Our favorite hike in Cinque Terre is from Riomaggiore to Portovenere, about 15 km (9 miles) or so (24 km/15 miles by car), with a vertical climb from the sea to about 600 meters (2000 feet) and then along the ridges, up and down as the hills lead us. This is a difficult hike, but truly rewarding with beautiful views, a serene setting, great hiking trails, and Portovenere at the end.We catch the early-morning train from Monterosso to Riomaggiore (15 minutes) and walk out of town, up into the hills
The path leads up with views of Riomaggiore periodically appearing through the trees. At the top of the first ridge, the path passes through the yard of the Santuario di Nostra Signora di Montenero, overlooking the city.
We follow the ridges along the coast, popping in and out of fields, vineyards, and forests, descending and climbing as the terrain dictates.
About halfway, the trail passes through the small town of Campiglia and heads back into a peaceful forest path, before the steep descent into Portovenere.
After the final descent into Portovenere, we head over to the harbor and reward ourselves with lunch at our favorite restaurant here, Al Gabbiano: octopus with potatoes, Portovenere pizza (anchovies, tuna, olives), Mama Mia pizza (sausage and spicy sausage), and a carafe of local white wine. We'd do the hike for this meal any day (or, just the meal or just the hike, but both are even more spectacular together: wow!).
After lunch, we take the ferry back to Monterosso, cruising up the coast and viewing the ridgelines over which we just hiked. With stops at each of the cities, we get to revisit the paths of our various hikes, train trips, and meals.
What a great way to spend a day!