By now you've heard of Cinque Terre.
The five gorgeous coastal hill towns that are famous for their connecting goat trails that hikers have now taken over. It's no longer that secret gem of a destination that only the most adventurous knew about. There are trains and boats packed with people that stop at each town on a regular schedule. The train doors open and the gangway extends to allow for the fluid movement of humanity to pour into these tiny towns.
But don't let this deter you. These towns are still worth the visit.
Find an Airbnb or hotel in one of the five towns and make it your home base while taking your time hiking to and from each town.
We made Manarola our home base. The middle of the five towns. We were a group of eight and found this fantastic Airbnb to share. We spent the majority of our time here sitting on the patio, drinking wine and staring in awe at our view.
Our hike was from Manarola to Corniglia then onto Vernazza.
Cinque Terre has experienced mudslides that have washed away the coastal trail between Manarola and Corniglia. This isn't a problem, the hike is just longer and harder is all.
This hike is more like a Stairmaster workout from hell rather than a leisurely stroll, but with fantastic views.
Worth every butt muscle ache.
You will need to pay attention to trail signs.
We did wander off into a few private vineyards a couple times adding quite a few hundred extra steps to our already tired and quivering quads.
You can get trail maps at the tourist information shops in each town or download it here.
I found the map completely confusing and we decided to just see where our forward momentum took us.
You will need to purchase atrekking card for a few Euros when hiking the coastal routes.
This hike is actually quite legit in the strenuous department. We did bring water but were thrilled to come upon this refreshment stand that a local had set up for thirsty underprepared hikers like us. They just asked for a Euro or two to keep it up and running. I gladly dropped 5 Euros in.
Once we made it into the town of Corniglia, we found a tiny market and bought beers for our group to give out like trophies as they crossed the hilltop finish line.
After a short rest, we found the coastal trail between Corniglia and Vernazza.
This is what you come here for. The coastal views. The vineyard trails. The terraced steps.
This is more of a leisurely hike than the trail between Corniglia and Manarola.
There will be more photo stops and short rests to admire the views.
This is a good half day hike. The hike probably took us around 4 hours to complete including a quick lunch in Corniglia and multiple water and beer stops along the way.
Once we reached Vernazza, we were delirious with exhaustion and excitement. We headed straight to the harbor to find a place to watch the world go by. Feet in the water, beers in hand, muscles tightening, we all agreed that was one of the best days ever. One of my friends claiming "I made that hike my bitch!"
We sat down at the harbor for 3 glorious hours waiting for our dinner reservations at Belforte restaurant.
We can't recommend this restaurant enough. it's perched at the end of the harbor in what looks like a stone fort. You will definitely need reservations. The views are spectacular and the food is delicious. Squid ink pasta, please!