Hiking the Ligurian Coast: Cinque Terre, Italy
Cinque Terre is magical in so many ways, from the way the five towns seem untouched by modern civilization to the epic hiking trails overlooking the Ligurian Sea. My boyfriend requires mountains for vacations and I like to have ocean nearby so this is one of the best places to get the best of both. The Ligurian Sea is one of the cleanest bodies of water in the world and its clear blue waters certainly show that. You will want to grab a copy of Rick Steve’s guide to Cinque Terre for more info.
We stayed a the Locanda Ca Iride in Riomaggiore. It was a nice central location, minutes away from the heart of Riomaggiore. You can stay there for about $120 a night, it is quiet, clean, has AC, a safe and a nice terrace area where you can eat breakfast. It is nothing fancy, but you will be hard pressed to find a very fancy hotel as Cinque Terre doesn’t allow development or chains to come in, so most places to stay are more like a B&B. Riomaggiore is a nice place to stay because it is a little quieter than other towns, has great food options, and the express trains stop there, whereas they skip other towns like Corniglia. It has a very rocky small beach though, so if you want to have a more beach focused trip you will want to stay in Monterosso. Monterosso has the largest beach, and they have beautiful cabanas lined up where you can expect to pay 18 Euros for a couple lounge chairs and an umbrella for the day. I like Bagni Eden the best of all the beach clubs.
Hiking on the high trail in Cinque Terre is one of the best ways to get away from the crowds as most people only opt for the Lovers Walk or ‘low trail.’ The high trail (seen in red on that link) winds through the mountains so that you are essentially walking above the 5 towns. This is for advanced hikers only as the paths are often less traveled, gravely, and the total hike time can be up to 10 hours if you are going to try and do the whole thing.
You will want to bring a printed map with you, you can also ask at any of the hiking/outdoor stores in the towns (there are plenty) or ask your hotel, everybody typically has maps of the area. We hiked from Riomaggiore to Vernazza and it took us about 7 hours with minimal breaks.
Bagni Eden at Monterosso is the hot spot for sunbathing and taking a dip in the azure waters. On a calm day you can also rent kayaks from the beach club for about 20 Euros. The food and drinks at the club are delicious and reasonably priced, sandwiches are 5 Euros and drinks are between 3-6 Euros.
I suggest Fugassa & Farina in Riomaggiore, grab a piece of their fresh fig, goat cheese and honey focaccia bread and you will go to heaven immediately.
Veciu Muin is really moderately priced for how incredible it is. You can get a swordfish filet with a rocket salad for 12 Euros, or get an amazing pesto trofie (the Ligurian speciality) for 8 Euros, they also have great pizza and Aperol Spritzs.
Enoteca Dau Cila- in Riomaggiore. Still a decent price for HOW AMAING it is. This is the spot to get seafood that you will dream about for the rest of your life. Get the grilled octopus, it is sweet and savory with a delicate charred flavor that adds an element of smokiness to the dish. You can get a 3 course meal for 2 with a bottle for about 90 Euros, and remember tipping is not customary in this region so it really does end up being an incredible deal.
Or try Cantina Miky in Monterosso for similarly outstanding fare, and a lasagne so orgasmic you will probably not be able to talk for the whole dinner.