Are you planning to visit the Cinque Terre for a couple of days and you’d like to fully enjoy the nature of the National Park where the famous coloured villages are located? If you are a keen and fit hiker, we suggest you not to take the train to move among the villages, but to “do it on foot”. You will be rewarded!
You’ll need the train only to reach the starting point and to return to your base. From mid-March to early November each train ride costs € 5, while in the low season, from November to March, it costs about the half depending on the length of the ride. Furthermore, there is one section of the trail on payment, the part from Monterosso to Corniglia (SVA). In high season the price is actually € 7.50, while it is free in low season. If you plan to take the train and buses more often, it becomes convenient to buy the Cinque Terre card, for 1 day (€ 18,20) or 2 days (€ 33,00). The card also includes the train, the busses in the Cinque Terre and the paths between Monterosso and Corniglia.
The trails can be hiked all year round. The intermediate seasons like spring and autumn are, of course, the best time but the proposed itineraries can also be covered in winter, as temperatures are never excessively cold. In summer, the heat is almost never a problem as there is always a breeze from the sea and some parts of the trails are shaded by woods.
The hiking paths start from Monterosso and arrives in Riomaggiore but, of course, they can also be travelled in the opposite direction. Each stage takes about 2-2.5 hours.
We recommend to wear appropriate hiking shoes and to bring enough water during the excursion
We start in Monterosso our 2 days hiking in Cinque Terre. The path starts after the old part of the village, near to the hotel Porto Roca, which enjoys a splendid position on the magnificent cliff of Punta Corona. From there it is possible to admire the old village and the hill of San Cristoforo, where the Capuchin convent and the Church of San Francesco have been erected.
The first part of the path, crosses ancient lemon gardens and, after a steep and long stairway, reaches the terraced vineyards of the Vetua farm. Various ups and downs follow, you pass a valley crossed by the Acquapendente channel that finishs into the sea as a waterfall, one of the most beautiful spots that are visited during boat tours. You come across a panoramic area with olive trees before you begin to descend. Slowly the picturesque village of Vernazza comes into the view. The path leads directly to the harbour area of the town.
Hiking time: about 2,15 hours Difficulty level: EE – experts. Length: 3.668 km. Difference in height: 217 m.
Once you have visited Vernazza, continue to Corniglia. Next to the pharmacy take the steps on the right. The long stairway takes you quickly up, first through the narrow streets of the village, later between the drystone walls of the fields, always following the red and white signs of the CAI (club alpino italiano). A climb takes you to the steep and scenic coast of Macereto, between prickly pears and agaves, where often hawks can be seen in flight. From here the route continues through olive groves and mediterranean macchia to the small hamlet of Prevo. Shortly after it reaches a panoramic point from where you can admire the village of Corniglia, the valley with the underlying beach of Guvano and, high up above, the village of San Bernardino, located on the edge of a great landslide. At the end of the walk you find yourself on the paved road (via Stazione) and by following it you arrive in the village of Corniglia.
Hiking time: about 1,45 hours Difficulty level: EE – experts. Length: 4.137 km. Difference in height: 269 m.
The lower footpath that connects Corniglia to Manarola and then to Riomaggiore (the last part is called Lover’s path, Via dell’Amore) near to the coast, has been closed for years now and, although small sections are reopened each year, it will remain inaccessible for probably another 3 years.
More difficult, but beautiful and very scenic, is the higher path that passes through Volastra and takes you through the wonderful terraced vineyards. Here is the best place to observe the historical heritage of agriculture made up of small plains torn from the mountain.
The Cinque Terre villages and surrounding areas are a National Park and a UNESCO world heritage site because of those same dry stone walls you are looking at. The Park embraces almost 7000 km of these particular walls, that have been built stone by stone without mortar, by local farmers in order to make agriculture possible in this difficult cliff area.
In Corniglia reach the church called San Pietro. Behind the church you will find the beginning of the footpath no 587 (ex 7a) which starts with a steep climb. Please be careful not to miss the footpath no 586 (ex 6d) which will be on your right after about 20 minutes of climbing (about 350 m of altitude). From there on, the path is more flat and the famous vineyards of the Cinque Terre are very close by. Here you can see how this territory has been transformed by humans in the last thousand years. Follow the path until the little village of Volastra and enjoy a well-deserved rest in the shady piazza in front of the church. Two thousand years ago, this small village was called Vicus Oleaster which meant “the village of olive groves” Then you can walk down the footpath that crosses the ancient olive trees fields until you reach Manarola, footpath no 506 (ex 6).
Hiking time: about 2,30 hours Difficulty level: EE – experts. Length: 5,5 km. Difference in height: 410 m.
The last stretch is the shortest of all, but not without difficulties. It starts from via Rollandi in Manarola, in the upper part of the town, just 100 m before the renowned Trattoria dal Billy. You immediately take a steep staircase that leads up to Costa Corniolo, from where you can admire Punta Montenero to the east, Manarola and the Cinque Terre coast to the west. Continue to climb up to the small bridge and then follow the marked path along the cultivated gardens. Then go down on a long and very steep stairway to Riomaggiore arriving at the train station.
Hiking time: about 1,00 hour Difficulty level: EE – experts. Length: 1.470 km. Difference in height: 202 m.