Day 1 - Levanto
Arrive in Levanto, centrally located on the Ligurian coast. No activities are planned for today, so you can arrive at any time. Please make your own way to the hotel. This evening you will meet your trip leader and fellow travelling companions at a welcome meeting (this is usually at 6 pm, but check the hotel reception for the exact time and place). In this meeting, your leader will give you a briefing on what lies ahead. In the evening you can take a relaxed stroll through the town to take in the atmosphere of this seaside location.
Notes: Arriving by train is recommended, as this method of transport has minimal carbon emissions and is a great way to see Europe. Levanto is easily accessible by train. For information and train schedules, see the Italian national rail site trenitalia.com.
Day 2 - Levanto - Biking
Today you will embark on your first walk (10 km; approximately 3–4 hours), which takes you along the coast from Levanto to Monterosso, the first of the five villages of the Cinque Terre. The first part of the walk leads you through the old town centre of Levanto, past the stunning cathedral and up to its castle. It then continues up to Punta Mesco, the most notable promontory in the region. Just short of this point, take a small detour to the ruins of an 11th-century hermitage and the nearby ruins of the lighthouse. Here you can enjoy marvellous views of the rugged coastline and find a nice spot to stop for a short break and picnic lunch. Then follow the fairly steep path down into Monterosso – a colourful village with blue, red and yellow houses that cluster along the beachfront. Take your time to explore this interesting little town before taking the local train back to Levanto. In the afternoon explore the coast in a different way: Get on bikes and ride along the old coastal railway line to Framura, now turned into a beautiful cycling path. The scenery is stunning and the ride virtually flat. Enjoy an aperitivo in a great spot overlooking the sea, before returning to Levanto.
Day 3 - Cinque Terre Hike - Levanto
A short train ride brings you to Riomaggiore, the southernmost of the five villages. Here you will start the most famous of all walks in the area: the classic coastal walk that links the five villages (9 km; approximately 4 hours). Begin with a short stroll through Riomaggiore and along a short stretch of the ‘Via dell’Amore’. Next is a beautiful but strenuous trail through the vineyards (train ride optional). This takes you to Manarola, an attractive little village with steep multi-coloured houses overlooking a rocky port. From Manarola, make your way up through a stunning terraced landscape to the village of Volastra, then continue your walk along one of the most beautiful trails in the area. Through terraced vineyards and the occasional bit of forest, you approach Corniglia, perched on a ridge overlooking the sea. Next is the little hamlet of Prevo, walking through terraced vineyards and the occasional citrus grove. Enjoy some of the best views in the region as you approach Vernazza, which is dominated by its old fortress. Follow the contours of the hillside on a narrow track that leads you up and down, before a fairly steep descent takes you into the village itself. After a day of walking, perhaps wind down with a drink in Vernazza, on the wonderful town square at the harbour, resplendent with its brightly painted boats. In the late afternoon you will take the train back to Levanto.
Notes: Due to recent landslides in the area, it's not possible to walk the full extent of the Via dell'Amore and the coastal section between Manarola and Corniglia. The alternative inland routes described above will be of a higher physical rating. If you would rather not walk these sections, it is possible to take the train instead.
Day 4 - Riomaggiore - Hike to Portovenere - Levanto
Begin your day with a short train ride back to the tiny village of Riomaggiore. Embark on a walk that leads you to Portovenere at the very end of the peninsula (12–14 km; approximately 5–6 hours). Today’s trail is the most challenging of the Ligurian walks; it's also perhaps the most rewarding. First you will walk up a rather steep flight of stairs, then along an undulating track to reach the sanctuary of the Madonna di Montenero (those who wish to opt out of this climb can catch a bus instead). After stopping at the sanctuary for a short break, continue your walk to Campiglia. Continuing uphill you will follow the contours of the coastal cliffs, passing terraced vineyards and enjoying wonderful views of the coastline. Pass the abandoned village of Lemmen and walk high on the ridge through vineyards and pine forest. Finally descend to the little village of Campiglia, where you can stop for lunch and some refreshments. Then continue towards Portovenere and enjoy even more spectacular coastal views. When you arrive at the 16th-century castle above the village, you might be able to catch a glimpse of the white marble peaks of the Apuan Alps before you descend a long staircase that takes you to St Peter’s Point and then into the heart of the village. After some free time to relax in Portovenere, return by boat to your base in Levanto – a lovely way to see the coast from the water.
Day 5 - Free Day - Transfer to Santa Margherita
Today is a free day. You have the options to walk the so-called Wild-West-Walk. The first part of your walk follows the beach, then heads into the foothills and down to the charming seaside village of Bonassola (a good place for a morning coffee stop). Then stroll through the seaside hills towards the small village of Framura, a collection of ancient hamlets on a hillside, distinctive due to its red rocks. From Costa, the largest hamlet, a level path contours around the hills and offers you splendid views out to sea. You can opt to either continue your walk to the resort of Deiva Marina, or walk back down to the coast to take a swim, before catching the train. Travel to the small town of Moneglia, where you will have time to wander around and explore, before travelling on to Santa Margherita.
Notes: If you'd like to relax on the beach in one of the villages and spend less time walking today, you can catch the train at various points along the way. If you walk to Framura only, it will take approximately 3.5 hours (9 km) rather than 6 hours.
Day 6 - Santa Margherita - Portofino - Kayaking
Today you’ll see the best of the Portofino Peninsula (10 km; approximately 3.5 hours). First take a short walk through the historical centre of Santa Margherita Ligure, where you can also do some shopping for your picnic lunch. Then start a walk into the hills and enjoy beautiful views across the bay. By late morning you will reach Portofino, one of the most typical Ligurian seaside villages and a popular resort for jet setters. Explore this charming village and take the scenic walk to the church, castle and lighthouse, where you can look back on the inlet of Portofino (the name of which translates into 'fine harbour'). After lunch get ready for a great paddling adventure. In a small inlet near Portofino we will outfit everyone with paddles and offer some basic kayaking instruction (if needed!). Then we go for a unique experience: kayaking along the stunning headland of Portofino. Upon arrival enjoy a relaxed ‘aperitivo’ on the beach and then return to Santa Margherita.
Notes: Activities can be switched depending on weather conditions; if the weather does not permit the kayaking it may be postponed to tomorrow
Day 7 - Santa Margherita - Free Day
Today you can decide to relax in Santa Margherita, stroll through its beautiful town centre or enjoy its beach. Alternatively take the train to Camogli or even Genova, to explore this stunning city. Or opt to join in for a walk across the beautiful hills of the Portofino Peninsula. From the small hamlet of Ruta you can walk along some splendid fin-de-siècle villas towards the highest point of the Peninsula, Monte Portofino. You will then have several longer and shorter options to reach the Abbey of San Fruttuoso, an 11th-century marvel set in a secluded cove and reachable only by boat or on foot. All walks bring you through a verdant forested landscape with amazing views across the Gulf of Tigullio and the Golfo Paradiso. Upon arrival there is the option to visit the abbey or perhaps go for a swim. Then take a boat to Camogli, a chance to admire the beautiful coastline from the sea. In Camogli, take your time to wander around the colourful historic centre and enjoy a relaxed drink or grab a gelato on one of its many terraces.
Day 8 - Santa Margherita
Your trip comes to an end after breakfast. Santa Margherita is well connected by train to other cities in Italy, with regular trains to Genoa, Milan, Florence and Pisa. If you'd like to book additional nights in Santa Margherita, please enquire when you book this trip.
Accommodation, Food (as stated), Transport, Selected Activities
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