Overview for Cinque Terre Highlights
This walking holiday in Italy takes in the highlights of the famed Cinque Terre (the ‘Five Lands’). Based in Monterosso and Portovenere, you will explore the beautiful Ligurian coast by foot, train and boat, choosing from a selection of coastal and mountain walks each day.
The Cinque Terre’ gets its name from the five picturesque villages of Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Rio Maggiore. The area, now a National Park, is a unique part of Italy. For over a thousand years people have lived in this dramatic landscape, slowly altering its features and cultivating the steep hillsides that lead down to rocky shores. An extensive network of ancient mule tracks – today used as footpaths – takes you through an extraordinary landscape of terraces, built by hand with stones and earth.
- Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Rio Maggiore
Itinerary for Cinque Terre HighlightsGo to top of page
Day 1: Arrival Levanto/Monterosso al Mare
After settling in your hotel, there is time for a short visit to the town centre and maybe a swim in the sea. Or, In case you arrive early you can take the coastal walk to Monterosso al Mare.
The first part of the walk leads up towards Punta Mesco, the most notable promontory in the region. This is a good spot to stop for a picnic lunch. After that, you can make a small detour to the ruins of an old 11th-century hermitage and the nearby ‘semaforo’ , from where you will enjoy marvellous views of the rugged coastline. Then you follow a fairly steep path down into Monterosso, a colourful village with blue, red & yellow houses that cluster behind the beach-front. You will now have time to explore the town before taking the local train back to Levanto. There is also the option to walk back from here, following an inland forested path, which over the ridge brings you back behind the castle of Levanto.
- Walking for the day (optional): 4 hours (6 hours with the optional walk back to Levanto)
- Accommodation: country inn in Levanto
Day 2: Deiva Marina / Moneglia / Sestri Levante
From Levanto you walk in western direction today. The first part of the walk goes along the beach, then the path goes up into the first hills and down to the little seaside village of Bonassola. Then it goes through the seaside hills towards the small settlement of Framura, an aggregation of scattered hamlets on the hillside. From Costa, the highest hamlet, an almost level path contours the hills, with nice views over the sea. A steep descent brings you down to the next village, Deiva Marina (with the option to continue to Moneglia or even to Sestri Levante). This walk along the coast brings you through several charming little villages, where you have the time to drink a coffee, have lunch or just relax. From all the villages on the way you can take the train back to Levanto, in case you want to shorten the walk.
- Walking for the day: 3 to 6 hours depending on the walking option chosen
- Accommodation: country inn in Levanto
Day 3: Riomaggiore
You first take the train to Riomaggiore, the most southerly of the five villages, where you can leave your luggage in the hotel. Then you start the most ‘classical’ of all walks in the Cinque Terre: the hike along the famous ‘Sentiero dell’Amore’’ (Lovers’ Walk) to Manarola, an attractive little village with tall multi-coloured houses overlooking a rocky port. Then head up the 365 steps to Corniglia, perched on a ridge overlooking the sea. From there you continue through terraced vineyards and the occasional citrus grove. As you approach Vernazza, dominated by its old fortress, you enjoy some of the best views in the region. You contour around the hillsides following a narrow track that leads up and down, before a steep descent brings you into the village itself.
In Vernazza, arguably the prettiest of all the villages, there is time to ascend the castle tower for a stunning view of the port with its brightly painted boats. There are numerous cafés and bars where you can enjoy refreshment before taking the train back to your hotel in Riomaggiore.
- Walking for the day: 3.5 to 5 hours depending on the walking option chosen
- Accommodation: 2 or 3-star hotel in Riomaggiore
Optional Extra Day: The Churches of Cinque Terre
Today’s walk takes you into the inland of the Cinque Terre, to the churches of Madonna di Reggio and Madonna di Saviore. You first take the train to Vernazza and then walk along the coast to Monterosso, approaching this beautiful little town from the other end. After a coffee break, you start climbing up to the sanctuary of Madonna di Saviore. Here you can have a refreshment or relax for a while, before walking on to the next sanctuary, that of Madonna di Reggio. Then the walk continues along the contour lines; through the hills, you walk to the little church of San Bernardo, with beautiful views over the coast, and from there you descend to the coast at Vernazza again. A shorter option takes you directly from Madonna di Reggio, along a few little chapels, back down to Vernazza.
- Walking for the day: 4 to 5 hours
- Accommodation: 2 or 3-star hotel in Riomaggiore
Day 4: Portovenere
Today you walk in the eastern direction. From Riomaggiore, you commence your walk to Campiglia and Portovenere. You hike up a long flight of stairs to the Santuario della Madonna di Montenero. Continuing uphill you begin contouring along the coastal cliffs, through terraced vineyards, enjoying beautiful views of the coastline framed by clear blue waters. You are now on the ‘Sentiero Rosso’’, the ridge traverse that goes from one end of the Cinque Terre to the other. You pass through the little hamlet of Campiglia where you can stop for some refreshment. Walking down into the pine forest, the track narrows as you continue towards Portovenere with more spectacular views.
Arriving at the 16th-century castle above the village, you may be able to see the distant peaks of the Alpi Apuane before a long staircase takes us into the heart of the village. There is time to walk around the beautiful Portovenere and Punta San Pietro, before returning to Riomaggiore by boat.
- Walking for the day: 4.5 to 5.5 hours depending on the walking option chosen
- Accommodation: 2 or 3-star hotel in Riomaggiore
Day 5: Departure or Onward Travel
After breakfast, you can easily return by train to Levanto (20 minutes), which is well connected to all major cities and airports (Genoa being the closest).
Hotels for Cinque Terre HighlightsGo to top of page
Simple but comfortable country inns, 2 and 3-star hotels as indicated in the itinerary, all offering private en-suite rooms. We have carefully hand-picked all places and regularly monitor their quality. We have tried to choose accommodations that are close to the trails, offer friendly service, clean and comfortable rooms and local flavour.
- Nights 1 & 2: These are spent at Levanto, a charming old medieval city, you stay in a welcoming and comfortable country inn, centrally located at walking distance from all the main monuments of the medieval town centre.
- Nights 3 & 4: These three nights are spent in the lively little village of Riomaggiore, the most eastern of the five villages, with colourful houses and a charming little harbour.
*Hotels are subject to availability. In case a particular hotel is fully booked for your desired dates, we will replace it with a hotel of equal value and quality level. We will provide exact accommodation details to you upon booking confirmation.
All breakfasts are included. No evening meals are included, and you are free to choose from the wide choice of restaurants in the area. Your accommodation host can give you good tips. On some occasions, you can also choose to eat at the premises of the hotel. No picnic lunches are included in the tour price, but these can be prepared for you by the accommodation operators, or products for picnics can be purchased in the villages where you stay. On some occasions, you have the option to have your lunch in a restaurant along the way.
Travel for Cinque Terre HighlightsGo to top of page
Our recommended arrival airport for this holiday is Genoa. Other Italian airports are also well connected to Levanto.
Please note that flight information can change rapidly, and not all flights run daily. Please do check directly with the airlines’ websites or Skyscanner before finalising any booking with us. Please do not book your flights before we have confirmed your booking.
Transfers to/from Airports
The tour starts in Levanto. Regular (high speed) trains run between this town and most major Italian cities (Genoa being the closest). Visit the Italia Rail website for up-to-date timetables and fares, or check the rome2rio link below.
The tour ends after breakfast in Riomaggiore on Day 5. You can quickly return by train to Levanto (20 minutes), which is well connected to all major cities and airports (Genoa being the closest).
Airport transfers by public transport are recommended for this trip, as they are much cheaper and faster compared to car transfers. All internal transfers are by train and not included in trip price; all the villages are well connected by local train services, and you should buy a Cinque Terre Train Card (16 Euro for 24 hours, 29 Euro for two days, 41 Euro for three days). The card allows unlimited train travel on the Levanto – Cinque Terre – La Spezia line (on regional trains in 2° class) and also includes access to all hiking trails, use of ecological park buses, wi-fi internet connection.
Hotel to hotel luggage transfers are not included as all your ground transfers are by convenient local trains. You will never have to carry your main luggage while walking. The reason behind this is that luggage transfers by car are relatively costly here as while by train the distance from village to village is very short (the train shortcuts through tunnels), by car one has to drive a long way around the mountains and often it’s difficult to enter the villages by car, as a special permit is required.
A comprehensive and reputable travel insurance policy is essential to your enjoyment and peace of mind while on an active holiday. It is highly recommended when booking with us that all group members have valid travel insurance which includes cover for all activities included in your trip. We have teamed up with World Nomads to offer you adequate cover at a great value from a reputable insurer, and it takes only a few minutes to buy online.
- Language: Italian. In big cities and resorts, many people speak English, but in remote areas, this might not be the case. However, most of the hotel personnel where we stay speak English and are ready to help you. You can always call our 24/7 helpline if there are any problems.
- Electric supply and plugs: 220V, 50hZ, two-pin round plugs.
- Currency: We strongly advise taking sufficient cash for your daily requirements. Banks and ATMs are available, and credit/debit card payments are widely accepted in towns and cities and big petrol station chains but might be limited at some of the villages we visit.
- Up-to-date travel advice on Italy is available here. Detailed travel information and hints will be provided in your holiday information pack.
Trip Info for Cinque Terre HighlightsGo to top of page
Difficulty Grade: Easy to Moderate
This Cinque Terre walking tour which is suitable for those who might have limited experience of walking in the mountains but are in a good general physical condition. High level of fitness is not necessary, but you should be able to walk for up to 5 hours a day in the hot sun on dusty or stony tracks. On some days alternative longer or shorter walks are possible (read more about difficulty grades).
Most of the walks are on good paths, some of them just recently restored by the local authorities. Most parts of the trails are waymarked. Elsewhere you have to follow the route notes provided together with the maps. We strongly advise you to follow only marked trails and never try to shorten the path through the unknown and unmarked terrain. We will provide you with detailed road notes and maps, and you can call our 24/7 local assistance phone number anytime. More detailed info on route navigation will be included in your holiday information pack.
Important note: some sections of the Lovers’ Walk and other trails have been closed due to landslides and local authorities might close other sections without prior notice; in such case alternative walks will be offered. We monitor the state of the paths constantly and keep our route info up-to-date, to make sure you do the best possible walks, but we cannot guarantee that all sections listed in the itinerary will be accessible during your holiday.
When to Go
This trip is available from March until October.
Late spring, the whole summer and early autumn are beautiful on the Liguria coast. It may become very hot in July and August, and some of the resort towns – especially Portofino – may become overcrowded in these months, although the trails along the mountain slopes above the coast are far from the tourist rush.
Without a doubt the best time to see the Liguria Coast is from April to June, when the spring flowers are in bloom, the weather is just warm enough, and the temperature of the Mediterranean allows for the first dips of the season.
The months of September and October are also an excellent time to visit the region, while the temperatures are still mild.
The flexibility of self-guided holidays means that there are no fixed dates and you can start your trip on any date in the season – so please indicate desired beginning date when booking.
What to Bring
We recommend that you travel as light as possible – airlines might charge you an extra fee. As this is a rail & hike holiday, you will transfer all your luggage between hotels by train by yourself. However, the trip is organised in such a way, that you will not have to carry your main luggage while walking. Ideally, you should bring one piece of luggage weighing no more than 25 kg (to be checked in) and a daily pack (15 – 20 l rucksack) for your everyday essentials (snacks, drinking water, camera, etc.). Below is a non-exclusive list of what you should bring to this trip. More detailed info will be included in your holiday information pack. If you need further advice, please contact a reputable outdoor retailer or us.
- Good hiking boots
- Hiking socks
- Several t-shirts (preferably breathable/fast drying)
- Packable waterproof and windproof jacket with hood
- Synthetic mid layer or warm fleece
- Trainers and/or sandals – to relax and wear inside accommodation
- Sunglasses, sunscreen and lip salve
- Hat/Baseball cap
- Personal First Aid kit (wet wipes, flu remedies, stomach remedies)
Included for Cinque Terre HighlightsGo to top of page
- Detailed pre-departure holiday information pack including GPS-checked and regularly updated route descriptions, road notes and maps at 1 : 25.000 scale (or better)
- 4 breakfasts
- 2 nights in Levanto country inn
- 2 nights in Riomaggiore 2**/3*** hotel
- 24/7 phone assistance from our Italian office
- Where individual members of a group require a single room, a single room supplement is applicable.
- This holiday is available for solo travellers. As costs are not shared, a supplement is payable on the standard trip cost.
Other Trip-Related Costs
- Airport train and bus fares
- Train fares on walking days. The Cinque Terre Train Card is an affordable and easy to use option (16 Euro for 24 hours, 29 Euro for 2 days, 41 Euro for 3 days). The card allows unlimited train travel on the Levanto – Cinque Terre – La Spezia line (on regional trains in 2° class) and also includes access to all hiking trails, use of ecological park buses, wi-fi internet connection.
- Entrance fees for attractions and museums
- Flights and ground transfers (hotel to hotel luggage transfers are not included as all your ground transfers are by convenient local trains. You will not have to carry your main luggage while walking)
- Lunches and dinners
- Travel insurance
- Personal expenses such as snacks, drinks, phone calls, extra transfers, tips, etc.
- Any items not specifically mentioned in the programme
- Optional extra day after Day 3 – The Churches of Cinque Terre and an extra night in Riomaggiore
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