Cilento Coast Cycling Tour - biking across authentic southern Italy - BGCC
The Coast of the Sirens: cycling the Cilento National Park
Enjoy the hidden treasures of Campania Felix in the unknown Cilento
The region of Campania has been known as a paradise on earth since ancient times. The Greeks built some of their most impressive temples here and under the Romans they formed part of ‘Campania Felix’, or the Happy Land. When travelling here, one easily becomes overwhelmed by the well-known cultural and natural attractions: the great city of Naples, beautiful countryside, Roman ruins, small islands and stretches of spectacular coast, like the famous ‘Costiera Amalfitana’ with its towering cliffs and picturesque coves.
But Campania’s real secret is located south of Salerno, and immediately south of the wonderful Greek temples of Paestum. Here the coastline bulges out into an expanse of mountainous landmass known as the Cilento, now a National Park with World Heritage listing. The Cilento coast is fairly rocky territory, with the crystalline sea lapping at the shore. There is a wild kind of beauty here; rocky ridges set between small picturesque inlets and richly scented pinewoods backing onto wide sandy beaches. Aleppo pines loom over the multicoloured undergrowth of myrtle and cactuses; whilst huge, centuries-old olive trees grow right down to the shore. Inland the Cilento is largely undisturbed by the 21st century and you can enjoy visiting medieval and quaint fishing villages where the traditional way of life is still evident.
This tour gives you the opportunity to discover the quiet, peaceful Cilento National Park. You will start from the plain of Paestum, known for its amazing Greek temples, and a good place to start cycling through ‘flattish’ terrain. Paestum is also the birthplace of the buffalo mozzarella, the Cilento produces some great wines and there is much more for the real gourmets!
Then you gradually make your way south towards the little fishing village of Marina di Camerota in the far south of the Cilento. You’ll cycle along the coast, sampling dreamy coastal scenery, wild mountain valleys and deep gorges, and attractive countryside with vineyards and olive groves.
Here in the Cilento National Park you pass world-famous cultural sites, listed as World Heritage by UNESCO, such as Velia and Paestum, and visit some of the nicest medieval villages in the area, both along the coast and slightly inland, where the traditional way of life is still evident. All these attractions are connected by great well-paved and quiet roads, ideal for cycling. Of course there will also be plenty of time to enjoy the splendid beaches and wonderful food on offer.
On this amazing cycling adventure you will discover a beautiful, yet relatively unknown part of Italy: the Cilento National Park. It will become clear that it only takes a little effort to get ‘off the beaten track’, finding yourselves surrounded by nature just a few hundred metres from the crowds. You’ll discover a real cycling paradise!
This is a moderate tour which is suitable for all those who have some experience with bicycle touring and are in a good general physical condition. On some of the inland stretches you may encounter some steeper climbs. Average cycling times: approx 5-6 hours each day.
Cilento Coast Cycling Tour
Day 0 Naples (or Salerno)
N.B. If you arrive one day earlier you have the chance to pay a visit to the world-famous archaeological museum in Naples, where all the artefacts from Pompeii and Herculaneum are displayed, and/or the equally wonderful Capodimonte museum. It is also possible to make a daytrip to Pompeii. Several hotels can be booked in Naples and Salerno, according to your wishes (either ‘downtown’ centrally located, or near the harbour or train station, ranging from 3- to 5-star).
Day 1 Arrival – Paestum
After arriving in Paestum, your private minibus picks you up and brings you to the hotel, just outside the ancient city walls, just a few metres from the Greek temples. Depending on your arrival time, you could already take an optional short trip to test your bicycles, or, alternatively, go for a visit to the archaeological site, dating back to the 6th century BC (UNESCO World Heritage!), where you will admire not only the temples, but also several other monuments. In the late afternoon you will meet your tour guide and the rest of the group for a short introductory briefing on the tour, after which you will have a great dinner on the premises of the hotel.
Hotel in Paestum – HB
Day 2 Over the plain and through the foothills of Paestum
Our first trip takes us through the ancient territory of the Greek town of Paestum. It’s a relaxed ride through the plain, but you could opt for a longer and harder option that takes you to some nice medieval hamlets in the foothills and offers some amazing views. Before setting off you can visit the temples and the museum of the UNESCO World Heritage site of Paestum and its world-famous Doric temples. Here you will admire not only the three temples, but also other monuments including the amphitheatre, the ‘Heroon’ tomb, several Greek and Roman houses and one of the town’s impressive gates. In the local museum you can see the exemplary collection of prehistoric utensils, Greek vases and Roman sculpture. Absolutely not to miss is the so-called ‘Tomba del Tuffatore’ (Diver’s Tomb), a rare example of Greek funeral painting. Lunch can be taken at a local buffalo farm where you taste delicious, genuine, fresh mozzarella. The cycling trip will then take you through the plain to the Sele River, past the ‘Capo di Fiume’ karst springs, to the villages of Giugnano and Cicerale (optional) and back down again to your hotel. Dinner is on the premises of the hotel tonight. After dinner you can opt to make another short stroll past the temples and perhaps grab a gelato.
Distance : 33/65,5 km – Cycling time : 3 /5,5 hours. Hotel in Paestum – HB
Day 3 From Paestum to Casalvelino through Castellabate and Acciaroli
Today you will leave the Paestum plain for a first taste of the real Cilento. Your trip takes you on quiet roads through fragrant Mediterranean maquis and shady olive groves, up into the coastal hills above the town of Agropoli, through some dreamy medieval hamlets, and down again to the coastal villages of Santa Maria and San Marco di Castellabate. From here you continue along the coast in a southern direction. This is definitely one of the finest coastal rides in Italy, alternating wonderful views with charming seaside villages. You cycle past the headland of Punta Licosa, named after the nymph Leucosia, and then climb the ‘red hills’. After a flattish section you may then stop for a drink in Acciaroli, where, back in 1952, Ernest Hemingway spent some holidays and – some say – was inspired to write ‘The Old Man and the Sea’. Some of the village’s elders still remember having met the great author and may be willing to tell you an interesting tale or two. By lunch time you reach Ogliastro Marina, on the peninsula of Licosa, famous for its Aleppo Pines. Here you have a lazy lunch in the shade and then take some time for a swim. After a last easy climb that takes you a bit further inland again, you descend to the delightful little fishing village of Pioppi. Here you can visit the small Sea Life Museum dedicated to the local marine fauna and flora. Pioppi is also famous as the second home of the American professor Ancel Keys, father of the so-called Mediterranean Diet. A last short stretch brings you to Casalvelino Marina, where you will stay in a beautiful agriturismo for the next two nights. Tonight you’ll indulge in local specialties: the dinner you’ll have is completely based on the agriturismo’s own produce, prepared according to the best recipes.
Distance : 54,5 km – Cycling time : 5 hours. Agriturismo in Casalvelino – HB
Day 4 Around Monte Stella: roundtrip from Casalvelino
Today’s trip starts with a long and winding climb up the southern slopes of Monte Stella, to the beautifully located old village of Acquavella, through olive groves and vineyards. The road continues uphill and, past the village of Stella Cilento, you reach Omignano. Once you have reached this village, the route becomes easier, from here you’ll start the ‘Ring of Monte Stella’, a very panoramic tour with fantastic views in all directions, all around the ‘Mountain of the Sea’. This circuit touches several charming villages at more or less the same altitude (a transfer to either Stella Cilento or Omignano can be arranged). The easy road now passes through chestnut forests, opening up now and then to wonderful views over the inland Cilento, reaching as far as the Alburni and Cervati mountain ranges. Once you reach the northern edge of Mt. Stella, your views open up towards the Amalfi Coast and Capri. On clear days the view stretches even as far as the island of Stromboli in Sicily! Part of the tour goes through open landscapes, another part through the chestnut forests. You pass a number of nice medieval villages: Celso, Galdo, San Mauro, Stella Cilento, all worth a short stop. Their honest simplicity and quiet peace is best savoured from the local bar, with an Italian coffee at hand. At the end of the day you descend towards Pollica, and then along the coast back to Casalvelino. Or you can opt for a slightly longer route that takes you down to the fishing village of Acciaroli again, for a nice ‘aperitivo’ at the harbour, before doing the beautiful final stretch back to Casalvelino. After arriving here you can make a stop at the beach for a well-deserved relaxing swim. Another great dinner awaits you on the premises of your beautiful agriturismo.
Distance : 65 km – Cycling time : 5,5 hours. Agriturismo in Casalvelino – HB
Day 5 From Casalvelino to Cape Palinuro
Today is a relatively easy day, which will bring you along the panoramic coastal road to the southern part of the Cilento. The first few km. are like a warm-up ride through the coastal plain of the Alento River. Soon you reach the archaeological site of Velia, home to the Greek philosophers Zeno and Parmenides, and cradle of one of Europe’s most ancient schools of medicine. Amongst its remains one finds the celebrated ‘Porta Rosa’ (Pink Gate), one of the first examples of the use of the vault in Greek architecture. After a short visit you continue your ride, which now starts to go uphill, to reach the village of Ascea. The road now passes through fragrant Mediterranean maquis and centuries-old olive groves, all the while offering fantastic views over the sea. At about lunchtime you reach the medieval hilltop village of Pisciotta. Here you will enjoy a great lunch, overlooking the Mediterranean below. Luckily the ride after lunch is mostly downhill. Halfway through the afternoon you reach the headland of Capo Palinuro. This promontory, named after one of the helmsmen of the mythical hero Aeneas, is one of the most famous spots in the Cilento National Park. Its unique topography, made up of dazzlingly high rock cliffs full of sea grottos, amongst which is the stunning ‘Grotta Azzurra’, makes for a wonderful sight. You cycle to the little village of Palinuro and stop at the tiny port. Those who feel like it can make a short boat tour of the cape, visiting the caves. Others can have a drink or go for a swim at the beautiful little beach. You then cycle up the last few km to your stunningly located hotel, on top of the cliffs: from the terrace of your room you’ll be , overlooking the whole south – where you’ll be cycling tomorrow. You dine on the premises of the hotel tonight, a superb spot !
Distance : 40 km – Cycling time : 3- 4 hours. Hotel in Palinuro – HB
Day 6 Marina di Camerota and Monte Bulgheria roundtrip
After an early breakfast, you start your cycling day with a wonderful stretch along the southern coast of the Cilento National Park. You arrive in the lovely coastal town of Marina di Camerota, where you can have a short biscuit stop. And then you start climbing! During this very scenic climb you enjoy an unparalleled view of one of the most unspoilt stretches of coastline in southern Italy, the ‘Costa degli Infreschi’, one of the most unspoilt stretch of coastline in southern Italy. You pass through the little hamlet of Lentiscosa, and continue to the amazingly located village of San Giovanni a Piro, beautifully located with spectacular views of the Gulf of Policastro on the one side and the impressive sheer cliffs of the mountain on the other. Here you can have lunch, either a picnic lunch at one of the most stunning places you’ve ever been to, or in a cosy little restaurant.
You then continue the tour all around the impressive Mt. Bulgheria. First with a short downhill section, and then ‘levelish’ through the villages of Bosco and Acquavena, keeping the impressive limestone crags of Monte Bulgheria to your left. After reaching the valley of the Mingardo River you can continue for a short visit to the charming village of Roccagloriosa, nestled on a rocky hill high above the valley floor. After a stroll and perhaps a drink in the village square, you continue downhill, alongside the river, towards the entrance of the impressive Mingardo canyon, dominated by the abandoned medieval village of San Severino. Through the Mingardo canyon you return to your hotel at Cape Palinuro.
Distance : 52,5 km – Cycling time : 5 hours. Hotel in Palinuro – HB
Day 7 Departure from Cilento (on to the Amalfi coast?)
Today you can sleep in for a bit and enjoy the scenery. After a leisurely breakfast you are brought to the train station from where you can take the train to Naples, Rome or to Salerno, the gateway to the Amalfi Coast.
Thos who have booked the Amalfi extension continue their tour from here.
Cilento Coast Cycling Tour
ACCOMMODATION & MEALS
All nights are spent in beautiful, characteristic hotels or agriturismo’s (generally 3-star). All rooms have en-suite facilities.
Dinners are included on all nights except on the 6th night at Amalfi when you are free to organize your own dinner in one of the many restaurants in the little town.
No picnic lunches are included in the tour price, but these can be prepared for you by the accommodation holders, or materials for picnics can be purchased in the villages where you stay.
Nights 1 & 2 : The first two nights are spent in a nice 3-star hotel, just outside the archaeological site of Paestum. The hotel has its own beautiful garden, with swimming pool and is within walking distance of the Greek temples, as well as the beach.
Nights 3 & 4: These nights are spent in an agriturismo near the village of Casalvelino, in the Alento coastal plain, offering a taste of peaceful country life. Breakfast and dinner are based on local specialties.
Nights 5 & 6: The last two nights you stay in Palinuro, in a beautiful 4-star hotel located in an awesome position, right on top of the cliffs of Palinuro. A short descent brings you to the small beach of Buondormire, considered to be one of the most beautiful in the whole Cilento.
On our GUIDED CYCLING TOURS we include almost everything:
- Private English-speaking tour leader for 7 days
- Professional guiding service for each activity
- Accommodation in good ***/**** hotels and agriturismos : 2 nights Paestum, 2 nights Casalvelino, 2 nights Palinuro
- Meals: 5 breakfasts, 6 dinners (good restaurants!)
- All private & public transfers as indicated throughout the entire itinerary
- Support van & mechanical assistance for the duration of the tour
- Special activities as outlined in the day-by day-itinerary
- 24/7 assistance
- Luggage transport
- Departure taxes & Visas
- Travel Insurance
- Drinks and meals not mentioned in the itinerary
- Optional additional tours or activities
- Items of personal nature
- Bicycle rental (road racing bicycles available on request)
LEVEL OF DIFFICULTY
Moderate (3): Mostly moderate rides but with inevitably several climbs, only few of which are really strenuous. All roads are well paved and mostly quiet with little traffic except for some stretches near Paestum and along the Amalfitan Coast. Extensions or shortcuts are possible on some days.
Fitness: Some experience with bicycle touring and a good general physical condition will certainly make your travel experience more enjoyable. You should be able to cycle for several hours a day also in hot dry weather conditions.
ARRIVAL & DEPARTURE
Arrival: The tour starts in PAESTUM, which can easily be reached by train from either Naples or Salerno. A private transfer from the train station to your hotel is included. A group transfer from Naples (airport) or Salerno can be organised in the late afternoon You will need a private transfer from the local train station of Pisciotta/Palinuro to your hotel. Naples has an international airport. From Rome (and many other cities) Naples and Salerno, and thus Marina di Camerota, can easily be reached.
Departure: The tour ends after breakfast in PALINURO on day 7. A short transfer brings you to the train station. A group transfer to Salerno or Napleas can be arranged.
|Places available. You can book this tour with a minimum of 1 person.|
|Guaranteed Departure. Still some places available.|
|There are a very limited number of available places on these dates. Immediate booking is recommended.|
|Availability and prices on request.|
|Fully booked. Departure closed.|
- Prices are per person and based on 2 people sharing double or twin accommodation.
- Single rooms (mostly double rooms - single use) are available on all trips. The supplements listed apply.
- Prices are expressed in Euro's. There will never be a currency surcharge.
- Actual exchange rates: GB £ - US $ - CAN $ - CHF - DKK - SEK - NOK - Other currencies.
- A 5 % early booking discount applies for several trips.
Cilento Coast Cycling Tour
Cilento Coast Biking Tour
It is possible to extend your tour with a few days at Salerno, along the beautiful Costiera Amalfitana or at Naples. Details and prices on request. Extra cycling and/or sightseeing options can be provided!
It is possible to book an upgrade in some of the places en route. Details and prices on request.