Guest Author: Ezequiel Doria, Spotahome Student Ambassador
Living in Milan is just amazing, but it is not difficult to become absorbed into the big city life and forget about what you may be missing. In Italy, breathtaking sights and mouthwatering dishes are always at an arm’s reach, but why not add some adventure to it all in order to make your weekend unforgettable?
My advice: go do the Sentiero Azzurro in Cinque Terre, a must do hiking experience.
Cinque Terre is located in the region of Liguria, which is just a short train ride away from Milan. My recommendation would be to take the train from Milano Centrale to Riomaggiore and work your way up from South to North all the way to Monterrosso, even though you can do it in the opposite direction as well. The train ride from Milan to either Monterrosso or Riomaggiore will take you about 3 hours and you might have to switch trains at least once.
The Sentiero Azzurro is a hiking trail that crosses the Cinque Terre (meaning ‘Five Lands’) that make up this amazing view along the coast of Liguria. The hiking times at a regular pace, with short breaks, are as follows:
- Riomaggiore to Manarola: 30 minutes (I highly recommend completing this part of the hike as it is short and offers an amazing view of the ocean. It is known as La Via dell’Amore.)
- Manarola to Corniglia: 45 minutes
- Corniglia to Vernazza: 90 minutes
- Vernazza to Monterrosso al Mare: 100 minutes
In order to be allowed into the hiking trail, you will need to purchase the Cinque Terre Card, which will be checked at the checkpoints in between towns. Prices usually vary between seasons, but you should expect to pay between 7 and 16 euro. The best part about this card is that it allows unlimited access to trains inside Cinque Terre, so that if you get tired at some point you can just take the train to the next town.
The best way to actually take advantage of this experience is to complete it in an entire weekend, but experienced hikers could easily complete it in one day, as long as beach time and meals are not a strict priority.
Where to eat
Each of the towns is filled with beautiful shops that you can explore and restaurants along the way offer a wide selection, but expect to find mostly Italian food and seafood.
You will find more options in Monterrosso, as it also happens to be the biggest of the towns. It is the perfect choice if you want to eat in a beachside restaurant. However, it can get a bit crowded there. If you go during the high season, I would recommend eating in a different town, like Corniglia, where you can find beautiful small restaurants on terraces, overlooking nature and the sea. There are also some nice options in Vernazza, in between Corniglia and Vernazza, and in Manarola.
The nicest beach
If you are looking for a nice, sandy beach, Monterrosso is your best bet. There, you will find several beautiful beaches along the coast, and these are the largest in Cinque Terre. They will be the most crowded too.
On the other hand, if you are looking for the smaller, more picturesque beaches, Manarola and Vernazza are perfect options. You might not find much sand, but you will surely see more picturesque landscapes while you work on your tan!
Where to Stay
Most people may think that in order to fully enjoy this experience it is necessary to stay in one of the five towns, but that may not be the case!
Beautiful (and accessible) hotels in other beautiful towns, such as Portovenere and La Spezia, are only a few minutes away from Cinque Terre by train. So, I would encourage you to not limit your choices and try to explore options a bit further away from the five towns.
And that’s all!
Enjoy your amazing, beautiful, and adventurous weekend! Emergency numbers will be displayed all along the hiking trail, so just remember to have fun and stay safe.
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