Discover the delights of the Cilento National Park

Characterised by its coastal, craggy, sun-bleached, rustic towns, the Cilento National Park is a unique alternative to the Amalfi Coast, where tourists flood each year. Located in the southern Italian region of Campania, this sun-drenched oasis has an abundance of delicious treats to eat, historical wonders to see and activities to complete.

 

So, why not cast your eyes over our handy guide to get some top tips on where to head whilst you’re exploring this fascinating area?

Where is it?

About two hours from the Naples airport, Cilento is an area that extends south of the Amalfi coast.

Getting Around

A car will give you the freedom to explore off the beaten track and at your own leisure, but if driving on holiday is not your thing, there are villages that let you experience beach, dining and charm within a few steps.

 

The main villages are connected by railway, with trains coming from Rome and Naples.

 

During the summer, there is also a fast boat service from Alilaguna connecting the coastal towns.

Paestum train station

Historic villages

Among ancient castles built overlooking the villages, fortified hills and stone streets, you can take a dip in the most authentic history of Cilento, relax and discover fascinating legends. Myths, legends, nature, good food and a warm welcome will accompany you on an adventure holiday.

Rocca Cilento

 

Nestled in the mountains like an ancient jewel, this pretty village will captivate you! Among the historical beauties, you can find the castle, from which you enjoy stunning panoramas. The surrounding mountain landscape will give you precious moments of contemplation and relaxation, away from the frenzy of city rhythms, and will make your holiday in Cilento a memorable experience.

 

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Castellabate

 

“You don’t die here,” this is a phrase engraved on a stone plaque inside the medieval village of Castellabate. The sentence was actually pronounced by Gioacchino Murat in 1811, leaning out from the San Costabile viewpoint in the historic centre.

The historic centre of Castellabate preserves the medieval urban feature. It is a succession of narrow streets, alleys, arches, steps, palaces, open spaces and houses in grey stone.

Agropoli

 

The old town of Agropoli is a small pearl of Cilento, historical and splendid, full of treasures to discover. Symbol of the city and one of the most loved monuments is the splendid 17th century gate, which will make you enter the heart of its historic streets.

 

Here are many glimpses to discover, and you can walk under the surveillance of the imposing Aragonese Castle, which deserves a thorough visit.

 

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Teggiano

 

Teggiano is one of the few villages in the province of Salerno that has kept its stronghold aspect intact.

 

Its historic centre is full of labyrinthine streets, splendid views, churches and ancient buildings. Its castle is still one of the best preserved in all of Italy, and gives the town a unique aspect. You will feel like you are taking a dip in the past!

Pioppi

 

Pioppi is a small fishing village located in the centre of the Cilento coast, between Acciaroli and Casal Velino. In recent years, it has become the summer destination for those looking for a quiet seaside resort away from the crowds, where they can rediscover the pleasure of a slow pace. Pioppi is also known as the homeland of the Mediterranean diet, since it was studied and theorized here by the American physiologist Ancel Keys.

 

Don’t miss the Musea, the Sea Museum at Palazzo Vinciprova. Simple but effective, you’ll learn about eco sustainability, what food is good for you, and why.

Acciaroli

 

One of the most evocative photos of Cilento that makes tourists and residents fall in love with the port of Acciaroli, with the fishermen’s goitres in the foreground and on the bottom, to outline the thin border between the sky and the sea, the Norman Tower built by Frederick II and built in 1233, and the S.S. Annunziata and its splendid bell tower.

 

The pier of the port offers a suggestive walk on the sea, where shops, lounge bars and restaurants have sprung up in recent years.

 

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Scario

 

Scario, a picturesque fishing village located by the sea, represents all that Cilento can be. It is considered the Portofino of the South with its pristine coasts, a crystal clear sea and breathtaking views.

 

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Palinuro

 

Palinuro is one of the best known villages on the Cilento coast. It has 1500 inhabitants who grow exponentially during the summer season.

 

The village is located in the small peninsula of the homonymous promontory, Capo Palinuro, known for its scenic and natural beauty.

 

This enchanted place, in addition to its beaches, offers a lot to see. Along the coast, we find wonderful beaches with crystal clear water and masterpieces of nature, such as the Palinuro Caves and the Natural Arch.

 

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Pisciotta

 

Pisciotta is one of the most beautiful medieval villages in Cilento. Located on the top of a hill, it offers a suggestive landscape for those who sail the Cilento coast.

 

Pisciotta is located about 200 meters above the sea level and is not far from the nearby Marina di Pisciotta. The historic centre of Pisciotta is suggestive, since the medieval buildings of the village are clearly visible. From Pisciotta, it is possible to reach the Marina hamlet also on foot.

 

Marina di Pisciotta is the seaside hamlet of Pisciotta. A small fishing village that has developed niche tourism and excellent products, such as the Menaica anchovies.

 

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Hiking

For the more adventurous, you may want to explore Cilento’s magnificent natural landscape (which includes stunning coastal views and imposing mountain ranges) by foot.

 

Cilento has the fortune of being a heterogeneous territory, with a beautiful coast, sometimes sandy, suitable for those who love the beach and swimming, sometimes rocky with spectacular views.

 

Beyond the coast there is more. The interiors, like the coast, offer unique emotions. For those who love long trekking excursions, there is nothing better than going along the Cilento mountains.

 

Discover the paths that reach the peaks of the most important mountains, such as the path of Monte Stella or those of Monte Sacro Gelbison with the Basilian sanctuary on its summit.

 

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UNESCO Cilento

Always a crossroads of peoples and a treasure trove of ancient traditions, its territory is rich in chestnut and holm oak woods, streams and villages overlooking the sea or perched on rocks.

 

Here, we find some masterpieces included in the Unesco World Heritage List in 1998: the magnificent National Park of Cilento and Vallo di Diano, with the archaeological sites of Paestum and Velia and the Certosa di Padula.

Padula, Certosa di San Lorenzo
Temples of Paestum
Temples of Paestum

The Cilento Coast

Along the Cilento coast, you will find secret bays, coves and beaches, so why not swap your land legs for an oar and set out to sea on a kayaking expedition?

 

A multi-awarded coast with vertiginous cliffs, rocky pinnacles, natural caves, white pebble beaches and coves for swimming and diving.

 

The bright colours of the coastline are the background of hills covered with woods, olive groves and Mediterranean scrub.

Cilento Region, Salerno, Campania - aerial view of the coast of Capaccio Paestum during the summer

Beaches of Marina di Camerota

 

About fifteen kilometres of rugged coastline that winds from Scario to Marina di Camerota, with vertiginous cliffs, rocky pinnacles, natural caves, white pebble beaches and coves where you can swim and dive into your dreams. The approach of schools of dolphins is not rare.

 

The absolute wonder of the reserve is the natural Port of the Infreschi, less than an hour by boat from Scario.

 

It owes its name to the fresh water springs that flow into the bay, creating, together with outcrops of underwater cliffs, natural pools with shades of turquoise and emerald.

Marina of Ascea

 

The beach of Marina di Ascea is one of the most beautiful in Cilento. It is a long stretch of golden sand, wild and separated from the countryside by a forest of centuries-old olive trees. Not far away are the cliffs of Punta del Telegrafo where it is easy to find comfortable coves and rocks to enjoy the sea in solitude.

 

By sea, you can reach Baia d’Argento and Baia della Rondinella, other unmissable stops.

Buon Dormire Beach, Palinuro

 

Sea can only reach the Buon Dormire beach, but this does not prevent it from being one of the most popular beaches in the area, precisely because it is one of the most beautiful.

 

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Paestum

 

Paestum is a place of incredible historical interest, which represents the best preserved archaeological site today. But the charm of the coast should not be underestimated. It develops with a sandy beach 15 kilometres long, bordered by a pine forest overlooking the Tyrrhenian Sea.

 

The beach is wide and well equipped, there are also numerous campsites to experience nature to the fullest.

 

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What to eat?

After all that exploring, trekking, kayaking and swimming, you’ll definitely need a good meal, and there is not a better place to taste some delicious dishes than Cilento.

 

After all, it is the birthplace of the Mediterranean diet, a diet developed by American scientist and author Ancel Keys. Keys had observed the low level of coronary disease amongst the inhabitants of Crete despite the amount of fats and oils they consumed, and began to research and develop his very special diet plan when he relocated to Cilento.

 

We particularly recommend trying some of the area’s local delicacies, such as Cilento’s famous buffalo mozzarella and ricotta, which are perfect on top of a pizza or even on their own! You can even meet the beautiful buffalo and witness the cheese being made at authentic buffalo farms, such as Tenuta Vannulo and Barlotti Caseficio! And don’t forget to stick around for a tasting.

 

If you would prefer a dish with fish, why not head over to the hill top coastal town of Pisciotta, which boasts several restaurants (such as Perbacco and Angiolina, an old railway worker’s canteen dating back to 1958) that serve up the town’s renowned sumptuous salty anchovies caught by local fishermen in the nearby bay.

 

Dried white figs are another speciality of Cilento, which can be bought as an ideal holiday gift to take back home at Santo Miele farm (where you can also spend the night!).

 

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