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Hiking in Italy: The 7 Best Trails

Often caught up in the magic of ancient historical landmark and idyllic countryside, many visitors tend to overlook the fact that Italy is also an excellent trekking destination boasting spectacular and diverse landscapes. Between the dizzying Dolomites in the northeast and miles upon miles of vivid coastline overlooking the Mediterranean, options for best hikes in Italy are plenty and can be incredibly rewarding, while catering to every tourist’s requirements. Below we have listed the 7 best trails for hiking in Italy.    

1. Cinque Terre Trek

Nestled between the steep hillside and the sparkling sea, this famously scenic trek will take you through Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza and Monterosso, which comprise the quaint region known as Cinque Terre. By taking this breezy, family-friendly hike, you will walk through each of the five colourful settlements of the Ligurian Riviera, framed beautifully with vineyards, olive groves, and the vast blueness of the Mediterranean. The region also offers various options when it comes to choosing hiking trails. It is criminal not to take a trip to Cinque Terre when traveling to Italy. 

Hiking in Italy via Cinque terre trail—A famously scenic trek.
Cinque Terre Trek is a treat for the eyes, thanks to the colourful settlements you see along the way

Highlights

  • Explore the majestic Italian villages along the coast
  • Choose from several bars and cafés along the way
  • Unwind and cool-off with a plunge into the sea
  • Stroll down the famous ‘lover’s lane’ on the stretch of the road between Manarola and Riomaggiore

Lowlights

  • The villages tend to be crowded during high season
  • Temperatures can get extremely high in peak season (July, August)

Trek facts

Trek difficulty Easy
Trek duration 5 hours (excluding the stops at the villages)
Remoteness Not remote
Maximum altitude 800 m
Permit required? Yes, you’ll need to purchase the Cinque Terre card to use trekking paths, shuttle buses and wi-fi 
Fitness level Suitable for all fitness levels
Best season July and August, although June and September are ideal due to milder weather and smaller crowds
Start / end locations The trail stretches from the northernmost village of Monterosso to Riomaggiore in the south 

Insider tip: Cinque Terre is one of those dreamy places for hikers: mountains, sea, vineyards, and a set of beautiful coastal towns. The trails in Cinque Terre are not exactly for couch potatoes, but they're entirely worth it. Bring comfy shoes, a bottle of water, sunscreen, and — why not —grab a piece of focaccia for a snack. Bruno from Geeky Explorer

2. Sentiero degli Dei, Amalfi Coast

The name of this trek translates to “Path of the Gods”, which is no surprise when you take into consideration the divine nature surrounding it. Passing halfway up a mountainside, Sentiero degli Dei reveals spectacular views of the azure waters of the Gulf of Naples, as well as remote villages perched on the rugged shoreline and terraced vineyards and lemon orchards. While you are there, this Amalfi coast tour could possibly serve your interest.

Hiking in Italy via Sentiero degli Dei, Amalfi Coast.
Sentiero degli Dei on Amalfi Coast, the Path of the Gods

Highlights

  • Trek takes no longer than 5 hours, even at a slow pace
  • Amazing views of the Mediterranean that stretch as far as the island of Capri
  • A glimpse into some of the historically least accessible parts of Italy

Lowlights

  • The path tends to be narrow in certain sections, so caution is advised
  • Due to its layout, this trek is not recommended for persons who suffer from vertigo

Trek facts

Trek difficulty Easy to moderate
Trek duration 4 hours
Remoteness Not remote
Maximum altitude 550 m
Permit required? Not required
Fitness level Basic level, visitors are expected to be able to walk 8 km in a day
Best season From April to October, although you should be advised that July and August can get extremely hot
Start / end locations Trek starts in Nocelle (a small village that can be reached from Positano) and ends in Bomerano

3. Alta Via 1, Dolomites

Dolomites is a popluar destination for hiking and skiing. Among various hiking trails in the Dolomites that it offers, Alta Via 1 is one of the longest trails. It passes through the heart of the Southern Limestone Alps, known for their dramatic cliffs and serene pastoral valleys. Other than the immense natural canvas, on your way you will also be able to encounter traces from World War I battles that were fought in this region between Italian and Austrian forces.

Hiking in Italy via Alta Via 1, Dolomites
Follow the trails of Alta Via 1 in the Dolomites and encounter traces from World War I battles

Highlights

  • A long and dedicated hike through various kinds of terrain
  • Opportunities to see some of the most intriguing rock formations in the Italian Alps
  • Enjoy the famous Italian hospitality and local cuisine in the rifugi

Lowlights

  • Time-consuming or physically demanding for inexperienced hikers
  • The trail only tends to be clear of snow for a couple of months per year, so you should plan your hike accordingly

Trek facts

Trek difficulty Moderate to difficult
Trek duration 10 to 15 days
Remoteness Not very remote
Maximum altitude 2,750 m
Permit required? Not required
Fitness level Basic, as this trail entails hiking between 5 and 10 km a day
Best season Between July and September, as this is when there should be little to no snow on the paths
Start / end locations The trek begins in the ski resort of Cortina and ends in Belluno

4. Lake Garda Trek

The largest body of water in Italy, Lake Garda is a popular getaway for Veronesi and international tourists alike. Tucked away in the foot of the Dolomites, a trek around Lake Garda will allow you to soak up all the wonderful scenery, ancient ruins, historic settlements and more, without pushing yourself too hard. If you are interested we would recommend you try a tour such as this Lake Garda Trek Tour.

Hiking in Italy following the trial of Lake Garda
Lake Garda, the largest body of water in Italy

Highlights

  • Easy half-day trek, ideal for novice hikers and families
  • Walk through the idyllic town of Bardolino and find out more about the history of the Verona region
  • Due to the mild climate, the hike won’t be too strenuous even in high season

Lowlights

  • Lake Garda tends to be packed with tourists during the summer months
  • This trail might be underwhelming for mountaineers who prefer more adventurous hikes

Trek facts

Trek difficulty Easy
Trek duration 6 hours 
Remoteness Not remote
Maximum altitude 500 m
Permit required? Not required
Fitness level Suitable for all fitness levels
Best season Spring and early summer are optimal times due to favourable weather and lack of crowds. However, the tourist season in Lake Garda runs until mid-September
Start / end locations One-day hikes usually set off from Verona, from which it takes 20 minutes to reach Lake Garda by bus

5. Selvaggio Blu, Sardinia

One of the most challenging hikes in the country, the Selvaggio Blu trek stretches for 25km along the rugged coast of Golfo di Orosei in east Sardinia. Between extreme cliffs, deep gorges and mysterious caves, the “wild blue” is the ultimate adventure into the Mediterranean wilderness.

Highlights

  • Jaw-dropping panoramas of the Mediterranean
  • Stunning view to remote beaches of Sardinia
  • Challenging even for seasoned hikers
Hiking in Italy via Selvaggio Blu, Sardinia
Stunning views of the remote beaches of Sardinia

Lowlights

  • Highly demanding and not suited for people with little mountaineering experience
  • Due to Sardinia’s high temperatures in the summer, it is not advisable to trek Selvaggio Blu in peak season

Trek facts

Trek difficulty Demanding
Trek duration 4–6 days (depending on the route)
Remoteness Somewhat remote
Maximum altitude 800 m
Permit required? Not required to hike or camp in Selvaggio Blu
Fitness level Intended for experienced hikers, as it includes walking on rough terrain, as well as some scrambling and rappelling
Best season Ideal months to trek are April, May, early June, late September and October
Start / end locations The entire route runs from Pedra Longa to Cala Luna

6. Stromboli Volcano, Sicily

Relatively short, yet thoroughly rewarding, the hike to Stromboli will allow you to witness the explosions produced by one of the most active volcanoes in the world. This track will take you through otherworldly scenery made up of black sand and volcanic pebbles characteristic of this Aeolian island. If you are open to experiencing an adrenaline rush while on a family tour, this Sicilian adventure might be for you.

Hiking in Italy via Stromboli Volcano in Sicily
Stromboli in Sicily is one of the most active volcanoes in the world

Highlights

  • Witnessing lava gushing from one of Italy’s three remaining active volcanos
  • You can time your hike so you arrive at the crater at night, which makes the volcanic activity all the more spectacular

Lowlights

  • Despite being short, this trek might be challenging to some hikers due to steep and unpredictable terrain
  • Not recommended for people with known heart conditions and respiratory problems

Trek facts

Trek difficulty Moderate
Trek duration 6–8 hours
Remoteness Not very remote
Maximum altitude 750 m
Permit required? Not required
Fitness level

Not recommended for people who suffer from asthma, known heart conditions or vertigo

Best season

Excursions to Stromboli run from March to October, with May and September being the most favourable months for hiking

Start / end locations

Villages of Ginostra or San Vincenzo, depending on the path

7. The Renaissance Ring, Tuscany

This historic 170-kilometer trail that circles around the town of Florence is split into 13 stages, making it convenient for travellers who like to customize their hikes. Passing through lush forests and enchanting countryside, you will encounter monasteries, Roman ruins and medieval castles, always guided by the dome of the Florence Cathedral looming in the distance.

Hiking in Italy following the trail 'The Renaissance Ring, Tuscany.'
While you hike, let the dome of the Florence Cathedral looming in the distance guide you

Highlights

  • Easy-going trek, suited both for hiking and mountain biking
  • A plethora of historical treasure troves dotted along the way
  • Each section is serviced by public transport, so you can make it as long or as short as you like it

Lowlights

  • Not ideal for hikers who prefer remote or challenging routes
  • Due to the sheer length of the trek, the Renaissance Ring may be tiring or time-consuming to hike in its entirety

Trek facts

Trek difficulty Easy
Trek duration This trek can be completed in two weeks, depends on which portion of the trail you plan on hiking
Remoteness Not remote
Maximum altitude 800 m
Permit required? Not required
Fitness level Suitable for all fitness levels
Best season From April to October, when the weather is dry and sunny
Start / end locations The path starts at Castle di Calenzano in Florence

It is clear why the European cradle of culture is considered one of the most desirable destinations for trekking. Whether you are looking for a physical challenge, a historical treasure trail or just to get lost in gorgeous, unspoiled nature, hiking is one of the most satisfying ways to spend your time when you're on an Italy tour. This is definitely time worth investing while in Italy.

2 Comments We welcome your questions or comments to this article. Our travel experts will respond within 48 hours:
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Roberta Leverone Travel Expert in Italy
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  1. Add Comment
  1. Ronel Sep 27, 2018 Reply

    Thanks for the article - where can I find more info and maps on these routes? Ronel

  2. Rasmus Bookmundi Staff Sep 27, 2018 Reply

    Hi Ronel,

    Thanks for your good question. You'll probably have to look for individual tours, and then see whether they have maps. Each individual tour should have more information.
    We currently have these trekking tours available in Italy: https://www.bookmundi.com/italy?aid=1

    Most of these tours display a map in the right-hand side sidebar. I hope above helps.

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