The Amalfi Coast is without a doubt the most stunning area I have visited in Italy. And the best way to explore, is by renting a Vespa! IF you have courage!
With the world’s best pizza, colorful houses that charmingly line the cliffs and beautiful beaches to let the hours pass you by, the Amalfi coast is one of Italy’s most loved holiday destinations and it is hardly difficult to see why.
Arguably one of Italy’s most famous coastlines, the Amalfi coast stretches along the Sorrentine Peninsula in Southern Italy. You can include a few days on your vacation for visiting Pompeii (45 minutes away from Naples) and even Rome (3 hours away by car).
For first time visitors to the Amalfi Coast, here is a complete guide for making this trip one of the most memorable of a lifetime!
For my trip I have decided to visit the hot spots of the Amalfi Coast: Naples, Sorrento, Capri, Positano, Amalfi, and Ravello. These are the most popular pit stops for visitors to the Amalfi Coast and having visited all of them, I would say that you can’t miss any of them!
We first arrived by plane in Naples, the gateway to the Amalfi Coast. And let’s be straight about it! What more is there to say about Naples other than pizza? Obviously. There is a lot more that could be said, but really this is the most prevalent reason visitors flock to Naples – to sample all the many incredible pizza offerings.
I’ll be straight up about it: we only stop in Naples for the pizza. Naples is the birthplace of pizza and we were quick to jump straight into our afternoon of taste-testing. My favorite pizza we tried was a classic margarita at L’antica Pizzeria Da Michele, the pizzeria where Julia Roberts over indulges in the film Eat, Pray, Love.
Sorrento is the first town travelers come to when visiting the Amalfi Coast being a popular place to base yourself. The hotel offerings are plentiful and it is easy to reach the rest of the Amalfi Coast towns from Sorrento. I choose to book a hotel close to Sorrento, in the village called Sant Agnello. Sorrento is a great place to stay being a little more active than other parts of the Amalfi Coast as it is both a resort town as well as home to many locals. It was my favorite town for night ambiance and restaurants. Another added bonus is that you’ll find an absolute mecca of great gelato, as well as great “aubergine parmigiana” (eggplant parmigiana) – a personal favorite dish from the Campania region.
From Sorrento, I would also recommend taking a bus, Vespa or car to visit nearby Ravello and Amalfi, located a short drive up the hill and offering sweeping views of the coast.
See here a guide to Sorrento.
Next thing you can do is to visit Capri as a day trip from Sorrento. This is by far the most popular way to visit and see Capri, so prepare yourself for the crowds!
We would have liked to stay a couple of nights on the island but we were so short on time that we settled for a day trip (20 minutes by ferry, one-way from Sorrento). My advice for you is to rent a Vespa if you want to visit remote parts of the island that are otherwise only visitable by car. Capri is the Amalfi Coast’s most popular island and for decades has been the favored holiday destination of affluent travelers. The prices are sky high both for accommodation and restaurants.
For those who don’t have a budget, by all means, head for Capri! It doesn’t get much more glamorous than this.
Read more: A Quick Guide to Capri
Positano is the true gem of the Amalfi Coast. You will realize that everyone around you seems to think so, too!
The crowds only increase in the summer months, so I would suggest visiting in June as we did if you would like to have a more authentic experience. There are buses that run from Positano to the smaller towns (Amalfi & Ravello) and also from Sorrento! Positano is for me the pick of the Amalfi Coast towns. Incredibly picturesque and impossibly charming at every turn, there really is no way you could come to Positano and not enjoy your time here. We visited during Spring when the flowers were all in full bloom, arguably making this the best time of year to visit before the summer crowds arrive.
Read more about Positano
Next, we visited Amalfi town on a day trip from Ravello!
This town is distinctly different from Positano as it is located a little off the water and not on the cliff face like its more popular neighbor. Here we enjoyed a great lunch and gelato. Prices are a little cheaper here than in Positano so we found it a great escape from the hype. Onwards into the hills, we journeyed to Ravello, an even smaller town than Amalfi. In Ravello, you can enjoy an incredible view over the coast from high above, as well as relax away from the crowds and enjoy the spring blooms.
One thing you can do HERE is Getting married in the most elegant site! Ravello can be the perfect frame to a lavish and intimate ceremony facing the blue sea.
One final town that cannot go without mention is located just beyond Positano and named after the area itself or vice versa. This is the final town on the mainland of Italy that is regarded as a must see when visiting the Amalfi Coast. Amalfi is located approximately 40 minutes from Positano and most easily accessed by the SITA bus (which also connects the rest of the Amalfi Coast). Just be sure to buy your bus tickets in advance from local cafe bars or look out for the black and white “Tabacchi” sign out the front.
Of all the Amalfi Coast has to offer, the only two locations we did not get a chance to visit during our time there were Ischia and Procida. I really wish we had more time to visit these two as well. But I’m sure even if we had have spent a month here, it still would not have been enough for me! Anyway, I hope to visit these places soon!
Here’s a little preview of what to expect when visiting the two other islands on the Amalfi Coast: Ischia and Procida.
Lying approximately 30 kilometers off the coast of Naples is Ischia, a volcanic island that boasts thermal spas, hot springs, and volcanic mud. The island is sizeable enough to spend at least a few days here, though you can also visit by day ferry from Naples.
One of the great attractions on the island is the commercial center Ischia Porto and its beautiful old town Ischia Ponte. Across a bridge from the old town is Aragonese Castle, which sits on its own island.
FIFTY years ago on July 31, a film was launched that was so overblown, so excessive and so grandiose that it very nearly bankrupted 20th Century Fox. That film, Cleopatra, spawned one of the greatest love affairs of the last century, the romance of Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor, itself every bit as dramatic, passionate and epoch-making as the events the film portrayed. Some of it was played out on the small Italian island of Ischia.
Ischia was also the island where Burton and Taylor were filmed in a passionate embrace on a yacht, confirming what the world had already suspected that they were lovers on-screen and off.
I wondered how I’d never heard of this gorgeous island. Procida is the smallest island in the Bay of Naples and despite its location just a 40-minute hydrofoil ride from Naples it receives as many foreign visitors as the neighboring islands of Capri and Ischia. Procida seems to be the best-kept secret of Amalfi Coast, although it’s popular with napoletana looking for a summer escape from the steaming, chaotic city.
Colourful buildings line the bay and with little tourist visitation, the experience in Procida remains a much more authentic offering. I fell for Procida as soon as I saw the view from the Terra Murata. A tangle of houses painted in pink, yellow, blue and green tumbled towards Marina Corricella. And when the sun set behind them, they lighten up the sky in a blaze of orange and pink. Paintwork is faded and crumbling, doors are ancient and rusted. The streets are enlivened with pink bougainvillea and tiny white jasmine, their scent accompanying us on our strolls. Lemon groves are squeezed into every available space.
Procida’s highlight is Marina Corricella, the colorful fishing village that’s built into the rock leading to the sea. The 17th-century settlement is traffic-free and can only be reached by stairs in passageways through the houses. Along the waterfront, there are piles of fishing nets and patio restaurants where you can enjoy a meal with a view of the Terra Murata and bobbing fishing boats.
The Amalfi Coast is a must see destination in Italy.
Exploring the Amalfi Coast can show you another side of Italy. Visitors can see dramatic landscapes, gorgeous blue seas, and the biggest lemons trees. Relax and enjoy the atmosphere, by taking a few days or a full week, before returning to Italy’s big cities.