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At a Glance

Vernazza The region's gem, crowned with a ruined castle above and a lively waterfront
cradling a natural harbor below.
Monterosso Resorty, flat, and spread out, with a charming old town, a modern new town, and
the region's best beaches, swimming, and nightlife.
Riomaggiore The biggest and most workaday of the five villages.
Manarola Waterfront village dotted with a picturesque mix of shops, houses, and vineyards.
Corniglia Quiet hilltop village known for its cooler temperatures (it's the only one of the five
villages not on the coast), few tourists, and tradition of fine wines.
The five Cinque Terre village from south to north:

Riomaggiore has one main street, a harbour, a rocky beach, a castle, a church, a pharmacy, and a dozen
restaurants. It also has good train connections and is the closest to the main city of La Spezia. I met my
husband here a decade ago, and some of my best friends live here, so Im completely biased when I say
this: its my favorite village.

Heading north from Riomaggiore is the second village called Manarola. Its also a one street town, with
a small harbour where you can swim. It has an incredible spit of land where the most famous Cinque
Terre photos are taken from. Manarola is the smallest village; the baby of the family.

The middle child of the family is Corniglia. Shes a rebel. Shes built far above the ocean on the cliffs. To
arrive in Corniglia you gotta hoof it up the 365 steps (one for each day of the year) to reach the centre of
town. If you have excessive luggage dont stay here. But saying that, its where to go to get away from it
all.

The beauty queen of the Cinque Terre is named Vernazza. This village is the most popular girl at school;
everyone wants to hang out with her and be her friend. Shes incredibly photogenic. Vernazza is a one
street town with a church built on the water. She has a castle, the remains of the old wall that protected
against pirates, a gorgeous waterfront piazza and a harbour with a spit of sand I would even call a beach.

The northernmost village is called Monterosso al Mare. Shes the biggest kid in the family, and she has
many streets and even (gasp) cars driving in the village. Her landscape isnt as vertical as her other
sisters, you could even spend the entire day not climbing hills and stairs. Monterosso is made up of an
old town, a new town, lots of sandy beaches, some larger hotels and a long seaside promenade suitable
for strollers too. If you want to avoid stairs and have a more resort feel to your vacation then you
should stay here.

Day 1.

Arrival Day. Check-in to your hotel. Maybe youve had a big travel day so go stare at the ocean and drink
a glass of local wine at:

A Pie de Ma (Via dellAmore, Riomaggiore, take the stairs at the train station, and youll find it
after a 3 minute walk.)

This is my favorite drink spot in the whole world and a visit here is mandatory to your Cinque Terre
experience. My recommended tipple is either local white wine, prosecco or the specialty from this area
called Sciacchetra a fortified wine made from dry grapes of the hillsides youre surrounded by.

After that I would cruise down to the marina. Gather at the agave plant and watch the sunset over the
harbour. Then head to dinner at:

La Lanterna (Via S. Giacomo, Riomaggiore, overlooking the marina).

Youll love the beautiful stone interior and the Ligurian comfort food it serves.
Day 2:

Rise and shine because its a beautiful day and you have nothing to do except enjoy it. Head down to the
village and catch the morning action. Drink a coffee on the main (and only!) street. Then head to the
beach in Riomaggiore for a morning swim.

To find the beach of Riomaggiore, go down to the marina (take the steps youll find on the left at
the bottom of Via Colombo). When you reach the marina take the stairs to the left and it will
pass the ferry dock. Just past there, youll find a beach. The beach is rocky, not sandy. At first,
the rocks look uncomfortable, but you can arrange them until you create a nice little nest. I love
that beach cause its mellow. If you need pure relaxation, just spend the day there. But but if
you want to be active, hike up to the Santuario di Montenero. Its about 3 hours round trip.
Directions are in my Hiking Cinque Terre Trails post.

Another swimming spot is in the next village over. Take the train to Manarola and head down to
the harbour. You can cliff jump, or just join the Italians who set up camp on the boat launch. If
you keep walking north along the walking path jutting out to the point, youll be rewarded with
village views fit for a postcard. Theres also a playground if youre traveling with children. And a
killer cocktail spot, called Nessun Dorma. (If youre traveling with children youll definitely need
a cocktail right about now.)

For dinner, I recommend two options:

1: Adventure to the village of Groppo. Its completely out of the way, so give yourself an hour to arrive
(you need to take the train from Riomaggiore to Manarola). The food is divine and made with love with
local ingredients. I suggest arranging a wine pairing with your meal. This restaurant is very particular; its
more like dining in someones home, so reservations are a must. Contact the owner, Christiane, to make
a reservation.

Restaurant: Cappun Magru in Casa di Marin, in the village of Groppo. You can catch a bus just
outside the pharmacy in Manarola to get to the village of Groppo, a tiny village above Manarola.
Phone: 0187920563

After dinner, if youre feeling fit, walk back down to Manarola (or if want to skip the 30 minute walk
simply catch the bus back down the hill. Check times though). You can visit the adorable village of
Manarola, it has one main street so everything is easy to see.

2: Without the trek up to Groppo, you can stay in Manarola and eat at Da Billy. Bring your walking legs
cause its up the hill, but rewards are a great view. They serve seafood.

Restaurant: Da Billy, Via Aldo Rollandi 122, Manarola Phone: +39 0187 920628

Another Manarola option is on the main drag, with no stairs.

Trattoria il Porticciolo, Via Renato Birolli 92, Manaraola. Phone: +39 0187 920083
After dinner head down to the locals hangout with live music most nights:

Cantina dello Zio Bramante, Via Renato Birolli 110, Manarola. Phone: +39 0187 920442

Train home. The walking path called Via dellAmore is still closed as of now (current as of March, 2015).

Day 3.

If you havent heard, the Cinque Terre is famous for its walking paths. Hiking the Cinque Terre trails is a
wonderful thing to do, and there are trails weaving all over the region. Some are paid trails (its 7.50 for
a day-pass), and some are not.

My favourite trails are: Riomaggiore to Portovenere (free but long) and Monterosso to Levanto (free).
My other fave ones are Monterosso to Vernazza and Vernazza to Corniglia, but youll need a trail pass
for these. They are both suited to beginners and lazy hikers, although promise me youll not wear flip
flops on the trail. As the signs also say, dont wear high heels. Glad they pointed that out.

For just a taste of the trails, I would suggest the section from Monterosso to Vernazza.

You can train from Riomaggiore to Monterosso, visit the village of Monterosso, and then hike the trail to
the next village of Vernazza. In Monterosso you can swim at the beach and visit the old and new town.
Bring a backpack and water for your hike. Live like a local and grab a piece of focaccia for lunch, or my
favorite, focaccia di recco. Try the farinata too (its gluten free).

Spend your hike afterglow in the village of Vernazza. Its another one street town, and its pretty
interesting as its been under extensive repairs after a landslide in 2011. Its a lovely place to spend the
afternoon.

For dinner, eat at my favourite seaside restaurant in all of the villages. Youll find it down at the marina.
They could have a spot on the lower balcony, if not take the high one. If the sea is rough youll be cooled
off with sea spray.

Ristorante Belforte, Via G. Guidoni, Vernazza. (These are very Italian directions: go to where the
boats are tied up, and youll spot the stairs on the left.) Phone:+39 0187 812222

Day 4.

Parting is such sweet sorrow.

If youre traveling today, a great idea is to buy your train ticket the day earlier. That way, when you show
up to the train, it wont matter if theres a long line up, you wont miss your train! Be sure to validate
your tickets by inserting it into the machines on the platform on your day of travel, or you could risk a
fine.

If your travels take you north, to Milan, Turin , Genoa or into France then you should get off the train
at Bonassola. It has an amazing beach and an adorable town. I love spending an entire afternoon here;
you can rent a beach umbrella and beach chair and love summer like the rest of the Italians. It is the
most underrated town of the area and worth a visit.

Options and extras:

If you have more time to spend in the Cinque Terre my other suggestions are:

Go to the market in La Spezia, on Fridays (cheapo clothes and shoes)

Go to the market at Forte Dei Marmi on Wednesdays (designer discount clothes)

Go to the market in Levanto, on Wednesdays (food and clothes)

Day trip to Portovenere on the ferry.

Day trip to Sestri Levante on the train.

Drive to Lerici and Tellaro (if you have a car).

Day trip to Bonassola on the train.

Hiking Guide to the Cinque Terre


By Jessica | July 13th, 2009

No matter how crowded the tiny villages of the Cinque


Terre are getting these days, they remain intensely beautiful, almost impossibly charming, and reasonably accessible
to visitors all of which means theyll continue to be popular on most peoples to-do lists when they come to Italy.
Among the biggest reasons why people visit the Cinque Terre to begin with is the hiking.
There is a cliffside trail which connects the Cinque Terre villages, and which provides some stunning views over the
Ligurian Sea. But each connecting trail is slightly different, from how difficult it is to how well-maintained it is. In this
article, Im going to break down the hike into its individual sections so you can better plan your trek (and decide
whether there are any segments youd just rather skip entirely!).
>> Learn more about getting around in the Cinque Terre for the times when youre not hiking, too.

Hiking Guide for the Cinque Terre

I have a habit of thinking of the Cinque Terre towns in a


numbered way, which isnt uncommon among travel writers who have covered the area. Unlike most of them,
however, for some reason I start my numbering system at the top (northernmost) town and work my way down
(south). For the purposes of this article, however, Im going to reverse that because the hikes starting from the
southernmost town get harder as you go north, so it makes sense to increase the number rather than decrease it!
The trails connecting the Cinque Terre towns (and the land surrounding them) was turned into a National Park in
1999, and ever since then hikers have to pay a fee to enter the park and walk between the villages. Being a National
Park also means there are certain hours when the trails are open its no longer a 24/7 operation. Youll find all the
Cinque Terre National Park information you need including entry fees, trail maps, and the passes you can buy at
the bottom of this post.
Because the trail goes through each village, youll get a chance to visit every Cinque Terre town (if you do all the
hikes). This route will let you get a bite to eat along the way, but it also gives you ample opportunity to lose sight of
the next part of the trail. Luckily, the folks in the National Park were thoughtful enough to paint red and white colored
markers in strategic places to lead you around corners, up staircases, and away from main streets to the next
trailhead. (They can be a bit hard to spot, however, so heres what youre looking for.)
Signs at each trail entrance tell you not to wear high heels (darn!), but you also dont need tricked-out hiking gear for
this hike, either. Ive seen teens wearing rubber flip-flops on the trail, and I wouldnt advise that, but a decent pair of
comfortable hiking shoes, hiking sandals, or even tennis shoes is adequate. The main thing you want to be sure of is
that your shoes have good grip, and you arent breaking them in on the Cinque Terre trail.
Another thing to keep in mind is that, since the hike alone can take you nearly five hours (and thats not including time
spent in each town devouring sustenance and generally soaking up the atmosphere, or stopping at the beaches
along the way, both of which are highly recommended), its a very good idea to start hiking as early as possible in the
day. This is good for two reasons first, youll avoid hiking in the hottest parts of the day; and second, youll
potentially avoid most of the crowds of late risers.
In addition to the popular cliffside trail connecting the five towns (called the Blue Trail), theres a much more
challenging trail further inland (called the Cinque Terre High Trail) as well as a trail which links each towns sanctuary
(called, appropriately, the Sanctuary Trail). Ive broken the Blue Trail down into the four separate sections below, and
then listed the High and Sanctuary trails after that.
>> Note that sometimes due to weather and other environmental factors, portions of the trail are closed for
maintenance or repair. You can check the current status of which trails are open on this official Cinque Terre park
website.
Hiking from Riomaggiore to Manarola Cinque Terre Hike #1

This section of the Cinque Terre trail is often referred to as


the Via dellAmore, an Italian Lovers Lane. Its the easiest portion of the trail by a long shot so much so that I
hesitate to even call it a trail. Its flat and paved, so dont be surprised if you see families on this path pushing
strollers between these two towns. This stretch of the trail also comes by its nickname honestly smooching with
your sweetheart is almost impossible to avoid, and colorful love notes are scrawled all over the place.
If you arent engaging in copious amounts of strolling, meandering, or lolly-gagging, the hike between Riomaggiore
to Manarola shouldnt take you more than 20 minutes.

Hiking from Manarola to Corniglia Cinque Terre Hike #2

The trail north out of Manarola will, at first, be similar to the


Via dellAmore trail you just left. Its mainly flat, although no longer paved, and makes for pretty easy going. Easy, that
is, until you get within sight of Corniglia. Thats when you realize that unlike the other four towns, Corniglia isnt at sea
level. Its up on top of a cliff the keyword there is up.
As you get closer to Corniglia youll be walking alongside the train tracks, which are between the water and the trail.
Then, at the train station at the base of the hill (on top of which is the town), there is a set of switchback stairs.
Someone counted there are more than 360 steps to get to the top. If an Italian stair-master isnt what you had in
mind for your vacation, however, you can take the easy way out and opt for the shuttle bus which is to the right of the
station.
The hike between Manarola and Corniglia should take less than an hour, unless you require lots of breaks on the
stairs.

Hiking from Corniglia to Vernazza Cinque Terre Hike #3

Because Corniglia is at the top of a hill, no matter which way


you come from youll have to head upward at some point. On the flip side, however, that also means whichever way
youre going when you leave youre going down.
The trail from Corniglia to Vernazza heads gradually downhill for the most part, although there are some seriously
steep sections. Parts of the trail are made up of irregularly-shaped stone steps which require a bit of attention when
youre walking. Not only that, this is where the trail begins to seem precarious it can get extremely narrow at times,
and in some areas youve got a wall of vineyards or other vegetation on one side and a cliff on the other (with no
railing, I might add).
Its at this point when you start to wonder what itll be like to pass someone coming the other way. (Answer: Dont
worry, the Cinque Terre is plenty crowded youll find out soon enough.) Oh, and once you get to Vernazza, there is
a series of very steep switchback steps leading down into the town itself, so dont start celebrating your arrival too
early.
The hike between Corniglia and Vernazza can take between 1.5-2 hours, barring too much pulling out in the passing
zones.
Hiking from Vernazza to Monterosso al Mare Cinque Terre Hike #4

The most challenging hike is easily the one from Vernazza to Monterosso,
mainly because its not just up or down its both. And its steep. Its also the one with the highest percentage of so-
narrow-youre-not-sure-theyre-wide-enough-for-one-person trail sections (many of which have cliffside dropoffs on
one side), so be prepared for lots of stopping and starting if the trail is particularly crowded. The good news is that
those gorgeous olive orchards and vineyards you started seeing in the last trail segment are even more plentiful in
this one, and youll even dip inland now and then and be bathed in cool forest-y shade. (This is especially refreshing if
youre hiking during the heat of midday in the summer.)
Again, if youre not doing too much in the way of stopping and starting, the hike between Vernazza and Monterosso
should take roughly 1.5-2 hours.

Cinque Terre High Trail

If youre a more serious hiker and you want more of a


challenge (not to mention wanting to get away from the crowds), then have a go at the High Trail. This route actually
stretches beyond the Cinque Terre and connects the towns of Portovenere in the south with Levanto in the north. The
hiking time alone is estimated (depending on what you read) between 6-10 hours, and the paths are not nearly as
well marked as the route described above, so its highly recommended that you either pick up a detailed hiking map
of the area or you hire a local guide to lead the way.
Should you get partway into the High Route and decide youve had enough, no worries there are lots of trails which
connect the High Trail with the Cinque Terre towns, so you can cut your serious trekking short along the way and
choose to spend the remainder of your day sipping the local dessert wine in a bar. No one will judge you.
Cinque Terre Sanctuary Trail

Each of the Cinque Terre towns has a sanctuary (also called


a church or shrine) which is typically in the hills above the town center, and there are trails which connect each of
these as well. You can get to these trails from either the main Blue Trail or the High Trail you can even hike up to
each shrine without starting on either the Blue or High Trail, from each town center.
Again, because these trails are less popular theyre also less well-marked. Get a good hiking map of the area, and
ask at the tourist office if you cant find the starting point.

Cinque Terre National Park Visitor Information

Cinque Terre Trail Entry Fee: 5 per person


Cinque Terre Trail Passes: There are 3 kinds of passes (trail only, trail + trains, trail + trains & ferries). All three
also get you free entry to a few museums in the Cinque Terre towns, a 3-hour bike rental for free, and a discount
on Cinque Terre products for sale at the tourist information centers. Ask for details about all of these extras when
you buy your pass.
Cinque Terre Card trail entry fee only, good for 1, 2, 3, or 7 days; adult prices 5 for 1 day, 8 for 2 days, 10
for 3 days, 20 for 7 days
Cinque Terre Card + Train trail entry fee plus transportation on local trains from Levanto to La Spezia, good for
1, 2, 3, or 7 days; adult prices 8.50 for 1 day, 14.70 for 2 days, 19.50 for 3 days, 36.50 for 7 days
Cinque Terre Card + Ferry trail entry fee plus transportation on local trains (as above) plus ferries in the
Cinque Terre, only sold in 1-day increments; adult price 19.50 per day
Cinque Terre Trail Maps: TrekTools produces a very detailed map of the Cinque Terre hiking areas which you
can buy online before you leave.
Cinque Terre Park Website: This is the main site for the Cinque Terre National Park. There are sections for
theBlue Trail, the Sanctuary Trails, and all the trails, and a page to see which trails (if any) are closed. (Note that
even if you click on the Union Jack its likely the entire page will still be in Italian.)
More Cinque Terre Resources: James at Wandering Italy has some great Cinque Terre hiking resources on his
site. Theres also a photo tour of 3/4 of the hike (with an unexpected detour) here, and SlowTravel Italy has hike
times listed on their site. Beers & Beans reminds us that the hike is not a doddle.

Things Not to Miss in Cinque Terre

The islands of Plamaria, Tino, and Tinetto


Old Castle at Monterosso
Church of Saint John the Baptist at Monterosso
Convent of the Capuchin
The Parish House of Saint Mary of Antioch at Vernazza
Doria Castle at Vernazza
Sanctuary of the Virgin of Reggio at Vernazza
Punta Bonfiglio headland
Churchyard of Sanctuary of Nostra Signora della Salute di Volastra at Manarola
Vineyards around Corniglia
Givano Beach, a famous nudists' beach at Corniglia.