Dazzling cliff-side houses and an impossible coastal location make Cinque Terre one of the world’s most romantic destinations. Adventure through the area’s most scenic trails on foot and by bike, including parts of the classic coastal route, all under expert local guidance. Take to the water on a kayak trip to secluded beaches. If you’d rather spend more time relaxing on the beach, there’s flexibility in some places to take a train instead of hike. Enjoy delicious meals overlooking spectacular cliffs, colourful villages and sparkling seas
When entering this region of Italy, things can seem a little surreal. The houses are painted in vivid multi-coloured shades, the sea is brighter than the sky and the sun rains down so heavily that everything seems a little technicoloured – welcome to the Cinque Terre. Describing it as a gem of Italy is totally correct, but to be more specific, it would have to be an opal – a play of colours, mainly reflected by the blue of the sea, dotted with gold, pink and green houses. This is a rare jewel that changes with the light of the day, and is best explored on foot, by bike or by kayak to truly understand the natural beauty of this precious treasure.
Breakfast Included: 7 Lunches Included: Dinner Included:
Arrive in Levanto, centrally located on the Ligurian coast. Please make your own way to the hotel. No activities are planned for today until tonight's group meeting, so you can arrive at any time. In this meeting, your leader will give you a briefing on what lies ahead. In the evening you can take a relaxed stroll through the town to take in the atmosphere of this seaside location, and perhaps head out to dinner with your new travel companions.
Hiking in Cinque Terre / Biking to Framura
Today you will embark on your first walk, which takes you along the coast from Levanto to Monterosso, the first of the five villages of the Cinque Terre. The first part of the walk leads you through the old town centre of Levanto, past the stunning cathedral and up to its castle. It then continues up to Punta Mesco, the most notable promontory in the region. Just short of this point, take a small detour to the ruins of an 11th-century hermitage and the nearby ruins of the lighthouse. Here you can enjoy marvellous views of the rugged coastline and find a nice spot to stop for a short break and picnic lunch. Then follow the fairly steep path down into Monterosso – a colourful village with blue, red and yellow houses that cluster along the beachfront. Take your time to explore this interesting little town before taking the local train back to Levanto. In the afternoon explore the coast in a different way: Get on bikes and ride along the old coastal railway line to Framura, now turned into a beautiful cycling path. The scenery is stunning and the ride virtually flat. Perhaps enjoy an aperitivo in a great spot overlooking the sea, before returning to Levanto.
Hiking in Cinque Terre
A short train ride brings you to Riomaggiore, the southernmost of the five villages. Here you will start the most famous of all walks in the area: the classic coastal walk that links the five villages. Begin with a short stroll through Riomaggiore and along a short stretch of the ‘Via dell’Amore’. Next is a beautiful but strenuous trail through the vineyards (train ride optional). This takes you to Manarola, an attractive little village with steep multi-coloured houses overlooking a rocky port. From Manarola, make your way up through a stunning terraced landscape to the village of Volastra, then continue your walk along one of the most beautiful trails in the area. Through terraced vineyards and the occasional bit of forest, you approach Corniglia, perched on a ridge overlooking the sea. Next is the little hamlet of Prevo, walking through terraced vineyards and the occasional citrus grove. Enjoy some of the best views in the region as you approach Vernazza, which is dominated by its old fortress. Follow the contours of the hillside on a narrow track that leads you up and down, before a fairly steep descent takes you into the village itself. After a day of walking, perhaps wind down with a drink in Vernazza, on the wonderful town square at the harbour, resplendent with its brightly painted boats. In the late afternoon you will take the train back to Levanto.
Hiking to Portovenere
Begin your day with a short train ride back to the tiny village of Riomaggiore. Embark on a walk that leads you to Portovenere at the very end of the peninsula. Today’s trail is the most challenging of the Ligurian walks; it's also perhaps the most rewarding. First you will walk up a rather steep flight of stairs, then along an undulating track to reach the sanctuary of the Madonna di Montenero (those who wish to opt out of this climb can catch a bus instead). After stopping at the sanctuary for a short break, continue your walk to Campiglia. Continuing uphill you will follow the contours of the coastal cliffs, passing terraced vineyards and enjoying wonderful views of the coastline. Pass the abandoned village of Lemmen and walk high on the ridge through vineyards and pine forest. Finally descend to the little village of Campiglia, where you can stop for lunch and some refreshments. Then continue towards Portovenere and enjoy even more spectacular coastal views. When you arrive at the 16th-century castle above the village, you might be able to catch a glimpse of the white marble peaks of the Apuan Alps before you descend a long staircase that takes you to St Peter’s Point and then into the heart of the village. After some free time to relax in Portovenere, return by public boat to your base in Levanto – a lovely way to see the coast from the water.
Levanto / Santa Margherita
Today we transfer our base from Levanto to Santa Mergherita. You have the option to either walk part of the way or take the train for the entire distance. If you decide to walk you will be travelling on the so-called Wild-West-Walk. The first part of your walk follows the beach, then heads into the foothills and down to the charming seaside village of Bonassola (a good place for a morning coffee stop). Then stroll through the seaside hills towards the small village of Framura, a collection of ancient hamlets on a hillside, distinctive due to its red rocks. From Costa, the largest hamlet, a level path contours around the hills and offers you splendid views out to sea. You can opt to either continue your walk to the resort of Deiva Marina, or walk back down to the coast to take a swim, before catching the train to Santa Margherita.
Hiking & Kayaking on Portofino Peninsula
Today you’ll see the best of the Portofino Peninsula. First take a short walk through the historical centre of Santa Margherita Ligure, where you can also do some shopping for your picnic lunch. Then start a walk into the hills and enjoy beautiful views across the bay. By late morning you will reach Portofino, one of the most typical Ligurian seaside villages and a popular resort for jet setters. Explore this charming village and take the scenic walk to the church, castle and lighthouse, where you can look back on the inlet of Portofino (the name of which translates into 'fine harbour'). After lunch time get ready for a great paddling adventure. In a small inlet near Portofino we will outfit everyone with paddles and offer some basic kayaking instruction (if needed!). Then we go for a unique experience: Kayaking along the stunning headland of Portofino. Upon arrival perhaps enjoy a relaxed aperitivo on the beach, go for a swim or explore the village before returning to Santa Margherita.
Today you can decide to relax in Santa Margherita, stroll through its beautiful town centre or enjoy its beach. Alternatively take the train to Camogli or even Genoa, to explore this stunning city. Or opt to join in for a walk across the beautiful hills of the Portofino Peninsula. From the small hamlet of Ruta you can walk along some splendid fin-de-siècle villas towards the highest point of the Peninsula, Monte Portofino. You will then have several longer and shorter options to reach the Abbey of San Fruttuoso, an 11th-century marvel set in a secluded cove and reachable only by boat or on foot. All walks bring you through a verdant forested landscape with amazing views across the Gulf of Tigullio and the Golfo Paradiso. Upon arrival there is the option to visit the abbey or perhaps go for a swim. Then take a boat to Camogli, a chance to admire the beautiful coastline from the sea. In Camogli, take your time to wander around the colourful historic centre and enjoy a relaxed drink or grab a gelato on one of its many terraces.
Your trip comes to an end after breakfast. Santa Margherita is well connected by train to other cities in Italy, with regular trains to Genoa, Milan, Florence and Pisa. If you'd like to book additional nights in Santa Margherita, please enquire when you book this trip.