The Practical Guide to the Amalfi Coast in Italy
The Amalfi Coast is hands down one of the most picturesque places in the world, and one place that I am certain that we will keep returning to, time and time again. You’ve probably heard all the hype about it and guess what? It’s all true. After our time in Rome, Sorrento and Capri, I was sure it couldn’t get any better, but the Amalfi Coast proved me wrong – there is so much more that Italy has to offer. Read on for what you need to know to plan your trip to the Amalfi Coast!
How to get to the Amalfi Coast
Unlike Rome, Florence, Cinque Terre and Venice, the Amalfi Coast is not easily reached by train. In order to travel to the Amalfi Coast, you will need to travel via Naples/Sorrento. Here are the various options from Naples:
By train and ferry: Naples is easily reached by train from most major Italian cities. Once you have reached Naples, you can opt to take the local commuter Circumvesuviana train to Sorrento (I highly recommend against taking this train but it is the budget option, read this for why) and then catch a ferry from Sorrento to Positano or Amalfi (the town).
By express train and ferry: From Naples, you can take the Campania Express to Sorrento and then catch a ferry from Sorrento.
By shuttle bus and ferry: There are also shuttle buses between Naples Airport and Sorrento operated by Curreri Viaggi. The timetable is available here and the journey takes just over an hour. The shuttle costs 10 Euros each way and is a great way to get to Sorrento if you are not keen on the train or ferry.
By ferry: Unfortunately it does not appear that there are direct ferries from Naples to Positano/Amalfi, so you will need to first take a ferry from Naples to Sorrento, and then another from Sorrento to the Amalfi Coast.
By private transfer: I can recommend ADM’s chauffeur service highly for transfer to/from Naples. We paid approximately 85 Euros for transfer to Sorrento in a Mercedes Benz sedan, it will cost slightly more to go all the way to the Amalfi Coast. You will need to book your transfer in advance here.
How to get around the Amalfi Coast and where to stay
There are several options for where to stay and your transportation options will vary depending on what you choose. If you don’t want to blow your entire vacation on 1 night in Positano ($800 a night? Are you kidding me?), then look to some of the smaller towns for incredible accommodation options: Praiano, Maiori, Minori, Conca dei Marini, Furore or Salerno.
Staying above Conca dei Marini at Solaria, a family-run B&B, and using it as a base to visit the rest of the coast was a great decision because it exceeded our expectations and allowed us to retreat to a quiet sanctuary after dealing with the crowds during the day.
While the location is a little further away from the main towns, it was perfect as we were looking for a true Italian experience. Our hosts, Emilio and his family, were extremely welcoming and gave us great recommendations for places to visit and restaurants to go to for dinner. Click here to book your stay at Solaria!
One of the best parts of staying here was the breakfast. Bruschetta. Omelette. Homemade cakes. Freshly brewed Italian coffee. One morning, Emilio’s wife made us this pasta carbonara frittata: I still dream about this magical frittata.
But here is my biggest tip for visiting the Amalfi Coast: You do not have to stay in the Amalfi Coast to visit the Amalfi Coast!
You can also base yourself in Sorrento and hop on a bus or ferry for day trips to Positano or Amalfi. The upside is that accommodation prices tend to be lower in Sorrento and you can also easily access other destinations like Pompeii, Capri, Ischia and Procida. A wonderful place to stay in Sorrento is Vhome, a lovely B&B located in a residential building down a side street in a relatively low-key area of Sorrento. Click here to book your stay at Vhome!
Another fantastic option is B&B Veru, right on Corso Italia (the main street running through Sorrento – the location can’t be beat). Cristiana is a wonderful host and the boutique rooms are spacious, clean and modern. Although it is on the main street, street noise is non-existent. Click here to book your stay at B&B Veru!
Getting around by car: Don’t do it! Parking is way too scarce and expensive, and traffic is a nightmare during the peak and shoulder seasons.
Getting around by ferry: There are regular ferries between Sorrento, Positano and Amalfi. Make sure you check what time the last ferry back to where you are staying is, as these tend to be in the early evening between 5:30 and 6:30 PM.
Getting around by public SITA bus: There are public buses that run between all the towns, but because of traffic you may often find yourself waiting 30-40 minutes between buses, and the buses get packed. Click here for the bus schedules and routes.
Getting around by hop on hop off bus: We noticed these iconic red hop on/off buses for the first time this past trip (2017). You can now use these buses to get around and they depart every hour or two. Click here for the bus schedules and routes.
Getting around by private transfer: If you have the budget, you can also arrange for a private driver. You will need to book your tour in advance here.
However, the absolute best way to get around is by scooter. Parking is far and few inbetween, and traffic can be a nightmare. With a scooter we often zipped and zoomed past cars that were stuck in traffic! We rented a scooter from Freeway Scooter in Sorrento and their service & rates are outstanding. Make sure you email ahead during the peak season to book a scooter in advance.
The best time to visit the Amalfi Coast
The Amalfi Coast is crushingly busy during July and August and I would recommend avoiding traveling here during those months. May, June and October are all extremely wonderful options as it is still warm enough along the coast but less hectic. Check out my packing list for the Amalfi Coast here.
Which towns should I visit along the Amalfi Coast?
Without further ado, here are some of the main towns that you should not miss!
Positano is without a doubt the most popular (and busy) town along the Amalfi Coast. Beautiful Italian houses cascade like a waterfall down the face of the mountain, and it is a great place to watch the colors of the sunset at dusk. Take a walk through narrow streets and shops down to the marina, then head to a bar for a few happy hour drinks.
Le Sireneuse is a upscale hotel in Positano with a champagne bar that boasts excellent views, but we found that it was hard to get a table with a decent view unless you make a booking in advance. Franco’s, its sister bar, is just down the street and is a beautiful al fresco terrace overlooking the coast with great cocktails (at half the price of drinks at Le Sireneuse) and some snacks – try to head here early at 6 PM when they open to snag a table by the terrace window, or call ahead for a reservation but you’ll get a great view pretty much anywhere you sit.
Parking is incredibly scarce in Positano – we parked at Garage Mandara which was just up the street from Le Sireneuse. It’s expensive but that’s to be expected!
Ravello is perched high in the mountains and a wonderful destination to visit. Getting to Ravello is no easy feat and the road that leads you to this stunning place is just past the town of Amalfi. What’s interesting is that while most tourists speak of Positano and Amalfi, almost every Italian we met said that Ravello was not to be missed: “magico!” they would say.
We spent the afternoon walking around this small town, and opted to skip Villa Rufolo to head to Villa Cimbrone instead. Villa Cimbrone is a short fifteen to twenty minute walk from the main piazza, and was probably one of my favorite places to visit on the Amalfi Coast, I could have easily spent a few hours just wandering around in here. The gardens and statues of Ceres (Demeter) and Bacchus (Dionysus – the god of wine. My kinda bloke!) are stunning, but the jewel in the crown is the Terrace of Infinity with a sweeping panoramic view of the coast.
The town of Amalfi is located right before the road that goes up to Ravello, with a beautiful cathedral in the main square and plenty of restaurants and gelaterias. Parking, even for scooters, is scarce and the main road comes to a standstill on the weekends, so I would advise against driving here.
We didn’t spend a boatload of time in Amalfi but did have a great dinner at Da Gemma and spent a few hours another day just walking around and eating arancini, pizza and freshly battered and deep fried calamari that came stuffed in a paper cone.
About 1 KM from Amalfi was the entrance to Duoglio beach at the 28 KM marker on the main road. It’s a little difficult to find but there are signs for water sports and the beach club hanging outside the gate so keep your eyes peeled. There is little to no parking here – something to bear in mind. The beach is 400 steps down…and back up, which makes this beach much less crowded than some of the other ones along the coast. It’s 100% worth it – trust me on this – the water here is crystal clear.
This town has one of the best little swimming spots along the coast and you don’t have to walk 400 steps to get down to it! Check out Cala di Furore where you can rent a sunbed for 5 Euros. The little shop even offers mini bottles of white wine!
Conca dei Marini
Conca dei Marini is home to the The Tower of the Capo di Conca and the Emerald Grotto. Most importantly, it is also home to one of the most amazing restaurants in the world (IMHO), Le Bonta del Capo. If you only have 1 meal in the Amalfi Coast, eat here. The food is authentic and scrumptious, the staff are incredibly friendly and the view is spectacular. I believe they are also able to send a vehicle to pick you up from your restaurant if you aren’t able to arrange your own transportation.
The undiscovered little gem of a town that we stumbled upon when we tried to drive along the main road as far East as we could. Maiori, although still touristy, is quiet and much less hectic than the other main towns. We had quite possibly the most delicious pastries stuffed with vanilla cream from Pasticceria Napoli and I was close to asking the old lady who runs the shop to be my adoptive nonna.
If you make it to Maiori, do not skip Chiosco Bar S. Francesco, a little restaurant along the beach. It looks completely unassuming and even a little bit kitschy with its carnival-esque exterior, but the owner’s wife cooks up a mean buffalo cheese lasagne and ravioli. Possibly one of the best “home cooked” Italian meals that we had on the Amalfi Coast.
Have you been to the Amalfi Coast before? Which town was your favorite?
*Originally published October 2015, last updated July 2017
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