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Cinque Terre Highlights

Cinque Terre Highlights on Foot

Overview

This walking holiday in Italy takes in the highlights of the famed Cinque Terre (the ‘Five Lands’). Based in Levanto and Riomaggiore, 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 Riomaggiore. The area, now a National Park, is a unique part of Italy. People have lived in this dramatic landscape for over a thousand years, 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.

Programme valid for 2023, and bookings made after 11 October 2022!

Highlights

Click to view map

Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival in Monterosso al Mare

As soon as you get settled in your accommodation, step outside and breathe in the fresh air of the Mediterranean Sea. In the afternoon, you can visit the historic centre, and in the evening, let all your senses be delighted as you prepare for your phenomenal walking adventure ahead.

Day 2: Vernazza or Levanto | 7-14 km

Today you can choose from 2 walking options:

Option A: Monterosso-Levanto-Monterosso: The day’s walk is along the promontory which separates Levanto and Monterosso, following the coastal trails with spectacular views on the Cinque Terre and the Levante Ligure. Once you are in Levanto, stop for a visit to the centre and the Sant’Andrea Church. You can decide whether to go back to Monterosso by train or on foot. The way back runs along a path which starts downtown Levanto and reaches the top of the ridge. Enjoy the views over Levanto and the mountains which surround its gulf. Then reach Punta Mesco and walk back to Monterosso.

Option B: Monterosso-Vernazza-Corniglia: Today, you walk along the busy coastal trail connecting the five Cinque Terre villages. The trail contours the coastline, ascending and descending, and it includes some stone staircases that can be challenging. The route is straightforward and easy to follow. Train back to Monterosso.

  • Walking for the day (Option A): 14 km, 5 hours ↑820 m ↓820 m // shorter option: 7 km, 3 hours ↑350 m ↓350 m
  • Walking for the day (Option B): 7 km, 3 hours ↑482 m ↓404 m
  • Accommodation: Albergo Marina or similar in Monterosso al Mare

Day 3: Porto Venere | 13 km

A short train ride brings you to Riomaggiore, from where you walk to the ridge of the mountain chain bordering the Cinque Terre area. From Colle del Telegrafo, you follow this panoramic ridge trail all the way to Portovenere, passing through the village of Campiglia. Today’s itinerary offers spectacular views of the Cinque Terre coastline and the impressive cliffs of Portovenere

  • Walking for the day: 13 km, 6 hours ↑860 m ↓875 m
  • Accommodation: Hotel Paradiso or similar in Porto Venere

Day 4: Palmaria Island | 6.5 km

The day’s walk around Palmaria Island is something you won’t forget. A great variety of scenery dominates the island, from the rich Mediterranean vegetation made of fragrant room, brightly coloured cyst flowers, wild orchids and delicately perfumed myrtle to the features steep cliffs up to the height of 188 m. The walk starts in Punta Secco with a spectacular view of the Church San Pietro and the imposing limestone cliffs of Muzzerone rising in the background. Along the way, you find several small caves (most notably the Grotta dei Colombi, where human and animal remains were found, dating back to the Neolithic Era). Continue on to the top you will reach the Fortified Battery of Umberto I, today known as the “Sea Fortress”. After the walk, take the ferry back to Porto Venere.

  • Walking for the day: 6.5 km, 2-3 hours ↑326 m ↓339 m
  • Accommodation: Hotel Paradiso or similar in Porto Venere

Day 5: Departure or Onward Travel

The tour ends after breakfast. Take a public bus to La Spezia, and there is a train to Pisa, Genoa, Florence or Milan airports.

What to Expect

Accommodation

Accommodation is in comfortable 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.

Click to view default hotels

*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.

Meals

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. Products for picnics can be purchased in the villages where you stay, or you have the option to have your lunch in a restaurant along the way.

Difficulty & terrain

The Cinque Terre walking tour is suitable for those who might have limited walking experience in the mountains but are in good general physical condition. A 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, stony and mule tracks with steep hills. It can be tiring walking along stone steps of diverse sizes. On all days, alternative longer or shorter walks are possible (read more about difficulty grades). You have to use local trains to get to and from the walks. Most of the walks are on good paths, some of them 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 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.

When to go

This trip is available from the beginning of March until the end of 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 the 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.

Important note: The park wardens try to keep all of the paths open throughout the year. However, heavy rains, summer fires or too many tourists can cause temporary closure of certain stretches, so be sure to check with the park office. We cannot guarantee that all sections of the itinerary listed above will be accessible during your holiday.

Getting there

FCO up-to-date travel advice

Click to view travel options

By plane

Our recommended arrival airport for this holiday is Genoa. Other Italian airports (PisaFlorence) are also well connected to Levanto.

By train or bus

The tour starts in Monterosso al Mare. Nearly all trains from Genoa go directly to Monterosso without having to change trains (approximately 1.5 – 2 hours). From Pisa airport, you have to change at Pisa Centrale and again at La Spezia for a local train that stops in Monterosso (approximately 2 h 15 min).

From Portovenere is possible to reach La Spezia central train station by bus, line 11 from ATC (www.atcesercizio.it), which runs almost every 30 min or take a taxi (costs around 40 euros). In the summer you can also use boats between the villages along the coast.

Airport transfers by public transport are recommended for this trip, as they are much cheaper and faster compared to car transfers.

Inclusions

Included

  • Detailed pre-departure holiday information pack, including GPS-tracks, road notes and maps
  • 4 breakfasts
  • 4 nights in private ensuite rooms
  • Luggage transfer Monterosso-Porto Venere on day 3 (1 piece up to 20 kg per person)
  • Cinque Terre Card Park + Train 2 days
  • 24/7 phone assistance by our local office/representative

Excluded

  • Airfare and connecting land transfers
  • Lunches, dinners, drinks and snacks
  • Local tourist tax and entrance fees (payable on the spot)
  • Travel insurance (required – get a quote online)
  • Personal expenses
  • Any items not explicitly listed as included

Options, extras & supplements

  • Supplement applies to members of a group who require a single room / single use of a double room
  • This holiday is available for solo travellers; a supplement will be charged as accommodation and luggage transfer costs are not shared (we never mix and match – solo travellers will be accommodated in single rooms)
  • Extra nights.

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