyards
Soon after the path to Telegrafo splits into 2 options. One is a harder hike through the vineyards. I chose this. It was a lovely hike and also afforded lovely views of the coast. They have a unique way of getting round through the steep vineyards on this little monorail system. I almost asked for a lift!
There are more steps up to bring you to Telegrafo. This is where you reach civilisation and join the road. There is a bar there but a victim of Corona virus it was closed. Looking at the vineyards I had so wanted to sample a glass of local wine but nowhere was open. It was the price I paid for solitude and was worth it.
Past a Small Church
I took the alternate way back to the small church. Part of it is on a paved road and very easy. From there I chose the alternate route down. It is much quicker, there are lots of steps and the other way is so much more scenic. It depends how much time you have. The alternate route back took me less than an hour, but I did run down some of the steps, the beer at the end was much appreciated.
Hiking the Cinque Terre Trails – Vernazza to Corniglia
This is a moderate hike, it’s number 2b on the map and takes around one and a half hours.
As with all the hikes in Cinque Terre the first part is up. The first viewpoint is at an old watchtower and the views back to Vernazzaare spectacular.
After the steps the walk levels out and follows a coastal path. Again there was a musical accompaniment. There are a few other ups and downs but overall this is a pleasant and not too difficult walk. The descent into Corniglia is also gently sloping.
Corniglia is a lovely little village, the smallest of the 5 and definitely worth walking around and sampling the basil ice cream.
Hiking the Cinque Terre Trails – Corniglia to Volastra to Manarola [High Route]
The short route from Corniglia to Manarola is currently closed due to landslides and is not scheduled to re-open until April 2022.
It is however possible to hike the high route via Valastra. There is a clue in the title and and is a challenging hike which also requires a head for heights. It takes approximately two and a half to three hours.
The first ascent out of Corniglia is long and steep. Your heart is thumping and you breathe a sigh of relief when the path levels out. Be aware that if you are doing the hike from the opposite direction there will be a steep decent. The Corniglia section begins or ends will lots and lots of steps but even steps and not so steep a gradient. Decide which is the best way for you.
There are a couple of smaller inclines. At times the path is very narrow and there are no guardrails. Part of the trek is through a forested area with natural narrow paths and stone steps.
This is the most challenging section and requires you to watch your footing. There is no view of the coast to get your bearings but after a while it does come into view. Finally you can glimpse Manarola in the distance.
The last part is a very beautiful walk through the centre of the vineyards. The path is again narrow but the views spectacular.
I was musing how nice it would be if some friendly vintner offered me a glass of wine. Imagine my surprise and delight when halfway through the vineyards there was a small wooden hut with tables and chairs selling their wine. I think it was the most welcome glass of wine I’ve ever drank and what a view.
Spurred on I continued the trek.
In Volastra you come to a small church, by the side of this begins the descent into Manarola.
The path down into Manarola consists of hundreds of steps, not too steep but extremely long until your calf muscles are screaming for mercy.
The path splits into 2 and you have the option of taking the valley trail or the panoramic trail. I went for the latter and was not disappointed.
Each village has its own unique character and all 5 should be visited.
Manarola also has fantastic focaccia topped with pesto. The ideal food to re-fuel.
More Photos from Hiking the Cinque Terre