First off – you need to make sure you have your Cinque Terre Card – Now this is a national park so you do have to purchase a ticket on arrival. It allows unlimited use of the walkways of the park and unlimited use of the train system that links all five villages. The money is goes towards preserving this unique place.
The total walk (if all the walks are open) is approximately 11kms. Be prepared for countless steps, narrow paths and some hard to see markers pointing out the path. There are often just ledges between terraces so can be a bit tricky passing people with backpacks if it is busy.
The Cinque Terre is crossed by many pathways. The main trail goes along the coast and links all the villages in a five hour walk. There is a more difficult trail on the ridge and another trail to the Sanctuaries.
The mountains descend abruptly to the sea; a path, called the “Sentiero Azzurro” runs along the coast high above the villages. Other walks are lower and close to the shores.
You don’t have to hike between all five villages at one time – you can walk part, then do the rest by train or ferry boat.
Monterosso to Vernazza Walk – Around 2 hours. This is the hardest walk as it is very steep at the beginning with over 1000 steps straight up. You may find walking poles very useful here. The view coming down into gorgeous Vernazza is well worth the effort.
Vernazza to Corniglia Walk – Around 1.5 hours, this walk is steep at the start but then it evens out and you get to walk along narrow little tracks and through olive fields.
Corniglia to Manarola Walk – This is a reasonably easy walk of around 1 hour. You have plenty of steps – all 365 of them, they are however staggered so not as hard as the Monterosso to Vernazza walk.
Manarola – Riomaggiore – Just 30 minutes, this is the most famous and certainly the easiest. It is paved all the way and pretty much flat. Suitable for anyone including pushchairs.
There are many other walks to tempt you. I particularly love the walk from Riomaggiore through to Portovenere – around 3.5 hours of gorgeous coastal walking. Have lunch in one of the seafood restaurants and catch the boat back again.
Another exquisite walk is based from Portofino. Simply walk up the back of the town, over the wooded hill and down to the cove at the bottom which is home to the San Fruttuoso Abbey. Take your togs if it is hot and enjoy a dip.
See our article – Exploring the Cinque Terre – for more information on the individual villages.
Getting around: You can get to each of the villages by train, there are also ferries between the them as well but most people opt to walk between them using the many paths and trails along the hillside, the most famous of which is the Via Dell’Amore or Lovers Lane as we would call it, which is a 1km stretch between Manarola and Riomaggiore, this path has lots of stone benches to allow you to stop and take in the views. All paths should be open again for the 2015 season.
For more detail on Exploring the Cinque Terre – click HERE