Although Salerno is often overlooked by Naples, which lies to its west, it is an amazing tourist destination and has much to offer. Salerno, the capital of the same province, is located in the Gulf of Salerno at the Tyrrhenian Sea. It has a population of around 133,000. Matthew is the patron saint of the city and is venerated in all religious buildings throughout Salerno.
Salerno flourished during the Middle Ages under the Lombard Dukes. It was also a center of medical education and learning with its prestigious Medical School. Later, the city saw an increase in population and economic development after being infected during Operation Avalanche in WW2.
Salerno is a popular tourist destination due to its proximity to Amalfi Coast, which boasts stunning architecture and beautiful gardens. The Forte la Carnale and Salerno Cathedral are rich in history and art, while the historic old city centre offers a great opportunity to explore this coastal destination.
Tour suggestion: Day trip along Amalfi Coast
Let’s take a look at the top things to do in Salerno.
1. Salerno Cathedral
The Duomo is more commonly known as Salerno Cathedral. It has been standing since the 11th Century.
The church is dedicated to Saint Matthew and has a Romanesque style front facade with delicate arches, a triangular pedestal and beautiful pediment.
A 56m tall bell tower is located at the rear of cathedral. It has an ornate top dome with ornamental artwork in Arabic/Norman styles.
The church contains a variety of religious artifacts, including a number dedicated to Saint Matthew. There is also a wealth of interesting decoration and artwork. In fact, the crypt is believed to contain the remains of Saint Matthew.
2. Trieste Lungomare
Salerno is a beautiful coastal town with a beautifully maintained promenade called the Trieste Lungomare.
The promenade starts at Piazza della Liberty and stretches approximately 1km to the Porto Turistico.
This pleasant stretch of public walkway is lined with shaded seating, many of which are covered in palm trees.
A series of Piazzas are located at various points along the promenade, complete with fountains and statues.
After a long day of sight-seeing, you can take a leisurely stroll in the Lungomare, either in the evening or in the sun.
3. Villa Comunale di Salerno
The Villa Comunale Di Salerno is located in the historic centre of the old town, close to the harbour. This beautiful landscaped garden offers a great place to relax as well as some interesting sculptures or monuments.
This garden was created in 19th-century and used to be the location of the town hall before it was converted into an open, natural space.
There are many exotic trees that provide shade and a small pond which is home to a variety fish.
A number of beautiful statues, including Giovanni Nicotera and Carlo Piscane, are also on guard – all important figures in Italian history.
Even though events are occasionally held here, the park is a great place to relax and get some rest.
4. Giardino della Minerva
Minerva’s Garden, located in the heart of Salerno’s historic area, offers a mixture of beautiful botanical gardens as well as a public park.
The garden’s central walkway runs through the middle and is covered by a series of beautiful white arches.
Each garden terrace is divided and has a different assortment of plants, fauna, and herbs.
There are over 200 varieties of plants to see and the terraces can be themed.
This garden is perfect for those who enjoy the natural world.
5. Salerno Harbour
Salerno Harbour, located near the Piazza della Liberta is an active port and is a great place to stroll through and observe the daily happenings.
You can walk along the Via Porto and see the boats moored at the piers.
You can also walk along a long pier to see the entire cityscape of Salerno if you are heading towards the Maritime Station or the Molo Manfredi porto di Salerno.
The Tourist Harbour is located at the eastern edge Salerno and offers a multitude of boats that take passengers to the Amalfi Coast.
6. Amalfi is a great place to visit
Amalfi Coast is known for being one of the most beautiful coastlines in Italy.
Amalfi is a small community that lies on the side the cliffs about 1 hour and 45 min west of Salerno.
This is the ideal place for an action-packed day trip. You will find many historical sites, such as the Duomo di Amalfi and the Shrine of Saint Andrew.
The stunning views of the ocean and the colorful buildings that hug the cliffs are just as beautiful.
Tour suggestion: Day trip along Amalfi Coast
7. Villa Rufolo
Ravello, another charming town on the Amalafi Coast, is higher up on the cliffs between Salerno & Amalfi.
This charming town is surrounded by beautiful buildings, perched on the hillsides. It also has several historical buildings like the Palazzo Avino and Ravello Duomo.
However, the Villa Rufolo is Ravello’s main attraction. This structure dates back to 1200 and boasts some amazing architecture.
The villa also features an open terrace with a stunning view of Amalfi Coast. From here, you can see many other small towns and the Tyrrhenian Sea.
8. Forte La Carnale
Salerno is rich in history. The Forte La Carnale was a key part of the defense of the city over many years.
The castle was built in 16th-century as a defense against Saracen raids.
The fort is perched on a natural hill and offers spectacular views of the city and the Amalfi Coast.
The fort today houses a variety of cultural displays and exhibitions that tell the story of the structure as well as the history of Salerno.
There is also a restaurant on site that offers delicious meals.
9. Castello di Arechi
The Arechi Castle, which towers 300m above the city on a large hill, dominates the Gulf of Salerno. It was built in Medieval Times.
This massive structure, which is associated with Longobardo II, was built to provide additional defense for the area around Salerno.
While much of the castle’s original structure is still standing today, some parts have been renovated. There is also a museum on the grounds with various exhibits and finds from the castle and surrounding area.
The castle offers breathtaking views of Salerno and the Tyrrhenian Sea, in addition to the museum.
10. Parco del Mercatello
Parco del Mercatello is considered one of the most important urban parks in Italy. It can be found in the east region of Salerno, towards the outskirts.
The park was inaugurated in 1998 and connects the three main Salerno districts (Mariconda Mercatello and the European Quarter). It is a relaxing place for tourists and locals alike.
You will find a variety of ponds, all surrounded with colourful flowers, a Mediterranean area with lush vegetation and an Orchard full of lime and citrus trees within the park’s grounds.
Here are also cultural shows.
11. Enjoy a walking tour through the historic centre of the town
Salerno’s historic centre is full of beautiful buildings, religious structures, and charming streets.
Walking through Rione Duomo is a great way to get to know the city and its culture.
Rione Duomo is located in the western region of Salerno and contains important buildings such as the Villa Comunale, Duomo and Provinciale Archaeological Museum.
Start at the Piazza dilla Libertia and continue on to the district, where you will find many narrow streets.
It is a beautiful building with a wonderful atmosphere.
This area of Italy is full of amazing Roman and Greek cities, as well as ancient ruins.
The ruins of Paestum are a fine example.
This city is located approximately 40 minutes east of Salerno on the coast. It was founded in 600 BC as a major Greek settlement.
This amazing site is dominated by three temples from ancient times that are still in remarkable condition for their age.
The designs of the first and second temples of Hera, and the Temple of Athena, are similar to those of the Parthenon in Greece. Most of their original columns as well as pediments remain.
The temples are not the only attraction. There is also a museum that displays a variety of artifacts and finds from the area.
13. Provincial Archaeological Museum
Provinciale Archaeological Museum
There are many museums in Salerno, but the Provincial Archaeological Museum stands out as the most educational and interesting.
This museum is located in the historical old town center, close to the Duomo or Lungomare.
The museum was established in 1928 and is located within an old government palace. It houses a large collection artifacts and relics of the Salerno region.
The museum contains Roman burial remains, a bronze bust Apollo, and gold coins. It also has pottery, ceramics, weapons, and household items that date back to the Roman era.
Every display has multimedia elements and interactive features to explain what you see in great detail.
14. Enjoy a traditional dinner at Ristorante Cicirinella
The Cicirinella is a top-rated restaurant in Salerno. It has a great reputation for its quality and great atmosphere.
This restaurant is located in the historical old town center on Via Antonio Genovesi. It is just a short walk away from the Cathedral or Provincial Museum.
This restaurant is highly recommended by locals. It serves traditional Italian cuisine that’s home-cooked.
The prices are also very reasonable and the staff is friendly and passionate about their jobs.
15. Enjoy a drink at The Black Roses Bar
There are not many bars in Salerno that offer nightlife, but there is the Black Roses Irish Pub, which offers a great atmosphere, a wide selection of wines, spirits, and beers.
This pub is located on the SR88 road, close to Forte La Carnale. It has an inviting décor, friendly staff, and also offers a variety of dishes if you’re looking for a place to eat.
The Black Roses Bar is a great place to enjoy a round of drinks in Salerno.