Cinque Terre – The Summer Destination That Has It All!

STORY BY Megan Hughes 1st July 2018

Want to make the most of your time off with a trip that has it all? Cinque Terre could be your next favourite destination. Combining beautiful coastal mountains, epic walks, a rich history and delicious local food, Cinque Terre is one of our favourite places to head in the warmer months.

Cinque Terre has always been a popular destination for holidaymakers. Yes, it’s picture-perfect, but there’s much more to Cinque Terre than meets the eye, particularly for active travellers. The natural agricultural feel of the area is really unique and is instantly noticeable whether you are on the mountain trails, exploring the gorgeous coastal villages or bathing in the crystal-clear waters of the ocean.


The five villages (Manarola, Riomaggiore, Corniglia, Vernazza and Monterosso al Mare), the coastline and the surrounding hillsides that make up Cinque Terre are all part of the Cinque Terre National Park. The incredible beauty of the area, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is renowned across the world. Unspoilt by modern development, it has retained a charm that is rare in this day and age, which makes the mountain trails and their views that extra impressive.

With hiking trails open all year round and a path network of over 120km, there’s a huge amount to keep active mountain lovers busy here.

In particular, we enjoy Route No. 1 – Sentiero Rosso (the Red Route). This takes you from Porto Venere to Levanto, a 38km journey. For experienced hikers after a challenge, this can be attempted in one day. For others who may want to take things a bit more easily and stop off to see the sights along the way, you can spread the route out over a few days. When you get tired, simply hop on the train back to your village!

Slightly busier is Cinque Terre’s other popular hiking route, Trail No. 2 – Sentiero Azzuro (the Blue Trail), which links Riomaggiore to Monterosso. Taking you along the coast between the villages, along the jagged cliff sides, it’s definitely one not to miss if you’re in the area.

Alongside the huge number of designated walking trails, there are also many itineraries that allow you to focus on, for example, the ancient settlements, the local churches or the terraced vineyards.

You do have to pay a small fee for access to the hiking trails, which is done by purchasing the Cinque Terre Card, so be aware of this before you head off! You can purchase this in the tourist offices or in the village at the beginning of the trails.

Another thing to consider is that at the height of summer both the towns and the trails can get very busy, so we would recommend a trip here either in late spring or towards the end of summer (September/October). It will still be warm, but there will be significantly fewer tourists, and the temperatures will be much more pleasant for days spent hiking.

Trail Running

For experts and passionate trail runners, the annual Sciacchetrail is not one to miss. This route is the scene of an annual trail-running race. However, this particular race combines local passion for the Sciacchetrà wine with trail running. It is an opportunity for the area to unite an agricultural community that has struggled somewhat with the influx of tourism almost exclusively to areas of the Cinque Terre coast. Taking you along the ancient mule track, the route covers 47km of dirt trails with a total 2,600m elevation. The race usually takes place in March, so keep your eyes peeled for registration in September!

Oceans & Beaches

For anyone after more water-based activity, Cinque Terre also offers swimming and kayaking paths, as well as underwater itineraries for anyone that might want to see what the area has to offer for scuba diving.  The waterways here are also protected, which means that the water remains clean and beautiful – free from superyachts (or yachts of any kind, for that matter), jet skis or cruise ships. In particular, the beaches in Riomaggiore and Bonassola are strikingly beautiful.

However, be prepared that you have to be lucky to get a spot on most beaches, in high season at least. You may want to opt to pay a small fee to enter one of the private areas. It’s not much, and you get deckchairs, an umbrella, showers, etc. – as opposed to getting up close and personal with the stranger sat next to you.


There is very limited access to Cinque Terre via car, which is a lovely change when coming from a city such as London, where we are used to the incessant hum of motor vehicles. Trains and boats remain the easiest way to get around the area, allowing you a way to enjoy the surrounding area without having to worry about your driving skills on those tight Italian roads.

Finding somewhere to stay in Cinque Terre can be difficult (and expensive), especially in the busy summer months. We found that staying somewhere slightly further out, such as the village of Levanto, is a great option for keeping prices (and noise levels) down! From here, you can reach all the five villages that make up Cinque Terre, either by boat, train or foot. It’s also got a lovely sandy beach – win-win!


All this adventure can make for a hungry belly, so it’s a good thing that you will have a whole host of incredible Italian cuisine to choose from at the end of each day. If seafood is your thing, you are really in for a treat here. Historically fishing villages, Cinque Terre has fish at its heart and boy, does it do it well.

The local anchovies are particularly delicious, with a Protected Designation of Origin status granted by the European Union. Other local specialities include pesto, gelato, grappa and, most importantly, wine. We knew there was a reason we love travelling here …

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