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My Ultimate Cinque Terre hike

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Are you dreaming of taking a Cinque Terre hike? Are you planning to hike the Cinque Terre in Italy? In that case, check out my guide to hiking Cinque Terre. I hiked all five villages of Cinque Terre in one day in May 2024 and loved it! 

The Ligurian coast on my Cinque Terre hike
The Ligurian coast on my Cinque Terre hike
A view of Riomaggiore on a Cinque Terre hike
Poppies on my Cinque Terre hike in May 2024

There are 48 hiking trails in Cinque Terre, and the most scenic trail is called the Blue Trail (Blue Path). 

I started my Cinque Terre hike from Biassa (a hamlet between La Spezia and Riomaggiore) to Monterosso al Mare. 
I hiked all the five villages in one day. My Cinque Terre hike lasted 10 hours. Visiting the five villages of Cinque Terre took me an additional 2 hours. I spent 12 hours walking, hiking, and exploring Cinque Terre that day. 
My day was long, and the hike was challenging. 

I hiked the famous Blue Trail (Sentiero Azzurro) only partially. 
Two sections of the Blue Trail were closed on the day of my hike, and I needed to take alternative trails. The two sections of the Blue Trail (between Riomaggiore, Manarola, and Cornigla were closed on the day of my hike. 
Instead of the Via dell’Amore, I took 1200 stone stairs between Riomaggiore and Manarola. 
However, this has not discouraged me. 
I was determined to hike all five villages in one day. I did it. And, I am proud of myself for it. I don’t think many people do this. 
You can do it too. And, here is how. 
Here is my guide to how to hike the Cinque Terre in Italy!  


What is Cinque Terre?

A view of Manarola from a trail while hiking Cinque Terre
A view of colorful Manarola from my hiking trail

Cinque Terre is five villages (called Riomaggiore, Manarola, Cornigla, Vernazza, and Monterosso all Mare) on the Ligurian Sea in northwest Italy. 
The villages are known for their stunning setting and colorful buildings. The area is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a national park. 
For all of this, Cinque Terre is among the most popular travel destinations in Italy. About 3 million people visit Cinque Terre each year. That is a lot! The area has only 4 thousand residents!

Many Cinque Terre visitors decide to explore the five villages by hiking. Cinque Terre National Park is a popular hiking destination. I chose to hike Cinque Terre, too.
I hiked it in May 2024. Nature was blooming, and the flowers were in blossom. The scents of blooming sage, rosemary, and Spanish broom … followed my Cinque Terre trek. I was in paradise! I can not imagine a better time of year to hike Cinque Terre than May! 

A view of Riomaggiore from a trail while hiking Cinque Terre
The blossom of flowers on my Cinque Terre hike in May

How to visit Cinque Terre? 

Visitors can cruise Cinque Terre villages by boat, take a train from one village to another, or hike. 
Hiking is the most scenic way to explore this stunning part of Italy. 
So, if you are a hiking enthusiast, pack your hiking shoes and poles and head to Cinque Terre trails. 

How long does the Cinque Terre hike take? 

The Cinque Terre hike from Riomaggiore to Monterosso al Mare ( or in the opposite direction, from Monterosso al Mare to Riomanaggiore) by the famous Blue Path takes 6 hours on average. 

The Blue Path is a 12 km/7.5 m-long path connecting five villages of Cinque Terre. It is also the easiest of all Cinque Terre hiking trails. 
But, if one of the sections is closed, the alternative paths are a must-take. And, the Cinque Terre hike lasts longer. 
For instance, on my Cinque Terre hike the famous and paved (!!) Via dell’Amore between Riomaggiore and Manarola was closed. Instead of it, I needed to take 1200 challenging and uneven stone stairs between those two villages. It extended my hiking time.

In May 2024, the Blue Path trail between Manarola and Cornigla was closed. The hikers and I took the more challenging trail from Manarola to Cornigla via Volostra. 

Cinque Terre hiking trail from Cornigla to Vernazza
Cinque Terre hiking trail from Cornigla to Vernazza

Where to start hiking Cinque Terre?

You can start with your Cinque Terre hike in Riomaggiore (the southernmost village of the five villages) and head to Monterosso al Mare (the northernmost of the five Cinque Terre villages). 

Or, you can do it in the opposite direction: start in Monterosso al Mare and head to Riomaggiore. 

I started my hike in Biassa, a hamlet between La Spezia and Riomaggiore. Biassa is a popular base for hiking Cinque Terre among hikers and budget travelers. Biassa is a 10 min ride by bus from Riomaggiore. If you decide to hike from Biassa, like I did, expect to hike 2 hours from Biassa to Riomaggiore. 

How to get to Biassa? 

Biassa is 25 min by bus from La Spezia. However, I started my trip in Pisa. I picked up a rental car at Pisa Airport

Biassa is an hour and a half drive from Pisa.
I rented a car at Pisa Airport since hiking Cinque Terre was only one part of my trip. 
On this trip, I hiked Cinque Terre and did road-tripping in Tuscany. 

Cinque Terre is near Tuscany, and people often combine a visit to Cinque Terre with a visit to Tuscany. I did it, too! 

The sections of my Cinque Terre hike from Biassa to Monterosso al Mare 

1. Biassa – Riomaggiore (via S. Antonio, Telegrafo and Montenero) 

A view of Riomaggiore from the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Montenero
A view of Riomaggiore from the Sanctuary of Nostra Signora di Montenero

Length: 4 km  
Hiking time: 2 hours
Difficulty: moderate – hard
Hiking fee: no 

This trail is not a part of the famous Blue Trail (Sentiero Azzurro).
It starts in Biassa and goes via Telegrafo and Sanctuary of Madonna di Montenero to Riomaggiore. A moderately steep uphill trail goes through the forest from Biassa to Colle delTelegrafo. From Colle di Telegrafo to the Sanctuary of Madonna di Montenero and Riomaggiore the trail is downhill and very steep but with vineyards and beautiful vistas along the way.
Hiking poles helped me a lot on my way down to Riomaggiore. 

This downhill section from Telegrafo to Riomaggiore is challenging. It has some steep stairs and rocks that can be slippery. 
The panoramic views of Riomagiorre and the Ligurian Sea from the Sanctuary of Nostra Signora di Montenero are magnificent. The church of Madonna di Montenero is beautiful. 
There are some benches in front of the church to sit on, take a break, and enjoy the stunning views. The trail gets easier after the Sanctuary. Some lovely hillside vineyards are on the trail from the Sanctuary to Riomaggiore. 

When I reached Riomaggiore, I strolled the village and took a coffee break before heading to Manarola, the next stop on my Cinque Terre hike.

A view of Riomaggiore on my Cinque Terre hike
A view of Riomaggiore on my Cinque Terre hike

2. Riomaggiore to Manarola (via Beccara) 

A view of Manarola on my Cinque Terre hike
Manarola on my Cinque Terre hike

Length: 1.9 km 
Time: up to 1.30 h
Difficulty: moderate – hard 
Hiking fee: no

The seafront Via dell’Amore (Lovers Line) from Riomaggiore to Manarola is the most famous section of the Blue Path. It was closed on the day of my Cinque Terre hike. Funny, but the Via dell’ Amore is the easiest section of the Cinque Terre hiking trail. The opening is announced for July 2024. 

So, I needed to take the path via Baccara.  The trail between Riomaggiore and Manarola via Beccara is not on the Blue Path. Via Beccara trail is at higher altitudes than the Via dell’Amore!

The trail from Riomaggiore to Manarola via Beccara begins and ends with steep and uneven 600 stone stairs on each side (1.200 stars in total). 

This trail is challenging, but luckily not long. It takes up to 1 hour and  30 minutes to finish it (depending on crowds and heat). The trail is challenging, with even some climbing. It is for sturdy shoes, not sandals! 

The Vie Beccara trail is narrow in the middle (when crowded, you need to wait for people to pass by)  but with rewarding views of terraced grape vines, Riomaggiore and Manarola, and the Ligurian Coast. 

I went down to the center of Manarola, wandered the village, and continued my trail to Cornigla.

3.  Manarola to Cornigla (via Volastra) 

Cornigla on my Cinque Terre hike
Cornigla on my Cinque Terre hike

Length: 5.8 km
Time:  2 h 30 min
Difficulty: moderate
Hiking fee: no 

This trail is not a part of the Blue Path. Regardless, it is a popular Cinque Terre trail, so expect crowds! 

This trail was the longest section of my hike. Volastra is a mountain village halfway between Manarola and Corningla. Volastra is a nice stop where you can buy water and some refreshments.  The trail goes uphill from Manarola to Volastra and downhill from Volastra to Cornigla. But it is mainly flat across the top.  Vineyards, olive groves, forest, and fabulous panoramic views are along the way. 

As I reached Cornigla, I explored the village, grabbed a focaccia, refilled my water bottle, and returned to the trail toward Vernazza. 

4. Cornigla to Vernazza

A harbour view ofVernazza on my Cinque Terre hike
Vernazza on my Cinque Terre hike

Length: 3.4 km
Time: 1 h 20 min 
Difficulty: easy-moderate 
Hiking fee: Cinque Terre Trekking Card
Blue Trail 

This section is on the Blue Path. It is a relatively easy trail compared to the previous sections. 

Since it is on the Blue Trail, you must show your Cinque Terre Trekking Card at the checking point while entering the trail. 

The Cinque Terre Trekking Card costs  7.50 € or 15,00 € (depending on the season) for adults. You can get your Cinque Terre Trekking Card online or at the Tourist Information Points in Cinque Terre, Levanto, and La Spezia. I got mine in a bar near Ostello Tramonti, where I stayed in Biassa. 

This section of the Blue Trail between Cornigla and Vernazza is popular. So, be prepped for crowds. There are even some stops to buy drinks and fresh seasonal fruits along the route. I hiked in May, so strawberries and cherries were on offer. There is also a hut where you can buy iced lemon and watermelon cups.
There are some steep steps when entering Vernazaa. But, overall, the trail is not difficult. 

When I reached Vernazza, I made a break and treated myself with a misto fritto di pesce and limoncello spritz before heading to Monterosso al Mare! 

It was around 7 pm when I left Vernazza for Monterosso. 

A view of Vernazza on my hike to Monterosso al Mare
A view of Vernazza on my way to Monterosso al Mare

5. Vernazza to Monterosso al Mare 

A view of Monterosso al Mare on my Cinque Terre hike
Monterosso al Mare

Length. 3,7 km
Time: 1 h 30 min – 2 h
Difficulty: easy – moderate 
Hiking Trail: Cinque Terre Trekking Card 
Blue Trail

This section is on the Blue Path. It is one of the easiest trails. Luckily, I was already tired! 

This was the final section of my Cinque Terre hike. 
The Vernazza – Monterosso section is the most popular trail on the Cinque Terre hike. It is the busiest section. But, I hiked it in the late afternoon and was almost alone on the trail. I met only a hiking couple few minutes before Monterosso.

I came to Monterosso al Mare around 8.30 pm. The sun was getting down. I was so happy and proud of myself. I made it. I hiked the entire Cinque Terre trail from Biassa in one day. 

The beach in Monterosso al Mare in Cinque Terre Italy
The beach in Monterosso al Mare

From Monterosso al Mare I took a train to La Spezia. La Spezia is only 25 minutes by train from Monterosso al Mare. When I reached La Spezia, The last bus to Biassa from La Spezia had already left I took a 10-minute taxi ride to Biassa. 

Cinque Terre hike map

Cinque Terre hike map
My trail from Biassa to Monterosso al Mare

I made this map of my trail with Sadly, I can’t embed the map here. But, I hope it will help you get an idea of my Cinque Terre hike.

Since it is impossible to make a hiking trail in Google Maps, here is a sketch of my Cinque Terre hike in Google Maps.

Recommendations for hiking Cinque Terre 

  • Wear good hiking shoes or trail runners with good gripping (never sandals)
  • Hiking poles can be helpful 
  • Pack light and bring water with you
  • Use sunscreen on sunny days
  • Be patient, the trails can be crowded!

Where to stay for visiting Cinque Terre?

BIASSA: 5 min by bus to Riomaggiore: recommended to hikers and budget travelers. I stayed at Ostello Tramonti in Biassa.   

LA SPEZIA: 10 min by bus; 8 min by train to Riomaggiore; recommended to budget travelers. Check out accommodation options in La Spezia here.

LEVANTO: 6 min by train to Monterosso al Mare, 30 min by ferry to Monterosso al Mare: recommended to budget travelers. Check out accommodations in Levanto here.

MONTEROSSO AL MARE: has the most beautiful beaches of all 5 Cinque Terre villages; recommended for Cinque Terre visitors who would like to stay in one of the five villages and to enjoy the beaches and sea. Explore accommodation options in Monterosso al Mare here.

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