A Practical Guide to the Amalfi Coast
Despite being one of the most popular regions in the world, the Amalfi Coast can be a difficult region to navigate. Located just south of Naples, the Amalfi Coast is famed for its cliffside towns and turquoise waters, as well as perilously winding streets, competing advice and complicated logistics. Read on for some practical tips about how to arrive, where to stay and how to navigate the Amalfi Coast so you can make the most of your time in this incredibly beautiful area.
The Amalfi Coast
The Amalfi Coast is located just below Naples on the southern side of the Sorrentine Peninsula in Campania. The 50-kilometer stretch of coastline is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is comprised of dozens of towns, beaches, coves and cliffs. The most famous of these are Positano, Amalfi and Ravello, though there are a number of other picturesque towns along the Amalfi Coast that are well worth a visit. Positano and Amalfi have the most accommodations and are easy to reach by land or sea so they are an optimal base for exploring the area or making a trip to Capri during your stay.
The easiest way to reach the Amalfi Coast is from Naples, either by bus, train or car. You can also reach the Amalfi Coast by boat from Sorrento. It is important to note that schedules for all forms of transportation vary greatly depending on the season so confirm routes and times prior to your arrival. High season on the Amalfi Coast usually runs between April to October, with peak season being July and August (ensuring more frequent transfers), while low season is November to March.
Bus: With the Positano Shuttle Bus, you can book a ride directly from the Naples Central Train Station to Positano for €35 and the bus will take you directly to your hotel or B&B. The service also provides transfers from Rome but at a much steeper cost.
Train: Until recently, the train was the best budget option for arriving to the Amalfi Coast, though this transfer involves a few steps. First, you need to take the Circumvesuviana Train from Naples to Sorrento (1 hour, €5) – this is the same train that takes you to archeological sites Pompeii and Herculaneum. Then, from Sorrento you can take the local SITA bus to Positano (1 hour, €2,40). For an easier transfer, you can also take a high-speed train down to Salerno and then approach the Amalfi Coast from the west, either by car or boat.
Car: Driving is the easiest way to reach (and explore) the Amalfi Coast though parking can be complicated and expensive; you’ll also have to brave drivers zooming down the winding streets. A private transfer by car, however, is the most comfortable way to arrive on the Amalfi Coast. There are numerous companies that offer transfers, including Positano Car Service and Astarita Car Service though you’ll find multiple options through a Google search. Pricing starts around €130 for a one-way transfer.
Ferry: From both Sorrento and Salerno you can easily reach Positano and Amalfi by sea, though this option is most convenient in the high season when there are more frequent sailings. Transfers by boat from Sorrento to Positano and Amalfi begin mid-May and continue into the fall: the ride is 40 minutes and costs €16. The route from Salerno to Positano and Amalfi is slightly longer: 1 hour 15 minutes and costs €12.
Where to stay
The most convenient bases on the Amalfi Coast are Positano and Amalfi because they are accessible by land and sea. You can easily arrive to Capri in the high season via these two ports and they are located in the middle of the coast so you can easily visit nearby towns. There are numerous luxury accommodations that are frequently ranked among the best hotels in the world for their style and beautiful views. For budget accommodations, try Airbnb and Booking. Although this is an expensive area to visit, there are also a few hostels along the coast, including Hostel Brikette in Positano and A’Scalinatella Hostel in Atrani, a 10 minute walk to Amalfi. Ravello, situated up above the coast, is slightly less accessible to tourists because it doesn’t have water access; however, this means it is more discreet and tranquil. Palazzo della Marra is a great bed and breakfast in Ravello, though you’ll want to have a car to move around from the town.
Without a car, you’ll have to move around the Amalfi Coast by SITA bus or by boat. The Travelmar Ferry will connect you with ports in Positano, Amalfi, Minori, Maiori and Salerno and you can consult the schedule online to plan your trip. If you are feeling courageous, you can also 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.
Boat tour: A great way to experience the Amalfi Coast is with a private or group tour. Visit hidden grottos, swim in the sea and enjoy views of the coast from the water – a truly unique experience. Many companies offer half-day or full-day tours, including Positano Boats, Lucibello, and Blue Star Positano. You can also organize a boat tour from Positano to reach Capri for the day.
Path of the Gods: For truly stunning views of the coastline and a little physical activity, consider hiking the Sentiero degli Dei, or Path of the Gods. High up above Positano, it is an idyllic walk with stunning scenery. The entire walk takes about three hours and runs 7.8 km – it’s fairly easy but be sure to bring plenty of water 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 in this direction so it’s an easier route.
Beaches: The Amalfi Coast is dotted with numerous little beaches, with the most famous being Spiaggia Grande, or Big Beach, in Positano. You’ll have to book a sun lounger in advance during the high season or you can lay out a towel in the free beach area. For a longer list of beaches around the coast, see this link.
There are a number of bloggers who share invaluable insights and tips about living, visiting and experiencing the best of the Amalfi Coast. From favorite local restaurants and hidden coves to artisans, events and more, these resources will give you plenty of ideas for planning a perfect trip: