If you know me at all, you know that I am an avid hiker. So when I planned my trip to Italy, I knew I had to check hiking in the Cinque Terre off my bucket list. I am happy to report that I was in fact able to check it off my list, and with a toddler on my back! This hike exceeded my expectations. It had the 3 main things that I want to get out of a hike: a challenge (and boy was it a challenge!), breathtaking views and a sense of serenity.
The Cinque Terre is made up of 5 small seaside villages along the Italian Rivera. I based myself in Monterosso, the largest of the 5 towns. Monterosso is the first of the 5 towns, followed by Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore.
The most popular trail to take is Trail #2, also known as the blue trail. If you are up for a challenge, you can hike through all 5 villages in about 6 hours. Many visitors choose to spread it out over the course of a few days. Considering I had an extra 20lbs on my back, I decided to only hike between 2 of the villages. Since I was based in Monterosso, I began my trek there and hiked to Vernazza. This portion of the hike took approximately 2 hours. I was warned that going in this direction was the most challenging compared to starting at the other end; I was warned right. Holy stairs! I thought they were never going to end! If you are only in the Cinque Terre for a couple of days, want to work off all that Italian food you’ve been eating and wish to be rewarded with a magnificent view of Vernazza, then start your voyage from Monterosso!
Hiking in the Cinque Terre is a surreal experience; from the rugged landscape, sounds of the Mediterranean ocean to sweeping view of seaside villages. It is a hike that I want to re-live over and over, no matter how challenging it was! As you can probably tell, I had an amazing experience; however I made several mistakes.
Here is what you should know about hiking the Cinque Terre:
The Terrain is Rugged
There are thousands of stairs. OK, maybe not that many, but there are A LOT. The trail is close to cliffs, filled with rocks and other obstacles and can be muddy. In other words, wear proper shoes and watch where you are going. I made the mistake of not having a decent pair of shoes and I paid for it.
You Need a Hiking Pass
The Cinque Terre is actually considered a National Park. Unfortunately, this means you have to pay. I started off hiking from Monterosso and about 15 minutes in I reached a checkpoint. I was told I needed to purchase the Cinque Terre card to continue on the trail. Bring euros! I only had credit cards with me, which they didn’t accept. Luckily, the nicest Aussie mother and daughter duo lent me euros so that I didn’t have to turn around.
You Don’t Need to Hike Back
Over-exerted yourself? Don’t worry! The regional trains run from town to town and can easily take you back to your home base after your hike. The trains conveniently run about every 20 minutes.
The Trails Close
Depending on the weather and the time of year, it is common for some of the trails to close. Make sure you do your research before you venture out for your hike to ensure the trails you plan on using are open.