Cinque Terre Overview

Cinque Terre National Park, located on the rugged coast of the Ligurian Sea in northwestern Italy, is a remarkable landscape that combines the natural beauty of its coastline with the charm of centuries-old seaside villages. Established in 1999, it is Italy’s first national park and one of the smallest, covering an area of about 38.6 square kilometers (approximately 15 square miles). Despite its size, Cinque Terre National Park is of immense cultural and environmental significance, recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its picturesque landscapes and the harmonious interaction between humans and nature over a thousand years.

The park encompasses five historic villages: Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore, which are perched along the cliffs overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. These villages are renowned for their vibrant architecture, terraced agricultural lands, and narrow paths that weave through vineyards and olive groves. The terraced landscapes, created by stone walls, are a testament to the traditional ways of farming that have been preserved in this region.

Cinque Terre National Park offers a unique blend of natural and man-made attractions. The rugged coastline, with its rocky coves and pebbled beaches, contrasts with the lush vegetation of its steep hillsides. The park is crisscrossed with hiking trails that connect the villages, offering breathtaking views of the sea and the surrounding landscapes. The famous Sentiero Azzurro, or Blue Trail, is a highlight for many visitors, providing a scenic walk through all five villages.

The park is also committed to preserving the delicate marine ecosystem of the Ligurian Sea, including protected marine areas that are home to a diverse range of marine life. Cinque Terre National Park is not just a destination for those seeking stunning landscapes and outdoor adventure; it is a living cultural landscape, where the traditional lifestyles of the local communities continue to thrive in harmony with the environment. Visitors to the park can immerse themselves in the rich history, culture, and natural beauty of this unique corner of Italy.

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Park Map
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Cinque Terre National Park Pictures

Cinque Terre National Park Trails

Blue Trail (Sentiero Azzurro)

Rating: Moderate

Distance and Elevation Gain: Varies between sections, total of about 7.5 miles (12 km) with varied elevation

Description: The Blue Trail connects all five villages of the Cinque Terre.

The most famous section between Riomaggiore and Manarola is known as the Via dell’Amore.

This trail offers breathtaking views of the Ligurian Sea, terraced vineyards, and colorful villages. Some parts may require a fee and can be closed due to maintenance, so check ahead.

Monterosso to Vernazza

Rating: Moderate

Distance and Elevation Gain: 2 miles (3.2 km) one way, elevation gain of about 500 feet (152 meters)

Description: This trail is a highlight of the Blue Trail, featuring stunning sea views, steep terraced hills, and lush vegetation.

Hikers can explore Vernazza’s narrow streets and beautiful beach before or after their hike.

Vernazza to Corniglia

Rating: Moderate

Distance and Elevation Gain: 2.5 miles (4 km) one way, elevation gain of about 220 feet (67 meters)

Description: Continuing on the Blue Trail, this segment offers equally magnificent views and a less strenuous walk compared to Monterosso to Vernazza.

The path leads to Corniglia, perched atop a cliff with panoramic views.

Corniglia to Manarola (via Volastra)

Rating: Challenging

Distance and Elevation Gain: 3.7 miles (6 km) one way, significant elevation changes

Description: This alternative route to the Blue Trail goes through Volastra and involves a steep climb but rewards hikers with less crowded paths and spectacular vineyard views.

It’s a more demanding route but offers a quieter, more intimate experience of the Cinque Terre landscape.

Manarola to Riomaggiore (Via dell'Amore)

Rating: Easy

Distance and Elevation Gain: 0.6 miles (1 km) one way, minimal elevation gain

Description: The Via dell’Amore is the most famous and easiest section of the Blue Trail, offering paved paths and romantic views of the coastline.

This short walk is perfect for those looking for a leisurely hike with plenty of photo opportunities.

Related National Parks

  • Italy National Parks, Cirque Terre National Park,, retrieved April 2024.
  • National Geographic, Cirque Terre National Park,, retrieved April 2024.
  • Parco Nazionale Cirque Terre, Official Site,, retrieved April 2024.
  • UNESCO, Portovenere, Cinque Terre, and the Islands,, retrieved April 2024.