Gaeta Guide: Things To Do In Gaeta, Italy

Gaeta is one of my favourite seaside towns to visit every summer. Being a short distance from Rome, it makes a perfect day trip from the city. Located in Lazio, Gaeta is a lesser-known Italian gem brimming with history, natural beauty, and culinary delights that offer an authentic taste of Italy. If you've been dreaming of a unique Italian getaway that combines the tranquillity of beach life with rich historical exploration, Gaeta is the ideal destination for you. So, if you're planning your visit to the city, here is a guide with the best things to do in Gaeta, Italy.

When to visit Gaeta? 

Considering the mild Mediterranean climate of Gaeta, the best seasons to visit are spring (April to June) and autumn (September to October). 

During the spring, the landscapes are ablaze with colourful flowers, and the temperature is comfortable for outdoor exploring. On the other hand, autumn months offer the chance to participate in the annual olive harvest. Do remember that July and August can get quite crowded due to Italian summer vacations.

How to reach Gaeta? 

Since Gaeta doesn’t have a train station, you can only get there by either driving yourself or by taking the public bus from the nearest train station.

I usually use the public transportation to get to Gaeta. You can take the regional train to the train station 'Formia- Gaeta' from Rome or Naples. From there, you have to walk 800 metres to the bus station at the harbour, since the bus to Gaeta doesn’t stop at Formia train station anymore. 

At the bus station, you’ll see a little kiosk. This is where you can get your bus ticket to Gaeta. You will not be able to buy a ticket on the bus to Gaeta, so please buy them beforehand. Then you just wait for the Cotral Bus towards Gaeta (or ask the buses coming by if they go to Gaeta).

13 Best Things to do in Gaeta, Italy

Visit the Cathedral and the Bell Tower

Rising proudly in the heart of Gaeta's historic old town, is the bell tower, a symbol of the town's enduring spirit. It's known by locals as the "Torre dell'Orlando".The tower is home to a collection of ancient bells, each with its unique voice, tolling the passage of time and marking important moments in Gaeta's history. When they chime, the town comes alive with their melodious song, a harmonious reminder of the enduring traditions that bind Gaeta's people together. As you gaze upon its façade, you'll notice the delicate interplay of Gothic and Romanesque styles. This tower stands as a testimony of Gaeta's wonderful past. 

Visit the Mediaeval Centre

Gaeta is a simplistic little town that lets you enjoy without the buzz and chatter of too many tourists. Simply strolling through Gaeta's old city centre is one of the nicest things you can do. You can easily get lost in the myriad little mediaeval lanes, which gives the impression that you've travelled back in time. 

This historic district is located on a promontory overlooking the sea, and it is characterised by narrow alleys, ancient buildings, and stunning views. Some of the must-see sights in the old town include the Cathedral of Sant'Erasmo, the Castello Angioino-Aragonese, and the Torre del Serpente. 

You also have different heights all over Gaeta, which is fantastic. As a result, watch out for a good point over the metropolis that'll give you a bird's eye view of the entire area while becoming lost in the middle of the city. These old lanes are unquestionably a part of Gaeta's appeal, and you will adore exploring them! 

Enjoy the views of Tempio di San Francesco

The San Francesco Temple is where you'll discover the most well-known vista of Gaeta, and this is undoubtedly one of the best ones you'll see of Italy's coastal treasure.

The entire city centre, including the historic castle and bell tower of the cathedral, is visible from here. Of course, there is also the stunning ocean nearby. Going here is a must while in Gaeta because this viewpoint is truly fantastic.

While you're here, you can also go to the San Francesco Temple. However, if you wish to enter, you must make a little donation or offering and it's usually open during the weekends, so plan accordingly! 

Chiesa di San Domenico with a beautiful backdrop 

Visit the San Domenico Church, a one-of-a-kind one. Why? You ask. Well, because it has so many bones, it is almost like a bone church! You can enter the church, which is said to contain many bones and skulls, for about €1. It is a spooky sight to see! Built by the Dominicans, this catholic church is a testimony of trying times that did fall upon Gaeta during its transformative years somewhere around the 12th century. Apart from that, as soon as you get out of the church, it has an amazing ocean view, which is sufficient justification in and of itself.

Visit the Medieval Castle of Gaeta

Frederick II Hohenstaufen constructed the mediaeval castle between 1223 and 1226, placing it firmly in the 13th century. As a result, this castle is steeped in history and is unquestionably one of Gaeta's most impressive structures. The ornate rooms, the chapel and the beautiful panoramic gardens are the most impressionable. If you're a history buff, you're going to love the mediaeval style along with finding cool facts about this palace, like how a treaty was signed here between the Kingdom of Naples and the Holy Roman Empire, that ended years of conflicts. 

Just keep in mind that it is only open on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. From 2023, admission costs €10 per person (children under the age of 14 are admitted free). 

Explore the top of Monte Orlando

You've got to visit the tiny mountain in the city known as "Monte Orlando" for one of the most unusual things to do in Gaeta. Although calling this hill a mountain is a stretch, it is undoubtedly a stunning and interesting location. This beautiful park covers over 800 hectares of land!

If you take the short trail that leads off Via San Giovanni Bosco, it gives you some fantastic views of the castle. Those views are among the greatest you'll ever see throughout your entire vacation in Gaeta.

After admiring the vista, continue on the last section of the trail to the top of Monte Orlando, where you will be surprised to find a mausoleum! However, it wasn't just any mausoleum; it was one constructed during the Roman era for a senator by the name of Lucio Munazio Planco. It's amazing to consider how long this tomb has endured! 

Hike the trail in Parco Urbano

Parco Urbano is where Monte Orlando is located and offers a variety of breathtaking vistas. If you take the trail behind the hill from Monte Orlando, you'll reach the foot of the hill that has a wonderful view of the sea below. The Parco Urbano trail has a variety of green trees, which ultimately developed into a forest and an old hiking track. Moving further, you'll see the point of Serapo Beach and the crystal-clear, blue ocean right in front of you! 

If you're into trekking, this is a perfect spot to explore Gaeta's best. Make sure to choose the route that goes from Gaeta's mediaeval city centre to Monte Orlando's peak to Grotta del Turco. 

Visit Grotta del Turco

The "Turk's Cave" is also known as Grotta del Turco. From the observation platform above, you can see that it is essentially a large, stunning cave. It is quite fascinating to witness the ocean's blue hues blend with the cave's sand tones while listening to the ocean. There isn't much written about the cave other than the fact that pirates used it as a hiding place throughout the Middle Ages.

Grotta del Turco is open daily from 9 AM to 5:45 PM, unlike the rest of Gaeta, although be aware that it could be closed on Mondays. Additionally, there is no entry fee, however, a donation would be greatly appreciated! 

Stroll within Split Mountain

Montagna Spaccata, sometimes referred to as "Split Mountain," is located right close to Grotta del Turco. The Sanctuary of the Split Mountain, also known as the Santuario della Montagna Spaccata, is a unique religious site that is believed to have been created by a miracle. According to legend, a split in the mountain occurred when Jesus Christ died on the cross, and the Sanctuary was built around this split. You can climb down some stairs to the top of what appears to be a lighthouse, from where you can see a little portion of the ocean. If you're already in the area for the cave, you should definitely check it out; it's very cool!

The opening times and cost of Split Mountain are identical to those of Turk's Cave. Remember to show respect when visiting these two Gaeta sights because they have religious significance.

Visit the Regional Archeological Museum

If you are a history buff, Gaeta has a fascinating museum that showcases the area's rich archaeological heritage. The Regional Archeological Museum, located in the historic Palazzo dell'Arengo, has an impressive collection of ancient artefacts, including Roman mosaics, Etruscan pottery, and Greek vases. You can learn about the history of Gaeta and the surrounding region, and see how the area has been inhabited and influenced by different cultures over the centuries. It's a fun way to indulge in some learning! 

Go to the beach

Going to the beach is undoubtedly among the top summer activities in Gaeta. Since Serapo Beach is roughly a kilometre long, you can always find a place to unwind in the sweltering summertime.

Ariana Beach is more secluded and peaceful, while Fontania Beach is known for its clear waters and breathtaking views of the Monte Orlando Nature Reserve. 

Here, in Gaeta, Mother Nature presides in all her majesty, inviting you to read a book or have a rejuvenating siesta. 

Take a Boat Tour

One of the best ways to see the stunning coastline of Gaeta is by taking a boat tour. You can rent a boat or join a tour group, and explore the hidden coves, sea caves, and picturesque beaches. You can also see some of the ancient Roman ruins from the sea, such as the Villa di Tiberio, a grand palace built by Emperor Tiberius.

Taste the Italian Flavours in Gaeta

A culinary tour of Gaeta will introduce you to some of Italy's finest food traditions. Being a seaside town, fresh seafood is a staple and is often paired with local pecorino cheese. 

You can also indulge yourself in some olive tasting. Gaetan olives are renowned for their unique taste, and you can even visit olive groves to understand their cultivation process.

Some of the must-try dishes include the tiella di Gaeta, a savoury pie made with rice, mussels, and potatoes; the zuppa di pesce, a rich seafood soup; and the baccalà alla gaetana, a dish of salted codfish cooked with tomatoes, onions, and olives. You can also try some of the local wines, such as the Biancolella and the Falanghina! 

The two restaurants that you can visit which serve lovely local food are: 

1. Il Brigantino. This cosy restaurant is located in the old town, and it serves fresh seafood dishes as well as traditional Italian cuisine. The atmosphere is warm and welcoming, and the prices are reasonable.

2. Ristorante Pizzeria La Torretta. This family-owned restaurant is located near the Sanctuary of Split Mountain, and it offers a wide variety of traditional Italian dishes. You can come by after you've explored the mountain and are hungry for good Italian food. 

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