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KNOW BEFORE YOU GO - STAY SAFE & HEALTHY ABROAD (foreign office travel advice)

Calabria

Calabria Holidays

Located in the 'toe' of boot-shaped Italy, Calabria is a gorgeous region of unspoilt coastlines, villages perched on craggy mountains and aromatic groves of bergamot. With its natural beauty and rich cultural heritage, the region is an undiscovered gem waiting to be explored.

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Unspoilt natural beauty

Calabria is separated from the island of Sicily by a narrow strait, but it receives far fewer visitors than its neighbour, and remains untouched by mass tourism. A coastal region bordered by the Tyrrhenian Sea in the west and the Ionian Sea in the east, there are nearly 500 miles of sun-kissed coastline to explore. Even in the high season it's possible to find a quiet beach to relax and unwind on.

Travel inland and you'll marvel at the beauty and diversity of the region. From the rugged Pollino mountains to the forested plateau of La Sila, known as the 'great wood of Italy', there are plenty of places to get away from it all.

Where to stay in Calabria

Quick Tips

  • Roman Catholic
  • Euro
  • Italian
  • GMT + 1

Best beaches

Calabria is an underrated beach-holiday destination, and there are hundreds of pristine beaches for you to spread out your towel. Picturesque bays and wide stretches of soft white sand are surrounded by rugged granite cliffs and cool forests of eucalyptus and pine. With its clear, calm waters, there's plenty of scope for watersports such as scuba diving, kayaking and snorkelling.

Tropea beach is one of the most popular in Calabria, a long stretch of white sand lapped by azure waters. From the beach you can see the smouldering volcanic island of Stromboli, located at a safe distance across the sea. Meanwhile, Capo Vaticano is one of the most beautiful beaches in Italy – a small bay sheltered by forests and dramatic granite-rock formations.

Food and drink

Calabrian's cuisine is as diverse as its geography, and absolutely delicious. The region's unofficial symbol is the pepperoncino, a locally grown, bright-red chilli. It's used to flavour many Calabrian dishes, including 'nduja, a spicy, spreadable sausage. Small, vibrant red Tropea onions are also frequently used to make pasta dishes or delicious preserves.

Make sure you try caciocavallo, a cheese with a distinctive salty taste that pairs perfectly with local cured meats. Calabria also specialises in rustic, mouthwatering pasta dishes such as lagane e cicciari – flat noodles tossed with chickpeas, garlic and local olive oil.

Whatever you choose to eat, make sure you end your meal with a glass of liquore al bergamotto, a liqueur made from local citrus fruit which tastes similar to limoncello.

Perfect seclusion

Do you need some rest and relaxation after a stressful period at work? Want to get away from it all with your family or significant other? Calabria is the perfect place to spend time with loved ones, offering plenty of opportunities for downtime.

Take a trip down the Tyrrhenian coast in search of local eateries and secluded beaches. Hire a car and drive inland up curving mountain roads in search of solitude. You'll wind past groves of olive and bergamot to discover clear mountain lakes and waterfalls. If it's culture you're looking for, seek out the region's crumbling, majestic forts and the 11th-century monastery of Serra San Bruno, which is surrounded by forests and has a sun-dappled swimming pool and local restaurant nearby.

Towns of the region

As well as its quiet corners, Calabria has many towns where you can experience vibrant local culture. The region's capital, Catanzaro, is an elegant European city where you'll find artisanal markets, amazing restaurants and shaded plazas like the historic Piazza Matteotti. You can also find out more about Calabria's intriguing past on a trip to the impressive Scolacium Archaeological Park, which showcases ruins from the Roman, Byzantine and Greek periods.

The most popular beach resort is Tropea, a jumble of lanes and plazas with a dramatic clifftop location; below its granite cliffs you'll find one of the best beaches in Calabria. Scilla is another gorgeous clifftop town, with pastel houses rising up above turquoise waters. The Castello Ruffo di Scilla, a dramatic castle of pink-tinged sandstone, is located at the town's highest point, and is the perfect place to watch the sun set.