Best Hikes in Italy

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The sun sets behind rocky spires with two lakes in the foreground.

Hiking in Italy is a breath of fresh air. Literally. From the crisp, high alpine winds to the warm Tuscan coastal breezes, a trip to the boot can leave you refreshed, relaxed and content like few other destinations. If you’re heading to the northern end of the country, be prepared for mountainous terrain and variable […]

The post Best Hikes in Italy appeared first on REI Co-op Journal.

The sun sets behind rocky spires with two lakes in the foreground.

Hiking in Italy is a breath of fresh air. Literally. From the crisp, high alpine winds to the warm Tuscan coastal breezes, a trip to the boot can leave you refreshed, relaxed and content like few other destinations. If you’re heading to the northern end of the country, be prepared for mountainous terrain and variable weather; but if you pick your season right (summer and early autumn are recommended), you’re likely in for a great trip. If a Mediterranean vacation is more your style, trekking from village to village along the country’s rugged west coast offers warmer temperatures and endless ocean views. Or scale an active volcano and watch as lava spews into the sky. You’ll find all that and more in our top picks below, and for more inspiration, head over to Hiking Project, where you can explore more than 777 miles of trail across the country. Or check out REI’s guided trips, a number of which explore the regions below.

Tre Cime di Lavaredo Loop

  • Location: 111 miles north of Venice, Italy
  • Length: 6.2-mile loop
  • Difficulty Rating: Easy/intermediate
  • Best For: A classic alpine hike with stunning scenery

If you’ve made it to Italy, you have to check out the Dolomites in the Alps, an iconic jagged mountain range that scrapes the northern Italian sky, and there’s no better way to see them than by foot. Given the moderately easy trail, stunning views of the Tre Cime di Lavaredo (the Three Peaks of Lavaredo) and the many rifugios that dot the trail, it's no wonder this loop in Tre Cime National Park is so popular. Heading out to catch a sunrise or sunset is a great way to see the scenery and avoid many of the crowds. If you’re a climber looking to reach one of the summits of Tre Cime, you can also ascend the sheer walls of this popular rock climbing destination—check out our top climbing picks in Europe.

The Tre Cime scrape a blue sky with le large scree slopes below.

A view of Tre Cime along the trail (Photo Credit: Graeme Churchard under CC-BY 2.0)

Sentiero delgi Dei

  • Location: 32 miles southeast of Naples, Italy
  • Length: 3.4-miles one-way
  • Difficulty Rating: Intermediate
  • Best For: A scenic tour of the Amalfi Coast

Legend has it this path was created by the Greek gods as they ran to rescue Ulysses from the Sirens' call. Today, the Sentiero delgi Die, which appropriately translates to the Path of the Gods, takes you high above the Amalfi Coast as you hike on a steep, hillside trail between the towns of Bomerano and Nocelle. There are a few challenging hills near Nocelle, but you'll remember the views of pastel-colored fishing villages, terraced cliffsides, hidden beaches and old ruins more than the terrain. Head out early to avoid potential crowds and the heat of the day. Some low clouds may obscure the views initially, but as the mist lifts, the cliffside towns along the sea materialize below. The trail technically ends once you reach Nocelle, but many hikers continue on to Positano (along a mix of trail and road), a popular tourist village about two miles west, to grab some lunch and enjoy its pebble beach. 




Cinque Terre

  • Location: 112 miles northwest of Florence, Italy
  • Length: 4.4-mile out-and-back
  • Difficulty Rating: Intermediate/difficult
  • Best For: Coastal views and exploring villages

When searching for top hikes in Italy, the Cinque Terre (or Five Lands) tops almost every list; rightly so as this outing in the Italian Riviera is one of the most beautiful hikes in Europe. The standard route runs along the water, passing through the five coastal towns that give the hike its name, the buildings a rainbow of pastel hues on the steep, sea-side cliffs. Unfortunately, in 2012 landslides damaged large sections of the path (as well as the alternate routes) resulting in trail closures until 2021. Luckily, the 4.4-mile roundtrip from Vernazza to Monterosso and back is still open and is as stunning as ever. The rugged and narrow cliff-edge trail may test your mettle in spots, but you’ll be rewarded with colorful panoramic views of the entire coastline—at one point you can even see all five towns at once. If you’re looking for some more detailed information on the hike, check out REI’s advice about hiking the trail.

The colorful buildings of Vernazza stand out against the cliffside and stunningly blue water.

Overlooking the town of Vernazza (Photo Credit: Stefan Jurca under CC-BY 2.0)

Hike the Cinque Terre with REI

Valnontey Valley Tour

  • Location: 90 miles north of Turin, Italy
  • Length: 14.7-mile loop
  • Difficulty Rating: Intermediate/difficult
  • Best For: Glacial and mountain views

Though it’s possible to do this hike in one day, why not extend your trek and spend a night at Rifugio Vittorio Sella? This large lodge offers overnight stays and half board. From the village of Valnontey, the trail heads into the remote terrain of Gran Paradiso National Park in the northern Italian Alps. The scenery of Valnontey Valley as you traverse beneath 13,123-foot Gran Paradiso, past waterfalls, glaciers and huts is something to remember. Just keep your distance from the local ibex when you reach the Herbetet farmhouses and stone shelter—they're not afraid of people, and they definitely want your food. 


Stromboli Volcano Tour

  • Location: 43 miles north of Milazzo, Sicily; requires a ferry ride
  • Length: 4.9-mile loop
  • Difficulty Rating: Difficult
  • Best For: Experiencing an active volcano

Though Stromboli Island is not easy to get to (you’ll need to take a ferry or hydrofoil from Sicily), this hike will leave you breathless. Stromboli, an active volcano open to hiking,  has mini-eruptions roughly every five to six minutes and is only accessible by booking one of several local guide companies ahead of time. Many of the tour groups do this hike around sunset (don’t forget a headlamp for the way down) so visitors can enjoy two different light shows—the colorful sky as the sun sinks over the open sea and the stunning, incandescent lava erupting into the night.

 

Lava spews into the evening sky.

Stromboli erupting into the evening sky (Photo Credit: Josep salvia I boté under CC-BY-ND 2.0)

Explore Italy's Volcanoes with REI

Corno Grande

  • Location: 99 miles east of Rome, Italy
  • Length: 6.8-mile out-and-back
  • Difficulty Rating: Difficult
  • Best For: Expansive views from an iconic peak

At 9,554-feet, Corno Grande is the tallest peak in the Apennines Range, the mountainous spine that runs the length of the Italian Peninsula. This stunning, classically triangular summit offers panoramic views that stretch uninterrupted from its neighboring peaks all the way to the Adriatic Sea. Though the hike begins above treeline at 7,000 feet at Hotel Campo Imperatore, don’t expect it to be easy. The thinner air and steep grades with loose gravel can pose quite the challenge. That said, it’s a quite manageable hike to do in a day.


Alta Via 1

  • Location: 127 miles north of Venice, Italy
  • Length: 68.8-mile point-to-point
  • Difficulty Rating: Difficult
  • Best For: A thru-hike of the Dolomites

Considered the easiest Dolomiti thru-hike, this 69-mile trek takes you through stunning alpine terrain, past mountains, cliffs and lakes. Enjoy evenings sipping coffee and eating apple strudel at the many rifugios along the route while watching brilliant sunsets. Or catch the sunrise over an alpine lake as the region’s brilliant limestone catches the morning colors, and the sunlight cascades across the landscape. The trek takes anywhere from 7 to 13 days, but don’t rush it—you’ll wish you budgeted a few extra days to linger at a rifugio or two along the way. There are about 30 to choose from, so planning is a breeze, and you can make each day's mileage as long or as short as you like. Just be sure to book in advance in the summer months as the rifugios can get quite busy. 

The craggy limestone walls are cut by a thin ribbon of green of the valley.

Views along the Alta Via 1 (Photo Credit: Hiking Project Contributor Mario Dominguez)


Click Here to See All of REI's Trips in Italy

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