Cinque Terre is the most popular spot in the Italian Riviera. It consists of five medieval fishing villages and a national park. You’ll hike the coastal route between these villages on a historic route that has connected villagers for centuries. This route is extremely popular so we recommend going off-season if possible. Fortunately, the mild climate makes it a great destination 9 months of the year.
In addition to Cinque Terre, you’ll also explore other trails that offer dramatic scenery but without the crowds. One of the highlights is the trail that leads to San Fruttuoso Abbey. It’s a 1000-year old monastery that’s only reachable by foot or by boat!
You’ll also have time to check out Portofino. It’s a stunning fishing village with high-end stores lining a yacht-filled harbour. Reward your hiking efforts with a plate of fresh fish while picking out your future yacht.
Another highlight is the hike from Riomaggiore, the most popular village in the Cinque Terre. You’ll lose the crowds within minutes as you hike to Portovenere. En route you’ll pass by stunning cliffs and the most dramatic scenery on the entire tour (in my humble opinion).
This self-guided tour gives you the freedom to hike on your own schedule. We provide the directions for the recommended hikes but you decide when you do them and what time you start each day. You’ll hike at your own pace. Take as few or as many gelato breaks as you choose. Each night you’ll return to the same 4-star hotel in Levanto where a wellness center and swimming pool are waiting for you each night. You’ve earned it!
The hotel restaurant is also one of the best in Levanto but you have the freedom to dine wherever you like for both lunch and dinner.
You get the best of both worlds on this trip – an active vacation with approximately 4 1/2 to 5 hours of hiking a day. Along with plenty of time to relax and experience Italy’s culture and time for a dip in the Ligurian Sea. You’ll also see so much more than most travellers do. You’ll be visiting not only the most popular places like Cinque Terre but also the much less frequented hiking trails. These offer some of the most fantastic views of the coast. We take care of the time-consuming route planning, so you’re free to relax and enjoy the Italian Riviera.
On the Hiking in the Italian Riviera: Cinque Terre and Beyond tour, you’ll stay in a 4-star wellness hotel in Levanto. You’ll hike in the famous Cinque Terre along with some quieter trails that offer stunning views of the rugged coastline where there are fewer tourists.
This is an ideal trip if you want some activity to burn off all that delicious homemade pasta and gelato that you’ll be eating. But also want some time to explore the medieval fishing villages. You’ll also have time to relax with a glass of wine and enjoy the sunset over the Ligurian Sea. Weather permitting, you can also cool off after hiking with a swim in the sea or the hotel pool. You get the best of both worlds on this trip.
You’ll ease into the hiking with a short hike on the first day that you arrive. Then, you’ll hike ~ 4:00 to 5:30 hours each day w/ 480 m – 600 m of elevation gain. Our self-guided tour includes a detailed route description, walking times and a map saving you hours of trying to find the best trails, and the route descriptions which are difficult to find in English.
You’re free to switch days around as you like, or even skip a day if you spontaneously decide that you’d like a day at the seaside instead. Although we highly recommend all of the carefully selected hikes, it’s your choice. As you’re staying in the same hotel, logistics are easy to organize.
Day 1: Arrival
Arrival and Scenic Walk Around Levanto to Bonassola
Levanto will be your base for the next 6 days. This popular seaside resort is the perfect gateway for visiting Cinque Terre but without the crowds that frequent Cinque Terre. You can call your hotel for a complimentary pickup on your arrival day. You’re free to arrive whenever you’d like but we recommend late morning or early afternoon so that you can start your stay with a scenic walk from Levanto to Bonassola. It’s a charming village that Ernest Hemmingway called sweet and memorable. Consider a dip in the Liguarian Sea before heading back. Then, you can either walk back along the coast or take the train back before checking into your hotel.
Hiking Time: 2:30 – 3 hours, + 350 m ascent, – 350 m descent.
Discover the first part of Cinque Terre: Hike from Levanto to Vernazza
Your hike today takes you to two of the five Cinque Terre villages. You’ll start at Levanto and quickly make your way up a steep path to a Romanesque chapel built in the year 1000. A lighthouse a bit further on with wide-spreading views makes an excellent stop for a picnic. You’ll descend down to Monterroso, the first of the Cinque Terre villages. This is a good place to stop for lunch at one of the many restaurants or go for a dip in the sea. It has the best beaches of the five Cinque Terre villages.
You can also take the train back to Levanto from Monterroso, but we recommend carrying on to Vernazza, the second of the Cinque Terre villages. You’ll climb up to reach vineyards and lemon orchards and get spectacular views of Vernazza. Then, you’ll descend to explore the bustling village of Vernazza, considered by many to be the most beautiful of the Cinque Terre villages.
It’s also possible to rent a kayak here – weather permitting. Afterward, return to Levanto by train.
Hiking Time: 4:30 – 5:00 hours, + 600 m ascent, – 600 m descent
Riomaggiore to the Madonna of Monte Nero Monastery to Portoverne
You’ll want to get an early start today as it’s a long but beautiful day of hiking. You’ll take the train to Riomaggiore and quickly leave the crowds of Riomaggiore as you make your way up steep steps surrounded by vineyards. You’ll find Albarolo, Bosco and Vermentino grapes. They’re blended together to make Cinque Terre D.O.C. wine, which is a must-try when you’re here.
You’ll arrive at the Madonna of Monte Nero Monastery which offers breathtaking views of Cinque Terre including three of the villages. There are also picnic tables there so it makes a great rest stop for you to enjoy the fruits of your labour.
Then, you’ll continue hiking among olive groves until you reach Campiglia where you’ll find restaurants for a leisurely lunch.
Then, you’ll hike through a pine forest where the trail leads you to some of the best views of the entire trip over rugged cliffs and finally over Portovenere. You’ll return to Levanto by catching a bus, then take a train. Or for beautiful views of the Cinque Terre villages, return by boat – sea conditions permitting.
Hiking Time: 5:00 – 5:30 hours, + 680 m ascent, – 680 m descent
Explore the Peninsula of Portofino
After a 1:15 hour train ride, you’ll start your hike in the gorgeous town of Camogli. You have three options for today, the longest and the one that we recommend if you’re feeling up for it is below. You’ll hike up to San Rocco, known for its church and church square. Then, you’ll continue ascending along a shaded path until you reach a picnic area in the woods.
Then, you’ll make your way down an oak-filled ravine to the magnificent site of San Fruttuoso. It’s a stunning abbey hidden away at the edge of the sea and only reachable by foot or boat. After exploring the abbey, you can have lunch here – either a picnic on the beach or at one of the restaurants, you’ll make your way up to Base O which has picnic tables and makes for a great rest stop.
From there, you’ll continue on hiking through terraced olive groves until you reach Portofino. Stop to admire the yachts, visit the castle Castello Brown, or check out the high-end shops. You can either extend your hike by hiking to Santa Margherita, take a boat (recommended) or take a bus. From Santa Margherita, you’ll take a train back to Levanto.
Hiking Time: 4:30 – 5:00 hours, + 480 m ascent, – 480 m descent
Discover the Cinque Terre Villages: Vernazza Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore
You’ll take the train to Vernazza, which will be familiar to you as it was your final destination on a previous day of hiking. Then, you’ll follow the path leading you to Corniglia, the highest of the Cinque Terre towns, hiking through olive groves along the way. It’s the smallest of the five villages and also the hardest to reach – a 100 m (300 ft) climb. But, it’s so worth it!
After you’ve stopped for your gelato or cappuccino break, you’ll carry onto Manarola descending 365 steps. Note: the coastal path (as of November 2017) was still closed due to flooding damage. If it’s still closed, we’ll provide the directions for an alternative route. You’ll definitely want to find this out first before descending the stairs – if you need to take the alternative route, it starts from the village and you won’t want to ascent the stairs that you’ve just descended.
One of my favourite things to do in Manarola is watching adventurous swimmers jump off the rocks while enjoying a tasty gelato. It’s also a fun way to take a break before continuing on.
From Manarola, the regular coastal route to Riomaggiore follows Footpath #2, Via dell’Amore. It’s currently closed due to the flooding damage but we can propose an alternative route that’s 30 minutes longer and results in an additional 180 m of elevation gain. Take your time exploring Riomaggiore, the largest of the five Cinque Terre villages. It’s also incredibly beautiful at sunset so stick around and consider having dinner here.
Hiking Time: 4:30 – 5 hours, + 550 m ascent, – 550 m descent.
Free Time and Departure
Your stay ends after breakfast. You’re free to go for one last dip in the Ligurian Sea or to relax. Check-out time is noon.
The itinerary is subject to change depending on trail closures, including the closure of the No. 2 trail which is currently closed. All times and distances given are approximate.
This trip is available from March 17th to December 10th, 2018 and March 16th to November 30th, 2019.
Booking in Advance
Book as soon as possible to ensure that accommodation is available on your start date. This region of Italy is very popular and accommodations often fill up months in advance.
€1129 for a standard room or €1429 for a suite with a living room. Prices are per person based on double accommodation.
5 nights accommodation in a 4-star wellness hotel in Levanto
5 buffet breakfasts
Detailed route descriptions for hikes, walking times, and map
Unlimited email support pre-tour
Support on your tour – provided by the hotel
30-minute spa treatment
Free pickup-drop off from the train station to the hotel on your arrival and departure day
You’ll be staying at the same hotel so you can leave your luggage. You only need to carry your day backpack with whatever you need for the day. You can bring a packed lunch or eat in one of the villages. It’s your choice.
Grade and Terrain
Grade 2 (medium). The elevation difference is between 350 m – 680 m. However, you’ll hike uphill then downhill, only to go uphill again. The trail is often on steep stairs, interspersed with balconies overlooking the omnipresent Ligurian Sea, giving you a chance to catch your breath. An average day’s walk is approximately 4½ to 5 hours.
This trek is a self-guided tour. You get the flexibility and freedom of starting your day when you choose, hiking at your own pace and taking breaks whenever your heart (or lungs) desire.
We’ll take care of booking your accommodation, provide you with a map and instructions in English. We’re there for you prior to and during your trip. Ask all the questions you want. Friendly hotel staff are also available during your stay to answer any questions you may have. Our goal is to make this the easiest holiday that you’ve ever planned.
Your hotel will be located in Levanto. You’ll either hike directly from here or take a train to the starting point each day. You’ll have the option to return by train, and sometimes by boat (depending on the day and weather permitting) to the same hotel each day.
You’ll be provided with a packing list of what to bring.
It’s highly recommended that you have travel insurance that covers you for this tour and includes emergency evacuation and hospital care in the unlikely incident that you get injured. We recommend World Nomads insurance.
You should be in good physical condition and be a regular walker or hiker. The route is not technical so no prior expertise is required.
20% of payment is due at the time of booking. As soon as we receive your deposit, we will start making the arrangements for your accommodation.
The remaining balance is due 45 days before the onset of the trip. If you’re booking within 45 days full payment is due at the time of booking.
The distances and ascents/descents are approximations as are the hiking times, which don’t include breaks. The itineraries shown may change slightly if hiking trails are closed.
Transfers (trains, boats, and buses ) when required are not included but will cost approximately €30 – 50 depending on many you take and which option you choose. I.e. boat rides are usually more scenic but also more expensive than local buses or trains.
The toll to hike in Cinque Terre National Park (€7.50 per day).You can just buy the hiking permit or get one that also includes transportation on the trains. You’ll require this for two days if you follow our itinerary as outlined.
The closest airport to Levanto is Genoa, 76 km away, followed by Pisa, 100 km away. You can also fly into Milan, which is often cheaper.
I find the best deals on Skyscanner and book most of my flights through them.
Note: We highly recommend waiting to book your flights or making other travel arrangements until you receive an email from us notifying you that all your accommodation has been confirmed.
There are frequent trains from Milan, Pisa and Genova.
Here are the approximate train times depending on which train you take:
Genova to Levanto: :51 – 1:36. Cost: €5.90 to €9. A very frequent shuttle service (Volabus) will take you to the railway station in Genoa (€6, 30 minutes’ journey). After this, you’ll take a train to Levanto which takes approximately 1 hour.
Pisa to Levanto: 1:17 – 2:20. Cost: €9.90 – €16.10.
Milan to Levanto: 2:48 – 3:24. Cost: €9.90 to €18.85. You’ll have to take a shuttle bus to the central train station in Milan. There are several bus companies to choose from. The cost is €8 and the journey takes just over an hour (allow more time for traffic)
If you arrive by train in Levanto, notify the hotel of your arrival time. A complimentary a shuttle will pick you up from the railway station and will drop you off on your departure day.
Refer to Trenitalia http://www.trenitalia.com, Italy’s main train service for timetables.
Your hotel was recently built in the heart of a beautiful park and includes all the facilities and comforts of a 4-star hotel to ensure that you enjoy a relaxing stay. It has an outdoor swimming pool, and a massage area, a wellness center with a Turkish bath, and sauna. Free outdoor parking is available.
Friendly staff are on hand to provide you with information about the sights to explore in the surrounding area.
The selected guest rooms for this self-guided tour are spacious, tastefully furnished and have a furnished terrace with a partial sea view and a view over the rolling hillside.
You choose between two types of rooms:
Suite with a living room or
a double room
Each room is equipped with air conditioning, satellite colour television, a safety deposit box, a minibar, a direct dial telephone, internet access, and an en-suite bathroom with a shower, a hairdryer and complimentary toiletries.
You should be in good physical condition and a regular walker or hiker, although no experience is required. The paths aren’t technical. You should be able to hike ~4 to 5 hours with 300 – 680 m of elevation gain per day.
What happens if I find it too difficult?
You can sit down and rest any time you want. There are some parts that you can skip and take a transfer (train, boat or bus) back to your hotel. You’re also free to hike as many or as few days as you choose. It’s your vacation. You decide what you do.
When is this trip available?
March 17th to December 10th, 2018 and March 16th to November 30th, 2019. You choose your start date. Summer months are the busiest, and the hottest, so we recommend going off season if possible.
How far in advance do I need to book?
We recommend booking as soon as possible. This is a popular region and the hotel fills up quickly, especially in the high season. Furthermore, it can take us a few days to confirm your accommodation. Upon booking, you’ll receive a confirmation email, but please wait until you receive an email from us telling you that we’ve confirmed your accommodations BEFORE making travel arrangements.
I’m worried about getting lost. How easy is the route to navigate?
The route is easy to navigate using the map, and instructions that we provide, in combination with the trail signs and markings. You don’t need to be able to use a GPS, you just need a sense of adventure 🙂
What equipment do I need to bring?
We’ll provide you with a complete packing list prior to your trip.
Where is the closest airport to the start?
The nearest airport is in Genoa, followed by Pisa. Refer to the Travel tab for more details. We recommend booking flights on Skyscanner for the best deals.
When should I plan to arrive?
We recommend arriving late morning or early afternoon. That will give you enough time for a short hike and then to check-in.
Will I have a guide on my self-guided tour?
While you won’t have a physical person guiding you, we’ll provide you with a hiking map and detailed directions. We’re also there before your tour to help you with logistics, practical tips and any questions you may have. You can also contact us during your tour and your hotel will be happy to provide assistance as well. Self-guided tours offer the best of both worlds. You get the freedom of hiking on your own schedule but without the time-consuming hassles of route planning and trying to find “the best” trails.
I started Monkeys and Mountains Adventure Travel started off as a travel blog in 2010. To my surprise, it has grown to become one of the top adventure travel blogs. After receiving multiple requests from readers asking for help in planning their adventures, I started offering adventure tours in 2016 by becoming a tour operator. I put my 20+ years of travel experience to use in helping you plan your active holidays.
I’m picky about my hikes. I mean really picky – that’s what happens you grow up having the Canadian Rocky Mountains in your backyard. That’s good news for you since I test every hike and trek that I offer. Most don’t make the cut. And those that do are modified so that I can provide the best experience for you.
I believe the more time we spend in the beauty and healing power of nature, the more likely we are to take steps to save this incredible planet of ours. We’ve created mass destruction but it’s not too late. Each of us can make a difference. This is why I look forward to Monday mornings. I really love what I do.
The best customer service I’ve ever received from booking a trip! – Jim
There can be a lot of anxiety when booking a hike; Am I fit enough to do it? How do I figure out all the logistics? How do I get there? Will my partner also enjoy this?
Our goal is to make your Italian Riviera: Cinque Terre and Beyond Tour the easiest you’ve ever planned.
By booking with us you’ll receive:
Unlimited email support. Ask all the questions you need to.
Practical tips to help make your Hiking in the Italian Riviera: Cinque Terre and Beyond an incredible experience