I’ll admit, I went into this thinking it wouldn’t be that good. Some of these touristy sites can be all hype, so I couldn’t help but feed the inner cynic in the lead up to our trip there.
Well, I’m about to give you the whole and honest truth. The Cinque Terre hike, between the villages of Monterosso and Vernazza, was probably one of the most spectacular coastal walks that I’ve ever experienced.
The views are insane. You start in the beach town of Monterosso al Mare and from there you’re basically walking along a cliff-side from one village to another on a 3km (1.8 mile) trail that runs through vineyards and olive groves.
Along the dirt path you’ll pass by the occasional farmer selling limoncello or busker serenading other tired walkers and get treetop views over the Italian coastline. It is legit. It’s a hikers paradise and although you may need a moderate fitness level to complete the walk in 2 hours, you’re in Italy, rushing is optional! Sip on some of that locally made bliss juice and watch the world go by.
After a heap of tough, uphill walking you reach an exposed area with “a fence lined with padlocks left by couples to affirm their everlasting love”.
Walking a little further you’ll see a shady, forested area with a stone bridge and a waterfall running behind it. This is when the descent to Vernazza begins and there are some peephole spots for great photos of the town below along the way (with some tricky lighting to work with!).
When is the best time to take the trail?
Anytime from March to October is trail season. We went in October and I’d do it again because:
- it was off peak, so the flights and accommodation were cheaper
- we had sunny weather (but not unbearably hot) so it made for an easy, enjoyable walk
- not a heap of tourists, so the trail didn’t feel like a conveyer belt
The Cinque Terre coastal trail spans the whole length of the “5 lands”, as they call it. The most scenic section of the trail is between Monterosso and Vernazza.
Simply catch a train to Monterosso, walk through Garibaldi Piazza (the main square) and you’ll see a sign pointing to the coast and trail that goes along the cliff side – that’s the one you want.
How To Buy a National Park Pass for the trail
As the trail is inside a National Park, you’ll need a pass to access it. It is maintained by Parco Nazionale delle Cinque Terre. There are booths set up to check for passes and take payment at both ends of the trail – in Vernazza and Monterosso. That means even if you forget to buy one or you’re being a sneaky bugger, there’s no escaping the €6 for the 1-day pass, so make sure you have cash with you. If you’d rather buy before you start the trail, all of the villages sell the passes in their local tourist office (usually at the train station).
- No need for hiking boots, normal runners are fine
- It doesn’t really get cold in trail season, but take a jacket just in case
- It’s a short walk so you won’t need food as both villages have plenty of bars and restaurants
- Take a bottle of water with you – you’ll need that for the up-hill sections!
- Sunglasses are helpful as the glare of the sun can be a bit bright, especially at sunset
- Don’t forget your camera 😉
Are you planning to walk the Cinque Terre trail? Got any questions? Share them below and we’ll try to help out as best we can.
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