The Coasts of the Sirens: the Amalfi Coast & Cilento National Park - BGCA
Two Coasts of the Sirens: the Amalfi Coast & Cilento National Park
Enjoy the best of Campania Felix : from the unknown Cilento to the dramatic Amalfi Coast
The regions of Amalfi and the Cilento have 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 of the famous ‘Costiera Amalfitana’ with its towering cliffs and picturesque coves. However, the Cilento region south of Salerno, now one of Italy’s biggest National Parks, where the coastline bulges out into an expanse of mountainous landmass, is also well worth a visit.
This tour gives you the opportunity to discover both the busy, touristy Amalfi and the quiet, peaceful Cilento. Here in the Cilento National Park you pass through world-famous cultural sites that are UNESCO World Heritage listed, 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.
You will start from the plain of Paestum, known for its amazing Greek temples, and a good place to start cycling through ‘flattish’ terrain. 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.
During the second part of your trip along the ‘Costiera Amalfitana’, you follow the spectacular coastal road from Vietri sul Mare to Amalfi, and then onwards to the very tip of the Sorrento peninsula at Punta Campanella and the isle of Capri. You will admire the colourful tableware ceramics of Vietri, have a cup of coffee at the little bar on the beach of delightful Cetara, and walk on the beautiful seaside boulevard of Minori. From your base at Amalfi you will visit the deeply eroded and amazing ‘Fjord’ of Furore, explore mundane Positano, and cycle through the little villages of Atrani, Praiano and Conca dei Marini. You end your tour with a trip round the peninsula, passing through the coastal resort of Massa Lubrense and famous Sorrento.
On this amazing cycling adventure you will not only see for yourselves that the Amalfi Coast has become Italy’s most famous coastline with good reason, but you will discover an entirely new and little known, yet equally beautiful 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.
Amalfi & 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, you are being picked up from the station and brought 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 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 we can go for a short trip to test our bicycles. At night we will have a great dinner on the premises of the hotel.
Hotel – 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. The first part of the ride takes us along the Greek town walls of Paestum and its world-famous Doric temples. Then we continue through the plain of the Sele River, taking in several other interesting sites. Lunch can be taken at a local buffalo farm where we can taste delicious, genuine, fresh mozzarella. The cycling trip will then take us past the ‘Capo di Fiume’ karst springs, to the villages of Giugnano and Cicerale (optional) and back down again to our hotel. It is possible to opt out for the afternoon ride to dedicate more time to visit the temples and the museum of Paestum 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. Dinner is on the premises of the hotel tonight. After dinner we can opt to make another short stroll past the temples and perhaps grab a gelato.
Hotel – Paestum – HB
Distance: 33/65,5 km. Cycling time: 3 /5,5 h.
Day 3 From Paestum to Casalvelino through Castellabate and Acciaroli
Today we leave the Paestum plain for a first taste of the real Cilento. Our ride today takes us along 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 we 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. We cycle past the headland of Punta Licosa, named after the nymph Leucosia, and then climb the ‘red hills’. After a flattish section we 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 we reach Ogliastro Marina, on the peninsula of Licosa, famous for its Aleppo Pines. Here we can have a lazy lunch in the shade and then take some time for a swim. After a last easy climb that takes us a bit further inland again, we descend to the delightful little fishing village of Pioppi. Here we 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 us to Casalvelino Marina, where we will stay in a beautiful agriturismo for the next two nights. Tonight we’ll indulge in local specialties: the dinner we’ll have is completely based on the agriturismo’s own produce, prepared according to the best recipes.
Agriturismo – Casalvelino – HB
Distance: 54,5 km. Cycling time: 5 h.
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, we reach Omignano. Once we have reached this village, the route becomes easier, from here we’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 we reach the northern edge of Mt. Stella, 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. We 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 we 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 we can make a stop at the beach for a well-deserved relaxing swim. Another great dinner awaits us on the premises of our beautiful agriturismo.
Agriturismo – Casalvelino – HB
Distance: 65 km. Cycling time: 5,5 h.
Day 5 From Casalvelino to Cape Palinuro
Today is a relatively easy day, which will bring us 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 we 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 we continue our 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 we reach the medieval hilltop village of Pisciotta. Here we will enjoy a great lunch, overlooking the Mediterranean below. Luckily the ride after lunch is mostly downhill. Halfway through the afternoon we 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. We 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. We then cycle up the last few km to our 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. We dine on the premises of the hotel tonight, a superb spot!
Hotel – Palinuro – HB
Distance: 40 km. Cycling time: 3-4 h.
Day 6 Marina di Camerota & Monte Bulgheria roundtrip
After an early breakfast, we start our cycling day with a wonderful stretch along the southern coast of the Cilento National Park. We arrive in the lovely coastal town of Marina di Camerota, where we can have a short biscuit stop. And then we start climbing! During this very scenic climb you’ll 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. We 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 we 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.
We 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, we 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 we return to our hotel at Cape Palinuro.
Hotel – Palinuro – HB
Distance: 52,5 km. Cycling time: 5 h.
Day 7 Along the Amalfi Coast
Today you can sleep in for a bit and enjoy the scenery. After a leisurely breakfast you can perhaps walk down to the beach and enjoy another swim in the crystal clear waters. At the end of the morning we are brought to the train station and take the train to Salerno, the gateway to the Amalfi Coast. Here you have time to look around the beautiful old city, famous for its medieval medicine school and the amazing Duomo, dedicated to the patron saint St. Matthew. There are many different possibilities to have a nice lunch, ranging from ‘fast food’ to ‘slow food’ restaurants. Halfway the afternoon we’ll regroup and then hop on our bikes again, heading for the first village of the Amalfi Coast, Vietri sul Mare, renowned for its colourful tableware ceramics. From Vietri, the beautiful winding coastal road, considered by some to be ‘the most scenic ride in the world’, takes you along the splendid Amalfi Coast. Your first stop is in the idyllic village of Cetara, named after the Roman ‘cetus’ (large fish), the origin of our word cetaceans. Still today it is a real fishing village, which produces some of the world’s finest tuna fish and anchovies delicacies, and dolphins can often be spotted near the coast. Then you continue uphill to Capo d’Orso, the highest point of the road, and a wonderful outlook over the whole of the Amalfi Coast, the Cilento and Capri. After admiring the view you start descending, along a beautiful winding road through lemon groves, forests and dramatic cliffs, until you arrive at Maiori, the largest town on the coast.
A short stretch around the headland brings you to Minori, with its nice little centre and beautiful seaside boulevard. Here we settle in our nice family run hotel.
Hotel – Minori – HB
Distance: 20 km. Cycling time: 2 h.
Day 8 Along the Amalfi Coast to Sorrento (Punta Campanella ride)
Your day’s trip takes you along the second half of the dramatic ‘Strada Amalfitana’ to the very end of the peninsula, Punta Campanella. You start with a short climb towards Castiglione, once part of the defence system of the Amalfi Republic. You then pass through marvellous little Atrani, with its whitewashed houses, and arrive in Amalfi itself. A short coffee stop, and a ‘selfie’ in front of the beautiful Duomo and then the ride goes on. You’ll cross the ‘fjord’ of Furore, pass through the nice village of Praiano and then reach Positano, easily the most scenic – and mundane – of the villages on the coast. After Positano the coast becomes more wild and rugged, and it is a nice climb to get to the Colli di San Pietro, beautifully situated on the ridge that separates the Amalfi Coast from the rest of the Sorrento Peninsula. You can now admire the wonderful panorama over the coast towards Capri, and the view of the plain stretching out towards Naples, dominated by Mount Vesuvius. From here you then cycle towards the very end of the peninsula, Punta Campanella. From the very last village (appropriately named ‘Termini’) you have a great view of Capri. You return along the northern coast, with wonderful views of the Bay of Naples and Mount Vesuvius again, through the charming village of Massa Lubrense, to Sorrento, tourist capital of the area. Here we settle in our centrally located hotel. With your guide you’ll make a nice roundwalk to get your bearings right and then there’s free time for exploring, shopping, or just drinking a beer overlooking the Bay of Naples, just like Queen Victoria did in the old days! Dinner is on your own tonight, you have the choice of several different pizzerias and restaurants.
Hotel – Sorrento – BB
Distance: 56 km. Cycling time: 5 h.
Day 9 End of the tour
The tour ends at Amalfi after breakfast today. A private transfer can takes us back to Naples or Salerno. A taxi transfer to other destinations can be arranged on request.
Amalfi 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. All breakfasts are included.
Dinners are included on all nights except on the last night in Sorrento when you are free to organise 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’ll be staying.
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: These 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 one of the most beautiful in the whole Cilento.
Night 7: Tonight you stay in Minori, in the heart of the Amalfi Coast. Our nicely decorated hotel is located in a great position, right in the historical heart of the town, just a few metres from the nice beach.
Night 8: The final night you will stay in a cosy hotel in Sorrento. The hotel is within walking distance of all the major points of interest of the town.
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.
- Private English-speaking tour leader for 9 days
- Professional guiding service for each activity
- Accommodation in good ***/**** hotels and agriturismos
- Meals: 8 breakfasts, 7 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). Click here for more details.
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 SORRENTO. From here you can easily travel back to Naples, either by train, bus or boat.
There are only few scheduled departures for this tour in 2023, but on request a tour can be planned at any date for private groups. Just contact us!
N.B. For this tour tailor-made private departures (for groups of minimum 4 persons) can be planned on any date. In this case it is possible to opt for small changes in the itinerary, upgrades or cheaper accomodations.
Availability & prices on request. Prices start from 1190 euro p.p., depending on the season and number of persons in your private group.
|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.
Amalfi 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.