On the steep cliffs of the Ligurian Sea rise five villages characterised by the colourful houses that contrast with the blue of the sea, the green of the vines and the bare rock that takes on different hues depending on the light of each day and the season. The Cinque Terre is a unique place where the mingling of colours, sounds and scents capture your imagination.
This Collection describes the itineraries that connect Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza and Monterosso to the sea. The network of paths was once the main link between villages. Walking is the best way to escape the crowds (especially in summer), appreciate the many incredible viewpoints and savour local specialities. Over the years, other connections have been built, including the railway line and the state road.
The route is characterised in its entirety by steep gradients, most of which are on old mule tracks. The distances are small between villages but steps are the main theme of these routes so the greatest challenge is the ascent and descent. The reward is the breathtaking views on each of the four stages. The first and second stages are very exposed and steep; they may be particularly challenging or unsuitable for those who suffer from vertigo.
To be best prepared for this hike, I recommend wearing comfortable shoes and carrying trekking poles, which come in very handy, especially on the steep descents. In addition to the appropriate clothing for the season you hike in, always carry water with you. There’s a drinking fountain at the beginning and end of each route, too. Take advantage of these because there aren’t any in between.
Bring along your camera charger because you’ll likely spend much of your time taking photos of the incredible panoramas! Photography is one of the irresistible activities of the trip, as well as sampling the local specialities such as focaccia, limoncello and sciacchetrà, a sweet, liqueur-like DOC wine produced only in this area. In all five villages, you’ll find food outlets, cafés, ice cream parlours and public facilities close to the train stations.
I recommend starting at Riomaggiore and moving north towards Monterosso so you start with the more challenging trails and finish with the longer but less technically difficult ones. Each stage begins and ends at the railway station of the corresponding village. You can take any train in the direction of Levanto to move from one village to another. Riomaggiore is the eastern and southernmost of the Cinque Terre and is connected to La Spezia by frequent regional trains, ferries and buses. The easiest way to get there is by train from La Spezia. There are car parks in each of the villages but they’re usually full and small (not suitable for large cars).
You can complete the four stages in one day. If you decide to follow this option, leave very early in the morning. If, on the other hand, you choose to walk the trails over several days, I recommend booking hotel accommodation well in advance. There are many accommodation options, but the demand often exceeds availability.
In both cases, you can appreciate all the trails and villages and also have time to relax on the beach at Monterosso. If you visit the Cinque Terre in summer, take a swimming costume with you. In Manarola, Vernazza and Monterosso, you have easy access to the sea and can cool off with a dip in the water between trails.
The Cinque Terre is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and part of the protected park of the same name. The Cinque Terre Card gives you access to all the trails and includes train travel. You can buy it directly on arrival at any of the five stops or online at the park's official website. It’s required to access the trails and will be used to contribute to maintenance costs.
Enjoy your walk!
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Last updated: August 30, 2022
Plan your own version of this adventure in the multi-day planner based on the stages suggested in this Collection.
Riomaggiore is the easternmost and southernmost of the Cinque Terre. It can be reached either by car or by train from La Spezia or by ferry, even from Portovenere. In the village you will find paid parking. In the summer it could be very difficult to find a parking space. I recommend that you give preference…
The path that connects Manarola and Corniglia is the longest and most exposed of the collection. For those who suffer severely from vertigo it is not advisable to take the first part of the route as it is very exposed on both sides.
From the Manarola train station follow the main road until you arrive…
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From the Corniglia train station, you immediately warm up your leg muscles by climbing the 382 steps that connect the train stop to the town center.
When you are on the main road in the center of Corniglia, take the stairs that lead to the church of San Pietro and follow the signs for Vernazza. Take the…
From the center of Vernazza, a staircase takes you through the narrow streets of the town until you reach the first panoramic point from which you can enjoy a breathtaking view of Vernazza from above.
Proceed along the stone stairs before taking the dirt path. The path develops along the coast and at…
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