The Amalfi Coast evokes images in one’s mind: the scent of lemons wafting on the air, colourful buildings and houses lining the clifftops which plunge directly into the endless azure of the Mediterranean Sea, bronzed Italian tourists basking in the sunshine on the beaches below. In the Amalfi Coast, you may feel as if you are the star of your own glamourous Italian movie.
The Amalfi Coast is the perfect holiday destination for couples and lovers of Italian culture, where you can enjoy the essence of Italy present in the sunshine reflected off the colourful clifftop houses, in the small fishing villages with boats bobbing in the harbour and the amazing cuisine that makes the most of freshly caught seafood brought in by local fishermen. The coast is famous for its lemons, limoncello, beaches, Mediterranean charm and much more and one visit will leave you wanting to return to discover yet more of this amazing part of Italy.
If you’re looking for that special destination for an anniversary, marriage proposal, singles holiday or gourmet food tour, the Amalfi Coast should be on your list.
We will give you everything you need to know in our ultimate guide to the Amalfi Coast!
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Table of Contents
How to get to the Amalfi Coast
Naples is the main hub for the Amalfi Coast and can be reached by air. Low cost carriers such as Ryanair offer budget flights from around Europe to Naples International Airport. Alternatively, you can take a short train journey from Rome to Naples which only takes approximately two and a half hours.
Car rental is a popular option for getting around the Amalfi Coast and will give you the freedom to explore lesser known villages and coastal towns at your own pace. There are several car rental companies at Naples Airport where you can hire a car.
Trains from Naples are the most common way of reaching the cities of Salerno and Sorrento. The national train company, Trenitalia, has direct trains running to Salerno that takes only 40 minutes and costs around €12 per person. You can reach Sorrento by taking the Circumvesuviana train service from Napoli Centrale train station for only €4.10 per person. The trip takes around an hour from Naples.
From both Sorrento and Salerno, you must catch a bus for any onward travel to the towns on the Amalfi Coast, and the local bus company, SITA, caters to the region and allows for easy and budget-friendly travel between the different towns on the Amalfi Coast.
What to expect in the Amalfi Coast
Expect to see the beautiful landscapes and charming fishing towns that you have seen in hundreds of photos. They are as photogenic as they appear on instagram. This place is a feast for the eyes and you will have endless photo opportunities.
Bear in mind that the Amalfi Coast is not one of the cheapest places to visit in Italy, being a favourite of the jet set crowd. The towns are few and far between and are often small, meaning that accommodation can be expensive and in high demand, especially in the high season. It is advisable to book your accommodation in advance to avoid being stranded without anywhere to sleep. Airbnb is also a great option to find cheaper accommodation.
The currency used in Italy is the Euro and tipping is not very common, an average tip of 10 – 15% in restaurants is recommended. An average meal can range from around €20 to 30 per person and upwards.
The main language is Italian, though English is spoken widely around the area.
Beaches are often full in the summer and you will not find long stretches of sandy beaches along the coast, but instead the beaches around the region are usually made up of small pebbles that make for uneven walking. Getting to some beaches require a hike down a mountainside with as many as 800 steps down, so bring some hiking shoes! For those who are not such big fans of hiking there are small ferries that can take you to the little coves and beaches.
The beaches are lined with rows upon rows of umbrellas and beach chairs as they are often divided into small private beach clubs which offer facilities for an entrance fee. The provided facilities may include access to showers, a coffee bar, a restaurant, and bathrooms aside from the chairs and umbrella. Some beach clubs even offer activities such as kayaking or paddleboarding for their customers.
How to get around the Amalfi Coast
The Amalfi Coast is not the most accessible region of Italy and you can only get as far as Sorrento or Salerno by train, from there you need to rent a car, take a bus or hop on a ferry to explore further. Driving obviously gives you more freedom to explore but the winding roads of the coastline can be intimidating to inexperienced drivers and the local bus drivers that drive up and down the coastline have very little patience for clueless foreign drivers. Be prepared for traffic jams caused by the latter.
There are ferries serving some towns on the Amalfi Coast but their daily trips are subject to the weather conditions: if the seas are rough, the ferries stop running. Always be sure to check the weather reports first thing in the morning before any boating excursion or ferry trips as cancellations usually occur in the mornings.
The best time to visit the Amalfi Coast
The most popular season to visit the Amalfi Coast is from the months of April to September. The peak period is during the months of July and August and you will find the beaches and small towns overcrowded with tourists, both local and international who flock to the Amalfi Coast.
Events are usually held in the summertime and there are concerts and music festivals during this period. You may see the glamourous jet-set crowd in the summertime mooring their yachts at the Amalfi Coastal harbours and flaunting themselves in the most upmarket nightclubs and restaurants.
The best time to visit is during the month of May and June, when the cost of hotels is usually cheaper. September is another good month to visit for good weather and fewer crowds.
Things to do on the Amalfi Coast
Drive the winding clifftop roads of 1000 bends
One of the most famous drives along the coasts consists of 50 kilometres of 1,000 curves! You’ve seen the movies where they drive along the winding roads with the top down and the Mediterranean breeze blowing through their hair and you will want to experience it for yourself.
Braving the nausea, the coastal drive offers spectacular views over the limestone cliffs plunging into the azure sea. Be aware that the narrow roads only allow for two lanes of traffic and is not for the faint-hearted as they are dominated by aggressive Italian bus drivers who traverse this route numerous times a day and have little patience for drivers unaccustomed to the local roads. Pro tip: take a motion sickness tablet in advance, just in case!
Hit the beach
Do as the Italians do and hit the beach whilst you’re on the Amalfi Coast. All the beaches will be full of bronzed, tanned bodies soaking up the sunshine and there is plenty of people watching to do. There are many beautiful beaches such as Minori and Maiori that are worth visiting. These two sandy beaches are accessible from Amalfi town, a contrast with many of the pebble beaches around the Amalfi Coast. The inviting cool, turquoise waters will beckon you to take a dip and you can while away the afternoon basking in the sunshine after a fulfilling meal of seafood in a nearby beachfront restaurant.
Explore the Grotta dello Smeraldo cave by boat
One of the most beautiful caves in Italy is called the Grotta dello Smeraldo, or “the emerald grotto”, located between Amalfi and Praiano. This cave formation is partly submerged and the way the light enters the cave bathes the chamber in a glorious emerald light which plays and dances upon the lake.
The cave was formed centuries ago by volcanic activity and consists of one enormous chamber and a large lake. To get to the elevated cave, you have to take an elevator and you can have a guided tour around the cave by boat. The entrance costs only €5 and the tour takes a short 30 minutes which makes this the perfect place to stop in before exploring the towns of Amalfi and Praiano.
Visit the Valle delle Ferriere waterfalls
The Valle delle Ferriere waterfall is the perfect destination for hikers and nature lovers. It is located in the midst of a protected forest and there are many walking and biking trails that allow you to enjoy the vistas of the forest and nearby towns from a different perspective. The trails are not so well trodden by tourists and will give you the opportunity to get away from the tourist crowds of the other Amalfi Coastal towns.
Discover the art of 18th century paper making
Amalfi has been creating handcrafted paper since the 13th century in the numerous paper mills set amidst a gorge alongside a river that flows out into the open sea. In the 16th century there were once 16 paper mills in the region but nowadays there are only two remaining. This craft was passed on from the Arabs and historically, the paper was a heavy parchment made from cotton and linen. You can learn about this ancient craft by visiting the Museo della Carta built in a converted 15th century paper mill.
Places to visit on the Amalfi Coast
This city is one of the entry points to the Amalfi Coast and is a charming city with narrow alleyways and great gourmet culture. You can spend a night here before heading off to explore the towns on the coast and there is no better place to stay than the Grand Hotel Exelsior Vittoria, a beautiful and glamorous hotel overlooking the port town from atop a cliff. This hotel has been run by five generations of the same family and the style is reminiscent of the Grand Budapest Hotel by Wes Anderson. Enjoy the views of the Italian sunset from the terrace whilst sipping on an cocktail served by elegant waiters in white jackets, for a true Italian experience, opt for an Aperol Spritz.
Once a small, quiet fishing village, Positano is now one of the most touristy of Amalfi Coastal towns, attracting the glamourous Italian jet-set and selfie-taking tourists in the summertime. It is still worth a visit though, as the colourful houses and the cathedral that sit astride the magnificent cliffs are spectacular and will provide endless photo opportunities. Positano is best appreciated by boat and you can rent a boat to admire the coastal views.
Nerano is nestled between Sorrento to Positano and is a perfect place for a pit stop. Here you can enjoy an al-fresco lunch in one of the harbour restaurants in the Marina del Cantone, you can enjoy a delicious meal whilst watching the local children swim and dive into the water and small fishing boats bobbing up and down on their moorings.
One of the most famous restaurants here is Lo Scoglio, which once hosted the Onassis family. This family-established restaurant has been running since 1958 and continues to serve up the most delicious pasta and seafood dishes made with the very best local produce: their own olive oil, freshly caught seafood from the local fishermen and vegetables harvested from their own farms. You can follow up with a lovely siesta on the beach before cooling off in the sea.
The town Amalfi is a place that you must visit, the Amalfi Coast was named after this very town.
You lose yourself whilst wandering through the narrow and the whitewashed building-lined streets, descending the steps to discover a stunning beach and a charming plaza. The narrow passageways and architecture evokes a feeling of being in a Moorish town and you will be transported to another time and place in history. Don’t miss the 9th century Baroque cathedral called Duomo di Sant’Andrea, the highlight of Amalfi town.
Ravello is one of Italy’s hidden gems and is the perfect place to visit if you want to avoid the crowds of Positano. Though most people who visit remain in the plaza below, a hike to the top of the cliff will reward you with the amazing views from Villa Cimbrone and is well worth it.
The villa was built in 1905 and was made famous by the actress Greta Garbo who frequented the villa during her vacations. The clifftop is home to two notable, large hotel:, the Palazzo Avino is a stunning hotel frequented by the jet-set crowd, while the stunning Belmond Hotel Caruso was once a palace which dates back to the 11th century.
If you go to Ravello in September, you will be rewarded with an enchanting classical music festival that takes place in the town centre. The festival has been hosted in Ravello since 1952 in the same town centre which inspired Richard Wagner to compose some of his most famous musical pieces.
Furore is an attractive and charming town clinging to the clifftops on the Amalfi Coast that is overlooked by tourists. The road to Furore takes you on a climb past hundreds of vineyards lining the limestone cliffs. You will find beautiful frescoes and murals in the houses and shops in this small town depicting life in this Amalfi town, you will also find lots of shops selling handicrafts and local food produce.
What to eat on the Amalfi Coast
The sun-drenched Amalfi Coast is home to some incredible Italian cuisine. With the Mediterranean providing plenty of fresh seafood, there are many excellent dishes to try, here are some of our favourites:
Scialatielli with Sea Food
The famous dish of the region was created by the famous Italian chef, Enrico Cosentino, the pasta is made of milk and is served with fresh, locally-caught mussels, clams and prawns in a celebration of the abundant seafood of the region. The ingredients are all tossed together with olives, capers and tomatoes. Other notable pasta dishes to try on the Amalfi Coast are Spaghetti alle Vongole, spaghetti served with clams which is another perfect marriage of Italian flavours and ingredients fresh from the sea.
The delicious plump anchovies available all along the Amalfi Coast make for a delicious meal. This humble fish is highly celebrated in the fishing village of Cetara, there is an annual tradition which begins on March 25th and ends in late July. During this period, anchovies are turned into a modern version of “garum”, a fish sauce made from fermented anchovies following an ancient Roman recipe.
The anchovies are salted and flattened between the weight of wooden casks and sprinkled with layers of salt. The liquid gathered from the pressing is filtered into bottles and exposed to sunlight as part of the fermentation process. This magical ingredient is the key to the rich and flavourful pasta dishes of the Amalfi Coast.
Garum is most commonly used all over Asia and is known as “fish sauce” and is not as commonly used in Europe nowadays.
Minori is home to one of the most famous gnocchi dishes. Gnocchi is one of the oldest forms of pasta, according to UNESCO, and Ndunderi is made by preparing a flour with ricotta. Traditionally, gnocchi are made with potato and is best served in a simple tomato sauce and strewn with delicious, fresh basil leaves from the area.
Amalfi is famed for its pastries and desserts. In Amalfi you can find the famous iconic café named Pansa, where you can find delicious Amalfi biscuits.
Try some unusual and famous recipes by the famous baker, Salvatore De Riso, at his Minori pastry shop. Here you can savour his famous aubergines dipped in chocolate, a famous hazelnut cake stuffed ricotta and pear, as well as the famous “argostelles” filled with creamy custard.
Provolone del Monaco
Provolone cheese is usually served oozing and hot from the oven and is absolutely delicious, perfect with some crusty bread. The provolone made on the Amalfi Coast is covered in a yellow rind and is shaped like a melon. The most famous cheesemaker of the region is Monti Lattari, aside from Provolone, they also make a rich, flavourful goats cheese which is used in dishes in many of the restaurants of the region. A visit to Monti Lattari is a must for any gourmand!
Where to stay on the Amalfi Coast
Sant’Agata sui Due Golfi – Stay on an organic olive farm near the town of Sant’Agata, overlooking the bay of Naples and Salerno. The no frills rooms are charmingly decorated with stencils and the hearty breakfasts consisting of home-baked cakes, fresh eggs from their chickens and harvested fruits from their own garden are served in open air on a terrace draped with jasmine flowers and roses. A double room starts at €90 per night.
Villa Rosa, Positano – For a reasonable hotel in Positano, pay a visit to Villa Rosa. Here you will find spacious rooms with terraces overlooking the sea, draped with bougainvillea flowers. In the morning they serve fragrant pastries and hot coffees brought to your terrace. A double room costs from €170 per night.
Agriturismo Sant’Alfonso, Furore – Above the Vallone del Furore Gorge is the small town of Furore, home of famous DOC wines that hail from the numerous vineyards clinging to the steep cliff terraces. The winding road leads to the town 400 metres above sea level, the road is steep and offers spectacular views over the cliffs. The hotel is a refurbished in an old monastery building and has impressive facilities such as a Jacuzzi, home-cooked authentic food. Nearby you can go on excellent nature hikes and you can go and visit the stunning waterfall set amidst the nature reserve. This hotel is a must for nature lovers. The price of a double room starts from €70 per night.
Torre dello Ziro, Ravello – Looking over the Bay of Salerno is the Torre dello Ziro hotel. This bed and breakfast is situated halfway between the coast and sea and only consists of six contemporary rooms. The hotel offers a picturesque terraced garden where you can relax and enjoy your breakfast in the morning. The mother of the owner herself bakes the fresh pastries and cakes every morning which she serves with homemade juices and jams made from fruits gathered from the garden. The cost of a double room starts from €80 per night.
Villa Maria Luigia, Salerno – This gorgeous bed and breakfast is only a short distance to the beach and has a feeling of home from home. The hotel has a delightful terrace where they serve breakfast (included in the price) in the morning. The cost of a double room starts from €112 per night. You can choose a garden view room or enjoy sea views and the hotel is a bargain for its location and value!
Tours to do on the Amalfi Coast
As there are so many stunning and picturesque coastal towns, the best way to see them is by boat. There are many tour organisers who offer trips where you can see Amalfi’s beauty from another perspective. Prices start at around €119 per person so it’s not cheap but is definitely worth the price for the amazing photo opportunities on the way. From Positano you can find a steal at the Lucibella booth, here you can hire a small traditional wooden boat for the price of only €35 per hour!
Day trips from the Amalfi Coast
This active volcano rises in the distance above the Bay of Naples. For those who love hiking, a walk to the summit will offer fantastic views of Naples with only a 20 to 30-minute uphill walk, depending on your level. It is situated in the National Park of Vesuvius and can be reached by taking the Circumvesuviana regional train service to Pompeii-Villa dei Misteri. Once in Pompeii you can take a bus from the main station.
One of the best ways to see Mount Vesuvius is via an organised full-day tour which will also include Pompeii’s historic site. Pompeii is an incredible archaeological site where an entire town was buried and preserved in perfect condition under the ash and lava of the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD. Here you will see figures, humans and animals preserved forever in that tragic moment and get a glimpse of what life in an ancient Roman town must have been like. Prices for a full-day tour start at around €100 per person.
Ahh, the glamour of Capri is irresistible! This attractive island has brought all manner of famous people to its shores including the Emperor Tiberius, in ancient Roman times, to modern day celebrities such as Brigitte Bardot, Elizabeth Taylor and Jackie Onassis who loved to holiday there. You will find designer shops and trendy bars and nightclubs in Capri.
Attractions on the island include the Blue Grotto or Grotta Azzurra, a sea cave which is accessed by small wooden rowboats where the water glows with an eerie and unbelievable blue colour. Tickets for the rowboat cost €14 per person and there is often quite a queue! Other activities on the island include climbs to the summit or a cable car to the top to take in the views from the island. Ferries run regularly between Capri and the mainland, however the last ferry leaves at around dinnertime.
This island is not as touristy as Capri but is now growing in popularity due to the Italian writer Elena Ferrante, who uses this beautiful island as a setting for one of her books. The island is famous for its thermal springs, you can enjoy the healing properties at a traditional spa for only €15 per person where you can enjoy a Roman bath, sauna and feel revitalised after a long day of exploring. Ischia can be reached by ferry from Naples. There is a high speed ferry that takes an hour and a slower one that takes 30 minutes longer. Alternatively, you can hire a private boat for €100 to take you around the island to some of the more hidden and less-touristy beaches.
It’s worth spending a night on Ischia to make the most of the island as there is plenty to do! There are many hikes which have spectacular views of the island and also a botanical garden called La Mortella. In the summer, the botanical garden hosts classical music concerts for €20 for the ticket, a delightful way to enjoy the Italian evenings whilst indulging in some culture.
These islands are situated between Capri and Positano are an archipelago. Roman mythology bestowed the name to these islands due to the belief that the islands were once inhabited by Sirens who lured sailors to their death with their haunting and magical songs.
The island chain consists of the islands of La Rotonda, La Castelluccia, Galla Lungo, Vetara and Isca. The largest of all the islands is Gall Lungo which has the remnants of a monastery and a prison building, where convicts were sent. Tourists are not allowed to set foot on the islands but you can view them by boat tour and prices start from around €100 per person.
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Recommend budget tours in Amalfi Coast
- Amalfi Coast Boat Experience: from Sorrento to Positano, Li Galli, Rotonda and Castelletto
- Amalfi Coast Shore Excursion- Semi Private Tour/Small group from Naples area
- Private Tour: Amalfi Coast and Capri Cruise
- Private Day Trip to Pompeii and the Amalfi Coast
- Full-Day Amalfi Coast and Positano Boat Excursion from Sorrento
- Small-Group Amalfi Coast Day-Trip from Salerno Including Lunch
- Amalfi Coast Small group Tour by Boat from Sorrento
- Amalfi and Ravello Full-Day Tour from Sorrento
- Amalfi Drive: Sorrento to Amalfi Excursion
- Small-Group Positano, Amalfi, and Ravello Day Tour from Sorrento with Lunch
- Sunset Cruise
- A day on the Amalfi Coast
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