Complete Guide to Trekking in the Cinque Terre

There is something quite intoxicating about the idea of ​​doing trekking in the Cinque Terre.

Strolling along the cliffs, among woods, Mediterranean scrub and vineyards, stopping to rest in the small villages with their multicolored houses, sipping an aperitif by the sea with the afternoon sun reflecting on the jagged ridges of Liguria.

But how to organize a trekking in the Cinque Terre?

Complete Guide to Trekking in the Cinque Terre

In fact, when you decide to do it, there is always a bit of confusion as to which is the best path to take. There are many options, and it's not always easy to figure out where to start right away.

Well, the good news is it's actually quite simple once you have a basic understanding of how it works. Let me give you some tips for the best way to plan your visit to the Cinque Terre.

Many people spend their time in the Cinque Terre discovering the different countries. There are several ways to do this and the two most popular are undoubtedly by train or walking.

Since the trekking it's one of my favorite ways to explore an area, I'll tell you about the second way.

The Blue Path

Complete Guide to Trekking in the Cinque Terre

Il Blue Path (Unesco heritage and technically marked as route 592) is about 12 km long and connects Riomaggiore to Monterosso al Mare passing through the other 3 villages: Manarola, Corniglia and Vernazza.

Some parts of the trail are very easy to walk while other sections climb up and down hills with spectacular views along the coast. Trekkers say it takes 5 hours to walk the entire trail from start to finish, but trust me it takes more, especially if you want to visit the towns.

However, you can do it all in one day (if you are fit) or in stages according to your needs and physical preparation.

To walk the path you have to buy the ticket (5/7 €): that's right, the trails require maintenance. Don't try to be smart because there are checkpoints where they stop you and ask you to show it.

Complete Guide to Trekking in the Cinque Terre

Il Blue Path it is basically the Cinque Terre coastal path that runs right along the sea. It's easy but - and there is a big "but" - several sections of this path are closed (they should reopen in 2021, but no one knows yet).

In my next description I recommend the alternatives to closed sections.

Useful advice: With Cinque Terre Card you have two choices, one for trekking or one for the train. You can buy online here from the official website.

1 Stage: from Riomaggiore to Manarola

Complete Guide to Trekking in the Cinque Terre

The first stage of the Blue Trail, the one that starts from Riomaggiore and arrives in Manarola, it is relatively short (1 km), simple and takes about 30 minutes. Unfortunately this route, also known as Via dell'Amore, has been closed since 2012 due to a landslide.

We are in 2020 and there is still no reopening date. There is an alternative however: take path 531 along via Beccara, steeper, which rises above the hill and then descends to Manarola.

The path develops first with stone stairs and steep climbs. In a few minutes you will find yourself out of breath and wonder who made you do it.

But once you get to the top you will find yourself in the middle of the vineyards and you will be rewarded by the views of Riomaggiore and the coast.

Be careful not to slide down the slope towards Manarola!

2 - Stage: from Manarola to Corniglia

Complete Guide to Trekking in the Cinque Terre

Once you get to Manarola take the opportunity to rest and explore the village with its characteristic pastel-colored houses. My advice is also to stop at some grocery store and buy snacks and water before resuming your journey.

Il In fact, the Blue Path from Manarola to Corniglia is closed (how strange, huh) and therefore you will have to take an alternative which, however, I'm sure will not disappoint you at all.

PRO TIP: the most beautiful panorama of Manarola of all is the one from the small cemetery. You can ask someone how to get there.

Right on the promenade that goes up to the cemetery you see the writing for the path that leads to Corniglia. Continue on the path with the fence until you find the signs for Panoramic Volastra.

The path is uphill (1200 degrees) and even here it is a grind. Alternatively, if you don't feel like it, there is the bus that takes you to Volastra.

When you decide to go trekking in the 5 Terre keep in mind one thing: apart from Corniglia all the other villages are located on the sea. This means that to get to the coast and enjoy the views that Liguria can offer, you will have to go up!

Complete Guide to Trekking in the Cinque Terre

Volastra is a small and delightful village which 2000 years ago was called Vicus Oleaster or “the village of olive groves”.

From here you will find the directions for Corniglia, follow them and get ready because you are about to embark on one of the most beautiful parts of the route, among vineyards, Mediterranean scrub and breathtaking views.

At a certain point you will see Corniglia below you, as characteristic as only she can be, on the top of a peak overlooking the sea and its colorful houses under the sun.

Stage 3: from Corniglia to Vernazza

Complete Guide to Trekking in the Cinque Terre

This part of the Blue Trail is undoubtedly the most spectacular of all, not for nothing it is very famous among the tourists of the Cinque Terre.

From here you will have truly jaw-dropping views as you walk among olive trees, vineyards and Mediterranean shrubs.

In the event that this part of the Sentiero Azzurro is also closed (no wonder) you have a valid alternative which, however, excludes the visit of Corniglia.

Coming from Volastra at a certain point you will find a crossroads. On one side you go down to Corniglia while on the other you continue towards Vernazza with path 587 which leads to Cigoletta and to the little one church of San Bernardino.

This part is little known and little frequented and takes place almost entirely in the woods.

Complete Guide to Trekking in the Cinque Terre

From Cigoletta take and follow the path 507 and finally you will begin your descent to Vernazza.

4 Stage: from Vernazza to Monterosso al Mare

Vernazza for me it is special. You will say to me "Thank you is the most beautiful" but in reality that is not why it is my favorite.

For me it is special because I got married there!

Complete Guide to Trekking in the Cinque Terre

Vernazza is always very crowded unfortunately, but it is worthwhile to reach the beautiful stone church and stop to eat a piece of focaccia in the small harbor.

From here the last stage of the Sentiero Azzurro starts up to Monterosso which fortunately is still open (the others will reopen, but who knows when).

Il stretch between Vernazza and Monterosso it is probably the most popular and in spring it is not difficult to have to walk in line with other tourists. all this crowd spoils the magic a bit, but in any case you will return satisfied.

This section of the Sentiero Azzurro is a continuous ups and downs until the last steep descent (be careful). Here, too, the views of the sea and cliffs are very beautiful.

Other paths Alternative to the Blue Path

There are so many alternative paths to the Blue Trail (which as I wrote to you unfortunately has some sections that are often closed and it is therefore necessary to find other roads).

Here I recommend 2 others which I think are worth a look because they are still a very valid alternative!

1 - High route of the Cinque Terre

The main alternative to the Blue Trail is theHigh route of the Cinque Terre (AV5T), which crosses the length of the National Park and that connects Portovenere to Levanto, at the gates of the Cinque Terre.

Unlike the Blue Trail, this trail it is not paid and covers a distance of about 40 kilometers and an uphill altitude difference of about 800 meters.

If you decide to follow it, however, consider at least two days!

Complete Guide to Trekking in the Cinque Terre
  • Portovenere - Campiglia (5,5 km, 2 hours, 500 m in altitude): the cliffs of Albana, in the Tramonti area, between Riomaggiore and Portovenere, are among the most spectacular natural wonders of Liguria. Once in Campiglia it is worth going down the 2000 steps to reach the little beach of Punta del Persico. But then you also have to go back up!
  • Campiglia-Colle of the telegraph (3,5 km, 1,5 hours, 200 m difference in altitude): in the area there is the "Palestra nel Verde" and the menhir of Tramonti, a boulder driven into the ground with a cross (probably dating back to the Bronze Age) around which a lot of legends were born.
  • Colle del Telegrafo-Monte Marvede (6 km, 2 hours, 320 m difference in height): crosses path 501 that goes down to Riomaggiore and path 506 that goes down to Manarola.
  • Monte Marvede-Foce Drignana (7,5 km, 2,5 hours, 250 m in altitude): this route reaches the highest altitude of the entire Alta Via route: Mount Malpertuso (815 m); it crosses path 587 for Corniglia and 508 for Vernazza.
  • Foce Drignana-Colle di Gritta (6 km, 2 hours, 250 m in altitude): pleasant walk among pine and chestnut trees. It approaches the Path of the Sanctuaries and it is possible to reach the sanctuary of the Madonna Di Soviore.
  • Colle di Gritta-Levanto (10 km, 3 hours, 220 m in altitude): the route, in the middle of a beautiful pine forest, reaches Mount Rossini and then continues downhill to the Sella dei Bagari; it reaches Punta Mesco and the path that climbs from Monterosso to Levanto.

2 - Via dei Santuari

For a taste of the history of the Cinque Terre, follow routes no. 3, 6, 7 and 8 to visit the famous sanctuaries in the area: Our Lady of Health in Manarola, Our Lady of Grace to San Bernardino, Our Lady of Montenero in Riomaggiore, Our Lady of Regio a Vernazza e Our Lady of Soviore a Monterosso.

Note that these are more difficult routes than the Blue Trail, so be prepared! (Bonus: they are also free!).

The paths cross terraces, vegetable gardens, farmhouses, small inhabited centers and places very dear to the inhabitants who walk them every year on the occasion of pilgrimages.

How long does it take to go trekking in the 5 Terre?

Complete Guide to Trekking in the Cinque Terre

The first thing to know is that you can walk between all 5 countries in just one day.

There is no need to hike with your suitcase and stay overnight somewhere along the way. I have seen some people do this and I think it is completely unnecessary, although sleeping here certainly has its own charm.

Secondly, you don't necessarily have to walk all the time. In fact, you can choose if you are tired or afraid of not making it, to travel a few stretches by train.

That said how many days it takes is up to you. If you decide to do other treks like the Alta Via you could stay even two or 3 days.

You can walk the Blue Trail both from East to West and vice versa. Which one to choose it depends on where you have decided to spend the night. If you sleep in Levanto I recommend starting from the opposite side, that is from Rio Maggiore, if instead you have chosen La Spezia as a base, it is better to start from Monterosso.

This is because simply so at the arrival of your trek, when you are tired, you will be closer to your hotel.

If, on the other hand, you decide to stay a night or two and are looking for where to sleep in the Cinque Terre, below you will find hotels that I feel like recommending you.

Ma's cross (Riomaggiore) - A truly unique seaside hotel, Creuza de Ma features 4 terraces, a solarium, two gardens, a heated whirlpool and 2 outdoor showers. Within walking distance of numerous restaurants.

Marina Piccola Hotel (Manarola) - If you want to be in the city center and within walking distance of the main action, Hotel Marina Piccola is the place to be. Located on the water, the rooms are so comfortable with plenty of space for all of your travels - a rare quality in many refurbished buildings along the Cinque Terre. The restaurant is top notch even though it is so close to many good choices of restaurants and bars. Highly recommended.

La Polena (Vernazza) is a guest house that enjoys a great location, just 1 minute walk from the beach and within walking distance of shops and restaurants. The reception is open 24 hours a day, one of the best values ​​in Vernazza.

THEStella della Marina hotel (Monterosso al Mare) is located in a quiet street just a few minutes from the beach, the train station and the city center. A delicious breakfast buffet is included and there is a rooftop terrace for sunbathing or just relaxing at sunset.

When to go to the Cinque Terre if you want to go trekking

Complete Guide to Trekking in the Cinque Terre

I best months for trekking in the Cinque Terre are April, May, September or October: temperatures are still mild, but it is not scorching hot as in summer. In these months you should also find fewer tourists; in the height of summer, parts of the trails can get extremely crowded.

If you go in estate, try to get out as soon as possible to avoid the scorching heat of midday.

The winter it is cooler and less crowded, but it is not uncommon for heavy rains to cause landslides and hiking conditions that are not entirely safe (keep in mind that in case of bad weather the trails may be closed).

You can get updated information on trail closures (as well as a number of other useful links) from Cinque Terre National Park website.

Very important information for trekking in the 5 Terre

Complete Guide to Trekking in the Cinque Terre

If you don't have a hiking map of the Cinque Terre trails before your arrival, don't worry. You can get one at the city's tourist information offices. Or here you can download a map of the trails.

Attention first of all to news: even if the paths are well maintained, sometimes it happens that, due to landslides or floods, some parts are closed: inform yourself before organizing at the5 Terre Park Authority.

To go trekking It is absolutely forbidden to wear open and / or smooth-soled footwear, that is, they do not have a “Vibram” type sole. You risk getting a fine!

Find out about the weather conditions: it is indeed it is forbidden to travel along the paths in adverse weather conditions.

Don't go alone, if you decide to do so, tell someone which route you decide to take. Never abandon the marked path.

Always bring yours back downstream waste e you prefer the water bottle to plastic bottles e respects flora and fauna: you are in a protected area.

What to bring

Although the trekking to the 5 Terre is passable by anyone with a good physical shape and since it does not involve difficult passages, the only thing to pay attention to it's like dressing up.

Please wear suitable clothing.

Le shoes they must be trekking or hiking boots, the path especially downhill and in some shaded sections can be very slippery.

Bring one sweatshirt to cover you on top of the climbs. You will sweat a lot in some places and you may find wind once you get to the top.

Go for a sportswear, with suitable breathable and quick-drying sweaters.

It's better to wear long pants, but short ones are great in summer because it can get really hot.

Bring a bonnet e sunglasses, a sunscreen it's one spray for insects.

Obviously don't forget your camera!

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