The Best Hiking Trails in Italy

Hiking on Selvaggio Blu, Sardinia, Italy.
Hiking on Selvaggio Blu, Sardinia, Italy. | © Cavan / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Francesca Masotti
20 September 2020

Italy’s not just famous for its food, history and art, it’s also got diverse hiking options perfect for discovering its stunning natural landscapes. With mountain trails in the north and volcano climbing in Sicily, the best time to come is spring and early autumn. Here’s our guide to the coolest destinations for hiking in Italy.

Cinque Terre, Liguria

Natural Feature
Map View
Late afternoon in Vernazza, a small town in Italy's Cinque Terre National Park.
© Inge Johnsson / Alamy Stock Photo
Cinque Terre is an iconic coastal region in Liguria, on the west coast of Italy. The five oceanside fishing villages perched on the cliffs in pastel colours look exactly like the photos: idyllic buildings, crystalline waters and breathtaking views. The perfect way to visit all five is to hike the Sentiero Azzurro (the blue path) from Monterosso to Corniglia, strolling through the picturesque hamlets and admiring the coastal landscape. Stay in an apartment in Via Serra with a sea view, and access to La Marina for a swim in a secluded rocky inlet.

Tre Cime di Lavaredo, Dolomites

Natural Feature
Map View
Beautiful view of famous Tre Cime di Lavaredo mountain summits in the Dolomites mountain range illuminated in beautful golden evening light at sunset
© Scott Wilson / Alamy Stock Photo

Nothing beats the Dolomites when it comes to hiking in Italy, and these amazing mountains are much less visited than the comparable Swiss or French Alps. They have it all: cloud-scraping mountains, idyllic lakes, limestone peaks and pristine forests. This area is full of trails and one of the best circuits is Tre Cime di Lavaredo in the Parco Naturale delle Dolomiti di Sesto. Don’t forget your camera, as the mountain range is highly photogenic. Extend your stay by booking into a nearby apartment between Cortina and Dobbiaco (or Toblach, to the German-speaking population).

Alta Via 1, Dolomites

Hiking Trail, Natural Feature
Map View
The Dolomites, Northern Italy. The huge bulk of the Pelmo (3168m), seen from the Alta Via 1 long distance trail
© Alex Ramsay / Alamy Stock Photo

The best-known hiking trail in the Dolomites is Alta Via 1, a 120km (75mi) high-level trail over some of the finest scenery in the eastern Dolomites. This mountain range, a Unesco World Heritage site, is one of the most beautiful landscapes thanks to its vertical walls, deep valleys and sheer peaks that run from the enchanting Lake Braies (or Pragser Wildsee) to the city of Belluno. Stay in your own private secluded chalet nestled in the hills to be near major hiking trails and charming little villages.

Il Sentiero degli Dei, Amalfi Coast

Natural Feature, Architectural Landmark
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Sentiero degli Dei, Amalfi Coast, Campania, Italy
© Joana Kruse / Alamy Stock Photo

The Sentiero degli Dei, or Path of the Gods, is a must-visit destination in Campania, with terrific views of the rugged Lattari Mountains and island of Capri. The path links Positano with Praiano and winds through terraced hillsides and lemon plantations, with views over the mediterranean. Pause in Arienzo for a refreshing swim, then indulge yourself with a glamorous stay at a cliffside villa on the Amalfi Coast, with its own private beach.

Selvaggio Blu, Sardinia

Natural Feature, Hiking Trail
Map View
Baunei. Arco di Lopiro. Trekking Selvaggio Blu, Italy, Europe
© REDA &CO srl / Alamy Stock Photo

Sardinia is one of the most beautiful islands in the Mediterranean. The Selvaggio Blu (Wild Blue) hiking trail is recommended for those with mountaineering experience, but this epic route threading the cliffs by the Gulf of Orosei on Sardinia’s east coast is definitely worth the effort. Trek along one of Italy’s wildest, most isolated coastlines with terrific gorges, cliffs, vegetation and stunning views of the sea. After a day spent exploring, unwind in a modern loft apartment with private pool, a stone’s throw from the beach.

Valtellina, Lombardy

Natural Feature, Hiking Trail
Map View
Top view of the village of Bianzone framed by the rocky peaks of the Rhaetian Alps at dawn, Valtellina, Lombardy, Italy, Europe
© robertharding / Alamy Stock Photo

Valtellina extends 200km (125mi) in the northern region of Lombardy, smack in the middle of the Alps. Though often overshadowed by the Dolomites, it’s worth a trip to its parks and natural reserves that make up more than a third of the region. Popular hiking trails include the Alta Via della Valmalenco, Gran Via delle Orobie, Sentiero della Pace and Via Alpina in Valtellina. You only need to choose one, but this well-equipped balcony apartment is a perfect spot to think about it, within easy reach of all available options.

Stromboli, Aeolian Islands, Sicily

Natural Feature
Map View
Italy, Sicily, Aeolian Islands, Stromboli Island (aerial view)
© Hemis / Alamy Stock Photo

In one of the most remote areas of Italy, Stromboli is the jewel of the Aeolian Islands. For nature-lovers the climb to the crater is not to be missed, but beware: this island contains one of three active volcanoes in Italy, so it’s not possible to hike here every day. The contrast of the volcanic landscape with the turquoise sea is one of the most enchanting panoramas in Sicily. Soak up the ocean views at a stylish Airbnb a few steps from the square of San Vincenzo.

Monte Bianco and Monte Rosa, Aosta Valley

Hiking Trail, Natural Feature
Map View
Monte Bianco at sunset, Aosta Valley, Italy, Europe
© mauritius images GmbH / Alamy Stock Photo

Valle d’Aosta, bordering France and Switzerland, is known for its sublime mountains, including Monte Bianco, Monte Rosa, Monte Cervino and Gran Paradiso. Monte Bianco (Mont Blanc) is the highest mountain in the Alps, and world-famous. The tour of the ‘White Mountain’, which is considered one of the classic trails in Europe, starts from Courmayeur at the foot of the mountain. Monte Rosa is the second highest mountain in the Alps and its name ‘rosa’ (meaning pink) has nothing to do with the colour, but derives from the local word for glacier, rouése. Enjoy views of the mountain from the luxury of a hot tub in a private chalet.

Italian Lakes

Natural Feature
Map View
Italy, Europe, lake Garda, lake, Malcesine, mountains, Old Town, castle
© Prisma by Dukas Presseagentur GmbH / Alamy Stock Photo

If you’re planning a hiking trip in the spring or autumn, come to the Italian Lakes. The breeze off the water keeps hikers cool, and it’s also possible to swim or take out a boat. Lake Como is the ideal spot if you want to explore scenic towns such as Bellagio, Tremezzo or Varenna, while Lake Maggiore is off the beaten track. Lake Garda has fantastic hiking trails for mountain lovers, in addition to cosy towns with local flavour. Spend a few nights on the hills of Torri del Benaco at a luxury studio apartment with a stunning view over Lake Garda.

Sicily

Natural Feature
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Hiker Zingaro National Preserve Gulf Castellamare Island Sicily Italy Europe model released person hiking
© Prisma by Dukas Presseagentur GmbH / Alamy Stock Photo

Sicily is a wonderful hiking destination. If you don’t feel like taking a ferry to Stromboli, a great alternative is to climb the mountainous areas of Mount Etna: the Madonie and Nebrodi Mountains. Perfect for hikers who prefer forested trails, both have park trails running through them. One of the prettiest is the Vendicari Nature Reserve which runs along the coast and is relatively flat. The nearby Pantalica Gorge is an archaeological site in addition to its beautiful trails. Cosy up for the night in a romantic cottage with private kitchen, patio and pomegranate garden.

Tuscany

Natural Feature
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Unplugged: exploring nature, hiking on Tuscany mountains, breathtaking panorama (Italy).
© Camila Turriani / Alamy Stock Photo

Tuscany is home to Italy’s greatest art cities but only a few people know it’s possible to spend time here hiking as well. Three of the best trails include the Renaissance Ring circling the city of Florence, the Chianti Trail (perfect for a wine-themed itinerary between vineyards and medieval villages) and the hiking trails of Val d’Orcia, through Crete Senesi. Stay at a wine-making farmhouse 9km (6mi) from Florence, in the beautiful Chianti hills, with a gorgeous pool and private parking.

Corno Grande, Abruzzo

Natural Feature
Map View
Campo Imperatore in the Gran Sasso, Abruzzo, Italy. In the background is Corno Grande, tallest mountain in the apennines.
© Marc Hill / Alamy Stock Photo

Dominating the rocky landscape of the Parco Nazionale del Gran Sasso – one of Italy’s largest national parks – is Corno Grande, the highest peak in the Apennines. Abruzzo is not the most visited destination in Italy, but it contains authentic treasures like this mountain. Via normale is the route that will provide you with views of the mountain and Adriatic, as well as Europe’s southernmost glacier, the Calderone. End your trip with a stay in an elegant, newly renovated loft in the centre of Pescara.

These recommendations were updated on September 20, 2020 to keep your travel plans fresh.