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Cinque Terre Classic Hike

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  • Location: Italy
  • Duration: 7 Days/6 Nights
  • Departing from: Santa Margherita Ligure
  • Tour finishes: La Spezia train station
  • Departures 2022: April 24, May 8, 15, 22, June 5, Aug 28, Sept 11, 18, Oct 2 and private departures.
  • Price 2022: We previously provided this tour to REI Adventures that offered it at $3,800 USD. They have cancelled, and we offer the tour for Euro €2,900 per person based on double occupancy and minimum 3 people. That's a savings of about $350 USD per person. Single supplement €200. One guide accompanies departures of 2 - 8 people. Two guides accompany departures of 9 or more people

The Cinque Terre’s sun-soaked villages perched on Mediterranean hillsides redefine the meaning of the word quaint. Dramatic coastal scenery give way to medieval fortresses. Ripe, plentiful vineyards stand in stark contrast to harbors filled with gently floating yachts. Steep, ancient trails connect villages from Portofino to Portovenere. Knowledgeable guides lead us along the terrain, stopping to give us historical context and to remind us to enjoy the fragrant sea air.

We embark on daily hikes along the cliffs of the Italian Riviera. Each village brings its own personality and spin on renowned Italian cuisine. Enjoy fresh, delicious seafood, warm Italian pastries and a glass of wine at the end of a long day. Each hike brings new views of the Ligurian coast and each evening gives us a chance to relax at a charming inn amongst new friends.

Cinque Terre Classic Hike itinerary Request full itinerary

Day 1: Sunday

A warm-up hike offers dramatic views of the sparkling Ligurian Sea.
Our trip begins today in Santa Margherita, Italy. Santa Margherita, known for its orange blossoms and beachfront promenade, is a lovely coastal town on the Ligurian Sea approximately 20 miles southeast of Genoa. Plan to arrive early in the day; many travelers take a train from Milan, Pisa or Genoa. Transfer on our own to our hotel and meet your trip leader and traveling companions for a warm-up hike up and over the hill to Portofino. This picturesque village has a castle atop the hill, overlooking a harbor ringed by pastel-colored houses. Our hiking start time is 2:30pm. A group orientation will be held during dinner. Overnight in Santa Margherita for the next two nights. Dinner included.
Hiking: 3.8 miles, 2 hours; Terrain: Steep trail sections and stairs. Cumulative elevation gain: 1,100'.

Day 2: Monday

Hiking along the cliffs of the Italian Riviera leads to colorful Portofino.
This morning we have a short train transfer to the town of Camogli from where we set off for a full day hike along the seaside cliffs of the Italian Riviera. Weather permitting, we descend to the 13th –century Abbey of San Fruttuoso where we enjoy lunch and a swim at this exquisite beach and bay that is only accessible by foot or by boat. We continue our hike by ascending from the Abbey and traversing a scenic ridge with magnificent views that alternate between the sea and the coastal mountain range whose flank is dotted with villages and hamlets. Our route serves as the perfect scenic introduction to this marvelous region. Breakfast and dinner included.
Train: 5 minutes; Hiking: 6-8.7 miles; 5.5 hours; Terrain: Rolling pathways, rocky trails, and some steep trail sections as well as a 45-minute continuous uphill climb. Cumulative elevation gain: 2,000-2,300'.

Day 3: Tuesday

Walk from Levanto to Monterosso with views of the Cinque Terre coast.
A transfer by train this morning brings us to the village of Levanto, once a walled town and major stronghold of the Genoese. We leave Levanto on foot and walk to Monterosso. The walk takes us gradually up and over a peninsula, rewarding us first with fine views over Levanto's medieval walls and tiled roofs, and eventually the whole stretch of the Cinque Terre coast is laid out before us. We'll arrive in Monterosso this afternoon; you'll have time to enjoy a swim at the sandy beach or wander through the quaint streets to find a pleasant cafe where you can watch the world go by. Tonight we have a pesto-making demonstration followed by dinner. Breakfast and dinner included.
Train: 1 hour to Levanto; Hiking: 5.6 miles, 3-3.5 hours; Terrain: Long, steep pathways and stair sections with a 45 minutes continuous uphill climb, rocky trails, and rolling hills. Cumulative elevation gain: 1,968'.

Day 4: Wednesday

Hike through ancient villages and olive groves.
This morning we'll continue our walk along the coast. Our first stop is Vernazza, one of the most photographed villages in the Cinque Terre. From here, an optional hike to Corniglia offers views of the deep blue sea as we travel through terraced olive groves. We continue to Volastra, an ancient village surrounded by terraced vineyards and olive trees. Our hike ends at the seaside village of Manarola where we have time for a gelato before taking the train back to our hotel in Monterosso. We dine independently tonight giving us the opportunity to choose from a variety of authentic local trattorias and cafes. Breakfast included.
Train: 8 minutes to Monterosso; Hiking: 7.6 miles, 4-4.5 hours; Terrain: Some long, steep trail and stair sections with a 45 minutes continuous uphill climb, rocky trails, and rolling hills. Cumulative elevation gain: 2,864'.
Optional hike from Vernazza to Corniglia: 3.1 miles, 2 hours; Terrain: Some long, steep trail and stair sections with 15 minutes continuous uphill climb, rocky trails, and rolling hills. Cumulative elevation gain: 1,295'.

Day 5: Thursday

Hike through chestnut and pine forests to lovely Portovenere.
We begin the day with a short train transfer to Riomaggiore, the starting point of our hike to Portovenere. Our route takes us through majestic pine and chestnut forests, we hike past cork trees, a medieval sanctuary, and finally to a 16th-century Genovese naval fortress that once protected Portovenere from marauding corsair pirates. In late afternoon, we check into our hotel and have some free time to explore the cobbled streets of this picturesque seaside village. Dramatic cliffs plunge into the blue waters of the Mediterranean in a setting so beautiful that Byron, Shelley and D.H. Lawrence succumbed to its charms. Overnight in Portovenere. Breakfast and dinner included.
Train: 15 minutes; Hiking: 9 miles, 4.5 hours; Terrain: Rocky trails, rolling and steep trail sections including a 40-minute continuous uphill climb. Cumulative elevation gain: 3,200'.

Day 6: Friday

Hike on the island of Palmaria, a short boat ride from Portovenere.
Our final day starts with a boat ride around the nearby island of Palmaria and smaller islands of Tino and Tinetto. Landing on Palmaria, we walk around the island on a wooded path passing Napoleonic-era forts and an ancient marble quarry which for centuries provided the rock for La Spezia's grand Palazzi. We'll return to Portovenere mid-day and have some free time before dinner to explore or go for a swim in the "Poet's Grotto". Tonight, we'll drink a toast celebrating new friendships before enjoying dinner together at one of the lively restaurants in town. Overnight in Portovenere. Breakfast and dinner included.
Boat: 8 minutes each way; Hiking: 3 miles, 2.5 hours; Terrain: Pathways and rocky trails with short, steep sections. Cumulative elevation gain: 636'.

Day 7: Saturday

Arrivederci to our traveling companions as our trip ends in La Spezia.
After breakfast, our adventure ends with a private transfer to the La Spezia train station. We plan to arrive at 9:45 a.m.; please do not schedule rail departures prior to 10am. Breakfast included.
Driving: 30 minutes.

Cinque Terre Tour Includes
Accommodation: 5 nights in 3 & 4 star hotels (2 nights each Santa Margherita Ligure, Monterosso or Levanto, and Portovenere)
Meals: 6 breakfasts & 5 dinners
Luggage: Bags are transfered between all hotels and including the final drop-off at the La Spezia train station
Special events: Pesto and anchovy preparation & dinner with a local family; ferry or motorboat ride along the coast of Portofino
Transport: Train, boat & private van transfers as noted in the itinerary
Active days: 6 days of guided hiking
Guides: At least 1 bilingual Customwalks guide accompanies departures of 2 - 8 people; 2 guides accompany departures of 9 or more people
Max group size: Tours are capped at 14 people


Booking: Please e-mail us at info@customwalks.com to receive a booking contract or simply click on the BOOK NOW button or the 'Contact Us' tab. Thanks!

Activity Level 3+ = Moderate Plus:
In general: 
This is a Moderate tour for fit hikers who will find the walks a satisfying workout, while less-fit hikers will find them challenging but do-able and have a great sense of achievement at the end of the week.
Terrain: Rolling to hilly terrain with frequent steep ascents and descents. The "+" indicates that they also involve more rugged, rocky, or steep terrain than the standard 3-rated tours.
Actual walking time: Between 3-5 hours per day, mostly in the morning but also in the afternoon.
Distances: Usually 8 - 12 kms (5 - 7 mi) per day. Max distance 16 kms (9 mi).
Surfaces: Trails are a mix of compact earth or dirt track, gravel roads, and rocky, uneven wooded trails. You will also encounter centuries' old stone stairways and rocky steps. 
Footing: Good, but you have to pay attention to where and how you place your feet. Proper hiking shoes with thick soles with good treads are required. Sport sandals, running shoes and tennis shoes are not adequate.
Specifics: Our most common comment about this type of trip is “It was more challenging than I expected but I am glad I did it”. On this particular tour we begin every day's hike at sea level, so always start with a (often steep) climb and finish with an equal hike back down. The walks are between 6 - 17 kms (4 - 11 mi.), and there is often the possibility to opt out of a segment by taking a train, ferry, or bus during the day. The climbs can be long, sometimes 20-40 minutes at a stretch, on time-worn stone steps or trails, sometimes over rocky terrain that you must negotiate with care. Indeed, we developed the 3+ rating to describe our Amalfi and Cinque Terre trips because they entail steep and sustained climbs and descents that are however easily to hike if you take your time. Note: 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).
Hiking Poles: Highly recommended but not required, and if you habitually use hiking pole you will regret it if you don’t have them. 
Other: This tour is appropriate for “sporty and fit” first-time hikers who enjoy walking and have good balance. People with hip and knee issues might find a 3+ tour challenging because of the terrain and the duration of the hikes.
Moderate Plus Tours: Amalfi is the easiest of this group, then Dolomites Lite, followed by the Cinque Terre, Sardinia, Northern Greece Meteora & Zagori, and Andalusia.

Getting There: the trip starts with your arrival in Santa Margherita Ligure at our pre-booked hotel. Santa Margherita 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 monorail service from the airport to the Pisa “Centrale” station. Genoa Airport also has flights from other European centers and is a short train ride to Santa Margherita. 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 Santa Margherita Ligure leave from either Genoa or La Spezia. Journey time by local train from La Spezia can take up to 2 hours, while it's less than an hour 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 Saturday morning at the La Spezia train station in time for 10 a.m. departures. Earlier departures can be arranged, at your expense.

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.

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5 out of 5
Ratings based on 4 Verified Reviews



Average ratings
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Reviews
5
by Marie2019
Posted Mar 31, 2021

Best Guide Ever!! We did this hike in October and the weather was great! It only rained one afternoon. Dennis, our guide, was patient, knowledgeable, easy going, and made our trip even more enjoyable than we expected. We learned a great deal about Cinque Terre and Liguria from a cultural and historical perspective from Dennis. We were a small group of four, with Dennis, our guide, and the pacing, the meals, the overall experience was perfect! The scenery was awe inspiring, the food was wonderful, the hotels were comfortable, and the company was enjoyable. We had some long days hiking but none of them were overly strenuous for anyone.

5
by RobertT
Posted Mar 31, 2021

Great Trip! My wife and I went on this trip in early September as Cinque Terre has been on our bucket list for years. Our group members were fantastic, and our guides were special (kind, sincere, knowledgeable and fun). I find it so unique to meet strangers on your first day of these types of trips, and then by the end you feel like you are leaving family. It's just wonderful to spend time with like minded people who enjoy experiencing life. It was very hot and humid there this September (unseasonably I think), which made the hikes a nice challenge. We certainly earned our beverages and meals! If you are interested is exploring a very beautiful area, and learning about their history and culture then you cannot go wrong with this trip. Until we meet again new friends!

5
by ECaB
Posted Mar 31, 2021

The PERFECT way to see the Cinque Terre I recently returned from this trip and it was a dream come true! We took challenging hikes through beautiful scenery, ate and rested well, and learned more about Italy from our wonderful guide and guide in training.

5
by KimF
Posted Mar 31, 2021

Great trip! I went on this trip in May 2019 and am so happy that I did. The trip was well organized, Dennis was a great guide, and we got to hike in the most beautiful scenery overlooking the ocean, hiking by vineyards, and through trees. I definitely recommend this trip!



If you have any questions or specific requests about any of our tours, we’re here to help. You can fill in the form below, send us an email, or call us and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

Contact us
info@customwalks.com
Contact us by email

1-877-315-9053
Toll free Canada & USA 

(+64) 021 0711972
New Zealand

(+39) 0577 749198
Italian operations office

Best Guide Ever!! We did this hike in October and the weather was great! It only rained one afternoon. Dennis, our guide, was patient, knowledgeable, easy going, and made our trip even more enjoyable than we expected. We learned a great deal about Cinque Terre and Liguria from a cultural and historical perspective from Dennis. We were a small group of four, with Dennis, our guide, and the pacing, the meals, the overall experience was perfect! The scenery was awe inspiring, the food was wonderful, the hotels were comfortable, and the company was enjoyable. We had some long days hiking but none of them were overly strenuous for anyone.
by Marie2019


Great Trip! My wife and I went on this trip in early September as Cinque Terre has been on our bucket list for years. Our group members were fantastic, and our guides were special (kind, sincere, knowledgeable and fun). I find it so unique to meet strangers on your first day of these types of trips, and then by the end you feel like you are leaving family. It's just wonderful to spend time with like minded people who enjoy experiencing life. It was very hot and humid there this September (unseasonably I think), which made the hikes a nice challenge. We certainly earned our beverages and meals! If you are interested is exploring a very beautiful area, and learning about their history and culture then you cannot go wrong with this trip. Until we meet again new friends!
by RobertT


53 more hiking through vineyards
Cinque terre june 2011 054
02 santa margherita customwalks tours
03 santa margherita produce customwalks tours
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05 italian riviera customwalks tours
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Day 3 17 and, the cheese plate!
42 vernazza in the sunshine (from another tour...)
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06 italian riviera customwalks tours
10 fresh pesto liguria customwalks tours
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45 leaving vernazza with italian marittime flag
Day 6 01 glorious morning portovenere
Day 3 13 and, theyre served this way
48 hiking out of corniglia
Day 5 16 approaching portovenere
Let's socialize




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Customer support

info@customwalks.com
Contact us by email

1-877-315-9053
Toll free Canada & USA 

(+64) 021 0711972
New Zealand

(+39) 0577 749198
Italian operations office

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