Cinque Terre guided tours & excursions: August 2018

August has arrived and boy, is it hot! Be sure to have plenty of water with you and hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! If you’re visiting Italy this month I recommend on checking out my post with 8 tips on how to survive a hot Italian summer.

Below you’ll find the August 2018 schedule for the Cinque Terre National Park guided tours & excursions.

If you have the Cinque Terre Card you can join these tours and excursions for free. If you’d like to buy the Cinque Terre Card in advance you’ll want to check out my post on the subject here.  If you don’t plan to purchase the Cinque Terre Card you can still participate by paying €6.50 per person.  As these tours have picked up in popularity, you’ll definitely need to book in advance (details on how to do that can be found at the bottom of this post).

The calendar is color coded:

BLUE: A historical and cultural tour of one of the Cinque Terre villages (in comparison to the hikes this is a less strenuous experience)

YELLOW: A hike

GREEN: A hike which requires the purchase of the Cinque Terre Card (as you’ll be hiking on a portion of the coastal trail which requires a pass)

PINK: An e-bike tour

PURPLE: A plogging* hike

*Plogging is a movement that started in Sweden in 2016 and has since spread worldwide.  It’s an eco-friendly activity where joggers, hikers or walkers pick up litter while they are out and about.  It gets two thumbs up from me! Those joining in on the plogging days will receive a free t-shirt and a certificate of participation.

Keep an eye out for the asterisks on the calendar:

• One asterisk (*) denotes the possibility to add on a wine tasting with a local vintner. I highly recommend this! TIP: Be sure to mention it if you’re interested when you reserve your spot.

• Two asterisks (**) indicates a tour on an e-bike.  Not sure what an e-bike is?  It’s a bicycle with an integrated electric motor which can be used for “pedal assist” (which makes climbing those steep Cinque Terre hills a breeze!).  These tours require a minimum age of 14 years and they are very limited in size (max. 8 participants).  Each participant will be provided with a helmet and a bottle of water.  And of course, proper footwear and attire is required.

• Three asterisks (***) is for the option to visit a local farm (for an additional €3 per person).

To reserve your space you’ll need to either ring (+39) 0187 743 500 or email visiteguidate@ati5terre.it

You can follow Cinque Terre Walking Park on Facebook! Chiara (one of the local guides) does a great job of posting photos, schedules and updating in case of cancellations (due to weather conditions).

Enjoy!

Amy

Cinque Terre National Park guided tours & excursions: August 2017

For those heading to the Cinque Terre and seeking a guided experience, look no further. The Cinque Terre National Park offers a different guided option for each day of August. If you’ve purchased a Cinque Terre Card then the scheduled tours and excursions are free for you! If you don’t have the Cinque Terre Card you can still participate at the price of €6.50 per person.

Many of the dates on the Cinque Terre Walking Park calendar offer the possibility to tack on a wine tasting at a local cantina (recommended!) at the end of the tour or excursion for an additional fee. The fee for the wine tasting varies (depending on which cantina will be visited and which wines will be tasted), but most are right around the €10 mark (per person). This is a great way to get to know our territory and all that it stands for while also helping to support our local winemakers.

The Cinque Terre Walking Park calendar is color coded so I’ve created a key for you. First, look at your interested date(s) and then take note of the color for that day.

BLUE = Walking tour. This is going to be the least strenuous of the guided options available. The tours are of the five main villages: Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza & Monterosso (just one village per day).

YELLOW = Hiking excursion. The days highlighted in this color will get you off the beaten path (as they are secondary trails rather than the popular coastal trail).

GREEN = Hiking excursion with mandatory purchase of either the hiking pass or Cinque Terre Card. This requirement is due to the fact that the excursion will take place on the coastal trail (Sentiero Azzurro), which is the only trail within the national park that requires a pass.

PINK = E-bike tour. This option is brand new for 2017! While traditional cycling of the Cinque Terre sounds like (and is!) hard work, these new bikes have power assisted pedaling when the going gets tough. I’m seriously going to try this out myself this year! Keep in mind that there are only eight (yes, EIGHT) spaces available per E-bike tour so you’ll want to act quickly and book your spots ASAP. IMPORTANT: The minimum age for this tour is 14 years.

RED = Expert hikers, only. For August, there’s currently no red dates on the schedule.

Be prepared

  • For the village tours, comfortable walking shoes are recommended.
  • For the hiking excursions, either hiking boots or trainers with decent tread are required. Trust me, you’ll want all the grip you can get!
  • For the E-bike tours, you’ll need to wear comfortable athletic shoes.

All of the aforementioned tours & excursions take place in good weather. In case of rain or wet conditions, the tours & excursions will be cancelled.

BOOK IN ADVANCE. Don’t expect to show up and find a spot available. Reserve your spot in advance by ringing (+39) 0187 743 500 or emailing visiteguidate@ati5terre.it

Keep up with Cinque Terre Walking Park on Facebook by liking and following their page! Chiara (one of the local guides) does a great job of posting updates, schedules, photos and more.

While you’re at it, have a look at my post on the 8 things you need to hike the Cinque Terre.

Enjoy!
Amy

Cinque Terre back on alert

***UPDATE***  The level 2 alert has been extended until 3pm today.  We’ve had lots of rain and gusty winds but as far as the Cinque Terre is concerned so far, so good.  However, the storm has caused extensive flooding just to the south of us in Marina di Carrara.  Fingers crossed that the alert is soon lifted and that we can go back to life as normal.

Rough seas and stormy skies in Riomaggiore on November 4, 2014

Rough seas and stormy skies in Riomaggiore on November 4, 2014

The Cinque Terre is back on a level 2 storm warning starting tonight at 9pm until tomorrow (November 5th) at midnight.  Precautionary measures such as closure of local schools as well as the hiking trails throughout the Cinque Terre National Park will be in effect.

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Transport in the Cinque Terre

If you’re headed this way you might be wondering what’s the best way to get out and about in the Cinque Terre.  There are three recommended modes of transportation: foot, boat and train.

It’s also possible to take a bus within the villages but keep in mind that they run up and down in the villages themselves and not between the five villages (however, there are occasional buses that run to secondary villages still within the Cinque Terre National Park).

It is possible to arrive by car to the Cinque Terre but keep in mind that the roads are very narrow and winding and that parking is very limited and therefore quite expensive.  Once you park your car you’ll want to use the recommended modes of transportation to get around (and most definitely not your car, trust me!).

FOOT

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It’s no secret that the hiking in the Cinque Terre offers up phenomenal views and stunning photos.  While there are currently two closures for the famous coastal trail, it is still possible to hike through all five villages by using the alternate trails for the closed portions (see my earlier post on the status of the Sentiero Azzurro).  Besides the coastal trail, there’s an abundance of other trails that can be hiked (free of charge!) throughout the national park.

BOAT

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The ferries between the villages usually start running at Easter and will continue up until the first few days of November (although early and late in the season the schedule will be limited compared to the summer schedule).  The boats are a great (and relaxing!) way to see the villages and countryside from a different vantage point.  Just keep in mind that the ferry will not stop in Corniglia (as it is the only village of the Cinque Terre located off of the sea).  The ferries also head down the coast to Portovenere which is a beautiful village that I highly recommend visiting if time permits.  Portovenere is about a 30 minute boat ride further down the coast from Riomaggiore and the coastline is spectacular to see.  Click here to check timetables for the ferries.

TRAIN

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The Cinque Terre are located on the TrenItalia railway line that connects La Spezia (pronounced La Spetz-ee-uh) and Genoa (in Italian Genova).  Regional trains travel back and forth throughout the day, starting as early as 5am and as late as midnight.  Stop by the national park information points (at any station in the Cinque Terre) to pick up a handy pocket-size schedule of the trains running between the villages.  Once you have this schedule you won’t have to be at the station to know when the next trains will be running in either direction.  The trains are the least expensive and fastest way to travel between the villages, but don’t expect them to be panoramic (because of the unique geography of our area, the trains pass through tunnels nearly the entire time).  You can check train time and schedules on the TrenItalia official website here (enter in where you’d like to leave from and where you’d like to arrive).  If you are traveling by train internationally I recommend using the German railway site (as you won’t be able to check international schedules on the TrenItalia website).

BUS

Eco-buses in Riomaggiore, Cinque Terre

You’ll find green or white ATC buses in the villages.  These buses run up and down in the villages themselves (you’ll see lots of elderly locals using this service) as well as occasionally to other secondary villages in the Cinque Terre (for example, Volastra which is a little village in the Cinque Terre National Park above Manarola).  While it is possible to use these buses keep in mind that they won’t be as well connected as the trains, panoramic as the boats or as memorable as the hiking.

Current status of the Cinque Terre “Sentiero Azzurro” (Coastal Trail)

Latest update: October, 2017 

There’s a lot of (mis)information out there about what trails in the Cinque Terre are open or closed at the moment, so I’m hoping to clear up any confusion.

The most famous hiking path in the Cinque Terre is the Sentiero Azzurro (the so-called “blue” coastal trail that connects all five villages, also known as SVA).  There are currently two sections of the coastal trail that are open (the sections between Corniglia and Vernazza and between Vernazza and Monterosso) while the other two sections are currently closed. 

Let me break down the four sections of the coastal trail for you and give you some details for each one.

Riomaggiore to Manarola:  The famous Via dell’Amore (Lovers’ Lane) which can be classified as a walk or stroll (not a hike) has been closed since 2012 due to extensive landslides. There’s no hope of it reopening in 2017 as no works are currently in progress (thanks to a lack of funding and Italian bureaucracy *sigh*).  Learn more about the Via dell’Amore here.

  • Alternate trail:  At the moment, the primary alternative trail between Riomaggiore and Manarola (called the Beccara, trail #531) has been closed to the public due to pending litigation (more details on that can be found here).  While super steep and intense, the Beccara was a straightforward way to hike between the two villages.  My friends at Cinque Terre Trekking in Manarola have mapped an alternate route (albeit longer and not so direct) for avid hikers wanting to connect between the two villages (see below). img_2907Starting on trail 501 in Riomaggiore (you’ll find the trailhead behind the village’s castle) connect to trails 530 – 532 – 532C – 502 – 506V – 506.  This loop is circa 5.8km (3.6 miles) with 420 meters of positive elevation gain.  If you’re on Instagram, I recommend following @cinqueterretrek for gorgeous Cinque Terre trail photos and some inspiration!

Manarola to Corniglia: This portion of the coastal trail has been closed since 2011 due to landslide; at this point we do not have an expected reopen date.  However, don’t be discouraged as the alternative trail for this portion of the coastal trail is actually one of my favorites (and is actually much more beautiful than the original!).

  • Alternate trail: via Volastra (trail 506 to 586 to 587) From Manarola, trail #506 makes its way up the hillside, climbing through the terraced vineyards.  Once you’ve reached Volastra (a beautiful little village off of the sea) the trail connects with trail number 586 and takes you through the olives groves and then descends down into Corniglia on trail 587.  As Corniglia is already located up off of the sea, the descent isn’t too steep.  This alternate route between Manarola and Corniglia takes roughly 2 to 2 1/2 hours (diffulty level: medium to difficult).

TIP:  Keep in mind that the most difficult portion of this alternate route is the section of trail 506 (as this is the incline from sea level in Manarola up to 333 meters/1,094 feet above sea level in Volastra).  If you prefer, it is possible to catch a bus from Riomaggiore (two per day during peak-season) or Manarola (multiple buses each day) to Volastra and hike the latter two trails to Corniglia.

Corniglia to Vernazza*: This portion of the blue coastal trail (SVA) is currently open and takes approx. 1 1/2 hours to hike (difficulty level: medium to difficult). As you approach Vernazza you’ll have some stellar views over the village!

Vernazza to Monterosso*:  This is the most difficult portion of the coastal trail (not counting the alternate route between Riomaggiore and Manarola).  Approx. hiking time is 2 hours (difficulty level: strenuous).

*Keep in mind that in order to hike the Sentiero Azzurro a special national park hiking pass (€7.50 per person, per calendar day) must be purchased.  In alternative, you can purchase the Cinque Terre Card  (€16 per person, per calendar day) which will include not just the hiking along the coastal trail, but also unlimited trains for the day between the villages as well as use of the buses in the villages.  See more details about the different passes available by clicking here.

IMPORTANT THINGS TO NOTE:  

Only the coastal trail (Sentiero Azzurro) requires payment.  All of the other trails (including the aforementioned alternate trails) can be hiked free of charge.

I’m oftentimes asked about the status of the Cinque Terre trails because people have heard that the majority of the trails are closed. FALSE. Out of a total of 48 signmarked trails in the Cinque Terre, 5 are currently closed. FIVE.  But don’t take my word for it, you can see for yourself on the Cinque Terre National Park website.  No matter how long your stay, there’s plenty of hiking to be done here!

While we’re on the subject, I recommend reading my post on the 8 things you need to hike the Cinque Terre.

Amy hiking to Monesteroli

Yours truly, doing one of the things I love most… hiking the Cinque Terre! Photo: Nicole O’Neil

Happy trails!

Amy