How to Explore Italy’s Coast in Five Days

Italy is often famed for Rome and its historical sites. But, Italy’s coast is one of the most stunning blends of natural beauty and charming architecture in the world. While it’s possible to drive down the coast, it can be explored in more detail by walking.

This guide focuses on the renowned Cinque Terre and includes highlights from other stunning coastal regions, which you can see all by foot.

cinque terre

Why Walking is the Best Option

Walking through Italy’s coastal regions offers close-up access to hidden breathtaking views. The narrow paths and hiking trails connect picturesque villages, giving you an intimate experience and the ability to improvise a coffee or lunch at a nice establishment. The flexibility of being able to stop at scenic spots without worrying about where to park is very liberating.

The Cinque Terre, with its well-marked trails like the Sentiero Azzurro, is particularly pedestrian-friendly. Below is the five-day trail that will help lower your carbon footprint and see a long stretch of Mediterranean coastline.

Day-by-Day Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival in Bonassola

A good place to start your holiday is in Bonassola, a charming village between the mountains and the sea. You’ll likely arrive in Genoa, Pisa, or Florence airports, and Bonassola is just a train ride away. The Orbis Ways package will put you up in a hotel – Hotel Pensione Moderna – which is a cosy hotel surrounded by centenary trees and exotic plants. But, staying anywhere near Bonassola Beach will be fine.

Day 2: Explore Monterosso

There are some old railway tracks that have been transformed into a path for walkers, venturing through tunnels and bridges. There will be lots of great views from the highest point before descending through olive groves. Once you arrive in Monterosso, you can explore the town and beach, where there are plenty of amenities.

Day 3: Discover Manarola and Corniglia

Day 3 you momentarily break the on-foot journey by taking a short train to Manarola, where you will begin a reasonably short walk to Corniglia. Perched on a cliff, this is the only Cinque Terre village not directly on the sea, meaning there are great views and charming narrow streets. You will return to Monterosso by train and spend the night there again.

Day 4: Visit Vernazza

Day four will be a walk to Vernazza, which will have some ascending hiking trails. This is a great place to get some more pictures of its beach and port. You should have time to see the Belforte Tower and Doria Castle, and then eventually walk back, yet again, to Monterosso.

Day 5: Departure from Monterosso

Day 5 is a little more flexible and will depend on your plans. You can spend the morning there and get the train back to Genoa, or wherever you need to fly from. Monterosso anchors this trip, but you won’t have seen all of it, even by day 5, due to the early starts and late returns each day.

Tips for a Memorable Trip

  • Footwear: Wear comfortable, sturdy walking shoes to navigate the trails and cobblestone streets.
  • Organised Tour: Opt for an organised tour that will book hotels and explain the route for you.
  • Hydration: Carry a refillable water bottle to stay hydrated.
  • Timing: Start your hikes early to avoid crowds and the midday heat.
  • Local Cuisine: Try regional specialities like pesto, focaccia and seafood.
  • Travel Light: Pack minimally to make it easier for long walks. If you’re returning back to the same hotel, leave some stuff in the room.
  • Safety: Stay on marked trails and be aware of emergency phone numbers.

Exploring Italy’s coast on foot over five days offers an immersive experience filled with natural beauty. Italy was built for walking, not driving, and so this is most certainly the way it should be explored.


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