Everyone knows about Italy‘s blockbuster cities and beautiful beaches, but there’s less talk about its impressive hiking trails. That’s all changing quickly, thanks to ‘Io Cammino in Italia‘ (I Walk in Italy) which was set up by walkers, guides and operators to promote slow tourism along the country’s many long-distance trails. From the Dolomite’s peaks to Sardinia’s wild coast, we’ve rounded up seven of the best walks in Italy.
The most scenic walks in Italy
1. Via Francigena (Alps to Rome)
This is a big beast of a walk that doesn’t even technically start in Italy. The medieval pilgrim route starts off in Canterbury and finishes up in Rome, crisscrossing through the Alps, the Po Valley and Lazio’s ancient hot springs. You could try and tackle the entire 1,900 km trail if you’re up for a challenge, but we suggest taking on some of its more scenic sections. The trail from the quintessential hilltop town of San Miniato is a good place to start. From here it’s a more laid-back stroll through vineyards and pretty medieval towns to San Quirico.
2. Selvaggio Blu (Sardinia)
Not for the faint of heart, Selvaggio Blu is Italy’s toughest trek, but it’s also probably the most beautiful. It was created in 1987 by two local guides looking for adventure and follows a trail of former mule paths along the craggy cliffs. The 35 km trail curves along the coast between Pedra Longa and Cala Sisine. Don’t expect to stay on your feet for too long though, huge sections of the route require abseiling and rock climbing so it’s advisable to travel with a guide.
3. Il Sentiero degli Dei (Campania)
Offering terrific views over the Amalfi Coast, the Il Sentiero degli Dei translates as ‘Path of the Gods’. Once you get here, it won’t take you long to figure out why. Starting in the tiny village of Bomerano, the hike meanders across the mountainside, forests and lemon plantations, offering sparkling views of Capri along the way. Unlike some of the tougher hikes on this list, the Il Sentiero degli Dei doesn’t involve lots of stairclimbing, so you don’t need to be raring for an ultra-marathon to complete it.
4. Palermo-Agrigento (Sicily)
At 183 km, this one’s a long one but it’s not too tough. The route starts in the north of the island and finishes up in the south. It’s split up into nine stages, so if you’re short on time, you can pick a single section. If you’ve got the time, try tackling the whole thing. It takes around 7-8 days based on 5-6 hours of walking (around 18 km) per day. You’ll get to tick off some of Sicily’s most quintessential towns along the way, including Prizzi – one of the highest villages in Sicily.
5. The Tre Cime Circuit (Dolomites)
With over 200 km of hiking paths, the Dolomites is hardly short on good walking opportunities. This circuit wraps around some of the UNESCO World Heritage Site’s highlights, including Mount Pelmo, known as God’s Throne. It’s an easier stroll and you can easily cover its 10 km in around 4–5 hours. The morning views from Forcella Lavaredo really are breathtaking.
6. Sentierro Azzuro, Cinque Terre (Liguria)
It’s hard to find places that live up to the Instagram pictures but the Cinque Terre – five candy-coloured villages carved into Liguria’s craggy cliffs – really do. This route strings the five villages together, through olive groves, terraced hillsides and near-vertical vineyards. It takes around three or four hours to complete the whole route, but you’ll need to add on time for stopping off in each. You can walk the route in either direction, but we suggest starting in Riomaggiore and finishing up in Monterosso.
7. Sella-Herbetet Traverse (Piedmont)
Make a day of it on this 20.5 km hike across the jaw-dropping Parco Nazionale del Gran Paradiso. The route takes around 10 hours and sweeps across jewel-coloured lakes, glaciers, forests and soaring mountains. It’s a hefty uphill walk for the first part of the day, reaching 1180 m elevation but on the way back it’s all downhill. If you’d prefer to savour the journey, you can also spread the hike across two days and reserve an idyllic hut in the heart of the park for night. It’s one to save for a clear day though – the views are breathtaking.