You travel to Rome to learn about the glorious ancient empire, to Florence to understand the renaissance and to Milan to be swathed in contemporary fashion and design. But to understand the true meaning of la dolce vita (the sweet life), the only way is to board a boat headed for the Amalfi coast.
Amalfi juts out into the Bay of Naples and is Italian heaven on earth with its pastel houses dotting cliffs that rise out of the turquoise waters, a fresh lemon scent that perfumes the air and vast stretches of beach perfect for indefinite lazing.
Take your time exploring and navigating the Amalfi coast, every moment spent here is precious. Take a boat ride through beautiful waters, lounge on colour-coded sunbeds by a lido, schedule visits to museums and churches, sink your feet into the shimmering sea and bask in extraordinary vistas.
Amalfi has a 50-kilometer stretch of coastline and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site with over a dozen towns, beaches, cliffs and coves. Positano, Ravello and Amalfi are the three most famous places in Italy but don’t feel anchored to these as there are several other picturesque towns along the Amalfi coast which are worth a visit.
Best Time to Visit
Amalfi coast is best explored between the months of May to October. The sun shines brightly over the water making it warm and pleasant for swimming and the many hotel hotels, boutiques, restaurants and cultural sites like Ravello’s Villa Cimbrone are operating in full swing.
Do keep in mind that June, July and August will be slightly more challenging, it being the peak tourist season. Not only will you be amidst a swarm of people, but you will also find it difficult to book hotels if not already done in advance and to find open tables at eateries. Planning and booking in advance truly goes a long way in helping you visit beautiful places in Italy.
The best and the easiest way to reach the Amalfi coast is either by car, bus or train from Naples. No matter how you choose to arrive the journey is idyllic.
- Ferry or Boat – There are fast ferries like Alilauro which takes you from Napoli to Amalfi’s main port, but these depend entirely on the time of year you visit. Most ferries make multiple stops at Capri and Sorrento before docking at Amalfi’s port.
- Train or Bus – If the thought of a sea journey has your stomach in a knot, hop aboard the Frecciarossa train which will take you from Napoli to Sorrento. It is direct and highly efficient. Upon arriving in Sorrento, you can proceed to catch a bus to your destination. If you are travelling from Naples or Rome, take the shuttle from the International airport which will leave you directly in Positano.
- Car – There is a certain charm and romance that surrounds car travel and it is by far the best way to travel in Italy as it gives you freedom and independence. Rent a car with ease at the international airport in Rome or Naples.
Best places to visit in Amalfi Coast, Italy & Things to do
1. Explore picturesque Positano
Think multi-hued buildings that cascade down the mountainside and arrive at the grey shingle beach around which life revolves during summer and that is Positano. Once a humble fishing village, Positano’s tiny streets and beaches have been taken over by selfie stick-wielding tourists today. Don’t let that deter you from relishing in the stunning sights of pastel homes and the domed cathedral.
Tip: Wear comfortable shoes in preparation for walking up a few more steps than anticipated.
2. Embark on a boat ride along the coast
The best way to get a feel of the landscape is to get down to sea level by renting a boat. Feel the flow of the boat gliding over the water in either direction from Positano and revel in the incomparable beauty of the many villas with balconies suspended over the water, caves tucked into the cliffs, pebble beaches and waterfront restaurants. You can even take a day trip to Capri.
3. Spend the day lazing at a beach at Positano
Life revolves around the beach in summer and some of the best beaches in Italy are in Positano. People spend the day at the beach eating, drinking, swimming, sleeping, chatting and eating some more! The stretch of sand will be covered in colour coded sunbeds with umbrellas which belong to a lido that includes a restaurant, a bar, a shower and changing rooms. It is all very Italian. Visit the main Positano Beach, the smaller Fornillo Beach or the rocky Gavitella Beach.
4. Walk along the footpath of the Gods
The most beautiful places in Italy are best viewed from the top. The higher you go the better the view and this coastline stretch is a paradise for hikers. Take a four to five hour walk on the footpath of God which goes across a panoramic ridge between Bomerano and Nocelle which is just above Positano. You can also shorten your walk to three hours by stopping at Nocelle.
5. Visit Capri
Take a boat or a hydrofoil from Positano and jet set your way to Capri which is the epitome of glamour known for its yachts slicing through glittering waters and shimmering whitewashed villages dotted with magenta bougainvillaea. Here you can visit Axel Munthe’s Villa San Michele, Emperor Tiberius’s clifftop villa, the Grotta Azzurra and charming Anacapri.
6. Visit the busiest town in Costiera – Amalfi
Amalfi is the busiest town in Costiera which was famous for paper making and lemons. Sure, during the summer months Amalfi is crowded but it is a pretty little town between the mountain and the sea surrounded by lemon terraces. The throbbing heart of Amalfi is the Piazza del Duomo, an open-air salon dominated by a cathedral and many café tables filled with tourists.
7. Ascend the stairs to Sant’Andrea
The main attraction of Amalfi is the Cattedrale di Sant’Andrea which sits proudly atop a flight of stairs. Built in the Arabo-Norman style, its flamboyant exteriors are truly eye-catching with the magnificent bronze door and striped façade. While here, visit the crypt which holds the remains of Saint Andrew.
8. Saunter through the quiet streets of Ravello
Ravello is what dreams are made off with its enchanting, dreamy and romantic atmosphere that will envelop you at first entrance. It looks out over the glistening waters of the Gulf of Salerno and is far removed from the busy coastline. No wonder artists, musicians and writers have been attracted to the otherworldly feel that Ravello emanates through its glorious gardens and crumbling palazzi. Wander through quiet streets for a proper Italian experience.
9. Visit the gardens of Villa Cimbrone, Ravello
The incredibly well-manicured gardens at Villa Cimbrone deserve a visit. They are suspended so high above the sea, the view of the endless waters is simply breathtaking.
10. Look around Duomo di Ravello
This refreshingly plain cathedral dates to the 11th century and is in honour of San Pantaleon, the patron saint of the town. Enter through the overwhelming bronze doors divided into 54 bas-relief sculpture panels and witness the two pulpits in all their glory.
Wherever your travels take you, rest assured that Amalfi coast has enough and more for everyone. Its allure and draw are undeniable and now you’ll be able to navigate the area like a native for a fulfilling and enriching experience whose memories will last with you long after your return.