Hiking along the trails of the Cinque Terre is super cool. It’s a definite bucket list item, and you should totally do it. However, you should not be an idiot while doing it. Here are some helpful hints.
Do: Research the status of the trails before you go. At the time of this writing (May 2016), two of the main trails were closed (Riomaggiore to Manarola & Manarola to Corniglia), due to rockslides.
Please note that some sections of the trails have been completely wiped out and literally don’t exist any more. Don’t think that you know better than the park officials and try to bypass the barricade – it’s there so that you don’t die. (Don’t die.)
Do: Buy your admission ticket the day of your hike at the information center in the train station (available at any of the 5 towns).
Yes, you have to pay for entry. This is a stunning UNESCO World Heritage Site that’s getting trampled on by millions of tourists every year. Your payment goes toward upkeep and recovery of the trails. Don’t be a cheapskate. A one day Trekking Card (for hiking only) is €7,50.
You can also visit the official website for other admission options. If you buy a card with train rides included, you’ll need to validate it first so you don’t get slapped with a hefty fine.
Don’t: Wear high heels. This is a real picture of the sign at the beginning of the hike, so apparently some people need to be explicitly told this.
Please be prepared for hiking. Wear comfortable shoes (we made do with sneakers, but something a little sturdier isn’t a bad idea either). Pack water and sunscreen. Essentially, think about the activity that you are about to do, and then plan accordingly for that activity.
Do: Take a picture at the beginning of the hike. There will be lots of great views, but this will be the only time that you aren’t sweaty and cussing under your breath about how out of shape you are.
(See how happy we look?? Note: I purposely did not post the picture from the end of the hike.)
Don’t: Get confused by colors. Trail #2 or the “Blue Trail” is the most popular path, and connects the 5 gorgeous towns of the Cinque Terre along the coastline.
But the name refers to the sparkling blue water. The actual hiking route is marked with a red and white symbol. Do follow the red and white symbol. It’s there so you don’t get lost and stranded in the middle of nowhere. Nobody wants to helicopter around trying to find you because you got confused about colors. Don’t be that person.
Do (or Don’t): Stop to check out the cat village. This one kind of depends on how much of a crazy (and/or gullible) cat person you are.
There’s randomly a cat sanctuary between Monterosso and Vernazza. Complete with little homemade cat houses and signs asking you to feed the poor, “unloved” cats of the Cinque Terre. (These cats don’t seem too neglected to me. Just sayin. But it’s your call. Maybe I’m just bitter because I tried to pet one, and it ran away.)
Do: Take pictures along the way. I seriously doubt that I need to remind people of this in the “pics or it didn’t happen” age that we currently live in.
However, this next tip might be more helpful: please don’t take 500 pictures of the EXACT SAME view from slightly different angles and then post them all on Facebook. (There’s a special place in hell for the people that do this.) Also, resist the urge to add a humblebrag caption.
Do: Have a good attitude (or imagination). The Blue Trail isn’t that hard, but it isn’t easy either. It’s narrow in some parts. It can be slippery and steep at times. Despite these trails being a really cool thing, you may find yourself momentarily hating them. That’s okay.
If this happens, try to remember that hiking is great exercise and that it totally cancels out all that gelato you ate (and will continue to eat during your stay in Italy). When that’s still not enough, pretend that you’re undergoing Beyoncé’s personal fitness routine and that by the end, you’ll have rock hard thighs like hers.
If you followed all of the above guidelines, pat yourself on the back! Then go ahead and follow one more. (This one’s easy, I promise.)
Do: Treat yo’self at the end of the hike. You deserve it. I mean, you did just complete Beyoncé’s personal workout routine, which is pretty impressive.
And there are plenty of delicious options for a treat. A slushie, some gelato, a cocktail (or maybe one of each). Somehow all of these things just taste better at the end of a long hike. Go ahead and indulge. Then congratulate yourself on being one less sunburned, lost, fined, humblebragging idiot on the trails of the Cinque Terre.