Mediterranean Coast of Calabria in 48 Hours

See stunning beaches, castles and seaside villages in southern Italy

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The west coast of Calabria, on the Tyrrhenian Sea, is known for its pristine white-sand beaches sitting below rocky cliffs. Adding to the charm, the coast is dotted with seaside villages and medieval castles. Scilla’s cliffs, above the Strait of Messina, are famous as being the home of the six-headed monster in The Odyssey. Local legends say mermaids live in the waves created by the strong currents in the strait.


Scilla has more than just monsters and mermaids. It has a beautiful, clean beach and a castle, Castello Ruffo, perched on the cliff above the sea. In the upper part of the village, the church next to the castle is known for its 14 bronze sculptures of Jesus. The lower part, closer to the sea, is the old fisherman’s settlement. Visit the castle and church and spend some time to wandering through both parts the village.

Scilla can be reached by train and the station is close to the sea. The train times, however, aren’t so convenient for tourists and the coast is really best explored by car. The town also is close to the town of Villa San Giovani from where you can take the ferry to Sicily.


Continuing northeast up the coast, called the Costa Viola, stop in Palmi, at the foot of the Aspromonte Mountains. The marina has a fine sandy beach and there are two museums in town. La Casa della Cultura Leonida Repaci has contemporary art and an archaeology section with Bronze Age and Roman artifacts. In the garden are bronze sculptures and two Roman columns.  The Museo Calabrese di Etnografie e Folklore has an interesting collection of traditional and folklore items from Calabria including costumes, ceramics, and tools used in the past.

Capo Vaticano and Tropea

Further along the coast is the Costa degli Dei, Coast of the Gods. Tropea is a stunning town perched on a cliff on the promontory. The village has a historic center that’s full of interesting sights, restaurants, and shops. Visit the 12th century Norman Cathedral, wander through the pretty streets and little squares admiring the old mansions, and enjoy the fabulous view from the panoramic view spot. A monastery sits on the hill across from the town center on what was once an island. There’s a small private museum and an exhibition of model trains in the library, too. Tropea is known for its red onions and you’ll find them in many dishes. You may even find a red onion gelato.

The sandy beaches below and at Capo Vaticano are consistently rated as some of the cleanest in Italy. The sea here is clear and pleasant, making this the most popular area along the coast for tourists. It can get pretty crowded in summer so the best months to visit are May, June, and September when it’s usually warm enough to swim but not overly crowded. Tropea has a laid-back atmosphere and a train station. Excursion boats leave from its port, making it a good base for visiting Calabria’s Tyrrhenian Coast.

At A Glance

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