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The 12 Best Hiking Trails In Italy

Picture of Francesca Masotti
Updated: 21 August 2017

Italy is not a country famous only for its food, history and cities of art. It has also a big variety of hiking options that are perfect to discover stunning and less-touristic destinations. From the mountain trails of Northern Italy, to the volcano climbs in Sicily, Italy is the coolest destination for hiking. Remember: the best seasons for hiking in Italy are spring and early autumn.

Cinque Terre, Liguria

Cinque Terre is the most famous area of Liguria. The five perched fishing villages in pastel colors look exactly as you see in the photos: stunning little buildings, crystalline waters and breathtaking views. The perfect way to visit all the five villages is to hike the route Sentiero Azzurro, the blue trail, from Riomaggiore to Monterosso, strolling through the hamlets and admiring the coastline cliffs along the Ligurian Sea.

Tre Cime di Lavaredo, Dolomites

Dolomites are at the same time one of the most amazing mountain ranges and one of the less visited Alpine areas if you compare it to others, such as Swiss or French Alps. Dolomites has it all: cloud-scraping mountains, idyllic lakes, limestone peaks and pristine forests. Nothing beats the Dolomites when it comes to hiking in Italy, this area is full of trails and of the best circuits is Tre Cime di Lavaredo located in the Parco Naturale delle Dolomiti di Sesto. Don’t forget to bring your camera with you: the perfectly shaped Tre Cime is a trilogy of photogenic heights.

Alta Via, Dolomites

The most famous and coveted hiking trail in the Dolomites is Alta Via, a 150km high-level trail crossing some of the finest scenery in the eastern Dolomites. This mountain range, a UNESCO world heritage site, is one of the most beautiful mountain landscapes thanks to its vertical walls, deep valleys and sheer peaks which runs from the enchanting Braies Lake to the city of Belluno.

Sentiero degli Dei, Amalfi Coast

The Sentiero degli Dei, or Path of the Gods, is a must-see destination in Campania with terrific views of the rugged Lattari mountains that swoop down to the pristine Mediterranean and sights of Capri island. The path links Positano to Praiano and winds through terraced hillsides, lemon plantations and rosemary plants. In Arienzo, you can take a pause for a refreshing swim.

Selvaggio Blu, Sardinia

Mostly frequented by Italians, Sardinia is one of the most beautiful islands in the Mediterranean Sea. The Selvaggio Blu hiking trail is recommended only for those who have mountaineering experience, but this epic route threading along the Golfo di Orosei on Sardinia’s east coast is definitely worth the trip. This route takes the traveler along one of Italy’s wildest and isolated coastlines with terrific gorges, cliffs, vegetation and stunning views of the Mediterranean.

Valtellina, Lombardy

Valtellina is a vast area extending for 200 km within the northern region of Lombardy, in the middle of the Alps. This area is often overshadowed by the Dolomites, but is fantastic and worth a trip thanks to its parks and natural reserves that constitute more than a third of the Valtellina region. Famous hiking trails here include the Alta Via della Valmalenco, Gran via delle Orobie, Sentiero della Pace and Via Alpina in Valtellina. You only need to choose one.

Stromboli, Aeolian Islands, Sicily

Located in one of the most remote areas of Italy, Stromboli is the jewel of Aeolian Islands. For nature lovers, the climb to the crater is one of Italy’s not-to-be-missed experiences, but pay attention: this island contains one of the three active volcanoes in Italy, so it’s not possible to hike here every day. The volcanic landscapes that contrast with the turquoise of the sea is one of the most enchanting panoramas you’ll see in Sicily.

Monte Bianco and Monte Rosa, Aosta Valley 

Valle d’Aosta is an Italian region bordering with France and Switzerland known for its mountains, with vertical peaks including Monte Bianco, Monte Rosa, Monte Cervino and Grande Paradiso. Monte Bianco is the highest mountain in the Alps. The tour of the White Mountain, which is considered one of the classic trails in Europe, starts from Courmayeur. Monte Rosa is the second highest mountain in the Alps. Its name, which means pink, has nothing to do with the color but derives from the Franco-Provencal-Aostan word rouése, meaning glacier.

Italian Lakes

For travelers planning an Italy hiking trip in the spring or autumn, the Italian Lakes are the best destination. In the summer, the breeze off the lake will keep hikers cool and it is possible to swim or boat on the lake too. Lago di Como is the ideal spot for those who wants to explore beautiful towns, such as Bellagio, Tremezzo or Varenna, while Lake Maggiore is more off the beaten path. Lake Garda is a big lake with fantastic hiking trails for mountain lovers in addition to small towns.

Sicily

Sicily is a wonderful hiking destination. A great option to Stromboli, if you don’t like to take a ferry, is to run the mountainous areas of Mount Etna, the Madonie and Nebrodi mountains. For hikers who prefer forested trails, both the Madonie and Nebrodi parks are crossed with trails. One of the prettiest trails in southeastern Sicily that is flat and easy is the Vendicari Nature reserve along the coast. The nearby Pantalica Gorge offers hikers an archaeological experience in addition to beautiful trails.

Tuscany

Tuscany is universally considered to have one of the region’s top art cities but only few people know that here it is possible to spend some time hiking. Three of the best trails are the Renaissance Ring Trail that circles the city of Florence, the Chianti Trail which is perfect for a wine-themed itinerary between vineyards and medieval villages, and the hiking trails of Val d’Orcia that will lead the traveler in the stunning area of Crete Senesi.

Corno Grande, Abruzzo

Dominating the rockscapes of the Parco Nazionale del Gran Sasso, one of Italy’s largest national parks, Corno Grande is the highest peak in the Appenines. Abruzzo is not the most touristic destination in Italy but it preserves authentic treasures such as this mountain. Via Normale is the route that provides travelers with fascinating glimpses of the mountains and the Adriatic as well as views of Europe’s southernmost glacier, the Calderone.