A Practical Guide to the Amalfi Coast

Positano offers no-end of dramatic views for the visitor
Positano offers no-end of dramatic views for the visitor | Photo by Sander Crombach on Unsplash
Photo of Livia Hengel
22 October 2021

The Amalfi Coast is a stretch of coastline on the Tyrrhenian Sea, just south of Naples on the Sorrentine Peninsula in Italy. It’s a Unesco-listed site comprised of 13 towns and villages beaches dotted between secluded coves and towering cliffs, framed by the Lattari Mountains in the background. Positano, Amalfi and Ravello are among the most renowned, but there are several other towns that are well worth a visit. Here’s our guide to visiting the Amalfi Coast to help you make the most of your trip to one of Italy’s most alluring destinations.

You can experience the Amalfi Coast with a Local Insider by your side as part of Culture Trip’s specially curated 10-day Southern Italy adventure, which also includes visits to Naples, Matera, and several fantastic locations in Puglia.

How to get there

The easiest way to reach the Amalfi Coast is from Naples, either by bus, train, car, or ferry. Alternatively, you can reach the Amalfi Coast by boat from Sorrento. It’s important to note that schedules for all forms of public transport to the Amalfi Coast vary significantly depending on the season (services are much more regular in summer), so check the timetables prior to your arrival. High season on the Amalfi Coast runs between April to October, with July and August generally the peak (ensuring more frequent transport), while the low season is from November to March.

The Amalfi Coast is renowned for rocky cliffs and turquoise seas | Photo by Tom Podmore on Unsplash

By bus

With the Positano Shuttle Bus, you can book a ride directly from Naples airport or central train station to Positano or Praiano, which will take you directly to your accommodation. Tickets start at €28. The service also provides transfers from Rome but at a much steeper cost. There’s also the Curreri Viaggi shuttle bus, which runs eight times per day from Naples airport to Sorrento (around an hour-and-a-half journey), with tickets costing €10 each way. From Sorrento, take the SITA bus line to wherever you choose to stay on the Amalfi Coast.

By train

To get to the Amalfi Coast by train, you first need to take the Circumvesuviana train from Naples to Sorrento (an hour and 20 minutes, costing €5). This is the same train that takes you to the archeological sites of Pompei and Herculaneum. Then, from Sorrento, you can take the local SITA bus to your final destination. Depending on where you’re staying, you can also take a high-speed train from Naples to Salerno (around 30-40 minutes, costing up to €17), and then approach the Amalfi Coast from the west, either by car or boat.

By car

Driving is arguably the easiest way to reach (and explore) the Amalfi Coast; if you’re coming from Naples, just take the E45 out of the city and then change to the SS145 at Pompei. At Meta Campania, take the turn off to join the SS163 – the road which runs along the length of the Amalfi Coast. Be aware that parking can be expensive and not always easy to come by (especially in peak season).

A private transfer by car is also possible, and probably the most comfortable way to get to the Amalfi Coast. There are numerous companies that offer transfers, including Positano Car Service and Astarita Car Service – but you’ll also find several alternative options through a Google search. Pricing starts at around €130 for a one-way transfer from Naples.

By ferry

It’s easy to reach the Amalfi Coast by sea, with regular ferries available from Naples and Sorrento. From Naples, the journey takes around two hours to Positano, and while prices vary depending on the season, expect to pay around €30 for a one-way trip. From Sorrento, it takes around 40 minutes and costs around $20-25. You can also get the ferry from Salerno to any of the main towns on the Amalfi Coast; it takes around 35 minutes to get to Amalfi, with tickets costing around €10.

Where to stay

The most convenient bases on the Amalfi Coast are Positano and Amalfi – partly because they are easily accessible by public transport, and also because they have an excellent variety of accommodation options (as well as plenty of bars and restaurants). Given they’re located roughly in the middle of the Amalfi Coast, they make a great base for exploring other nearby towns and villages, too.

There are numerous premium hotels that are frequently ranked among the best in the world for their style and beautiful views. Il San Pietro di Positano, Monastero Santa Rosa Hotel & Spa, Le Sirenuse and Hotel Le Agavi are among the prime options. Looking for something slightly more budget-friendly but still luxurious? Hotel Marincanto, Villa Maria Hotel (in the gorgeous clifftop town of Ravello) and Hotel Marina Riviera are all worth considering.

Il San Pietro di Positano offers sweeping sea views | Courtesy of Il San Pietro di Positano / Expedia

There are also a few hostels along the Amalfi Coast offering superb value, including Hostel Brikette in Positano, A’Scalinatella in Atrani (just a 10-minute walk from Amalfi), and a handful in Sorrento.

Moving around

Hiring a car is definitely the smoothest way to explore the Amalfi Coast, but you can also get around by using the local SITA bus line – not quite as convenient, but significantly cheaper. Schedules are available online and tickets can be purchased in cafés, restaurants, shops and newspaper stands (you must buy one before boarding a bus). You can either by a single journey ticket which is valid in one direction (corsa singola), a ticket which is valid in a certain area for a certain time period in a day (orario). These range between €1.30-€6, or you can buy an unlimited 24-hour pass for €10.

The Travelmar Ferry, meanwhile, will connect you with ports in Positano, Amalfi, Minori, Maiori and Salerno; consult the schedule online to plan your trip, as it varies by season. It’s more expensive than the SITA bus (around €18 for a one-way trip), but a much more scenic way to experience the natural beauty of the area. Feeling courageous? Consider renting a scooter to zip around the coastline – you won’t have to worry about parking and you’ll be fully immersed in one of the world’s most incredible landscapes.

The Positano river taxi ferry is a convenient way to move along the Amalfi Coast, Italy | © David Jackson / Alamy

What to do

Take a boat tour

A great way to experience the Amalfi Coast is to join a private or group tour. Visit hidden grottos, swim in the Tyrrhenian Sea and enjoy spectacular panoramas – a truly unique experience. Many companies offer half-day or full-day tours, including Positano Boats, Lucibello, and Blue Star Positano. You can also join a boat tour from Positano to reach the island of Capri for the day.

Hike the Path of the Gods

For stunning views of the coast and a little physical activity, consider hiking the Sentiero degli Dei, or Path of the Gods. High up above Positano, it’s an idyllic walk that takes about two hours (one-way) and runs for around 6.5km (4mi) – it’s not overly strenuous, but be sure to bring plenty of water and suncream with you as there’s not much shade. From Amalfi, you can reach Agerola via bus and then hike the path in the direction of Nocelle, which runs slightly downhill, making for an easier hike.

The trekking route from Agerola to Nocelle on the Amalfi Coast is nicknamed The Path of the Gods | © Giovanni Guarino Photo / Alamy

Relax on beaches

No trip to the Amalfi Coast is complete without visiting its delightful beaches to catch some rays and swim in the calm, clear water of the Tyrrhenian Sea. Spiaggia Grande, in Positano, is one of the most popular, so if you plan to visit, be aware that it can get fairly crowded – especially during the height of summer. Just outside Positano, Arienzo and Fornillo are both slightly quieter, more low-key alternatives.

One Fire Beach, in Praiano, is the place to go for a party atmosphere, while Treville Beach Club on Laurito Beach (a few kilometers outside Positano) offers luxury accommodation and an exquisite dining experience on a private beach, tucked away in a secluded cove.

If you want to escape the crowds, consider heading to the long, wide sandy beach in Maiori (towards the eastern end of the Amalfi Coast), or take a boat from Amalfi to the hidden pebble beach of Santa Croce.

The beach at Maiori is one of the largest along the Amalfi Coast | © Monika Sakowska / Alamy

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