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Cinque Terre: Hike Recommendations!

Hello! I’ll be visiting the Cinque Terre this September and would really appreciate some hike suggestions. I’m young and fairly fit, but definitely don’t do a lot of hiking and want to stick to well populated paths. The most important things to me are #1) Good photo ops, and #2) Safety. I have been scared away from the Vernazza – Monterosso hike because of the bit about “very dangerous” and “narrow”.

I’ve read the descriptions in Rick’s Italy book and it seems like the Riomaggiore – Manarola hike, and Corniglia – Vernazza hike seem to fit these needs.

Can anyone whose done theses two hikes attest to the fact that they aren’t very dangerous or narrow? Or would anyone recommend a different hike? Thank you!!

Jenny

Posted by
6898 posts

We're seniors and we have done 3 of the four hikes. I suggest starting in Riomaggiore as most people start in that direction. If you go the opposite direction, you're always making way for people.

The hike from Riomaggiore to Manorola is fairly flat and wide. A very nice and casual walk. You can walk this trail in as little as 20 minutes. The trail from Manorola to Corniglia takes about 45 minutes and has a few more ups and downs. Nothing dangerous. On this hike, we stopped at the train station instead of hiking up the 300+ stairs strait up to Corniglia from the train station. You certainly can if you want. For the hike between Corniglia and Vernazza, you need to get you mountain goat legs on. This hike will take you up about 1,200 feet and will include about 1,200 stairs (all made of rock). The RS book says 90 minutes. It took us 3 hours (again, we are seniors). Again, nothing dangerous. All very scenic. We stopped a lot and took pictures. Take water on the hikes.

Posted by
1775 posts

Jenny, the entire hike of the 5 villages takes about 4.5 hours. None of it is extremely difficult or that very narrow. If you stick to the #1 path...the lower one that goes through the towns, it's easy. 45 min from Monterosso to Vernazza, then 1/2 between the others...you'll even have time to shop or stop for lunch or gelato in one of the towns.

Start early....8:30 or so to avoid crowds. you'll encounter mostly Germans...and they litter the trail with TP, etc. There are TONS of great shots from this trail...if you let some "fear" get to you, you are going to miss fantastic photos. There is the BEST on from Monterosso to Vernazza when you round a corner and all of a sudden...you see the colored homes and the bay of Vernazza...not to be missed.

Just hike it and don't worry. It's not hard. It's not hiking as much as walking.

Posted by
10344 posts

The Riomaggiore – Manarola "hike" is really more of a "walk", very enjoyable, will take about 20 minutes and is virtually flat. The Corniglia – Vernazza hike is a pretty good little hike with nice views, you should enjoy it, about 4 km in length and involves an elevation gain of about 130 m and an elevation loss of about 220 m. The descriptions in Rick's book are accurate.

Posted by
31303 posts

Jenny, I was in the Cinque Terre last September and hiked ALL of the trails. The trail is a bit narrow in some parts, but I didn't perceive this to be "dangerous". I hiked from Monterosso al Mare to Riomaggiore, mostly because I was staying in Riomaggiore. I did the hike in 2 days as I was having some "foot problems". Some of the younger folks were hiking in flip-flops!

Here's my assessment of the trails:

  • Monterossa/Vernazza: this is definitely the most challening hike! There are some great photo ops, though. It climbs upwards from Monterosso, levels off somewhat, then goes down into Vernazza.
  • Vernazza/Corniglia: this is the second most challenging hike, but not too difficult. The Olive groves are nice to walk through. From what I remember, this was the part I found Cats living along the trail. There was some food for them, but not sure why they were there (be sure to leave some water)? From Corniglia you have to go down the 300+ stairs to the station to reach the trail again.
Posted by
31303 posts

Jenny, here's part 2 of my reply (the message length on this Board is really annoying!)

  • Corniglia/Manarola: this is noticeably easier than the others, but there are some rocky parts so one has to slow down. When you reach Manarola, go down the hill towards the harbour. There are some great Gelato shops there!
  • Manarola/Riomaggiore: ah, the famed Via del'Amore. This is a wide paved sidewalk for the most part! There's a bar/restaurant part way along, so you can stop for a "beverage" if you wish and just admire the ocean. This is perhaps where the best photo op's are?

One point to note is that if you hike the trails, you MUST have a Cinque Terre card. There are people in booths that will check! You can buy this at the station when you arrive. The card has to be validated like a train ticket. If you buy it in the evening, don't validate it until the next morning when you start the hike. The card also provides "free" travel on the local train. I bought the 3 day card.

Have fun!!!

Posted by
1717 posts

Jenny, for you I recommend the trail between Corniglia and Vernazza, in that direction. It is much higher above the Sea, and therefore more scenic than the trail between Riomaggiore and Manarola.
But do go to Manorola, by train, it has the most pleasant seaside spot, at the "harbor". When you walk out of the tunnel, turn left, and follow the road down hill to the harbor. Manorola is a good place for meeting German people. When you arrive at the Corniglia train station, ride in the shuttle bus up hill to the village. The trail to the north (toward Vernazza) goes off to the left. Walking on that trail is not strenuous if you walk from Corniglia to Vernazza. (It goes uphill from Vernazza). That was my favorite part of Italy.
The trail between Vernazza and Monterosso is very high, and very scenic, and narrow, and long. I do not recommend that trail for everyone.

Posted by
166 posts

Thank you all for your recommendations! I will do the Riomaggiore – Manarola hike/walk the first afternoon, the Corniglia – Vernazza hike the second morning, and based off my experiences with those (and accrued bravery) I’ll think about doing the Vernazza – Monterosso hike! Thanks again.

Jenny

Posted by
221 posts

thanks to everyone, I am going in October and this really, really helped me a lot know what to expect, much more detail than the guidebook. And I have a suggestion for the rest of you planning on going, be a wonderful steward of this beauty and take a plastic bag with you to pick up litter on the way.
I will! happy trails everyone.

Posted by
10344 posts

The women may want to see the related topic (in the Boot section) "shoes for hiking the CT" that discusses whether women (in particular) should try to hike the CT trails in the same shoes they would go to dinner in.