Sentiero Azzurro | Cinque Terre, Italy

The Sentiero Azzurro (“Blue Path”) may be the world’s longest short walk. Measuring only 11.3 km in length, this classic pathway along the Cinque Terre coast can take anywhere between three hours and three days to complete. The reasons for this considerable discrepancy are motivation and appetite, rather than fitness and hiking experience. Because of the plethora of culinary options available, the Sentiero Azzurro is one hike where walkers will probably have gained rather than lose weight by the time they have finished.

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Vernazza

Distance:  7.3 miles (11 km)

Avg.Time:  3 – 4 hours (not including obligatory food & wine intervals).

Start / Finish:

Season:

  • All year.
  • Tip: In my opinion the best time to visit the Cinque Terre is in winter. The temperature is neither too hot nor too cold, no crowds and lower prices.

Maps / Info:

  • The trail passes through five ancient villages: Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza and Monterosso al Mare. No maps are necessary; simply follow the coastline in your chosen direction.
  • Bring a water bottle, sunscreen, a healthy appetite, and a hat.
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Overlooking Monterosso al Mare

Route / Conditions:

  • Well marked from start to finish (often with blue blazes), this easy to follow route hugs the Cinque Terre coastline. Although there is some climbing and descending involved, overall the route is far from strenuous and the biggest challenge you will most likely face is resisting the temptation to stretch a mellow 12km hike into a multi-day culinary adventure.

Sleeping:

  • Seaside accommodation is available at both trailhead villages. I rented an apartment in Riomaggiore and enjoyed it so much I ended up staying for ten days.

Riomaggiore

Overview:

  • The Sientiero Azzurro is a jaw-dropping meets mouth-watering fusion of natural and culinary elements. Fantastically scenic from start to finish, I highly recommend extended stops in Manarola and Vernazza. This is one of those hikes where time seems to fly by. Before you know it, most of the day has passed, and you have become part of the furniture at a seaside cafe, taking in a gorgeous Mediterranean sunset pondering life’s conundrums over one too many red wines.
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Sunset from the beach at Monterosso al Mare.

The Sentiero Azzuro is one of 32 hikes from around the world featured in my book, “Wanderlust: Hiking on Legendary Trails.” (Photo by Frank Kehren)