Occupying the southern side of Sorrento’s peninsula, the Amalfi Coast (Costiera Amalfitana) lays claim to being Europe’s most beautiful stretch of coast, its corniche road winding around the towering cliffs that slip almost sheer into the sea. By car or bus it’s an incredible ride (though it can get mighty congested in summer), with some of the most spectacular stretches between Salerno and Amalfi.
The best travel tips for visiting the Amalfi Coast
If you’re staying in Sorrento especially, the Amalfi Coast shouldn’t be missed on any account. In any case the towns along here hold the beautiful Italian beaches that Sorrento lacks.
The coast as a whole has become rather developed, and these days it’s in fact one of Italy’s ritzier bits of shoreline. Villas atop its precarious slopes fetching a bomb in both cash and kudos. While it’s home to some stunning hotels, budget travellers should be aware that you certainly get what you pay for here.
What to do on the Amalfi Coast
From hiking the Path of the Gods to pootling around Positano, there’s plenty to do in the Amalfi Coast. These are the highlights you can't miss on a Southern Italy itinerary.
#1 Head to Positano
There’s not much to Positano, only a couple of decent beaches, an interesting Duomo, and a great many boutiques. The town has long specialised in clothes made from linen, georgette and cotton, as well as handmade shoes and sandals. But its location, heaped up in a pyramid high above the water, has inspired a thousand postcards and helped to make it a moneyed resort that runs a close second to Capri in the celebrity stakes.
Since John Steinbeck wrote up the place in glowing terms back in 1953, the town has enjoyed fame quite out of proportion to its size. Franco Zeffirelli is just one of many famous names who have villas nearby, and the people who come here to lie on the beach consider themselves a cut above your average sun-worshipper.
#2 See the unparalleled views of the Amalfi Coast from Path of the Gods
Offering unparalleled views over the rugged Amalfi Coast, the well-marked Path of the Gods (Il Sentiero degli Dei) undulates along ridges beside terraced slopes and sheer karst walls. The 6km trail starts from the main square in mountaintop Bomerano (634m) – reachable by bus from Amalfi – and ends in Nocelle (440m), with a side trail branching off to Praiano from roughly the halfway point.
From Nocelle, a pretty little town with great views over Positano, you can catch a bus down to the main road – unless you still have the energy to tackle the 1700-step descent to Positano. The trail takes roughly three hours and can be uncomfortably hot in summer – start early and pack plenty of water. You can pick up a map at the tourist office in Positano or Praiano.
#3 Tackle the Amalfi Coast Drive
Renowned for its breathtaking scenery, this sweep along the coast can be quite daunting for drivers, especially with its winding hairpin bends along the SS163 road. However, there's a stress-free solution to savoring the splendor of lemon groves, pine-fringed bays, Saracen towers, and charming villages along this 16km route.
Simply hop on the Sita bus and let it handle the journey, ensuring you won't miss a single view. The bus conveniently stops at all towns along the Sorrentine peninsula, and for the best experience, secure a seat facing the sparkling sea.
#4 Hit the beach
Positano is, of course, expensive, but its beaches are nice enough and don’t get too crowded. The main beach, the Spiaggia Grande right in front of the village, is reasonable, although you’ll be sunbathing among the fishing boats unless you want to pay over the odds for the pleasanter bit on the far left.
There’s also another, larger stretch of beach, Spiaggia del Fornillo, around the headland to the west, accessible in five minutes by a pretty path that winds around from above the hydrofoil jetty – although its main section is also a pay area. Nonetheless, the bar-terrace of the Pupetto hotel, which runs along much of its length, is a cheaper place to eat and drink than anywhere in Positano proper.
#5 Take in a performance at the Ravello Festival
Ravello’s annual arts festival dominates the summer months, with performances all over town from the end of June to the early September. Concentrating on classical music, dance, film and the visual arts, it makes the most of the town’s settings and attracts an increasingly high level of international performers.
RoughGuides tip: From March to October, the Ravello Concert Society also hosts several concerts a week in the Anunziata Church.
#6 Find a secret cove at The Cilento
Immediately south of Paestum, the coastline bulges out into a broad, mountainous hump of territory known as the Cilento – one of the remotest parts of Campania, with dozens of small coastal havens with beautiful beaches.
#7 The Grotta dello Smeraldo Conca dei Marini
About 4km out of Praiano, the Grotta dello Smeraldo is one of the most highly touted local natural features around here, a flooded cavern in which the sunlight turns the water a vivid shade of green.
It’s not unimpressive, but is basically one huge chamber and it doesn’t take long for the boatman to whisk you around the main features, best of which is the intense colour of the water.
#8 Check out the Duomo in Amalfi
The Duomo, at the top of a steep flight of steps, utterly dominates the town’s main piazza, its tiered, almost gaudy facade topped by a glazed tiled cupola that’s typical of the area. The bronze doors of the church came from Constantinople and date from 1066.
Inside it’s a mixture of Saracen and Romanesque styles, though now heavily restored, and the cloister – the so-called Chiostro del Paradiso – is the most appealing part of the building, oddly Arab in feel with its whitewashed arches and palms.
#9 Head to the Museo della Carta in the Valley of Mills
At the top of Via Genova, a fifteen-minute walk from the main square, the Museo della Carta is housed in a paper mill that dates from 1350 and claims to be the oldest in Europe.
The valley beyond the museum is still known as the Valle dei Mulini (Valley of Mills), because it was once the heart of Amalfi’s paper industry, with around fifteen functioning mills. This is the only one to survive, and it makes all the high-spec paper you see on sale around town. Tours take in the tools of the trade and the original paper-making process and equipment, including that in use when the mill shut down in 1969.
#10 Visit The Arsenale
Facing the waterfront square, the town’s ancient, vaulted Arsenale is a reminder of the former military might of Amalfi, used to build the maritime republic’s fleet.
Now it hosts temporary exhibitions and a small museum containing bits and pieces including the costumes worn by the great and the good of the town for the Regatta of the Maritime Republics, and the city banner, showing the emblems of Amalfi – the diagonal red strip and Maltese cross you see everywhere.
Best places to stay along the Amalfi Coast
The Amalfi Coast is awash with lavish palazzi (mansions), cosy B&Bs and some atmospheric guesthouses. Here is where to stay.
Sorrento brims with accommodation options much of it catering to package tourists. Rates can be high during the peak season. Book ahead.
One of the most iconic Amalfi Coast towns, cliffside Positano is adorned with colourful buildings. It has a range of accommodations, from luxurious hotels to quaint boutique stays.
The captivating historic charm makes Amalfi a fantastic place to stay. Its central location offers convenient access to other coastal resorts and it has a good mix of hotels, guesthouses and cheaper accommodation too.
Perched high above the coast, Ravello has some awe-inspiring views of the sea. More peaceful than some of the other towns, staying in high-quality hotels feels like a proper break.
Explore the variety of accommodation options on the Amalfi Coast.
How to get around
Regular SITA buses stop at Piazza Flavio Gioia on the seafront in Amalfi and directly above Piazza Umberto I in Atrani. They also join up all of the towns along the coast. From late March to October open-top City Sightseeing buses run Positano (25min) and Sorrento (1hr 25min); it’s worth joining the queue early.
Ferries and hydrofoils from Salerno, Positano, Capri, Ischia and Sorrento arrive and leave at the landing stages in Amalfi’s harbour, right by the main bus terminal, as do the smaller boats to the Grotta dello Smeraldo and other points along the coast.
How many days do you need on the Amalfi Coast?
Dedicate at least 3 to 5 days to exploring the Amalfi Coast. That is enough time to visit Positano, Amalfi, Ravello, and Sorrento as well as dedicating some time to the beach.
With 3 to 5 days at your disposal, you'll have the opportunity to immerse yourself in the region's stunning coastal scenery and lose yourself in the labyrinthine charm of its charming streets.
What is the best time to visit the Amalfi Coast?
The Amalfi Coast is most enchanting during spring and fall, offering pleasant weather ranging from 15°C to 25°C (59°F to 77°F) for sightseeing, hiking, and beach relaxation.
Avoiding summer's peak crowds, visiting during the shoulder seasons ensures a more relaxed and enjoyable experience to explore the region's scenic beauty. Accommodations are more budget-friendly, restaurants are less crowded, and the hiking can be excellent.
Find out more about the best time to visit Italy.
How to get here
Naples Airport (Capodichino), 65km to the north, is the most convenient airport for the Amalfi Coast.
If you are coming from other parts of Italy, you can take a train to Naples Central Station (Napoli Centrale) and then transfer to the Circumvesuviana train line to Sorrento. From Sorrento, you can continue your journey to other towns on the Amalfi Coast by bus, taxi, or boat.
There are direct bus services from Naples to various towns on the Amalfi Coast, including Positano, Amalfi, and Sorrento. The SITA bus company operates regular services along the coastal road, connecting the towns.
If you are travelling from other destinations along the coast or nearby islands like Capri, you can take a ferry or boat to reach various towns on the Amalfi Coast. Ferry services connect Positano, Amalfi, and Sorrento to other coastal towns and islands.
Plan your trip to Amalfi Coast with our guide to Italy.