Cinque Terre Walk
The “Cinque Terre” refers to the five fishing villages along the Ligurian Coast between Genoa and La Spezia. Now a protected UNESCO World Heritage site, they are part of the Italian Riviera and one of the highlights of our 6-day trip. We also visit the beautiful historical port of Portovenere and end our trip in the chic resort town of Santa Margherita Ligure, near Portofino. We walk along dramatic cliffs, steeply terraced vineyards, and through colorful fishing villages. The seafood is excellent, the region is the birthplace of pesto and focaccia, and Ligurian wines are white, light, and delicious.
Cinque Terre Walk itinerary
Independent arrival in Monterosso al Mare, the largest of the five Cinque Terre villages. It is connected by train with Genoa to the north, and Pisa and La Spezia to the south. Our hotel is located in the heart of the old town, with its colorfully-painted houses and striking medieval church built of white and black local marble. Meet your guides and the rest of the group at 6:30 pm for a welcome drink and short orientation spiel from the guides before dinner at a local seafood restaurant. Overnight in Monterosso. Hotel and dinner included.
A short train ride takes us to the seaside town of Framura, where we start our walk to beautiful Levanto. The trail takes us high above the shimmering waters of the Tyrrhenian Sea before returning us to the coast at Levanto, a walled town originally built by the Romans. The 10th century church steeple once served as a watchtower to warn the village of marauding pirates. We exit Levanto following an ancient path that is still paved with broad flagstones worn shiny with the passage of centuries of travelers. The scenic coastal track leads us to the spectacular look-out at Punta Mesco where we see the five villages of the Cinque Terre spread out before us. We descend to Monterosso’s old town and its bustling village life. Enjoy a gelato or a cold drink overlooking the water, or grab your swimsuit and take a refreshing dip from Monterosso’s sandy beach. Tonight we enjoy a cooking lesson with Felicita, whose homemade pesto is guaranteed to please! Hotel, breakfast and dinner included.
Today's hike takes us along the footpath that has linked the villages of the Cinque Terre for over a thousand years. We walk to splendid Vernazza and then on to Corniglia and Manarola via the high route for spectacular views before returning to Monterosso by train or ferry. You will have time to explore the villages, sample their delicious focaccia, and chill out in a sunny piazza. If you have had enough hiking and are happy to kick back, relax, and soak up the atmosphere, you can simply catch a local train back to Monterosso at your leisure. Tonight is a “free night” dinner – so you are free to eat wherever you wish. Your guides will have suggestions. Hotel and breakfast included. Dinner not included.
Today we say farewell to Monterosso and hike to Portovenere, starting from Riomaggiore, the last of the Cinque Terre villages. Our walk takes us past a medieval church, through scented pine forests, and finally down past the Genovese fortress that protected Portovenere from marauding corsair pirates and their rival naval republic, Pisa. Dramatic cliffs plunge into the blue waters of the Mediterranean in a setting so beautiful that Byron, Shelly, and D.H. Lawrence fell to its charms. You will have time to meander through the village’s narrow pedestrian streets before a private van transfer to La Spezia where we catch the train north to the bustling town of Santa Margherita Ligure. About 60 kilometers north of La Spezia, Santa Margherita is an elegant coastal town whose waterfront promenade is lined with regal villas and grand “Belle Epoque” period hotels. One of our favorite restaurants awaits us this evening. Hotel, breakfast and dinner included.
A short train ride (4 minutes!) through a long tunnel takes us to the lovely seaside town of Camogli. Once a loyal supporter of the Genoese Republic and home to their navy, it is now famous for its delightfully painted houses. Their colorful façades often feature masterly “trompe l’oeil” decor. Our path takes us up to the church of San Rocco and then along a breathtaking route that offers magnificent views along the northern Ligurian coast as it curves west and heads for France. We eventually descend to the 12th century Abbey of San Fruttuoso, nestled below us in a glittering blue bay. Head down for a refreshing swim followed by lunch at a tiny seaside restaurant, then take the 3 pm ferry to Portofino. Hardcore hikers can continue to Portofino on foot, where they can relax and admire the super yachts before heading back to Santa Margherita by the private motor yacht (weather permitting) that we provide. Hotel, breakfast and dinner included.
The tour ends after breakfast this morning. Independent departure from the hotel to the train station, a short walk or taxi ride from the hotel. Santa Margherita is well connected by rail with the rest of Italy, and an easy train ride to the airports of Pisa, Milan or Genoa. Breakfast included.
The walks in the Cinque Terre, though not long in terms of distance, can be strenuous at times as we ascend and descend steep paths or stone stairways that have been used for years to link the villages of the region. We have designed the trip so that there is always some free time in the late afternoon so you can relax, read, or have a dip in the sea. Breakfast is included every day, and dinners reflect the excellent traditional food of the region. Daily distance between 8 and 14 kms.
Activity Rating: 3.5 out of 5. The Cinque Terre walk is a Moderate tour for fit hikers, and Challenging-but-Doable for not-so-fit hikers. This is a special category for our Amalfi and Cinque Terre walks because they entail steep and sustained climbs and descents that are however easily negotiated if youy take your time. Fit hikers will find them moderately challenging, and not so fit hikers will find them challenging but doable, at a slower pace. Our most common comment about the Cinque Terre and Amalfi walks is “It was more challenging than I expected but I am glad I did it.” We begin at sea level and climb as high as 500 meters (1,500 feet) before returning to sea level, at times on ancient stone staircases. Note also that people who suffer from severe vertigo may be affected on some stretches of the trail as we frequently have wide-open vistas over the sea (but almost never straight drop-offs). In the Cinque Terre there is often the possibility to opt out of part of the day’s walk by taking a train, ferry, or bus during the hike. Your guides are there to help you out with these arrangements.
Trip Cost Includes: All accommodations in superior 3-star properties (3 nights Monterosso, 2 Santa Margherita); 5 breakfasts and 4 dinners; bilingual guide or guides; all luggage transfers; scheduled train and boat transfers as indicated in the itinerary.
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Getting There: the trip starts with your arrival in Monterosso al Mare at our pre-booked hotel. Monterosso is well connected by rail. More information below.
Air: the closest airports to the start of the trip are Pisa or Genoa. Pisa Airport is well serviced by international flights from major European cities such as London, Paris, and Frankfurt. There is a train station right at the airport so it is easy to make further connections (or, it's a short hop into town to reach the Pisa “Centrale” station). Genoa Airport also has flights from other European centers and is a short (1.5 hr) train ride to Monterosso. You can also get there via longer train rides from Milan, Florence, or even Rome. For a complete list of Italian airports and a selection of low-cost airlines, see our "Transport Info" page.
Rail: All trains to Monterosso leave from either Genoa or La Spezia. Journey time by local train from La Spezia is about 20 mins, and 1-2 hrs from Genova depending on the train you catch. See the Trenitalia website (in English) at this link. For alternative high-speed rail travel, see the Italo website. For complete information on using the Italian train system, see our blog post.
Getting Away at the End of the Trip: the tour concludes Friday morning in Santa Margherita Ligure, which is well connected to the rest of Italy by rail.
If you book a trip with us you will receive detailed information about how to get to the start of your trip. Please e-mail us with any specific travel questions.
The walks were very enjoyable along the rugged coastline, with the highlight being the five villages mid-week. We were unlucky with the weather but the guides always had options and ways of switching the days activities around to make sure we didn't miss out on anything. All the villages and hotels we stayed in were lovely, and we enjoyed our pesto making session. The food is quite seafood orientated, as a non-fish eater i ended up eating a lot of veal escalopes, which seemed to be the other local speciality. The guides really made the trip for us, they were very knowledgeable about the area and went out of their way to make sure we all had fun.
The scenery was fabulous, our group had an great time. I fell and broke my wrist and our guide took care of me and our group so well. She made sure that I followed the route by sea/bus/train so I could keep up with my friends and most days they found me in a cafÃ© by the sea drinking wine. She was amazing.
Great combination of scenery, history, food, drink and exercise. Plus great guides and company.
by R. Camarsh from Sydney Australia