The Sentiero Azzuro (also known as the Coastal Trail or the Blue Trail) is the crowning jewel of the Cinque Terre, people flock here to walk the coastal trail and rightly so. It weaves along the coast between the five villages and is breathtakingly beautiful and not overly difficult. For this reason though it is extremely busy. You also need to pay for a pass to hike along the trail about $A15 per person per day. You buy a pass from the tourist information centres in the towns, the amount of people we saw get to the start of the track and then have to turn around and walk back to the town for a pass was notable.
We only did one section of the coastal trail from Vernazza to Monterosso and I can honestly say the quieter back trails that we did were just as beautiful and maybe more so because there was only ever a handful of people on them with you. Oh, and did I mention they were free!
Basically there are numerous other trails that make their way between the towns, they just don’t follow the coast line. However most of them are quite high up along the cliffs of the Cinque Terre so the views are still absolutely stunning! I have done a quick summary of the other hikes we did but feel free to email me if you want further information!
Hike from Riomaggiore to Portovere
Starting with my favourite hike! This hike follows the coast from Riomaggiore in the opposite direction to the coastal trail so is a really good substitution. The hike took us approximately 5.5 hours, and had beautiful views and moved through different terrain. If I had my time again I would have left on the hike earlier so we could have had time in Portovere instead of rushing to get the last ferry back.
This hike also incorporates the hike from Riogammore to the Riomaggiore Sanctuary which takes about 45 minutes but is nearly all up hill but you are rewarded with sweeping views of the Cinque Terre coastline.
The ‘La Becarra’ is the ancient trail that connects Riomaggiore to Manarola. This hike takes about an hour but holy hell your thighs will be killing you. The only thing separating the two towns is a mountain and you basically walk up a set of stairs to the top and then down the other set to the bottom. oUCH!
Manarola to Corgnilia via Volastra
This hike takes you up another set up stairs to the very small town of Volastra where you will hike through the terraced vineyards to descend into Corgnilia and then reward yourself with an aperol Spritz.
This is only a handful of the lesser know hikes in the Cinque Terre so take the time to do some reasearch when you get there to find out about other – our AirBNB owner had a wealth of knowledge
While the Cinque Terre can be extremely touristy checking out the different hikes available is one way to having a more authentic experience. I also recommend going for a few days and not just on a day trip. All the big tourist buses pull up at about 10amish and the place is awash with people but when they leave in the afternoon the little towns are much more quiet and beautiful. Also try and avoid travelling during the high season, we were there at the very start of May and while it was busy we had no problems getting into restaurants, bars etc.
We stayed four nights in Riomaggiore, the smallest of the five Cinque Terre towns. We LOVED it here and was a great starting point for all the hikes we did – though the train between the towns really makes it quite easy to get to the start of any of the hikes.
We spent a lot of time at the Vertical Bar, really friendly service and a fun atmosphere. You also must visit the ‘A pie de Ma’ Bar and Vini, a beautiful bar set up right near the coast line.
We stayed in this AirBNB which was small but perfect for a couple, reasonably priced and the view from the windows, just breathtaking. If you end up staying here I would love you to use my AirBNB referral link here.