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Exploring the Cinque Terre on foot

Exploring the Cinque Terre on foot

Exploring the Cinque Terre on foot

  • Arguably the finest hiking in Europe: stepped cliffs, terraced coastal paths, panoramic Apennine views
  • Chic Portofino, charming UNESCO Portovenere, palm-fringed Levante, world-famous Cinque Terre
  • Emerald seas, hidden coves, secluded bays backed by golden sand beaches
  • Pretty harbours, thriving marinas, beautifully romantic pastel-coloured villages
  • Holiday typeSelf-guided walking
  • Duration9 nights, hotel-to-hotel
  • Activity level
  • Excellent for
  • From $2310
  • Holiday details
  • Departs Selected Sundays from 30 Apr '17 to 15 Oct '17
  • All buffet breakfast and 4 evening meals
  • Managed by Headwater appointed agent
  • Sustainability rating: 84%
  • Route notes and maps provided
  • Luggage transfers between hotels
  • All local transportation included

We're here to help

If you've any questions about this holiday call to our sales team on 1-800-567-6286 , or email sales@headwater.com

This nine-night self-guided walking holiday is the perfect introduction to Liguria's stunning coast. During your stay, you'll explore the Italian Riviera's most precious jewels, from exclusive Portofino, a favourite haunt of the rich and famous, to the picturesque mediaeval harbour of Portovenere. Spend time hiking the stepped cliffs of the stunning Cinque Terre, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, praised by artists and poets for centuries.

In the main, your walks follow the web of spectacular coastal paths and cultivated terraces that intricately connect the tiny fishing villages and historic ports. You'll pass through ancient wooded trails of oak and chestnut forest, and traverse ridges with spectacular views of the Apennine peaks; in some places you can even see as far as Corsica on a clear day. We've designed the walks using the regular ferries, a spectacular panoramic cable car, water taxis and unique coastal trains, so that your walks end in quaint colourful harbours.

You'll stay in very special accommodation, each hotel with its own unique style and character, including an elegant 4 star hotel in a prime location on Rapallo's sea front promenade and a stylish 4 star hotel, with sea-view rooms with private balcony for Headwater customers, in Portovenere.

Day-by-day itinerary

Walking information

The walking is mainly on mule tracks, stone steps and narrow coastal paths, with fairly steep ascents and long descents to sea level. Customers with a fear of heights and walkers with knee problems may have difficulty with certain sections. Walkers should be fit and sure-footed. Walking boots are essential and walking poles are recommended.

Day 1 - Arrive in Rapallo

Arrive at your panoramic 4 star hotel in the coastal town of Rapallo.

Day 2 - Ruta di Camogli to Portofino 12km/7.5mi/4hr

A short bus ride takes you to Ruta di Camogli, the start of today's walk. You walk along ancient forest trails through the lush Natural Park of Monte Portofino before descending to the secluded bay of San Fruttuoso, home to its C11 Benedictine abbey. End your day in chic Portofino, the Riviera's most exclusive resort, before a ferry takes you back to Rapallo.

Day 3 - Rapallo to Chiavari/Sestri Levante 13km/8mi/4hr

A breathtaking cable car ride takes you up to the impressive C16 sanctuary of Montallegro, where you can enjoy magnificent vistas down to Rapallo. From here a breathtaking cable car ride takes you up to the impressive C16 sanctuary of Montallegro, where you can enjoy magnificent vistas down to Rapallo. From here you follow a ridge path to Chiavari, accompanied by 360° views across the jagged Ligurian Apennines. There's time for a wander around its mediaeval streets, marble floors and arched walkways, before a short train ride to Sestri Levante, your home for the next two nights.

Day 4 - At Sestri Levante 5km/3mi/2.5hr

Lively Sestri Levante is an ancient merchant and maritime centre, packed with pastel-coloured fishermen's houses and endowed with a lovely curving peninsula, two sweeping bays and a fantastic beach. An optional walk takes you through cork oak and Mediterranean macchia (scrubland) to Punta Manara with its Saracen Tower and stunning panorama over the Gulf of Tigullio.

Day 5 - Sestri Levante/Levanto to Monterosso al Mare 9km/6mi/3.5hr

After a short train ride to Levanto, it's a classic coastal route across sea-facing terraces and into the woodland and macchia on the steep bluffs of the rugged promontory of Punta Mesco, this is a good spot for a picnic lunch. From the headland you have wonderful views of the entire coastline before a fairly steep path takes you down to colourful Monterosso, the first of the five villages making up the Cinque Terre.

Day 6 - At Monterosso al Mare 5km/3mi/2.5hr

Today's optional but highly recommended walk takes you from the pretty marina in Manarola up to the tiny, panoramic village of Volastra, with its C12 sanctuary offering the perfect spot for a picnic. It's then downhill, via narrow herb-scented paths and vine terraces, to Corniglia, a picturesque village perched high on the promontory.

Day 7 - At Monterosso al Mare

You spend today at leisure so why not explore the Cinque Terre by hopping on and off the local train (railcard provided). Alternatively, take the coastal path from Vernazza, the second village and only natural port of the Cinque Terre. You pass through cultivated vineyards and olive groves, which offer spectacular views of Corsica on a clear day, before a steep descent down to Monterosso.

Day 8 - Monterosso al Mare/Riomaggiore to Portovenere 15km/9.5mi/5.5hr

You start the day with a short train ride to Riomaggiore, the last of the Cinque Terre, its pastel coloured houses toppling prettily down the hiilside. Then, in our view, it's the most stunning walk of the week as you continue south to the charming fishing port of Portovenere. Set in a beautiful sweeping bay (great for swimming), and once the haunt of Byron and Shelley, it boasts an impressive C16 castle and several mediaeval churches.

Day 9 - The Island of Palmaria 5km/3mi/2.5hr

A small water taxi takes you to the nearby island of Palmaria, now a nature reserve. Here you follow a circular path around the island where you're rewarded with spectacular views of the Gulf of Poets and nearby islands. After a picnic you head back to Portovenere for a relaxed afternoon

Day 10 - Leave Portovenere

Where you stay

During your holiday you stay at the following hotels. If you'd like to extend your time at any of these or, if you'd like to enhance your stay with an upgraded room, just let us know at the time of booking. You can call our sales team on 1-800-567-6286 to discuss accommodation options.

Hotel Best Western Tigullio Royal, Rapallo (4 Star)

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The 4* Tigullio Royal boasts a stunning position on Rapallo’s seafront promenade, overlooking the Gulf of Tigullio – which gives the hotel its name – and just a stone’s throw from the town’s pretty beach. Rooms are modern and stylish; all are ensuite with shower. All rooms also come with air conditioning and tea and coffee making facilities. Start the morning on a high with breakfast on the panoramic terrace, and savour the stunning sea view views. The hotel also benefits from a wellness centre.

Find out more on the hotel website and read customer reviews on Tripadvisor.

Dates Superior with Partial Sea View Deluxe Sea View with Balcony Junior Suite Suite
01/04/2017 - 31/10/2017 £30 £54 £84 £124

All prices shown above are valid from 24/12/2016. Prices are per person per night based on 2 people sharing a double room. The junior suite comes with a sleeping area and living area with sea view. Suite - larger with sea view and balcony

Dates Standard Room for Single Use Standard Room Superior with Partial Sea View Deluxe Sea View with Balcony
01/04/2017 - 31/05/2017 £128 £100 £126 £150
01/06/2017 - 30/06/2017 £144 £118 £142 £168
01/07/2017 - 31/08/2017 £150 £122 £148 £172
01/09/2017 - 30/09/2017 £144 £118 £142 £168
01/10/2017 - 31/10/2017 £128 £100 £126 £150

All prices shown above are valid from 24/12/2016. Prices are per person per night staying on bed and breakfast, based on 2 people sharing a double room.

Hotel Due Mari, Sestri Levante (4 Star)

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The Hotel Due Mari is located between Sestri Levante’s two picturesque bays. Set in a converted 17C palazzo, it’s been a hotel for over 40 years and boasts a number of facilities including an outdoor pool, a Turkish bath and a restored 18C chapel! The gardens at the hotel are filled with Mediterranean flora, orange and lemon trees and are a haven of tranquillity. There are superb views from the rooftop terrace where you can relax and soak up the sun.

Headwater customers will be given the superior rooms at the Hotel 2 Mari in Sestri Levante as standard.

Find out more on the hotel website and read customer reviews on Tripadvisor.

Dates Suite
01/04/2017 - 31/10/2017 £50

All prices shown above are valid from 24/12/2016. Prices are per person per night based on 2 people sharing. Suites are more spacious, classic in style and have a view of the garden.

Please contact us for extra night prices.

Hotel la Colonnina, Monterosso-sul-Mare (3 Star)

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The family run Hotel la Colonnina is squirreled away in Monterosso's picturesque Old Town. It has a pretty shaded garden as well as a roof terrace where you can take in the gorgeous views over the Old Town as well as out to sea. Headwater customers are guaranteed the recently renovated and individually styled rooms with balcony, which are ensuite with marble bathrooms.

Find out more on the hotel website and read customer reviews on Tripadvisor.

Dates Room with Balcony and Village View
01/04/2017 - 31/10/2017 £14

All prices shown above are valid from 24/12/2016. Prices are per person per night based on 2 people sharing

Please contact us for extra night prices.

Royal Sporting Hotel, Portovenere (4 Star)

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The Royal Sporting Hotel boasts a truly stunning location right by the sea, with views across the Gulf of La Spezia and the small island of Palmaria. The hotel benefits from a number of first class facilities including a sea water pool - complete with panoramic sea views - a spa and fitness centre; a tennis court and a private beach. The hotel also has a charming restaurant and terrace, where you can take in those sweeping sea views whilst savouring dinner!

Headwater customers will be given the sea view rooms at the Royal Sporting Hotel in Portovenere as standard.

Find out more on the hotel website and read customer reviews on Tripadvisor.

Room upgrades are not available at this hotel.

Dates Sea View Room with Balcony for Single Use Sea view room with balcony
01/04/2017 - 31/10/2017 £128 £100

All prices shown above are valid from 24/12/2016. Prices are per person per night on bed and breakfast only.

Extending your stay

If you'd like to extend your trip with extra nights at the start or end, or if you'd like to arrange a stop off point en-route, then we recommend the following hotels.

Hotel Alessandro della Spina, Pisa (3 Star)

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The Hotel Alessandro della Spina is located just 500m from Pisa central train station and just a 10 minute walk from most of the city's main monuments. This modern and cosy property welcomes its guests with an elegant, warm atmosphere, enhanced by its charming garden, and friendly staff that are always on hand to ensure you a relaxed stay.

Hotel facilities include internet and wi-fi access in the lobby and a bar and comfortable seating area. Guest rooms are spacious, furnished with wood and marble and have air conditioning, a safe and satellite TV. Buffet breakfast includes homemade bread and croissants.

Find out more on the hotel website and read customer reviews on Tripadvisor.

Room upgrades are not available at this hotel.

Dates Double Room Single Room
11/05/2017 - 14/10/2017 £60 £106

All prices shown above are valid from 01/12/2016. Prices are per person per night including breakfast.


Transfers included from Genoa airport at 12:25, and back to Pisa airport at 12:00.

Please call our sales team on 1-800-567-6286 or email info@breakaway-adventures.com to arrange connecting flights.


Everyone who goes on a Headwater holiday will be emailed a link to our post-holiday questionnaire where they can give us an honest assessment of all aspects of their holiday - everything from how quickly we answer the phone to how clean the hotels were - plus, of course, an overall rating and comments about their holiday.

Any feedback collected is posted straight to our website - totally unedited. So, for the real tales, twists and turns of our holidays, look no further than the reviews from our previous travellers.

Mr Buckland

Excellent organisation, detailed notes, inter- hotel transfers. Speaking some 'travel' Italian helped, when closed routes led to disorientation. Local reps restaurant recommendations very helpful for the first night when we were too tired to search much. Only Hotel Oasi offered free coffee and nibbles on arrival, again which helped with tired legs and a sense of welcome. It would be good if all the hotels did that. Some hotels put our luggage in our rooms, others demanded that we took them to ou... read morer rooms the instant we arrived. All hotels wanted to see our passports before we were shown our rooms. We forwarded them in our luggage, so that was interesting.

It would have been good to know about the resteraunts in the sanctuary above Rapallo before the exit walk; possibly an evening meal.

We met and spoke with lots of international walkers. The higher routes were best for avoiding crocodiles coming the other way. Early October was good for weather. The Italian navy were doing interesting things in Portovenere harbour.

Ms Hunt

A beautiful area of Italy to walk in but the walks were quite strenuous due to the terrain. All of the hotels were up to the usual high standard that

Headwater use.

The only difficulty we had was sorting out the penultimate walk as there were so many options and it was not clear from the notes which notes referred to which walk.

Ms Kearney

The walks were stunning and very well marked. We especially enjoyed the six hour walk from Rio Maggiore to Porto Venere. Even though this was mid July, on many days we barely saw another soul. The only day we didn't enjoy so much was the walk between Monterosso and Vernazza. Although the scenery is beautiful, it is hugely crowded. Our Italian travel agent Elisa was extremely helpful and we especially liked her restaurant tip in Sestri Levanti - Osteria Mattana. We liked La Battigia in Porto Vene... read morere - we didn't enjoy the food in the evening at Royal Sporting. The hotel room was great though. The room at Due Mare was wonderful - a suite with a painted ceiling. But Hotel Canali wasn't in a good location and the room was very small as was the one in Hotel Nazionale. I realise that accommodation is hard to find in the Cinque Terre in July but we would have been happy to stay in smaller places higher up in the mountains - even self catering.

Ms Tonge

We thoroughly enjoyed this holiday and the walking routes .Each place we stayed had a different character and the hotels were generally of a high standard-particularly Hotel Due Mari in Sestri Levante. We also enjoyed the included restaurant meals on the terrace at The Sporting Hotel. As the whole area is up market it is not cheap eating out on all the other days.

The walking was varied and very scenic.We were lucky with very good weather throughout-however we would echo previous comments... read more about the steepness of some of the paths and slipperiness in wet weather. The walking route directions were very good and detailed. We would advise in the Cinque Terre park starting as early as possible and going as high as possible to avoid other walkers as it is very busy there!

Mrs Alleston

Well organised in principle with well chosen walks, but local knowledge was disappointing and led to some problems. The hotels were all fine with good to very good breakfasts and mostly in a good location. Bearing in mind that this was the first departure of the season, the area was already very crowded and the lower path from Vernazza to Monterosso was unbearable, verging on dangerous because of overcrowding. They are talking about limiting numbers: the sooner the better! Bear in mind that you... read more need dry weather to walk safely on many of the paths, which can be steep and rocky.

Headwater were very helpful in organising a transfer to Camogli where we privately extended the trip after Portovenere.

Mrs Farebrother

Cinque Terre walking can be quite tough. The distance that is given in the Notes does not really prepare unwary walkers for the ascent and descent to be expected for the day.We recommend that Headwater publishes the distance AND the metres of ascent/descent for each day and option. It adds considerably to the challenge/enjoyment, depending on your point of view! We were fine, others could be taken unawares by the climbing expected.

We loved the terrain and the experience. We were very for... read moretunate with the fabulous weather for early October. In wet conditions, some of the paths would have been impassable and dangerous, so it is important to emphasise that the weather will have a big impact on the holiday experience in the Cinque Terre.

We were a bit shocked by the sheer number of tourists and walkers in the five Cinque Terre towns. Considering it was 'end of season' in early October, the towns were crammed with tourists and it was only on the remoter paths that we managed to shed them. Headwater should emphasise that, beautiful as it is, the Cinque Terre region is one of the most popular walking/tourist areas in the World and can get very crowded.

The walking notes were generally very good but the maps were truly awful. Not only did they not cover all the routes in the notes, we met other walkers who had far superior maps to ours. The maps by KOMPASS appeared to be some of the best. Our maps either didn't show some paths or didn't show them accurately in some instances. Elisa knows the territory like the back of her hand so we suspect she doesn't pay too much attention to maps! Whereas for us, we needed to be able to navigate with them AND the notes, and without her.

Mr Cooper

A good holiday in stunning locations and using the various transport options very creatively. Expensive- but that is probably a reflection of the cost of the area

Mrs Lammiman

Great walks with spectacular views. We liked the mix of b&b and half board . Ended our holiday with two extra days in Pisa / Lucca with more walking ...but but well worth it .

Mr Boff

We enjoyed our holiday but did not feel that much of that enjoyment was due to Headwater, I'm afraid.

Mr Thomson

A very enjoyable holiday with taxing walks and great accommodation. In 30 degrees heat we found some of the hikes a little hard at our age.

Mrs Williams

This is a fabulous holiday, with some great hotels. Every hotel is close to a beach where you can swim in the clear waters of the Mediterranean Sea. But, you must be really quite fit for it as there are prolonged very steep uphill climbs, often on uneven stoney, stepped tracks and very long steep downhills. You do need walking poles. You should aim to leave as early in the day as you possibly can as some climbs have little shade and the heat is intense. You will need the carry 2L water per perso... read moren. But, the views are amazing and the CinqueTerre area and villages are beautiful and worth the hard work. Also, all that hard walking leaves room for ice cream every day!

Mr Marritt

Very good overall. Rating of 2+ is right because some parts were quite tough.

Please do not quote surname in any promotional material

Mr Hainsworth

There were a lot of tourists in the National Park, but the two days walking either side of the park were far less crowded and we met more local people. It was lovely to be able to swim in the sea when you had finished a walk.

Mr Rogers

A really fabulous holiday to a lovely area which we had not previously heard much about. Very enjoyable!

Dr Haberman

We enjoyed the walks but felt let down by the quality of accommodation and food.

Ms Bowie

The walks were really beautiful (although involved a lot of up and down!) and being able to swim on most days in the hot weather made it really special. A really wonderful way to see some of Italy.

Mr Drinkwater

Weather in region is variable so waterproofs are necessary. Ascents and descents are steep but then it is a 2+boot holiday. Some nice little towns for shopping along the way. Good fish on most menus.

Mrs Hartland-Mahon

An excellent holiday with breathtaking scenery.

Mr Burns

Good holiday let down by three nights in a 2 star hotel with a tiny bathroom

Headwater response:
Dear Mr Burns, Thank you for taking the time to complete your post-holiday questionnaire following your recent holiday to Italy. Please be assured that all of the feedback we receive whether complimentary or critical is valuable in helping us to continue to improve and develop our holidays for the future. With this in mind, over the winter, we have reviewed the feedback we have received for this holiday and from this have made the decision to change the 2 star hotel you refer too, this has been replaced with a 3 star hotel in Monterosso. We are sure that you will agree this change will continue to add to the quality and enjoyment of this holiday overall. In closing, we would like to thank you for travelling with Headwater this summer. We look forward to welcoming you on another of our holidays in the future. Yours sincerely, Headwater customer service team

Mr Emerson

Headwater provides interesting and enjoyable holidays with well chosen walking routes and accomodation.

Mr Spencer

Your notes for walking trips were in places inaccurate/out of date and not anywhere as helpful a they could have been. We found that the other travellers on the same overall holiday had similar experiences to us. It is not good if one is looking for sign or item of detail on mentioned in your notes which turns out not to exist, especially when there are still miles to the destination

Mrs Ashley

This holiday was disappointment after last year's in Tuscany. The quality of the hotels was very poor by comparison, which was the main problem. The first two hotels offered a double bed (rather than the twin room ordered) - another inconvenience as we had to wait for them to be split. As adults, I guess we could be left to make alternative arrangements but it might had been helpful to have alternative suggestions re travel to Porto Venere when the weather made the last day's walk impossible... read more. The food in the two half board hotels was not good (much better in Porto Venere than Grande Albergo though) - Grande Albergo was the biggest disappointment on what was not a low cost holiday, with the breakfasts in Rio Maggiore a close second. ALTHOUGH FORCED TO COMPLETE THE SECTION RE THE POSSIBILITY OF TRAVELLING WITH YOU AGAIN, I AM NOT SURE!

Mr Price

You must get your act together to ensure all hotel rooms are reasonable. The Grande Albergo room was dark and had awful view. When we were there we sent a picture of view from room to sales team but NO reply. Rude. Three out of four couples endured same view.

Mrs Town

Challenging but very beautiful walking. Walks not on the Cinque Terre route were best. The portion of the Cinque Terre open was far too crowded. The other routes were mostly in areas where few or no people were met! Very pleasant hotels to stay in all with good communal spaces so that we were not spending time in our room. Good weather made this holiday. Poor weather would make most of the walks not possible.

Mrs Hicks

We had problems with transfers. No taxi to meet us at the airport on arrival apparently due to a misunderstanding between the local rep and HQ at Headwater. One very late arrival of luggage to Portovenere requiring the hotel to contact local rep. Transfer from hotel to airport for departure could have been a disaster as taxi did not turn up. The Royal Sporting hotel staff turned up trumps by contacting local rep and arranging alternative driver who got us to the airport in time to catch our plan... read moree.

One mistake in the grading of walks - the final walk from Riomaggiore to Portovenere is 14.5 km minimum there is no 8.8 km alternative. This needs amending.

Mr Barlow

wonderful time

Mr Barnes

Some challenging walking in an interesting part of Italy. Not much to do if not walking though.

Dates and prices

The prices quoted below for each individual departure supercede those published in our current brochures. Air prices are subject to change and are shown for guide purposes only. Please see our Planning your holiday and What's included in the price? pages for additional information.

Alternatively, you can call our sales team on 1-800-567-6286 to discuss your requirements in more detail.

  • Apr
  • May
  • Jun
  • Jul
  • Aug
  • Sep
  • Oct
Apr 2017 Tour only Availability
30th Apr US$2510 Check
May 2017 Tour only Availability
7th May US$2510 Check
14th May US$2510 Check
21st May US$2510 Check
28th May US$2600 Check
Jun 2017 Tour only Availability
4th Jun US$2600 Check
11th Jun US$2600 Check
18th Jun US$2600 Check
25th Jun US$2600 Check
Jul 2017 Tour only Availability
2nd Jul US$2695 Check
Aug 2017 Tour only Availability
20th Aug US$2695 Check
27th Aug US$2650 Check
Sep 2017 Tour only Availability
3rd Sep US$2650 Check
10th Sep US$2650 Check
17th Sep US$2650 Check
24th Sep US$2650 Check
Oct 2017 Tour only Availability
1st Oct US$2310 Check
8th Oct US$2310 Check
15th Oct US$2310 Check

Holiday details

Minimum group sizes
No minimum group size, however transfers are subject to at least 2 people (in total) booked on each departure.

This holiday is unsuitable for children.

Holiday type
Self-guided walking Managed locally by Headwater appointed agent.

Selected Sundays from 30th Apr 2017 to 15th Oct 2017, for 9 nights.

All buffet breakfast and 4 evening meals

Other details
Airport and luggage transfers are subject to at least 2 people (in total) booked on each departure.

Tailor-made travel

Tour only
Transfers included from Genoa airport at 12:25, and back to Pisa airport at 12:00.


Due to the tailor-made nature of our holidays, we need a little more information in order for us to check availability for Exploring the Cinque Terre on foot. Simply complete the form below and a member of our sales team will contact you (when it's most convenient for you) to provide availability information, travel options and an accurate price. Of course there's no obligation, but if you do wish to proceed with a booking they will be on-hand to assist you throughout the process.

Alternatively, you can call our sales team on 1-800-567-6286 to discuss your requirements in more detail.

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We can often obtain preferential rates with our travel partners.

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