The Essential Guide to the Amalfi Coast

November 23, 2018

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Now that we’re back and settled in Barcelona, it’s given me thorough time to reflect back on our summer travels to the Amalfi Coast and essentially, how incredible Italy is. So incredible we decided to return again not too long ago to explore a different part, but more on that later. It might just be my favorite country of all time. I wrote about our time in Rome right here, and today we’re diving into one of the most picturesque places on earth: The Amalfi Coast.

The Amalfi Coast is one of those places that was seemingly plucked straight out of a storybook and put on the Italian coastline. Located in southern Italy, it’s truly something straight out of a fairy tale, and it was absolutely a highlight of our summer to be able to visit this (beyond charming) stretch of coastal paradise. 

If Amalfi is on your Bucketlist, then this guide will cover everything you need to know when you head to the Amalfi Coast, from how to get there, where to stay, when to go, and how to get around. 

Ready to head to one of the most gorgeous places on the planet? Grab your SPF, and get ready to say “Ciao, Bella!” Let’s dive in (Limoncello not included, but encouraged…)

How to Get to the Amalfi Coast

The Essential Guide to the Amalfi Coast

First things first (why do every time I type that, instantly start signing Iggy Izalea? But I digress…) Amalfi is a bit of a trick to get to. While navigation and transportation in Europe is typically quite a breeze (particularly in comparison to the US) getting down to this little slice of postcard heaven requires a bit more planning. It’s not tough, but there are just a few trains, planes and automobiles to get there, if you will.

We took the train from Rome to Naples, and stayed in Naples for the night to enjoy the best pizza we’ve ever experienced (I don’t say this lightly) We’ve discussed flying back to Naples just for the pizza. It’s THAT good. But more on that later. Naples is essentially the gateway to the Amalfi Coast, so whether you fly directly there, or train in from Rome or somewhere else in Italy, this will be your “hub” so to speak.

Once you arrive in Naples, you have a few options to get to Amalfi. You can hire a private driver, which actually isn’t as crazy as it sounds. We had friends do this and it cost about 100 to get from Naples to Amalfi. If you’ve about had it with trains up to this point, this might be a good option for you. Try to book it in advance, otherwise drivers at the train station will definitely try to haggle with you for a higher price.

You can also rent a car in Naples and drive down to Amalfi yourself. Be forewarned, once you get to the coast, those twisty, turny, incredibly narrow roads are not for the faint of heart. You’ll also hit traffic once you arrive on the coast (same if you’re in the car with a driver) and with one lane each way, patience will become a virtue.

The last option and what we chose to do was take the regional train from Naples to Sorrento. It cost about 15 a person, and was actually pretty simple. The other nice thing about this is that you can stop along the way at other iconic places like Pompeii, which is an easy pitstop. It took about an hour or so to get from Naples to where we were staying, in Sorrento. Be warned, the train doesn’t go past Sorrento, so if you’re staying in one of the towns further south (Amalfi, Positano or Ravello) you’ll need to take a bus or a taxi the rest of the way.

Where to Stay on the Amalfi Coast

Okay, so now that you’ve figured out how to get there, where do you choose to stay? The Amalfi Coast is actually made up of a handful of small towns along the Italian shore, and each has their own charm. We got the chance to visit all of these while we were there, and each had their own unique flare. I’ll break down what’s special about each town, but no matter where you stay, you should definitely try to visit all of them while you’re there!

Sorrento

The Essential Guide to the Amalfi Coast

We chose to stay in Sorrento because we knew we would be taking the train in from Naples, and it’s definitely more of the “hub” and the easiest to get to. Sidenote: Sorrento is the last place the train stops, meaning it’s the end of of line. So if you’re staying further down the coast and took the train up to this point, you’ll need to have the rest of your transportation figured out. This could be renting a car, or getting on the bus. I wouldn’t recommend a scooter for this point in your journey, as you’ll likely have quite a bit of luggage in tow. Anywho, back to Sorrento. Another reason we ended up staying here is because it was also the most cost efficient place to stay, because you guys know I’m a tried and true believer that you can travel the world without breakin’ the bank. We stayed at The Secret Garden Relais, a beyond charming bed and breakfast. and it was fabulous! PS You can save $30 off your next booking on Booking.com (our go-to!) by using my code, here!

Downtown Sorrento also has a pretty large shopping area that can feel quite touristy, but it is absolutely lovely at night to stroll through. Grab some gelato, enjoy the warm air of the Italian summer evening, and just enjoy living la dolce vita.

If you’re staying here, definitely do this!

Amalfi

The Essential Guide to the Amalfi Coast

 

Amalfi, the coasts namesake is a picturesque town along the coast. Think striped umbrellas, cliffside villas, and delicious seafood. Amalfi is somewhat more in the middle along the coast, and is a bit larger than Positano, so if you’re hoping to mosey your way to multiple locations during your time, this might be a great place for you!

If you don’t end up staying in Amalfi, it’s the perfect place to stop for a glass of cold rosé in one of the many oceanside tavernas. Find your ideal spot, post up, and enjoy the sea breeze, view, and stunning umbrella clad beaches that surround you. 

Positano

Ohhh Positano, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways. Positano is the most postcard perfect town of the bunch and being there truly takes your breath away. How is it possible that places like this actually exist on this incredible earth of ours? I’m not sure, but dang am I grateful to have experienced it! Positano is without a doubt my personal favorite of all the towns along the coast, but that also means it’s the priciest, for the most part. If you book far enough in advance, you can get some incredible lodging without having to sacrifice your firstborn child. Positano itself is also very small and essentially built into a cliff. Meaning lots of walking 😉 But by the time you get there, that journey will be so worth it!

Even if you’re not staying in Positano, it’s so worth it to come here just for an evening Spritz, or to lounge along some of the most gorgeous water you ever did see, stroll along the cobblestone sidewalks, stop for fresh pasta, and enjoy. 

Ravello

The Essential Guide to the Amalfi Coast

The Essential Guide to the Amalfi Coast

Ravello is a bit further south along the coast, and initially, we were going to skip this portion because it does take  a bit more planning to get to. But two of our dear friends honeymooned in Amalfi and stayed in Ravello, and we were sold! And man, am I SO glad we did this.

We visited the coast in August, meaning it was verrrry crowded. The hillside town of Ravello provided a fabulous reprieve from the crowds and some of the best views of the entire trip. Unlike the other towns, Ravello is snuggled up in the hills, a bit further back from the coastline itself. Here you’ll find some of the most gorgeous ceramics in the entire world, that you’ll be so tempted to bring home with you! If we weren’t on a scooter, we absolutely would have snuck some of these pieces in our bags with us.

Speaking of scooters…

Traveling Along the Amalfi Coast

One of the most memorable parts about traveling along the Amalfi Coast was definitely actually traveling along the coast itself! I had heard stories about how gorgeous this stretch of area where land meets sea in a cliffside paradise was, but nothing truly compares to seeing it in person for the first time. 

The twisty, turny, hairpin roads aren’t for the faint of heart, but if you decide to brave them, you’ll be privy to some of the most spectacular coastal views in the entire world. 

By Car

Having a car on the coast will definitely give you a bit more freedom, and absolutely let you work on your own schedule, but TBH, renting a car would be my last recommendation. One because as I mentioned, traffic can be kiiiind of crazy getting down the coast on the one lane road, but mostly because parking is cray cray. 

By Bus

The bus along the coast is definitely the least challenging of transportation options in terms of logistics, but man do these buses get crowded! Expect to arrive early to get a spot (standing or sitting). There are bus stops in every town along the coast that will take you pretty much everywhere you need to go! Watching the bus drivers navigate

By Scooter

And last (and certainly not least) is one of the best ways to see the coast, in my opinion!

But let me preface this a bit, because at first I was SO against taking a scooter down the coast. Mostly because I was scared AF. I was reading TripAdvisor reviews and essentially Googled “is it safe to take a scooter on the Amalfi Coast.” The result? Answers said don’t do it unless you have a death wish. Apparently we did, because we rented a scooter anyway.

The result? The best memories of the entire trip.

On a scooter you’re able to zip around traffic, and avoid the masses of crowds on the bus line. You can cruise along the coast and experience something that I imagine is close to euphoria. Watch the sun go down as your zipping up and down, hugging the coastline, and take in the warm Italian summer air. Can you tell I thought this was a good decision…?

However, I wouldn’t recommend renting a scooter if you didn’t have prior experience. The roads are definitely not for the faint of heart, so be weary, but don’t be scared off by the TripAdvisor reviews. If you’re lookin’ for a taste of what it was like, we put together a little video you can check out, below!

What to Do on the Amalfi Coast

Post Up on The Beach

The Essential Guide to the Amalfi Coast

I mean, come on! There’s nothing that says summer in Europe more than lounging on a beach chair on a beach complete with striped umbrellas that look like they’re straight off of a postcard. There are beaches littered throughout the coast, so don’t worry that you won’t find your fix. There’s a lounger and a good book with your name on it! Be forewarned, all of the beaches on the coast are rocky. Don’t let this stray you away from a solid beach day! It’s part of the charm of the coast. 

The Essential Guide to the Amalfi Coast

Sip Rooftop Cocktails

Remember when I told you guys we randomly ran into friends from college in Rome? Still SO wild to me that the world can be that small! Well, we ended up also being on the Amalfi Coast at the same time, and met up for rooftop drinks in Positano! We went to Franco’s Bar (which I highly recommend) but get there early! It fills up fast, but is on of the most idyllic spots to watch the sun go down in Positano. 

Guide To The Amalfi Coast

The Essential Guide to the Amalfi Coast

Stop at the Fjords

This was something we ended up doing because it was so. damn. hot. out. We were zippin’ along on our scooter and saw that there was a Fjord down below us that was calling our name. Sunbathers were enjoying the hidden cove, salty water, and cliff jumping away from the masses of crowds. Being on a scooter gave us the freedom to shop here on a whim, and it was absolutely a highlight of the trip! The Fjord pictured here is Fjord Furore, and is a true hidden gem. 

Take a Ferry to Capri

This is the one thing we didn’t do while we were on the coast (mostly due to lack of time) but will absolutely be doing when we return! And I say “when” we return because it really is that amazing that we’ll be back back at some point in our lives! You can catch the ferry to Capri to feast your eyes upon the famous blue grotto (and potentially a bazillion celebrities) that also frequent this area during their vacations.

Shop Til’ You Drop

From linens to ceramics, you’ll absolutely find something to take home with you that’s so far beyond typical souvenir. Both Sorrento and Positano have out of this world shopping, and you will not be disappointed. 

Sip Limoncello. Eat Lemon Everything.

But really. You’ll discover lemons the size of your head. And you will LOVE it. I’m actually obsessed with lemon flavored anything, so this was my own personal version of heaven. The limoncello gelato is to die for. Don’t skip it. And finish your meal with limoncello itself, an apertif that is so light and refreshing, it’s like sipping the Amalfi Coast in a glass.

Sidenote, when we arrived at our Bed and Breakfast in Sorrento, we were walking out and heard a loud “thud” we turned and saw that a perfect lemon (the one I’m oh-so-casually tossing) earlier in this post, had dropped to the ground. 

The Essential Guide to the Amalfi Coast

Enjoy La Dolce Vita

Per usual, I’m saving the best for last. The best part about being on the Amalfi Coast is simply embracing La Dolce Vita wholeheartedly. Wander without any real direction. Get lost in the beachside towns. Enjoy a long lunch. Order the glass of wine. Eat the pasta without guilt. Bask in the glorious sunshine. Swim in the salty water. Read a bingeworthy book. 

Rinse. Repeat. And Enjoy. 

The Essential Guide to the Amalfi Coast

The Essential Guide to the Amalfi Coast

 

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