The Amalfi Coast truly embodies the charm of a bygone era. Its name only inspires images of sun kissed beaches, delicious cuisine and glamour – in short, the famous ‘Dolce Vita‘ that you won’t find elsewhere else but in the Italian Riviera.
If you’d like to spend your summer sipping Limoncellos, tanning under Italy’s flickering sun, getting lost through photogenic alleys and spending too much cash on expensive linen clothes, then look no further my friend, this is just the right place.
Keep reading to find a complete travel guide to the Amalfi Coast, including tips on where to stay and how to get around. I put together the perfect 5-day itinerary, but I will also give you suggestions to size it up according to your needs. As the cherry on top, I will give you also some tips on where to eat. I rarely do this in my guides but you know, eating is one of life’s greatest pleasures, and we Italians do it so, so right.
Ok, now pour yourself a glass of Falanghina and scroll down!
WHERE IS THE AMALFI COAST LOCATED? WHERE TO STAY?
La Costiera Amalfitana is a stretch of coastline located in Campania, in Southern Italy. It runs about 40 km (25 miles) from its starting point (Vietri sul Mare) to its end (Positano) and consists of 13 charming towns. Check this very professional map for an overview:
Now, which city should you use as a base?
Considering a few factors like services, public transport hubs, quality of the beaches and overall prettiness, I would suggest 3 main cities:
1) Positano – why? Well, it’s no doubt the most beautiful city in the entire coast. Unfortunately, unless you’re planning on using Airbnb, staying in Positano is also going to be the very, very expensive. It is SO worth the money though.
2) Amalfi – why? it’s more affordable than Positano, but still very cute. Book a hotel in Amalfi and you’ll be right in the middle of the Costiera, making it much easier to get around.
3) Sorrento – even though Sorrento is not actually part of the Amalfi Coast, it is usually a stop along the way if you’re planning to reach the area with public transport. It’s also an ideal base if you want to take additional day trips to Pompeii and Napoli, but it’s quite far from most of the Amalfi Coast towns.
These 3 options are obviously very touristic. Would you prefer to avoid the crowds? Then Praiano is the place for you. There’s a nice and authentic small-town atmosphere, and is an ideal choice if you’re looking for a relaxing beachy vacation and don’t mind being far from all major transportation hubs.
HOW TO GET TO THE AMALFI COAST?
Getting to the Amalfi coast won’t be exactly easy. Whatever your starting point is, you will have to reach Naples central station or Salerno central station before moving on to your journey.
Basically, you have 3 options. Open the tabs below to get the juicy details!
OPTION 1: [Italian city] → train to Naples* → train to Salerno → ferry to Positano / Amalfi or bus to Amalfi
*In some cities like Rome theres’ a direct route to Salerno at least once a day, so you don’t necessarely have to stop in Naples. All these trains need to be booked in advance. Trenitalia is the main website of the public railway system, but you will have to input city names with their Italian spelling (for example, Rome is Roma and Turin is Torino). There’s also Italotreno, a private company that operates high-speed trains.
Once you reach Salerno, the best option is usually to take the ferry. Fast ferries offer Salerno-Amalfi and Salerno-Positano from Piazza della Concordia (right in front of the train station) at 08:40, 09:40, 10:40, 11:40, 14:10 and 15:30. The trip takes around 35 minutes to Amalfi (8€) and 70 minutes to Positano (12€). During high season the streets get extremely congested so the ferry is usually the fastest option, but if you prefer the bus, the Salerno-Amalfi route with SITA buses takes around 75 minutes and costs 3/4€.
OPTION 2: [Italian city] → train to Naples → train to Sorrento → bus to Positano or Amalfi
The Circumvesuviana train will take you from Naples to Sorrento. It costs €4.10, it takes slightly more than an hour and leaves every 30 minutes. It’s cheap, but also old, crowded, and definitely not fancy. You can check the train time table and schedule here, but you cannot purchase the tickets in advance.
Once in Sorrento, you can take the SITA bus to reach all the towns along the coast. The route takes from 60 to 90 minutes depending on the final destination (Positano, Praiano, Conca dei Marini or Amalfi) and it’ll cost you from 3 to 5€. In alternative, there’s also a speedboat that with 16€ and 30minutes will take you to Positano.
OPTION 3: [Italian city] → train to Naples / flight to Naples Airport → private car to Sorrento/Positano/ Amalfi
A private driver is the most expensive option but it’s also the one I recommend the most to avoid all the craziness I described above. A private car transfer should cost you between 100€ and 150€ for one way.
HOW TO GET AROUND
Your options are:
1) Bus – Wanna know how “holy shit” sounds in 100 languages? Then head immediately to Positano and take the first Sita bus! Seriously, watching the nutty coach drivers zip up and down at terrifying speed the incredibly narrow roads (with nothing below but cliffs to the sea!) is equal part horrifying and entertaining. Actually, make that 70/30.
But if this picture didn’t scare you off, note that tickets can’t be bought directly on buses, but you can find them in most tobacco shops and bars throughout the coast. You can get tickets that are valid for 1 day (€7.20), 3 days (€18), or one ride (€2.40 for 45 minutes, €3.60 for 90 minutes). Since there aren’t “proper” bus stations, you may want to ask your hotel for indications to reach your chosen destination.
2) Ferry – Ferries are often faster, less crowded, and provide gorgeous views of the towns from the water. There are many different ferry companies (Travelmar, Alicost, Alilauro and Camemar) and you can ask directly at the ticket booths for the timetables.
3) Car – You can obviously also rent a car and drive. Some people love doing this but I think it must be avoided at all costs unless you really enjoy being insulted in Italian (although our curse words are indeed very poetic!)
5-DAY AMALFI COAST ITINERARY
Day 1 – Positano
Let’s start this trip with a bang! Positano’s scenery is to die for — hundreds of peach and terracotta houses literally hug the cliffs above the sea, creating a postcard image which is now worldwide famous. Now, how should you spend your day in Positano?
First of all, get up early and spend your morning tanning and swimming. If Marina Grande is too crowded for your taste, just a short walk away you’ll find a much lesser known beach, Fornillo Beach, where the wanna-be locals hang out.
Head to Casa e Bottega for a refreshing light lunch, then spend your afternoon wandering the streets. Explore the little art galleries in the city, visit Church of Santa Maria and reward yourself with a pair of artisanal sandals.
Once you’re tired out, head to Franco’s for an aperitivo with the greatest view ever (the same of the instagram-famous Le Sirenuse!), then consequently treat yo’ self with a 3-course meal at restaurant da Vicenzo. Finally, top everything off with your first sip of Limoncello. Remember, the key to drinking limoncello is pure mathematic. The link between the digestive aid and the number of shots you take can be described by an exponential function.
In mathematics, an exponential function is a function of the form f(x) = abx
First glass? Your digestion is perfect and your dinner date is suddenly funnier. Tenth glass? You’re now performing a full on Macarena atop the very table on which your elegant supper was served three short hours ago.
Day 2 – Amalfi & Atrani
Ah, Amalfi is such a delight to explore, especially with a refreshing granita in your hand. You can spend your morning strolling around the small center and checking out all the many charming alleys, and of course do not forget to visit the famous Duomo di Sant’Andrea.
Not many know that Amalfi has also a long history as a center of paper mills, and the bambagina – the funny name of the thick and soft paper produced here – is appreciated by many artists around the world. Make sure to visit the Paper Museum to see how this very pretty product is made by hand.
After a quick lunch at Taverna Buonvicino, head around the corner to picturesque Atrani. Only a 5-10 walk from the main Amalfi’s square, Atrani has a surface area 0.12 km2, making it the smallest town in Italy. And just in case you need a break from the streets, there’s also a small (obvi!) beach.
Day 3 – Ravello, Furore
Perched on a cliff, the town of Ravello has been for years a bohemian getaway and a popular celeb hideaway. The entire town has crazy-beautiful views of the Mediterranean sea, but the main attractions are definitely its two amazing villas, Villa Rufolo and Villa Cimbrone.
You can spend the morning exploring both villas then head to the main square for a quick bite.
In the early afternoon I highly suggest a quick visit to the Fiord of Furore.
It’s common knowledge that Fiords are absolutely a must-see in Norway, but did you know that a similar example can be found in Italy as well? Case in point: The Fiord of Furore. The beach cove is accessible through a specific trail in the mountains or directly through the steps near the arched bridge on the Amalfi Coast highway, aka the hell road. Remember that given its particular position, the beach catches the sun only during the central hours of the day.
Day 4 – Capri
Once the summer playground of choice for celebs like Jackie O and Greta Garbo, Capri can really attract all kind of travelers. Are you a history buff? Here you’ll find the favourite hangout of the Roman emperor Augustus and even Tiberius’ villa, where he used to entertain himself by throwing people off cliffs. Are you a nature lover? You can easily spend a week walking through the many hikes available around the island. Want to do some serious damage to your credit card? Oh boy can Capri help you with that!
You can reach Capri from Positano, Amalfi and Sorrento by catching a ferry, which will cost you around €40 for a round trip (see? It damages your credit card from the beginning). Check Directferries for schedules and actual prices.
Now, in my opinion, this is what you should do once you hop off the funicolare:
1) Check the main piazza and visit the Gardens of Augustus
Make your way to Capri Town’s main piazza and start taking in the atmosphere and the scent of lemons and opulence. From there, you can descend in about fifteen minutes to the spectacular Gardens of Augustus. From one side of the gardens you can see the Faraglioni, the famous group of three rock stacks – Scopolo, Mezza and Stella. On the other side, you can look down into the turquoise waters of the bay and the Marina Piccola (Little Harbor). You can also admire a fascinating trail, called the Via Krupp, that goes down directly from the gardens to the marina.
2) Hop on a Gozzo ride and see the Blue Grotto
Make your way back to the marina, pack a bottle of Italian bubbles and hop on a Gozzo, a Capri’s classic wooden boat. This is the best way to visit Capri, as a good private driver can take you to the best caves and stop right in front of the Faraglioni. Just make sure to pre-arrange this tour if you’re traveling during high season.
The best part of a Gozzo tour is definitely the Blue Grotto.
La Grotta Azzurra is worldwide famous thanks to a natural phenomenon that occurs when sunlight, passing through a small cavity and shining through the water, creates a magical, mesmerising neon-blue reflection. It’s a bit of a hassle to get into the cave – the entrance is so tiny, you literally have to lay down flat in your boat to avoid banging your head – but once you’re in, you’ll be totally blown away. If you’re on a budget, you can also get a bus from the Marina to the town of Anacapri, and walk to the Blue Grotto from there (there’s a set of stairs that leads down into the water and to the opening of the grotto). You’ll still have to pay around 14 euros to enter the grotto, but you’ll be saving on the extra gozzo fare.
Day 5 – Sorrento
Sorrento is definitely a much bigger town than its neighbors, so here you’ll find a completely different vibe.
The center of the city’s life is the picturesque Piazza Tasso, full of energy and locals at all hours. You can stroll around Corso Italia and discover all the lovely buildings and sights tucked away in the charming cobblestoned side streets. Don’t leave without trying the famous gnocchi alla Sorrentina, Sorrento’s signature dish.
A WEEK IN THE AMALFI COAST?
When it comes to the Amalfi Coast, the more the merrier. If you have a few extra days to spend in the Costiera, here are some additional suggestions:
1) Hike the Walk of the Gods. The Path of The Gods, or II Sentiero Degli Dei in Italian, is a historic trail connecting the two mountainside villages of Bomerano and Nocelle. The full path is about 13km, all filled with heavenly views and dreamy scenery.
2) Visit Vietri sul mare. Vietri sul mare is the last small town on the Amalfi Coast and is famous thanks to its rich ceramics tradition. In fact, the whole town is literally covered in incredible earthenware pottery known as maiolica.
3) Check out Maiori & Minori. Quiet and unpretentious, these towns are both home to the biggest beaches on the Amalfi Coast and are also notable for being ancient Roman settlements. Minori in particular enjoys a unique microclimate and is usually blessed with a pleasant breeze.
I’m serious, book your accomodation as early as you can! The Amalfi coast is very popular, especially from July to September. Also, while restaurants serving up delicious meals are numerous, the top eateries do get filled extremely quickly.
What to wear?
Well, you do you. My only suggestion is to wear loose fitted dresses or pants cause you’re probably going to eat your body weight in carbs. Also, no heels ladies, you’re going to walk something like 1.000.000 steps everyday!
Oooook, that’s it! You’re now FINALLY ready for your Italian summer! Are you excited??
Alright then. Arrivederci!