Follow our itinerary for a great week of hiking along the coast of the Cinque Terre, Italy, and in the nearby mountains of the Apuan Alps.
Map of Cinque Terre & Apuan Alps Hiking Itinerary
Get the route by downloading the .gpx or .kml file below. For navigation with Maps.me on your mobile phone, simply download the .kml file and open to add it to the Maps.me bookmarks.
Cinque Terre & Apuan Alps Hiking Itinerary
We walked quite fast and covered a lot of ground in the Cinque Terre in only three days (here Days 2-4). If you want more time to relax, check out our easier three-day Cinque Terre Hiking itineraries.
Day 1 – Arrival & Hike on Portofino Peninsula
On our first day (a Saturday in early November) we drove down from near Lake Como, past Genoa and to the car park by Gulliver’s Supermarket in Camogli. We used the EasyPark App to pay for parking, which is fairly expensive (€2.50 an hour). All the parking near the coast here is expensive, and even more so in the Cinque Terre region.
From the car park here we walked to the main part of town via the cliffs, with amazing views and down to the beach. We spent the rest of the morning walking to San Fruttuoso, a beautiful cove in the middle of the Portofino Peninsula.
The walk along the cliffs from Camogli to San Fruttuoso is very popular but slightly scary in places. You have to hold onto a chain and walk across sloping rocks close to the ocean. There are, however, other routes which avoid this difficulty.
San Fruttuoso & The Afternoon
At San Fruttuoso we had a quick swim and sunbath, followed by a focaccia for lunch. Focaccia is very popular in the Liguria and Cinque Terre region, and we ended up having this most days for lunch.
In the afternoon, after the break, we set off on the fairly easy half-day walk from San Fruttuoso to Portofino. After looking around the town, and being surprised that the cheapest ice cream was €5, we returned by public transport to Camogli. This involved taking a bus (you can get tickets in the little Tabacaria shops) to Santa Margherita train station, and a quick train from there to Camogli. We bought the train tickets from a machine at the train station.
Back at our car, we drove to Deiva Marina, which took about 45 minutes. We camped at Camping La Sfinge, which is open until the end of October. Camping Valdeiva, which is just opposite, is open all year round. All the campsites in Deiva Marina are busy during mid-summer, with some closing in October, and others later or never. There are also a few hotels and holiday apartments in Deiva Marina if you don’t want to camp.
Day 2 – Cinque Terre: Walk from Deiva Marina to Monterosso
We got up early on our second day, packed away our tent and ate breakfast. Since we’d be hiking for the next three days, the campsite owner suggested we could park near the main car park for free. We followed his suggestion and parked on the inland side of the main long car park in town. You have to pay for the car park, but there are free parking spots between the pine trees just before you arrive in town.
After parking our car, we walked a few hundred metres to the train station, and beyond on the start of our long day’s hike. In the morning we walked from Deiva Marina to Levanto. On the way, we had a swim in the village of Bonassola, which has a nice beach. In Levanto, we ate ice cream before setting off on an afternoon walk from Levanto to Monterosso.
On arrival in Monterosso, we went straight to the beach. We had a quick swim and sunbathe before sunset. We then walked straight to our room for the night, in Villa Caribe Affittacamere*. After a relax we walked into the old part of town through the tunnel and had pizza for dinner before returning to our room for a good night’s sleep.
Day 3 – Cinque Terre: Walk from Monterosso to Riomaggiore
We woke up fairly early and walked down towards the beach, where we bought a piece of focaccia each for breakfast. We then walked over the tunnel, rather than through, to check out some great viewpoints on the way to Monterosso’s old town. After more exploration of the town, we set off on the short walk from Monterosso to Vernazza.
Vernazza is a beautiful town, and we wandered around for a little while before having a coffee in the square by the harbour. We then continued walking on to Corniglia.
We arrived in Corniglia around lunchtime, but before eating we went down the steps to the beach for a swim. It’s not really a beach, but a rocky cove. The water was extremely clear and we saw lots of fish. After walking up the steps we grabbed a focaccia for lunch. In the afternoon we hiked from Corniglia to Riomaggiore via Manarola.
We went straight to our apartment, Quiet5Terre*, just off the main street. We then walked around the town and drank a bottle of local wine in an Enoteca. Instead of eating out, we decided to buy some fancy pasta and Genovese pesto to make dinner in our apartment.
Day 4 – Cinque Terre: Walk from Riomaggiore to Portovenere & Ferry Back
The walk today wasn’t so long, but we had to allow time for getting back to Deiva Marina and driving onwards. It’s a great walk from Riomaggiore to Portovenere and we arrived around lunchtime. There’s quite a bit to explore in Portovenere, including walking out onto a promontory to see an old church and great coastal views.
We ate lunch and debated taking the bus to La Spezia and then the train versus catching a ferry to Monterosso and then taking a shorter train ride from there. It wasn’t great weather, but we decided on the latter and bought our tickets at the little booth near where the ferries leave from.
Our ferry left around 3pm and took about 45 minutes to reach Monterosso. Despite the weather, it was great to see all the cute villages from a different perspective. From Monterosso harbour we headed to the train station, bought tickets from a machine and were soon back in Deiva Marina.
We had booked a slightly random place to stay, called Elicrim Hotel*, for this evening. We chose it because it was close to the highway on the way towards Lucca and not too expensive. It was a 45-minute drive, and after we arrived we had a pizza at a nearby restaurant.
Day 5 – Lucca Walking Tour
We got up and drove straight away to our accommodation, Lucca In Villa Elisa & Gentucca*. After leaving our car here in the convenient car park, we set off on a Walking Tour of Lucca. We spend most of the day walking around town. In the late afternoon we came back for a short rest when it began to rain heavily, then set out again for dinner.
Day 6 – Apuan Alps: Pania Della Croce Hike
We got up early and were down for breakfast at around 7:45am. There was lots to choose from and it was very satisfying. We then packed up and left on the drive to Fornovolasco, which took about 1 hour. On the way we stopped at a supermarket to buy some snacks and food. The end section of the drive, after leaving the main valley, was quite narrow and windy. We parked in the main car park of the village and set off on the long hike up Pania Della Croce.
Visibility was initially very poor, with mist all around us. However, by the time we reached the top, quite a few hours later, the wind swept the mist away and revealed amazing views. It was slow going because of the steep up, then steep down, and some tricky hiking sections. It was beginning to get dark as we finally walked back into Fornovolasco village.
That night we stayed at Rifugio La Mestà* in Trassilico, a hilltop town. It was a long and windy 15-minute drive up from the valley to Tassilico, and very dark by the time we arrived. The restaurant associated with the Rifugio is closed on weekdays outside of summer. Since there was no other food in town, we cooked outside on our little camping stove.
Day 7 – Apuan Alps: Monte Tambura Hike
After an early breakfast, we walked around Tassilico and admired the views. We then drove towards Campocatino where the next hike started. On the way we stopped at a supermarket again since we were staying in a self-catering house. Again, the drive was about an hour and the last bit was fairly windy.
After parking in the large car park just before Campocatino village, we set off on the loop hike up Monte Tambura. It was a lovely walk, without much difficulty apart from one section of holding onto chains. We arrived back to the car fairly early and set off on the drive to Equi Terme, a little mountain village around the north side of the Apuan Alps. We were staying in Casa Silvana*, a cosy house at the edge of the village.
Day 8 – Apuan Alps: Monte Sagro Hike & Tuscan Villages
It was a beautiful morning and after breakfast we walked around Equi Terme. There was an old section of town, and some caves at the far side (but these opened too late for us to visit). Back at the house, we packed up and set off on the drive to the start of our final hike. It took almost an hour, and the view already from the car park was great. We then walked up Monte Sagro, which was relatively easy compared to our previous hikes in the Apuan Alps.
We were back at our car by mid-afternoon. First, we drove to Fosdinovo, a very cute hilltop town not far away. If you drive this way, make sure to stop at the viewpoint on the road before you reach the village. We had a coffee at the far end of town, on a terrace overlooking the Tuscan landscape and the Mediterranean beyond. You can even stay at the cool castle in town* during the summer.
Since we were heading back to Germany the next day, we’d booked a place on the way north, Ca’ del Moro Resort*, in Pontremoli. After checking in, we walked around the historic town and ate dinner at a great brewery/hamburger place.
Day 9 – Departure
After breakfast at our hotel we set off on the long drive back to Germany. We stopped for a little while near Lake Como to go on a short walk up a hill, and got home as darkness fell.
Shortening the Cinque Terre & Apuan Alps Itinerary
To shorten this itinerary by a few days, you could miss out on walking in Portofino Peninsular. Alternatively, skip the walk from Riomaggiore to Portovenere, though these are both nice walks. You could also skip out on one of the mountain hikes in the Apuan Alps. If you want to visit the Cinque Terre for only a day, it’s best to go on a guided tour*.
Extending the Cinque Terre & Apuan Alps Itinerary
The days on our itinerary were pretty full and you could easily spend twice the time walking along the Cinque Terre. There are also many more mountains and routes in the Apuan Alps to explore. If we had more time, we probably would have done more hikes in the Apuan Alps. If we had even more time, we would have gone to Pisa and also spent a few days in Florence.
Tips for a Great Italy Trip
- We made all our hotel bookings through Booking.com*. We booked most of our hotels in advance, especially those in the Cinque Terre, as they fill up quickly. There’s less pressure to book hotels elsewhere far in advance as there are many options, though in mid-summer many places are still booked.
- It’s possible to do most of this itinerary on the train, though it’s more complex in the Apuan Alps if you don’t have your own transport. You can easily rent a car in Lucca* for the second half of the trip.
- We had travel insurance with SafetyWings*. We always use them because you can specify exactly how long you want coverage for and they include covid-19 coverage, even producing a nice letter for you to show immigration if proof of covid insurance is needed.
- To pay with card and get out money from ATMS we both have Wise cards*. These cards allow you to easily transfer money from one currency to another in an easy-to-use app, and use the card abroad with no extra fees. It saves a lot of money compared to normal bank cards which charge ridiculous fees if you use them abroad.
Places we Stayed on our Italy Hiking Itinerary
All the places we stayed in Italy were between €60-85 and were all fine places. Particularly good value was Lucca In Villa Elisa & Gentucca* as it had a great location and also included free parking and breakfast. I really wanted to stay in Castello Malaspina* in Fosdinovo, but it was out-of-season and so closed, but maybe next time.
|Camping La Sfinge||Deiva Marina||Nice camping, closed Nov-Apr|
|Villa Caribe Affittacamere*||Monterosso||Small room in a flat with a nice balcony, up the hill from town|
|Quiet5Terre*||Riomaggiore||Atmospheric room with kitchen facilities|
|Elicrim Hotel*||Santo Stefano di Magra||Room in a random town with self-check-in|
|Lucca In Villa Elisa & Gentucca*||Lucca||Nice room, delicious breakfast, great location & free parking|
|Rifugio La Mestà*||Trassilico||Basic room with shared bathroom in a cute hilltop village|
|Casa Silvana*||Equi Terme||A small house with a kitchen in a remote village|
|Ca’ del Moro Resort*||Pontremoli||Nice room with an outdoor area and plentiful breakfast|