Italy is more than just pizza and sun lounges; it has also mountain ranges, lakes and action-packed adventure, so we have made a list of the best-hiking destinations so your trails can be just as good as the pizza.
In most cases people visit Italy for its culture, food, coastline and rustic towns to spend a week laying on the beach or exploring the old streets. However, unbeknown to the masses, our image of Italy should include hiking in Italy and simply how stunning this can be, in typical Italian style.
There are several mountain ranges in Italy, such as the Alps, the Dolomites and the Apennines. In the summer months, these mountains become a hikers dream and mecca for adventure. The options are endless and each as exciting as the next, whether you are a multi day trekker or a coastline rambler, Italy has an option to suit. This list of the best hikes in Italy will have you reevaluating your usual leisurely trip but start seeing the country for its adventure, its challenging terrain and of course, the scenery.
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The weather in Italy is generally pretty consistent with the seasons, as we know in the Winter (in the north) where the Alps are, is cold, snowy and perfect for snowsports. Whilst in the summer it can be beautifully warm at around 25 degrees celsius on average. The summer in the Alps is a great temperature to enjoy the sun but not bake whilst trekking in the midday sun. Whilst further south on some the coastal trails, temperatures reach up to 30 degrees on average, so although this is perfect sunbathing weather, it’s not ideal for hiking. If you are planning a hiking trip, check when the best months to go are. Often the prime time is spring and Autumn months, so you don’t fry.
Hikes in Italy- quick find navigation
Trail Length: 140km
Best For: Those who miss the Alps in the summer
The Tour de Monte Rosa is exploring the mountain massif of the Eastern Alps spreading from the Aosta Valley in Italy to the Valais in Switzerland. If you decide to embark upon the Tour de Monte Rosa (which you should obviously), then you will actually start and end in Switzerland, but you will also be heading over the Theodul glacier into Cervinia, Alagna and a few other of the Aosta Valley ski resorts. This trip will have you reaching the crazy heights on 4000m whilst enjoying incredible views of glaciers, snow-capped peaks and the famous Matterhorn. But of course, you must make time for soaking up all the Italian charm in the Italian resorts, such as Cervinia, which can be just as vibrant in the summer as the winter.
Taking a guided tour of the glaciers where you can ice climb and traverse the icy lakes.
Trail Length: 69km
Best For: an introduction into trekking and mountaineering
Head to the stunning Gran Paradiso National Park in Italy between the Aosta Valley and Piedmont. Base yourself in the charming town of Pont and embark on a new challenge each day, exploring a different summit or area of the National Park at your leisure. This is a great way to start your journey, by having the flexibility to choose the trails you want, but then also enjoying days relaxing or trying one of the many other activities in the area, such as rock climbing and mountain biking. Most of the hiking is fairly easy and can be done as a day trip, such as visiting the Lillaz Waterfalls. On your final day once you have warmed up your legs and built some stamina, you should wake up early for a sunrise hike to the Paradiso mountain peak.
Embark on the day-long Sella-Herbetet Traverse hike for those who like a challenge.
Trail Length: up to 170km
Difficulty: Intermediate to expert
Best For: Experienced hikers
For those who are experienced hikers, you will know that hiking around Mont Blanc is some of the best in the world. You can experience the charms of Italy, France and Switzerland all within a few days and the best bit is you can choose which route you take. The encompass route is touch, strenuous, steep and sketchy but will be an invigorating challenge for those who love it. Or, if you fancy something a little more easy-going (but still requires stamina) you can take the rambler route. But either way, you will explore the highest mountain in the Alps and best views. Nothing beats the lush, floral and snowcapped vista of the Alps in the summer, the intense hikes and sweaty brow will be worth it.
In Courmayeur, they have Europe’s highest heated open-air pool- with the incredible views and steam, you will feel like you are swimming in the clouds.
Trail Length: 11km
Best For: those who also want a beach holiday
Also known as the ‘Blue Path’, Sentiero Azzuro is the trail along the magnificent Cinque Terre coastline, starting in Riomaggiore to Monterosso Il Mare. This is not so much an intense hike that requires training and lots off equipment, but more a day of exploring and burning off the calories from too much wine and pasta. We put this in the list, not for reaching peaks and challenging your skills, but because a hike can simply be enjoyed to get you from one ancient village to the next. You can do this in a few hours, but typically is spread out throughout the day as you stop off at each village for a gelato, a spot of lunch by the sea and beer at the end.
Although the trail is along the coastline, wear proper footwear as there will be rocky ascents and steep declines.
Trail Length: 10km
Best For: groups of friends
Tre Cime Di Laveredo is an iconic day hike that can be appreciated by those who don’t even like hiking. You will get a chance to experience the Dolomites unique mountain range in the summer, with lush wildflowers and impressive peaks. Stay in the beautiful ski town of Cortina D’Ampezzo and get the bus to the Rifugio at the base. Embark on your journey on a relatively flat path, winding through the valley, with intense mountain walls at either side. The summit will be the Rifugio Locatelli, where you can all enjoy a well-earned snack and chance to take in the views of the Tre Cime valley and the Dolomites. This is an easy hike to do with a group as even non-hikers should find this a relaxing day.
Pick a clear and sunny day, as obviously the views will be better and it will be warmer at the summit.
Trail Length: 78km
Best For: wine lovers
When heading to Tuscany, or more specifically Florence, you probably imagine exploring the ancient city, sipping on wine and taking in the artistic and historic beauty of the area. But, if you are looking to truly experience Tuscany and see first hand the classic rolling hills and vineyards that you have seen so many times in paintings, then this 7-day long hike will be your answer. You can start in Montepulciano and make your way through 6 UNESCO World Heritage sites and Renaissance towns and villages and end in Arbia. You will stop off in the Brunello wine region and sample the local wine and stay in hilltop farmhouses, where you can live like a true Italian local. This will be a true slice of Italy, that not many can say they have experienced.
Aim to visit in the spring or Autumn as this trek can be very difficult in the heat of the summer.
Trail Length: 8.3km
Best For: wine lovers
Corno Grande is one of the highest mountain peaks in Italy, reaching up to 2912m, and is part of the Apennines in the Abruzzo region. Although, the actual distance is less than 10km to the top and back again, to reach the Corno Grande summit, will require steep inclines, narrow ridges and no fear. The mountain itself is impressive and looks quite ominous, which somewhat reflects the challenge it is to climb. As this is only a day trek, get up early to beat the crowds and have the view to yourself when you reach the top. Take the other more challenging routes, to get the path to yourself. In the summer the area is blessed with flowers, vast fields and wild horses, which gives a truly magical feel, offset to the raggedy ridges you have to tackle.
Stay in the area for a few days and hike the other peaks such as Monte Velino and Sirente.
Trail Length: 120km
Best For: History lovers
The Alta Via in the Dolomites is a hikers dream with many different walks, hikes and intense treks to choose from. To help choose, we will talk about Alta Via 1, which is a 120km 8 to 12-day hike from Dobbiaco to Belluno. The hike itself varies on difficulty from each day, but there are some steep ascents and uneven terrain and of course long days, so you need to be a keen hiker to enjoy such a trip. But once you are there you will, of course, be consumed by true Italian mountain villages and huts, with stops in resorts like Cortina where you can experience some vibrancy. The best part of this trip though, its the historical significance, as there are remnants of old battles sites from WW1 which you can explore.
Take a quick break from the hike and go on an exciting historical tour, which uses cables to explore the old tunnels of Galleria Lagazuoi, that were built by the Italians during WW1 to undermine the Austrians.
Trail Length: 35km
Best For: Abseilers
Selvaggio Blu is found on the east coast of the beautiful island of Sardinia, off the coast of Italy. It is made up of old mule paths and abandoned trails that follow the coastline, which sounds heavenly, but do not be fooled, Selvaggio is actually one of the toughest treks in the whole world. Although there is only 35km to work your way through, the expedition will take around 4 days, even for the experts. This intense 4 days worth of scrambling, rock climbing and abseiling sheer cliff faces, is not for the fainthearted. There are no luxuries on this trip, or cute villages along the way, so you must pack all your supplies and camping gear for overnight stays on tops of cliffs. Selvaggio is for true adventurers who will take a minute to catch a breath and appreciate the true beauty of the island, with the crystal blue waters of the Mediterranean and luscious greenery offset by incredible rock formations.
If you are not quite an expert or would like to appreciate the incredible beauty more, then you can spread this trek out over 8 days.
Trail Length: various distances
Best For: Watersport enthusiasts
Lake Garda is one of the famous lakes in Italy and is the ultimate adventure destination blessed with high winds, for great watersports and lovely traditional towns. Beyond the lake, towards the south side, there are towering mountains ranges and hundreds of kilometres of trails also to be explored.
There are multiple options for a hiking trip the mountains around Lake Garda, many of which can be enjoyed by beginners and completed within a day, but there are also great opportunities to get stuck into a longer stint for the avid hikers. Santiereo della Pace and the Garda Trek can be done over a period of a few days staying in mountain huts and reaching peaks of over 2000m. From the top, your hard day’s work will be worth it to witness the awesome panorama of the mountains and the lake.
Stay in Riva de Garda as the base for the best access to the hikes, great water sports opportunities and a dreamy Italian vibe.
So there we have it, the top 10 hiking destinations in Italy. As you have read, there are a whole array of trails to choose from, from wild camping and abseiling to exploring the coastline whilst burning the pasta calories. Either way, the charm of Italy will always be the draw to visit, the food will make you want to return time and time again, but the adventure and the landscape is what will make it unforgettable. Could Italy be any more awesome? We think not…