Hiking Cinque Terre

Hiking Cinque Terre // Nattie on the Road

Cinque Terre is one of my favorite places in Europe. Between the beautiful terraced hillsides, and sparkling blue water it’s seriously a paradise. I could spend countless days lounging on the rocky beaches and swimming the warm Mediterranean water, but I get antsy sitting too long, so we went for a hike.

Cinque Terre is made up of five coastal villages on the northwestern side of Italy, and they are all connected by footpaths. The most famous are the coastal walkways, but there are trails that take you up through the mountains as well. From my own experience, I’d say that the trails range from medium to difficult, especially in the summer months when it’s quite hot out, so be sure to bring water with you!

Hike Cinque Terre for the views! // Nattie on the Road

As of right now, summer 2016, the two easiest of the coastal trails are closed, from Riomaggiore to Manarola and from Manarola to Corniglia. So to hike between these towns you must take the more difficult mountain trails. For these hikes you definitely need good walking shoes and should be in decent physical condition. There are a lot of steep sections as well as stairs.

Rob and I did two of the hikes.

Take in the views from the mountain paths in Cinque Terre // Nattie on the Road

Crystal clear water in Cinque Terre // Nattie on the Road

The mountain paths in Cinque Terre are not for the faint of heart // Nattie on the Road

We hiked from the furthest south town of Riomaggiore to Manarola via the mountain path, and while it was strenuous and hot, the views were spectacular. The water below was so clear you could see straight to the bottom along the coast. I want to say it took us around an hour and a half to get to Manarola, with quite a few breaks for water and picture taking. Once we got to Manarola we ran straight down to the water to jump in and cool off. There’s a perfect little swimming area right at the bottom of town. 

Hike Cinque Terre, and swim Cinque Terre! // Nattie on the Road

Take a swim after hiking the paths between towns in Cinque Terre // Nattie on the Road

After a little lunch and some much needed gelato we rallied to hike to the next town of Corniglia.

Hiking Cinque Terre - the mountain trails // Nattie on the Road

Corniglia, Cinque Terre // Nattie on the Road

Beautiful Cinque Terre // Nattie on the Road

For this hike we also had to take the mountain route as the coastal path was closed. This hike took us around 3 hours and there was a ton of elevation gain. But with high elevations come beautiful views of both Manarola in the beginning and Corniglia near the end. If you need a break and some water you can stop in the little town of Volastra, it’s about a third of the way to Corniglia, and a good spot to sit and cool off with a cold beverage. I felt like this hike was more strenuous than the first, but maybe it’s just because it was longer. By the time we waddled down into Corniglia my legs felt like jello.

Italy is great // Nattie on the Road

My favorite Italian drink, the Spritz // Nattie on the Road

Corniglia is the only one of the towns not directly on the water, it is perched up on a cliff, and the smallest and quietest of the towns. We wandered around its narrow winding streets and found a spot to grab a drink and contemplate whether or not we wanted to hike the next section. The spritz (my new favorite Italian drink – prosecco, aperol or campari, sparkling water, and a bit of orange) and a seat in the shade were much needed by this point in the afternoon.

Cinque Terre // Nattie on the Road

The coastal trail from Corniglia to the next town of Vernazza is open, however it is rated at medium difficulty because there is a fair amount of elevation change as well as very narrow paths and stairs. You also will need to get a Cinque Terre card, it’s the day pass for using the coastal trails as they are part of the National Park and a Unesco World Heritage Site.

We opted to take the train to Vernazza, but if you hadn’t hiked two difficult paths already in the day, this would probably be a fun but challenging hike.

Quiet beach views // Nattie on the Road

Take a break from hiking for a swim and a beer // Nattie on the Road

In Vernazza we walked down to the main beach in town, it’s a little protected cove filled with kids and families. Then decided to get away from the joyful screams of children and check another beach on the other side of town. We did had to walk through a little rock tunnel that said “caution landslides”, but I supposed we like to live dangerously. The beach on the other side was perfect, quiet and uncrowded.

Vernazza, Cinque Terre // Nattie on the Road

Vernazza at sunset, Cinque Terre // Nattie on the Road

We had dinner in Vernazza at a spot up on the cliff, you’ll pass it if you hike that trail. They had excellent sea food and awesome views of the town and the sunset. It was a great way to end our day of hiking.

We didn’t get to try the hike from Vernazza to Monterosso, this one is supposed to be the most difficult of the coastal trails as well as the longest. So that just wasn’t in the cards for us. But I hear the views from this trail are spectacular, you get panoramic view of all five villages and the epic coastline.

If you are going to Cinque Terre definitely do a hike or two, you’ll get once in a lifetime views of the Italian coast and a good workout. 

A few things to remember and take into account

  • Remember to check which trails are open here.
  • Wear good walking shoes and bring water with you ( you can check out my packing list here for what I brought)
  • It’s not like backpacking so you don’t need to bring you stuff with you, you can take the train back to where ever you are staying at the end of the day.
  • If you are going to hike the coast trails get a Cinque Terre Card.
  • Bring a bathing suit so you can jump in the water at the end of your hike!


Life in Wanderlust


7 thoughts on “Hiking Cinque Terre

  1. Ruth

    Those views are larger than life. Hiking in the area feels like a must. Do you know why the easy trails are closed? Hopefully, they will reopen sometime in the future. #FlyAwayFriday

    1. nattiekaf Post author

      The views were definitely spectacular! The coastal trails are closed for maintenance, but I think with it being a world heritage site and the Italian government theres some dispute about who is paying for that maintenance, so who knows when it will get resolved and fixed up, hopeful soon!

  2. Anna

    These views look incredible! I´ve never heard about these hikes – such a great way to introduce some activity into the Italian pizza-pasta-carb diet 😀 Thank for sharing the details #FlyAwayFriday

  3. Chloe

    So gorgeous!! I’ve been to Italy three times and have yet to make it to Cinque Terre!! So sad I know and I need to fix it ASAP! Thank you for sharing on FlyAwayFriday and can’t wait to see what you share next!!

  4. Kana

    Cinque Terre looks DREAAAAAMY! The pictures are beautiful! I’ll have to bookmark this for when I’m out there next Spring! Thanks for joining Fly Away Friday!

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