17 things to know before you travel to Calabria (and how to deal with them)
I spent 6 months in Calabria and can only recommend anyone who loves the original Italy to visit this beautiful colorful corner of the world. In my opinion, Calabria is the most beautiful corner of Italy with the most delicious Italian cuisine.
At first a bit unsure about the mafia and crime, during my time in Calabria I fell in love with the country of Italy even more than before. To prepare you for a dream vacation without unpleasant surprises, I have summarized the most important 17 points that might be interesting for your trip.
Entry is very uncomplicated for Germans, Swiss and Austrians and possible with passport or identity card. For the entry the entry regulations of the EU apply:
Those booking a package tour will be greeted at Lamezia Terme airport by a representative of the tour operator and assigned to the correct transfer bus to the hotel.
The transfer time from Lamezia Terme airport to the vacation home takes between 50 and 90 minutes, depending on the location of the accommodation and stopovers. Those who like it a little more comfortable and faster, already book a rental car from home, which is picked up and dropped off directly at the airport. I recommend the conclusion of a comprehensive insurance without deductible! The trip from Lamezia Terme to Tropea by cab costs between €70,- and €90,- per way.
Therefore: If you do not want to leave other hotels in the bus transfer and want to reach your accommodation as quickly as possible, book a rental car or a private transfer. Private transfers can be booked in advance, but here you have to dig a little deeper into your pocket (approx. €160,-/route/car).
Calabria is one of the sunniest regions in Europe, with 320 days of sunshine. The coastal areas have a subtropical climate, which means that it can get quite warm in the summer months from June to September. In midsummer, the thermometer sometimes climbs above the 35 degree mark! In the mountains the climate is cooler. If you want to discover the interior of Calabria in May and October, I recommend to take warm clothes and good shoes.
Therefore: be aware that it can get very hot in summer. If you fly to Calabria in May or October, you risk one or two rainy days.
Most of the vacation hotels in Calabria are located at Capo Vaticano. This rugged and beautiful coastal area is located at the western end of the Tropea peninsula. (about 10 km away)
Why is this important to know? A very narrow, winding serpentine road leads to most of the hotels. The big transfer buses cannot drive on this road without running the risk of getting stuck. For this reason, the transfer bus will drop you off at the top of the road and the hotel shuttle will take you down to the hotel. Unfortunately, since almost all the hotels are in bays, you can’t walk to Tropea, or you have to walk up to the coastal road first and then up the hilly roads (some without sidewalk) into town. What other possibilities there are to discover Calabria, you will find under the point “Locomotion”.
Therefore, if it is very important to you that you can walk to a small town in the evening, it is best to book a hotel in or very close to Tropea, for example: this one:
The unit of currency is the euro. The price level is comparable to that in Germany or Austria. Here are a few guidelines for orientation: gasoline €1.30 per liter, scoop of ice cream €1.50, espresso €0.60 – 0.80, museum admissions: €3,- to €6,-. A plate of pasta costs about €8,-, a pizza Margherita €7,-. You can find more tips about restaurants under “Tips” and “Culinary”.
Therefore: In most hotels and many restaurants you can pay with your credit card, but I still recommend to take enough cash with you, because the next EC machine is not always just around the corner. Withdrawing cash from the credit card is not possible everywhere.
6. Beaches and sea
7. Mafia and Crime
9. High season
Therefore: It is best to order one or two plates of “antipasti” which are placed in the middle of the table and from which everyone may help themselves. The original Calabrian cuisine is relatively spicy due to the addition of the peperoncino and the spicy N’duja sausage. Those who don’t like it so spicy are well advised to let the restaurant know. Ordering a cappuccino after dinner risks wry looks from the locals. An espresso is the only recognized coffee drink after a rich meal.
11. Mandatory bathing cap
13. Sunbeds on the beach
14. Moving around
- Driving a car
Cabs can be called from the reception or are usually waiting for customers at each entrance to the village. Cabs are not quite cheap. For 10 km you have to calculate about €15,- – €20,-. The price should always be negotiated before the trip.
- on foot
Unfortunately, there are hardly any walking paths from the hotels. The path usually leads either along the coastal road or along the beach. However, most hotels are located in bays, which of course often cuts off one’s path. If you are vacationing at Capo Vaticano or in Zambrone, it is best to take the hotel’s own shuttle bus or public transportation to get to Tropea..
Very many hotels offer shuttle buses for a fee that go 2-5 times a day to Tropea and back. (depending on the season) Just ask at the reception for the departure times. You should pay attention to the opening hours (see point “Siesta”).
- Products of bergamot, the “yellow gold”: soaps, perfume, oil, teas, etc. (90% of the world production of bergamot oil comes from Calabria!)
- Ceramics: through the colorful works of art you can take home a little vacation feeling.
- Culinary: Nduja sausage, dried porcini mushrooms, pesto, a bottle of Amaro del Capo, a jar of onion jam, dried peperoncino, a bottle of Cirò – the Calabrian house wine.
The national language is of course Italian, very many Calabrese speak German or English as a foreign language. In addition, many locals speak a special dialect, which is not easy to understand even for native Italian speakers. I think Calabrian sounds great and with a little concentration and careful listening, you usually understand at least what the conversation is about.
In Calabria, as in the rest of Italy, it is cheaper to eat and drink at the counter than to sit at the table. Those who sit down pay the “coperto” – the place setting. This usually amounts to between €2,- to €4,- /person and serves as a service charge. Nevertheless, additional tips are of course appreciated, usually leaving 5-10% of the total bill on the table. It is not customary to split the bill, but the waiter issues one bill for the whole table. Who pays what, the guests decide among themselves. By the way, the barista is also happy about a small “mancia” if you drink the espresso at the bar.