Paestum

The stunning city of Paestum is one of the most popular destinations for travellers who, taking advantage of longer stays on the Amalfi Coast, decide to include a few stops off the usual itineraries in their itinerary.

And it is certainly a fortunate choice, since Paestum, with its vast Archaeological Area and splendid temples, is the ideal destination for anyone wishing to follow in the footsteps of Greek culture, just as travellers did in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, who were enraptured by the suggestions and atmosphere that envelops and penetrates every corner of this unique place.

In addition to its historical, archaeological and anthropological importance, Paestum is also a strategic destination for getting to know Cilento, its beaches and its delicious cuisine.

In this article, we will guide you to the discovery of ancient Posidonia, so that you will have all the information you need to organise your day out on the Amalfi Coast. Moreover, as this location might really fascinate you, we will also leave you with some information that will prove useful should you decide to stay there for several days.

How to get to Paestum

πŸ“£ In this section we will provide you with information on how to get to Paestum from the Amalfi Coast, as well as information on how to get to Paestum from other destinations.

If you are coming from destinations other than the Amalfi Coast

βœ… If travelling by car, take the A3 motorway, exit at Battipaglia, if you are coming from the north; alternatively take the exit for Eboli. Continue along motorway 18 and then take the exit for Paestum.

βœ… If you are travelling by train, your reference point is Salerno Station, which you can reach by Italo or Frecciarossa, whichever suits you best. From Salerno, you can reach the city by Intercity: the journey takes less than 30 minutes and from the station you are only a ten-minute walk from the Archaeological Area.

βœ… As an alternative to the train, you can travel on Bus Italia buses, which leave from Via Vinciprova, the Sita Sud terminal, and also stop near Salerno Station.

If you are departing from the Amalfi Coast

You must first reach the city of Salerno and then continue, as we have already mentioned, by train or bus.

To reach Salerno, you can travel on the Sita buses, which leave approximately every hour from Amalfi and stop at all the towns on the Amalfi Coast.

Alternatively, from April to October, you can reach Salerno by sea: the Travelmar company offers a ferry service that leaves from Amalfi and stops at Minori, Maiori, Cetara and Vietri sul Mare.

The service allows you to reach the city of Salerno more quickly (the journey time from Amalfi to Salerno is about 50 minutes) and avoiding the risk of traffic, especially in high season.

πŸ“£You can buy your tickets at the sales points located at the ports of departure, but if you prefer, you can avoid queues by purchasing them online.

If you are looking for more information on how to travel easily and without unnecessary stress during your stay on the Amalfi Coast, we recommend downloading our free guide “How to get around the Amalfi Coast without stress”. Inside you will find lots of tips for getting from one town to another, a complete list of car parks, and exclusive tips for avoiding unforeseen events, travelling safe and sound like one of us!

Where to stay in Paestum

πŸ“£ Looking for the perfect hotel for your needs?
Here’s our selection of the best establishments in Paestum!

B&B

Fuori le Mura

Paestum – Via Porta Aurea, 1
9.8
Exceptional –
419 reviews
Hotel

Paestum Inn Beach Resort

Paestum – Via Litoranea Linora
9.0
Superb –
393 reviews
Hotel

Hotel Schuhmann

Paestum – Via Marittima 1
8.1
Very good –
731 reviews
B&B

B&B La Chora Di Paestum

Paestum – Via Laghetto 15
9.2
Superb –
469 reviews
Holiday Homes

Dimora dei Greci

Paestum – Via Nettuno
9.7
Exceptional –
27 reviews
Hotel

Hotel Royal Paestum

Paestum – Via F. Gregorio, 40
8.4
Very good –
1139 reviews

What to see in Paestum

πŸ“ Paestum Archaeological Park

The city of Paestum is surrounded by walls that have been almost completely preserved. At the cardinal points are the entrances to the city, which are:

πŸ”Ή Porta Sirena, to the east;

πŸ”Ή Porta Giustizia, protected by two towers on either side, to the south;

πŸ”Ή Porta Marina, also protected by two towers on the sides, to the west;

πŸ”Ή Porta Aurea, to the north, of which very little remains, as it was demolished during the 19th century to allow the State Road 18 to pass through.

Inside the walls is the Archaeological Park, a vast area of immense historical, cultural and archaeological interest, which includes three temples, the ruins and the museum.

It is a place of indescribable interest, which certainly deserves the right amount of time to be visited in total calm. The average time to touch all points of interest, including the museum, is about two hours. However, we recommend that you take a break and enjoy a few pleasant moments of relaxation in the shade of a tree, to allow yourself a slow, meditative, quiet and relaxed visit.

We would like to remind you that during the summer the Paestum Archaeological Park can also be visited in the evening. This is a great opportunity to treat yourself to a different kind of evening, walking among temples and ruins dressed in soft light and enveloped in the mystery and charm of the night.

Inside the park you can admire the three marvellous temples of Neptune, Athena and the temple of Hera, also known as the Basilica.

Prepare to be left speechless, because you will be in front of extraordinarily well-preserved vestiges of Magna Graecia, probably also thanks to the abandonment of this site in the 9th century AD.

πŸ“ The Temple of Neptune

Also known as the ‘Temple of Poseidon‘, this is the largest temple in ancient Poseidonia. It dates back to the 5th century BC and is characterised by the grandeur of its architectural elements, which are part of the style of the ‘severe’ period of Greek art.

For this reason, the Doric columns (six on each front and 14 on each side, instead of 13 as usual) appear extremely majestic and are inspired by the famous temple of Zeus at Olympia, considered an architectural model for all buildings of that period.

If you have an eye for architecture, you will notice its ‘outsized’ appearance: the front columns are larger and thicker than the side ones. Contributing to the idea of stateliness is the fact that the proportion between the diameter and the height of the columns is slightly smaller: the building has a less slender appearance, which was probably compensated for by increasing the number of grooves in the columns.

The interior was divided into three spaces: a central one, the cella, where the statue of the divinity was placed, and the altar to the east, of which only the foundations remain.

The attribution to Neptune-Poseidon was hypothesised in the 18th century. Today, one is more inclined to believe that the temple was devoted to the god Apollo.

πŸ“ Temple of Athena

Also called the Temple of Ceres, it was built about 50 years before the Temple of Neptune and 50 years after the Temple of Hera, which we will discuss in a short while. Initially, it was believed that this temple was dedicated to the cult of Ceres. However, the discovery of votive figurines dedicated to the Goddess Athena led to the hypothesis that the building was dedicated to the latter.

The temple has a simpler structure than the temples of Hera and Neptune and is distinguished by its high pediment and Doric frieze resting on slightly slender Doric columns.

πŸ“ Temple of Hera or Basilica

This is the temple dedicated to the goddess Hera, bride of Zeus, which during the 18th century was considered a basilica, due to the absence of tympanums and entablature, as well as some anomalous features, such as the odd number of columns.

In reality, studies have shown that it was indeed the temple dedicated to the famous bride of Zeus.

The temple has 9 columns at the front and 18 columns at the sides.

The peculiarity of the columns, also visible in the temple of Ceres, is the decoration of the collar of the capital with kissing leaves and a band of lotus flowers and small roses.

πŸ“ The Sand Horse by Mimmo Paladino

Between the temple of Hera and the temple of Neptune, amidst the remains of this classicism that still seems to pulsate with life, you will be struck by the statue of a horse, with a more modern form that creates an interesting contrast.

This is the ‘Sand Horse‘ by Mimmo Paladino, a statue depicting Pegasus, the winged horse given birth to Medusa, made from sand from the beaches of Paestum.

The presence of this particular sculpture offers an interesting moment of reflection on how antiquity and modernity can coexist, weaving a continuous dialogue that allows one to evolve without ever forgetting one’s roots. We are sure that the interpenetration of past and present will make your journey even more interesting and exciting.

πŸ“ The Archaeological Museum

At the centre of the Ancient City, you will find the National Archaeological Museum, where you can discover the evolutions and transformations of the city over the period from the 7th century to the beginning of the 6th century BC.

Entering the museum will therefore be the start of another journey through time, allowing you to admire precious archaeological treasures and explore various cultural, social and historical aspects of the city of Paestum.

In the Roman area, for example, you will be able to document, through models and diagrams, the evolution of the city from the Roman conquest in 272 BC to its decline.

The area dedicated to sculptures and architectural decorations from the Sele Heraion will let you discover more about the Sanctuary of Hera. You will also be able to admire the painted panels of the Tomb of the Diver and admire the painted slabs, which decorated the tombs, from the 4th century BC onwards.

πŸ“ Early Christian Basilica

Near the Archaeological Museum, you can admire the Church of the SS. Annunziata, dating back to the beginning of the 5th century BC.

The Basilica was initially conceived as an open basilica, only to become a ‘closed’ basilica between the 5th and 4th centuries BC, following the spread of the Christian religion.

For this reason, the building presents an interesting mixture of pagan and Byzantine elements. The church, abandoned several times over the centuries, was restored first in the 16th century and finally in the 18th century, as evidenced by its elegant façade.

The interior consists of three naves, divided by ancient columns, which had been incorporated into Baroque pillars: only recent restoration work, which took place during the 20th century, brought to light the oldest elements. In fact, in addition to the ancient columns, the ancient footing has been restored and some fragments dating from around the 11th century have come to light.

What to do in Paestum

πŸ“£ Enjoy the Best of Paestum!
We have selected you for some unmissable experiences!

Trekking and Walking

The Cilento and Vallo di Diano park, which includes the aforementioned Paestum archaeological excavations, is one of the largest green areas in Europe: at 180 hectares, it stretches from the mountain to the sea, touching all kinds of ecosystems, from beech forests to coral formations.

There are many itineraries to choose from. For your convenience, we will try to provide you with indications of some of the routes, taking into consideration the level of difficulty and proximity to the city of Paestum. We will therefore favour those paths that do not require any particular athletic training and that allow you to enjoy a walk in the green, discovering the hidden and wilder sides of this splendid area of Campania.

Keep these excursions in mind especially if you are staying several days in the city and want to discover the evocative landscapes and the variety of flora and fauna around Paestum: with its incredible number of attractions and experiences in contact with nature, Cilento is the ideal travel destination for those who like to travel slowly.

πŸ“ From Agropoli to Punta Tresino

From the town of Agropoli, only 11 km from Paestum, begins the northern strip of the Cilento National Park, an ancient bastion of protection, thanks to its strategic position.

In particular, from the Bay of Trentova, a scenic loop path winds its way from the beach car park to beautiful viewpoints and up to Mount Tresino. Along the way you can almost admire the historical evolution of this area: you will see cultivated fields with modern equipment, but also the ancient and traditional terraced dry-stone walls, rural dwellings and even the oldest remains of a tomb.

πŸ“£ The route has an intermediate level of difficulty, lasting about three hours. We recommend trekking shoes, a hat and sunscreen, especially if you are walking on sunny spring and early summer days.

πŸ“ Gola del Sammaro and old Roscigno

In this case, you will have to move a few kilometres from your starting point: in about an hour’s drive, you will reach the locality ‘Sacco’. Don’t let the journey time frighten you, because if you have a few days at your disposal, it is definitely worth embarking on this splendid adventure, which will take you to discover the Gola del Sammaro river and, given its proximity, Roscigno vecchia, a fascinating abandoned village.

From Sacco, follow the signs for the path. Once you have left your car, start your hike: the path to the Gola del Sammaro is about one and a half kilometres long. Through a pleasant walk in the greenery you reach the Sammaro river bridge, one of the highest single-arch bridges in Europe: from here you can enjoy a wonderful view of the river and the Alburni mountains.

Since you are here, we recommend a stop at Roscigno Vecchia, the so-called ‘museum village’, also known as the ‘ghost village’, because between 1907 and 1908 the village was evacuated by the civil defence for safety reasons.

Today, in this completely depopulated village, the old buildings, the drinking fountain in the square, the narrow streets and alleyways where vegetation has taken over, are still standing: walking through these silences is a real plunge into the past.

πŸ“ The Coast of the Sirens

From Paestum, it takes about 30 minutes by car to reach San Marco di Castellabate, from where this splendid excursion starts, from Punta Licosa, a legendary place named after the mermaid Leucosia, who sank for Ulysses, to the Museo del Mare in Pioppi.

The legend to which this place is linked already says a lot about the beauty you will encounter along the way: the splendid pine forest of Punta Licosa juts out over a splendid landscape framed by lush Mediterranean scrub. With a walk of low difficulty (suitable for everyone), filling your eyes with blue and green, you will reach the Museo del Mare, a didactic structure and museum, where you can learn a great deal about marine flora and fauna. The upper floor of the museum is dedicated to the Mediterranean diet: it was founded by the American doctor Ancel Keys, who studied the relationship between the Mediterranean diet and the longevity of the inhabitants of Cilento.

Experiences you can only do in Paestum

πŸ“£ Looking for unforgettable moments in Paestum?
Find the most beautiful experiences here!

In addition to enjoying the charm of history, walks in the Cilento National Park and the sea, in Paestum you can enjoy other relaxing activities, in contact with nature, local traditions and good food!

The good air, fertile soil and respect for ancient agricultural traditions create ideal conditions for the production of excellent raw materials: the cuisine here is simple, traditional and genuine. Basically, it is the cuisine of the past, which tastes of home and of simple life.

You could, for example, go on a tour of a local vineyard, tasting wines such as Aglianico Cilento DOP and Fiano Cilento DOP, accompanied by local cured meats and cheeses. Alternatively, as we tell you in this article, you could visit a buffalo mozzarella dairy, an authentic gastronomic treasure of Campania, of which Paestum boasts a delicious production using traditional methods that respect animals and the environment.

Finally, if you love being on the move and are never tired of discovering new things, an e-bike tour might excite you: pedalling you can reach the Archaeological Area, but also go further, reaching the Sanctuary of the Madonna del Granato or the Capo di Fiume waterfalls.

The beaches around Paestum

If you are staying several days in Paestum, are travelling during the summer period and want to take the opportunity for a regenerating dip, we have good news for you: the beaches has features that could be really interesting.

It is a long stretch of sandy shore, alternating between free and equipped beaches. The bathing quality of the water is excellent. Another element that can add enjoyment to the experience is the walk through the pine forest required to access the beach: ideal also for jogging or for taking a few quiet, regenerating strolls, before or after the sea.

Finally, the beaches of Paestum are child friendly: many bathing establishments have small attractions for children, such as slides and climbing towers: it seems a small detail, but we know that for those travelling with children in tow it can make a big difference.

Unmissable events in Paestum

βœ…β€‹ Every year, on 15 June, celebrations are held in honour of Saint Vitus Martyr, the patron saint of the city of Temples.

βœ…β€‹ During the summer, the Valley of the Temples becomes a stage for concerts, festivals and theatre performances. Moreover, during the summer months, visits to the Valley of the Temples are extended until 10pm on weekdays and until 11pm on holidays.

βœ…β€‹There are many festivals to look out for during the summer months. As you approach your departure, check local sites to find out the events closest to Paestum.

The best time to visit Paestum

β€‹πŸ“£ The best months to enjoy a relaxing holiday in Paestum or a hit-and-run getaway from the Amalfi Coast are from April to October.

The climate is decidedly more pleasant in the spring months, when the mild temperature allows you to visit the most interesting places without suffering too much from the heat. A visit to the Valley of the Temples is certainly more tiring in July and August, when the sun beats down hard from the early hours of the morning. If you move in the summer months, we recommend visiting in the evening hours, taking advantage of the coolness of the evening and the suggestive atmosphere created by the night lighting.

If you are travelling to Paestum from the Amalfi Coast for an excursion outside the city, remember that during the peak summer months (July and August) it may be more difficult to get around: prefer to travel by sea to Salerno and organise your departure in the early hours of the morning to travel more comfortably.

Why choose Paestum as your travel destination

The charm of the history that still lives on in the streets of the city, the good food you can taste in the area, the friendliness and genuineness of the inhabitants, and the proximity to other splendid locations in the Cilento region seem to us to be really good reasons to choose Paestum as your travel destination.

β€‹πŸ“£ Choose Paestum as the base of your trip if:

πŸ”Ή You are looking for a place that allows you to combine the charm and fascination of ancient history with the pleasantness of natural places of indescribable scenic beauty;

πŸ”Ή You want to experience a holiday that combines culture and worldliness: in summer the area offers a vast choice of cultural events, festivals and entertainment

πŸ”Ή You are travelling with children and are looking for a comfortable and pleasant destination for them too: as we have already mentioned, the bathing establishments in the area are often equipped with games to entertain children. In general, the area offers many green spaces where it will be pleasant to walk and play.

πŸ“£ Choose Paestum as an out-of-town excursion (from the Amalfi Coast):

πŸ”Ή You are travelling in spring and looking for an unforgettable cultural experience ;

πŸ”Ή You have already organised other excursions by sea and would like to try ‘new emotions’;

πŸ”Ή You have already been to the Amalfi Coast several times, have already visited Sorrento or Capri and want to broaden your horizons.

Curiosity about Paestum

πŸ“£ In the Cilento there are about 30 centenarians for every 100,000 inhabitants.

This remarkable number – more than twice as many as in the rest of Italy – struck the American doctor Ancel Keys, father of the Mediterranean diet, who decided to look into the matter, finding important correlations between the Mediterranean diet and the longevity of the Cilento people.

According to his studies, in fact, 80% of the factors were attributable to lifestyle and diet, while the remaining 20% were attributable to genetic conditions. Even more curious: Ancel Keys lived in Cilento itself, until he was 101 years old.

History of Paestum

The history of Paestum dates back to the 6th century B.C., when it was founded by Greek colonisers from Sybaris, a city in southern Italy. The original name of the city was Poseidonia, after the Greek god of the sea, Poseidon.

During the Greek period, the city flourished, both economically and culturally: while it became an important centre of trade and commerce and famous for its agriculture, especially wine and olive production, the arts and culture reached very high levels, as evidenced by the numerous temples and other public buildings constructed during this period.

In the 4th century B.C., the city came under Roman rule: from this time on, it was called ‘Paestum’.

During the Roman period, the city continued to prosper as an important agricultural and commercial centre. The Romans built numerous public buildings and monuments, including an amphitheatre, a forum and a public bath, which can still be seen today.

During the Middle Ages, Paestum was abandoned and fell into ruin.

The city was only rediscovered in the 18th century by European travellers who were fascinated by the Greek temples and the city’s rich history.

The impetus for the discovery of the temple area only came later, following the sea operations that followed the landing of Salerno: on this occasion, following numerous searches around the Valley of the Temples, some important finds came to light, such as the votive shrines of the Basilica and the Temple of Neptune.

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, the necropolises of Paestum were excavated, which brought to light some valuable finds, such as the famous Tomb of the Diver.

Since the 1980s, thanks to some funds made available by the Ministry of Culture and other public initiatives, the excavations have been further developed, allowing some of the monuments that have come to light to be restored and enhanced.

In this way, Paestum has slowly become the popular and coveted destination for tourists from all over the world that we know today: a place that allows one to take an authentic and exciting journey through time, reaching the heart of Greek civilisation and our precious historical roots

Where to sleep in Paestum

B&B

Fuori le Mura

Paestum – Via Porta Aurea, 1
9.8
Exceptional –
419 reviews
Hotel

Paestum Inn Beach Resort

Paestum – Via Litoranea Linora
9.0
Superb –
393 reviews
Hotel

Hotel Schuhmann

Paestum – Via Marittima 1
8.1
Very good –
731 reviews
B&B

B&B La Chora Di Paestum

Paestum – Via Laghetto 15
9.2
Superb –
469 reviews
Holiday Homes

Dimora dei Greci

Paestum – Via Nettuno
9.7
Exceptional –
27 reviews
Hotel

Hotel Royal Paestum

Paestum – Via F. Gregorio, 40
8.4
Very good –
1139 reviews

NEI DINTORNI

Agerola


A beautiful terrace on the Amalfi Coast, a destination for many hikers and lovers of good food

Salerno


Located between the Amalfi Coast and the Cilento Coast, the city in recent years has become famous for the Luci d’Artista

Conca dei Marini

Conca dei Marini


A small seaside town perched on a rocky rise between Cape Conca and the Emerald Grotto