What you need to know before hiking in the Cinque Terre

I recently posted this on both Instagram and Facebook, but seeing its overwhelming popularity I’ve decided to publish it here on the blog, too.


Hiking in the Cinque Terre.

What could be better?  But there are definitely some things you should know first:

  • This is hiking, NOT walking. You’ll need to be in decent shape as you’ll definitely get your heart pumping with the steep stairs and inclines.
Photo: Nicole O’Neil
  • You’ll need to be sure-footed. The terrain is uneven and the trails are a combination of stairs (LOTS of them), packed dirt, stones and pebbles.  And oftentimes there won’t be a handrail (heads up for those of you with a fear of heights). img_8707
  • Wear proper footwear.  At the very least, you’ll need athletic trainers (but with decent tread as you’ll need the grip).  Don’t even think about hiking in slick-bottomed shoes, sandals or flip-flops.  Just don’t.  If you do, be warned that you can be ticketed and fined (rightfully so, trail rescues are costly and ultimately Italian taxpayers foot the bill—no pun intended).
  • Don’t hike in the rain.  Trails become slippery and dangerous when wet.  And did you read where I said that oftentimes there are no handrails?  Don’t risk it.  Plus, the trails are officially closed during poor weather conditions.
  • Get off the beaten path (or get a very early start on the popular trails). The Cinque Terre National Park offers 120km of trails, but most people only know about the coastal trail that spans 12km.  I love hiking the lesser known trails that offer just as much beauty and a whole lot more tranquillity. 
  • The best months for hiking in the Cinque Terre are April, May, June, September and October.  July and August are usually just too hot for pleasurable hiking.  Between November and March you can get some great hiking in, but only when the weather cooperates.
Amy hiking to Monesteroli

Photo: Nicole O’Neil

If you’ve read all of the above and you still feel you’re up for it then by all means, get out hiking! You’re going to love it.


Cinque Terre National Park guided tours & excursions: May 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 May.  The rates are exceptional (free to those that have purchased the Cinque Terre Card for that particular day, otherwise €2.50 per person).  Many of the dates offer the possibility to tack on a wine tasting at the end of the tour or excursion for an additional fee (recommended).  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.

I’m loving the new Cinque Terre Walking Park color coded calendar for 2017 (although the fine print is pretty teeny-tiny).


Let me break it down for you.  Each date is color coded so look at your interested dates and then look below on my key for more details:

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).

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.

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.

RED = Expert hikers, only.  The dates highlighted in red will take you on the ancient Beccara trail (see more details about that trail on my previous post, here).  This is probably the hardest trail you’ll encounter in the Cinque Terre so it’s only for the fit and sure-footed.

What you need to know

  • 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.

Buon divertimento!