Parco Nazionale del Gargano

Parco Nazionale del Gargano
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4.5
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Niwotois
Saco, ME361 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
May 2018 • Couples
What a wonderful surprise was the entire Gargano Peninsula. We stayed in Peschici and spent one very long day seeing just as much as we could. There are two great drives - mountains and coast - and we were surprised that we enjoyed the mountains most of all.

The Parco Nazionale (aka Forest Umbra - "forest of shadows") is just gloriously beautiful, the last great forest in all of Puglia. It covers almost the entire interior of the Gargano with very, very tightly curving up and down roads. Throughout the forest are hiking trails, parking areas, picnic spots, most in deep, deep shadows from the huge trees. And lots and lots of bicyclists.

We started our trip west of Peschici (Pineta Marzini) and took SP144 south to SP520 (at Vico del Gargano, then on to Foresta Umbria where we picked up SP 52bis, a tortuous road down to SS272 to the base of the mountain topped by Monte Sant' Angelo. On your way (straight) up to Monte Sant' Angelo be aware of bicyclists and believe it when the sign says "curves" or "u-turns."

From Monte Sant' Angelo to Vieste, take SS89dir east to Mattinata (through some great tunnels) and then basically hug the coast the whole way up to Vieste. If you want to see as much coast as possible, at Mattinata get on SP 53, then SP54, then again SP53. If it's raining or you're in a hurry, just stay one SS89. SS53/54 is mostly high up above the ocean; you seldom are right down on the sea. There are two big stone watchtowers with parkinig areas. Both are worth stopping at for the incredible views up and down the coast in both directions. These structures - many hundreds of years old - were not fortresses or lighthouses or navigation aids, they were lookout posts for pirates or other attackers. The posts were visible from one to another and also to the major towns on the coast (Vieste and Peschici, both of which stick out on peninsulas). There is another similar watch tower west of Peschici.
Vieste is the best know and most touristy town in a very striking setting, jutting out into the sea high on a rugged peninsula. Peschici (our favorite) is much smaller and less touristy, with some resorts on both sides of the town down on the seaside. The town itself is very old (and looks it) with good restaurants, a tiny castle, winding pedestrian lanes and a very nice, family-run tourist hotel (Hotel Peschici) high above the ocean.

Monte Sant' Angelo was, for us, the real surprise. What a fascinating town - a major Christian pilgrimage site for over 1,500 years (and it looks every year of it). The major attraction is the Sanctuario, a large church built above and around the rock where St. Michael set foot (and left his footprint) around 450. You enter at street level and wind down, down, down on steps polished over the ages to the final small sanctuary cave where St. Michael appeared (repeatedly). There are two museums (5E for both and worth it) that are part of the complex. The first houses ex votos, vestments, sacred vessels, and other religious objects stretching back centuries. The other is the fascinating new Museo Lapidario (i.e. stones), a collection of decorative stone recovered from sites all over the city. The pieces are strikingly displayed and lighted in a series of caves stretching back and down. Some of these caves were places of worship 5-700 years ago. Also in Monte Sant' Angelo is an old, large Templar's castle and other old (700+ years) ecclesiastical buildings. Best parking is near the very top of the town right next to the castle/ The Sancuario is directly down below the parking lot (not that one would know that due to the lack of signs).

One tip. All three towns mentioned here have incredibly narrow, congested town centers. The best way to get to the ancient heart of the town is to follow the white signs with a bulls-eye on it and the words "Centro Storico." Best be for parking is to look for a blue sign with a big white "P" and follow the arrows until you hit a lot. If you park on the street within blue lines, be sure to note whether it's limited by time and be sure you buy a parking stub otherwise expect a 30-40E fine (believe me on this one).

The Gargano is so different from the flat, somewhat uninteresting countryside north, south and west of it. It's another world with gorgeous drives and interesting towns. It's rather out of the way for many visitors, but it definitely is worth making a special trip.
Written 25 May 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Eli B
Sydney, Australia3,556 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Oct 2013 • Couples
Along the South-Eastern coast of Italy,a little more than a quarter of the way up the Italian boot,a spur of land juts into the Adriatic Sea,looking out across the clear blue-green waters that separate western Europe from the Byzantine east.
It is a chalky limestone massif known as the Promontorio del Gargano,or Gargano peninsula,and it offers many of the finest bathing beaches,spectacular seaside vistas,and some of the most beautiful mountainous forests in the whole of Italy
The 200 sq km Gargano is about 250 km slightly to the south-east of Rome. Although its southern boundary presents a flat and rather severe rocky landscape alongside the sea,the terrain rises up in the central mass to a densly forested plateau 3200 ft above sea-level where some of the oldest trees in Italy stand in the Foresta Umbra,a 30,000-acre virgin national forest of soaring oak,beach,maple and pine trees.
in spring the ground under the trees is carpeted with blue,white and pink wild anemones,marsh.marigold and cyclamen. Farther out on the peninsula,to the east, an irregular jagged coastline is punctuated by promontories that rise 100's of ft above the Adriatic along sheer calciferous cliffs,then slope down through olive and orange groves,the road plunging and winding around hidden bays and inlets where waves and wind have over millenniums,carved out more than 20 grottoes along the coast of Gargano,accessible by boat from the sae,some of them beautiful,with centuries of inscriptions and archeological evidence pointing to habitation byStone Age people.
Written 28 March 2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Spmmik53
Purley, UK644 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Oct 2015 • Friends
This was our first visit to Puglia. We based ourselves in Vieste - at the tip of the Gargano Peninsula. From here the major attractions of the area can be reached within 2hrs car drive. We visited in late October (fall) and found the majority of restaurants and attractions along the coastline closed for the season. This is no bad thing as this renders the local Italian highways quiet. Key attractions to visit include: The rugged coastline south of Vieste. The geology and caves are spectacular. The towns of Monte Sant Angelo, Vico de Gargano, San Giovanni Rotondo and of course Vieste itself are steeped in history. The non-vehicular zones are "must see". We would definitely come back to this region of Italy in the future. Our B&B owners suggested June which we will definitely follow-up on.
Written 3 November 2015
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Patrick Adams
Rochester, NY8 contributions
3.0 of 5 bubbles
Jul 2022
We stayed for a week and, although there are some beautiful sights, Gargano is difficult to navigate. Most of the towns feature excellent beaches and restaurants, but are at least a harrowing hour's drive from wherever you are. Vieste is nice, but I'd recommend Manfredonia. There is more in Puglia that is more enjoyable.
Written 29 September 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

ELear
Ancona, Italy3,064 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Jun 2015 • Friends
What's most striking about the Gargano is how 'different' it feels to other parts of Italy. It must be partly to do with the geology, which is like on the far side of the Adriatic. And then, after San Giovanni and Manfredonia, there are no big towns, most roads are narrow and slow, and it really is like a world of its own.

Coves, hidden beaches, nature (the Tremiti Islands too, which are part of the National Park), history (Roman, Saracen, Norman...), superb cooking (fresh fish, dolci, orecchiette, superlative olive oil...), friendly, hospitable and relaxed people, religious tourism if you're interested in that sort of thing, an ancient forest...

There are only two negatives. 1. In the season, and especially on the coast, it can feel ike a bit like a holiday park, and 2. traffic can be difficult. Be especially careful on the fast stretch from Foggia to Manfredonia at weekends through the summer.
Written 12 September 2015
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Bram N
12 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Jun 2019 • Couples
This is a very nice parc. What i couldn't find on tripadvisor or internet was a map of the area. We drove to the tourist office to see what walkingpaths are there. I took a picture of the map in the office, which you can also buy for 2,50 euro.

Here is the map!
Written 10 June 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

nicolas s
Milan, Italy2,312 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Jun 2013 • Couples
having been in the early seventies i was prepared for a lot of conbstruction., instead it has remained quite as it was, with amazing views lovely villages and a very dense vegetation, with wonderful coves, beaches etc. just be prepared for a drive with many curves!!
Written 1 July 2013
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Seeking True Quality
Europe4,846 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Oct 2018
On our way to Vieste, we had a tiny glimpse of this National Park. And that glimpse instantly became an invitation for a future visit!

As our driver was negotiating the tight curves of the Strada Statale 89 Garganica, we saw vast areas of unspoiled forest - the Foresta Umbra, steep slopes, the beautiful blue Adriatic Sea below. We also saw impressive tunnels near Mattinata, at least four of them. We had two stops to take pictures: just outside Manfredonia and near Vieste, at the Torre di San Felice...

The Gargano peninsula is unique!
Written 13 August 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

kayteeMilwaukee
Milwaukee, WI432 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Apr 2018 • Family
We were a little confused on where we wanted to drive in the Park, but it didn't really matter. The scenery was all beautiful and we had a great excursion through the park, so we just kept driving!
Written 11 May 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Elvira v
Arnhem, The Netherlands14 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
May 2014
The Gargano is beautiful. The drive up is breathtaking. You see the sea below and the hills beside you, the little villages and the forest Umbra. We really enjoyed the short easy walk from falascone to the Laghetto in Forest Umbra. Very quiet and green and tons of fish (and small turtles) to see in the lake. We enjoyed it tremendously.
Written 25 May 2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

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PARCO NAZIONALE DEL GARGANO (2024) All You Need to Know BEFORE You Go (with Photos)

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