Hiking in Italy

Five of the best hikes in the Italian mountains: lakeside wonders, smoldering volcanoes and ancient mountain paths.

From the Italian Alps and mountains in Northern Italy, to volcanoes in Sicily and seaside villages on the Riviera; Italy boasts some beautiful hiking routes for all ages and abilities. During the summer months, it’s easy for trails to become overcrowded, so as well as hiking in Italy from June to September, late spring and early autumn serve as a fantastic time to lace up your walking boots too. With the location of four of our five best hikes in Italy placing on the UNESCO World Heritage Site list, it’s evident these places are pretty spectacular. So, with one of our expert, friendly guides by your side, it’s time to explore unchartered routes and hidden gems with these top five hikes in the Italian Mountains.

Path of the Gods, Italy
Climbing in the Dolomites

1. Hiking the Path of the Gods in Amalfi 

Hugging the Amalfi Coast is one of Italy’s most well-known hiking routes: The Sentiero Degli Dei, or more commonly known as The Path of the Gods. Legend states the path was used as a passage by Greek Gods to help save Odysseus from the sea’s wailing sirens, therefore giving the name to Path of the Gods. Wrapped around the mountainside, the ancient mule track leads the way from Bomerano to Nocelle, boasting jaw-dropping views of Capri and the coastline on the way. While you hike through the hills spotting lizards sunning themselves on the rocks, your guide will share stories about the mythical watchtowers and fortresses along the way that are reminiscent of the ancient people who walked here. Towards the end of the trek you can to stop in Nocelle for some freshly squeezed lemon juice and a rewarding swim at Arienzo Beach. Note: For those who suffer from vertigo, opt for the less exposed path instead. 

2. A Via Ferrata climbing tour of the Dolomites

Arguably the most exhilarating climb in northeast Italy, today you’ll spend the morning clipped to a vertical playground in the Dolomites. Renowned all over the world for its natural beauty and jagged peaks, the Italian mountain range is home to over 600 via ferettas, Italian for iron paths. Accompanied by a professional guide every step of the way, climbers will pick a high-mountain route that suits their fitness levels best, from 150-metre vertical gains through to 1,200 metres. Dating back to World War I, many of the via ferratas here were originally used by troops travelling safely and quickly from mountain to mountain during battle. However, now excellently maintained, and lined with ladders, wooden walkways and cables, your safety is put first as you’re clipped into a harness along the way. To top the day off, hunker down in the thick of the Dolomites in the snug Rosa Alpine hotel for some Michelin-starred cuisine and breathtaking vistas.

3. Hiking in Italy’s largest National Park, Pollino

Extending from Basilicata into Calabria and covering over 1,920 square metres, Parco Nazionale del Pollino is Italy’s largest National Park. As well as the park’s vast size, Pollino is also home to Europe’s oldest tree. The ancient Heldreich pine was recently examined by expert scientists using tree-ring analysis and radiocarbon dating and determined it’s age to be an impressive 1,230 years old. Bursting with wildflowers, alpine meadows and flowing rivers, the varied landscape in Pollino plays home to a flood of rich wildlife, from deer and otters to vultures and eagles. Whether it’s a hike through beech-covered forests at the base of Mount Pollino or through the wide verdant valleys and rocky ridges, each footpath is marked and maintained. 

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4. Taking on Europe’s largest active volcano in Sicily

Kicked into the Mediterranean Sea by the tip of Italy’s ‘boot’, Sicily has been blessed with gorgeous landscapes and fantastic walking routes. Upon arriving on Sicily’s east coast, it’s hard to not notice Mount Etna jutting out from the ground – after all, it is Europe’s largest active volcano standing at almost 11,000 feet tall. Despite periodic eruptions that hurl fireworks into the sky, Mount Etna is the perfect European spot for adventure-seekers and volcano lovers looking for a hiking challenge without travelling too far from home. Winding your way past vineyards and citrus plantations on the lower slopes up to sleeping craters and ash beds towards the top, it’s a surreal experience, to say the least.  

Hiking Mount Etna in Sicily
Clinque Terre hikes

5. Hiking along the coastline of Cinque Terre

Scattered along Liguria’s rugged coastline in the northwest, sits five fishing villages that give their name to the coastal area of Cinque Terre. Awash with colourful houses and terraced vineyards, Cinque Terre offers a number of hiking routes perfectly positioned for a day trip from Pisa or Genoa. Our favourite hike, the Sentiero Azzuro trail, will see you move from the small town of Riomaggiore north to Monterosso, passing through coastal hamlets crammed with harbours, lemon trees and cultivation terraces. Otherwise known as the ‘Blue Path’, those who don’t feel up to the full five-hour route have the opportunity to stop midway in the quaint village of Corniglia and board the train for a scenic ride up to Monterosso instead. 

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