Last week, I spent 4 wonderful days hiking through the stunning region of Cinque Terre on the West coast of Italy. I was that captivated by these charming fishing villages, that I’ve done away with this week’s blog post schedule and shuttled a few other posts down the queue in favour of publishing this post first. Rest assured because it doesn’t take 4 days to hike the Cinque Terre. Rather than rush in and rush out in one or two days, Mr O’T and I wanted to give ourselves ample time to photograph this beautiful part of the world, without the pressure of time. Plus, we weren’t sure if the weather was going to play ball so it was great to have that buffer. So was sweltering in 34C heat for 9 hours worth hiking Cinque Terre for? Yes it was and here’s the low down on everything you need to know!
The starting point of the hike is the first fishing village of Monterosso. If you’re not staying in Monterosso then you’ll need to arrive here via train. The area is well connected so if for some reason you can’t hike the trail or choose not to hike, then it’s very easy to get between all five villages via train. Also if you’re coming from somewhere further afield like Pisa, then it’s still totally do-able as you can catch a direct train from Pisa Central Station to Monterosso which takes 1 hour and 17 minutes.
How Long Do You Need?
You can do the hike itself in a day but make sure to allocate the full day. Mr O’T and I thought we could cover all five villages in the space of 5-6 hours…how wrong we were! It took us a good hour to escape the first village Monterosso, because it was far too photogenic.
We then spotted newlyweds posing for photos on a giant rock in the middle of the sea – still in Monterosso. Naturally I had to capture the moment too!
We subsequently learnt that the ‘easy’ trail between Monterosso and Vernazza (village no.2) was closed which meant we had to hike the more difficult trail. This took us a good three hours which we weren’t anticipating and in 34C heat, it was tough. Aim to set off as early as you can so you have enough of a buffer should you need it.
What To Wear
Priorities – you need to think carefully about what will look good in your photos. Joking of course 😉! On a serious note, please prepare for all eventualities! We had eight hours of sweltering heat followed by a little rain just as we were finishing. Hiking boots are a must. Don’t wear flip flops or heels because if you do end up walking the more difficult trail for a period, then you will really struggle. Also take plenty of water and sun screen with you, a pair of sunglasses and that all important hat, especially if you’re hiking over the Spring / Summer period. I wore a pair of shorts and a thin black top and I was incredibly comfortable.
All visitors to the National Park are required to purchase a Cinque Terre Card. This will set you back 16 Euros per day but it does give you access to shuttle buses, trains between all five villages and use of the various hiking trails. There are various check points throughout so if you haven’t purchased a card prior to the start point, then you’ll be required to purchase one at the check point. Please note that they only accept cash so if you don’t have 16 Euros to hand, then you will be turned away and forced to return to the starting point which is a good hike in itself!
The are two hiking trails, a red trail and a blue trail. The blue trails on the map are relatively easy whereas the red trails, which are the higher trails, are the paths you will need to take when there’s maintenance on the blue trails. Our intention to was to do the blue trail only but we quickly worked out that the blue trail was closed between Monterosso and Vernazza so we were left with no other option, as we still really wanted to hike. Prepare yourself for both. If you suffer from mobility issues then avoid attempting the red trails as they are tough!
Expect The Unexpected
Always prepare for the unexpected and try to have a plan B. The weather can be quite temperamental so always check the forecast prior to attempting the hike. You don’t want to be caught out in the rain, or worse still a storm. Pack plenty of food and drink supplies with you too just in case.
The views make hiking Cinque Terre all the worth while. The route is filled with so many ‘pinch me’ moments and nothing can quite prepare you for the scenery you’ll witness along the way. Aside from being utterly breathtaking, nowhere will offer you quite the same viewpoints as the hike will.
Just incase you need any further convincing, here’s my Youtube VLOG!
Have you visited this part of Italy before and would you consider hiking Cinque Terre?