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Hidden Gems
Coastal Trails of Cilento

Walking the Cilento Coast

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).

The Cilento Coast is a hidden gem that offers a wild kind of beauty; rocky ridges set between small picturesque inlets and richly scented pinewoods backing onto wide sandy beaches; Aleppo pines with multicoloured undergrowth of myrtle and prickly pear and huge, centuries-old, olive trees. The major part of the tour is along the coast. Still, you will 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 prettiest old fishing villages, like Santa Maria and San Marco di Castellabate, Marina di Camerota and Acciaroli.

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. 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 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 – San Marco di Castellabate I 17 km

Today you will take a panoramic walk along the ridge of Mt. Stella, which is the geographical 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 and 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 descent towards the coast, and you’ll pass through several beautiful historic villages. The first one is the tiny medieval Galdo. Follow Celso, Pollica, and Cannicchio, all beautifully located on the hills, with a charming medieval centre and nice views over the sea. It goes 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 take the public bus to the small village of San Marco di Castellabate, where you stay in a comfortable family-run hotel.

  • Walking for the day: 17 km, 5-6 hours ↑500 m ↓1100 m (shorter options are possible)
  • Accommodation: 3-star hotel in San Marco di Castellabate (Hotel Antonietta or similar)

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

Day 6: Palinuro Circular Walk I 8-15 km

From San Marco, you’ll be picked up by your private taxi for the transfer to Palinuro, where you can leave your luggage at your hotel and then start a great round walk. This walk starts directly from your accommodation and brings you to the mythical promontory of Cape Palinuro, named after one of the mates of Aeneas who drowned here. From the little fishermen’s harbour, you walk up to the lighthouse on top of Capo Palinuro. You will walk through shady pine woods and fragrant Mediterranean shrublands along well-maintained paths and gravel roads. From the lighthouse, you enjoy a magnificent view on the village of Palinuro and the Cilento Coast and part of the inland, with views reaching as far as the headland of Punta Licosa and Monte Stella. You then descend to the beautiful sandy beach of Marinella, a favourite among locals, where you can have lunch and a swim. Strong walkers may consider extending the Capo Palinuro walk to include the Molpa Hill, on which you’ll come across the ruins of a medieval castle, from where the view over the surrounding area is stunning. Also, you can continue to the Arco Naturale, making this into a whole day excursion. But it would be best if you also considered taking a boat tour to the beautiful “Grotta Azzurra”, perhaps not as famous as the one in Capri, but arguably more beautiful (and definitely less costly and less touristy!).

  • Walking for the day: 8 to 15 km, 3 to 6 hours depending on the route chosen
  • Accommodation: 3-star or 4-star hotel in Palinuro (Albergo Santa Caterina or similar)

Day 7: Palinuro – Marina di Camerota I 11-18 km

Today you’ll head for your next accommodation in the charming seaside village of Marina di Camerota. Straight from your accommodation, you first walk a short stretch through olive groves and along the river, then you start climbing up into the first hills above the coast between Palinuro and Marina di Camerota. This is a beautiful walk, with great views over the blue Mediterranean. You’ll walk partly through a forest and Mediterranean scrubland, and partly through farmland. You walk along with the ruins of old farmsteads and past the medieval chapel of Sant’Iconio. Along a stunning trail, you descend back to the coast again. The last stretch to the charming village of Marina di Camerota is along the coast again. There are several nice beaches in isolated inlets, so there is an option for a swim. Or you can opt to go for a stroll in the village itself, with its clear South American influence.

  • Walking for the day: 11 to 18 km, 4 to 6 hours depending on the route chosen ↑400-600 m ↓400-600 m
  • Accommodation: 3-star hotel or a guesthouse in Marina di Camerota (Park Hotel Cilento or similar)

Day 8: Costa degli Infreschi Circular Walk I 10 km

Today you’ll enjoy a coastal walk along with one of the most unspoilt stretches of coastline in southern Italy, with the cleanest seawater (Blue Flag). This is the so-called Costa degli Infreschi, named after the Roman harbour of Porto degli Infreschi, where there is a freshwater spring in a grotto. Easy and absolutely superb sightseeing on the ancient footpath which connects the village of Camerota to the ancient Roman harbour. The walk starts directly from your hotel in Marina di Camerota. First, you walk along its harbour then along with a series of grottos and beaches, you reach the first medieval watchtower. Now you have to climb a short stretch and continue through olive groves and scrubland. Then you descend to a little inlet, which reminds the desolate beaches of a tropical island. Another hour along a beautiful trail brings you to the Porto degli Infreschi. Local fishermen can cook lunch on the beach (optional, payment on the spot). Return either on foot or by boat (optional, payment on the spot) to Marina di Camerota. In the evening you are free to arrange your own dinner.

  • Walking for the day: 10 km, 3-4 hours ↑250 m ↓250 m
  • Accommodation: 3-star hotel or a guesthouse in Marina di Camerota (Park Hotel Cilento or similar)

Day 9: Departure or Onward Travel

After breakfast transfer to Pisciotta train station. From here you return by train to Naples, Salerno or Rome.

What to Expect

Accommodation

All nights are spent in charming 3- and 4-star hotels 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.

Meals

All accommodations are on a B&B basis. 4 dinners are included on Days 1-3 and 7; on the other days, you are free to choose from the wide choice of restaurants in the area. Your accommodation operator can give you useful tips. On some occasions, you can also choose 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 walking experience, 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 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 9 with a transfer to Pisciotta 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 one printed copy per room)
  • 8 overnights in nice guesthouses, 3 and 4-star hotels as listed in the itinerary
  • 8 breakfasts
  • 4 dinners on Days 1-3 and Day 7
  • Luggage transfers on all walking days / when changing hotels (1 piece up to 20 kg per person)
  • Private transfers as per itinerary on Day 2, Day 4, Day 6 and Day 9
  • 24/7 phone assistance by our local office/representative in Salerno

Excluded

  • Airfare and connecting land transfers
  • Lunches, 4 dinners, drinks and snacks
  • Travel insurance (required – get a quote online)
  • Personal expenses
  • Any items not explicitly listed as included

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
  • Private airport transfers

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