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Along the northwestern coast of Italy there are five impressive cities located called Cinque Terre which means the ‘Five Lands’ translated from Italian. The landscape is unique with five colorful seaside villages, terraced vineyards, and rugged cliffs. You immediately understand why it’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Tip: hike the Coastal Trail where you pass by all the five villages. You need to pay an entrance fee for the two most famous trails from Monterosso to Vernazza and from Vernazza to Corniglia. The other trails are all free of charge. Make sure to bring enough cash with you, sun protection and wear good shoes.
What to know about Cinque Terre
The five charming, colorful fishing villages located on the cliffs are looking over the Mediterranean Sea. The villages are connected by hiking trail, boats, and a train, so there are many options to discover every village. Cinque Terre consist of the following villages:
- Monterosso al Mare is the largest village where you can find beautiful beaches and a historical old town to discover like the Church of San Giovanni Battista.
- Vernazza is known for the natural harbor and the scenic setting. One thing you should pass by is the medieval tower and church.
- Corniglia is the village that is located on a hilltop, so there is no direct access to the Mediterranean Sea, but you will find terraced vineyards instead. This unique setting makes sure you have some stunning views.
- Manarola is the place to watch an unforgettable sunset. Here you will see many colorful houses that are built along the cliffs.
- Riomaggiore is the village that lays the most South, and it’s known for the narrow streets and the buildings on the hillsides. It’s also the start or end point for the famous Via dell’Amore coastal trail, which means Lover’s Lane.
Tip: you can buy a combining ticket at the train station for the train and the hiking trail together. So, you need to buy a Cinque Terre Card or a Cinque Terre Card + Train pass. The last option allows you to have access to the hiking trails and the train between the villages.
Top activities to do in and around Cinque Terre
Cinque Terre are five villages connected by train, which makes it easy to go from the one village to the other. It’s possible to visit the five cities in one day, but I recommend staying two to three days to take it easy and enjoy the views. You can walk to the five villages, but you need to know that it’s intense during the summer months and the heat. The hike goes up and down a lot, so be prepared and wear good shoes.
Cinque Terre offers a range of activities that allow you to fully immerse yourself in its stunning coastal beauty, rich culture, and charming villages. Here are 7 things you need to experience in Cinque Terre:
- Wander around and discover every village of the Cinque Terre
- Hike one or more of the many hiking trails like Sentiero Azzurro, Via dell’Amore or Sentiero Rosso
- Relax on the beach and swim in the clear waters of the Ligurian Sea or go scuba diving
- Take a boat tour along the coastline, so you see the villages from a different perspective
- Eat Ligurian specialties
- Take a wine tasting tour and taste the local wines
- Discover the Olive Groves
How to hike the five cities
There are many hiking trails near Cinque Terre. In total there is over 120 kilometers of trail with around 48 hiking trails available. You can decide for yourself which hike you would like to do, but the most famous one is the Coastal Trail, where you pass by all the five cities.
Hiking the Cinque Terre in one day is possible, but it requires careful planning and an early start to make the most of your time. The most popular hiking trails that connect all five villages are the Sentiero Azzurro (Azure or Blue Trail) and Via dell’Amore, also known as the Coastal Trail. You need to pay an entrance fee for two parts, so make sure you bring enough cash with you.
We started our hike at Monterosso and walked to Vernazza, and Corniglia which is around 12 kilometers. You normally can walk further to Manarola village and end at the village Riomaggiore, but this trail was temporarily closed.
Tip: trail conditions, opening hours and prices can change, so it’s important to check the latest information and trail updates. Some parts of the trail can be closed, so make sure to take a look on this website.
Here’s a suggested itinerary for hiking the Cinque Terre in one day:
- Wake up early and start your hike to avoid the heat and the crowd.
- Choose the direction of your hike. You can start from the village Monterosso or Riomaggiore. I recommend you start at Monterosso to have more impressive views over the villages that you might miss if you walk from the other direction.
- The Sentiero Azzurro or Blue Trail is around 12 to 13 kilometers, which takes around 5 to 6 hours to complete if you take it easy.
- There are more difficult parts and easier parts, and there are many stairs with rocks. So, you need to know that there are some steep ascents and descents, but it’s worth it.
- Make sure to take enough breaks and take it easy. In every village, you should rest and enjoy the scenery.
- Bring a backpack with water and snacks. Don’t forget to bring sun protection.
Tip: make sure you bring sun protection because it gets hot during the summer months. If you plan to hike the five cities, you should bring enough water and food and wear good walking shoes because flip-flops are not allowed.
Hiking one of the hiking trails at Cinque Terre is a must-do. I understand that it’s not possible for some people to hike the whole trail, but at least you can try to do a part of it to have some amazing views.