There are regions in Italy that are very difficult to get to know using public transport (trains and buses), to get to them you really need to rent a car, Calabria is one of those regions. By car you can visit the lost villages among the mountains, as well as discover the natural beauty of this region that is practically untouched by traditional tourism. We present you a 12-day itinerary in Calabria. Are you ready to embark in the trip of your dreams? So, let’s do it! Here at Traveling to Calabria you make the trip of your dreams!!! Are you staying in Calabria? Looking for a hotel? Click here and discover best accommodation options in Calabria!
Lets go to know our Calabria?
Calabria is part of the southern Italian peninsula and has mountainous territory between the Ionian Sea and the Tyrrhenian Sea. Its wonderful beaches are popular tourist destinations for Italians but also for Europeans in general. Although the region prioritizes the promotion of its maritime locations, in my opinion, what is most worthwhile is to know its heritage of medieval villages inserted among rocks. These villages were strategically built with a view to the sea, to protect themselves against pirate invasions, or in the mountains where life STILL HAPPENS according to the rhythms of the seasons. So, visiting Calabria means getting to know the most authentic things about the Italian people!
CURIOSITY: DID YOU KNOW THAT IN 2017 NEW YORK TIMES ELECTED CALABRIA AS ONE OF THE 52 MUST-SEE PLACES TO BE VISITED IN THE WORLD? IT WAS THE ONLY ITALIAN REGION ELECTED BY NEW YORK TIMES IN 2017! ARE YOU SURE YOU WANNA MISS THE CHANCE TO KNOW CALABRIA?
A little more about Calabria
Let’s remember that Calabria, like all of southern Italy, was populated by different peoples: the Greeks (people who called this region Magna Grecia, meaning a land more important than the land of origin), the Romans, the Byzantines, Normans, Swabians, Angevins and Aragonese. This is the reason why this land is so diverse and in each part of the Calabria territory we find a different cultural and artistic heritage! Regarding everything that can be visited, I suggest you to go to the various links for more information about the different locations.
I will write a 12-day itinerary going through the most important and beautiful towns in Calabria, including the towns that are part of the association “Club dei Borghi più belli d’Itália” (Club of the most beautiful villages in Italy), which today consists of 217 towns throughout Italy, of these, ten are located in Calabria, as well as the most important maritime, religious and archaeological tourist destinations.
On average, this itinerary has a minimum of 60 and a maximum of 240 kilometers per day, according to the location you choose to sleep; I suggest you to do it in an itinerant way, which means sleeping each night in a different location; I know it’s not a great thing to open and close your bags, but I think it’s worth to always be as close as possible to the areas to be visited so that the tour is less tiring (or if you prefer to stay in 2 or 3 main locations, such as Reggio Calabria, Cosenza and Vibo Valentia (or Tropea), basically we will do a complete tour of Calabria, departing and arriving in Reggio Calabria.
1) 12-day itinerary in Calabria – FIRST DAY
Regardless of where you arrive (Paola, Reggio Calabria or Lamezia Terme), you will rent a car and depart for the first day of the tour that will begin in Reggio. We are going to start our tour visiting the museum of Reggio Calabria to get to know the famous Bronzi di Riace (Riace’s Bronze) statues, two magnificent works of art, dated around the 5th century BC, examples of ancient Greek sculpture, belonging to the transitional period between archaic Greek sculpture and the old classic style. These are unique pieces of art in the world! I suggest a brief visit to the city’s Cathedral and its boardwalk; I suggest an overnight in a hotel in Reggio Calabria.
2) 12-day itinerary in Calabria – SECOND DAY
Scilla and Pentedatillo – starting our second day, we are going to visit Pentadatilo: this village was abandoned in the sixties of the 20th century, and what fascinates this village is the mystery of the place, known as one of Italy’s ghost towns. Want to know why? Well, you will have to go there! Its exceptional scenic beauty will also leave you speechless. Finally, we will end the day visiting Scilla (one of the most beautiful towns in Italy), known as the “Venice of the South”, for the way the houses “lean” on the sea. Be sure to visit the Castle and dine on a typical place, tasting amazing food made with swordfish! I suggest an overnight stay in a hotel in Reggio Calabria.
3) 12-day itinerary in Calabria – THIRD DAY
Bova, Gerace and Stilo – Today we will visit Bova (one of the most beautiful towns in Italy), capital of the Greek area, where even today they speak a dialect derived from Greek and where traditions from the East are maintained. Then we will continue to Gerace (one of the most beautiful towns in Italy) to visit to the Norman city par excellence; be sure to visit the famous Cathedral of Gerace, one of the most important in Calabria. We continue to Stilo (another town considered one of the most beautiful towns in Italy), which certainly preserves the most important architectural jewel in the entire Calabria, the Cattolica, a small Byzantine temple, dating from the 9th century AD with a square Greek cross plan. I suggest staying overnight in a B & B or in agriturismo in the area of Stilo. Long day? If you prefer to take it easy, I recommend only visiting Gerace and Stilo. Read also: What are the 10 must-see agriturism in Calabria?
4) 12-day itinerary in Calabria – FOURTH DAY
Squillace, Le Castelle and Santa Severina – Today’s schedule includes several stops, first we will pass through the Archaeological Park of Squillace; we will visit the park and the archaeological remains of the wonderful Basilica of Santa Maria della Roccella. We will continue to visit the Castle inside the sea, in Le Castelle, near Capo Rizzuto; be sure to stop here to take pictures of the wonderful coastline.
Let’s keep going until we reach Santa Severina (one of the most beautiful towns in Italy) and for which I am totally in love – the town is known as the “stone ship”; be sure to visit the Baptistery, one of the main works left by the Byzantines to the territory and its Castle, which is considered one of the most beautiful in southern Italy, fully restored and which reveal 1200 years of history! I suggest staying overnight at an agriturismo in the Santa Severina area.
5) 12-day itinerary in Calabria – FIFTH DAY
Rossano and Corigliano – Today we will visit Rossano with its amazing old town where the important church of San Marco is located, one of the most important Byzantine works in Calabria along with Cattolica, in Stilo. We will continue to Corigliano where we will visit the old town and its wonderful castle completely restored where you will be dazzled with a wonderful panoramic view. I suggest staying overnight at an agriturismo or in a hotel in the Sibari area.
6) 12-day itinerary in Calabria – SIXTH DAY
Sibari and Altomonte – We will start the day by visiting Sibari, one of the most important cities of the Greek period, where we will visit the archaeological museum that will tell the story of this wonderful and unique civilization! We will continue our trip to Altomonte (one of the most beautiful towns in Italy); located at the foot of the Pollino National Park, we will visit its old Church, which testifies to its long and fascinating history. I suggest staying overnight at an agriturismo or in a hotel in the Sibari area.
7) 12-day itinerary in Calabria – SEVENTH DAY
Civita, Morano Calalabro and Aieta – Today we will visit Civita, (one of the most beautiful towns in Italy), a village of “Arbëreshë” origin founded in the 15th century, thanks to Albanian populations fleeing the persecutions of the Turks; we will continue to Morano Calabro (one of most beautiful towns in Italy), the delicate union of art and natural beauty makes this town one of the most beautiful in southern Italy. Finally, we continue to Aieta (one of the most beautiful towns in Italy), with a visit to its old town that still retains indelible traces of its glorious past. Need to rest? If you prefer to take it easy, I recommend only visiting Civita and Morano. I suggest you to stay overnight at an agriturismo or in a hotel in the Scalea area.
8) 12-day itinerary in Calabria – EIGHTH DAY
Isola Dino, San Nicola Arcella, Scalea, Cirella, Diamante and Paola – Today we will visit some of the most important and beautiful locations on the Calabria coast, such as Isola di Dino, Scalea and San Nicola Arcella. Don’t miss the famous Arco Magno e Diamante with its graceful old town. I suggest you staying overnight in a hotel in the Paola area.
9) 12-day itinerary in Calabria – NINTH DAY
Fiumefreddo and Paola – We will start the day visiting the Sanctuary of Santo Francesco, in Paola, and then we will leave to visit the village of Fiumefreddo (one of the most beautiful towns in Italy), an old medieval village, protected by walls with small alleys, ruins and towers. The panorama around the village is of inestimable beauty. PS: very close is the village of Amantea, which also has a very beautiful historic center! I suggest staying overnight in a hotel in the Paola area or directly in Cosenza.
10) 12-day itinerary in Calabria – TENTH DAY
Cosenza – Beginning of the visit in Cosenza, one of the most important cities in Calabria; we are going to visit its historic center, including the famous Duomo recognized by UNESCO; the Castle, recently restored and, in time, visit the Museum of Enotri, where you can learn more about the history of the region going through all the historical stages. Take the chance to visit its open air museum. Anyway, Cosenza is a very special city. I suggest staying overnight in a hotel in Cosenza.
11) 12-day itinerary in Calabria – ELEVENTH DAY
Pizzo, Tropea, Capo Vaticano, Palmi and the promontory of Sant Elia / Reggio Calabria 231 kilometers – Leaving to visit one of the most beautiful coastlines in Calabria (and Italy) passing through Pizzo where we will visit its castle and taste the famous ice cream called “tartuffo”; then we will continue to Tropea, known as the Pearl of Calabria; Capo Vaticano, with a wonderful sea (a panoramic photo stop at Faro de Capo Vaticano is a MUST SEE spot!) and we will pass by the Sant’Elia promontory, where we will take other beautiful photos from the Calabria Coast; finally return to Reggio Calabria (or to Lamezia, or Paola). I suggest you to stay overnight in the Reggio Calabria area.
PS: If you have available time, I suggest you to increase the tour and stay, at least two days, in this area in order to enjoy the beaches of Tropea and Capo Vaticano, which are on the list of the 100 most beautiful beaches in the world and among the 10 most beautiful from Italy.
12) 12-day itinerary in Calabria – TWELVE DAY
Departure Day – Yesterday’s tour was amazing, wasn’t? So pack your bags and, I am sure, that you will start missing Calabria already.
- If you have only a few days available, I suggest you to review this itinerary choosing the locations according to your personal interests.
A Little more of the Beauties of Calabria
Imagine a place of incomparable beauty, where time seems to have stopped and where the splendor of the sea and the summer sunsets will warm up the desire for the ideal vacation… If that is your wish, come to this splendid land called Calabria, land of culture, history, customs, typical flavors, not only as a tourist, but as a guest.
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