Cycling the Southern Tyrrhenian coast

Published on:  | Last updated: 28 March 2017

Coast road between Amalfi and Salerno

Coast road between Amalfi and Salerno

This tour takes in some of the most glorious stretches of Italy's coast: starting with the Costiera Amalfitana (Amalfi Coast) and then the Costiera Cilentana part of the Cilento national park. It finishes with a short, but spectacular, section along the coast of Basilicata and into Calabria.

For much of the way the route follows the roads that were built in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, carved out of the rocky cliff faces, to provide transport links to remote communities that were previ­ously only been reachable by sea.

Along the length of the road are groves of lemon and olive trees, on terraces that go down the cliff face to the edge of the sea. There are also more than 50 defensive watchtowers built to protect the coast against pirate raids.

On this page

This article gives an overview of the route. On this page you will find download links for maps and gps files as well as inform­ation about websites and resources, and getting there. The articles in this series give a more detailed description of the route (see sidebar or the list of articles in this series at the bottom of the page).

At a glance

Distance

295 kms

Difficulty/​Terrain

Moderately challenging.The route is moder­ately challenging in that there's a fair amount of climbing along the way, but none of the climbs are very long or steep.

Traffic

The busiest section of the route is on the Amalfi Coast between Sorrento and Salerno. The roads after that are relat­ively quiet, but are likely to be busy in the peak tourist season in August. I've suggested ways to deal with the traffic on the Sorrento-Amalfi section (see the first article in this series), but if you are inexper­i­enced or nervous in traffic you might want to think about avoiding this section.

Surfaces

Almost entirely on asphalt-surfaced public roads.

When to go

The ideal times to do this route would be early and late Summer, avoiding August and the peak tourist season. This is partly because of the temper­ature, but also because the roads will be quieter.

Map and altitude profile

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Run your cursor over the graph to show the elevation, and distance from the start, for any given point on the route. (Note: the altitude graph is not shown where the route is flat).



map detail

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Distances
Sorrento - Salerno 76 kms
Salerno - Agropoli 47 kms
Agropoli - Acciaroli 35 kms
Acciaroli - Palinuro 52 kms
Palinuro - Sapri 49 kms
Sapri - Praia a Mare 32 kms
Praia a Mare - Scalea 18 kms

The Nastro Azzurro (Blue Ribband) road between Sorrento and Amalfi is rightly well known as one of Italy's most scenic coastal roads, but there are long stretches of the rest of the route that are very bit as dramatic, but with less traffic.

In between the Amalfi and Cilento coasts there are the remains of the Greek city of Paestum, the finest ancient Greek site on mainland Italy, and defin­itely a match for any of the ancient Roman sites.

You can of course go south to north, but to my mind it works best going north-south, as you are riding on the side of the road closest to the sea and with the best views.

Watchtower on the Basilicata coast

Watchtower on the Basilicata coast

Places along the way

The star of the show is defin­itely the landscape, but never­theless there are plenty of charming and atmospheric places to enjoy. Sorrento, Positano and Amalfi are the best-known destin­a­tions, but there are plenty of other charming and atmospheric places along the way.

Salerno is the largest town along the route (and provincial capital). It has a charming centro storico with some impressive medieval aqueducts. It's arche­olo­gical museum gets good reviews; its star exhibit is a bronze head of Apollo. Salerno was home to Europe's first medical school (founded in the 9th century), and also the scene of the allied landing in Italy in September 1943. A critical first step in the liber­ation of the continent it has been overshadowed by the Normandy landings that took place in June 1944.

The remains of the ancient Greek city at Paestum are are one of Italy's best sites from the classical world.

Cycling past the Paestum Archeological site

Cycling past the Paestum Archeological site

Maratea (not to be confused with Matera) isn't partic­u­larly well known outside Italy, but for Italians it's one of the hottest (or do I mean coolest?) tourist destin­a­tions.

Beaches

There are some beaches on the Sorrento and Amalfi coasts, but the best bets are further south on the Cilento and Basilicata coasts. Among the 15 beaches in Italy to be awarded the presti­gious 5 Vele (five sails) from the envir­on­ment­alist organ­isation Legambienteand the Touring Club Italiano there are four along the route (Pollica, Acciaroli and Pioppi, Camerota and Maratea).

Getting there and back

Getting to Sorrento is tricky. It is possible, to ride from Napoli. However it is tricky to navigate out of the city and then the climb from Vico Equense to Seiano is on a narrow and busy road — defin­itely not the best intro­duction to riding in Italy. I really wouldn't recommend this if you have only just arrived or if you are an inexper­i­enced rider.

Although I haven't used this service myself, it looks to me that the best option, is to take the Alilauro boat service between Napoli and Sorrento. The service runs every two hours - but note that the service doesn't run on weekends or holidays. The fare is €12.30 plus 6€ for your bike.

There is a train station at Sorrento (on the Circumvesuviana line however, so far as I know, you can't take bikes on the trains to Sorrento. The most convenient station for the start of the route is Salerno — you could go to Salerno and then loop back to Sorrento - or simply pick up the route at Salerno (or Capaccio Scalo rail station which is very close to the Paestum arche­olo­gical site). Note that if you are planning to travel by train your best bet is to take a trenitalia treno regionale — for more inform­ation on travelling by train see Getting around by train – some general tips and Getting around: local and regional train services.

The route ends at Scalea where there's a station (official name: Scalea - Santa Domenica Talao) where you can get a regional train back to Napoli.

Options

I rode this route as part of a longer ride from the border with Lazio south through Napoli and then continuing on to Tropea in Calabria. If you are planning to do this route as part of a longer route, then it's defin­itely do-able, but you will face a couple of long very dull sections from the border with Lazio to Pozzuoli, north of Napoli, and south from Scalea to Pizzo on the Calabria coast.

For other options in the unspoilt Cilento national park check out the laviasilente.it.

I did this route in two parts with a tour of Sicilia in the middle - using the regular ferry service from Salerno to Palermo in Sicilia operated by Grimaldi Lines.

Ceramic wall mural - Conca dei Marini on the Amalfi coast

Ceramic wall mural- Conca dei Marini on the Amalfi coast

Downloads

Maps to print out or view offline

The zip files contain pdf files packaged together for convenience. If you are using a tablet you may find it easier to download the individual sections.

Show map download links for individual sections

 About the maps

sample map page.

Links open in new windows unless you ‘save as’ etc.

The maps are in two versions: A4 portrait format - for printing and maybe also for viewing on an iPad, and A5 for smaller tablets and smart­phones. As far as eReaders are concerned so far I’ve not managed to get them to work on a Nook - but you may have more success with other devices.

GPS files

  •  The Southern Tyrrhenian Coast gps files
    (.zip file containing 4 gpx track files and one waypoint file)
  •  Italy Points of Interest

     About POIs

    POIs are like waypoints, but while you can usually only store a limited number of waypoints on a device, you can store thousands of POIs. These files include inform­ation about campsites and hostels, bike shops, train stations, drinking water sources as well as warnings for tunnels and roads where bikes are banned. Please check the ReadMe file for instruc­tions. Updated March 2017.

Campania: the coast road south of Sapri

Campania: the coast road south of Sapri

More information

Places to stay

Hotels and B&Bs

Sorrento, Positano and Amalfi are also the main tourist centres for the area, but there are a number of other centres along the way. You shouldn't have too much diffi­culty finding a hotel bed. Prices on the Amalfi Coast are higher than elsewhere in the region, and in Italy generally, but if you book ahead you should still be able to find somewhere at a reasonable price, especially if you avoid the big name tourist centres.

Find and book places to stay with Booking.com

Booking.com area pages:

 About these links

If you use these links to book accom­mod­ation Booking.com will pay me a small part of their commission. This helps support the costs of producing this site.

I use Booking.com to find and book places to stay when there are no campsites in the area. The large majority of hotels and many hostels are now on ‘Booking’. I like it because it means that I can get almost-instant confirm­ation. The rating system is also a reliable guide to the quality of the accom­mod­ation.

I’ve never had a problem finding places to keep my bike —even if it’s a cupboard or store room. I always use the ‘special requests’ field on the booking form to tell the hotel that I’m travelling with a bike, which gives them the oppor­tunity to let me know if there’s a problem.

Many properties offer free cancel­lation but it’s a good idea to check the condi­tions as these vary from property to property.

Hostels

There are a number of hostels on the coast between Sorrento and Salerno but after that there aren't any until you get to Praia a Mare. However, there are a lot more reasonably-priced accom­mod­ation options —including renting a 'bungalow' in a campsite.

Campsites

There are a couple of campsites in Sorrento that are convenient for the route as well a couple of other campsites along the Amalfi coast, that aren't so easy to get to from the route.

There are plenty of sites around Paestum. There are a fair number of sites further south, but bear in mind that these may only operate for a relat­ively short summer season (eg opening in June or July).

  Map of campsites along the route:  FT-STC-campsites-mapshow map in overlay    |    FT-STC-campsites-mapshow map in new window   

Transport and services

Trains

Train stations along the route include Salerno, Paestum-Capaccio, Pisciotta-Palinuro, Sapri, Maratea, and Scalea.

Resources

General tourist information

Beaches

Cycling

Articles in this series

Get in touch

Please get in touch if you find any errors in the information, or if there’s anything, good or bad, that you’d want other cyclists to know.


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