Hiking & Swimming in Cinque Terre


To hike in Cinque Terre, you must get a hiking permit at the little booths along the hiking trails. I recommend getting the Cinque Terre Card, a ticket that includes train travel, hiking and the bus at Corniglia. It costs approx. €12 for 3 days. Money collected will be used for wall, terrace, and trail repair. You’ll get a map of the walking trails with the card, which you can purchase at any rail station in the Cinque Terre.

For hiking, C.A.I. route #2, from Monterosso to Riomaggiore, is an excellent route. It’s about 13km (8 miles) and takes you through Sentiero Azzurro, along the coast overlooking the sea.

cinque terre hiking map

Monterosso – Vernazza: 90 minutes
Rough narrow trail, steep at times. Beautiful views of Vernazza.

Vernazza – Corniglia: 90 minutes
The greenest hike of the coast, steep at times.

Corniglia – Manarola: 45 minutes
A broad and scenic low trail past a beach.

Manarola – Riomaggiore: 20 minutes, flat
The famous Via del amore, paved trail cut into the cliff. Stairs lead down to sunbathing rocks.

Riomaggiore down the headland to Portovenere: approx. 6 hours

manarola viewlower trail cinque terre
Left: This picture was taken on the high trail, a little harder find, but superb views and far fewer people.
Right: Lower trail – by Tessin Papa

Hiking Resources

Have a look at some steeper, more adventurous routes at Footpaths of the Cinque Terre, by the Tourist Association Cinque Terre.

Pictures of the hiking trailsfrom monterosse.com.

Reader Comments

“Your time frames for the 8 mile walk were really accurate. Walkers, if it’s a hot day take a hand towel. There are a couple of small pools between Corniglia and Monterosso that are great for dipping your feet in when you stop for a drink.”

– Ariane De Rooy

“I want to mention three excursions in particular. There is a nature trail south from the harbor at Riomaggiore, which climbs along the sheer cliffs, into the trees, to a huge panorama overlooking the whole coast. If the standard trails between the village are closed and time is limited, the trail is only about a mile and a half long — a wonderful scenic experience. Another spectacular and less used trail is the upper trail that goes close to the crest of the mountains above. We took the leg from Volastra (above Manarola) to Corniglia, where there were postcard views of the villages below, the rich green of the vineyards and the olive groves, thick chestnut woods and ferns, and a wide, wide view of the sea.”

– Doug Burger, June 2002

“We thoroughly enjoyed the hiking. As the Via dell’amore was closed, we climbed out of Riomaggiore, traveled along the road for a small bit, then reconnected with the trail that led to Volastra. From Volastra, we traversed across the terraces, then descended into Corniglia. This part of the trail was by far the most spectacular in this part of the coastline. The next day, we walked from Riomaggiore to Portovenere. This trail was just as enjoyable, but different from the one on the previous day. Whereas the trail from Riomaggiore to Monterosso was mostly agricultural, or invaded by woody weeds, the trail to Portovenere was alot more natural. I particularly enjoyed the descent into Portovenere, as one got spectacular views of the castle and Church of San Pietro.”

– Andrew Geering

“On Feb. 28 the path no. 2 was still closed between Corniglia and Manarola, but we did as we had learned, passed the locked gates, like many others. But we want to recommend the alternative path from Corniglia to Manarola, path 7a-6d-6 (through Volastra), with a nice cultural landscape and a splendid view. If you like to know where you are hiking, buy a better map than the Cinque Terre Euro Cart 1:50 000. (We saw several maps in a book store in La Spezia, 1:40 000 and even 1:25 000.)”

– Anonymous, March 2001

“There’s one route connecting the five villages (the “blue trail”), and many others that go into the hills and ridges. They’re all well-marked and safe, just find some friendly companions and start walking! Going from Riomaggiore toward Monterosso, it begins very flat and easy and becomes more strenuous as you go. There’s no real reason to take it from end to end; you can hopscotch segments by train or by boat (both very cheap and worthwhile). That way you can dodge the hot sun, and conserve enough energy and time that you won’t miss some even better walking;
I’d put off the hardest segment of the “blue trail” (Vernazza to Monterosso) until after you’d already seen: the “Torre Guardiola” trail from Riomaggiore’s beach (the best vegetation, and clear views up and down the coast), the hike from Volastra to Corniglia (fabulous, level trail about 300 meters above the sea, much nicer than Manarola to Corniglia), the sanctuary above Riomaggiore, and the monastery on the hill that divides Monterosso.

Riomaggiore, Manarola, and Vernazza are each fascinating to explore, with a lot of hill-climbing involved. For the higher elevation walks, you can get a head start by catching buses from La Spezia to Volastra, Biassa, Campiglia or Portovenere (all worth it just for the ride alone). The all-purpose bus-stops (with schedules and ticket machines) are on Via Chiodo, at the foot of the main street Corso Cavour.

The tourist office at La Spezia station has a good booklet on the region and an adequate hiking map for free (maybe also at Riomaggiore station). Find the “client service” office at La Spezia station for a timetable of Cinque Terre trains; the information window doesn’t have them (if you’re traveling in Italy for more than a few days, spend L4000 for the master schedule book “In Treno” at a station newsstand).”

– Paul Sullivan


There are two decent beaches in Cinque Terre. Both are fairly small and both cost 5’000 lire to use.

Monterosso Beach

The first one is opposite the train station in Monterosso. It has deck chairs, changing rooms, snack bars and a life guard. Do not swim if the red flag is flying!

monterosso beach

Guvano Beach

The second beach is in a beautiful, secluded valley between Corniglia and Vernazza. Not many tourists know how to get to it. Guvano beach has none of the facilities of the Monterosso beach and is so secluded that some people bathe nude, but you do not have to. Guvano is an official nudist beach.

guvano nudist beachguvano beach

To get there:

  1. Walk from Corniglia train station to the stairway up to the village.
  2. Continue past the stairway and down the ramps to the wall above the sea shore.
  3. Walk to the right, follow the path in among some houses to the entrance of a disused railway tunnel.
  4. Ring the bell to the left of the gate in the entrance to the tunnel. The gate will open automatically.
  5. Walk through the lighted tunnel, it takes about 10 minutes. At one point you can hear the trains passing behind a wall. The gate will close automatically behind you.
  6. Pay as you exit the tunnel and follow the foot path to the left down to the beach.

Other Beaches

There are two other beaches, one opposite Corniglia train station. This beach consists of big rocks and is so narrow that it disappears at high tide. The other beach is in the other Monterosso bay, it has boats and seaweed on it.

Reader Comments

With respect to swimming, both ends of Monterosso have very good clean water to swim in. We choose the newer part of town which was great but be prepared to haggle a little if you want to hire beach chairs / umbrellas. We paid £15 all day for 2 people but if you arrive after about 2pm the price drops considerably.

Nigel & Kate Roberts (July 2002)

It has been clearly stated after a trial in the year 2000 that nude sunbathing is perfectly legal in secluded places like Guvano itself. Typically there is plenty of naturists at Guvano and we hope the number is going to increase rapidly.

Massimo Guiggiani

One of the things I was intrigued about while reading through your info was Guvano Beach, near Corniglia. I told my girlfriend that it sounds like a really cool place to visit, and it didn’t disappoint! It was one of the most incredible things we’ve ever seen and we won’t ever forget it. I need to thank you because your website is the only one I found that had specific directions to get to the abandoned train tunnel…thank you so much for helping us find one of the great treats of our lives!!!

John (June 2001)

If you want to swim in the clearest water you have ever seen outside of the Greek islands, then walk around the left hand side of the harbor on the path which will lead you to a pebble ( actually more like smooth boulders ) beach. If you don’t mind a non-sand beach its a great place to swim and soak up the sun and admire the clearest water in the CT.

Nigel & Kate Roberts (July 2002)