Much of the centre of Calabria is a region of mountains, particularly towards the north around the Pollino mountains and the Aspromonte mountains to the south, separated by the extensive forested La Sila range that occupies much of central Calabria.
Calabria - a guide and places to visit
The Calabria region occupies the long peninsula that forms the southern tip of mainland Italy (the 'toe' on a map). Sicily is just a few kilometres to the west across the Strait of Messina and the Basilicata region is to the north.
The region consistes of five separate provinces: Catanzaro (central), Cosenza (north), Crotone (east), Reggio di Calabria (south-west) and Vibo Valentia (south).
Calabria - an overview
The Ionian Sea to the east and the Tyrrhenian Sea to the west both have beautiful blue seas and combine sandy beaches with stretches of cliffs and rocky coastline.
It is these two characteristics - the coast and the mountain areas - that are the main attractions for tourists visiting Calabria.
Not the most visited part of Italy, Calabria is in many places an undeveloped and unspoiled region that will appeal to those seaching for somewhere unspoiled and traditional to visit in in Italy. Note that although the largest town in Calabria is Reggio, the capital city of the region is Catanzaro.
There are a good number of places of interest to visit in Calabria. Start a visit perhaps at Reggio di Calabria which combines interesting architectural highlights with attractive beaches (be sure to visit the important Greek statues - the Riace Bronzes - at the national museum here in Reggio).
Scilla, Tropea and Nicotera are attractive towns and resorts on the Tyrrhenian coast to the north of Reggio with the resort of Tropea in particular dramatically located on cliffs above the sea and very popular with visitors. Also close to Tropea is the historical town at Vibo Valentia.
South of Tropea the coast towards Nicotera is very scenic, likewise heading north from here along the Tyrrhenian coastline towards Briatico. Other highlights on this section of coast include Capo Vaticano, Pizzo and (much further north) Paola.
To the east of this part of Calabria the pilgrimage centre of Stilo, nearby Stignano, and the quiet town of Gerace (along with the ancient Greek settlement at nearby Locri) should attract your attention.
Also on the Ionian coast visit Squillace which is both a resort and a historic town and the beaches and villages around Soverato.
The town of Nocera Terinese and the nearby archaeological site at Temesa are also worth the detour.
A little way further north we also recommend a visit to the large historic town of Cosenza, the hill town of Caccuri, the town of Castiglione Cosentino and the historic centre of Rende. Continuing further northwards visit the hill village at Rossano, then on the coast north of Rossano see the remains of the ancient city of Sybaris. Close to Sybaris you should also visit the village at Cassano allo Ionio.
Heading inland in northern Calabria the historic centres of Morano Calabro and Castrovillari merit a visit, as does the town and castle at Corigliano, the medieval centre of Cariati and the pretty village of Scala Coeli. Continue to the western side of the peninsula to the small town of Santa Maria del Cedro and the ancient city of Laos.
If you are exploring the east coast of Calabria we also suggest a visit to Crotone, ancient home to Pythagoras, which has several notable historic monuments and also the Archaeological Park and Museum of Capo Colonna
Calabria highlights - a photo gallery
Most Beautiful Villages - Calabria
The following Italian towns and villages in Calabria are listed among the 'most beautiful villages in Italy': Altomonte, Bova, Chianalea, Fiumefreddo Bruzio, Gerace, Morano Calabro, Santa Severina, Stilo
Orange Flag Tourism towns in Calabria
The town of Morano Calabro in Calabria is listed among the 'Orange flag towns in Italy' (a national tourist award)