The Zingaro Nature Reserve (Riserva Naturale Orientata dello Zingaro) has to be the best nature reserve in Sicily. Featuring one of the best coastal walks in Sicily, the Zingaro Nature Reserve is a natural haven. There are many exceptional beaches to explore along the Zingaro coastline.
In this guide, we’re going to tell you everything you need to know about visiting Riserva Naturale Orientata dello Zingaro. We’ll talk about the best hike in the nature reserve – Sentiero Costiero. By doing this sensational coastal walk, you’ll get to explore every single stunning beach in the Zingaro Nature Reserve!
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A Day Trip to Zingaro Nature Reserve (Riserva Naturale Orientata dello Zingaro)
A day trip to the Zingaro Nature Reserve should be high on your Sicily to-do list. This glorious natural space is home to many dazzling beaches. Indeed, if you want to see some of Sicily’s best beaches, then you need to head to Riserva Naturale Orientata dello Zingaro. Of course, it takes a little effort to reach the beaches dotted along the coastline of Zingaro.
Because of the nature reserve’s remoteness and wildness, the beaches aren’t quick or easy to reach. It’s not a case of parking your car and then strolling onto the beach. Each beach at Riserva Naturale Orientata dello Zingaro requires some effort to reach. In reality, this is fantastic, because it means the beaches stay quieter. Also, you’ll feel a greater sense of adventure and accomplishment once you’ve reached the crystal clear waters of the beaches.
Of course, it’s worth noting that the beaches at Zingaro don’t have long stretches of sand. In fact, most of the beaches are small pebble beaches. So, in the peak season, the relatively small beaches can still feel a bit crowded. That’s why it’s best to visit early or even outside of peak season.
So, let’s talk about Sentiero Coserio, which is the coastal walk you’ll do to explore all of the beaches at Riserva Naturale Orientata dello Zingaro.
FYI – the nature reserve goes by many similar interchangeable names, such as Riserva Naturale dello Zingaro, La Riserva dello Zingaro, Lo Zingaro Nature Reserve, Zingaro Reserve and Zingaro National Park.
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The Best Zingaro Nature Reserve Hike: Sentiero Costiero (Coastal Walk)
One of the best things to do at Zingaro Nature Reserve is to do the mesmerising Sentiero Costiero. Certainly, Sentiero Costiero, which translates in English to coastal walk, is the best of the Zingaro hiking trails. So, in this guide, we’ll focus on talking about this Zingaro trail. But, if you want to know about alternative hiking options, read the Other Zingaro Nature Reserve Hikes section.
As mentioned, by doing Sentiero Costiero, you can visit every single sensational beach in Riserva Naturale Orientata dello Zingaro. To reach each of the beaches dotted along the coast, you’ll need to briefly leave the Sentiero Costiero trail and complete a short out and back. That’s why some people will complete Sentiero Costiero without setting foot on any of the beaches. That’s also why people choose to visit only some of the beaches. Of course, it’s all up to your personal preference as to how many beaches you want to set foot on and explore.
Personally, Beck and I visited all of the beaches along the Zingaro coastline. And, below, we’ll tell you all about them. But first, let’s cover some trail specs for Sentiero Costiero.
Sentiero Costiero Stats and Map
Here are the trail specs for Sentiero Costiero. You’ll also find a link to a GPS-guided map.
- Type: Out & Back
- Distance: 13.5km
- Time: 4–6 hours
- Accumulated elevation gain: 420m
- Trailhead: Riserva Naturale Orientata dello Zingaro Southern or Northern Entrance
- Map: Wikiloc
Overall, we think Sentiero Costiero is a moderate difficulty walk. Given the length, elevation gain and time, the walk is by no means an easy short stroll. Additionally, if completed in summer, the hot weather can make the walk even more challenging.
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Sentiero Costiero Hike Route Description
Below, we’ll talk about the amazing Sentiero Costiero as well as all of the mind-blowing beaches you’ll see along the way.
Where to Start
It’s possible to start Sentiero Costiero at either the south entrance or the north entrance. Either way, you’ll complete the same out and back walk. Personally, given our itinerary for the day (we went to Tonnara di Scopello after) and where we were travelling from (Trapani), it made the most sense to start at the southern entrance.
Entrance Fee and Opening Hours For Zingaro Nature Reserve
Once you arrive at either the northern or southern entrance, you’ll pay the entrance fee. It’s €5 per person to enter Riserva Naturale Orientata dello Zingaro.
Between October and March, the nature reserve is open from 8am to 4pm. From April to September, the opening hours are extended from 7am to 7pm.
Exploring the Best Zingaro Nature Reserve Beaches
It’s now time to explore all of the awesome Zingaro beaches! If you follow suit and start at the southern entrance, you’ll soon pass through an incredibly large tunnel. When Beck and I passed through, it was swarming with bees. So, we had to get a little riggle on.
You’ll then pass a visitor centre, museum and toilets. Near the museum, you’ll find a trail leading to the first beach – Cala Capreria.
If you’re particularly interested in one of the beaches and want more in-depth information about that beach, just click on the link to the individual article we have written about that beach below.
Cala Capreria is perhaps the best beach at Zingaro Nature Reserve. It’s a sandy pebble beach surrounded by orange-cloured cliff walls and sea caves. Given its closeness to the southern entrance (20 minute walk) and relative ease of reach, Cala Capreria is often one of the busier beaches at Riserva Naturale Orientata dello Zingaro. So, many people will simply visit Cala Capreria for the day. Also, there are toilets at the nearby visitor centre and museum. Again, this is another reason that makes Cala Capreria a popular beach. So, make sure to get there early to have the beach to yourself!
Cala del Varo
Once you’ve explored Cala Capreria, you’ll retrace your steps to rejoin the coastal path. You’ll then continue north, passing superb views at Punta di Capreria Grande. Then, you’ll pass by another museum before passing Cala del Varo. This beach is so small that it’s not included on the official Zingaro Nature Reserve map that you’ll be given at the entrance. We also didn’t notice any obvious trail leading to it. So, we simply passed by Cala del Varo. You’ll then pass by Punta Leone, before reaching Cala Della Disa.
Cala Della Disa
If starting from the southern entrance, Cala Della Disa is likely the second beach you’ll step foot on. It’s another pebble beach that’s a bit smaller than Cala Capreria. Similarly, you’ll enjoy a well-protected beach, surrounded by incredible orange-coloured cliff walls and caves. Feel free to explore the beach and its small sea caves. Near Cala Della Disa, you’ll also find Rustico Zingaro, which is an amazingly located beachfront holiday home.
After exploring Cala Della Disa, it’s time to make your way to the next beach – Cala Berretta. There’s actually a short trail connecting Cala Della Disa and Cala Berretta. So, once you’ve climbed out of Cala Della Disa, you don’t need to rejoin the main coastal path. You can follow the well-defined alternate trail to Cala Berretta.
Cala Berretta is one of the smallest beaches found in the Zingaro Nature Reserve. Certainly, it’s not the best beach at Zingaro. Most people will bypass this beach during the coastal walk. Personally, Beck and I made a short visit, before re-joining Sentiero Costiero and heading to Cala Marinella.
Cala Marinella is a beautiful bay with transparent turquoise water. You’ll find steps carved into the orange-coloured rock platforms that lead you down to the water. Unlike the other beaches, there isn’t a stretch of flat sand or pebbles to set up a towel. So, not many people will spend a long amount of time at Cala Marinella. Admittedly, accessing the water isn’t straightforward. Only experienced swimmers should go for a dip at this beach. Once you’ve explored Cala Marinella, it’s time to continue the coastal walk.
After visiting Cala Marinella, you’ll pass another small museum, before reaching Grotta dell’Uzzo. It’s a truly immense cave that would be worth visiting in its own right. Given how spectacular Grotta dell’Uzzo is, the cave isn’t very well known. Certainly, make sure to stop and explore the cave during the coastal walk. Although, the cave is a popular spot for birds to do their business. So, keep an eye out and make sure to avoid the messy splatter from above!
After passing the cave, you’ll soon arrive at Cala del’Uzzo. Indeed, Cala del’Uzzo is one of the best beaches at Riserva Naturale Orientata dello Zingaro. Unlike Cala Capreria and Cala Della Disa, Cala del’Uzzo isn’t surrounded by cliff walls. Rather, the pebble beach is surrounded by tropical plants and trees. If you’re lucky to have this beach to yourself, you feel completely removed and isolated from civilisation. Oh, what a feeling!
Cala Tonnarella dell’Uzzo
After seeing Cala dell’Uzzo, there’s just one more beach to see at the Zingaro Nature Reserve. Cala Tonnarella dell’Uzzo is the largest pebble beach at Zingaro. Given its closeness to the northern entrance, Cala Tonnarella dell’Uzzo is likely to be busier than some of the other beaches you would have visited earlier in the day. Surrounded by cliff walls on either side, this beach has a real sense of being hidden and brings with it a special ambience.
You’ll find a museum near Cala Tonnarella dell’Uzzo, which also has toilets. After using the facilities (if need be), it’s time to retrace your steps to complete the coastal walk!
Other Zingaro Nature Reserve Hiking Routes
Now you know more about Sentiero Costiero, let’s look at some other Zingaro Nature Reserve walks. Certainly, Sentiero Costiero is the most popular trail at Riserva Naturale Orientata dello Zingaro. You’ll find the other most walked trails are Sentiero di Mezza Costa and Sentiero Alto. Although given these walks are usually completed as circular walks, you’ll likely walk Sentiero Costiero as part of doing these two other walks.
Both Sentiero di Mezza Costa and Sentiero Alto are much more difficult walks. That’s because, for each walk, you’ll ascend into the mountains away from the coast.
- Sentiero di Mezza Costa (Half Way Path): this trail is noted by the yellow line on the official Riserva Naturale Orientata dello Zingaro map. Also known as the Zingaro Nature Reserve Loop, this route is the most popular circular walk in the nature reserve. By combining Sentiero Costiero and Sentiero di Mezza Costa, you’ll enjoy the best of both worlds – beaches and mountains.
- Sentiero Alto (Full Path): this trail is signified by the orange line on the official Riserva Naturale Orientata dello Zingaro map. This is the hardest walk in the nature reserve as you’ll ascend high into the mountains, reaching nearly 915 metres above sea level. If you’re inexperienced or the weather is very hot, then re-consider doing this tough hike.
For more information about Sentiero di Mezza Costa and Sentiero Alto, please read the trail specs below. We’ve also provided a link to GPS-guided maps for each walk.
Sentiero di Mezza Costa
- Type: Loop
- Distance: 15.4km
- Time: 5–7 hours
- Accumulated elevation gain: 800m
- Trailhead: Riserva Naturale Orientata dello Zingaro Southern or Northern Entrance
- Difficulty: Moderate
- Map: Wikiloc
- Type: Loop
- Distance: 21km
- Time: 7–10 hours
- Accumulated elevation gain: 1,250m
- Difficulty: Hard
- Trailhead: Riserva Naturale Orientata dello Zingaro Southern or Northern Entrance
- Map: Wikiloc
Zingaro Nature Reserve Boat Tours
Other than hiking, it’s possible to explore the Zingaro Nature Reserve by boat. Indeed, seeing the Zingaro coastline and mountains from the water would be absolutely amazing. GetYourGuide offers excellent boat tours so that you can experience Zingaro if hiking isn’t your thing.
The Zingaro Nature Reserve and Scopello Cruise From San Vito lo Capo is an excellent boat tour. On this tour, you’ll explore Zingaro’s coastline, stopping at some of the best beaches and attractions along the way.
How to Get to Zingaro Nature Reserve
The easiest and quickest way to get to the Zingaro Nature Reserve in Sicily is to drive there yourself. Personally, Beck and I picked up our car hire from Catania International Airport. For an automatic car, we only paid around €7 ($7USD) per day!
If you don’t have your own car, you should hire one using Discover Cars. Personally, we use Discover Cars and highly recommend them for finding your ideal car hire at an affordable price. Booking online is super easy and the free cancellation policy is great.
You’ll find a large car park at the southern entrance and a smaller but still reasonably-sized car park at the northern entrance of the reserve.
Thankfully, it’s possible to reach the southern entrance of Riserva Naturale Orientata dello Zingaro by using public transport. During the peak season, there is a bus service running from Castellammare del Golfo and Scopello to the southern entrance.
- Castellammara del Golfo: from the bus stop at Piazza della Repubblica, the bus takes approx. 45 minutes and costs around €3.20 per person one-way. On average, there are three to four departures a day, ranging from roughly 7:30am to 6pm.
- Scopello: from the village centre of Scopello, the bus takes approx. 20 minutes and usually costs around €1.90 per person one-way. On average, there are half a dozen departures per day, starting around 7:55am.
For more information regarding departure times, frequency and pricing, click here.
There are also private shuttle companies that operate between San Vito lo Capo and Zingaro Nature Reserve. But, these are not public transport options and only operate in the peak season. Basically, in the off-season, there are no transport options other than driving there yourself. Unless you want to splash cash on a taxi.
Getting From Trapani to Zingaro Nature Reserve
There’s no direct public transport from Trapani to the Zingaro Nature Reserve. So, if you’re visiting from Trapani, you’ll either need to get a bus to Castellammare del Golfo or Scopello and then catch a direct bus. Or, you’ll need to drive to Zingaro. From Trapani, it’s quicker to drive to the southern entrance, compared with the northern entrance. It takes around an hour to drive to the southern entrance from Trapani.
Getting From Palermo to Zingaro Nature Reserve
Similarly, there’s no direct public transport from Palermo to the Zingaro Nature Reserve. So, if you’re visiting from Palermo, you’ll either need to get a bus to Castellammare del Golfo or Scopello and then catch the direct bus. Otherwise, you’ll need to drive. From Palermo, it makes sense to drive to the southern entrance as that’s much closer than the northern entrance. The drive time to the southern entrance is around 90 minutes.
Where to Stay Near Zingaro Nature Reserve
Most people visiting Zingaro Nature Reserve will do so from the two biggest cities on either side of the reserve, Palermo or Trapani. But, there are some quieter and more idyllic towns near Zingaro, such as Scopello, Castellammare del Golfo and San Vito lo Capo.
If you want to escape the hustle and bustle of Palermo and Trapani, then we highly recommend staying at one of these towns closer to Zingaro. To that end, let’s look at the best hotels near the Zingaro Nature Reserve. For your convenience, we’ve handpicked the best budget, mid-range and luxury options.
Scopello is located right next to the southern entrance of Zingaro Nature Reserve. So, this would be the perfect base for exploring Zingaro and its many wonderful beaches.
- Budget – Residence Guidaloca: this apartment hotel is one of the best budget stays in the area. Residence Guidaloca has fantastic facilities and amenities, all for a very affordable price.
- Mid-range – Tenute Plaia Agriturismo: featuring a restaurant, outdoor swimming pool and a bar, Tenute Plaia Agriturismo is a popular accommodation option in Scopello.
- Luxury – Hotel Baglio Di Scopello: this is one of the most highly-rated accommodation options in Scopello. Indeed, it’d be hard to find a better stay in Scopello than at Hotel Baglio Di Scopello.
Castellammare del Golfo Accomodation
If you’re looking for a wider range of accommodation options, then the nearby larger town of Castellammare del Golfo has you covered. Located around a 30 minute drive away from the southern entrance of Zingaro, Castellammare del Golfo is a popular base for exploring the nature reserve.
- Budget – Alle Scale: for the cheapest and most highly-rated accommodation option in Castellammare, choose Alle Scale.
- Mid-range – Hotel Al Madarig or Luxmarì Hotel & Spa: it’s a tough call to make between the best mid-range stay in Castellammare. It’s a throw-up between Hotel Al Madarig and Luxmarì Hotel & Spa. You’ll have to check out these hotels for yourself to decide which mid-range option is best for you.
- Luxury – Hotel Punta Nord Est: this hotel is one of the most popular accommodation options in the area. Hotel Punta Nord Est features an excellent swimming pool and sun terrace.
San Vito lo Capo Accommodation
San Vito lo Capo is a beautiful coastal town in Sicily. From San Vito lo Capo, it’s only an approx. 30 minute drive to the northern entrance of the Zingaro Nature Reserve. Certainly, it makes sense to base yourself in San Vito lo Capo if you’re planning a day trip to Zingaro.
- Budget – Baglio del Mulino a Vento: if you’re looking for the most highly-rated and most reviewed budget stay, then look no further than Baglio del Mulino a Vento.
- Mid-range – Ninni e Fede: this is one of the most highly-rated accommodation options in San Vito lo Capo. Ninni e Fede is a beautifully decorated guesthouse, featuring a garden, terrace and shared kitchen. If you’re looking for another mid-range hotel option, then consider Hotel Sikania.
- Luxury – B&B Le Biciclette: this lovely bed and breakfast is a great option for a finer stay. Guests rave about the great breakfast, location and modern decor at B&B Le Biciclette.
The 4 Best Places to Visit Near Zingaro Nature Reserve
There are many other great places to visit near Zingaro Nature Reserve. Let us help you plan your epic Sicily road trip, by talking about the four best things to do near Zingaro.
If you’re particularly interested in one of the places below and want more information about how to get there, what to expect and the best time to visit, just click on the link to the individual article we have written about that destination below.
Tonnara di Scopello and Faraglioni di Scopello
Visit the picturesque Tonnara di Scopello and the epic sea stacks of Faragliono di Scapello.
Spiaggia San Vito lo Capo
San Vito lo Capo is home to one of the best beaches in Sicily – Spiaggia San Vito lo Capo. If you’re on a mission to see the best beaches in Sicily, then definitely head to Spiaggia San Vito lo Capo.
The hike up Monte Monaco is one of the most underrated walks in Sicily. From atop Monte Monaco, you’ll enjoy superb views of San Vito lo Capo and its magnificent long white sand beach.
Read more: Monte Monaco – The Ultimate Hiking Guide
Monte Cofano Nature Reserve
Another fantastic nature reserve in Sicily is the Monte Cofano Nature Reserve. We highly recommend spending a day at both the Zingaro and Monte Cofano nature reserves.
What to Wear and Pack
These are our hiking gear essentials for Sentiero Costiero.
Osprey Skarab 30
The Osprey Skarab 30 is our go-to hiking backpack for day hikes. This well-designed unisex backpack is comfortable and spacious, so you’ll have plenty of space to pack everything without feeling the strain on your upper back.
Osprey Ultralight Raincover
A waterproof backpack cover is an absolute must when you’re adventuring outdoors. The Osprey Ultralight Raincover Medium is a high-quality waterproof cover that’ll keep your backpack bone dry.
GRAYL Reusable Water Bottle
The GRAYL GeoPress is the best water filter bottle that allows you to purify 710mL (12 ounces) of water. This bottle will make water safe to drink wherever you’re hiking.
BUFF Original Ecostretch
The BUFF Original Ecostretch is a great option when it comes to multifunctional headwear. We use the Ecostretch as a neck gaiter to keep the sun off our necks and it helps us keep warm in cooler climates.
To find out more about all of the gear that we use and recommend, read our guides about our favourite hiking gear, travel gear and camera gear. Otherwise, read our comprehensive travel packing checklist.
Food and Water
You’ll need to pack plenty of water for your day trip to Riserva Naturale Orientata dello Zingaro. Particularly, in summer, you’ll want to pack 3L of water. You won’t find shops in the nature reserve. So, make sure to pack your food. Leftover pizza could be the perfect lunch at a beach along the Zingaro coastline.
Leave No Trace
As always, make sure to bring back anything that you take with you to the Zingaro Nature Reserve. It goes without saying, that when exploring any natural setting, leave no trace.
Bonus Tips For Visiting Zingaro Nature Reserve
- Visit in the off-season: Beck and I enjoyed much quieter beaches when we visited in March. Additionally, the weather was much milder and cooler.
- Take cash: there are card machines at the Zingaro Nature Reserve entrances. But, sometimes they don’t work because of the remoteness of the location. Take cash just in case.
- Be sun smart: if you’re not, you’ll get absolutely roasted out there!
Please leave us a comment below. Otherwise, for information about all of the best hikes in Sicily, read our Sicily hiking guide.