Most people come to the Cinque Terre to walk, and these days it’s crammed mainly with Americans and Australians in full hiking gear. The national park’s most popular route is the coastal Blue Route from Riomaggiore to Monterosso (Sentiero Azzurro), and to walk that you have to invest in a Cinque Terre Card, which gives access to the path for one, two, three or seven days. All of the park’s other marked routes, including the inland Red Routes (Sentieri Rossi), are free and are mostly much, much steeper – proper hiking.

The most challenging is Path no. 1, which runs 25km all the way from Portovenere to Levanto – a great walk to do over a couple of days with an overnight stop. Despite its popularity, the Blue Route – Path no. 2 – is well worth doing, out of season at least (11km; around 5hr); it hugs the shoreline between all five villages, offering spectacular scenery along the way. However, before you set out do check to make sure that all sections are open; they have been prone to closure due to floods and landslides over recent years, and it’s likely that the Corniglia–Manarola stretch will be closed for some time. Another rewarding walk is Path no. 10, which leads from Monterosso station up through pine woods and onto a flight of steps that emerge at the Sant’Antonio church on the high point of the Punta Mesco headland (1hr), giving a spectacular panorama along the length of the Cinque Terre coastline.

Note that most of the paths are unshaded and can be blisteringly hot in summer – make sure you wear a hat and carry a water bottle for even a short stroll. Walking shoes are advisable as paths are rocky and uneven at the best of times. Also, take note of weather forecasts in spring and autumn, as rainstorms can brew up rapidly and make paths treacherously slippery.

Travel offers; book through Rough Guides

Italy features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

The 10 most beautiful places in Italy – as voted by you

The 10 most beautiful places in Italy – as voted by you

Is there anywhere in the world as easy on the eye as Italy? From art-filled cities to heart-stopping coastlines and gorgeous landscapes, you could criss-cross …

26 Apr 2017 • Natasha Foges camera_alt Gallery
24 breaks for bookworms

24 breaks for bookworms

1. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas In 1971, fuelled by a cornucopia of drugs, Hunter S. Thompson set off for Las Vegas on his “savage journey to the heart of …

02 Mar 2017 • Eleanor Aldridge camera_alt Gallery
26 awe-inspiring architectural wonders

26 awe-inspiring architectural wonders

From ancient temples to hyper-modern skyscrapers, these are just a few of the world's most incredible architectural wonders. Whether you're looking to wander l…

01 Feb 2017 • Rough Guides Editors camera_alt Gallery
View more featureschevron_right

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month