Italy Highlight: Hiking Cinque Terre

I know I promised the winners of the Brooks awkward running photo contest today, but I’m waiting to hear back on whether I can offer additional prizes to a few runner ups, since I’ve had such great entries to the contest! The post is ready to go so it will be up as soon as I hear either way. Thanks for your patience – it will be worth the wait! :)

And now, instead, welcome to the second to last Italy adventures recap! If you missed any of the previous recaps, check them out first:

Today I’d like to share pictures from our adventures in Cinque Terre, which was one of the big highlights of our trip, as it’s pretty much the coolest and most beautiful place on earth.

cinque terre

If you’ve never heard of Cinque Terre, it’s a rugged portion of the Italian coast that literally translates to “Five Lands,” for the five villages that comprise it. The five villages are, from north to south: Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore. They’re all really cute pedestrian only towns settled right in the hillside.


Matt and I stayed in Riomaggiore, which is the southernmost of the five villages and was probably my favorite of all of them, although Vernazza was a close second. They were seriously all so cute, though!




Matt and I only spent one full day in Cinque Terre, but two nights. We arrived late one evening and then had the adventure of trying to figure out what to do with our car – and then how to find our B&B in the dark and without internet or a phone! :)

The next morning, we were up bright and early to hike! The coolest part about Cinque Terre is that there are trails between all five of the towns and you can hike your way through them with stunning views along the way. There used to be some trails right along the water between the towns that were pretty flat/easy, but a lot of those were washed out during some flooding a couple years ago and are just now being rebuilt. As a result, the only way to get between towns is to hike the very hilly and strenuous mountain trails above the towns. They take a lot longer than the waterside trails but are stunningly beautiful. Matt and I were game!

We left Riomaggiore around 10 a.m. after breakfast and it took us about 2 or so hours to hike the first trail to Manarola. It was stunning and practically empty – this was the most rugged/poorly marked of all the trails and most people just took the 5 minute train instead!








The usual. :)



We stopped in Manarola for a leisurely lunch before forging on for more. It was super cute. Love those narrow streets! ;)

manarola italy

manarola italy

Next up – hiking from Manarola to Corniglia! This trail probably took us about 3 hours? We stopped for a coffee in one of the mini towns along the way.






I loved all the mountain vineyards we passed through! Everything was so beautiful.



When we reached Corniglia, we stopped for gelato, of course.



By this point it was probably about 5 p.m. and we were pretty tired, so we took a break and hopped on the train to Vernazza, the next town. Apparently the Corniglia to Vernazza trails aren’t among the best, so we were fine with skipping them! The train only took 5 or 10 minutes.

Vernazza, like the other towns, was lovely.

vernazza italy





We considered sticking around for dinner, but we really wanted to make it all the way to the final town, Monterosso al Mare, and we heard that the trail between Vernazza and Monterosso was one of the best. So around 6 p.m. we decided to forge on for one last hike!


Farewell, Vernazza!

vernazza italy


You know what’s insane? Matt and I were wondering along the hike about how people were able to tend the mountain vineyards, since they were often on really steep inclines. Our answer was found when we saw this contraption – it’s essentially a homemade mini-roller coaster that the vineyard workers ride up and down the mountain to do work! Isn’t that crazy?! The tracks it was on were SO steep – I wouldn’t trust this thing with my life! Yikes! We saw one in action later on.





One of my friends who emailed me recommendations about things to do in Cinque Terre mentioned a “lemon guy” that she found somewhere along the trail when she was there a few years ago. I figured there was no way we would find him and had completely forgotten about it until we were walking along at around 7 p.m. on the trail towards Monterosso and suddenly heard “Buongiorno!” to our right. Omg – it was the lemon guy!!!!


He hangs out along the trail all day selling his fresh homemade lemonade, limoncello, and wine to passerbys. Everything is organic and grown right around his hut – how cool is that?!

Clearly we were ALL over it. Matt and I shared some limoncello and lemonade and it was the best we’d ever had. SO fresh and flavorful.



We also bought a bottle of his wine to save for later on in the trip! He told us he makes only 600 bottles every year – he keeps 200 and then sells 400. That’s a LOT of wine to keep, lol!


Rejuvenated, we forged on.


And shortly after, we saw it – the final town! We had made it!


riomaggiore al mare



We arrived in Monterosso around 8 p.m., explored a little, and then headed straight to dinner. It was time to EAT! (Photos of our dinner were in my Italy Highlight: The Food! post!)


And to enjoy some wine, of course. :)


After dinner, we took a late train back to Riomaggiore and collapsed into bed, exhausted but happy. What an amazing and fun day and a big highlight of our Italy trip. If you ever get the chance to visit Cinque Terre, you should. I hope we can return someday! :)

hiking cinque terre

cinque terre

I have one final Italy post highlight coming later this week or early next – Florence! Stay tuned.

Have you ever been to Cinque Terre? Or hiked anywhere similar?


  1. 1

    Those views are stunning! What an amazing trip! I would love to visit that area someday.

  2. 2

    This is on the travel must go list, thanks for sharing.
    The poor lemon guy…what does he do for wine the other 165 days a year. :)

  3. 3

    Unbelievably beautiful!

  4. 4

    Ahh I need to go there ASAP!

  5. 5

    Seriously, one of my favorite places in the world. I spent my 20th birthday here when I was studying abroad! We hiked the entire thing in one day and then go to the last town and had to knock on the doors of hostels until we (thankfully) found a place to same. I’m glad you enjoyed it! I would do anything to go back.

  6. 6

    It makes you wonder why on earth he needs 200 bottles of wine a year! Maybe he has a big family…
    Your photography skills are incredible! And what a beautiful place to photograph. I don’t think I’d ever want to leave.

  7. 8

    OMG these pictures are amazing!

  8. 9

    WOW! All I can say is wow!!! Beautiful! Gorgeous views! I love that it is a pedestrian only town. My boyfriend and I hiked Zion National Park, in Utah, and it was amazing. It incredible how every national park has something so unique, even though it’s all kinda the same. This hike that you guys took is just amazing!! I will defiantly try to visit this place. Also, 200 bottles?? He likes to party :)

  9. 10

    insanely jealous you got to go there. looks slightly more civilized than sicily! ;) xo

  10. 11

    What an adventure! I was in Positano a few years ago and it looks similar – Italy is just amazing.

  11. 12

    I definitely just added this to my “Bucket List” board on Pinterest. This sounds amazing and I love your recap!

  12. 13

    Ok, I’m jealous. My trip to Cinque Terra is riddled with nightmares from taking the sardine packed train from village to village since the seas were too rough to do the boat thing and being smushed by smelly, non-deodorant wearing Europeans while yours are filled with gorgeous weather, amazing views, hikes and the lemon guy! (who apparently sells wine named after my husband). You win.

  13. 15

    Oh my goodness; those pictures! Absolutely gorgeous!

  14. 16

    Oh Anne!! What stunning views you had!! Gorgeous photos!! I felt like I was there!! These photos make me want to go back right now!! :) Thank you so much for sharing!! :) xoxo

  15. 17

    Amazing pictures! I want to go to Italy. :)

  16. 18

    So beautiful!

  17. 19

    Oh my gosh! I stayed in Riomaggiore a few years ago on my trip to Italy. BEAUTIFUL. Your pictures make me want to go back!!!

  18. 20

    This makes me want to go back to Italy. What gorgeous views!
    When I got back from Italy in mid-May, I started reading the book, Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter. Then you started posting photos of Cinque Terre on instagram. The book partially takes place in that area so it was cool to be reading about it and seeing your photos at the same time!
    Can’t wait to hear about your Florence trip. That was our favorite spot that we visited on our cruise.

    • 21

      I’ll have to check out that book! Was it good?

      • 22

        I enjoyed it! It was written in a way that kept my attention and was cool to be reading about Italy. The book jumps around to tell several different stories that eventually tie together in the end and some of those stories took place in Italy (Cinque Terre, Rome, Florence) which was cool since I’d just been there.

  19. 24

    Wow! Your pictures are absolutely gorgeous! I’ve never travelled to Italy but all of these posts about food, wine, and site seeing make me want to book it for my next trip!

  20. 25
    Kristi @ lifesprinkles says

    I studied abroad in Italy in college and Cinque Terre was my absolute favorite place I visited. Lovely pictures!

  21. 26

    Cinque Terre was my favorite place to visit too. I visited during my study abroad in Italy years ago, so I loved seeing your photos and reminiscing. It’s definitely the most beautiful place on earth. Thanks for the trip down memory lane!

  22. 27

    Gorgeous photos! Those buildings are amazing.

  23. 28

    What an awesome way to spend the day in Italy! Definitely putting this on my to-do list for the next time I visit Italy!

  24. 29

    Wow- those pictures are amazingly stunning!

    I love that you guys spent the day hiking! What a wonderful way to see the sights AND get some exercise. I definitely want to recreate this exact day if I’m ever in Italy!

  25. 30

    So beautiful! I have a college friend who moved to Italy after we graduated, and she lived in Rome for four or five years before moving back to the states. She refused to go to Cinque Terre because it’s supposed to be the most romantic place on earth, and she wanted to save it for when she was married! I drove through (well, was driven through) there when I was 14 years old on a school art trip. It would be so great to go back and hike it! Your photos are incredible, Anne!!

  26. 31

    What an amazing adventure! When I studied abroad in Florence, I traveled to Cinque Terre after with my cousin and did the entire hike through all 5 towns. It was absolutely amazing and an adventure I hope to do again!! Your awesome pictures brought back lot of memories from that trip for me :) There really isn’t another place like Cinque Terre!

  27. 32

    Do you have suggestions on where to stay in Riomaggiore? I’m going to Italy with my family later this summer and want to suggest hiking Cinque Terre but…I have literally no idea where to stay!

  28. 34

    I studied abroad in London during college, and our trip to Cinque Terre was hands down my favorite part of the entire semester. My five best friends and I sort of went there as an afterthought between Florence and Venice and we were all so bummed that we hadn’t allowed for more time. We did a couple of the hikes, including some of the ones down along the water. I’m sad to hear they’re not there anymore but hopefully they’ll be rebuilt! I have so many great memories from our 30 hours there — thank you for bringing those back!

    Beautiful shots. I have the crappiest pictures from my old non-digital camera, so seeing your pictures made the place come alive for me in ways I’d forgotten. I have many of the same pics, including that one with the boats, but mine are far inferior. I need to go back … and to find the lemon guy!

    • 35

      The lemon guy is key! :) And they are rebuilding the water walkways – apparently opening again soon!

      • 36

        Then that’s a good reason to go back! We vowed we’d return for our 40th birthdays and that’s in only (gulp) 4 years. Perhaps it’s time to start planning! :)

      • 37
        Schannon says

        Thanks for your Cinque pics/blog! We go in September (first time to italy) when i saw your pics i cried a little! I am sure we must do this hike! I am wondering if it was a problem bypassing the closed trails? Did you just go this summer then? I am trying to plan rest of trip and wondering where easiest place to come from is? Was thinking Florence? I was just planning 1-2 nights in Vernazza?

  29. 39

    I have never even heard of this place but I want to go soooo badly now! Just gorgeous.

  30. 40

    Wow – this looks like such a cool place. I cannot get over how blue the water and sky are in those photos. Holy cow! Can you even imagine living somewhere like that?

  31. 42

    I spent Easter in Monterosso with my dad a few years ago (during a study abroad semester in Rome). It was fabulous!

  32. 43

    This does indeed look like the best place on Earth! Amazing!!! :)

  33. 44

    I have always wanted to go to Cinque Terre and this post makes me want to go even more! I am so impressed you saw all five towns in one day.

    If you could do it again, how many days would you recommend?

  34. 46

    Your trip looks marvelous!

  35. 47
    Roadrunner says

    Fantastico! What a neat place — and what awesome pictures! But… how did you wedge yourself between the two buildings like that? :-)

  36. 48

    Was planning honeymoon in 2015 to Cinque Terre before reading this post! Now i’m SO glad I found it!! Solidifies my decision! :)

  37. 50

    Anne, Your pictures and commentary were extraordinarily helpful!!!! If you only had time to do one of the hikes….from which towns would you choose?

  38. 52

    Wow, great photos! Just found this post. My husband and I spent our honeymoon in Cinque Terre and loved it. That wwill have been 10 years ago next week! So your photos brought back very fond memories.

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