San Nicola Arcella, in the Gulf of Policastro, on the riviera dei Cedri, rises on a sheer cliff 110m above sea level. The municipality includes a stretch of Tyrrhenian sea between Praia a Mare and Scalea, with grey sand beaches bounded by cliffs and protected from the wind, and crystal-clear sea.
The streets of the historical centre provide numerous opportunities for a view over the coast but the widest panorama can be enjoyed from the belvedere di San Nicola. Architectural places of interest include the 19th century Church of San Nicola da Tolentino, with a simple façade and twin bell towers; and the Palazzo dei Principi di Lanza di Trabia, overlooking the gulf, formerly the summer residence for the rulers of Scalea.
The 25m long lagoon at the foot of the sheer rockface where the city is perched, can be accessed through the arco Magno, a natural arch carved in the rock. Small boats may pass through to reach the beach which can also be accessed on foot by a path dug into the rock above. Crawfords’ Saracen tower, which takes its name from the American writer Lord Francis Marion Crawford whose novels were inspired by the time he spent here, is near the bay.