Top 13 Things to Do in Salerno, Italy

Scenic view of sea by buildings against sky,Amalfi,Salerno,Italy

Alexander Taranov / 500px / Getty Images

Salerno is a lively seaport on the southeastern edge of Italy's Amalfi Coast. Though the region is typically known as a jet-setters' paradise, less-glitzy Salerno has become a popular destination for travelers seeking a more tranquil, but nonetheless fascinating place to discover ancient historical sights, sparkling beaches, nature parks, and authentic southern Italian cuisine.  

Salerno has seen a succession of inhabitants and rulers, including the Etruscans, Romans, Lombards, Normans, Arabs, French, and Saracen pirates. It suffered a deadly plague and several earthquakes in the 17th and 20th centuries before being heavily bombed during WWII—it was the site of the 1943 Allied invasion of Italy. Fortunately today, Salerno is a thriving modern metropolis with ancient origins and plenty to keep visitors engaged for a few days. 

Here's a list of some of our favorite things to see and do in and around Salerno, Italy.

01 of 13

Visit the Salerno Duomo (Cathedral)

Exterior of the Duomo di Salerno

TripSavvy / Christopher Larson

Piazza Alfano I, 84125 Salerno SA, Italy
Phone +39 089 231387

Originally erected on this site in the 11th century, the Duomo di Salerno has been rebuilt and renovated a number of times. In the 1930s it was finally restored to its Neapolitan Baroque and Rococo style. Gorgeous and imposing, its most notable elements are the Byzantine bronze door, the 12th-century bell tower, the atrium with columns procured from the nearby ruins of Paestum, and a tomb holding the relics of St Matthew (circa 954)—the patron saint of the city to whom the cathedral is dedicated.

02 of 13

Marvel at the Ruins of Paestum

'Poseidon Temple at sunset, Neptune Temple, historic town of Paestum in the Gulf of Salerno, Capaccio, Campania, Italy, Europe'

Konrad Wothe / LOOK-foto/Getty Images

Via Magna Graecia, 919, 84047 Capaccio SA, Italy

Paestum, one of the most important ancient Greek sites in southern Italy, is comprised of three temples: the Temple of Hera I (6th century BCE), the Temple of Neptune (5th century BCE), and the Temple of Ceres/Athena (circa 6th-century BCE). Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1998, the ruins of these temples can be visited from 8:30 a.m. to one hour before sunset most days of the year. The adjoining National Archaeological Museum of Paestum displays an extensive collection of finds that tells the story of the city and its mystical cults and rituals.

03 of 13

Get a Bird's Eye View From Arechi Castle

Arechi Castle in Salerno, Italy

TripSavvy / Christopher Larson

Località Croce, 84125 Salerno SA, Italy
Phone +39 089 296 4015

There is some dispute whether parts of the medieval Castello di Arechi (Arechi Castle), perched nearly 985 feet above sea level, were constructed in the late Roman period or in the 6th century. What everyone does agree on, however, is that it has the most stunning views of the Gulf of Salerno anywhere. Don't leave without paying a visit to the Medieval Museum, which features ceramics, glass pottery, and other artifacts discovered during the castle's restoration in the 70s and 80s. The medieval complex can be visited from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays to Sundays.

04 of 13

Count Artifacts at the Archaeological Museum

Provincial Archaeological Museum of Salerno in Italy

TripSavvy / Christopher Larson

Via S. Benedetto, 28, 84122 Salerno SA, Italy
Phone +39 089 231135

The Museo Archeologico Provinciale of Salerno (Provincial Archaeological Museum of Salerno) has a huge collection of archaeological finds unearthed in and around the province of Salerno, beginning from the prehistoric period through the late Roman era. Don't miss the bronze head of Apollo, which dates back to the 1st century and was discovered in the Gulf of Salerno in 1930. The museum frequently hosts children's workshops and special events; check the museum's website for more information.

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05 of 13

Hike in Parco Naturale Diecimare

Parco Naturale Diecimare in Salerno, Italy

TripSavvy / Christopher Larson

Località Breccelle, 84013 Cava de' Tirreni SA, Italy

Nature enthusiasts will appreciate this 444-hectare ecological park with its four hiking trails: Sentiero Natura (nature trail), Sentiero del Falco (falcon trail); Sentiero del Bosco (woods trail), and Sentiero dei Due Golfi (trail of the two gulfs), from which you can see both the gulfs of Salerno and Naples. Managed by WWF Italia, the park also features didactic areas with information about the region's flora and fauna.

06 of 13

Stroll the Promenade Trieste

Promenade Trieste in Salerno, Italy

TripSavvy / Christopher Larson

A lovely spot for a leisurely evening walk, Lungomare Trieste (Promenade Trieste) is a tree-lined pedestrian path that runs parallel to Salerno's picturesque seafront. The 1-kilometer path stretches from the city's historic center to Piazza della Concordia, which is adjacent to the harbor. Along the way, you'll pass through statue- and fountain-filled piazzas and enjoy lovely views of the Gulf of Salerno. Visit in spring, and you'll be greeted by flea markets, fairs, and traditional puppet shows.

07 of 13

Smell the Roses at Minerva's Garden

Minerva's Garden (Giardino della Minerva), Salerno, Italy

TripSavvy / Christopher Larson

Vicolo Ferrante Sanseverino, n° 1, 84121 Salerno SA, Italy
Phone +39 089 252423

Salerno's botanical garden, the Giardino della Minerva, was the first of its kind in Europe to cultivate plants for therapeutic purposes. The garden was built in the 14th century by Matteo Silvatico, an esteemed physician at the nearby medical school. Today, it contains 382 species of plants—most of which were listed in Silvatico's "Opus Pandectarum Medicinae"—plus a variety of fountains​ and shady terraces beneath vine-covered pergolas.

08 of 13

Get a Tan on an Area Beach

Scenic Beach near Salerno, Italy

TripSavvy / Christopher Larson

Two Brothers Rocks, Italy

There are several nice, smallish beaches near Salerno that are reachable by public bus, and any one of them makes for a great day trip from the city. The 400-meter-long La Baia is one of the only sandy beaches on the Amalfi Coast, while La Crespella is less crowded and features a 16th-century tower. If it's beautiful views you're after, I Due Fratelli (the Two Brothers) beach, located at the marina of Vietri sul Mare, looks out on two rock formations jutting out of the sea. 

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09 of 13

Visit the Salerno School of Medicine

Salerno School of Medicine in Italy

TripSavvy / Christopher Larson

Chiesa di San Gregorio, Via Mercanti, 74, 84121 Salerno SA, Italy
Phone +39 089 257 6126

The Scuola Medica Salernitana—a medieval medical school—was once the most important source of medical knowledge in Western Europe. Today, the museum uses the latest audio-visual technologies to provide visitors with a fascinating and fun way to tour the museum. It's located in the restored Church of San Gregorio in the old city center.

10 of 13

Buy Majolica Pottery at Vietri sul Mare

Majlica Pottery at Vietri sul Mare in Salerno, Italy

TripSavvy / Christopher Larson

Chiesa di San Gregorio, Via Mercanti, 74, 84121 Salerno SA, Italy
Phone +39 089 257 6126

Artisans in this pretty little fishing village have been producing handmade majolica ceramics in vibrant greens, blues, and yellows since Roman times. You can see their handy work everywhere, but most notably lining the dome and bell tower of the church of San Giovanni Battista. Learn more about the history of pottery making by visiting the Museum of Ceramics in nearby Raito, then pick up a piece to call your very own at Ceramica Artistica Solimene Vincenzo or Sol'Art Ceramiche in Vietri sul Mare.

11 of 13

Pet a Water Buffalo at Tenuta Vannulo

Via Galileo Galilei, 101, 84047 Capaccio SA, Italy
Phone +39 0828 727894

When it comes to cheese, none is more revered around these parts than mozzarella di bufala (water buffalo mozzarella), a soft, velvety fresh mozzarella. Just a short distance from Paestum, you'll find Tenuta Vannulo, a farm where you can witness first-hand the cheese-making process and meet the animals. At the end of your tour, you'll get to sample some of the products made from the farm's buffalo milk, including chocolate, yogurt, and gelato.

12 of 13

Sample Salerno's Gourmet Treats

Italy, glass of lemon granita and cup of Cappuccino in the background
Westend61 / Getty Images

Sample local delicacies like colatura di alici, a fish sauce made with anchovies, or pick up salted tuna or mackerel preserved in a jar to take home as a souvenir. On hot days, cool down with a tangy lemon granita (shaved ice and sugared lemon juice), or if you're in the mood for something sweet, try chocolate-covered citrus peels, a flaky babà pastry, or a nut-filled praline. For some of the best sweets this side of Italy, head to Pasticceria Artiganale.

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13 of 13

Take a Day Trip to Amalfi

View on architecture of Amalfi town in sunset light
Cosmin Voinea / 500px / Getty Images

Approximately a 30-minute ferry ride away from Salerno, Amalfi is one of the top destinations on the Amalfi Coast. You could easily spend your entire day soaking up the sun at the beach, but other top things to do in town include exploring the Museo Diocesano di Amalfi, an art museum housed inside a 9th-century basilica, and touring the Museo della Carta (Paper Museum), which offers insight into the ancient production of "bambagina." If you want to treat yourself, book a table at Sensei Restaurant for a multi-course dinner rife with some of the best seafood you'll ever taste.

Frequently Asked Questions
  • Is Salerno considered the Amalfi Coast?

    Yes, Salerno is situated on the southeastern part of the Amalfi Coast, about 16 miles (25 kilometers) northeast of Amalfi.

  • What is Salerno, Italy known for?

    The city of Salerno is known for archaeological and historic sites such as the Greek ruins of Paestum, plus handmade majolica ceramics and sparkling beaches.

  • How long is the ferry ride from Salerno to Amalfi?

    Amalfi, which is just 8 nautical miles (15 kilometers) from Salerno, is approximately a 25- to 30-minute ferry ride away.

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Top 13 Things to Do in Salerno, Italy