The mountainous landscapes of Italy offer endless hiking adventures for those travelers eager to venture and explore remote destinations in nature. The Italian peninsula features extremely interesting walking paths surrounded by unspoiled nature, including a variety of routes and hiking destinations catering to first-timers as well as more challenging trails, perfect for experienced hikers.
The country has so much more to offer other than pretty cities, ancient ruins, and gorgeous seaside towns. And no matter how much experience you have worn into those hiking boots, these are some of the most impressive hiking adventures in Italy that you will enjoy discovering during your time in the country. Let’s see some of the best ones…
Hiking in Italy (10 Best Trails)
Cinque Terre Trail, the Blue Path
One of the most popular hiking trails in Italy is the one that spreads along the coast of the Ligurian Sea, where high cliffs plunge into the blue of the sea giving the Liguria region its unique character.
This trail takes you along the five seaside towns that create the picturesque region of the Cinque Terre (or five lands).
It can take from one to two days to complete the whole path walking along the vineyards that adorn the dreamy landscape taking travelers from one village to the other.
Once you reach some of the settlements, it is possible to spend some time resting by the sea, enjoying a fresh swim, or tasting the spectacular dishes of the Italian cuisine.
And if you’re worried about long walks under the sun then rest assured that the adventure can turn into a much easier experience by taking advantage of the Blue Trail pass that allows you to jump on a train and reach the next destination in total comfort while giving a break to your tired feet.
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Gran Paradiso Grand Tour
Nestled between the Val d’Aosta and the region of Piedmont, close to the heights of the stunning Mont Blanc and Matterhorn (known as Monte Cervo in Italy) this is a gorgeous trekking path with a demanding difficulty, perfect for experienced hikers, and oftentimes better done with a knowledgeable local guide for further safety.
The landscape offers a glimpse of the rich natural flora and fauna, spanning from impressive Alpine Lakes to high cliffs, and ancient glaciers.
If you’re planning to accept the challenge of this 5-day adventure that’s more than 55 kilometers in length, it is a good idea to visit the Gran Paradiso National Park website (Parco Nazionale Gran Paradiso) for further details and more information when planning the visit.
Path of the Gods
Locally known as the Sentiero degli Dei (which translates as the road or the path of the Gods), this heavenly trail spreads along one more popular Italian destination, the Amalfi Coast in the Campania region, not far from Naples.
Although this can be deemed as a fairly easy walk, its impressive beauty makes it a must-walk trail even for more experienced hikers.
The trail is about 8 kilometers long and offers some of the most romantic views of the Mediterranean and the Sorrento Gulf, including the spectacular island of Capri.
The hike can take from three to four hours and is one of the most amazing experiences you can live when spending your holidays in the area.
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High Routes of the Dolomites
Located between the regions of Trentino-Alto Adige and Veneto, on the northeastern tip of Italy, there are different high hiking itineraries that will take walkers from one mountain refuge to another one, soaring to heights of up to about 3000 meters.
This UNESCO World Heritage Site is one of the most popular hiking destinations in the country with impressive places to visit.
One of the most magnificent trails, the so-called Three Peaks of Lavaredo (Tre Cime di Lavaredo) is an easy to moderate hike, perfect for those giving their first steps on mountain trails.
Despite its easier conditions, the landscapes do not disappoint.
For a more challenging experience, the trail known as Alta Via (High Path), also in the region of the Dolomites, is often considered one of the most amazing trails in the area.
The path begins at the biggest lake in the area, Braies Lake, extending for more than 150 kilometers through some seriously impressive peaks and glacial formations.
The long trail might take from 10 to 12 days to complete, ending in the mountain village of Belluno.
Green Way, Lake Como
If you’re looking for a short, panoramic walk, easy and suitable for all seasons and all kinds of hikers, then don’t miss this gorgeous path located on the western bank of the famous Como Lake in the north of the Italian peninsula.
The route takes you from the villages of Colonno to the settlement of Griante, spreading in different paths along the way passing near imposing historic villas and picturesque and modest fishing villages.
This unique disposition gives you the opportunity to choose between walking the entire trail or just a few parts of it.
The whole trail is about 10 kilometers in length and it takes from 3 to 4 hours to complete.
Via degli Dei
A perfect itinerary for those who love to explore historical trails, the path has ancient Etruscan roots and it was a remarkable military road during the times of the Roman Empire.
The path is about 130 kilometers in length and there are 5 different sections to it crossing the beautiful Apennines Mountain range from the Tuscany to the Emilia regions.
These 5 sections can be divided into 4 to 6 legs or stages, depending on the level of experience and stamina of hikers.
Considered a path of medium difficulty, it can take from 4 to 6 days to cross. Many travelers also enjoy biking along this path thus shortening the experience.
Regional Park of Portofino, Liguria region
This beautiful trail is located in the region of Genoa, spanning from the charming fishing town of Camogli to the gorgeous and wealthy seaside resort of Portofino.
Along the way the trail crosses the Promontory of Portofino, which is part of the Natural Park of Portofino, a regional natural reserve in the heart of the Mediterranean scrub.
Along the way, you will also pass steps from the famous Sant Fruttuoso Abbey, a perfect stop to rest before continuing to Portofino.
The trail is about 13 kilometers long and it represents a good adventure for first-timers since it is a pleasant, not very demanding walk that can take from 4 to 5 hours to complete.
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Big Horn or Corno Grande is the highest peak in the Apennine range, standing at 2,192 meters above the sea level.
The ascent to the summit can be as challenging as you wish since there are several different paths for you to choose from according to your experience and fitness level.
There are some impressive, very direct routes considered faster but also steeper and a bit more dangerous.
It is always a good idea to contact the local trained guides in order to take up this impressive challenge.
The most common route to the peak is known as the Normal route, which starts on the side facing the city of L’Aquila, on this route, the path proceeds quietly, between rocky peaks with just a few steep sections.
The Normal path can take about 2-5 hours (it’s a bit less than 5 kilometers long), with a total ascent of about 750 meters.
Along the way, impressive views of the Adriatic Coast and beautiful wildlife, including green woods, pines trees, and eagles.
The trail is located in the central region of Abruzzo and is part of the Grand Sasso Massif.
The Big Horn is the second highest mountain in the country outside of the Alps, second only to Mount Etna on the island of Sicily.
Mount Vesuvius, Campania
Have you ever thought about hiking a volcano?
In Italy, you can! One of the most impressive mountains in the country, responsible for the disappearance of the ancient cities of Pompeii and Herculanum, Mount Vesuvius stands high on the Neapolitan landscape with its menacing shadow over the city.
Although the hike can be quite direct, the mountain is a popular tourist destination in the country, so it tends to be crowded all year round.
However, once at the top, you will not only get impressive views of the Mediterranean, but you will certainly understand how tragic it would be if the mountain exploded again given that the underlying city of Naples is one of the most densely populated areas in the country.
Although the hike is fairly short (it can take about an hour to reach the crater), the way up is a very steep uphill incline.
Moreover, there are no stops for rest or shade along the way, making the hike difficult in summer. For a better experience, check this trail in the spring or late autumn, once the seasonal rains subside.
Saint Francis Way, Umbria region
One of the most historic paths in Italy, visited by hundreds of pilgrims year after year, is the so-called Way of Francis (la Via di Francesco) which connects the towns of Assisi and Gubbio.
This walking path is not just a hiking adventure, but a deeply spiritual trail that reaches all the most important places that played an important role in the life of Saint Francis of Assisi, Italy’s patron saint and most beloved religious figure.
Along the way, walkers can explore the 50-kilometer path from Assisi to Gubbio passing along varied landscapes of incredible beauty.
On the road, travelers will encounter pristine streams and mountain rivers, soft hills, abbeys, castles, and impressive scenarios.
Its unique beauty contrasts with some of the most demanding portions of the road which continuously shift from uphill to downhill making the road more challenging and tiring.
For that reason, it is a good idea to make frequent stops and try to complete the trail in 2-3 days if you’re an experienced hiker.
Instead, if you’re just starting, then take it easy and use one or two more days to better enjoy the landscape, visit the ancient churches, and avoid reaching the destination in pain.
Final Thoughts on Best Hiking in Italy
There you go, from one coast to the other, from the Apennines to the Alps, from the north to the south, Italy is home to some of the most incredible hiking trails in Europe, offering endless opportunities for outdoor adventures. From high to low level difficulty, over volcanoes, seaside paths, and ancient glaciers, the roads along the Bel Paese will conquer travelers with its fascinating ancient roads and historical trails, its beautiful monasteries, impressive little churches, and simple but picturesque seaside villages.
About the Author
Gabi Ancarola is a translator and travel journalist living in Crete. She regularly writes about Europe for several magazines about travel, gastronomy, and hospitality. She has published several travel guides about Greece and plans customized trips to the Greek islands. She loves cooking local dishes, taking photos, and driving on the mountain roads of Crete.