Many people are actually unaware of the fact that you can walk Cinque Terre and move from one village to the other.
The hiking trail of Cinque Terre is certainly worth checking out for anyone who is in search of breathtaking views and a hiking trip that will leave them in awe of nature and Italy.
So, if you are here to find out more about how you can hike this lovely area, keep reading below!
What Are The 5 Villages Of Cinque Terre?
Cinque Terre is an array of 5 rural villages – Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza, and Monterosso – that are located on Italy’s Ligurian Coast.
The communities are quite close to one another and walking between them can be simple even when you are unfamiliar with the region.
How Long Is The Cinque Terre Hike?
If you were wondering and perhaps worried about how many days you would need to hike Cinque Terre, we have some good news for you.
There are over 120 kilometers of paths all along the Cinque Terre shoreline, with 48 walking trails. However, the path that will get you from Riomaggiore to Monterosso and vice versa is only 11km long, which is short and sweet.
To cover the entire distance, you will need approximately 6 hours more or less, depending on how fast or slow your pace is.
It is important to note that these 6 hours do not account for the time spent exploring and lingering in each village.
So, if you want to spend some time in the villages themselves or sit in one of their cafes to enjoy your meals, then count an extra hour spent in each one of them.
In More Detail – The distance between the five villages is a bit different, with the longest trail being that from Manarola Corniglia. Starting from Riomaggiore, it is a 1.5-kilometer walk to Manarola; from Manarola to Corniglia, it is a much longer distance of a 5-kilometer walk that is a bit harder to cover.
Then come to the relatively moderate paths, which are the 4-kilometer one that will take you from Corniglia to Vernazza, and the 3.5-kilometer trail from Vernazza to Monterosso, which marks the end of your hiking trip.
How Difficult Is The Cinque Terre Hike?
The answer to how difficult the trail itself is would be that it depends on which paths you will choose to follow.
The path is quite long and spans the entire area, but you can always stick to exploring only a few different sections of it if you wish unless you are an “all or nothing” person.
Regardless of all that, all the paths connecting the 5 villages of Cinque Terre are ranked as easy, with a couple of them being easy/moderate.
For instance, some sections of the entire 11-kilometer path are flat and easy to hike, like the asphalted portion linking Riomaggiore and Manarola, while some others move higher and over mountainsides with breathtaking views of the shoreline.
Of course, it depends on your fitness level, the weather conditions, the backpack load you are carrying, and how easy or moderate the trails are.
It is also important to note that the footpaths are maintained to good standards, and there is always a guide nearby to direct you to the right path if you ever get lost.
So, in terms of terrain, you will not find any rugged or hard-to-cross points, whereas, in terms of direction, you will need to intentionally try a lot to get disoriented and lost.
Finally – If you try hiking and halfway through realizing that you cannot move on, there are bus services that run across all villages and can take you from one to the next.
So, walk to the nearest village and get a bus to visit the rest of them.
Is There A Cinque Terre Hike Map?
There are several Cinque Terre maps offered by the official Cinque Terre website. Depending on the distance you want to cover, you can find maps that cover the entire area or specific villages.
There are, for example, maps showing the trails across all Cinque Terre villages as well as maps that show the altitude each path reaches, or others that show in detail the paths and the hours needed to walk from one point to the other.
Walking The Cinque Terre Trails
Tickets For The Cinque Terre Trails
Before we begin talking about the trails, we should let you know that to walk the Cinque Terre trail, you must first buy a ticket. There are a few choices available for this, but still, a ticket will be required.
Each village has a control point where you will be asked to show your ticket, so having none is not an option.
However, instead of paying for separate tickets at every control point, you can buy the Cinque Terre Trekking Card as well as the Cinque Terre Train Card, which gives you access to all walking trails for the entire day and unlimited train rides, respectively.
However, if you are planning on hiking the Cinque Terre off-season, that is anytime from the 7th of November until the 31st of March, the trails can be accessed free of charge, while a one-way train ticket that can take you from one village to the other is only $2.6 (€2.5).
Cinque Terre Hiking Itinerary
Riomaggiore To Manarola
On a bright and sunny day, you could start your day trip from Riomaggiore and make your way to Manarola.
However, following a recent rockfall, that first portion of the path, the best and quickest passage to Manarola, has been closed.
This part of the path is the popular Via dell’Amore or Lover’s Lane, but since it will be open again in July 2024, you can go from the alternative path, Via Beccaria.
This trail does not need a Cinque Terre Trekking Card, but it does need a greater level of physical fitness and some extra minutes, as it is 0.3 kilometers longer than Via dell’Amore.
Riomaggiore and Manarola are near each other but separated by a rather rocky slope.
What to Expect? It is a half-hour daunting hike up and over the hillside, through a metal entryway, and then a walk downhill that takes you through terraced small-plot vineyards and to the lovely Manarosa village where you can take a break and hydrate.
While you are enjoying that refreshing water, coffee, and/or snack of yours, spend some time exploring the village briefly before you head down to Corniglia.
Manarola To Corniglia
The trail from Manarola to Corniglia does not need a Cinque Terre Card as it is another alternative and the much harder way that has replaced the easier, 3-kilometer path you could previously take, and which would get you from one village to the other.
The first section of this path is a very sharp ascent. To reduce the extra step count and have some energy left for the rest of the hike, take the bus service to Volastra and then walk from there to Corniglia.
The path leads behind Volastra’s modest church, Madonna Della Salute. Now comes the stunning section: the hike through historic terraces that descend to the ocean, where vines and olives rise thanks to brave vintners who produce small amounts of high-quality grapes.
The vine walk is reasonably easy and offers stunning views of the Mediterranean Sea and the Cinque Terre.
After your incline walk, you can then start descending to the village of Corniglia, where you can do a wee tour before moving on to your next stop: Vernazza.
Corniglia To Vernazza
Once you are done touring Corniglia and its cute narrow streets with eateries and shops, look for the signposts showing the way to Vernazza and continue your hike.
This section of the path is pretty flat and offers stunning views as it descends toward Vernazza. Take a rest midway at Prevo, 208 meters above the sea, and the bar “Il Gabbiano,” which serves delectable lemon granitas and has superb views of the sea.
This trail does have sandy, bumpy trails, and rocky stairs, but its route through numerous vines and breathtaking scenery makes it extremely enjoyable.
After a 1.5-hour walk, you should have arrived at Vernazza, where you can again explore the village and have another break before your final hike.
Vernazza To Monterosso
And at last, you will have reached the final stage of your hiking trip. The walk from Vernazza to Monterosso has always been considered Cinque Terre’s most difficult one.
A 3-kilometer mountain walk is certainly not the easiest, but with the recent changes and the alternative trails you’ll have to take to get from Manarola to Corniglia, it might not seem that challenging after all.
You will see that the path is denoted by white and red arrows, with several areas being broad and serene, while there is always a beautiful view of the sea.
This is a very picturesque trail with diverse greenery and an ancient stone bridge that is definitely worth photographing.
An hour later and you will have reached Monterosso, where you can take a dip in the ocean or simply sit by the beach and enjoy the calmness of nature.
Where To Stay When Hiking Cinque Terre
Stay In Riomagiorre For The Nightlife
It is true that no matter where you stay in Cinque Terre, it will be a memorable stay as each and every one of the villages are beautiful.
With a plethora of Cinque Terre guesthouses and hotels to choose from, it might be difficult to choose one, but at the same time easy because of the abundance of alternative options.
However, if you are interested in some nightlife on the Italian coast, then you should consider staying in Riomaggiore.
The largest of the 5 villages of Cinque Terre, it has more options for a night out and plenty of great restaurants and is considered the ‘cosmopolitan’ village of the region.
Stay In Manarola And Vernazza For The Views
On the other hand, if views are what you are looking for, then Manarola and Vernazza are your top choices.
Manarola is renowned for its winemaking as well as the way the houses are built in such a way to appear as if they are falling down the hillside that hugs a charming lagoon.
Heads Up! Vernazza can get crowded during the day with visitors from nearby villages as it is equally picturesque, so you can also expect the prices and some of the accommodations offered to be a bit more ‘luxurious.’
You have probably seen numerous photos of Cinque Terre online, and if there was one village depicted that caught your eye, it was definitely either one of these.
So, if you want to take your own photos of this sort, stay there for a couple of nights.
Stay In Corniglia And Monterosso For The Nature
The two opposites, Corniglia and Monterosso are two villages where people stay for nature.
If you are a lover of the mountains and rural life, then you should stay in Corniglia as it has no beach at all.
On the other hand, if you are in Cinque Terre during the summer season and want to make the most out of the sea, then head to Monterosso to enjoy the best beaches in the area.
3 Tips For Hiking The Cinque Terre Trail
- Wear comfortable footwear as there are several sharp uphill climbs along the way.
- Hiking in Cinque Terre requires no special equipment beyond sun cream, water, and snack foods for your snack, lunch, or dinner breaks during your hike. Therefore, do not carry too much unnecessary stuff in your backpack, but rather keep it lightweight to make the hike easier and more enjoyable.
- Make sure you have packed enough water before embarking on your hiking trip. Especially when the weather is hot and the sun is up, you will need to hydrate yourself frequently, so you will need to always have enough water with you before reaching the next village.
The Bottom Line
Hiking the Cinque Terre Trail is an unforgettable experience, so pack your luggage or just your backpack if you are based in Italy and enjoy the trip!