We’ve been visiting the Amalfi Coast for years and it’s absolutely one of my favourite places in the world. If you’ve been, you’ll probably agree! If you’ve not been yet but are thinking about it, I hope this guide is helpful.
What is the Amalfi Coast?
The Amalfi Coast is a 50 kilometre stretch of coastline in the region of Campania, stretching from Sorrento to Salerno. Due to its stunning beauty, natural diversity, history, architecture and significant artworks, the Amalfi Coast has UNESCO World Heritage status.
The most notable towns are: Sorrento, Positano, Ravello, Amalfi and Salerno.
How to get to the Amalfi Coast
You can get to the Amalfi coast by air, boat and train – depending on where you’re headed and where you’re coming from.
The closest airport to the Amalfi Coast is Naples International Airport. From the airport, you can either hire a car, take a taxi, get a ferry (see below) or a shuttle bus. The distance from the airport to Positano is about 60 km and takes about an hour and a half, depending on traffic. The coastal road is only one lane and is very windy, hence why it takes so long. If you’re heading to Amalfi, expect the journey to take around 2 hours by car.
If you want to travel by train, the train only goes to Sorrento and Salerno. You can get the train from Naples Garibaldi station, which is beside Napoli Centrale station. Note though if you’re coming from the airport, that you’ll have to travel by taxi or bus to reach the station, which is about 4km away.
The train to Sorrento is operated by Circumvesuviana and takes over an hour as it stops at Pompeii and Herculaneum (and other stations). If you’re on a budget though then this is your best option as the ticket is about €4, compared to around €100 in a taxi.
If you’re going to Salerno, then you need the Trenitalia line. The journey takes around 40 minutes and costs under €5.
If you’re staying in Sorrento, Positano, Amalfi or Capri then you can get a hydrofoil boat from Naples. Again, you’ll need to get from the airport to the ferry terminal. You can get a taxi or the airport shuttle bus. The journey is between 15 mins and 30 depending on traffic.
If you are headed to Positano, then you’ll need to get the hydrofoil to Sorrento and then a ferry to Positano or Amalfi (note that the ferries between Sorrento and Positano and Amalfi only runs from May to October.) If you’re heading to either Positano or Amalfi, then note that the ferry is neither the fastest nor the cheapest option.
There are lots of ways to get to your destination so do a bit of research to see which option is best for you.
Where to stay
Where to stay really depends on you as each town has its unique charms. Typically, Positano is the most expensive town however there are hotels, B&Bs and AirBnBs to suit every budget. Positano even has a hostel.
Sorrento is described as the gateway to the Amalfi coast. It’s a small town (although larger than the others) that overlooks the Bay of Naples and is situated on sweeping cliffs. It’s also the easiest town to reach and therefore can be quite crowded during the summer season.
There are lots of shops, restaurants and beautiful churches, including a 15th century Duomo with its three story bell tower. For those who love a bit of culture, there are museums and art galleries and Sorrento is the ideal base to visit both Pompeii and Herculanium as they can be reached easily by train.
Head to the quaint fishing village of Marina Grande where you can swim and grab a bite to eat. I’d highly recommend Soul & Fish for a delicious meal in a gorgeous setting. The hotels on the cliff offer a stunning view over the marina. There are buses every 30 minutes or so to take you to and from the town, or you can walk.
Everyone I know who has visited Positano has described it as the most beautiful place they’ve ever seen. It certainly is stunning and unique with its coloured houses and hotels built into the cliffs.
As it’s set on cliffs, you may have to do a lot of walking – depending on where you’re staying. We always choose to stay close to the beach and we stayed at the gorgeous Casa Buonocore luxury boutique hotel on our last visit. We also always hire a scooter though so that we can go exploring and visit the other towns. It’s also handy when going out to eat at night! It’s not cheap though… our scooter set us back €70 a day.
Positano is hugley popular for days trips so is very busy during the day and full of tourists. On the flip side, it’s also a great base for doing a day trip to Capri, if you have the time.
Positano has a fairly large beach, however we always prefer to swim at the little beaches along the coast – such as the one in Priano (the next town, towards Amalfi), pictured below.
My favourite swimming spot is Fiordo di Furore. It’s so beautiful! The colour of the water is stunning and it’s not too crowded. It’s also public and therefore, free.
In Positano, I’d highly recommend dinner at Next 2 (be warned though, it’s right next to the road, but the food is great) and Villa Franca. Also, you simply cannot visit Positano and not have a lemon granita from the little cart in the small square.
Unlike Positano, Amalfi is set below the cliffs. At its heart is the impressive Arab-Norman Sant’ Andrea cathedral (or Duomo) with a stunning facade from the Byzantine era. The doors date back to 1066!
If you fancy something really cultural, then head to the paper factory – Museo della Carta – which is housed in a 15th-century mill. Amalfi has been known for its paper-making since the 13th century.
If you just want to wander around then there are lots of shops, bars and restaurants and also beaches. We love to head to the marina for a swim when we visit.
Whenever we’re in Amalfi we always have lunch at Lido Azzurro. The food is excellent and you cannot beat the view! It was actually recommended to us by our taxi driver the first time we ever visited the Amalfi Coast – and we’ve been going back ever since.
Ravello is set high up in the hills (365 meters above sea level), giving you an absolutely stunning view – if you know where to go. It’s just under 7km from Amalfi and around 25km from Positano. There are buses you can get if you don’t want to shell out for a taxi or if you don’t have a car.
Back in the day, Amalfi was known for its paper and Ravello was known for its wool. Back in the 12th century it had about 25,000 people living there – now it has just 2,500.
Ravello is famous for it’s annual music festival, in honour of Richard Wagner but it also holds many concerts throughout the year, through the Ravello Concert Society.
The best views can be found in two places: Villa Rufolo and Villa Cimbrone. We visited Villa Cimbrone as we had dinner at their restaurant, Il Flauto di Pan. It’s a hotel but it has the most beautiful gardens, which are open to the public (for a small fee). This is the view from the 16th century panoramic terrace. The gardens are open from 9 am until sunset.
My Amalfi Coast Top Tips
I’ve been to the Amalfi Coast about five times and these are my top tips:
- If you have time, visit every town. They’re all different and unique and truly charming.
- Want to stay in Positano but it’ll break the budget? Stay in the next town, Priano.
- Hire a boat! You’ll see things you’d never notice driving, plus you get to swim in some beautiful spots. You can hire boats from Sorrento, Positano, Marina di Praia and Amalfi.
- Can’t afford to hire a boat? Go on a boat tour. There are lots of tour operators to choose from.
- Visit the Grotta dello Smeraldo (the Emerald Grotto) in Positano if you fancy seeing a beautiful grotto by boat. Be warned, it’s very touristy though.
- Positano has a small display of its town in ceramics but if you want to see a more impressive one, head to Priano where they have their whole town displayed in a cliff! It’s so big, I couldn’t even fit it in in one photo.
- Looking for discounted Missoni? There’s a shop in Positano, next to the art gallery and opposite the little supermarket, that sells past season Missoni.
- Enjoy an aperitivo – an Italian tradition of having a drink with a bit of food. Typically available from about 6 to 9pm. We loved the aperitivo we had at Villa Franca and Hotel Pallazo Murat in Positano.
- If you can, book dinner at Il Flauto di Pan at Villa Cimbrone in Ravello. It’s got a Michelin star – so is pricey – but it was one of the best meals we’d had and the setting was just magical.
For additional tips and itineraries, here’s a bucket list Amalfi coast road trip guide.