Cilento National Park

Annabelle's verdict
Italy has more than its share of iconic sights - the Leaning Tower, the Duomo, the Colosseum ... Venice. But there's another Italy of perfect pristine secret corners that few tourists see. One of those is Cilento National Park, with its hilltop hamlets, fishing villages, Greek temples and mozzarella farms. It has long sandy beaches, cave diving and, of course, superb hotels and restaurants that ooze character and warmth.

Recommended tour operator: ExpertoItaly

ExpertoItaly says

Where in Italy can you find a UNESCO-designated World Heritage Site with long sandy beaches, mozzarella bars, ancient Greek temples, zip-lining adventures, scuba-diving, mushroom hunts, Michelin-starred restaurants and Roman ruins….? The little-known Cilento National Park has all this and more – and, just a two-hour drive south from Naples, it’s one of our favourite spots in the whole of Italy.

From spring to autumn, you can enjoy the great outdoors with cycling, kayaking, diving, sailing, zip-lining and paragliding to horse riding, walking, fishing, and mushroom and olive picking. The Cilento is also home to the buffalo which produce all of Italy’s finest mozzarella – you can visit one of the farms to taste delicious ricotta, mozzarella, yoghurts and other local produce such as pistachios and chocolate spreads.

We know the region inside out and have some favourite spots such as Pisciotta, a hilltop hamlet near the sea with spectacular sea views and fine dining restaurants. Nearby Palinuro offers sandy beaches and great cave-diving. Acciaroli is a charming fishing village said to have inspired Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea.

We’ve hand-picked a selection of great hotels, all of them oozing local character and authentic hospitality. We can tailor-maker your perfect itinerary – for inspiration, take a look at this self-drive holiday in the region.

For a romantic escape somewhere truly special, our top pick is Hotel La Pineta in Acciaroli. It’s in a great location with a beach club across the road, and some rooms have a private plunge pool. It’s an Italian classic with superb service and a pleasing hint of formality.

Hotel Marulivo is in the seaside town of Pisciotta – an 11-room boutique B&B refurbished from an old convent. Also located by the sea, Resort San Francesco is on the outskirts of bustling Agropoli and has been converted from a 12th-century Franciscan monastery.

Located near the Greek temples of Paestum, Borgo la Pietraia has far-reaching coastal views, gorgeous gardens and a gourmet restaurant. For an even more rural experience, head to the Agriturismo Moresani, a working farm that offers horse-riding and other activities as well as seriously good food.

Explore our holiday ideas in the Cilento National Park.

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