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Hidden Gems
Walking the Cilento Coast and Mountains

Walking the Cilento Coast and Mountains

Overview

The region of Campania in southern Italy is primarily known for its beautiful Amalfi Coast and the Sorrento Peninsula. But Campania’s real secret is located south of Salerno and the wonderful Greek temples of Paestum. Founded in 1991, the Cilento and Vallo di Diano National Park is the second-largest park in Italy. It includes a great part of the geographical regions of Cilento and Vallo di Diano, in the Province of Salerno (Campania).

This tour takes place in the western part of Cilento known as Cilento Antico, dominated by the volcano-shaped Mt. Stella. A large part of the tour is along the coast. Still, you walk as well through pristine natural areas and attractive countryside, with all its cultural treasures like rural chapels, ancient farmhouses, old water mills and charming medieval villages where the traditional way of life is still evident. During the tour, you will also visit some of the nicest old fishing villages, like Santa Maria and San Marco di Castellabate, Marina di Camerota and Acciaroli as well as the hilltop villages of Rocca Cilento, Pollica and Galdo.

Highlights

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Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival Paestum

Arrival at Paestum by train and reach the hotel, located close to the temples area, among the best-preserved in Europe. Leave your luggage in the hotel and take your time to visit the archaeological site with its amazing Greek temples and the museum. Back to the hotel to enjoy a typical dinner of local cuisine.

Day 2: Agropoli – Punta Tresino – Santa Maria di Castellabate I 15 km

Today you first make a short train ride to Agropoli, from where you start a wonderful walk along the headland of Punta Tresino, one of the last remaining stretches of pristine coast. You walk through a genuine Mediterranean landscape, through forests and scrubland, along wonderful beaches and an ancient roman harbour, with beautiful views over the sea. You reach the abandoned village of San Giovanni, where still some excellent white wine is being produced (optional tasting possible). Then you descend to the large sandy beach of Castellabate. You continue the walk along the beach until you reach the charming little fishing harbour of Santa Maria. From here, you are being picked up – perhaps after a swim and a nice gelato on the beach, and you are brought to your charming hotel in the fortified village of Rocca Cilento.

  • Walking for the day: 15 km, 5 hours ↑250 m ↓250 m
  • Accommodation: country house in Rocca Cilento (Antico Convento or similar)

Day 3: Valle dei Mulini Circular Walk I 14 km

Today you make a circular walk from Rocca Cilento. This walk brings you through some of the most interesting villages in the area and into the so-called “Valle dei Mulini” (the Valley of the Mills). Parts of the walks follow the old route that used to connect this valley to the Greek cities of Paestum and Velia. First, you walk down along the ridge, with wonderful views to both sides, to the tiny village of Lustra with its very well preserved medieval village centre. Then you start descending to the Valley of the Mills, along a beautiful, recently restored footpath. Here you’ll notice the remains of at least 17 mills. These are dispersed along the stream’s path, which, though being small, had enough water to supply all these mills before flowing into the Fiumara River, which you’ll cross. Then you’ll climb up to the charming little hamlet of Valle Cilento, with its beautiful bell towers. The path then descends into the valley again and goes past the intriguing abandoned village of Massacanina. A short but steep climb leads you to the ridge again and, past the monastery of Mercato Cilento, you take a panoramic dirt road, which will then lead you back to Rocca Cilento, dominated by its fine castle where views over the area are unrivalled. Take some time to relax on the panoramic terrace before your dinner based on local specialities.

  • Walking for the day: 14 km, 4-5 hours ↑600 m ↓600 m
  • Accommodation: country house in Rocca Cilento (Antico Convento or similar)

Day 4: Perdifumo – Monte Stella – Galdo di Pollica/Mauro I 12 km

Today you will make a very panoramic walk along the ridge of Mt. Stella, which still is the geographical and cultural centre of the area, surrounded by a ring of charming medieval villages. A short transfer brings you to Perdifumo, where you start the walk in the chestnut forest. Once you reach the ridge, views range from the island of Capri and the Amalfi Coast to Capo Palinuro and sometimes even the island of Stromboli in Sicily! Part of the walk leads through the maquis and bare rocks, part through thick chestnut forests. You pass the historical ‘Castelluccio’, an abandoned fortress, probably dating back to the pre-Roman period. Then, still following the ridge, you reach the chapel of the Virgin of Mount Stella, the area’s spiritual centre, and still worshipped. Then you make a long descend towards the coast, and you’ll pass a nice picnic area and a last, very scenic stretch brings you down to the beautiful small village of Galdo (or San Mauro), your base for the next two nights.

  • Walking for the day: 12 km, 5 hours ↑400 m ↓700 m
  • Accommodation: Agriturismo in Galdo di Pollica (Borgoinpietra or similar) or B&B in San Mauro (depending on the availability)

Day 5: The Ring of the Villages I 10 km

Today’s walk is a cultural walk, which will bring you through several beautiful historic villages. The first one is the tiny medieval Galdo, where you must visit the lone church of San Nicola. From here you climb up and shortly reach the small hamlet of Celso, which you enter under its medieval arch. From Celso to Pollica you’ll follow one of the most scenic paths of the area, with amazing views over the sea. Take your time to stroll through the alleys of the village and perhaps have lunch at the beautiful “Orto dei Centenari”. Along a scenic road, you then walk on to Cannicchio, beautifully located on a ridge, again with great views over the sea. After a drink here you walk back through the valley to your accommodation.

  • Walking for the day: 10 km, 3-4 hours ↑370 m ↓370 m
  • Accommodation: Agriturismo in Galdo di Pollica (Borgoinpietra or similar) or B&B in San Mauro (depending on the availability)

Day 6: Galdo/Mauro – Acciaroli – San Marco di Castellabate I 10 km

Today you leave the hills and walk back down to the sea. A very scenic walk will bring you down to Acciaroli, a characteristic fishing village with a beautiful sandy beach, one of Ernest Hemingway’s favourite places. Here you can enjoy a swim before you are picked up and brought to the small village of San Marco di Castellabate, where you stay in a comfortable family-run hotel. In case you want to relax, there are a few beautiful beaches nearby, and you still have the time to make the nice short walk to Santa Maria di Castellabate. In case you want to make a more challenging round walk: you can opt for the walk up to Castellabate itself, a beautiful medieval town with its imposing castle overlooking the sea. From there, you then make a stunningly scenic walk back down to the coast, either towards Santa Maria or directly back to your hotel in San Marco. In the evening, you are free to arrange your own dinner from a wide choice of restaurants in the nearby surroundings.

  • Walking for the day: 10 km, 3-4 hours ↑70 m ↓500 m
  • Accommodation: 3-star hotel in San Marco di Castellabate (Hotel Antonietta or similar)

Day 7: Punta Licosa Circular Walk I 15 km

Directly from the hotel, you start a circular walk passing through typical Mediterranean maquis into the area of Monte Licosa. The headland of Licosa is the point where Cilento mostly reaches out to sea, like a miniature reproduction of the Monte Stella peninsula. It is full of marine charm, a place where the sea breeze makes the trees “dance”, bound to Ulysses’ myth: people say that the siren Leucosia drowned herself here for the sake of Ulysses. This myth and the marvellous landscape make this area a really enchanting place to visit in every season of the year. In wintertime, the clear sky offers superb views over the Amalfi Coast and Palinuro; in springtime, the flowering brooms cover the hill with golden yellow, and during the summer, you can swim in an immaculate sea. In autumn, the sea temperature is still warm, and on clear days you can take relaxing walks. You first walk up through the pine forest until you come to the ridge. Along the ridge, there are several watchtowers, from where you can observe the whole area, both the coast and inland. Through a pleasant agricultural landscape, you descend to the coast at Ogliastro Marina, and from here, you follow a coastal trail to the very point of the headland. Also, here along the coast, you see the ruins of several watchtowers. There are several possibilities for a swim. From Punta Licosa, you then continue along the coast, and a beautiful path brings you back to the nice harbour of San Marco.

  • Walking for the day: 15 km, 5 hours ↑400 m ↓400 m
  • Accommodation: 3-star hotel in San Marco di Castellabate (Hotel Antonietta or similar)

Day 8: Departure or Onward Travel

The tour ends after breakfast in San Marco. A short transfer brings you to the Agropoli train station. From here you return to Naples (centre or airport), Salerno or Rome by train.

What to Expect

Accommodation

All nights are spent in charming 3 hotels, an agriturismo** and a comfortable guesthouse (comparable to a 3-star hotel) as listed in the itinerary. All rooms are private with en-suite facilities. Some accommodations have a swimming pool.

Click to view default hotels

*Hotels are subject to availability. In case a particular hotel is fully booked for your desired dates, we will replace it with a hotel of equal value and quality level. We will provide exact accommodation details to you upon booking confirmation. Upgrade of the hotels is possible at some of the places on request.

**What is an agriturismo? A combination of the words for “agriculture” and “tourism” in Italian — it is a farm-stay, but it’s also much, much more. Typically, an agriturismo is an independently-owned farm that the owners have decided to use partially for accommodation purposes, in a way similar to English or American bed and breakfasts. One of the best parts of staying in a traditional agriturismo? The food. An Italian agriturismo will usually serve guests food that was prepared from raw materials – vegetables, fruit, eggs, meat, and often wine and olive oil – produced on the farm or from other local merchants.

Meals

All accommodations are on a B&B basis. 5 dinners are included on Days 1-5; on the other days, you are free to choose from the wide range of restaurants in the area. Your accommodation operator can give you good tips. On some occasions, you can also opt to eat at the premises of the hotel. No picnic lunches are included in the tour price, but these can be prepared for you by the accommodation holders, or products for picnics can be purchased in the villages where you’ll be staying.

Difficulty & terrain

This tour is suitable for those who have some experience of walking, not necessarily in the mountains, and a good general physical condition. Mostly easy walks, though some include walking uphill, sometimes on paths with rough surfaces. On some days extensions or shortcuts are possible. Most of the trails are well maintained. You should be able to walk for 4-6 hours a day – partly in the hot sun on dusty or stony tracks (read more about difficulty grades). Most of the walks are on good paths, some of them just recently restored by the local authorities. Parts of the trails are waymarked. Elsewhere you have to follow the route notes provided together with the maps. We strongly advise you to follow only marked trails and never try to shorten the path through the unknown and unmarked terrain. We will provide you with detailed road notes and maps, and you can call our 24/7 local assistance phone number anytime. More detailed info on route navigation will be included in your holiday information pack.

When to go

This trip is available from mid-March until the end of October. The flexibility of self-guided holidays means that there are no fixed dates and you can start your trip on any date in the season. Late spring, the whole summer and early autumn are beautiful on the Cilento coast. It may become scorching in July and August, and some of the resort towns may become overcrowded in these months, although the trails along the mountain slopes above the coast are far from the tourist crush. The best time to see the area is from April to June when the spring flowers are in bloom, the weather is just warm enough, and the Mediterranean temperature allows for the first dips of the season. September and October are also an excellent time to visit Cilento, while the temperatures are still mild.

Getting there

FCO up-to-date travel advice

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By plane

Our recommended arrival airport for this holiday is Naples. Other Italian airports are also well connected to the area.

By train or bus

The tour starts in Paestum – Capaccio train station is connected to Naples by frequent train service. Visit the Italia Rail website for up-to-date train timetables and fares or use the Omio planner above. From the station, you can take a taxi to your hotel or book a private transfer.

The tour ends after breakfast on Day 8. Take a bus or a taxi to Agropoli train station. Train service can bring you to Salerno, Naples or Rome.

Inclusions

Included

  • Detailed pre-departure holiday information pack including GPS-checked and regularly updated route descriptions, road notes and maps (electronic copy + one printed copy per party)
  • 7 overnights in a nice guesthouse, an agriturismo and 3-star hotels as listed in the itinerary
  • 7 breakfasts
  • 5 dinners on Days 1-5
  • Luggage transfers on all walking days / when changing hotels (one piece of luggage per person, max 15 kg)
  • Private transfers as per itinerary on Day 2, Day 4, Day 6 & Day 8
  • 24/7 assistance phone assistance by our local office/representative in Salerno

Excluded

  • Airfare and connecting land transfers
  • Lunches and 2 dinners, drinks and snacks
  • Travel insurance (required – get a quote online)
  • Personal expenses
  • Local tourist fees (payable on the spot)
  • Any items not specifically mentioned as ‘Included’ in the programme

Options, extras & supplements

  • Supplement applies to members of a group who require a single room / single use of a double room
  • This holiday is available for solo travellers; a supplement will be charged as accommodation and luggage transfer costs are not shared (we never mix and match – solo travellers will be accommodated in single rooms)
  • Extra nights

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