For a great many travelers to Italy's Cinque Terre, their reason for visiting is to hike the narrow footpaths that connect the five coastal towns. While the towns are beautiful from almost any angle, nothing matches the visual thrill of rounding a corner or cresting the top of a trail, only to see the next colorful town appear in the distance.
In order to access the trails of the Cinque Terre, you must possess a Cinque Terre Card. Learn how to get the card and how much it costs with our guide to Cinque Terre Cards.
Note that in recent years, storms, flooding and erosion have damaged many of the trails in the Cinque Terre, and restoration of the trails is often a years-long process. Check the Parco Nazionale Cinque Terre website for the most current status of trail openings and closings.
There are hikes in the Cinque Terre suited to almost every level of walker. Here's our unranked list of the top 10 best hikes in the Cinque Terre, with info about distances, degree of difficulty and what to see along the way.
Sentiero Azzurro/Blue Path Trail
Despite sections of this trail being closed since a 2012 landslide, we've left the Sentiero Azzurro (#2 Blue Trail) on the list because it is the classic through-hike that connects all five towns. A total of 11 km (7 miles), this path passes through each town, and features terrain that ranges from easy to challenging—the steep scrambles up and down to/from the towns are the toughest part. Trail veterans say it's easiest to start on the Monterosso end and get the hard part over with early as you work your way south. The trail can be done in about 6-7 hours, not counting stops along the way.
This 3.5 km (2,2 mile) loop trail climbs gradually up from Riomaggiore and arrives at the Sanctuary of Montenero, an 11th-century church above the town. Take a quick peek inside, then pause at the viewpoint near the sanctuary for one of those epic Cinque Terre panoramas. We recommend hiking this trail clockwise, which allows you to go down the stairs back to Riomaggiore, instead of up the stairs to the sanctuary. Save your knees for another hike! With the slow, gentle climb up and about 90-minute duration, this hike is ranked easy.
Corniglia to Cigoletta
Another trail for serious hikers, the 587 climbs up from Corniglia to Cigoletta, a pretty spot deep and high in the Ligurian woodlands. From Corniglia's Church of St. Peter, hikers climb up a steep and rocky trail, sometimes on stone steps, to reach an area known as Cigoletta. There are no real landmarks along this trail—just a steady climb through vineyards, olive groves and a dense wood. The 2.4 km (1.5 mile) hike takes about 2.5 hours going up and less than 2 hours on the way down.
Riomaggiore to Manarola
This challenging hike is considered one of the most panoramic in the park. Pick up the 531—called the Beccara Trail—in Riomaggiore, and hike the old path that was once the only way to get back and forth to Manarola. Along the way, you'll pass through vineyards, orchards, and along a streambed. You'll descend into Manarola to great views of the town and harbor. With lots of steps in both directions, this 1.4 km (just under 1 mile) hike takes about an hour one-way.
Monterosso Nature Loop
This longish, easy hike (marked 590 and 509) is across almost all level terrain, and allows hikers to take in a variety of colorful, fragrant landscapes just outside the town. A highlight on the trail is the shady, peaceful Sanctuary of Soviore, built over the still-visible ruins of an ancient church. The descent back into Monterosso is a bit steep. The nearly 11-km (7 mile) loop will take close to 4 hours.
Vernazza to Monterosso
This pretty, challenging trail, marked the SVA2 or 592-4 climbs steps out of Vernazza and then becomes a dirt path that skirts the coastline from a high vantage point. You'll spot the "monorails"—the unique transport system that growers use to pick grapes on the steep terrain. The trail also passes through wetlands and along canals, and catch a long-distance view of waterfalls cascading into the sea. At just under 4 km (about 2.3 miles), this hike takes about 2 hours one-way.
Telegrafo - Volastra
This fun and easy hike (marked 530) actually bypasses the five towns, and instead connects a hamlet called Telegrafo to the Cinque Terre satellite town of Volastra. It's a mostly level, shaded walk along a dirt path, where the occasional car or tractor might pass. At nearly 10 km (just over 6 miles), this pleasant trail takes about 3 hours at a leisurely pace. From Volastra, you can walk down to Manarola or continue on to Corniglia.
Via dell'Amore - Manarola section
If you just want to say you hiked part of the Cinque Terre, it doesn't get easier than this 650-meter (.4 mile) paved trail. The Via dell'Amore once ran all the way to Riomaggiore and was one of the most popular (and easy) trails in the park, But a 2012 rockslide closed much of the trail—options now are to walk this section from Manarola and then turn around midway, where the trail ends, or to walk a short section from Riomaggiore.
This short, moderately easy path (marked 506V) departs from a bridge at Rio Groppo, then runs north-ish through the small hamlet of Groppo, a satellite village of Manarola. In Grappo, the trail makes its hairpin turn and then passes through chestnut and olive groves and terraced vineyards. Along the way, you'll pass the charming Niche of San Michele Shrine of Madonna del Piaggio, a small altar. The path is just 1.2 km (.75 miles) and takes about 40 minutes. When the trail meets the 506, you can continue on to Manarola, or backtrack the way you came.
Vernazza - Foce Drignana
This rocky old mule trail (marked 508) used to connect the villages above Vernazza and now presents a moderate, scenic hike up to the hamlet of Drignano. You'll pass the Vernazza cemetery, and travel along a historic route still used for the Stations of the Cross procession at Easter. When you reach the paved SP 51 at the top of the trail, you can turn around, or wait for a bus to Vernazza or Manarola. This 3.5 km (just over 2 miles) takes a little more than 2 hours uphill, less on the way back.