Amalfi Coast Recommendations

Amalfi Coast view from Path of the Gods

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Italy’s Amalfi Coast may be the best place to get a taste of the food, culture, and natural beauty of southern Italy. There’s a reason it’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of Italy’s most popular destinations. I’ve been several times now, and I’ve taken notes. There’s a lot to the Amalfi coast, so for your convenience I’ll put a hyperlink glossary here so you can click and skip to the section of interest.

  1. The Best Time to Go to the Amalfi Coast
  2. Getting to the Amalfi Coast
  3. Transportation on the Amalfi Coast
  4. Where to Stay
  5. What to Do
  6. Eats and Drinks

I’ll save you some of the work – check out my recent post The Perfect Amalfi Coast 4 Day Itinerary

The Best Time to Go to the Amalfi Coast

I’ve been to the Amalfi Coast in May, August, September, and November. In general, the summer months are the hottest and busiest times of year, the peak being in July and August. November is in the rainy season, however I lucked out with November weather and it was by far the best I’ve had on the coast (I prefer cooler weather). However, I live in Italy so I can take the risk of having a rainy trip to the Amalfi Coast. If this is a once-in-a-lifetime vacation for you, I suggest May or September. Those months will have the right balance of warm weather and bearable crowds. However if you intend to swim, the water will likely still be too cold in May.

Getting to the Amalfi Coast

Note: I have a whole separate post, How to Get to the Amalfi Coast.

If you are flying into Naples International Airport (NAP), I suggest you take Alibus from the Bus Terminal to Naples Central Train Station. Then, take a train from Napoli Centrale to Salerno. Unfortunately, there is no train or tram from the Airport. 

If you are taking another train from a city such as Rome, you’ll want to take it to Salerno.

Pro tip – Napoli Centrale (the train station) and Napoli Piazza Garibadi (the metro/subway station) and are basically in the same location, they just couldn’t make it easy for us and call it by the same name.

From Salerno, you can either take a bus, taxi, or rental car to your destination.

Transportation on the Amalfi Coast

One of the biggest challenges with visiting the Amalfi Coast is how to get around. I’ve done scooter/Vespa rentals, ferries, buses, and rental cars. Taxis are an option too, but they tend to be too expensive for my taste. Surely you’ve heard of the narrow roads, tight turns, and the big buses that dominate them. You should also be aware of the time distortion field that the Coast creates – what seems like it should be a 20 minute drive will in fact take you 45 minutes. Google Maps is your friend here.

Note: If you or someone in your group is handicapped or has limited walking ability, be aware that the entire Amalfi Coast exists on a hillside and as a result most places require long flights of steps to get around. Towns like Positano (and to a lesser extent Vietri sul Mare) rely on stairs to get around. Consider focusing instead on the towns Maiori, Minori, and Amalfi for easier mobility (as they are mostly at the same elevation). That said, I can’t make any guarantees about complete wheelchair accessibility.

My thoughts on the different modes of transport

  • Buses (run by SITA Bus – link) – this will be the cheapest way to get up and down the coast. You’ll have to buy tickets at a tabaccheria (or you can buy them on the bus, but they’re always more expensive) Update – you can now buy the bus tickets electronically – see this guide. You can see the bus timetables on Ravello.com. The bus rides are an experience, and I’m always impressed by the drivers’ ability to thread-the-needle when it comes to passing other buses on the road. Note: If you are prone to carsickness, it will become apparent on these buses.  The downside is you’re itinerary is limited by the bus schedules.
  • Rental car – this will give you most freedom and flexibility to get around the coast, unrestricted by bus schedules or rainy weather. Keep in mind most cars in Italy are manual, including rental cars. You do need to be mentally prepared. This will not be the relaxing, open road Italian experience that all the basic influencers with access to a bright red, vintage Fiat will lead you to believe. People will ride your ass like you wouldn’t believe, honk at you, pass you without warning. Oh and you will be sharing the road with buses. I have seen multiple times where innocent tourists rounded a corner in their big rental SUV only to be confronted with a bus, with no space to pass, and forced to reverse meanwhile making the already-annoyed locals behind them more annoyed. Keep in mind you will have to pay to park just about everywhere, and if you go during the busy season, parking will be extremely limited.
  • Scooter/Vespa rental – While easier to maneuver than a car and equally liberating, it does expose you to the elements. If you don’t have much experience on two wheels, then a scooter rental is probably not a good idea. On a recent trip, my father, aunt, and I came across a young American couple on their honeymoon who had just crashed a Vespa into a wall and both had to go to the hospital. Rare, but it happens. See my comments on rental cars above. But you will have the advantage of more space for people to get around you without you causing traffic. Be aware that other more-experienced scooter/motorcycle drivers will fly past you without a warning beep of the horn. I rented from Rent da Matteo in Vietri sul Mare.
  • Ferry (directferries.com) – getting around by Ferry is great for getting from town-to-town, but nowhere in between. For me personally, it’s the most relaxing and least nausea-inducing method to get up and down the Amalfi Coast, and gives you the bonus of being able to see some of the best views of the amazing coastline from the water. The ferries tend to only operate during the warmer months. 
  • Taxi – I tend to avoid taxis because they’re expensive. But if you have a big group, it could make sense when you split the cost up. Most taxis are big white vans, and the drivers know that it’s hard to get up and down the coast, so they charge a premium.

If you want to see a how a day using public transport on the Amalfi Coast worked out for me in reality, check out my guide on the Path of the Gods (see “Realistic Timeline” at the bottom).

Where to Stay on the Amalfi Coast

I have stayed in four different areas on the Amalfi coast. I’ll summarize my experience in each with pros and cons. My suggestion would be to think about what you want to do on the coast when considering how much a pro/con really matters for you.

For reference, I’ll consider the Amalfi Coast relative to Salerno, and moving west from Salerno will take you further down the Sorrentine Peninsula (and down the coast).

For finding the best hotels, rooms, and condos on the Amalfi Coast, I like to use Booking.com. I recently stayed in La Casetta di Ilma and could not have been happier with my stay.

Vietri sul Mare

I think this is one of the best places and my preferred home base when staying on the Amalfi coast. The first town from Salerno, Vietri sul Mare is one of the lesser-known towns, but surprisingly bustling with people during the high season, especially locals. The draw for me is the fact that there’s a train station, and after being on a train from Rome for 2 hours, getting on a nauseating bus for an hour isn’t exciting to me. Being one of the smaller villages, it gets pretty sleepy in the evening. If you’re there on a Sunday, be sure to just go sit at one of the bars/cafes on the piazza on Corso Umberto and people watch. 

  • Pros: Only town on the coast with a train station. Has a port, so ferry service to the other towns. Not very touristy, so you’ll get a more local experience. Inexpensive, good food is easy to find.
  • Cons: Less popular than other towns like Amalfi and Positano, so the private boat tour options can be limited. No ferry direct to Capri. 

Find places to stay in Vietri sul Mare here on Booking.comI recently stayed in La Casetta di Ilma and could not have been happier with my stay, and the lovely host, Tina.

Scala (Ravello)

Technically I stayed in Scala, and it was about a 15 minute walk up the road to the popular town of Ravello. This part of the coast is further inland (about 25-30 minutes from the water). Ravello is a quaint, albeit touristy town, and Scala was a nice quiet town to stay in with a few coffee shop and restaurant options.

  • Pros: Less expensive lodging relative to other towns. Quiet, peaceful area.
  • Cons: Far from the water. Limited nightlife.

Find places to stay in Scala and Ravello here on Booking.com.

view from AirBNB in Scala
View from the AirBNB in Scala

San Michele

This isn’t so much a town as much as it is a residential neighborhood on the side of a hill. Note I had a rental car while staying here. Being higher above sea level, it gave the best view of the water.

  • Pros: Best view I’ve had from the AirBNB. Less expensive lodging relative to Positano or Amalfi. Relatively close to the beginning of the Path of the Gods
  • Cons: Nearest restaurant will be 10-15 minutes walking on a road. No water access.
Amalfi coast view from San Michele
View from the AirBNB in San Michele

Positano

The most popular town and one of the main sights on the Amalfi coast, and where you’ve probably seen all the pictures. It is full of tourists and, in my cousin Mike’s words, the “Disney World of the Amalfi Coast”. In my opinion, go once and you don’t need to go again. I only make repeat visits when: 1) I’m bringing someone who has never been or 2) I’ve just finished the Path of the Gods. That said, it’s touristy for good reason – it’s stunning. 

  • Pros: It’s beautiful. Lot’s of restaurants, shopping, lodging options. Lots of ferry service and private boat tour options.
  • Cons: Expensive (13€ spritz and 18€ margherita pizza? Get outta here), full of tourist crowds, difficult to find good food, not handicap friendly due to it being built on a hill

Find places to stay in Positano here on Booking.com.

Positano before rain
View from the AirBNB in Positano

Things I Have Done, and Think You Should Too

The Amalfi Coast is one of the most beautiful places in the world, but seeing these amazing places comes with logistical challenges. If you can afford it, it’s worth paying for a tour, whether it be a bout tour up and down the coast, or around the island of Capri. My go to places for tours are GetYourGuide and Viator.

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Visit a Nearby Island

Capri – Like Positano, the island of Capri is beautiful but as a result full of tourists. I suggest you make some friends on your ferry or boat and share a taxi. Consider taking the chairlift from Anacapri to Monte Solaro for an amazing view. The place has a similar feel to Positano in terms of the clientele. In other words, it’s nice but I’m not in a rush to go back to Capri. I took this boat tour to get there and it was a great experience.

Capri Chairlift
View from the chairlift ride from Anacapri to Monte Solaro. Say hey to my sister!

Visit Some Amalfi Coast Towns

Ravello – about 30 minutes from the water, it’s a quaint town with some shopping, restaurants, and pretty gardens (paid entry) Villa Cimbrone and Villa Rufolo

Ravello gardenRavello Villa Rufolo

Minori – A small town with lots of restaurant options, a beach, and a nice flat open area for walking around 

Maiori – kind of the sister town to Minori – pretty similar look and feel and same amenities

Positano – see my comments above in Where to Stay

The Town of Amalfi – almost as touristy as Positano but much smaller. Most of the restaurants and shops are on the main road Via Lorenzo D’Amalfi. The town goes straight back at more or less the same elevation rather than going up the hill like Positano, so it may be more suitable for handicapped persons. Make sure to try a couppo d’Amalfi (fried seafood cone).

Vietri sul Mare – see comments above in Where to Stay

Take a Boat Tour

Personally, I have done this boat tour and it was a great value. Whole day tour, small group, and friendly tour guides. Boat tours are often the best way to learn about the coast from a local tour guide and meet other travelers. 

Rent a Scooter and Explore

See my previous comments about this in the transportation section. I rented from Rent da Matteo in Vietri sul Mare.

Hiking

Path of the Gods (Sentiero degli Dei). If you’re reasonably fit, I highly recommend doing this if you want to see some of the best panoramic views and steep cliffs of the Amalfi Coast. This is one of the top things to do on the coast, so you will not be the only one on the trail.

If you have a car, another place you can hike is to the Fiordo di Crapolla. Not only does it have a fun name, but the reward at the end is an almost all-to-yourself beach. You do have to hike back up, so maybe it’s more of a halfway reward, but you know what I mean. After the hike, Bar Orlando is the perfect place for drinks and a meat plate.

Fiordo di Crapolla amalfi coast hike
Fiordo di Crapolla

Eats and Drinks

Positano

Ristorante C’Era Una Volta – Personally, I think this is the best option for food in Positano. Not only is it a great place to get away from the crowded center of town, but the food is reasonably priced and simply amazing. Also there’s a spacious terrace with a great view. My sister and I liked it so much we went twice. It is a bit up the hill, so you’ll want to either suit up for stairs, take a bus, or taxi.

Delicatessen Di Cinque Emilia – This is technically a small grocery store, but if you find yourself between lunch and dinnertime and nothing is open, you can go here and get a made-to-order sandwich. Or get a beer to-go at grocery store prices. Or get both.

Positano Grocery store
Delicatessen Di Cinque Emilia. More people take pictures of it than go in it.

Haven’t been yet, but recommended by a local: Donna Rosa & Ristorante Da Costantino

Minori

Taberna 33 Bistró – If you’re looking for something not-so-standard, this place has some amazing dishes, most notably the bruschetta. There are usual 3 or 4 bruschetta options. They’re big – almost enough to be a meal for one person. I suggest splitting one as antipasti (if there’s two of you)

bruschetta at Taverna 33 bistro
Octopus bruschetta

 

San Michele

Restaurant La Selva Di Fusco Antonio – very local feel, traditional southern Italian cooking.

Further down the Coast

La Rosa – Great great traditional Campania food.

La Rosa Food
Antipasti at La Rosa. From the top – seafood salad, bruschetta, fried zucchini flowers with ricotta

Bar Orlando – this is a great spot for drinks and meat/cheese plates or other snacks after you do your hike to Fiordo di Crapolla (mentioned previously). It has a great local scene at night. What makes this place unique is the backstory about how the original owner had a cat that he trained to hold a lit cigarette. The current owner was very excited to have new customers there, and quickly directed our attention to the outdoor TV looping a video showing the history of the restaurant.

Bar Orlando - Amalfi Coast Restaurants
Bar Orlando and the Smoking Cat

Conclusion

That’s it for my Amalfi Coast recommendations. If you were planning to go already, I hope you found some good suggestions here that will make your experience more stress-free and memorable. If you have some extra time while on the Amalfi Coast (minimum of a full day), consider checking out my recommendations for Naples for a great day trip.

I sincerely hope you found value in this article.  If you have recommendations of your own or have suggestions on what else you would like to see covered here, please write in the comments below. Additionally, if you’re planning a trip to Italy and need one-on-one support or guidance, check out my services page where you can get in touch with me.

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