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The Ultimate Guide to Hiking Cinque Terre 2019

couples coordinates ultimate guide to hiking cinque terre italy

Cinque Terre is a stretch of seaside villages on the Ligurian Coast of Italy that consists of 5 (cinque) beautiful lands/towns (terre). The hillsides are stacked with water colored structures, precariously atop stunning rock faces jutting over the Mediterranean Sea. Years of incessant exposure to saltwater, rain, and the beating sun have faded the colors to those one could only hope to replicate with a 152-count box of Crayons. Vivid Tangerine, Macaroni and Cheese, Dandelion, Granny Smith Apple, Sea Green, Aquamarine, Cornflower, Tickle me Pink, and Apricot all come to mind. Hiking Cinque Terre is the best way to see these 5 towns and to have the ability to burn off the kilo of trofie al pesto you’re sure to consume!

You guys know that we love hiking. Of all the hikes we have done in our lives, our top 3 are Path of the Gods on the Amalfi Coast, the Sun Gate at Machu Picchu, and Cinque Terre.

couples coordinates the ultimate guide to hiking cinque terre

How do you get to Cinque Terre? Do you need a Cinque Terre Card?

From La Spezia Centrale, purchase a Cinque Terre card and train to Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza, or Monterosso al Mare. There is a Cinque Terre card you’ll need for the train (or you can buy single train tickets) called the Cinque Terre card treno and a Cinque Terre trekking card for hiking between the seaside villages. Over the years we have had a chance to hike many sections in Cinque Terre and as the rules have changed, you’ll need this Cinque Terre card for hiking Cinque Terre in a number of sections. There are parts of the path you can walk/hike for free and others that you can’t. Prices are as follow:

High season:

  • 1 day Cinque Terre Train Card € 16
  • 1 day Cinque Terre Trekking Card: € 7,50

The cards are a cool little souvenir as well and make for great scrapbook material.

couples coordinates the ultimate guide to hiking cinque terre florence duomo

Cinque Terre hiking day trip from Florence

We have ventured on a Cinque Terre day trip from Florence probably a dozen times at this point. Each time we visit Cinque Terre, we make sure to hike a section of the amazing trails between Riomaggiore and Monterosso al Mare but with severely limited time on a day trip, we usually train between most of the towns and only hike small sections. To hike from Riomaggiore to Monterosso or vice versa would take hours that you simply won’t have if you’re embarking on a day trip from Florence.

The famous trail connecting the 5 towns is called the Sentiero no. 2 or Sentiero Azzuro (Blue Trail) connecting Riomaggiore and Monterosso al Mare. This trail is 11 KM and takes hikers an average of 5 hours to walk (if you don’t count the time you’ll stop in each town to eat, drink, swim, and explore).

A storm many years ago damaged a section of this trail between Riomaggiore and Manarola, so it is generally closed. Check for closures before you plan your hike.

Cinque Terre map

Hikers can take a few trails on Le Cinque Terre Hiking Trails. We mentioned the Sentiero Azzuro (Sentiero no. 2) above, but the other option is quite a bit more arduous.

Sentiero no. 1 is the red path that runs farther northwest in the mountains, connecting Portovenere to Levanto. This trail is 40 KM long and has an 800 meter gain and loss as it starts at sea level, climbs through the mountains, and returns to sea level.

couples coordinates the ultimate guide to hiking cinque terre riomaggiore

Via dell’Amore – Riomaggiore to Manarola

Perhaps the most popular section of the trail is the Via dell’Amore; a paved section between Riomaggiore and Manarola. The Via dell’Amore – or Lover’s Lanes – is an EASY 2 KM walk where you’ll find a kissing statue of lovers, a tunnel covered in declarations of love, and padlocks where lovers sealed their love for eternity (or maybe just until the padlock gets cut off).

couples coordinates the ultimate guide to hiking cinque terre monterosso al mare

Cinque Terre hiking trails distance and time estimates

Riomaggiore to Manarola: 1.2 miles (2km); 40 minutes (walking)

Manarola to Corniglia: 1.2 miles (2km); 1 hour 15 minutes (walking)

Corniglia to Vernazza: 2 miles (4km); 1 hour 45 minutes to walk (walking)

Vernazza to Monterosso: 1.8 miles (3km); 2 hours (walking) – This is, in our opinion, the most aesthetically beautiful part of the trail and is the section we choose to hike most times when we visit.

couples coordinates ultimate guide to hiking cinque terre
couples coordinates ultimate guide to hiking cinque terre
couples coordinates ultimate guide to hiking cinque terre

Best restaurants in Cinque Terre

Cinque Terre has some INCREDIBLE food, so you can reward yourself in every village you hike to. Make it like a hiking food tour and have a pizza in Riomaggiore, bruschetta in Manarola, a glass of wine in Corniglia, gelato in Vernazza, and swordfish in Monterosso.

couples coordinates the ultimate guide to hiking cinque terre

Best time to hike Cinque Terre

Honestly, any time of year is great! Summer is hot and humid. You’ll reward your hard work with nice swims, cliff jumping, and sunbathing on the Mediterranean. We have hiked in summer and fall and both were lovely. Even if it’s too cold to swim, you can enjoy the hike, food, and wine of the Ligurian region.

couples coordinates the ultimate guide to hiking cinque terre vernazza

Tips for Hiking Cinque Terre

  1. Bring lots of water – we always have large refillable bottles like our Yeti or Nalgene
  2. Plan for trail closures
  3. Wear sunscreen – much of the trail is in direct sunlight and the Mediterranean sun is quite powerful
  4. Wear a hat to cover your face from the sun
  5. Be sure to wear proper hiking shoes and attire. The Via dell’Amore is an easy walk, but much of the path is strenuous hiking with uneven rocks, dirt, stairs, etc. Make sure you have hiking books or at least sneakers. We have done it in sandals before, but it is much easier in shoes.
  6. Bring a backpack to carry your waters, camera, extra sunscreen, etc. Buy snacks in each of the towns and bring them with you in case you get hungry in between towns. Bring bathing suits and a towel as well so that you can stop and swim in each town.
  7. Take your time and enjoy the beauty of the hike

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