Cinque Terre Hike – Complete Guide and FAQ

Updated: March 23, 2023
cinque terre

Are you planning on hiking the Cinque Terre?

The Cinque Terre is a cluster of five villages, hence the name Cinque Terre which translates to “Five Lands.” It is located on the north-west coast of Italy just north of Pisa.

This guide will tell you everything you need to know before you embark on your beautiful Cinque Terre hike - what to expect, what to bring, when to hike, and more!

Cinque Terre Quick Facts

  • The Cinque Terre is a cluster of 5 villages. Cinque Terre means “Five Lands.”
  • It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  • The Blue Trail is the most popular trail.
  • The Blue Trail is about 11km long and will take 5/6 hours to complete.
  • Trail difficulty is easy to moderate.
  • The towns are incredibly touristy, most of the people you will encounter will be tourists as the town’s only have a population of about 1000 permanent residents.
  • A ticket is required to access the Blue Trail with checkpoints at each town.

Cinque Terre Hike Route


The Cinque Terre is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and hiking is the best way to explore these gorgeously unique villages.

The Blue Trail is the most popular hiking trail that takes you through all five villages, although there are many other trails to choose from.

It is about 11km long and will take you between 5 and 6 hours to complete, excluding the time you will take to explore each different village.

The trails are open all year round (although trails open and close throughout the year due landslides and general maintenance). But it may be better to go when the weather is a bit cooler as it can get very hot in summer, making the hike a little more gruelling.

The hike connects each village (Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza and Monterosso). The hikes can be started in either direction depending on your needs.

It is recommended to start in Monterosso as it is the most difficult leg, so it may be best to do it at the beginning and not at the end when you’re already tired.

However, if you start at Riomaggiore you can cool down with a swim at Monterosso.

You will need to purchase a ticket in order to hike the Blue Trail (The other trails are free) and there are checkpoints at each town where you will present your ticket.

You can purchase a regular ticket for €7.50 or you can purchase the Treno Cinque Terre card at €16 which includes unlimited train trips for the entire day. You will end up taking more than one train and with each trip costing €4, the Treno Cinque Terre card makes sense.

The Blue Trail isn’t too challenging with difficulty ranging from easy to moderate and you do not have to be an experienced hiker to enjoy the trail.

There are portions of the trail which are very easy, there’s even a paved section connecting Riomaggiore to Manarola, and there are some portions which are a little more difficult, but nothing too strenuous. The hike can even be enjoyed by children.

Although this hike is on the easier side it is still important to make sure you are dressed appropriately with decent footwear and that you remain well hydrated and fed throughout to make the hike more pleasant.

Recommended Guidebook

Rick Steves Pocket Italy's Cinque Terre
Rick Steves Pocket Italy's Cinque Terre

Although there are no guides specifically for the Cinque Terre hikes, this guidebook should provide you with everything you need to know regarding the trails and what attractions you need to see in each city. Available on Amazon for under 10 USD.

Cinque Terre Trail Itinerary

It is important to time your Cinque Terre hike well, as you want to be able to catch the departing train at the end of the day.

It is also important to factor in the time you’ll spend exploring each town, you’ll want to spend about 30 minutes in each town which will obviously add some extra time to your hike. The Blue Trail is well marked and easy to follow.

Here's the Blue Trail distances and approximate hiking times for the Cinque Terre hike.

Riomaggiore to Manarola

Distance: 1.5km
Difficulty: Easy
Hiking Time: 30 minutes

Manarola to Corniglia

Distance: 3km
Difficulty: Easy
Hiking Time: 1 hour

Corniglia to Vernazza

Distance: 4km
Difficulty: Moderate
Hiking Time: 1.5 hours

Vernazza to Monterosso

Distance: 3.5km
Difficulty: Moderate
Hiking Time: 1.5 hours


Cinque Terre Video

Thank's to this video by Perfect Little Planet, you can see what to expect on your hike along the glorious Cinque Terre.

Check out the areas of the hike from Monterosso to Riomaggiore, as well as explore Vernazza, Corniglia, and Manarola along the way.

The Cinque Terre Trail Overview

When is the best time to hike Cinque Terre?

The Cinque Terre can be hiked all year round but the best time for hiking is between mid-March to mid-October. If you are interested in swimming in the sea the best time to visit would be between mid-May and mid-September.

How long is the Cinque Terre hike?

The Blue Trail is about 11km long and will take 5-6 hours to complete. There are slightly longer and shorter Blue Trail alternatives.

How difficult is the Cinque Terre hike?

The Cinque Terre hike ranges from easy-to-moderate and can be completed by almost anyone who is in good health and relatively fit, regardless of age and experience level. If you're not very fit, the trail can be a little tiring as it is a lot of walking, but it is not overly strenuous.

Do you need a permits for the Cinque Terre hike?

Most of the trails are free except for the Blue Trail. Tickets are €7.50 for a normal pass and €16 for the Treno Cinque Terre card which allows unlimited access to the trains for the day.

Which direction should I hike the Cinque Terre?

You can start the Cinque Terre hike in whichever direction you please - whether it be from Monterosso, venturing south, or Riomaggiore, journeying north. However, let me impart some wisdom: commencing from Riomaggiore's well-maintained and gentle routes and gradually advancing to the more demanding trails will grant you the freedom to cease at any point and effortlessly make your way to the nearest train station, if necessary.

Will the Cinque Terre trails open in winter?

Yes, but it's possible some trails may be closed. Unfortunately, it is difficult to predict when certain trails will be closed as they open and close sporadically throughout the year. Luckily, there are always alternative trails to choose from should one be closed on the day of your hike. It's a good idea to check with your tour operator before booking.

Is the Cinque Terre trail family-friendly?

Yes, the trail is perfect for a family hike as it isn’t too difficult.

Do I have to wear hiking boots for the Cinque Terre hike?

No, you don’t, but is important to wear comfortable and supportive closed shoes as you will be on your feet for an extended period of time and there are some stray rocks on the tails and many steps to climb.

What should I bring and wear when hiking Cinque Terre?

You should wear breathable athletic wear as you will sweat, and you don’t want to overheat. You should also bring sunglasses, a hat and sunblock to protect you from the harsh sun.

You’ll also want to bring a camera to capture the beautiful views you see while hiking the Cinque Terre. Also, don’t forget to purchase and carry your ticket to access the Blue Trail.


About the author 

Mark Whitman

Mark has trekked extensively in Asia, Europe, South America and Africa. He founded Mountain IQ in 2014 with the sole aim to be the best online information portal to some of the most popular mountain destinations around the world. When not writing for Mountain IQ, Mark is out exploring the outdoors with his wife!

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