Five Villages Trail In Cinque Terre

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Guest Post: Easy Hikes in Italy

Cinque Terre

by Dave and Deb
Hiking, we all had to start somewhere. My husband Dave and I have been trekking and climbing for a few years now. But it was our first hike into the Bruce Trail in Ontario, Canada that made us realize that hey, people actually get out of the city and see the countryside during their weekends off.

We had spent our 20’s working and playing in the city.  It wasn’t until we returned from our first trip to Thailand that we started to venture out of the concrete jungle and explore the Canadian Wilderness.  Little did we know that the Bruce Trail consists of 800 km of natural waterfalls, streams, lakes and conservation areas. A person can hike for a couple of hours or several days along the trail starting in Niagara Falls and traveling all the way to the Great Lake Huron.

Since that first walk, we have been to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro and Mount Kinabaluin Borneo, Mount Everest Base Camp, Macchu Pichu and Adams Peak in Sri Lanka.

We now hike and trek every chance that we get.

"Italy Cinque Terre Trail"

One of the most beautiful hikes that we have ever taken however has been the Five Villages trail in Cinque Terre Italy. Located on the Italian Riviera, it is one of the premier walks in Europe. This relatively easy hike takes only five hours on a well cared for path that winds along the Mediterranean coast.  The scenery is remarkable.

You can start your walk from any of the five villages. The trains run frequently between towns and you can either do a portion of the trail or the entire route. We recommend taking the train to Riomaggiore, the farthest village of all the five villages.  From there, you can work your way back along the waterfront path while enjoying the enchanting landscape, delicious local food and fine Italian wine.

You don’t normally think of wine and gourmet food when imagining a hike but the five villages hike is as much about enjoying the Italian lifestyle and hospitality as it is about viewing the scenery.

"Italy Cinque Terre food"

It is a short walk from Riomaggiore to the second village of Manarola but part of the charm of the five villages hike is to make sure to stop and explore each town.

You can enjoy a freshly baked pastry with an espresso for breakfast after you have strolled through the orchards and vineyards. The towns are pleasant and relaxing and the views are breathtaking.

This is a hike that you definitely don’t want to rush.

It progressively becomes more difficult as you move along but the rewards are worth it.  At the next town of Corniglia you face a steep climb of 382 steps before reaching the village.

It is a challenge for the novice hiker but once you reach the top, you can choose from many restaurants and cafés to enjoy your lunch.  Try the regions specialty of pesto stuffed pasta, fresh bread and olive oil with a glass of chilled white wine.

You will never want to hike any other way again!

It can be difficult to pull yourself away from Corniglia, you will want to savour the view for hours, but you must move on because it only gets better with each village.

The path between Corniglia and Vernazza becomes more of a challenge and it is here that you actually start to believe that you are indeed taking part in a rigorous hike.

The path becomes narrower and the paved walkways give way to dirt trails.  The cliffs are high and offer jaw-dropping vistas of the other villages, the Mediterranean and the surrounding area.

It is post card perfect on the Italian Riviera and if it weren’t for the hordes of tourists, it would be a flawless day hike.   Then again, it is the camaraderie of meeting fellow travelers and chatting on the trail that makes this walk so unique.

Anyone can hike the Cinque Terre. 

It isn’t about the athletic accomplishment that draws the masses to this quiet corner of Italy, it is the magnificent scenery of tall rocky cliffs towering over the turquoise sea.

Village Number four…

"Cinque Terre Vernazza"

Vernazza is the busiest town in the area and the most picturesque of all the villages.  As you walk down the terraced steps towards Vernazza, you are treated to a fairytale scene of yellow, red and brown stone buildings sitting atop a high peninsula jutting out to the sea. It is in Vernazza that you must try some gelato to cool down after your accomplishment.

Unfortunately for us,  the rest of the trail was closed during our hike due to heavy rains days earlier and we couldn’t complete our five villages hike. Luckily the train runs frequently between all five villages and we could hop into a car to catch a ride to the final village of Monterosso to enjoy the beach and fun in the sun.

"Cinque Terre Beach"

We are looking forward to returning to Italy one day and while we are there we will have to take a detour to the Cinque Terre region to finish our five villages hike.

We have heard that the trail between Vernazza and Monterosso is the most challenging of them all but that will have to wait for another hike.


Canada’s Adventure Couple Dave and Deb have travelled to over 40 countries.  From trekking to the Pinnacles of Borneo to cycling the continent of Africa, they are always searching for new and exciting ways to explore the world. Check out more of their world travels at Dave showcases his travel photos at

12 comments to Five Villages Trail In Cinque Terre

  • Hi Andrea, no we didn’t see any snakes luckily:) It is too bad that the trails are closed often for maintenance. We found it to be reasonably priced at least, but free would be better. Cheers

  • Thanks for the extra information about Cinque Terre, Andrea. We haven’t yet done that trail but hopefully in future. Will keep your tip in mind and make sure we are properly covered against snakes *brrr*

  • Andrea

    Hi, nice post! I’m actually based in a town nearby, so I’ve been lucky enough to try the trails (and if anyone of you stumbles upon the area, try to look for hiking liguria on facebook and you may find a group with a lighthouse as avatar, that some expats and I founded some time ago.. ahem, apologies for the plug!)

    As for Cinque Terre, it’s a pity that the trails are often closed due to maintenance (and they are not free of charge either). There are actually alternate routes to fill the “gaps”; however, as they involve walking a lot uphill to then go down, I find them pretty challenging on the knees.

    Since you don’t mention them, I believe you found no snakes? Chances of a close encounter are quite high (I found 4 on my last hike, perhaps because there was no crowd at all on that trail), however they are harmless and, unlike a grizzly bear, will give you a shiver at most!

  • Although I enjoy a hike in the backcountry with a heavy pack, this type of hike through beautiful small Italian towns sounds very appealing. Stunning photos show that the scenery is amazing.

  • I started at Monterosso del Mar and walked the opposite direction, and I can attest to the fact that the Monterosso end is the most difficult and rugged part of the trail. I held my breath in places, oping I would not meet anyone coming the opposite direction, for there was not room to pass and there was a sheer dropoff at the edge of the trail that at times had to be more than a thousand feet. But is was one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen, and as an interepid hiker, one of my most favorite hikes.

  • Thanks for all your wonderful comments and a special thanks to Michael for having us.
    Make sure you make your way to Cinque Terre the next time you are in Italy!

  • Connie

    Amazing! I can’t believe I didn’t know about this hike when I was in Italy! I’m literally kicking myself over this! What a stunning hike! Well, all the more reason for me to return to Italy! Thanks so much for this post!

  • This is simply a fabulous post. Cinque Terre will certainly be a destination for us pretty soon. Thanks again for a great contribution.

  • Fab post! I did this hike many years ago. I’ll be going back to the Cinque Terre next month as part of a drive from Milan to Rome but don’t think I’ll have the time for the full hike. Excellent post D&D! :-)


  • Aw yes, the gelato is the most important tip of this hike. Actually, I recommend stopping at each village for gelato, it is heavenly

  • Looks gorgeous. La Cinque Terra is high on my wishlist for the next Italy visit. Who knows, I may even try a trial run hike when I’m there! I hear the train journey there is pretty spectaculour too. Thanks for the inspiration!

  • very, very cool! stunning shots and practical tips.. i particularly like the gelato one LOL:)

    thanks for sharing!

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