The Cilento National Park is a stunning area with some of the best cycle routes in Italy.
One of the most memorable aspects of cycling in Cilento are the high mountains situated close to the sea. There’s something special about riding along cliff tops above the beach and then zigzagging up to 1,700m within sight of the sea before enjoying stunning views of the cliffs and beaches from above. Views of the island of Capri and the Amalfi coast stretched out across the bay behind the turquoise waters of the Tyrrhenian Sea or small picturesque ports filled with fishing boats or small yachts never fail to impress from above.
Bike challenges – some of our favourite routes
For those who want to do a few days of cycling while on holiday in the Cilento area we can recommend the suggestions made by our friend Peter Amann, in his travel guide “Cilento aktiv” (unfortunately only in German). He describes ten short bicycle tours. Detailed information about bicycle racing and mountainbiking in the Cilento as well as about the tours (incl. detailed altitude chart) can be found in the book mentioned above.
Here are some of the favourite routes of Francis Cassidy & Jack Stafford (CycleCilento), two real connaisseurs of the area, who – after having cycled all over the world – settled in this area!
They are suggestions for some more challenging rides, which can be mixed and matched, made shorter, easier, longer or steeper depending on the group’s abilities, in order to create the perfect cycling tour.
Once everyone has had their photo taken in front of the temples in Paestum, which date from 500BC, the riders get a 20km warm-up along the flat before the 13 hairpins up to the hard to reach (and even harder to pronounce) village of Roccadaspide (416m). You can turn right and climb up through the chestnut forests (for which the area is famous) over Mount Vesole (1,026m), or take the longer loop around the mountain range, which still takes you to 650m. Both rides pass by Trentinara on the way back. The ‘terrace of the Cilento’ offers a breathtaking view over the Tyrrhenian Sea, best viewed from the cliff-side cafe while enjoying local Grappas.
This is a short loop around the ridge that rounds Agropoli to the east. It’s one to get you warmed up, or to save for a day when you’ve overindulged the night before! As you slowly meander upwards, the panoramic sea views across the Cilento hills never fail to impress. After 30km on the undulating roads you’ll arrive at the picturesque village of Perdifumo where you can take a well deserved break and refill your bottle from a fountain cut out of the rock. From there it’s a descent all the way back to Agropoli at sea level. The long winding descent flanked by the constantly changing colours of the agricultural land is particularily enjoyable.
This scenic loop can be done in either direction, depending on whether you want the climbing right out of the blocks or at the end or the ride. In either direction it serves as a great example of the beauty and variety that Cilento offers to cyclists with the mixture of mountains and coastline. The switchback climb up to Rutino offers an incredible panorama of the reservoir and the impressive peaks of Cilento National Park which encircle it. Much of this ride takes you along the stunning Cilento coastline and a stop for coffee in the seaside town of Acciaroli, where Hemmingway recuperated after writing “The Old Man and the Sea” is a must. Further up the coast the town of Castellabate where the film ‘Welcome to the South’ was filmed always makes a nice ice-cream stop.
It’s famous all over the world and its located just across the bay from the Cilento! The Amalfi coast is a stunning ride, and one which we love to take our visitors on. From Paestum/Agropoli, it’s an 40km flat ride (or a short train ride!) as far as Salerno before swinging off onto the road which winds its way down the stunningly beautiful undulating Amalfi coast. There really is nothing quite like riding down through the small picturesque villages of Vietri Sul Mare, Cetara, Maoiri, Amalfi itself or further along down through Praiano even as far as Sorrento! depending on how long you want to make the day! Regular trains run to Agropoli from Salerno for those who would rather a shorter day.
It’s a ‘Queen Stage’, and one of the toughest Cilento has to offer! After rolling out of Agropoli things start out easy on the undulating but scenic terrain. It’s not until 20km before the foot of Monte Gelbison that the climbing really begins. It’s here where the unique geology of the Cilento area really impresses as the road rises steeply from sea level up the punishing slopes of Gelbison which tops out at 1,700m within 35km. It truly is a punishing ride and one best reserved for those in good physical condition. For those who make it up, the views are impressive on a clear day as the peaks of Cilento National Park stretch out around. Riders can enjoy a well deserved coffee and snack in one of the restaurants around the monastery on top before making the long winding descent.