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Cinque Terre hike- where to start and end?

san francisco
Level Contributor
55 posts
Cinque Terre hike- where to start and end?

Hello! For those of you who have done this hike, I have 3 questions:

1) Is there a logical village to start and end this hike for any reason?

i assume doing the hike provides the best view of the area?

2) Is it possible do the 8 mile hike through all 5 villages in one day and come back to my starting point to spend the night, or would that not make sense? I'm a solo travelor and the hostel situation is difficult but I found a good one for solo travelers in Corniglia, so could I start the hike there but always come back to this hostel at the end of the day?

3) Trying to decide whether to stay 2 or 3 nights - as a solo traveler, what are the villages like? Is it all couples having dinner or are there shops, or what exactly is there to do at the villages? not sure how much time I'd want to spend there. Thanks!!

Level Contributor
265 posts
142 reviews
1. Re: Cinque Terre hike- where to start and end?

Hello, I cut and paste a couple of tips that I wrote for someone else below - it may help you.

1. Logical start is Monterosso. The most difficult section is Monterosso to Vernazza - and I mean hard!! Start early ie. around 7.30am or so in the cool of the day.

2. Best view is between Monterosso and Vernazza - just before you get into Vernazza. That is the view that is on so many post cards you buy around the area.

3. Yes you can do in one day (see below). I did it in one day. Then you hop on the train at Riomaggiore and go back to Corniglia (if you decide to stay there). Too easy!!

4. Monterosso is the largest town with lots of accomm, restaurants and shopping options. I would stay there as a single person. Second favourite and probably 2nd largest would be Vernazza. Corniglia and Manarola are very small and romantic ... probably would not stay there as a solo traveller, but then if only for 1 or 2 nights in a hostel - I'm sure you would hook up with other solo travellers. Riomaggiore was very quiet I thought - not a lot happening there other than people getting off the train to start the walk from the reverse end. Mostly the older and less fit people start at Riomaggiore as the section from Rio to Manarola has a nice pathway and is very easy going with a nice cafe along the way. It is not strenuous at all.




Note that it took me 7.5 hours to walk the whole CT in one day from Monterosso, Vernazza, Corneglia, Manarola and finally Riomaggiore albeit the guides say it takes 5.5 hours - but you spend at least 30 mins in each town looking around and having lunch!


I also did a day trip to Levanto and Santa Margherita and Portofino. All 3 were lovely - you can easily hop on and off the train and you can see all 3 in one day. I liked Levanto as it had less tourists - or should I say it had more local Italian tourists rather than international tourists and it had a really nice feel to it. Santa M is very ritzy and glamourous ... you see elegant couples sitting drinking cocktails as the sun goes down on the Terraces of some very very fancy hotels. They dont call it the Italian Riviera for nothing! All great fun. Portofino was interesting - the yachts moored in the bay were larger than the town itself!! Some were 3 stories high and the small village of Portofino just paled into insignificance of these towering launches. It was flooded with tourists and quite disappointing really - but then so are all places that are surrounded by that much hype.

The Cinque Terre walk however surpassed all my expectations!! I had seen it on TV on the Sydney Getaway travel show and had been wanting to go there for 10 years. When I finally stood on the coast line overlooking Vernazza I nearly cried! It was so beautiful. Just remember that the first section between Monterosso and Vernazza is incredibly difficult - even for me as gym junkie. Around 600+ steps straight up hill on a tiny narrow goat trail path - make sure you start the walk at Monterosso and walk towards Riomaggiore and get the really hard part done early in the day and not the other way around. Also, if you do the walk - make sure you start early - ie. 7.30am or so as the sun was really strong even in mid Sept. I started just after 9am and it was already incredibly hot.

Enjoy!! You will love it there!!

Milan, Italy
Destination Expert
for Milan, Genoa, Valle d'Aosta
Level Contributor
13,013 posts
111 reviews
2. Re: Cinque Terre hike- where to start and end?

The coastal path from Monterosso to Riomaggiore is where you will find 99% of those who want to walk in the 5T national park area.

Be aware, however, that this is only one of the possible walking options; the coastal path, in particular, goes all the way from Sestri Levante through Levanto and the Cinque Terre, to end in Portovenere. So you can walk any section of it as you see fit. It is spectacular throughout.

Adelaide, Australia
Level Contributor
1,383 posts
50 reviews
3. Re: Cinque Terre hike- where to start and end?

Lots of great info from Yasmine.

We stayed in Monterosso and caught the train to the other end to start the walk. Our thinking was - The hardest part is definitely into Monterosso and we were tired by the time we reached that last bit which is also fairly narrow.

The good bit is it`s kind of downhill going this way.

The friends who did it the other way gave up and I think that first bit wore them out whereas the other way it starts easy and gets harder as you go.

Portland, Oregon
Level Contributor
2,271 posts
185 reviews
4. Re: Cinque Terre hike- where to start and end?

I'm worried. We have reservations in Cinque Terre (Manarola) for 3 nights in June.

I'm 61 and walk regularly, but I wouldn't call myself really fit. I also don't like heights. I do love beautiful views.

Can I do the trail from Monterosso to Vernazza? Would I be better off starting in Vernazza and then turning around after a bit for the view and going back to Vernazza?

It sounds so gorgeous, but goal trails with steep edges are not for me.

Level Contributor
5,125 posts
13 reviews
5. Re: Cinque Terre hike- where to start and end?

on our first visit we stayed in Monterossa and in the morning we took the train to Riomaggiore and then hiked back to Monterossa. it was a perfect day -- we stopped in each village and enjoyed taking pictures and made a leisurely day of it. the couple who started the hike with us was in their 80s -- their plan was to hike it in half a day and then head on to Florence - it could easily be done in half a day

if I were to organize a hike again I would start in Monterossa and hike to Riomaggiore. The most spectacular views and photo ops are on the trail from Monterossa to Vernazza -- it is just breathtaking -- and so I would want to be faced that way -- we stopped and looked back -- but it would have been cooler to have been hiking into that fabulous view

the hardest stretch (and by no means difficult -- we were 50ish when we first did this and the other couple we knew on the trail was in their 80s) is Monterossa to Vernazza -- the steepest stretch is up to Corniglia and back down -- and the easiest stretch is Manarola to Riomaggiore -- I wouldn't be surprised if one could do that in a wheel chair (not certain -- but it is a wide paved easy stroll)

I would stay in Vernazza or Manarola as they are the two prettiest villages IMHO. We stayed in Vernazza on our second trip there.

Portland, Oregon
Level Contributor
2,271 posts
185 reviews
6. Re: Cinque Terre hike- where to start and end?

Thank you so much - I will go confident that I can do it. I think we will just walk Monterosso to Vernazza the first day and then relax and enjoy. The next day we can do one or two more sections.

Level Contributor
493 posts
123 reviews
7. Re: Cinque Terre hike- where to start and end?


don't worry too much. The hike from Monterosso to Vernazza is strenous but certainly doable. If teenies manage to do it in flip-flops a guy your age in sensible shoes pacing himself will be just fine.

I know several people who did the entire hike in one day. But it also depends on the conditions that day. When we were there in June the temperature was around 33-35 C. And there's not much shade on the trails! We are experienced hikers but there's no way I would have done the entire distance on that day. And then I like to take my time and stop to take pictures!

Level Contributor
1,777 posts
8. Re: Cinque Terre hike- where to start and end?

IluvOregon, grab the bull by the horns ... bite the bullet ....and just do it.

No-one is more afraid of goat tracks and high narrow paths than I am, BUT I have walked C.T twice and survived.

I do have some photos ( taken by a supposed friend ) of me and my scared face clinging to the side of the path, trying to not look down.

Anyway, I did not fall once and I am so glad I had the courage to face my fears and do it.

You will be so enthralled by the views and the beauty of the scenery as you walk through olive groves, pass by vineyards and meet lots of great people that you will sometimes forget your fear.

Just remember to take one or two walking poles ... they make the walk easier and you will feel more stable in your footing.

The first time I did the walk I found a sturdy stick just lying by the path and it served me well.

Let us know how you go.


P.S. I was over 60 both times I did it.

Fremont, CA
Level Contributor
442 posts
411 reviews
9. Re: Cinque Terre hike- where to start and end?

How long do the different segments take? We are getting there mid day in early May and would like to do part of the walk/hike the first day. The second day, we'd do what we didn't finish & maybe get into Santa Marguerita Ligure or Portovenere, etc. Third day, we might have time for a couple hours somewhere before heading to Lucca. Thanks!

Level Contributor
493 posts
123 reviews
10. Re: Cinque Terre hike- where to start and end?

The more strenous stretches like Monterosso to Vernazza and Vernazza to Corniglia take about 90 min - 2 hours. The easiest one from Riomaggiore to Manarola can be done in 20 min. - or longer if you stop at the little cafe half way to have a coffee or lemonade :-)

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