Hiking in Italy—Beyond the Cinque Terre

Hiking in the Dolomites, one great trekking vacation
Want to know where to find the best hiking in Italy? The Dolomites, pictured here, is one of our fave spots!
Hiking in the Dolomites, one great trekking vacation

Want to know where to find the best hiking in Italy? The Dolomites, pictured here, is one of our fave spots!

Whether you’re hiking the Dolomites or Visiting the Vatican, we want to help you experience Italy like a local. Check out our full offering of blogs and walking tours guaranteed to help you get so much more out of your travels in Italy.

We’ve found that walking in Italy is one of the best ways to get off the beaten path and experience the country’s charms! Luckily, Italy’s most beautiful parks, mountain ranges and nature reserves are criss-crossed with hiking paths and trails. And you don’t have to be an athlete to enjoy them; Italy’s paths include everything from strenuous trekking in the Alps and Dolomites, to tranquil countryside walks in Tuscany and Umbria.

One favorite, of course, is the Cinque Terre. If you want to hike is famous trails check out our guide to hiking the Cinque Terre. But it’s not the only great region for hiking (and in fact, in the high season, the paths are so crowded they can be risky and unpleasant). Here are four of our other favorites!

nota bene: if you love the outdoors read our list of the best destinations for adventure sports in Italy.

Bocca di Brenta Pass (Dolomites)

Trekking a pass in the Dolomites, Italy

The Brenta mountains—in the Dolomite mountain range—are absolutely stunning and a must-hike!

The Dolomites are a mountain range that are also a UNESCO World Heritage site. Nestled into northeastern Italy, these stunning peaks are reachable from Venice, Verona or Milan.  As one of our 8 Italian places to visit before you die, It’s no surprise that they boast some of the best hiking in all of Europe! Perks include paths for every ability (from wheelchair-accessible paths to routes aided by iron cables), public transportation to trailheads, lots of day hike options, and no dangerous wildlife. Vistas include everything from sweeping alpine meadows to funky-looking rock spires.

The Bocca di Brenta pass, one of our favorite areas here, has both a tough-hike option (some 8 hours, and requiring helmets, crampons and equipment) and an easy-hike option (just 2 miles long and about an hour’s walk). It’s at some 8,330 feet, so make sure you’re prepared for the elevation.

If you go: Know that for overnight hikes you can’t pitch a tent. You have to book a rifugio (refuge), and it’s recommended to do so in advance. Popular trails can also get crowded in peak season.

Best time to go: mid-June to early October

Anello del Rinascimento, Tuscany (Florentine hills)

Walking in Tuscany

The castle of Calenzano, on the Anello del Rinascimento. Photo courtesy of www.firenzeturismo.it

Did you know the area around Florence has some beautiful hiking? The paths in the Anello del Rinascimento, or “Renaissance Ring,” aren’t particularly tough. But they do head through Tuscany’s rolling hills and past little medieval towns, monasteries, castles, and churches. Talk about a different kind of day trip from Florence!

One of our favorite sections is the one from Calenzano to Vaglia. This section is 12.5 miles long, with both easy and medium sections, which makes a perfect day hike; it starts at the castle of Calenzano and heads past olive orchards, medieval churches, and inns. A gentle, upward climb, it also offers views of Tuscany, Florence itself, and even of the distant Apennines. For more places to visit on your walks, check out our guide to the best towns in Tuscany.

What to know: This is more of a gentle stroll than a strenuous hike. Much of it’s unshaded, so bring your SPF. A lot of it also follows the normal (but quiet) road.

When to go: March to November, unless you want to walk in your winter clothes!

Cervinia, Valle d’Aosta (Italian Alps)

Trek in the Valle d'Aosta's Cervinia

Lago Goillet, under the shadow of the Matterhorn, is the perfect destination for a day hike

Walk in the shadow of the Matterhorn at Cervinia, just over the border from Switzerland. A popular ski resort in the winter, in the summer, it’s tranquil and lovely, taken over by wildflowers, grazing cows, and the occasional hiker. Just don’t be surprised to still see some snow on the glacier (these photos were taken in August!). It’s also a great spot for skiing – if you prefer going down to going up, check out our list of the best ski destinations in Italy.

There are lots of hiking options throughout the region, but one of our favorites, pictured here, starts at Breuil-Cervinia, heads to Plan Maison, and circles around aqua-blue Lago Goillet; it covers about 8,885 vertical feet and nearly 14 miles. (Plan Maison itself is at 8,350 feet, so be prepared for the elevation!). For an easier and shorter hike, take the gondola up to Plan Maison and start from there.

Hiking in Cervinia

One common scene at Cervinia (and throughout Italy’s Alps): cows!

If you go: Remember that up here, it’s cold year-round, so dress accordingly! If you’re planning on hiking higher than the path here, bring appropriate equipment for snow and ice. Cable-cars and chair-lifts, many of which run in the summer, are a good way to make a tough hike easier.

Best time to go: mid-June to early October

Sentiero degli Dei, Amalfi coast

One of the most beautiful trails in Italy

Sentiero degli Dei, or “God’s Trail,” on the Amalfi coast. The name says it all!

You don’t have to hike in the Cinque Terre for spectacular sea views. In fact, some of the prettiest seaside trails in Italy are actually along the Amalfi coast! Hiking the Amalfi coast is also a great way to get away from the crowds that tend to cluster in the towns, especially Positano and Amalfi, during high season.

The most famous trail, the Sentiero degli Dei, starts from Bomerano, a village at the foot of the mountains between Sorrento and Amalfi. It crosses an incredible gorge and passes vineyards and caves… not to mention takes in breathtaking views to as far as Capri!  The whole path takes about 4.5 hours, and has easy and moderate sections.

If you go: Know that, if you don’t want to do the entire path, you can cut it short by taking a bus from Nocelle to Positano or Amalfi. You also don’t need a car to get to the trailhead at Bomerano, but can take a bus instead. The path can get a little crowded in high season.

Best time to go: March to November; to see the trail at its most tranquil, before Easter or after October

61 Comments

  • I have to agree with you. Italy is best enjoyed upon hikes because Italy has the kind of beauty that you have to pause and look at carefully so you can fully appreciate it. It is also great that most of the cities and towns in Italy are pedestrian-friendly.

  • The mountainous Basilicata region would not only provide a challenging hike but also offers spectacular scenary. This eerie and barren landscape is an undiscovered jewel of Southern Italy.

  • ashwin says:

    Hi,

    I’m planning to go to Italy in February or march next year, do you think it’s a good idea to do this trail? Is it safe enough in the winter?

    • Hi Ashwin,
      If the trail is icy or otherwise not safe because of winter conditions, it will be closed. And, actually, it’s highly likely that in February or early March at least some of the trails will be closed, whether because of ice, rock slides, or being rained out. So do keep that in mind, and plan to be flexible in case of closures! Let us know if we can help with anything else!

  • Raheel says:

    Me and my wife are highly enthusiastic for outdoor activities, We love hiking maybe thats why we are planing to make our first european trip on these trails.
    Please advise me good tracks for day trip or may range to couple of days during 28 Oct to 5 November.

    • Hi Raheel,
      We’re happy to help! However, as you can tell from the post, there are lots of options 🙂 Let us know where you are based and then we can give you some good ideas for day trips and hikes from where you’ll be.
      Thanks!

  • noam says:

    hi.
    i am looking for a 7-10 day trek which will allow outdoor camping (have a tent). the dates are oct. 12- 22. would very much appreciate your help..
    thank you,
    noam

    • Hi Noam,
      Camping is quite popular in Italy, but in many places (including most of the best ones, and national parks), doing so with your own tent is prohibited. We’d suggest therefore that you consider not using your own tent, but doing as the Italians do and staying in rifugi (refuges) instead. For more information you might want to check out this site. Let us know if we can help with anything else!

  • Sanne says:

    Hello,

    I have booked flights to Milan for end of March and we were hoping to do a 3 day hike in either the Italian mountains, but have no equipment really, or experience. I can’t seem to figure out whether the trails are open in March, but by your response to some one of the comments I think some might not be?

    Would you have any advice at all? We would like to stay in refuges along the route if possible, and ideally I don’t think we really have the gear for hiking in the snow.

    Many thanks for your help!

    Sanne

    • Walks of Italy says:

      Hi Sanne, are you interested in hiking in the Alps, Dolomites or along the Cinque Terre? Do let us know so we can provide you the information regarding the trails 🙂

  • James C. says:

    I’m headed to northern Italy in April, starting in the Lakes and finishing in Liguria. In between I thought it might be nice to explore the Aosta valley. Is this all right to do, even if I’m not skiing? I figure there must be some trails available to hike and some gondolas to take?

    • Walks of Italy says:

      Hi James, the Aosta Valley is indeed beautiful to explore! As spring is approaching, some trails should be open in April, but the gondolas are open year round for a panoramic view. Let us know if we can help you with anything else!

  • Katrina says:

    Hello,

    My boyfriend and I are planning to come in around mid June 2014 – I was wondering about the weather conditions – will there still be lots of snow or heavy rain?
    Also, we are hoping to do the easier trails as we do not have much hiking experience. Which routes would you suggest?

    Many thanks for your help!

    Katrina

    • Katrina says:

      Sorry I forgot to add that we want to go to the Dolomites. Thanks!

    • Walks of Italy says:

      Hi Katrina, just so we can provide you with the best information, are you just interested in hiking the Dolomites or are there other areas you would be interested in? Let us know!

  • Andy says:

    My wife, son, daughter in law and I are looking for 3 days of hiking at the end of May in Italy. I have hiked in the alps but not the Dolomites or mountains further south. We would stay in a hotel at night and enjoy the towns where we end up. We can hike comfortably 8-12 miles, and we are all very experienced hikers, but we do not want to do anything technical or too strenuous. Any suggestions? We will be staying in Florence and near Novara most of the 2 weeks we are in Italy, though we can drive 3-4 hours if necessary.

    • Walks of Italy says:

      Hi Andy! Since you will be in Florence, we think the Florentine Hills would be a great option for you. Since you said driving 3-4 hours was an option and you are experienced hikers, you may also want to consider heading to the Dolomites from Novara where the trails are a bit more challenging and spending 2 nights there. Do let us know if you have any questions!

  • Rafi says:

    This was some great information. Do you know of any nice and not extremely difficult hikes that can be done on a day trip from Milan? I had read about Via Ferrata in the Dolomites in a guide book. Do you know anything about that?

    We’ll be in the Milan area towards the beginning of June. We’re just hoping to see some beautiful scenes on a quick full day adventure.

    • Walks of Italy says:

      Ciao Rafi, thanks so much! We think Valle d’Aosta would be a great option for you as it is a bit closer to Milan than the Dolomites. Do let us know if you have any questions 🙂

      • Jenny says:

        Hi – I am staying in Positano with my husband and sons (ages 11 and 8) mid June. I would like to go on one or two hikes the week that we are there. The Sentiero Degli Dei seems like it might be a little challenging for my youngest son due to the sheer drops. Is that assumption on target? Are there other hikes near Positano that might also be enjoyable for our family? We are in good shape, but not always that coordinated!

        thanks

        • Walks of Italy says:

          Ciao Jenny! We think the Pastena-Lone area in Amalfi would be a great option for you and your family, along with the town of Sorrento 🙂 Let us know if you have any questions!

  • Sarah says:

    Hello, we are wanting to get out of Rome this weekend (6-8 Jun) and happy to travel to Sardinia, Sicily, north or south of Italy. I was wondering if you could suggest any good weekend walks that perhaps incorporate an overnight stay in a refuge or agriturismo, or happy to be based somewhere and do day walks. Both of us are fit and we are able to leave Rome Thursday evening or Friday morning.

  • Meghan says:

    Hi there! Thanks for the great info.

    You mentioned that the Dolomites are reachable from Venice, Verona, or Milan. Do you mean by train? If so, which station(s) would I want to use? Otherwise, is there a bus route you suggest? I am wanting to do a day trip from Milan but it’s been tough finding reliable information regarding appropriate transportation to get to the mountains.

    I really appreciate your help! Looking forward to your response!

  • Nelson says:

    Hi. What a great site. So glad I stumbled upon it. I am already imagining all the other great places there are to go! I will be spending a couple of days in the Cinque Terre (first time) and am wondering if you could suggest a good hiking map. I am in the US Is there some place I could order one on line or once there where’s the best place to get one? Thanks in advance!

    • Walks of Italy says:

      Ciao Nelson! You can find the current status of the trails, along with maps, on the official Cinque Terre National Park website. We’re here if you have any questions!

      • Nelson says:

        Hello! Many thanks. What are your thoughts on starting in Porto Venere (sp?) We will only have one night. Arriving from Florence and returning to Florence and want to avoid some of the crowds. In fair shape but would probably only want to hike for a couple of hours in the mornings or evenings. Also hoping to find a refuge of some sort for the night. Tante grazie

  • Karl says:

    Hi! I will be visiting Italy in late September into October, 2014. What is the deal with hiking the Cinque Terre trail? It seems that some of the trails are closed? I’ll be staying a week in Lake Como then a second week (destinations tbd) and I don’t know what to do… PLEASE HELP! 🙂

  • David says:

    My wife and I are interested in hiking in the dolomites. Will be there in mid September 2015. Ideally we’d like to find a town to make our home base for 4-5 days and from which we can do day hikes each day (3-6 hours each). Any suggestions on which towns might be best for this (and especially if the town also has great dining as well!).

    • Walks of Italy says:

      Hi David,

      There are many great cities in the Dolomites. Each of them requires a car to drive the passes and try different hikes, but Selva di Val Gardena and Campitello are both beautiful and rather centrally located!

  • frida says:

    hello! thank you for the great information, i currently live in Turin and planning a trip with my parents (in their 60’s-70’s but both young spirits), coming to visit on mid-end of February. they have been just recently in south and center of Italy and wish to travel in Turin’s area or/and in the north, including Cinque Terre. i am aware to the fact that it is going to be very cold and nor they or i are not in to skiing. i am looking for good destinations and areas that are reasonable to travel in the cold, if they do exist or is it too cold… thank you!

  • Anne says:

    I would like to take a hiking/backpacking trip to Northern Italy with my 23 year old son in June, probably starting from Rome with a Eurrail pass to get us around. I’d really like to see Florence, the city, but also want to find some of the hidden gems of Italy in the Alps or Dolomites (or both?). My son does not want to make the trip too planned, but more like a “what should we do today” kind of experience. Thinking about staying at hostels or camping mostly, except for hotel stays at the front and tail ends of the trip. Looking at two weeks from round trip flights from Boise, Idaho. Any suggestions? Must sees? How easy is it to “fly by the seat of our pants” that time of year? Thanks for any help you can provide.

    Anne

    • Walks of Italy says:

      Hi Anne,

      It is very easy! We love the idea of “slower” travel and not planning too much can help you to not feel rushed or forced. You won’t need a Eurorail pass to get around – it’s often cheaper to get tickets when you need them via Trenitalia or simply going to the station and will help with your spontaneity (Eurorail often requires a reservation in advance for high speed trains and charges an extra fee). Our “Best Small Towns” series of souther, central and northern Italy might help you to find some hidden gems! 🙂

  • jan says:

    I would like to visit Italy next year, May or June 2016 and do lots of hiking. I am just beginning to look and would like to know of your suggestions. I don’t want to be in big cities, I just want to hike and be in small and simple towns or villages.
    thank you,
    jan

  • Wendell says:

    Hello. I am planning to go to Italy for two weeks in the beginning of June and do at least one multi-day hikes in the Alps. Do you think this is too early to do this kind of hike? I am quite fit and wanna do some serious hikes. Any recommendations? Thank you.

    • Walks of Italy says:

      Hi Wendell,

      It’s not at all too early to hike! While Italians often hike year round, the weather in the Alps in June should be lovely and you won’t have to worry about snow. All of the Alps are rather beautiful, but for a first timer the Dolomites are well-marked and stunning!

  • Virginia says:

    Hello! I am interested in coming to northern italy in mid june for two weeks. I would like to do some multi day hikes and stay in the refuge in the dolomites and/or italian alps. How do I go about finding and booking these overnight accommodations? I am so happy I came across your website, love it!
    Hope to hear from you soon!
    Virginia

    • Walks of Italy says:

      Hi Virginia,

      That sounds like a lovely trip! Perhaps this website can help you to find the accommodations. The Dolomites are very popular, especially in the summer, so you’d do best to book the rifugi in advance. The site lists numbers you can call to reserve a room (or a bed!). Have a great trip!

  • Lauren says:

    2 Years ago I was visiting Praiano on the Amalfi Coast and hiked the “Walk of the Gods” from Praiano to Positano, and it was beautiful. I’m going again in June 2015 and wanted to know if there were other hikes as well? Would like to try something different. Thank you!

  • Shari says:

    I’ve been researching the Aosta Valley and it seems like a great base area for Alpine hiking. For us, the higher the mountains (non-technical hiking) the better! Is there a particular town in the valley that has the easiest access to day hikes? Is this possible to do solely with public transportation?

  • Hello! We are traveling to Amalfi in April 25th thru the 28th, with one day in Positano and then onto Sorrento for two days and would like to hike The Trail of the Gods. Do you think that the weather will be okay during that time?

    Thank you for your help
    Lisa

    • Walks of Italy says:

      Hi Lisa,

      It’s hard to predict the weather, but we think you’re likely to find warm, pleasant temperatures in spring – maybe even hot temperatures! Actually, we think that the best time to see the Amalfi Coast is from April to June, when the spring flowers are in bloom, the weather is just warm enough and there are fewer tourists than the summer crowds. Have a great trip!

  • Alexa says:

    Would it be possible to hike in the Dolomites in mid May?

    • Walks of Italy says:

      Hi Alexa,

      Yes it’s more than possible, though depending on the year, some peaks might still have snow on them, so sturdy hiking boots and suitable clothing is a must.

  • Salma Charabi says:

    Hi! My boyfriend and I wanted to go on a 3-day hike in mid august. We are not very experienced, but we are young and fresh 🙂 We would like to sleep at some refuges on the way. Preferably, a 5-6 hour walk a day would be great. Can you recommend a trail for us?
    Best,
    Salma

    • Walks of Italy says:

      Hi Salma,

      We suggest you choose a region and an area of that region to visit and hike in first. Then choose a trail. In any place you wish to go, there will be trail options at all levels – even in the dolomites or the tall peaks in Piemonte. Happy Hiking!

  • Scarlett says:

    Hi! Im going to italy for the first time in the last week of april and first week of may. I’d love to do some basic hiking and take some pictures of natural beauty outside of the cities. The dolomites certainly sound captivating but im worried that much will be closed and hiking or transportation would be limited (i wont be renting a car and this would either be a day trip or one overnight stay). Would you recommend still doing the dolomites or instead exploring something else like the lakes or Verona? If i spend a night in the area where would you recommend for affordable accomodations for one?

    • Walks of Italy says:

      Hi Scarlett,

      As a tour company, we don’t recommend accommodations, but we do recommend trips to the Dolomites! The Dolomites are beautiful year round, and perfect for nature lovers, but keep in mind that there is often still snow on the peaks and hiking paths well into April the higher you go. Also, we encourage you to check out the distances from Lake Garda, Verona or Venice up into the Dolomites. It’s quite far to go for a just one day!

  • Giudi Weiss says:

    Ciao,
    A friend and I are planning a 3-week trip in northern Italy, which will include stops (several days each) in the Aosta Valley and around the Dolomites (with the lake region in between). We had been thinking we’d be in that area in late April or early May, but have been told the snow at that time would make hiking–we’re planning moderate day hikes–um. less than ideal (we’re no spring chickens, but do enjoy hiking). If we decide to delay our trip, would you recommend the second half of May or mid September?

    • Walks of Italy says:

      Hi Giudi,

      Yes, the Aosta Valley and the Dolomites have some of the highest mountain peaks of the Alps, and the snow there tends to last well in to spring. If you’re planning on staying “low” (say around 2,000 meters), you can come even in early May, and the Dolomites should still have plenty of hiking options for you to explore, but mid-September is sure to a be a beautiful season with perfect temperature, and definitely no snow!

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