9 things you must know about the Cinque Terre trail

9 things you must know about the Cinque Terre trail

Love a hike or two? Head for the great outdoors and check out the stunning scenery on the Cinque Terre trail. Awarded UNESCO heritage in 1997, the Cinque Terre National Park includes trails that cover over 120 km. Alas due to landslides and work, some of the paths are currently closed and will be for another year or two. Want to explore? Here are 9 things you must know about the Cinque Terre trail.

1.  IT’S ALL IN A NAME

Cinque Terre translates to ‘five lands’. You don’t actually fly or drive to a place called Cinque Terre. The five lands are the adjoining villages of Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore. They belong to the province of La Spezia.

2. HOW TO GET THERE

For want of stating the obvious, getting there depends on where you are staying. Currently there are only two of the trails open on the Blue Path which is the most famous, easiest and walked trail in the Cinque Terre. Monterrosso al Mare to Vernazza (or vice versa) and Vernazza to Corniglia (or vice versa). If you are at one of these starting points then you’re good to go.

Otherwise the best value is the ‘hiking card‘ for €16.oo which includes unlimited rail travel for the Cinque Terre towns.  La Spezia – Levanto – Monterosso – Vernazza – Corniglia – Manarola – Riomaggiore. This also includes the €7.50 park access, guided tours excursions as per schedule. Free loo entry (always handy), bus service via ATC within the five villages and some WIFI points. Alternatively just pick up the €7.50 ticket for the park itself which you can pay for at the entry points. Cards can also be purchased from a train station or one of the Park Welcome Centres which are also near the stations.

2. FREE TRAILS

You don’t have to pay for all the trails. There are also lots of free routes which you can either walk yourself or pay for a local guide. A list of the freebies can be found here.

3. FOOTWEAR

Trainers/sneakers are fine. If you’ve got walking shoes feel free to pop them on but to be honest, the terrain is only gravelly in a few places. Heads up that there are lots of steps at the beginning if you start from Monterosso to Vernazza.

4.  WHAT TO WEAR

It was June for me so a hat, shorts and a T did the trick. It does get very hot so if you do have some proper tramping gear with breathable wick fabric that would help with overheating! Pop on your suntan lotion too. In winter, layer up.

5. HAVE SOME SPARE CHANGE

About 5 mins into the actual route I was somewhat surprised to hear music. Not any old music but the jazzy tones of a saxophone. He could bash out a tune. Remembering I had 1 euro in my pocket I reached for it only to find it wasn’t there. A few minutes ticked by and other walkers went past. I however was still wiggling and a jiggling on the spot on a mission for that dastardly coin. Puppy dog eyes looking on. No pressure. The lowest note I had was €5 and I could hardly take the change out. Or could I? Nope you’re right I couldn’t. Enjoy 11 secs for €5. Go figure. Brit abroad. Here’s matey boy giving it his all… come on down Salvatorio the saxophonist. #didntgethisname #wentforpoetic

As well as a musician or two you might find a fresh orange juice vendor and a pop up jewellery stall.

6. SINGLE FILE PLEASE

On the trail there’s not much room for a two way so it’s very much single file. Being very British I would tend to give way first. Also being very British I was kinda pi##ed when, after splaying myself against the wall like one of those stick on suction car teddies, no-one said thank you. No that’s unfair. About 10 went through and number 8 said thank you. Not that I was counting you understand. To save me finishing the walk with my face stuck like I was sucking a lemon, I took to humming my Frozen rendition of ‘let it go, let it gooooo’.

7. START EARLY

If you want to roam free. Start early.

8. HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE?

The Blue Path, Monterosso al Mare to Vernazza takes 1.5 hr – 2 hrs. It’s incredibly pretty and your camera will be working overtime. Descending into Vernazza in peak season be aware that it will be very busy. By all means get your pics and if you like lots of hustle and bustle then grab some lunch. Otherwise grab a gelato and carry on to the next equally pretty section Vernazza – Corniglia which takes around 1 hr.

9. THIRSTY WORK

Just after you come up the steps to the viewing point above, you will see some more steps and a pink building where the trail continues. Have a breather, grab yourself a freshly made Spremuta iced orange/lemon and make for the roof terrace to enjoy the view before heading on to Corniglia.

At Corniglia currently the Blue Path ends so use your pass to hop on the train to check out the pretty villages of Manarola and Riomaggiore.

Have you hiked the Cinque Terre? What did you think? Please let us know in the comments!

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