The Essential Travel Guide to the Amalfi Coast

The Amalfi Coast is one of the most picturesque places on Earth. From the shimmering Mediterranean to the colorful streets of Positano, to the idyllic beaches of Amalfi Town and the dramatic cliffside views from Ravello, you could easily spend weeks exploring and never tire of the Amalfi Coast.

If you’re dreaming of an Amalfi Coast getaway, here’s everything you need to know — from travel and transportation logistics, to where to stay and what to see and do!

How to Get to the Amalfi Coast
First things first — how to get to the Amalfi Coast! Depending on your final destination, transportation to the Amalfi Coast may or may not be a bit of a trek. And to be completely honest, mapping out your transportation options will likely be overwhelming, but in the end, you’ll be glad you put in the time and research!

Our journey to the Amalfi Coast originated in Rome, so from Rome, we caught a high speed train to Salerno. From Salerno, we took the ferry to Positano (our final destination), but this would also be an ideal form of transportation if you were staying in Amalfi Town. From Rome to Positano, our total travel time was about 3.5 hours. (I’d recommend leaving Rome early in the morning so you have the full afternoon to explore your final destination!)

If you’re staying in Sorrento, you can take a high speed train from Rome to Naples and then a regional train to Sorrento. From Sorrento, there are daily buses and ferries departing to the various towns along the Amalfi Coast. Just make sure check out the timetables — buses and ferries don’t run very frequently, only every 60-90 minutes, and the ferries stop running by early evening. If this sounds a bit hectic, you can always hire a private driver, but this is obviously the more expensive option!

Where to Stay on the Amalfi Coast
Where to stay on the Amalfi Coast is probably the most difficult question to answer. When I first started to research hotels and AirBNBs, I was so overwhelmed, I actually stopped looking for accommodation options. It’s important to understand that the Amalfi Coast is a huge stretch of land, with Sorrento, Positano, Amalfi Town and Ravello being the top places to visit. And to make your decision more difficult, each Italian coastline town has its own charm and hidden treasures!

The key to determining where to stay is identifying where you want to spend most of your time. For us, we knew we wanted to stay in Positano for several reasons: the beach, nightlife, close proximity to the Path of the Gods hike, and easy accessibility to Amalfi Town and Ravello. But, as Positano is the most famous destination along the Amalfi Coast, we knew accommodation would be our biggest expense.

Here are some of my thoughts to consider when deciding where to stay!

…Sorrento: Sorrento is a popular home base for those who want to visit Pompeii and Naples (to the north) and the Amalfi Coast (to the south). Not only is Sorrento beautiful, but hotels are affordable. One thing to keep in mind is that staying in Sorrento will require travel time and costs to and from the various towns of the Amalfi Coast. For us, the added time and money was worth the splurge to stay in a more central location.

…Positano: Ohhh Positano, you are the most postcard perfect town, and I wish I could travel back in time to enjoy all of your beauty. From the shimmering Mediterranean to the colorful, lemon-scented streets, Positano took my breath away. I honestly have never seen a more beautiful place in my entire life. But with all this beauty comes a price — hotels (and even AirBNBs!) are expensive, but if you book ahead and travel during off-season, you might be lucky enough to find a great deal! We stayed at Hotel Miramare, and our stay was beyond amazing. We cannot recommend the staff and property enough.

…Amalfi Town: Overwhelmed with the volume and costs of hotels in Positano, I initially considered finding a hotel in Amalfi Town, but in hindsight, I am so glad we stayed in Positano. Amalfi Town is beautiful, but it’s smaller than Positano and after about an hour of exploring, we were ready to move on to our next destination. If you’re planning to visit Ravello or hike the Path of the Gods from Bomerano, Amalfi Town would be the ideal place to stay overnight!

…Ravello: While Ravello is a trek to reach, I would consider Ravello to be the best kept secret of the Amalfi Coast. Located high above the Mediterranean, Ravello offers the absolute best views of the Amalfi Coast. Quiet and largely deserted by tourists by afternoon, Ravello might just be the quiet escape you’re searching for.

Wishing I could travel back in time to this swimming pool!

Traveling Along the Amalfi Coast
Traveling between the towns of the Amalfi Coast is no easy feat, especially if you’re pressed for time. And unless you’re planning to rent a car (which I would not recommend!), you should definitely plan out your transportation options!

...By Car: Renting a car definitely provides you with freedom and independence, but as there is only one road along the coast, traffic can be a bit crazy. Not to mention parking, which may be close to impossible during peak tourist hours!

…By Bus: In theory, taking the bus along the Amalfi Coast should have been the easiest transportation option, but to be honest, the bus probably caused us the biggest headache. Not only do the buses run on a very seldom schedule (maybe every 60-100 minutes depending on where you’re going), but they were crowded and often standing room only. Plus, you have to be flexible enough to schedule sightseeing, eating and drinking around the bus timetable.

…By Ferry: The ferry was our favorite mode of transportation along the Amalfi Coast! Not only was the ferry fast and easy, but you get the most amazing views of the coastline to and from the various Amalfi Coast towns. Similar to the bus schedule, the ferries run every hour to an hour and a half, depending on your final destination. However, the wait isn’t that bad considering all the beachfront bars and people watching!

…By Scooter: Oh man, I wish we had had the courage to rent a scooter and fly down the Amalfi Coast, but to be honest, we really didn’t want to risk it and end up in the hospital! If you’re an experienced scooter driver, I’m sure this would be the most amazing way to experience the Amalfi Coast!

What to Do on the Amalfi Coast
For years I have dreamed and dreamed of traveling to the Amalfi Coast. But, when our trip was just days away, I started to worry we would be bored and that we dedicated too much time to such a small destination.

Fast-forward three magical days on the Amalfi Coast, and oh boy, was I wrong. By the time we were due to bid farewell to Positano, I was begging Alex to extend our visit by one more night! If you’re in midst of planning and cannot decide how many days to spend on the Amalfi Coast, I would recommend at least 2 full days — and even more if you want time to relax and/or visit Capri. (We didn’t have enough time to visit Capri, but definitely next time!) Your days will be full of eating pasta, drinking aperol spritzes, exploring the towns of the Amalfi Coast, and soaking in the sun… the list goes on and on. Here are some of our favorite things to do on the Amalfi Coast!

…Get Lost in Positano: Positano was by far our favorite town along the Amalfi Coast. From the beach and beachfront bars, to endless boutiques and lemon-scented streets, you could easily spend hours getting lost in Positano. But, just a heads up — the amount of steps you will climb in Positano is no joke! We counted at least 250 steps to our hotel, and this only put us 1/3 of the way to the top of Positano. If you’re counting down the days to your Amalfi Coast trip, don’t miss the stair-stepper at the gym!

Getting lost in Positano

Positano from above

…Take the Ferry between the Amalfi Coast Towns: There are various modes of transportation along the Amalfi Coast (taxi, bus, scooter, etc.), but there is no better way to soak in all the views of the Amalfi Coast than by taking the ferry. Sure, the ferry is a bit more expensive than the bus, but when else will you have the opportunity to sail up and down the Mediterranean with the Amalfi Coast in the background?

I’m not sure I’d ever be brave enough to drive or scooter down the cliffside roads along the Amalfi Coast!

…Explore Ravello & Go Wine Tasting: Ravello is the most charming hilltop town along the Amalfi Coast. Initially, we were going to skip Ravello as its quite difficult to reach, but after hearing from so many friends that Ravello is the hidden gem of the Amalfi Coast, we knew we had to see if for ourselves. There is so much to see and do in Ravello — Villa Cimbrone and the Terrace of Infinity, Villa Rufolo, and getting lost in the many hidden alleys and streets. The highlight of our Ravello visit was wine tasting at Palazzo Confalone. The owners of the winery (Casa Vinicola Ettore Sammarco) recently purchased the five-star hotel and are renovating the grounds, set to open early Spring 2020. We were given a private tour of the hotel (which is absolutely breathtaking!) and a one-on-one wine tasting experience. At the end of our tasting, they moved us to one of the hotel’s balcony with the most amazing view of the Amalfi Coast. I’ll be writing a blog post on this experience soon!

Terrace of Infinity

Aperol Spritzes at Villa Cimbrone

Wine Tasting at Casa Vinicola Ettore Sammarco (Palazzo Confalone)

Wine Tasting at Casa Vinicola Ettore Sammarco (Palazzo Confalone)

…Hike Path of the Gods: This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and if you’re on the Amalfi Coast, you absolutely cannot miss Sentiero degli Dei! There is nothing like hiking above the Mediterranean, getting lost in magnificent views of Capri, exploring ancient ruins, and descending upon the beautiful village of Positano. Check out my post on hiking Sentiero degli Dei!

One of the most breathtaking hikes we’ve ever done!

…Swim in Positano: I generally don’t like to swim, but after a long afternoon of hiking Sentiero degli Dei, the Mediterranean never looked so enticing. I’m sure swimming anywhere along the Amalfi Coast would be amazing, but swimming in Positano and gazing up at the hilltop town with the colorful buildings and gold dome church will be a memory forever engrained in my mind. Depending on time, you can visit the public beach or go to a private beach club with chairs and umbrellas. We visited the public beach and our hotel provided us with a beach bag and towels!

Attempting to be a Mermaid! 

The Beach in Positano

…Eat & Drink Until You Can No More: No trip to Italy is complete without pasta, wine, aperol spritzes, and more pasta. And this is especially true when visiting the Amalfi Coast! Our favorite meal was at La Tagliata, a family-owned restaurant with no menu, and our favorite place to grab a drink with a view was at Franco’s. For more of our favorite bars and restaurants, head over to my post on eating and drinking in Positano!

Sunset drinks at Franco’s Bar

Dinner at La Tagliata

Lunch in Positano

How to Budget for Your Trip to the Amalfi Coast
The Amalfi Coast is not cheap. It is probably one of the most expensive places we have visited, and I’m saying this after having lived in New York City for three years. Most hotels offer a complimentary breakfast, but lunch and dinner with drinks for two will be anywhere between $70-120 USD. Most touristy bars will be expensive (Franco’s was at least 20 euros a drink), but if you wander and get lost, you can definitely find more affordable deals! My biggest piece of advice is have a budget in mind, but don’t let that budget dictate your trip. For us, we knew we wouldn’t be returning to the Amalfi Coast anytime soon, so we indulged and spoiled ourselves for the three days we were in Positano!

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