7 days

Jewels of the Cinque Terre & Portovenere (self-guided)

Jewels of the Cinque Terre & Portovenere (self-guided)

UNESCO World Heritage-listed Portovenere castle

The five villages of the Cinque Terre

Cinque Terre's Lover’s Walk

Trip rating
  • The Italian Riviera is a walker’s paradise. Over a week this self-guided journey explores the five villages of the Cinque Terre and Portovenere and discovers a traditional way of life that has existed in bucolic harmony for thousands of years.

    Why we love it

    • The Italian Riviera is a walker’s paradise.
    • Over a week this self-guided journey explores the five villages of the Cinque Terre and Portovenere and discovers a traditional way of life that has existed in bucolic harmony for thousands of years.


    Day 1 - Arrive Levanto

    • Your trip starts today with your arrival in Levanto.
    • Levanto is located in the province of La Spezia in the region of Liguria and is easily accessible by direct train from Milan (approximately 3 hours) and Pisa (approximately 1.5 hours) as well as many services from Florence (approximately 3 hours) and Rome (approx 4.5 hours).
    • For information on all train schedules see the Italian national rail site of Trenitalia (www.trenitalia.com).
    • Whilst at your discretion, we recommend arriving/departing by train where possible within Europe, as this method of transport has minimal carbon emissions, is cheaper, and often faster than flying.
    • Please make your own way to the hotel which is centrally located in Levanto (details are in your travel documents).
    • After settling in to your hotel, you may wish to explore the town centre and take a swim at Levanto's beach.

    Day 2 - Monterosso al Mare

    • The first day walk takes you along the coast to Monterosso al Mare.
    • The first section of the trail will lead you up towards Punta Mesco, the most notable promontory in the region. This is a good spot to stop for a picnic lunch.
    • Just short of the point you can take a small detour to the ruins of an old 11th century hermitage and the nearby 'semaforo', from where you will enjoy marvellous views of the rugged coastline. You will then follow a fairly steep path down into Monterosso, a colourful village, with blue, red & yellow houses that cluster behind the beachfront.
    • There will be time to explore the town before taking the local train back to Levanto. For those who prefer, there is also the option to walk back to Levanto from Monterosso, following a more inland forested path, which will bring you back behind the castle of Levanto. (Walking time: 3-5 hours, 7 km).

    Day 3 - Riomaggioro - Sentiero dell'Amore - Manarola - Vernazza

    • This morning you will first take the train from Levanto to Riomaggiore, the most southerly of the five villages. From there you will start the most 'classical' of all walks in the Cinque Terre: the coastal walk which links the 5 villages together.
    • You start off along a beautiful but strenuous trail through the vineyards to Manarola.
    • From Manarola, an attractive little village with steep multi-coloured houses overlooking a rocky port, you will then head up through a stunning terraced landscape to the charming village of Volastra.
    • Next is one of the most picturesque trails in the area. Through terraced vineyards and the occasional bit of forest you approach Corniglia, perched on a ridge overlooking the sea.
    • From there you will continue through terraced vineyards and the occasional citrus grove.
    • As you approach Vernazza, dominated by its old fortress, you will enjoy some of the best views in the region. You contour around the hillsides will follow a narrow track that leads you up and down, before a fairly steep descent that will bring you into the village itself.
    • In Vernazza, arguably the prettiest of all the villages, there is time to ascend the castle tower for a stunning view of the port with its brightly painted boats.
    • There are numerous cafés & bars where you can enjoy refreshment before taking the train back to Levanto. (Walking time: 4-5 hours, 9 km)
    • PLEASE NOTE: Due to recent landslides in the area it is currently not possible to walk the Via dell'Amore and the coastal section between Manarola and Corniglia. Our alternative inland routes as described above are likely to be of a higher physical rating. If you would like to opt out it is possible to take the train and visit Riomaggiore and Manarola instead (Train tickets are at your own expense).

    Day 4 - Madonna di Reggio and Madonna di Saviore

    • Today's walk will take you inland of the Cinque Terre, to the churches of Madonna di Reggio and Madonna di Saviore.
    • You will first take the train to Vernazza and then walk a path along the coast to Monterosso, approaching this beautiful little town from the other end.
    • You may wish to stop and enjoy a coffee break before you start climbing up to the sanctuary of Madonna di Saviore. Here you can have lunch or relax for a while, before walking on to the next sanctuary, that of Madonna di Reggio.
    • The walk then continues more or less along the contour lines; you will then walk through the hills to the little church of San Bernardo, with beautiful views over the coast. From there you will descend down to the coast at Vernazza again.
    • A shorter option will take you directly from Madonna di Reggio, along a number of little chapels, back down to Vernazza. (Walking time: 4.5 hours, 5 km)

    Day 5 - Riomaggiore - Campiglia - Portovenere

    • Your walk will take you in an easterly direction today. From Riomaggiore, you will commence your walk to Campiglia and Portovenere.
    • You will first hike up a long flight of stairs to the Santuario della Madonna di Montenero (optional bus).
    • Continuing uphill you begin contouring along the coastal cliffs, through terraced vineyards, enjoying wonderful views of the coastline framed by clear blue waters.
    • You will now be on the 'Sentiero Rosso', the ridge-top traverse that goes from one end of the Cinque Terre to the other.
    • You will pass through the little hamlet of Campiglia where you can stop for a refreshment.
    • Walking down into the pine forest, the track narrows as you continue towards Portovenere with some spectacular views. Arriving at the 16th century castle above the village, you may be able to see the distant peaks of the Apuan Alps before a long staircase takes you into the heart of the village.
    • There will be time to visit the charming village and Punta San Pietro, before settling into your hotel overlooking the Gulf of the Poets. (Walking time: 4-5 hours, 8 km)

    Day 6 - Portovenere - Palmaria

    • After yesterday's longer walk, today you'll have some time to recover.
    • There is the option to take an easy round walk on the island of Palmaria, just across the bay from Portovenere.
    • You will take the short crossing by boat and then you'll have the whole day to discover the beauty of this very Mediterranean island immersed in dense vegetation, overlooking the cliffs with the seagulls and azure blue sky above you.
    • Take some time to discover the impressive fortresses and perhaps go for a swim on one of the island's remote beaches. Upon returning by boat to the mainland, we recommend you visit the charming village of Portovenere itself and choose a restaurant on the Harbour of Venus for your last supper. (Walking time: 3.5 hours, 6 km)

    Day 7 - End Portovenere

    • The tour will come to an end today after breakfast in Portovenere. Additional accommodation can be booked in Portovenere - please enquire at time of booking.
    • To leave Portovenere, regular daily buses and ferries operate to La Spezia from where you can take an onward train to other destinations in Italy. Regular ferries also operate to La Spezia and other towns on the Cinque Terre.
  • What to Know

    What's Included

    • Luggage transfers
    • Detailed route notes and maps
    • Cinque Terre card for train travel on Days 3 and 4
    • Train tickets from Monterosso – Levanto for Day 2
    • Train tickets from Levanto – Riomaggiore for Day 5.

    Not Included

    • International flights
    • Arrival and departure transfers
    • Departure taxes
    • Visas
    • Travel insurance (compulsory on all trips)
    • Meals (where not listed as included in the itinerary)
    • Optional additional tours or activities during free time
    • Boat ticket from Portovenere to Palmaria return
    • Entrance fees
    • Taxis/transport (if opting out of walking stages)
    • Tips
    • Items of a personal nature
  • Past Travellers' Ratings & Comments

    At the end of each trip, we ask our travellers to provide feedback. We publish the positive, negative and neutral feedback on this page to give you an overall idea of what to expect on this trip.

    Jewels of the Cinque Terre & Portovenere (self-guided)

    Diane - Australia, 28 Jul, 2012
    Overall Rating

    The hotels were in excellent positions. It was good to stay in Levanto-a little more relaxed. Some of the walks a difficult but well worth it-but there are buses run by the park rangers for pickup & dropoff if some parts of the walk is too steep. It is also well worth catching the boat from Monterosso to Portovenere to see the villages. The train service is excellent enabling easy travel to & from each village instead of walking if too tired. Self guided notes were 110% right down the last little detail.

    Jewels of the Cinque Terre & Portovenere (self-guided)

    Robyn and Ian - Australia, 9 Jul, 2012
    Overall Rating

    We thoroughly enjoyed the Cinque Terre experience and found the on ground support from Garden hotel in Levanto was good.

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Trip at a glance

Trip Code PEJL
Group size 2 - 15
Start City: Levanto
End City: Portovenere
Style: Independent

What to know

You'll need to be in good health and able  to walk for a few hours, with some up-and-down, and on varied terrain, fromm well-defined paths to rocky trails. This is a self-guided adventure and does not include the services of a tour leader.

Departure dates
This trip operates daily from 01 March until 31 October. Due to the heat and crowds, we recommend you avoid booking this trip in the month of August.

Route notes
At the joining hotel on Day 1 you will receive your detailed road book which includes a technical description of the itinerary, maps, contact listing and 24-hour emergency phone number, as well as useful information on each place visited.

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