The Ligurian coast, known as bella Italia’s ‘Flower Riviera’, will captivate you with its unique coastal and forest trails, where you’ll walk or take short train rides from village to village, admiring the cobalt blue sea and colourful collections of houses that cling to the cliff faces. Revel in the region’s delicious cuisine, washed down with excellent local wines from the region’s terraced vineyards— this tour will delight foodies and keen walkers alike.
This trip begins on the Portofino peninsula, staying in the traditional fishing harbour of Camogli, from where you can visit the impressive San Frutuoso Abbey— located in a beautiful cove and reached only by boat or on foot, as well as the lighthouse ‘Il Faro’ which gives spectacular views of the Mediterranean and Ligurian Seas. You’ll continue on foot to iconic Portofino, where you can relax at the harbour with a chilled caffè freddo and watch the fishing boats and mega-yachts bobbing on the crystal-clear water.
Continue your Italian adventure with a walk through the hills of the East Riviera, staying overnight at Bonassola with its laid-back beach, before continuing south along the coastline to Monterosso. Set amidst terraces of olive groves and vines, Monterosso is the largest of the five villages of the Cinque Terre. Enjoy a choice of coastal or mountain walks through vineyards and fragrant pine and chestnut forests. Alternatively, make use of your two-day rail pass, or simply relax under a colourful beach umbrella.
Visit the town of Riomaggiore, the most southerly of the Cinque Terre villages, dating from the 8th Century and characterised by sorbet-coloured houses perched on slate grey cliffs. Your walking tour finishes in the lovely medieval fishing town of Portovenere, on the Gulf of Poets. No wonder this area inspired such literary greats such as Byron and DH Lawrence.
DAY 1: Arrive Camogli
This Italian journey begins in the charming small fishing village of Camogli, situated on the west side of the Portofino peninsula. Camogli is easily reached with good train connections from Genoa or Pisa (and Florence is also an option). If you have time when you arrive, visit the historic centre and embrace the relaxed seaside ambience of Camogli, with its fantastic fresh seafood and colourful houses. Overnight: Suggested Hotel, Camogli
DAY 2: Walk to Portofino via San Fruttuoso
Choice of walks: Easier option: 7km, 734m ascent, 394m descent, 3h30 approx. Harder option: 11km, 1165m ascent, 1185m descent, 5h30.
It is best to transfer to the village of San Rocco. Start your walk with a visit to the San Fruttuoso Abbey, located in a secluded bay overlooking cobalt-blue waters. From here you can choose to walk or take a ferry to the chic town of Portofino (the latter is payable locally).
Enjoy the wonderful view from Il Faro (the Light House), located at the extreme point of the promontory, 1km from Portofino. A firm favourite with the celebrity ‘jet set’, this pretty town is famous for its picturesque harbour. From here you can take the train or boat back to Camogli (payable locally). Overnight: Suggested Hotel, Camogli
DAY 3: Train to Bonassola. Walk to Deiva Marina via Framura
Choice of walks: Easier option: 5km, 421m ascent, 394m descent, 2h30 approx. Harder option: 11km, 878m ascent, 881m descent, 4hrs.
Continue your adventure along the Ligurian Riviera by jumping on a train to Bonassola (payable locally), a lovely town wedged between the sea and mountains, from where you will begin your walk through the hills of the East Riviera. The first part of your walk to Framura is extremely panoramic with wonderful views over the northern Ligurian coast. You can always shorten your walk by finishing in Framura and returning to Bonassola by train. On reaching the pretty little town of Deiva Marina, why not take a cooling dip in the ocean to celebrate a wonderful day’s walk. Overnight: Suggeted Hotel, Bonassola
DAY 4: Walk to Monterosso via Levanto
Choice of walks: Easier option: 3km, 225m ascent, 226m descent, 1h30 approx. Harder option: 10km, 753m ascent, 746m descent, 4h30.
The first part of today’s walk runs along an old railway track which has recently been transformed into a fairly flat cycle path. Walk through the tunnels and over the bridges whilst revelling in spectacular views over the azure sea and cliffs until you reach the idyllic painter’s paradise of Levanto, located in the centre of a charming valley surrounded by green hills. As you reach the ridge top, pause to take in the sweeping views to the mountains which surround the ‘Gulf of Paradise’. Arriving at Punta Mesco you continue your descent towards the village of Monterosso. Overnight: Suggested Hotel, Monterosso
DAY 5: Transfer to Soviore, walk to Monterosso via Vernazza
Choice of walks: Easier option: 6km, 266m ascent, 707m descent, 3hrs approx. Harder option: 10km, 643m ascent, 1098m descent, 4hrs.
After a good breakfast, begin with a transfer to Soviore, thus avoiding the very steep section up an ancient cobbled path. On arrival in Soviore you can either stop to visit the local monastery or immediately begin your walk towards Vernazza.
Follow a panoramic path that gently descends to the Madonna di Reggio, a Sanctuary hidden in the hills behind the little town of Vernazza. From here continue walking on a stone path down to this pretty port full of colourful houses and old fishing boats, before taking the panoramic coastal path back to Monterosso.
To shorten the walk, you can stop in Vernazza if you wish, and take the train back to Monterosso.
Overnight: Suggested Hotel, Monterosso: Walk: 9km, 690m ascent, 696m descent, 3hrs.
DAY 6: Explore Cinque Terre's Colla di Gritta
Monterosso loop walk via Colle di Gritta Head inland past the ‘Chiesa dei Cappucini’ to the Colla di Gritta. Continue over the mountain ridge through lush forests, passing over Monte Molinelli, Monte Rossini, Montenegro and Colla dei Bagari until you reach Punta Mesco. Return to Monterosso via a series of old stone footpaths. Overnight: Suggested Hotel, Monterosso
DAY 7: Train to Riomaggiore. Walk to Portovenere
Walk: 13km, 861m ascent, 875m descent, 6hrs.
A short train ride (payable locally) takes you to Riomaggiore, the most southerly of the villages of the Cinque Terre, dating from 13th Century. Continue your walk to the edge of the chain of mountains which borders the Cinque Terre area. From Colle del Telegrafo, follow the ridgeline until you reach Portovenere, passing through the village of Campiglia. Your final walk will be rewarded with great views over the Cinque Terre coastline and the impressive cliffs of Portovenere at the end.
The stunning UNESCO World Heritage Site of Portovenere was a favourite of such literary greats as Byron, Shelley and DH Lawrence. Its photogenic San Pietro Church was built atop the remains of a 6th-century church, said to occupy the site of an ancient Roman temple to Venus. Overnight: Suggested Hotel, Portovenere
DAY 8: Tour Ends