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.
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.