Often referred to as the toe in Italy’s Boot, Calabria is a beautiful region full of breathtaking landscapes, rich history, and a balmy Mediterranean climate. But where should you stay on your visit? My Bella Vita Travel has rounded up some of the best places to stay in Calabria to help you decide.
Whether you’re backpacking, seeking a secluded retreat, or looking for a family-friendly vacation, this diverse destination has something for every type of traveler — much like our small group tours of Calabria! Designed by people with Calabrian roots, our tours show you a side of Southern Italy beyond the tourist traps. If you like local charm and the unexpected, we have what you’re looking for.
Keep reading to discover where to stay in Calabria or, if you’ve spotted a tour you like the look of, get in touch with our team of local experts. If you’d like some more background information on this destination, head to our blog to find out Eight Things to Know Before You Go to Calabria.
1. Stay in Tropea, Calabria, if You’re a Beach Lover
As the most popular destination in Calabria, Tropea is loved by locals and visitors alike for its white sandy beaches and crystal clear waters. The picturesque town overlooks the Tyrrhenian Sea, and its historic center is a maze of winding streets populated with charming cafes and local markets.
Nature lovers can take a boat to explore the Coast of the Gods (la Costa degli Dei). This 55km stretch of coastline offers access to even more beautiful beaches and quieter stretches of golden sand, plus rocky coves and grottos. These natural grottos make for great photo spots and unusual places to explore beyond the lido-laden beach!
Beyond the glorious seaside, nature lovers can enjoy the verdant cliffs and historic buildings nestled among them. The famous Byzantine sanctuary — Santa Maria dell’Isola — is well worth a visit, as it overlooks the entire town and sea, offering great panoramic views.
2. Reggio Calabria, Calabria, is Perfect for History Enthusiasts
Travelers who are keen to discover the history of Calabria should head to Reggio Calabria, the largest city in the region, where a treasure trove of historical and cultural landmarks awaits. As the town was devastated by an earthquake in 1908, the architectural style was heavily influenced by Italy’s art nouveau upon rebuilding.
Reggio Calabria has a history pre-dating the Greeks, making the town an interesting mix of cultures, as you’ll see in the Museo Nazionale della Magna Grecia. This museum has an extensive collection that details the town’s history as far back as the Paleolithic period!
Other must-see stops include the Arena dello Stretto, a modern imitation of a traditional Greek theater that offers a panoramic view of the Strait of Messina and features a statue of Athena. The town is also home to the famous Bronzi di Riace, ancient Greek statues discovered in the Ionian Sea, among many more artifacts.
3. Pizzo Calabro, Calabria Is Perfect for a Delicious Romantic Escape
If you’re looking for a couples retreat, Pizzo is the perfect place. Whether you’re traveling for an anniversary or just to celebrate each other, Pizzo is a seaside town with plenty to enjoy. Take a trip to the Chiesetta di Piedigrotta, one of the town’s most unique attractions, and marvel at the cave full of hand-carved statues from the 19th and 20th centuries. This unusual collection of sculptures is located along a scenic 15-minute stroll from the main town.
While wandering through the charming streets, we recommend trying the famous Tartufo di Pizzo. This decadent chocolate and hazelnut ice cream ‘bomb’ is filled with melted chocolate and makes for an indulgent treat after a day of walking. Unwind on Le Spiagge di Pizzo for unparalleled views of the ocean as the sun sets.
If you’re a big foodie and want an even more in-depth taste of Southern Italy, we recommend our Food and Wine of Calabria 2024 Tour. Discovering a destination through your tastebuds is a dream in Calabria, with regional delicacies and traditional dishes aplenty.
4. Scalea, Calabria Is a Top Destination For Trendsetters
If you’re always on the hunt for the latest ‘it’ destination, Scalea is the place for you. This town has long been a go-to spot for Italians and is only just being discovered by tourists. Not only does Scalea offer the wonderful beaches that Calabria is known for, but it is much cheaper than other spots on this list.
Scalea’s Centro Storico (historic center) perched on the hills overlooking the beach, boasts Byzantine frescos and historic homes. You can also visit the ruins of a Norman castle! This is one of the highest points in the town and is well worth the climb to get there. But, if you’d rather stay on the beach, the skyline is just as beautiful from below.
Check out Scalea’s ceramic QR codes on your visit for more information about local landmarks, which you can read online. We recommend exploring the town on foot over a couple of days, making sure to stop for regular refreshments to try the local specialties of seafood and signature wines. You’ll feel like a local in no time!
5. A Trip to Scilla, Calabria Is a Must for Classic Literature Buffs
Traditionally known as the home of the sea monster Scylla in Greek mythology, modern-day Scilla is nothing to be scared of! This pretty fishing village is topped with an ancient fortress, Castello Ruffo, which towers above two coastal roads. Dating back to the 6th century, this historic site is open daily and costs €2 to visit.
The town is made up of three distinct areas: Marina Grande, the beach resort; San Giorgio, the town center and location of the castle; and Chianalea, the famous fisherman’s district. It’s this rich fishing heritage that resulted in Scilla’s local specialty: swordfish sandwich. Pick up a bite while looking out to sea or wandering amongst Chianalea’s houses, some of which date back to the 1600s.
This destination is very close to Tropea and Reggio Calabria, making it a great base to explore the wider Calabria region. Though we doubt you’ll want to leave the lovely cobblestone streets of this mystical village! Stroll along the promenade for a view of the town from afar and postcard-worthy photos. It’s also a great place to stop and re-read The Odyssey.
While there are many more places worth exploring in Calabria, these are some of our personal favorites. Whatever your preference or destination desire, we hope that your visit is Toe-tally Boot-iful! (There are fewer puns on our tours, don’t worry).
And, don’t forget, if you want to get to know this region from a local perspective, take a look at our small group trips to Calabria, Italy to discover it for yourself. If you have any questions about our tours or want more information, just get in touch with our team. But until then, ciao for now!