The Practical Travel Guide to the Amalfi Coast in Italy
Everything you need to know to help plan your perfect Amalfi Coast itinerary!
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. The Amalfi Coast is a 50 KM stretch of coastline along the southern edge of Italy’s Sorrentine Peninsula and is a UNESCO-listed landscape. It is lined with stunning towns running from Positano all the way along to Vietri sul Mare.
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. Since traveling to the Amalfi Coast in 2015, I’ve gone back almost every year – I just can’t seem to stay away! Read on for what you need to know to plan your Amalfi Coast itinerary, including the best things to do in the Amalfi Coast, how to get to the Amalfi Coast and the best time to visit!
Planning a trip to Italy? Click here for 14 things you should know before you go to Italy!
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/Salerno. Read on for how to get to Amalfi Coast from Naples and other cities in Italy:
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).
Alternatively, you can take a train to Salerno instead of Naples. From Salerno there are ferries and buses to the Amalfi Coast. (H/T Isobel from Testaccina)
By express train and ferry: From Naples, you can take the Campania Express to Sorrento and then catch a ferry from Sorrento. It costs approximately 10 Euros each way and stops at Naples Garibaldi station, Herculaneum (Ercolano), Pompeii and Sorrento; however, this train generally only runs between March to October each year so check the website for exact dates (they change each year).
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.
By car: Planning on driving yourself to the Amalfi Coast? The drive from Rome to the Amalfi Coast will take you between 4-5 hours, but parking is scarce (to say the least) so you’ll need to make sure that your accommodation comes with a parking space. We booked our rental car with Locauto, a local affiliate of Enterprise and Alamo – their cars were in great condition and the staff were extremely helpful.
Looking for the best prices for rental car companies around the world? Click here to book your rental car ahead of your trip. Bookings can be cancelled or amended if your plans change!
You may also need to purchase additional insurance for accidental damage as parking lots in the Amalfi Coast tend to move your car around to make room for other cars or buses during the day, and let’s put it this way – they aren’t the most careful of drivers.
The best places to stay in the Amalfi Coast
There are several options for where to stay in the Amalfi Coast 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 ($1000 a night? Are you kidding me?), then look to some of the smaller towns on the Amalfi Coast for incredible accommodation options: Atrani, Praiano, Maiori, Minori, Conca dei Marini or Furore.
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 and requires your own car or scooter, 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 or click here for even more accommodation options in the Amalfi Coast!
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 (top photo) 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 (bottom photo), 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!
If you are traveling around the Amalfi Coast with family or friends, I recommend booking yourself into one of the SorrentoLife two-bedroom apartments right in the heart of town. The apartments offer a good-sized kitchen and the beds are extremely comfortable. The wifi is lightning fast if you need to stay connected, and you can also do laundry in the property. If you plan on driving, SorrentoLife can arrange parking at a nearby facility for a discounted daily rate of 18 Euros. Click here to book your stay at SorrentoLife!
Planning your perfect trip to Italy? Click here for even more Italy hotel booking tips and recommendations!
Getting around the Amalfi Coast
Wondering how to get around the Amalfi Coast? The good news is that it is relatively easy, even if you don’t have a car!
Getting around by car: If at all possible, don’t do it! Parking is way too scarce and expensive, and traffic is a nightmare during the peak and shoulder seasons between June and October.
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 a few years ago. 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 for hours. We have rented a scooter from Freeway Scooter in Sorrento several times, 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 if possible. 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.
The main towns of the Amalfi Coast
There are so many wonderful towns along the Amalfi Coast, so read on for some of the best towns to visit in the Amalfi Coast and the top things to do in each of those places!
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. Head down one more level and there’s a bar area next to the pool with more seating and a fabulous view of the dome.
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, and you will need to leave the key with them so they can move the car if needed.
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.
Head to Villa Rufolo to tour the beautiful gardens and small museum or check out 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. Catching the view from Villa Cimbrone is one of the best things to do on the Amalfi 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.
Don’t miss the gorgeous Duomo di Amalfi dedicated to Saint Andrew in the heart of the small town, and pay special attention to the striped stone and marble arches as well as the intricate mosaic design covering its facade.
We haven’t spent a boatload of time in the town of 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 is 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 and it is definitely one of the best beaches in the Amalfi Coast.
This town has one of the best little swimming spots in the Amalfi 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!
5. Conca dei Marini
Conca dei Marini is one of the most underrated places to visit on the Amalfi Coast. It is home to the The Tower of the Capo di Conca and the Emerald Grotto, but 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 and take in the outrageous views.
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 hotel 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.
Amalfi Coast or Cinque Terre?
If you’re planning a trip to Italy, you may be weighing up whether to head to the Amalfi Coast or Cinque Terre. I’ve been asked this question several times and it all depends on how much time you have any how you plan on getting around. Though both the Amalfi Coast and Cinque Terre are UNESCO-listed sites, they are very different in terms of landscape.
Getting there and getting around: If you are flying into Rome, Cinque Terre is much closer and easier to get to by train as the Amalfi Coast does not have a dedicated train system. The towns in the Amalfi Coast are also more spread out, which makes it is easier to travel between towns in Cinque Terre by local train or bus.
Cost and places to stay: You can expect accommodation prices within the Amalfi Coast to be slightly higher than hotels in Cinque Terre. However, I would also recommend staying outside of the five towns of Cinque Terre if you are visiting – La Spezia or Levanto are great options as they are connected to the five towns by train but considerably less crowded.
Views: The Amalfi Coast and Cinque Terre are both stunning and photogenic in their own ways.
Beaches: There are a handful of small beaches along the Amalfi Coast, with Positano’s Spiaggia Grande being the most easily accessible. That being said, if you have access to a vehicle you can easily visit several rocky beaches near Amalfi, Conca dei Marini and Furore. Cinque Terre only has one main sandy beach at Monterosso al Mare. Though the water is crystal clear in both the Amalfi Coast and Cinque Terre, the sand tends to be very pebbly and all the beaches will be crowded during the peak seasons.
Crowds: As Cinque Terre is considerably smaller and more compact than the Amalfi Coast you’ll find that the crowds are far more oppressive and overwhelming during the peak season in Cinque Terre. It’s fairly easy to get off the beaten track in the Amalfi Coast and find quieter towns to explore.
How many days are needed: While you can visit the towns of Cinque Terre easily in 2 to 3 days, you’re going to need at least a week in the Amalfi Coast to make the most of your time there. In my opinion, there is more to do and see in the Amalfi Coast. It’s also easy to do day trips to the neighboring islands of Capri, Procida and Ischia from the Amalfi Coast.
Food: This may be an unpopular opinion but I find the food in the Amalfi Coast infinitely better than the food in Cinque Terre, though it also tends to be more pricey.
So, what’s the conclusion? I may be biased but I am in love with the Amalfi Coast – it’s a destination in Italy that I could go back to, year after year after year. Though the five towns are very picturesque and worth traveling to at least once in your life, I don’t feel any immediate urge to return to Cinque Terre, mainly because the crowds were pretty horrendous.
You’ll have to make up your own mind – if it’s your first time to Italy then you may find it easier to travel to Cinque Terre, but if you’re comfortable with venturing a little further than Rome then you should head to the Amalfi Coast. One thing is for sure – it is difficult to try to fit in both the Amalfi Coast and Cinque Terre in the same Italy trip unless you have more than a month in the country.
Booking tip: There are tons of great accommodation options in the Amalfi Coast – if you want to stay somewhere away from the crowds look into hotels and B&Bs in Praiano, Maiori, Minori, Conca dei Marini, Atrani or Furore. Click here for more Amalfi Coast accommodation options and current rates!
Have you been to the Amalfi Coast before? Which town was your favorite? For even more pictures of the Amalfi Coast make sure you follow along on Instagram.
Heading to Italy? You might also find these guides helpful:
- Need some help planning your Italy itinerary? All of my Italy city and destination guides are available here
- There’s no place like Italy. Here are some of my top tips for visiting Italy so you have a trouble-free trip
- Sorrento is an amazing coastal city you shouldn’t skip. Here are the top things to do in Sorrento
- You can easily do a day trip to Capri from the Amalfi Coast – read my guide on how to visit this stunning isle
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Video music credit: Geographer – Ferris Wheel / Youtube Free Music
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Great blog flo! Very informative and helpful!
Hello! Love your tips on Almafi! My husband and I are planning on visiting in July (unfortunately the only time we could go). I had a question about traveling the coast. We will be going on a cruise ship and our port is in Naples. We were planning on driving all the way down to positano. I saw your tip on taking a scooter. Would it be possible to go fast enough to go on a scooter all the way to positano and back in 1 day ( we will be there in port from 7 am- 6pm)? Also, if we have never driven a scooter, is it pretty easy to learn? Thanks so much!
If you have never driven a scooter then do not attempt driving from Naples to Positano on one because the roads are really windy and steep in some areas. I wouldn’t risk it! Have you considered hiring a private driver for a day tour? That might be your best bet. Otherwise, you can take a ferry to Sorrento and transfer there for another ferry to Positano – the only thing is that the first ferry out isn’t until 9 am, and then you will need to wait in Sorrento for the 10:30 am ferry to Positano. You’d waste a fair bit of time traveling both ways.
If I were you, I would hire a private driver/tour for the day so you don’t have to worry about parking and whatnot! Here is the company we used for private transfers before, I believe they do day tours/shore excursions too – http://www.admitaly.com/en/chauffeur-service/