A Guide to the Best Things to do in Crotone, Calabria
The Calabrian city of Crotone in southern Italy, might feel pretty off the beaten track when compared to Italy’s larger, more popular cities. Located in one of Italy’s poorest and least-visited regions, Crotone is still not as popular as Tropea, Calabria’s gem, but a number of things to do in Crotone, make the city worth putting on your Calabria itinerary!
Let us guide you to all the best things to do in Crotone, Calabria.
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Things to do in Crotone, Calabria
Crotone is not particularly large, by Italian city standards, but it’s phenomenal location on the Ionian coast and its rich cultural heritage, make it a destination worth visiting. Crotone is located on the ‘Costa dei Saraceni’ (the Saracens Coast), a wild coastline facing the Ionian sea, rich in history and artifacts from the Magna Graecia civilisation.
Without a doubt, Crotone’s most visually appealing attraction is Le Castella, in Isola di Capo Rizzuto, which is located about 30 km away from Crotone’s main town.
Pretty sandy beaches are lined with blue Ionian waters, and the area in general feels informal, easy but at the same time urban. We think that the beaches in and around Crotone are not as beautiful as those in Tropea, but are far less developed and still maintain a very local vibe.
During our road trip around Calabria, we decided to base ourselves in a little B&B for a couple of days, to explore all the things to do in Crotone, Calabria and to learn a little bit more about the region.
We do recommend that you hire a car to properly explore the attractions around Crotone, since public transport isn’t known to be great. Here are some of the best things to in Crotone, when exploring Calabria!
The village of Le Castella is characterised by the very scenic fortress sitting on a little islet, connected to the mainland by a thin strip of land which doubles up as a beach.
There are several restaurants and bars directly in front of it, which we imagine provide great views of the lit fortress (Castello Aragonese) at night! We enjoyed it by day, although it was closed at the time we were there, so we could only take a good look from the outside. A sign outside the fortress indicated that entry is €3 (when open).
Interesting to note that a restaurant in Le Castella holds the Guinness World Record for the largest fish soup in the world, obtained in 1998, and the pot it was cooked in is still displayed close to the fortress.
Santa Severina Village – One of the Best Things to do in Crotone
Santa Severina is one of those medieval, pretty hilltop villages so typical of Calabria, and should definitely make it to your list of things to do in Crotone, being only a 30-minute drive away.
The village is home to a rather pretty Norman castle, called Carafa Castle, which can be explored (€2.50 entrance fee), and also houses a torture exhibition (additional €1), which was fine, but not amazing. The castle itself though, is large and very well-maintained, and offers great views from the top.
Another great attraction in Santa Severina is an old Byzantine baptistry (battistero) decorated with original frescoes, apparently the oldest of its kind in all of Calabria. It is often closed, but an attendant will open it up and show you around, i.e. if you find him, or if he finds you.
Isola di Capo Rizzuto – Town Centre
The town centre of Isola di Capo Rizzuto was immensely quiet when we visited, and everything was literally shut down for siesta time. There are medieval ruins in town, but we thought that they weren’t particularly interesting.
Le Cannella Beach
There are several beaches and swimming spots all along the Capo Rizzuto coast, but we only had time to visit one of them and it turned out to be a pretty good choice! The golden sands of Le Cannella beach can be reached by passing through the historical centre and following Google Maps from then on.
Le Cannella is not particularly difficult to get to and the views from the top and quite lovely. Go down a steep staircase for direct access to the beach. Facilities are basic, and when we were there the beach was not crowded at all, although we imagine that it must be rather popular in summer weekends. Swimming at Le Cannella should be on your list of things to do in Crotone!
Capo Colonna Museum and Archaeological Park
A tall ancient column standing high on the coast, is what’s left of a Greek temple dedicated to the goddess Juno, that once stood there. We were excited to visit the archaeological park, since we had been told that that it is easily one of the best things to do in Crotone.
Sadly, the park was closed on the day we went there, so we didn’t get to see the Colonna and the remaining ruins, which can only be accessed through the park, however we did get to walk to the church located close to the park. Do be aware that the museum and park are closed on Mondays!
The village of Melissa is full of narrow alleyways, churches and dilapidated buildings that lend a truly charming character to the ancient hillside village, which seems to be have been captured in a time warp. Melissa village seems to depict the essence of Calabria, and we highly recommend that you include a visit to Melissa on your list of things to do in Crotone.
Torre Melissa, on the other hand is the seaside part of the Melissa area. We didn’t spend much time here, but we did stop at the actual tower after which the area is named, to have a look around. The small tower, with a well in its courtyard, housed an exhibition of pretty buildings made of seashells.
The curator nodded as soon as we entered, and in typical Calabrian fashion eyed us suspiciously as we looked around, though we might have been the only visitors on the day, if not the week. Calabrian people are friendly enough but are seemingly not accustomed to foreigners, although many seemed to warm up to us immediately the minute we struck up a conversation.
Where to stay in Crotone
We highly recommend Alma B&B, an awesome guesthouse we stayed in during our time in Crotone. The rooms are comfortable and the shared kitchen is kept spotlessly clean. Easily one of our favourite budget options in all of Calabria! Book Alma B&B or check the latest prices here.
Had we been looking for a mid-range option our choice would be either Palazzo Foti Hotel, or Palazzo Barracco Lodge both of which are similarly priced and highly rated. Check out the latest prices for Palazzo Foti Hotel here and the latest prices for Palazzo Barracco Lodge here.
Where to eat in Crotone
We enjoyed the restaurant we went to on the first day so much, that we eagerly re-visited on the subsequent days to sample some more of the small, but brilliant menu. We highly recommend A Raa Gghjazza for practically anything we tasted here.
The tuna with Tropea onions, the fish platter and the pasta dishes were all to die for, whilst the platter of small local dishes was simply amazing and fantastic value for money at just €15 for about 10 (or so) different local Calabrian tasting dishes (we stopped counting at one point).
If you’re in Crotone, be sure to try this restaurant at least once – you might get hooked like we did! (note that we were not in any way sponsored by A Raa Gghjazza – we just fell in love with the food there!)