From the iconic Venice to the charming island of Sicily. Passing through Tuscany, the capital city of Rome, the lively Naples, and the enchanting beach destinations in Puglia, Italy is one of the most fascinating countries in the world.
Aside from its gorgeous cities, cool museums, and archaeological sites, Italy is also a great destination for hiking. Before packing your backpack and getting ready to hit the trails, here is what you need to know about hiking in Italy.
Does Italy Have Good Hiking Trails?
With so many beautiful cities across Italy, hiking may not be the first activity that comes to mind. However, Italy has plenty of stunning hiking trails. From breathtaking mountain paths to charming seaside walks, there's a little bit of everything for everyone on these beautiful beaches!
The most popular area for hiking in Italy is the Dolomites. Still, there's much more to discover in central and southern Italy. From the rolling hills of Tuscany to the awe-inspiring volcano hikes, Italy's hiking spots will leave you wanting to go back for more.
The 7 Best Places to Hike in Italy
The Dolomites are one of the most popular areas for hiking in Italy. Boasting spectacular mountain peaks, beautiful lakes, and charming villages, it's no surprise that this area became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2009.
The Dolomites mountain range covers an extensive area comprising the regions of Veneto, Trentino-Alto Adige, and Friuli Venezia Giulia. You can go on day hikes from one of the many towns and villages in the Dolomites, or even do a multi-day hike and sleep at refuges along the way.
If you're looking for breathtaking mountain peaks and are up for challenging hikes, the Dolomites is your best choice in Italy.
There are several spectacular hikes around the Dolomites. The most popular and scenic ones, especially for first-timers, are the Tre Cime di Lavaredo and the High Route 1 connecting Lake Braies to Belluno.
Another popular hiking place in Italy, the Cinque Terre is a group of five villages sprinkled along the Ligurian coast, south of Genoa. The five villages, Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore, are part of the Cinque Terre National Park, all connected by hiking trails.
Hiking in the Cinque Terre National Park is much easier than the Dolomites, plus you get the dreamy coastal views. If you prefer being close to the sea and alternating natural landscapes with colorful coastal villages, then head to the Cinque Terre.
Sentiero Azzurro is the most popular hike along the Cinque Terre, connecting all five villages. Unfortunately, parts of the trail are not accessible as of spring 2023 and may remain closed until 2024 or even 2025. You can still hike portions of the trail.
While the Amalfi Coast may be famous for its beautiful villages and amazing beaches, you'll also find a few hiking trails there.
Meander along beautiful hiking trails immersed in lush greenery overlooking the deep blue Tyrrhenian Sea and through the little villages built on the cliffs. If you're looking for moderate hikes, charming seaside towns, and the scent of lemon trees, head to the Amalfi Coast.
The Path of the Gods is the most popular hiking path on the Amalfi Coast, rewarding you with breathtaking views. The hike is only nine kilometers long, starting from the hamlet of Bomerano and ending in Nocelle, just uphill from Positano.
Mount Vesuvius, Naples
Just outside of Naples, Mount Vesuvius is one of the most famous volcanos in the world. Aside from providing postcard pictures of the Gulf of Naples, Vesuvius is also a great spot to go hiking.
You may wonder whether hiking an active volcano is safe, especially one known for its explosive eruptions. Worry not. Despite being an active volcano, Mount Vesuvius won't just suddenly erupt without warning signs. Geologists are constantly monitoring its activity so they can predict whether there's imminent danger.
You can hike Mount Vesuvius by yourself or on a guided tour. There are 11 paths around the Vesuvius National Park, spanning a total of 54 kilometers.
Mount Etna, Sicily
Since I mentioned the Vesuvius, I couldn't leave out Sicily's Mount Etna, Italy's tallest volcano and one of the tallest in Europe. The volcano even made the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 2013.
Mount Etna is also the most active volcano in Europe, but it's safe to hike unless there is unusual activity. The main hiking trails depart from Sapienza Refuge on the volcano's southern flank.
From Sapienza Refuge, you can take a cable car up to 2500 meters, followed by a 4×4 bus that gets you to 2920 meters of altitude. From there, you can hike to the main craters.
If you want to hike among the rolling hills, cypresses, and vineyards of the Tuscan countryside, you'll find plenty of trails in this region too. From chill walks just outside Florence or Siena to longer trails in the Apennine mountains, you have many options for hiking trails in Tuscany.
Walk the easy, 11-kilometer trail Via degli Dei from Fiesole to Firenze, the slightly longer Pienza to Montepulciano to enjoy the wine region, or the 17-kilometer San Gimignano Loop.
If you're up for a more challenging trail, hike up Monte Croce from the charming village of Palagnana in the province of Lucca.
Although Sardinia has a reputation for being a beach and party destination, you can also find many spectacular hikes on the island. Yes, that may even involve stunning sea views and beautiful little coves, so you can hike and go for a swim in the turquoise waters if you wish.
Among the most scenic hikes in Sardinia is one of the most gorgeous beaches called Cala Goloritze. You'll also find the short Sella del Diavolo trail just outside Cagliari, and the moderate hike from Cala Fuili to Cala Luna.
If you're looking for long-distance hikes in Sardinia, check out the 45-kilometer Selvaggio Blu hike along the eastern coast or Sentiero Sardegna, from Santa Teresa di Gallura in the north to Castiadas in the south.
Best Hiking Tours and Companies in Italy
The Etna is one of those places where it's better to go on a guided tour. The great thing about this tour is that you'll hike to the peak of Mount Etna with a volcanologist guide who'll tell you all about the lava flows, craters, and lunar landscape you'll be crossing.
This tour starts at Sapienza Refuge and last six hours, during which you'll catch the cable car and hike around the summit. You'll see ancient and recent lava flows and visit the Crateri Bargaballo, formed after the 2002 eruption.
If you want to hike the Path of the Gods on the Amalfi coast, you can do so on this group tour with departure from Sorrento.
The tour includes the transfer from Sorrento and back, along with the guided hike along scenic pathways and through to beautiful vineyards, farmhouses, and old monasteries.
If you're looking for a local company providing guided hiking tours, Tourissimo is one of the most popular ones.
You can join lovely guided tours in the Cinque Terre and Portofino, around Tuscany's charming Val d'Orcia, Puglia, and the Dolomites. The tours have expert local guides, flexible menus, carefully chosen accommodations, and personalization options.
If you don't want to join a pre-existing tour, Tourissimo also helps you plan your ideal hiking trip.
If you can afford to spend anywhere from 3000 to 6000 USD, Backroads offers some spectacular tours in Italy. From the Dolomites and Lake Como to the Amalfi Coast, Sardinia, Tuscany, and Sicily, you'll find plenty of options.
Despite the higher price point, the tours have stellar reviews. The vast majority of travelers recommend Backroads tours. For a once in a lifetime experience staying in premiere hotels and enjoying gourmet cuisine while discovering bucket-list places, it's worth the expense.
Company: Exodus Travels
Exodus Travels is one of the most popular companies when it comes to hiking tours all over the world. In Italy, there is no exception. The tours are more affordable compared to Backroads, but you can still expect to pay upwards of 1500 USD for a week-long hiking trip.
Some of their most popular tours are the Chianti Walking & Wine, Walking in Tuscany, and Walking the Amalfi Coast.
How to Plan a Hiking Trip to Italy
1. Choose Your Destination
Hiking areas in Italy are spread out across the country, so the first thing to do is pick a destination. Your choice will vary on many things, from the season to the landscape you want to be surrounded by.
Are you looking for snow-capped mountains and challenging trails? Do you prefer easier trails with a sea view? Or do you want to climb a volcano?
Unless you have several weeks or months to go hiking in Italy, you better stick to a specific area. You can also easily combine hiking in Italy with a cultural visit.
2. Choose the Right Season
In some places in Italy, you can go hiking during any season. The Amalfi Coast or the Etna Volcano are great locations, even in winter. The Cinque Terre and the Vesuvius are ideal during shoulder seasons.
The Dolomites, on the other hand, is an area better explored in summer. While you can visit in winter, you can only hit the trails with appropriate equipment and preferably a guide. Some areas may even be closed for the season. Summer is the best season for hiking in the Dolomites.
3. Pack Accordingly
Next up, you need to think about what equipment you must pack. For some easy hiking trails like the Cinque Terre, you can just pack a pair of running shoes. On the other hand, more technical trails in the Dolomites require appropriate equipment.
If you're planning on doing some day hikes between other activities, you must pack both hiking equipment and regular clothes and shoes. If you need help, we have an extensive Italy packing list you can check.
Lastly, remember to pack according to the season. Early spring and late fall can be rainy in most parts of Italy. In the Dolomites, it can start snowing very early during fall and until late spring.
If you plan on hiking Mount Etna, don't forget that Sicily can be extremely hot in summer, but at the top of the volcano, the temperature drops significantly. Layers are your best friends!
Plan Your Hiking Trip to Italy With Pilot
This guide should have you all set up for a memorable hiking trip to Italy. All that's left to do now is to pick your hiking destination in Italy and start planning your trip.