Salerno: The Complete Guide

Panorama Of Salerno
CC BY-SA 4.0 / Cabalist12

Nestled in the shadow of the soaring Sorrentine Peninsula, Salerno is one of the Campania region’s most overlooked and underrated cities. Combining the convenience of big-city life with the charm of a small town, it remains a delightful place that has yet to be discovered by mass tourism—let’s hope it stays that way!

Founded by the Romans in the 2nd century BC, Salerno is a historic city with significant importance, primarily due to its role as the seat of the Salerno Medical School, Europe’s first medical institution, established in the Middle Ages.

You can delve into this storied past by visiting landmarks such as the magnificent Salerno Cathedral, a stunning example of the region’s mixed architectural tradition, or the imposing Castle of Arechi. Perched on a hilltop, the castle offers panoramic views of the cityscape and the Tyrrhenian Sea.

When hunger strikes, indulge in authentic regional dishes like scialatielli, a famous seafood pasta, or the delectable sfogliatella, a pastry filled with sweet ricotta cream. And, as with everywhere in this part of Campania, don’t miss the chance to taste locally produced limoncello, a beloved regional staple.

History of Salerno

Prehistory and Antiquity

Salerno has been continuously inhabited since prehistoric times, as evidenced by the discovery of Neolithic remains. Originally settled by Oscan-speaking populations, the area was colonized by the Etruscans in the 6th century BC, who founded the city of Irnthi (now the Fratte district). This settlement was a significant trade hub for the Etruscans with nearby Greek colonies. In the 5th century BC, the Samnites took control following the Battle of Cumae, bringing the region under Syracusan influence.

With the Roman conquest of Campania, the importance of Irna waned in favor of the newly established Roman colony of Salernum around 197 BC. The city, initially a military outpost, developed into a thriving trade center connected to Rome via the Via Popilia. By the late 3rd century AD, under Emperor Diocletian, Salernum became the administrative center of the “Lucania and Bruttii” province. The city’s significance continued through the Gothic Wars, with brief Byzantine control before falling to the Lombards in 646, becoming part of the Duchy of Benevento.

Middle Ages to Early Modern Age

Salerno experienced its most splendid period under the Lombard dukes. In 774, Arechis II of Benevento moved the duchy’s seat to Salerno to evade Charlemagne and solidify control over Campania. This era saw the rise of the famous Salerno Medical School, fortifications, and the construction of the Castle on Bonadies Mountain. By 839, Salerno declared independence from Benevento, establishing a prosperous principality that extended to Capua, northern Calabria, and Apulia.

In the 10th century, Salerno expanded its influence under Prince Guaimar IV, who annexed neighboring territories. However, the principality faced continuous threats from Saracens and internal conflicts, leading to its decline. The Normans conquered Salerno in 1077, with Robert Guiscard building the royal palace of Castel Terracena and the cathedral. The Schola Medica Salernitana reached its peak during this time, attracting scholars and practitioners. Salerno became the Norman capital of southern Italy until Palermo rose in prominence.

Late Modern and Contemporary

Salerno was a hub of Carbonari activities supporting Italian unification in the 19th century. Many locals joined Garibaldi’s campaign against the Bourbon rule, and the city’s population grew significantly post-unification. Industrialization began in the 19th century, with foreign industries like textile mills establishing operations, earning Salerno the nickname “Manchester of the two Sicilies.”

During World War II, Salerno was the site of Operation Avalanche in September 1943, suffering extensive damage. The city briefly hosted the Italian government and King Vittorio Emanuele III from February to July 1944. Post-war, Salerno’s population doubled from 80,000 in 1946 to nearly 160,000 by 1976, marking a period of rapid urban development and industrial growth.

Visiting Salerno for the first time and wondering what are the top places to see in the city? In this complete guide, I share the best things to do in Salerno on the first visit. To help you plan your trip, I have also included an interactive map and practical tips for visiting!

This website uses affiliate links which earn a small commission at no additional cost to you.

Powered by GetYourGuide

17 Best places to See in Salerno

This complete guide to Salerno not only tells you about the very best sights and tourist attractions for first-time visitors to the city but also provide insights into a few of our personal favorite things to do.

This is a practical guide to visiting the best places to see in Salerno and is filled with tips and info that should answer all your questions!

Acquedotto Medievale di Salerno

Acquedotto Medievale Di Salerno
CC BY-SA 3.0 / M2m
The Medieval Aqueduct of Salerno, often referred to as the Devil’s Bridges, stands as an iconic symbol and a marvel of medieval engineering. Constructed in the 10th century by Benedictine monks, this aqueduct crosses Via Arce, serving as a conduit that transported water from the northern hills to the Monastery of San Benedetto. Rich in […]
Location: Acquedotto medievale di Salerno, Via Fiera Vecchia, Salerno, SA, Italy | Hours: 24 Hours | Price: Free | Distance: 0.80km
Visiting Acquedotto Medievale di Salerno

We recommend to rent a car in Italy through Discover Cars, they compare prices and review multiple car rental agencies. Book your rental car here.

Salerno Porta Nova 

Porta Nova Salerno
CC BY-SA 2.0 / Dario
The New Gate, constructed in 1754 by master craftsman Ragozzino, stands as an elegant testament to eighteenth-century architecture. This imposing gate, which replaced the former Porta Elina, is adorned with marble and crowned by a magnificent statue of San Matteo, completed by sculptor Francesco Pagano in 1756. Opposite the New Gate lies a historically significant […]
Location: Antica Porta Nova, Via Portanova, Salerno, SA, Italy | Hours: 24 Hours | Price: Free | Distance: 1.10km
Visiting Salerno Porta Nova 

Explore Salerno yourself with our self-guided walking tour!

Museo Archeologico Provinciale of Salerno 

Museo Archeologico Provinciale Of Salerno
CC BY-SA 3.0 / Jack56
Inaugurated on October 28, 1928, in the Government Palace, the current seat of the Province of Salerno, the Provincial Archaeological Museum has moved several times over the years. In 1939, following the Second World War, the museum was relocated to the Casina dell’Orto Agrario. After the war, it returned to its original location before being […]
Location: Museo Archeologico Provinciale di Salerno, Via San Benedetto, Salerno, SA, Italy | Hours: Tuesday to Sunday from 9.30 to 19.00. | Website | Distance: 1.10km
Visiting Museo Archeologico Provinciale of Salerno 

Duomo di Salerno

Cattedrale Di Salerno
CC BY-SA 2.0 / Leandro Neumann Ciuffo
The Cathedral of San Matteo, commonly known as Salerno Cathedral, is a venerable testament to history, founded by Robert Guiscard and consecrated by Pope Gregory VII. Officially inaugurated in March 1084, the cathedral underwent a significant reconstruction following the earthquake of June 5, 1688. Approaching the cathedral, the main entrance reveals modifications, and the courtyard […]
Location: Duomo di Salerno - Cattedrale di Santa Maria degli Angeli, San Matteo e San Gregorio VII, Piazza Alfano I, Salerno, SA, Italy | Hours: Daily from 9.30 am to 18.30 pm | Price: €10 For Cathedram, Museum and San Giorgio, €7 for two, €5 for museaum only | Website | Distance: 1.20km
Visiting Duomo di Salerno

Museo Diocesano San Matteo di Salerno

Museo Diocesano Salerno
CC BY-SA 3.0 / Jack56
The Diocesan Museum of Saint Matthew in Salerno serves as a treasure trove, encapsulating the vibrant tapestry of regional culture spanning from the Middle Ages to the 18th century. Within its walls, visitors are immersed in a world of remarkable artworks, with the ivory cycle reigning supreme as the most extensive and comprehensive collection of […]
Location: Museo Diocesano San Matteo, Largo Plebiscito, Salerno, SA, Italy | Hours: Daily from 9.30 am to 18.30 pm | Price: €10 For Cathedram, Museum and San Giorgio, €7 for two, €5 for museaum only | | Distance: 1.20km
Visiting Museo Diocesano San Matteo di Salerno

Forte La Carnale, Salerno

Salerno Forte La Carnale
CC BY-SA 2.0 / Giaros
Forte La Carnale played a crucial role in Salerno’s defense system, safeguarding the southern part of the city. Originating in the latter half of the 16th century, the fort began as a cavalier tower or lookout point equipped with horses for swift communication to warn the populace in case of danger, evolving and strengthening over […]
Location: Forte La Carnale, Via la Carnale, Salerno, SA, Italy | Distance: 1.20km
Visiting Forte La Carnale, Salerno

Chiesa di San Giorgio

Chiesa E Monastero Di San Giorgio
CC BY-SA 4.0 / Jack45
The Church of San Giorgio in Salerno is renowned as a pinnacle of baroque magnificence within the city. Despite its modest facade along Cathedral Street, the interior unfolds as a breathtaking sanctuary, adorned with captivating frescoes by the celebrated artist Solimena. Dating back to the 8th century, the origins of the Church of San Giorgio […]
Location: Chiesa e Monastero di San Giorgio, Via Duomo, Salerno, SA, Italy | Price: €10 For Cathedram, Museum and San Giorgio, €7 for two, €5 for museaum only | Distance: 1.30km
Visiting Chiesa di San Giorgio

Complesso Monumentale di San Pietro a Corte

Complesso Monumentale Di San Pietro A Corte
Public Domain / Jack56
The Monumental Complex of San Pietro a Corte stands as a pinnacle of Medieval architecture and the only surviving example of a palace building complex from the Lombard era in Europe. This site served as the prestigious seat of the Lombard Court in Campania, symbolizing political and strategic significance. Constructed by Duke Arechi II of […]
Location: Complesso Monumentale di San Pietro a Corte - Ipogeo e Cappella Palatina, Larghetto San Pietro a Corte, Salerno, SA, Italy | Price: Free entry | Distance: 1.40km
Visiting Complesso Monumentale di San Pietro a Corte
Powered by GetYourGuide

Complesso Monumentale di Santa Sofia 

Salerno - Complesso Di Santa Sofia
CC BY-SA 3.0 / Luca Aless

Location: Complesso Monumentale di Santa Sofia, Largo Abate Conforti, Salerno, SA, Italy | Distance: 1.40km
Visiting Complesso Monumentale di Santa Sofia 

Lungomare di Salerno

Lungomare Salerno
CC BY-SA 3.0 / Jack45
Salerno’s seafront stands as a testament to the breathtaking coastal beauty of Italy, offering an unparalleled vista of the stunning Amalfi Coast. Renowned as one of the country’s most enchanting promenades, it provides a captivating backdrop for leisurely strolls amidst lush green gardens and palm trees, all within easy reach of the bustling city center. […]
Location: Lungomare di Salerno, Salerno, SA, Italy | Hours: 24 Hours | Price: Free | Distance: 1.40km
Visiting Lungomare di Salerno

Castello di Arechi

Salerno-Arechi Castle
CC BY-SA 3.0 / Pan Camel
Perched atop Mount Bonadies, approximately 300 meters above sea level, the imposing Arechi Castle overlooks the city of Salerno and its Gulf. Its origins date back to the Gothic-Byzantine period, with significant expansions and fortifications carried out during the reign of Lombard Prince Arechi II. The castle, constructed with blocks of local dark stone, showcases […]
| Hours: Daily 9.00 am to 5.00 pm. On Sundays, the ticket office closes at 3.30 p.m. Closed on Mondays. | Distance: 1.70km
Visiting Castello di Arechi
Powered by GetYourGuide

Chiesa della Santissima Annunziata (Church of the Most Holy Annunciation)

Chiesa Annunziata Salerno
CC BY-SA 3.0 / Jack56
Graced by a magnificent bell tower and crowned with a resplendent majolica dome, the Church of the Most Holy Annunciation stands on the site of the ancient Portacatena, a vital city entrance. Located at the end of via Portacatena, it forms one vertex of the historical Salerno triangle, along with Arechi Castle and Porta Nova, […]
Location: Chiesa della Santissima Annunziata, Via Portacatena, Salerno, SA, Italy | Website | Distance: 1.70km
Visiting Chiesa della Santissima Annunziata (Church of the Most Holy Annunciation)

Giardino della Minerva

Giardino Della Minerva Salerno
CC BY-SA 4.0 / Miguel Hermoso Cuesta
The Garden of Minerva serves as a captivating window into the illustrious heritage of the Salerno Medical School and the fundamental principles of ancient and medieval medicine. Nestled on the slopes of the Bonadies hill, flanked by the Fusandola stream and the ancient city walls, the Minerva Garden stands as a living testament to Matteo […]
Location: Giardino della Minerva, Vicolo Ferrante Sanseverino, Salerno, SA, Italy | Hours: Tuesday to Sunday: from 9.30 am to 4.30 pm | Price: €3 | Website | Distance: 1.70km
Visiting Giardino della Minerva

Piazza della Liberta, Salerno

Stazione Marittima Di Salerno
CC BY-SA 2.0 / Jack45
Freedom Square stands as a testament to the visionary work of Spanish architect Ricardo Bofill, marking a pivotal element in redefining Salerno’s connection with the sea. Forming part of the larger urban redevelopment that includes the Salerno Crescent, this square occupies around 28,000 square meters and sits approximately 5 meters above sea level, anchoring the […]
Location: Piazza della Libertà, Piazza della Libertà, Salerno, SA, Italy | Distance: 1.80km
Visiting Piazza della Liberta, Salerno

Villa Comunale di Salerno

Villa Comunale Salerno
Public Domain / Lucus
The Municipal Villa, often hailed as the city’s “garden,” is a mesmerizing botanical sanctuary with roots dating back to 1870. Embracing this verdant oasis is the iconic Tullio Fountain, a symbol of both historical significance and refined elegance. This captivating Municipal Villa functions as a true botanical gem, boasting an array of rare plant specimens […]
Location: Villa Comunale di Salerno, Via Roma, Salerno, SA, Italy | Distance: 1.80km
Visiting Villa Comunale di Salerno

Hiking the Path of the Gods: Complete Guide & Maps

The Path Of The Gods
CC BY-SA 3.0 / Jack45
Situated atop the sparkling Tyrrhenian Sea, hiking the Path of the Gods is a premier and picturesque adventure along Italy’s Amalfi Coast. This guide provides all the essential planning details and what to anticipate on the trail. The Path of the Gods, or Sentiero degli Dei in Italian, truly lives up to its grand name. […]
Visiting Hiking the Path of the Gods: Complete Guide & Maps

Paestum

Paestum
History buffs will enjoy a visit to the ancient Greek city of Paestum in southern Italy. This archaeological site, one of the most fascinating stops on the Amalfi Coast, features three of the world’s most complete Doric temples, dating back to circa 600 to 450 BCE. The temples include the Basilica of Hera, the Temple […]
Location: Paestum, SA, Italy | Hours: 8:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. | Price: €6 | Distance: 34.80km
Visiting Paestum
Powered by GetYourGuide

Best Time to Visit Salerno

Spring (April to June)

During spring, the weather in Salerno is warm and sunny, with temperatures ranging from 15°C to 25°C (59°F to 77°F). This season is vibrant with various cultural festivals and events taking place. There are fewer tourists compared to the peak summer months, allowing for a more relaxed experience.

Fall (September to October)

In the fall, Salerno remains warm, with temperatures between 18°C and 26°C (64°F to 79°F), making it perfect for sightseeing and outdoor activities. Autumn harvest festivals and local events provide a rich cultural experience. Tourist numbers decrease during this time, making it easier to explore the city and its attractions.

Summer (July to August)

Summer in Salerno is hot and humid, with temperatures often exceeding 30°C (86°F). This is the peak tourist season, so attractions are crowded, and prices are higher. While it is the best time for beach activities, it can be uncomfortably hot for sightseeing.

Winter (November to March)

Winter brings cooler and wetter weather, with temperatures ranging from 8°C to 15°C (46°F to 59°F). There are few tourists, offering a quiet and peaceful experience. A highlight of the winter season is the “Luci d’Artista” light festival in December, which illuminates the city with beautiful light displays.

For the best combination of pleasant weather, fewer crowds, and vibrant local events, plan your visit to Salerno in the spring or fall.

Average Temperatures in Salerno

  • January 14°C 19
  • February 15°C 17
  • March 16°C 13
  • April 21°C 9
  • May 24°C 9
  • June 30°C 5
  • July 32°C 2
  • August 31°C 3
  • September 28°C 13
  • October 24°C 16
  • November 19°C 28
  • December 15°C 17

How to get to Salerno

By Air

The nearest major airport to Salerno is Naples International Airport (NAP), located about 70 kilometers (43 miles) away. From the airport, you can take a bus, train, or rent a car to reach Salerno. Shuttle services and private transfers are also available for a more direct route.

By Train

Salerno is well-connected by train, making it a convenient option for travelers. High-speed trains such as Frecciarossa, Italo, and Frecciargento connect Salerno to major Italian cities including Rome, Florence, Milan, and Naples. The journey from Naples to Salerno by train takes about 40 minutes. The main train station in Salerno is Salerno Centrale.

By Car

Driving to Salerno provides flexibility and the opportunity to explore the scenic routes along the way. The A3 motorway connects Salerno with Naples, Rome, and other major cities. Be prepared for traffic and limited parking in the city, especially during peak tourist season.

By Bus

Several bus companies operate services to Salerno from various Italian cities. Buses are a cost-effective option, though they may take longer than trains. The main bus station in Salerno is located near the city center, making it easy to reach your accommodation from there.

By Ferry

Salerno is a port city with ferry connections to various destinations along the Amalfi Coast, including Positano, Amalfi, and Capri. Ferries are a scenic and relaxing way to travel, especially during the warmer months. The ferry terminal is centrally located, providing easy access to the rest of the city.

By Private Transfer

For a more comfortable and direct option, private transfers are available from Naples, Rome, and other nearby cities. This service is especially convenient if you have a lot of luggage or prefer a hassle-free journey.

Local Transportation

Once in Salerno, getting around is easy with local buses, taxis, and car rentals. The city’s compact layout makes it pedestrian-friendly, allowing you to explore many attractions on foot.

Powered by GetYourGuide