- Physical DifficultyThis is the average user-submitted rating on the physical difficulty of this route. In general, green is beginner, blue is intermediate, black is advanced/most difficult and double-black is expert-only. It is recommended that users build up to black and double-black routes.
- Technical DifficultyThis is the average user-submitted rating on the technical difficulty of this route. In general, green is beginner, blue is intermediate, black is advanced/most difficult and double-black is expert-only. It is recommended that users build up to black and double-black routes.
Hiking the Sentiero Azzurro trail linking the stunning villages that make up Cinque Terre is on most hikers’ bucket list for good reason. The colourful seaside villages and stunning views from the cliffside, looking over terraced vineyards and fishing harbors makes for a perfect day out in Italy.
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Route Description for Cinque Terre
A day hike along Cinque Terre is incredible. While we describe the route from Monterosso to Manarola, many people choose to only do shorter sections. If you’re looking at doing a shorter distance, here are the various options to walk between Cinque Terre villages:
- Monterosso to Vernazza: 3.0 km, 1.5-2 hours walk
- Vernazza to Corniglia: 4.0 km, 1.5-2.5 hours walk
- Corniglia to Manarola: 2.0 km, 1-1.5 hours walk (note the main route is currently closed, you’ll need to do a longer variant in the hills)
- Manarola to Riomaggiore: 2.0 km, 1 hour to walk (note this is currently closed)
To do the complete route from Monterosso to Manarola, the most famous trail is the Sentiero Azzurro (the Blue trail, also known as trail #2). We like to start at Monterosso train station and walk back to Manarola, however you can go either way.
From the Monterosso train station, taking a left from the station, you will be walking along the seafront on Via Fegina. After 5 minutes you will come to a tunnel, but don’t take it. Continue on the path to the right called Salita dei Cappuccini, passing Torre Aurora. The path will once again become Via Fegina and then Via Corone.
Continue along this path exploring the lovely town of Monterosso al Mare. As you leave town, along Via Corone, you will pass Hotel Porto Roca. Take the path going down to the right, just before the hotel, signed for Vernazza. After the hotel you will come to a cross path and go right.
Soon after you can buy your pass to hike Cinque Terre. You can’t hike the trails along Cinque Terre without a trail pass. Unfortunately they don’t take credit cards, so have cash to pay for your pass. You can also pre-purchase your hiking cards online here.
After paying for your pass, get ready to climb up steps. Many people go slow and if you start late, you can expect a lineup here. The path is quite narrow with many low hanging branches.
In general, the trails along this section of the Sentiero Azzurro (Blue Trail, or trail #2) are narrow, rocky, and there are drop offs on the right-hand side. Passing other walkers can be a challenge at some points, and if you have extreme vertigo you may not love this part of the walk.
Continue along the path to Vernazza, and before you know it, you are in Vernazza. Here the path turns into a narrow alleyway (via e. Vernazza) that you follow until it becomes Via Agostino del Santo. Continue along this road until you reach a T-junction with Via M. Carattino. The path to Corniglia is to the left, however Vernazza is to the right, and it is a lovely little town to explore.
To get into Vernazza, go right towards the harbour and a main square. Continue all the way down the jetty then come back and go up the street to the train station.
When you are ready to continue on to Corniglia, make your way back to the t- junction with Via Agostino del Santo and Via M. Carattino, but this time go straight. After about 90 m, there will be a path to your right to continue to Corniglia. As you pass Ristorante La Torre, about another 90 m down the path, there are great views back over Vernazza to Monterosso.
About 2.0 km in, you pass a little cafe bar called Bar Il Gabbiano, should you need a drink or snack. There are very good views from the upper terrace and views forward to Corniglia.
As you approach Corniglia, you pass a rare bit of flat ground, and go through a small olive grove. When you reach a road, cross it and take small path down into town. At a bar with outside seating (A' Caneva) go right and walk down into Corniglia. Remember this point, as you will need it to continue on the route, you’ll need to come back here and go straight.
Corniglia is another pretty village in the Cinque Terre region, with good options for lodging and restaurants, should you want to stay here for the night.
The beautiful path along the sea to Manarola is closed, likely until mid-2021. While many walkers simply get on the train, there is a stunning walk that goes up through the vineyards to get to Manarola. To take this walk, head back to A' Caneva, the bar where you turned into town. Now go right on the path and then take your first left. This is route 587 and it starts going up right away. If you’ve taken some breaks during the day, you’ll love that this path starts in delightful midday shade.
After the path cuts back, go for a few minutes until you come to an obvious junction. Go right on path 586, signed for Volastra (0.35 hr). Soon there is a tricky set of narrow stairs to climb.
When you come to a small valley, take the trail that goes off to the right. Here there is more shade as you walk beside a fine stone wall. Roughly 20 minutes after turning on path 586, you will come to a few homes. Go beside the first and down and then left. Some of best views are just past these homes looking back at Corniglia and Monterosso. Look ahead to Manarola and the incredibly terraced vineyards. Walk along terraced vineyards with a drop off on the right-hand side - it can be quite high at times.
Soon you come out of the vineyards and olive groves to Volastra. Go past the church then take a right and quickly head to the left onto Via Montello, then take the path on the right. At the next pathway, go left, then right, signed for Manarola. You immediately go through an olive grove, and then go down some steps, then where a path goes off to right signed to Manarola (15 mins), take it.
Quickly you come to another junction, where you go right on a narrow path. Walk through vineyards toward a large sign. Go around the sign on the path. Don’t go left and down. Your path will take you in front of the sign.
Continue on this path, and go left when you come to a wide crossing path just above Manarola. When the path splits, go right and down, soon reaching the road (Via Antonio Discovolo). Go right on the road and head down. At the bottom take the tunnel to left and towards the train station.
Hurray, you’ve just walked the epic Cinque Terre! Trains back to La Spezia are typically at platform 1, but check just in case.
Insider Hints for Cinque Terre
- Buy your Cinque Terre Hiking Pass ahead of time online here.
- Many people aim to walk this route as fast as possible. Instead, plan on making a day of it. Start early and enjoy breaks in each village. Beware that lunch-time rushes are heavy, so if possible, aim to eat a bit early or a bit late.
- This route can be very hot and there is not much shade. Be sure to leave early and bring plenty of water.
- The path can be narrow and along cliffs, making it difficult to pass the many other people on the trail. Be prepared to wait at certain points. If you have vertigo some parts may make you uncomfortable.
- Cinque Terre hike is often named as one of the best hikes in the world.
Getting to the Cinque Terre Trailhead
From La Spezia head to Monterosso by train; try to leave early to escape the heat. The train is mostly in tunnels, so no need to fuss about which seat you get. There are a few quick views out the left-hand windows near train stations in each town. At the Monterosso station take the stairs down and exit on to the seafront. Turn left and begin the walk.
Cinque Terre Elevation Graph
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Cinque Terre Reviews
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