Calabria: dreamy beaches, romantic villages and rich history. A unique holiday isn’t all that the south of Italy is about, in fact. And if you want to get a few insights into the region that go beyond sunbathing alone, can start scratching the surface of the rich history of the region that makes up the tip of the Italian boot. Calabria is one of the most popular holiday destinations amongst Italians themselves, and not without good reason.
Best starting-out point: Lamezia Terme
From here, you can reach both the north and the southern tip of Calabria quickly and easily. Located east of the city and the airport, about halfway between the Ionian and Tyrrhenian Seas, is Catanzaro , the capital of Calabria . While Calabrese themselves tend to avoid Catanzaro, mainly due to the never-ending chaos on the roads, the city is interesting to tourists, if only because of its long history stretching back to the 9th Century and beautiful old city quarter.
Hikers’ heaven: Sila Grande and Sila Piccola
Above Catanzaro, fans of hiking will find everything they’re looking for and more. The mountain landscapes and small villages of Sila Piccola and Sila Grande are particularly attractive, and the hilly national park and neighbouring Lago di Cecita lake offers opportunities for a natural experience all year round.
The coast of the gods
Sun-seeking tourists flock to this resort in the south of Calabria, one of Italy’s most beautiful, with its strips of coast, countless beaches, azure sea and breathtaking views. As well as dream beaches , you can admire the cultural assets from many centuries ago at the tiny villages dotted along the coast. An excursion inland or further south to Reggio di Calabria is also well worth it, offering a great combination of swimming and relaxation. The best views are often to be had from the countless Saracen towers scattered along the 780-km coast of Calabria, which originally served as an early warning system against Muslim raiders from the early Middle Ages.
Tropea: the perfect Italian holiday
If you head south from Lamezia Terme, you should make time for a stopover at the popular holiday resort of Tropea . In the summer, there’s plenty going on in Tropea – the popular destination seems to be the epitome of a Calabria holiday and Italian flair , and offers everything the holidaymaker’s heart could possibly desire: relaxation on the beach, strolls in town, Calabrese culture (there’s also a market once a week), countless restaurants and bars and clubs on the beach.
Further south, just outside Nicotera , which offers amazing views down the south coast and across the water to Sicily because of its location high up in the hills, an excursion to what is said to be the most beautiful stretch of beach and coast in the region is well worth it. One of the best lookout points from Capo Vaticano – the ‘Belvedere’ – is located on the north side of the Cape. And if you fancy going for a swim, make time to visit the Baia di Riace before moving on.
On the road from Messina …
The road down to the southern tip of the boot and Reggio di Calabria is then just a stone’s throw away. You can get a drink on the way in the small coastal village of Scilla . In the beach shacks, you can stroll between pedalos and fishing boats owned by tourists and locals alike.
A post-prandial walk will take you back to the car or coach, through the fishing quarter of Chianalea, past romantic plant-covered walls and beautifully restored old buildings. If you don’t stay too long, you’ll be just in time to use the rest of the day to visit the Museo Archeologico Nazionale in Reggio de Calabria. As well as housing the most important archaeological finds in the region, the museum is (supposedly) home to the most beautiful and perfectly shaped men in the country, the famed warriors of Riace – carved in stone, naturally.
Not seen enough yet?
You’re only got two options open to you: extend your holiday, or come back. Because there are even more dreamy beaches and historic towns waiting to be discovered on the east coast of Calabria. On the way from the Tyrrhenian to the Ionian Sea, across the Serre mountains, you bump into beautiful monasteries and churches such as Certosa Serra San Bruno, and mediaeval towns. We recommend: coming back – Calabria has much, much more to offer!