8 things you need to hike the Cinque Terre

View over Vernazza from the Sentiero Azzurro

I love to hike. It’s ironic that I live in hikers’ paradise yet I don’t get out trekking nearly as much as I’d like. Luckily for me, my collaboration with Randonnée has pushed me to get back out on the trails to rediscover this place I love.

I’ve oftentimes been asked what I recommend people take hiking with them here in the Cinque Terre. Here are the 8 things I always have with me:

  1. Proper footwear. Look, it’s not necessary to have hiking boots (though some people prefer them). Trainers are just fine so long as they have decent tread on them.
  2. A daypack. You’ll want a small, lightweight backpack to hold all of your necessities. I personally prefer one with lots of pockets and zippered compartments. When I’m hiking with someone else we bring one daypack between the two of us and trade off wearing it. 
  3. Water.  I love me some ice cold water while out on the trail. One of my must-have items is a double walled, stainless steel insulated water bottle. This thing can keep things ice cold for hours (the manufacturer says mine keeps things hot for 12 hours or cold for 24 hours, I can personally attest that I’ve had my water stay ice cold for 8+ hours!). I love that there’s no condensation and everything else in my pack stays nice and dry. I bought mine here in Italy from Amazon but it’s a brand currently available only in Europe. I found this one on Amazon.com that looks just like mine and it has amazing reviews. Of course, you can just buy a bottle of water if you prefer but this is a green, reusable option that you can use throughout your Italian travels (not to mention when you get back home).
  4. Something to eat. Depending on where I plan to hike, I pack either a snack (my go-to is fruit) or a sack lunch (I usually have a panino made at a local alimentari before I head off). 
  5. Comfortable clothing. On a recent hike I saw some people wearing some pretty unconventional hiking attire (think: sundresses and trench coats *gasp*).  You’ll find me wearing comfortable leggings (or shorts in the warmer season) and either a t-shirt or tank top.  Your best bet is to layer as there are parts of the trails that are fully exposed to the sun (and hot) and others that are in the shade (and quite chilly). I wear a lightweight The North Face jacket made with Gore-Tex (which is perfect for protecting me from wind & rain) just like this one. I love that I can wear this and skip a sweatshirt because even though it’s thin & breathable it actually keeps me quite warm! And unlike bulkier jackets or heavy sweatshirts, I can easily tie it at my waist when I don’t need it.
  6. Photo ID. By law in Italy, you are required to always have valid ID on you. If you are a non-EU citizen this means you are always required to have your passport with you; EU citizens can get away with carrying a government issued identity card or drivers license.  For those feeling iffy about carrying your passport with you (which I totally understand given the prevalence of pickpockets on the trains), at the very least take a decent quality photocopy of the main page of your passport with you. 
  7. Cash. Carry enough cash with you to cover the costs you’ll incur (for example, for the hiking pass if you’re planning to hike the coastal trail, transport tickets, a little pocket money for gelato or focaccia, etc.). I usually take €20 with me. I don’t see any reason to take more than €50 (unless you have grand plans for lunch or shopping along the way).  If you feel nervous having only cash with you, bring along one credit card, just in case. 
  8. Your phone. Optional: A fancy-schmancy camera. Unless you’re a photog or a shutterbug, there’s really no reason to bring a camera and your phone (as the latest smart phones can take some pretty great pictures).

    All of my photos are taken with my iPhone.  Not too shabby, eh?

    I won’t lie though, the GoPro Hero 5 is on my wish list and I’d totally hike with it if I had one. While having a camera (and fancy equipment) is optional, your mobile phone is essential in case of emergency on the trails or elsewhere (dial 118 for medical emergencies or 115 for the fire department).

That’s it! If you’ve checked these 8 things off of your list then you’re ready to get out and conquer the Cinque Terre trails. 

Here are some more tips for you:

  • Lather on the sunscreen before hitting the trails. If you’re extra fair, bring the sunscreen with you so you can reapply as needed (you might want to bring a hat & sunglasses, too).
  • Wear your daypack backwards (on your chest rather than on your back) while on public transport to discourage thieves. Keep your valuables (cash, ID, phone and/or camera) in a deep (ideally zipped) inner pocket. Because, pickpockets. Being vigilant on the trains and at the stations is key. 
  • Walking sticks (a.k.a. trekking poles) are by no means a necessity, though you’ll notice certain nationalities adore them (Germans in particular). If you do decide to use them, be kind and put rubber tips on the points (as the sharp metal points dig in and deteriorate the trails).
  • Do not, I repeat, do not hike with your luggage (even if you’re traveling with a backpack).  Doing so will surely suck any pleasure out of your hiking experience. Seriously, the Cinque Terre trails will get your heart thumping without the extra 20 kilos strapped to your back! Backtracking to pick up your luggage after you’ve finished hiking will be totally worthwhile.
  • In the warmer months, pop your bathing suit in your daypack. There’s no better reward after a tough day of hiking than a dip in the Mediterranean. 

Happy trails,


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