One of the best hiking trails in the world is definitely: Cinque Terre Trail.
Imagine a trail that runs through olive groves, wine yards on the Mediterranean hillside of the Italian Riviera.
After the first day in Italy, when we visited Cinque Terre by train. In the second one, we decided to hike between the five villages.
It was breathtaking!
We already bought our Cinque Terre Card on the previous day and used it on the Hop On Hop Off Train, between the villages.
The entire article can be found here: Cinque Terre.
On the second day, we used it to arrive by train from La Spezia to Corniglia and to access the trails between the villages, to be able to hike the famous Cinque Terre Trail.
About the Trail
There is an 11 km trail (called the Blue Trail or Sentiero Azzurro) connecting Riomaggiore to Monterosso al Mare (the five famous villages of Cinque Terre). Some portions of the trail are very easy to hike, such as the paved section connecting Riomaggiore to Manarola (Via del Amore- now closed), and other sections are requiring high physical shape. But never the less, spectacular.It can take about 5 to 7 hours to hike the entire distance, not counting the time to explore and linger in each town. The Cinque Terre Card is necessary to be granted access to the trail. At every town, there is a checkpoint where you show our tickets for the trail.
Below you can find some information about the trails between the villages, like distances or difficulty levels:
- Riomaggiore to Manarola: 1.5 km, easy, 30 minutes, also called “Via del Amore”- closed
- Manarola to Corniglia: 3 km, easy, 1 hour- closed
- Corniglia to Vernazza: 4 km, moderate, 2 hours
- Vernazza to Monterosso: 3.5 km, moderate, 2 hours
Unfortunately, because the trail between Riomaggiore and Corniglia was closed completely until 2023 for repairs and prevention of landslides.
This meant that our hiking had to include the trail between Corniglia – Vernazza – Monterosso. Of course, other more challenging and less frequented trails go up the mountain from each of the villages, but we stayed to the main Cinque Terre Trail.More information about the trail and the Cinque Terre cards you can find on their website: cinqueterre.com
So, our trail included the hikes between Corniglia to Vernazza and Monterosso al Mare (about 8 km). The only opened trail in August 2019.
Corniglia to Vernazza hike
So, we started our adventure early in the morning from the village center of Corniglia. It was a hot August morning, waiting to open in front of us.The trail is considered to be moderately challenging. Easy if you are a hiker and not easy if you are out of shape.
The official time for this trail is about 2 hours, but of course, it took us longer because we stopped each step to take pictures.
The trail is wonderful. It winds through gardens, olive groves, and vineyards with a spectacular sea view.
We passed a small bridge and start to climb along a beautiful trail and then walk downhill between incredible lush overlooking the sea.
After two hours we reached Vernazza. We got above the medieval watchtower. It looked perfect. Like a postcard.
Vernazza is incredibly scenic.
We took the main pedestrian road in town to reach the Vernazza marina.
Here we had a break just to enjoy the city.
Vernazza to Monterosso al Mare hike
After a well-deserved pause, we started our next section of the trail between Vernazza to Monterosso al Mare.
This trail was the most difficult one, mostly because there are many steps to climb up and down. And it was already mid-day and a very hot day.
The official time is about 2 hours, but again it took us longer. This time not only because of the pictures stops but also due to the high mid-day temperature.
The trail started from Vernazza with a steep climb up to the trail’s checkpoint. There is a great overlook of the village. It is not to be missed.
The trail winds again between terraced vineyard and olives groves. The view is amazing.At some point, after about two hours, we started to descent to Monterosso, on a very long path of stairs. The steps were steep and narrow.
Quite difficult.But we made it.
We arrived in Monterosso the old town.
The blue trail descends on the marina and beach in front of the Old Town section of Monterosso.
Monterosso has two parts: the old town and a new part of the city, divided by a mountain.
From the trail, we entered the old town and we discovered a vibrant village with colorful buildings and narrow alleys. One of the most emblematic buildings of the village is the Chiesa di San Giovanni Battista, but we were too tired to be able to visit de small old town, so we bought some ice cream and spent about an hour on a bench just looking at the people passing by.
Then with all that was left from our strength, we walked on the other side of a hill, through a tunnel, to the newer part of town.
There was a beautiful seaside walkway, flanked by beautiful hotels, restaurants, and the amazing beach.The train station was located here at a few steps from the sea.
That was the end of our trail. We took the train from Monterosso to our accommodation in La Spezia. For us, it was a little challenging, because it was too hot and most of the trail was in open sun, but it was such an amazing experience.
I’m glad that I had the chance to do this amazing hike.
Best time to hike Cinque Terre Trail
The best time to take the hike is mid-May to mid-September excluding August.
August is also the peak holiday season in Italy and peak season to travel all over the world, so expect to be very crowded and the prices very high.
It is better not to hike in wintertime. Anyway, most of the trails will be closed due to the heavy rainfall.
What to pack to Cinque Terre Hike
Don’t forget that this is a hike so you will have to be prepared accordingly:
- Take a comfortable backpack
Since you will be walking for a few hours, it is important to have a comfortable backpack were to have some water, snacks, extra t-short or everything else that you might need. There are no markets on the trail.
- You must have hiking shoes
The trail isn’t that rough, but it is not also like a walk in the park.
- Dress sport wear
After 30 minutes of walking, I was already completely sweaty all over. Keep in mind that an extra T-short will be needed.
- Don’t forget to take water and snacks.
Make sure you have enough water and snacks with you since there are no restaurants or markets on the trail.
- Protect yourself with sunglasses, hut, and sunscreen.
The trail is mostly in the open sun, so it is better to be prepared.
- Start the hike as early in the morning as possible. It can get very hot, especially in the summer months.
- Check heather the trails are open not to have a surprise. Sometimes, due to the bad weather, trails might be closed.
- Hiking the Cinque Terre Trail is not free. You should buy a special card.