hiking in italy sign

I can’t exactly pinpoint when we became hikers.

I mean, I’m not sure we’re actually ‘hikers’ in the gear-centric, trekking sense of the word, but we’ve definitely embraced hiking as a fantastic and free option for exercise on the road. We’ve had a few painful learning experiences struggling without the correct gear, but we’re learning. Slowly. It’s tough for two people who are minimal packers to add to the clutter with new clothes, boots and rain gear.

On a scale of 1 (hiking is torture) to 10 (regularly climb to Everest base camp), we’re probably a 6.

hiking in italy path

hiking in italy wellies

hiking in italy fitbit

When we found ourselves in Italy for nearly a month this autumn, we immediately started researching the feasibility for hiking in Italy. Coming from the UK, a country absolutely covered in maintained walking trails, we were hoping that Italy would have at least something in the way of organized trails.

And wouldn’t you know it? They have tons.

Italy has a comprehensive set of trails across the entire country that are there for you the next time you need to work off some pasta, or just ache for a lovely view that doesn’t include other tourists.

We’ve hiked throughout the country and can say without hesitation that Italy, already one of the most beautiful countries we’ve ever visited, becomes even more dramatic as the cities fall away and the trail spans out in front of you.

hiking in italy drew and backpack

Classic Italian Hikes

Italy has something for everyone. From mountain passes, to beautiful coasts, to vineyards, to ancient cities. Skill requirements vary widely, but based on our experiences, you can plop down in any region and find a wide range of hikes that would suit nearly all needs.

The Best Long Hikes in Italy

Great Day Hikes in Italy

  • Sentiero Azzurro (Blue Path) – day hike, roughly 5 hours, connects the five villages of the Cinque Terre region, one of the most popular long hikes in all of Italy
  • Wayfarer’s Path – around a portion of Lake Como, can also be easily broken up into two half-day hikes
  • Mount Etna, Sicily – there are several volcano hikes in Italy but this one offers a few options for different skill levels, and even for families
  • Sentiero deli Dei (The Path of the Gods) – the most famous walk on the Almafi Coast, from Agerola to Nacelle, allow about 3 hours

hiking in italy trentino

hiking in italy path with stairs

How to Select a Hike

It’s so simple that we feel embarrassed to even share this, but here’s how we find a good hike or walk in Italy.

We open up our trusty internet browser and, being as specific as possible, describe what we’re looking for (i.e. day hike near Trento, easy hike near Lucca, overnight trek in Sicily). The results often include a mix of official regional websites and personal accounts of hiking in the area. We’ve always been able to find routes and even GPS coordinates through these simple searches.

Alternatively, many tourist information offices have hiking maps that are available for purchase. When in Piedmont this year, we bought one for 5 euros and used it multiple times over a week in the region. Paper maps are old school, and we had our phones as back-up, but that particular region is easy to navigate with lots of small villages as waypoint markers.

hiking in italy lake

hiking in italy drew overlook

Gearing Up

As with all hiking and walking endeavors, being prepared goes hand in hand with having a great and drama-free experience. Here’s what we bring in our daypack when we hike in Italy:

  • Water
  • GPS devices (usually 2 mobile phones)
  • Screen shot or print out of desired route (just in case the phones have coverage issues)
  • Snacks
  • Sunscreen
  • Camera(s)
  • Basic first aid, if needed (we will bring a few small items if we expect to be out for three hours or longer)

All of the hikes we do don’t require special footwear, so we tend to wear our most hearty sneakers, and dress in layers. As the difficulty and length of your hike increases, so will your clothing needs. We keep it super simple.

We often debate if a walk is worth wearing ‘workout clothes’ or if we can get away with just wearing normal clothes. We did get stuck in a massive downpour wearing jeans one time, and it was horrible, so we’ve started avoiding jeans full stop. We stick with the rule that we should wear clothes we don’t mind getting dirty or sweaty.

hiking in italy gear

On the Trail

In Italy, hiking trails are marked with red and white markers. They come in the form of actual signs (see lead photo), or are sometimes painted on rocks or tree trunks. For the most part, we’ve found the markers to be well spaced, easy to see and completely satisfactory for navigation.

That said, some trails are better maintained than others, so we bring our own print out of the route and also carry phones with us for backup navigation.

If you are in an area with herding animals, and come upon a herd, follow these instructions. As soon as possible, make yourself known to the herder, so he or she can call off any dogs. Herding dogs are very protective of their herds and you don’t want to be seen as a threat. We’ve come upon several herds and have always been greeted with a friendly wave and a few new canine friends. As always, better safe than sorry.

hiking in italy stairs

Resources

We hope you enjoy your next adventure hiking in Italy. Here are a few more resources to help guide your research and inspire you.

hiking in italy pin

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  • December 13, 2016

    Great post! I love hiking where ever I travel. Whether it is in the great outdoors or through cities because it allows you to see stuff you would never catch while driving or taking a tour bus.
    Plus I find if you are open to people, you can meet many friendly characters while hiking around.
    I just spent my entire summer walking from St. Jean Pied de Port, France along the entire Camino de Santiago and it was one of the greatest experiences of my life!
    Now I need to walk the Sentiero Azzurro because Cinque Terre is definitely on my Bucket List!
    Great photos by the way
    Eric || The Bucket List Project recently posted…Bonfires on the Levee – A Louisiana Christmas TraditionMy Profile

    • December 18, 2016

      Congrats on walking the Camino. That’s something that both of us would love to do. And we certainly agree with meeting people; we always run into the most interesting people on a trail, whether its in the US, UK, or even Macedonia!

  • December 17, 2016

    I’ve never been to Italy and for some reason I never seem to associate hiking with it, so it’s good to know there are lots of trails available!
    Shannon – SoleSeeking recently posted…Conquering the Current: The Time I Thought I Might Die in HawaiiMy Profile

    • December 18, 2016

      we didn’t either, but we just stumbled upon so many marked hiking trails during our road trip. It was fantastic!

  • February 14, 2017

    This is great information! I like the additional links posted at the end as well. I will bookmark this page for later because I am planning a trip to Italy very soon and would love to find easy and intermediate hiking trails in every city I will be visiting. Thanks for sharing!
    Ann recently posted…10 Ways To Save Money On AirfareMy Profile

    • February 16, 2017

      glad you enjoyed it. We were surprised by how many organized hiking trails there were. Enjoy the hiking!

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