The breathtaking Tropea, at the "Coast of the Gods", Calabria.



While most people have heard about Capri, Sicily, Cinque Terre and other mainstream international destinations in Italy, there are so many more jewels to visit on the huge coastline of Italy. An easy standout (just by having a quick search for photos) is Tropea. Tropea is located in region of Calabria, or on the toe of the italian boot if you may. The towns roots are dating back to the ancient times, with cool stories wanting the town being founded by Hercules, after he had completed on of his labours. The town is elevated at around 60m above sea, and counts approximately 6.000 habitants. 

The elevation of the town makes the place very particular. Mainly because of the amazing views you can have while you are in the city, or even by your apartment (if you can afford those with a view to the see). The overall feeling of architecture and life in Tropea is not that much altered by the tourism, and it strongly resembles the feeling someone gets in other italian towns, which is a really positive touch. 


Reaching Tropea is not as direct as it is with other summer destinations in Europe, as it is not directly served by an airport. Nevertheless, it is not difficult to reach. 

If you are coming by car, then I guess google maps is your best friend. There are several parking lots at sea level, but it is worth checking online about rules and prices of parking there. 
If you are coming by airplane, then the closest one airport is Lamezia Terme International, around 65km away. 
If you are combining your trip with a short visit to Naples, then you can reach Tropea by train. The connection requires changing train halfway, and the total duration is about 5 hours from Naples. 

The beaches

Tropea provides with some amazing options in front of the town for jumping into the sea. The quick options are practically three: 
  • Spiaggia della rotonda (or, Le Roccette Mare)
  • Spiaggia mare grande 
  • Spiaggia della Contura
There are many more beautiful beaches which are definately worth visiting not so far from Tropea (see for example Oasi Beach and Torre Marino), but you might want to rent a car for going there, as the sun and heat in southern Italy does not allow walking the distance. 

A small piece of advice: If you visit in the peak period (around the 15th of August), aim for very early hours for visiting the beaches, in order to get a spot. The beaches in front of the town get really crowded real quick, and you might end up not having space whatsoever. 

The beaches are sand beaches, with super clean waters and beautiful view up to the town. Bring some water with you beforehand though, as there are no kiosk down at the beach, and you will find yourself depending on the overpriced restaurants. 

The town

Tropea is a really cute town, and it supports very decently its tourism throughout the day. There are several restaurants, bars, cafes, touristic shops etc. 

Walking Tropea is also a pleasure. The streets are relatively narrow, so you dont suffer from the sun. The architecture gives a very pleasant italian vibe, and small squares here and there add to the charm. You can expect to find many bars for having a coffee or something cold, a lot of restaurants and a cute area with bars near the edge of the city. 

Probably an element that could annoy some, are the stairs. Being blessed with the amazing view to the beach from above, comes with the price of quite some stairs to reach the beach. There are two major stairs. One leading near the big parking near the Church dell`Isola, and one leading to the port. 

A remark you should remember is, that the pavement is that characteristic "stone pavement" (not sure how it is called), that many italian towns are using, so choose your footwear smartly. 

Price-wise, the town is expensive for italian standards, so you might want to check the menus before sitting somewhere. 

Additional activities

While many enjoy taking it easy and chilling at the amazing beaches of the area, Tropea offers some great activities as well to consider. My top reccommended are:
  • The daily cruise to the Aeolian islands (buy your ticket from the port or selling points in the town);
  • Scuba diving (there is nice scuba center near the port);
  • Visit Scilla (easily accessible by train). 
If you dont feel like leaving the town, spend one of your mornings or evening climbing the stairs up to the  Church dell`Isola. The view is absolutely amazing!

Food and drinks

There are so many good options in Tropea when it comes to foods and drinks. Being a touristic place, there are also a lot of traps, so reviews and planning ahead are your best friends here. 
You will of course hear and see a lot of nduja (some sort of spicy salami let's say) and the onion of Tropea. O strongly reccomend to try both of them, but start slow (maybe only in appetizers when you familiarize yourself to the taste), in case they are too strong for you and you dont want to waste a main dish. 

Here some places I ate at, and I left happy:
  • Livasì Food & Store - for trying dishes with nduja;
  • Porta Vaticana - very well made pizza;
  • La Lamia - hands down my favourite restaurant in the town.
Please remember to try also the typical sweet of the area, the "tartufo di Pizzo". It is a hazelnut ice cream that is shaped in the palm of the hand, in the shape of a hemisphere with a heart of melted dark chocolate and covered with a sprinkling of unsweetened cocoa powder and sugar. And yes, it is a must trying! 

Overall ★★★★☆

Tropea is an amazing destination, no question about that. Nevertheless, the limitted space at the beaches and its popularity result into an often "claustrophobic" feeling on the beach. The daily need of going up and down the stairs does not make Tropea a long-staying destination, but rather more suitable for a 2-3 days trip. Nevertheless, the beauty of the town and clean waters will not let you leave with a bad taste in your mouth, but quite the contrary: Tropea will make you fall in love with Calabria, and motivate you to explore more the year after. 

Food: ★★★★☆
City Charm: ★★★★★
Activities: ★★★☆☆
Nightlife: ★★★☆☆
Beaches: ★★★★☆

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