Before we dive in on describing the best things to do in Salerno let’s first talk about how in recent years this wonderful place come alive. The city of Salerno located next door to the Amalfi Coast as always be known as the gateway to get access to it, but Salerno is much more than that.
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In recent years thanks to the great vision of the local authorities the city has experienced impressive tourism growth especially during the Christmas period with the creation of one of the best lights display called Luci D’Artista. This wonderful and creative display attract more the one million visitors from all around Italy and the world to Salerno.
How to get to Salerno
Before we go deep on the best things to do in Salerno we need to get to it. If you are landing in Naples airport (Capodichino) the best way to get to Salerno will be to get the 3S bus from outside the airport to Naples Centrale train station, from here you can get the train (regionale) to Salerno.
Travelling From Rome
If you land in Rome Ciampino or Fiumicino the best way to get to Salerno is from Termini train station with the fast trains by Freccia Rossa or Italo just over one hour journey time.
Travelling From the Amalfi Coast
If you are travelling to Salerno from the Amalfi Coast the easiest way by ferry from the coast over to the port (April to October). If you are travelling during low season you can get to Salerno with the regional bus called SITA. You can also get a ferry from Capri directly to Salerno port.
Now let’s start with the fun part and discover the best things to do in Salerno with our simple step by step guide to follow.
The Duomo of Salerno
A Baroque cathedral that looks simple from the outside but the beauty is revealed only upon entering, a four-sided portico immediately welcomes you, this is the only Italian example together with that of Sant’Ambrogio in Milan. Once you are inside looks like you have been transported to an Arabic place or the Andalucia. The feeling is that this is a very special and rare place, especially in the South. It is no coincidence that this portico is considered to be the first example of Mediterranean Architecture.
The interior is affected by the various changes made over the centuries and in the crypt which houses the remains of San Matteo, one of the four evangelists, patron of Salerno, is the best part of the cathedral. The crypt was redone in the 17th century in a baroque style and holds the Gospel of Matthew and some episodes of Salerno’s history.
Opening time from 8.30am to 8pm free entry.
The Arechi Castle
The castle was built by Arechi II a Longobard Duke after he decided to move the capital of the empire from Benevento to Salerno and the constructions dates back to the 6th century according to the archaeological investigations. The castle is located in the area of Croce at 300 metres from the sea level with incredible views overlooking the city and the Gulf of Salerno.
Unfortunately the castle was completely abandoned from the 19th century and only from 1960 was acquired by the Province of Salerno and the restoration began. Today inside the castle there is medieval museum with weapons, coins and ceramics that tell the story of Salerno and its ancient crafts and also holds events, conference and ceremonies.
Opening time from 9am to 5pm from Tuesday to Saturday and from 9am to 3.30pm on a Sunday. Entry fee €4 per adult and free for minors and over 65 and disable.
The historic centre and Via Mercanti
The Centro Storico (Historic Centre) of Salerno can be done by walk from one end to another staring from the station going through Via Vittorio Emanuele along the sea (Lungomare). The centre is full of bars, restaurants and artisan shops, a perfect place to see the world go by sitting in a bar enjoying an aperitivo or to do some shopping.
Before getting to the older part of the centre you can visit Piazza Flavio Gioia with a beautiful fountain in the middle of the square. Once the street starts to get narrow this is the start of the older part of Salerno Via dei Mercati, during the Longobard times was the main business hub of the city where all the trade took place.
Via dei Mercati was also called Drapparia because of the many shops that sold Drappi (textiles). Along the street you’ll find the Palazzo Pinto, the Pinacoteca Comunale and the Duomo. One of the most famous monuments of this area is the Fontana dei Pesci in Sedile del Campo, by Luigi Vanvitelli. During Christmas time also this part of Salerno is used for the spectacular lights display (Luci D’Artista).
The Lungomare was considered one of the best in Italy during the 50′, long about 2km and during clear days you can see the Cilento Coast and the Amalfi Coast. This is a place where the locals and tourists alike spend time relaxing and see the world passing by.
Explore the wonderful Amalfi Coast
You can get to the Amalfi Coast very easily from Salerno by ferry (from April to October) or by bus (SITA). Depending on the time you have in the area places to see are Positano, Amalfi or Ravello and if you plan it correctly you can do it in one day. We have all the information you need on how to explore the Amalfi Coast here, our simple step by step guide for first timer in the area.
The ruins of Paestum just one hour south of Salerno are the only Greek ruins left in mainland Italy (other sites are in Sicily) and the best kept. Another characteristic of the Paestum ruins is that the main temples (three of them) were built in honour of female goddesses.
Inside the ruins you’ll find a museum with many finds from the Greek and Etruscan civilizations. The ruins are not very touristic and if you go during low season you will probably have the entire place for yourself.
As already mentioned in this article during Christmas time an incredible light display from November until the end of January will be set up in the many squares and little streets all around the centre along with traditional Christmas markets full of Italian products produced in the area.
If you are into hiking great paths not far from Salerno are the Path of the Gods and Valle delle Ferriere, also other places considering visiting depending on the time you will have in Salerno are: Complesso di San Pietro a Corte, Il Giardino della Minerva and Scuola Medica Salernitana.