Three great walks for non-hikers in the Cinque Terre

Hi Frugalistas!


For latest on my series on the beautiful Cinque Terre I’m focussing on walking.  The Cinque Terre and its surrounding National Park are popular with hikers.  But what do you do if you are not really a great trail walker, let alone a hiker?  Well, my enthusiasm for walking doesn’t extend beyond the treadmill at the gym and a lovely shopping trip, but I did walk in the Cinque Terre and I did love it.  There are a number of walks in the Cinque Terre that are suitable for non-hikers or serious walkers, but as I write, many of them remain closed after rock slides and bad storms.  Despite that, I managed to find three easy walks for non-hikers.  None of these walks require special hiking gear – just sensible walking shoes and a basic level of fitness.

1.  San Bernadino

Stunning views on the trip back to Vernazza

Stunning views on the trip back to Vernazza

San Bernadino is a tiny hamlet in the hills about 3km (2miles) from Vernazza.  You can get up there by bus – if it is running, or if you can convince the driver to take you up there when it is not running that far (as I was able to do.  I was his only passenger, and I asked politely.  He said yes, so off we went.  Pick up the bus from opposite the laudromat at the top of the town.  If you have a single day train ticket for the Cinque Terre it is included in your ticket).

When you get to the town, head round the other side of religious sanctuary from the bus stop and admire the magnficient view out over the sea.  To the left below you will see the tiny village of Corniglia.

That’s it for San Bernardino, so your walk then consists of walking back down the road you drove up.  This walk is all downhill, so is easy, unless you have knee troubles.  The road is also winding, so keep an ear out for approaching cars.  You will pass vineyard terraces, wisteria covered stone ruins of old houses and a little stream.  You will hear birds tweeting, see beautiful wildflowers and mosses, and apart from the odd car, not another soul.

You can, of course, walk this trip both ways – but it is literally all up hill to get there.

Wisteria spotted on the walk to Vernazza from San Bernadino

Wisteria spotted on the walk to Vernazza from San Bernadino

2.  Corniglia

Corniglia is the only town of the Cinque Terre not directly on the coast.  The train station is on the coast, so it’s an uphill trip to the village on the hill above.  A bus runs from the station to the village, but if a walk is in order, you can either walk up the road – all uphill, but not as steep as up to San Bernadino (about 1.5km or a mile) or head up the 420 steps of staircase.  The stairs are actually not nearly as daunting as they sound – gentle incline and plenty of seats and landings to stop and take a breather.

Quiet back lanes of Corniglia

Quiet back lanes of Corniglia

Of course, you can just catch the bus up, and walk back down.  Either way, when you get to the top, you’ll be rewarded with a pretty and quaint village, and more of those stunning coastal views!

The stairs back from Corniglia are gentle, with plenty of rest spots

The stairs back from Corniglia are gentle, with plenty of rest spots

3.  Portofino

While not part of the  Cinque Terre, the walk to Portofino from Santa Margherita Liguria is a great walk for non-hikers.  While it is the longest of my three suggested walks (at about 6km or 4miles) if you follow the road it is completely flat and just so picturesque.  You can, of course take the regular bus service, but you miss so many brilliant photo opportunities and gorgeous views, that I thoroughly recommend walking one way (and then catching the ferry back for even more gorgeous views).  Stunning sea views, views of Santa Margherita, views of Portofino itself, and all those villas will reward the walker.


There is a longer walk you can take that heads off the main road inland through a more forested area, but for me, those sea views would justify any walk.  Stunning.

It's long walk, but you will be well rewarded!

It’s long walk, but you will be well rewarded!

(I will be writing separately about a day trip to Portofino in a later post).

General tips for walking the Cinque Terre

Regardless of which village you are visiting if you wander round the outskirts you can have a pleasant walk onto the vineyard terraces.  Alternatively, head up to your village’s car park (they all have them) and follow the road out of town.  See what you find and what beautiful views you can see.

And of course, always remember the sunscreen and hat, cover your shoulders, and get out those sensible walking shoes.

All photos author’s own

Related posts:

Cats of the Cinque Terre

Eating and drinking in the Cinque Terre

Ten tips for enjoying the Cinque Terre

Daytripping to Portofino from the Cinque Terre


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9 Comments on “Three great walks for non-hikers in the Cinque Terre”

  1. Pretraveller 06/06/2013 at 8:43 pm #

    Jo, thanks for sharing about some other walks around Cinque Terra that I was not aware of. I have done the walks between the five villages, which were great, but did not have time to also explore other options in the area.

    I will have to add the Portofino walk to my list for next time I am in the area!

  2. unitipercorniglia 06/06/2013 at 10:59 pm #

    Hey there! Thank you for appreciating our land so much! We “re-blogged” your post. Have a look!

  3. neverclipmywings 07/06/2013 at 6:51 pm #

    Grazie Mille for the tips!

  4. Christopher 24/05/2014 at 4:22 am #

    Hiking from town to town in Cinque Terre is great fun. Not so strenuous, but some ups and downs of course. Great post.

    • frugalfirstclasstravel 24/05/2014 at 6:29 am #

      When I was there many of the trails, particularly some of the easier ones, were still closed


  1. Great walks for non hikers | Uniti per Corniglia - 06/06/2013

    […] Source: […]

  2. The Cinque Terre – daytripping to Portofino | frugalfirstclasstravel - 13/06/2013

    […] Walks for non-hikers in the Cinque Terre […]

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