Hiking in the Cinque Terre

A Hiking Adventure in the Cinque Terre

I awoke with a start on our first day in the Cinque Terre to what sounded like thunder and torrential rain. This could not be happening. We had only arrived the afternoon before to a glorious sunny day, people relaxing on the rocks and eating gelato by the harbour, and we were all prepared to go off on a hike on our first morning to explore the villages. I jumped out of bed, threw open the Italian shutters of our cute little bed and breakfast, and stuck my head out the window to find that, yes, it was indeed raining. The pastel coloured rooftops were being hammered with water and people on the street below were hurriedly rushing by attempting to cover their soaking heads. Perfect. Our day of hiking suddenly looked rather bleak.

But despite the hiking paths being closed thanks to the stormy weather, we didn’t want to spend the day sat inside hiding from the rain, so we hopped on the train to explore instead and discovered that this part of the Italian Riviera is still a little piece of heaven even in the rain.

View of Vernazza

The view of Vernazza at the beginning of our hike to Monterosso

After much wine and pasta, we went to bed that evening praying for good weather and the next morning we were greeted with lots of clouds but not a drop of rain was in sight! Hurrah! This made for perfect hiking weather as there was no burning sunshine to make us all hot and sweaty and the paths were no longer slippery and wet from the rain the day before.

After hiking the Inca Trail last year I was all ready and prepared for a challenging trek but the route from Vernazza to the biggest village of Monterosso was super easy in comparison. In fact this was more like a strenuous walk and involved no huffing or puffing whatsoever. The 2-3 hour hike round the cliff edge above the bright turquoise sea, took us through forests, past trickling streams and waterfalls, over cobblestone bridges and along sheer drops. I’m not one for rushing things so we took our time and ambled slowly along, taking lots of photos and stopping often to appreciate the breathtaking views.

Whenever we caught a glimpse of the tiny village of Vernazza in the distance it looked so far away. We couldn’t believe how far we had come in such a short time!

Hiking in the Cinque Terre

Hiking in the Cinque Terre

We had brought lunch with us from the Lunch Box in Vernazza, a little deli serving all sorts of goodies to take away. We ate our focaccia stuffed with mozzarella, prosciutto and salad, sitting on the edge of the cliff looking out over the green hillsides.

Lunch in Vernazza

About half way between the villages we came across some baskets, toys and food set up on the side of the rocks as a home for stray cats, so of course I had to stop for a while to make some new friends.

A while later we came across a little stall where a girl was selling fresh lemonade, and we sipped our refreshingly bitter drinks as we looked out at Monterosso where we would soon be.

Fresh lemonade hiking the Cinque Terre

As we got closer towards the end of the hike, the sun started to appear which was perfect timing to enjoy some gelato on the beach just as we arrived in Monterosso.

Gelato in Cinque Terre

The perfect way to end our hike

A few tips if you’re planning on doing some hiking in the Cinque Terre (or for those people who seem to enjoy making life difficult for themselves):

It’s really not a difficult hike but flip flops are not suitable. There are a lot of rocky paths and steps to climb and with the steep drop that often appeared down the side of the cliff you’ll want to be wearing shoes with a good grip. I didn’t have space to bring my big heavy hiking boots but Converse or trainers worked perfectly well for us.

For families – please, oh please, do not take a buggy on the hike with you. We saw worn out dads lugging pushchairs up the steps and this was only at the very start of the hike. Seriously people! It may not be the toughest hike but it really isn’t suitable for buggies!

Due to the floods a few years ago a lot of the hiking paths are still closed so check before you make any route plans. We loved the hike from Vernazza to Monterosso – it was less busy and there were far less steps to travel up than going in the opposite direction.

For those who don’t fancy the hike, getting between the villages by train is an easy alternative. Each village has its own station and it’s only a couple of minutes travel between each. Grab a day ticket or a cheap single but make sure you check train times in advance as there are often only one or two an hour, and don’t forget to stamp your ticket in the little green machine before boarding.

Trains in the Cinque Terre

Another alternative mode of transport is the ferry which stops at every village and offers some great views from a different angle.

Ferry in Cinque Terre

But for the most breathtaking views of this lovely part of the Italian coastline, hiking is by far the best way to explore.

22 thoughts on “A Hiking Adventure in the Cinque Terre

    • Ayla says:

      Yes, exactly! We would never have come across the cats, the lemonade stall or the incredible views so even the ridiculously short train ride can’t beat this hike! Thanks Polly – dreamy is the perfect word to describe this place 🙂

    • Ayla says:

      It’s not an easy walk but I wouldn’t say it was a particularly difficult hike either. If you end up visiting the region (and I really hope you do) I really do recommend the hike even if you’re not into hiking. Surely the gelato at the other end is enough to tempt you? 😉

  1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) says:

    Loads of helpful tips Ayla! I was actually going to ask you about train passes – whether it works out more cost effective to buy singles or day tickets or whether you can get like 3 day passes etc. I’ve just bought a pair of Vans as my old trainers have no grip and I can’t tell you how hilarious Pumpkin thinks it is that I have inadvertently booked us onto a “hiking” holiday 😀 PS, I feel a bit nervous looking at that photo of you sitting at the edge of the bridge – was it a big drop down from there?!

    • Ayla says:

      Glad it helped 🙂 It was only around 1.90 Euro for a single train journey and as we were only planning on getting a few trains at most in one day it worked out cheaper just to get singles. I think the daily was around 12 Euros if I remember correctly but just check at the counter – they’re all really friendly. No no no, tell him it’s not a hiking holiday, it’s a beautiful Italian trip that just happens to have a slight bit of non-challenging hiking involved! That drop looks a lot higher than it actually was so don’t worry about that! You will honestly be fine. Nothing to worry about! You will have an awesome time 🙂

  2. The Vagabond Baker says:

    Love the sound of that hike, it seems perfect for me! And the wee train looks tempting too, I’m sold! – and that was before you mentioned cats, a walk and kitty love, yes please! 😉
    I bet the rain made all that colour even more saturated!

    • Ayla says:

      You would love it Rachel, it’s just the most perfect place. Maybe you need to take a break from all your amazing housesitting in the UK and head to Italy 😉

      • The Vagabond Baker says:

        Yes I would, dreams! We are taking a break this month from them, but heading to the wild north! Not quite strolling along Mediterranean, more battling the North Sea!

  3. emilycharlotteray says:

    Absolutely gorgeous! I’ve been to Italy so many times, but I keep on finding more reasons to return – and this is definitely on the list now 🙂 x p.s. that cat is GORGEOUS ❤

    • Ayla says:

      I seem to love Italy more and more every time I go. After this gorgeous place, it’s definitely on both mine and Mr Ayla’s list of favourite places. You may need to start the hike nice and early so you can spend lots of time with the cats 😉

  4. Packing my Suitcase says:

    Hiking from one village to the other seem exactly what I want to do when I go there!! The idea of taking a ferry also sounds interesting 😀
    No flip flops, this is a very important detail… I wear them most of the time!

    • Ayla says:

      I’d recommend every sort of transport so that you can see the villages all from a different perspective. I could live in flip flops but unless you’re a mountain goat I wouldn’t recommend them for the hike even if it isn’t the toughest!

  5. emfletche says:

    We did the opposite direction to you – and it was seeing beautiful Vernazza on the distance that kept us going! We were kind of forced into doing the hike as the local trains were on strike until after 5pm..as much as we loved our Monterosso base we wanted to get out and explore! All the steps were a little tough in places, but there was always opportunities to stop and get your breath back and admire the fabulous views. Loved this hike!

    • Ayla says:

      I think the way you did the hike was probably a bit tougher thanks to all the steps going up but those beautiful views of Vernazza would have made it all worth it. Glad you enjoyed the hike as much as I did 🙂

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