EXPLORING THE AMALFI COAST
Travel tips for your stay in the Amalfi Coast region of Italy
The Amalfi Coast is by far, one of the most picturesque regions in Italy. As such, you can imagine it is a very popular tourist destination for many people. The Amalfi Coast spans thirteen towns from Positano to Vietri sul Mare. Forty kilometers of road wind along the rocky coastline, passing through multiple coastal towns, which each have their own unique allure. Knowing what to expect before going can alleviate some stress and help make the best out of your stay. Here are answers to some common questions to help you along the way.
Q: What is the best time of year to visit the Amalfi Coast?
The summer months can get extremely busy. While obviously the best beach weather for warm water and lots of sun, you may find the towns overcrowded and beaches packed. We found the end of May to be perfect timing. You could tell they were just getting ready for high season, but the weather was perfect and the water refreshing. The streets and beaches were still alive but in no way were we pushing our way through sweaty crowds of people, a common theme for many popular destinations during the summer months.
Q: Where should I stay in the Amalfi Coast?
As far as location, it really depends on your budget and what you’re looking for. Positano and Amalfi are your classic Amalfi Coast towns but can get pricey to stay close to the beach. Positano is slightly larger and is, in my opinion, more picturesque situated on the hillside. You may find some decent options in Praiano; it is much smaller and not far from Positano, yet gets more sun during the day due to the positioning with respect to the hills. Maiori is further down the coast, has the longest stretch of beach and is more affordable for a short walk to the beach. Plus, you can still take ferries between the coastal towns. If you want to get away from it all you can go up in the hills to Agerola. The drive can be kind of long and intimidating but if you like to explore different areas you have decent access to Naples, Pompeii, Sorrento, Positano and down to Maiori. Plus, one of the trail heads for Path of the Gods starts in Agerola.
Q: Should I rent a car for the Amalfi Coast?
Personally, I have a love hate relationship with driving in the Amalfi Coast. For starters, driving here can be very stressful. Be prepared for narrow winding roads with multiple switchbacks, tunnels and turns with blind entrances, and chances to encounter large tour buses with little to no margin for error. Driving on these roads is truly not for the faint of heart. On the other hand, I love the freedom it provides. I enjoy the ability to stay on our own schedule, leave when we want and not worry about how we will get to the next destination. Not to mention your own door to door service with your bags, versus lugging your things across multiple transfers, from airport, to train, taxi or bus. For those car/driving enthusiasts out there, navigating the winding curves can actually be quite exhilarating. Parking along the coastal highway can be difficult, but also provides an experience difficult to reproduce with public transportation. Being able to stop where you want and absorb the view can be worth the trouble alone. With that said, the next time we visit the Amalfi Coast, we will likely forgo the car hire and stick with public transportation. We found the ferries to be an enjoyable method of jumping from town to town and buses cheap and easy to find. However, we will certainly pack a little lighter to ease the load.
Q: What are some things to do in the Amalfi Coast?
- Explore the coastal towns – Positano, Praiano, Amalfi, Ravello, Minori, Maiori, Vietri Sul Mare, and Salerno
- Island of Capri – Make sure to visit Giardini di Augusto for classic views of the iconic coastline and the Via Krupp path.
- Beach – Each coastal town offers its own version with great views of the surrounding mountains. The beaches tend to be filled with very fine pebbles, not quite rocky, but not sandy either.
- Conca Dei Marini and the Emerald Grotta – Although the grotta can seem like a tourist trap, playing on the appeal of the Blue Grotto of Capri, it only costs €5 a person and is still stunning for the value. Plus, charismatic, singing, tour guides are all part of the package. Nonetheless, it is close to Conca Dei Marini, which offers a secluded beach, known for the famous people it’s attracted. The beach can be accessed from the coastal highway, down a long stair-filled path.
- Hiking – A couple good, well-marked, day hikes are available, providing fantastic views and a different perspective than can be seen from sea level. Some more information is provided below.
- Sentiero Degli Dei (Path of the Gods) – Runs from Bomerano to Nocello. More information provided below.
- Sentiero di Limoni (The Lemon Path) – Runs from Maiori to Minori.
- Visit Pompeii, Naples, and Sorrento – While not formally part of the Amalfi Coast, each are a short trip from the region.
- Pompeii is the site of historical ruins from the 1st century eruption of Mt. Vesuvius that covered the city in ash.
- Naples is home to some of Italy’s greatest pizza. It is a little run down but well known for top notch cuisine.
- Sorrento offers one of the larger cities near the Amalfi Coast. Many people choose this as a base as it is more accessible to other parts of Italy and a good departure point for the likes of Capri and the other Amalfi Coast towns.
Q: Where does Sentiero Degli Dei (Path of the Gods) start and how do I get there?
The Path of the Gods runs high up in the hills, stretching from Bomerano (Agerola) to Nocello. Most recommend hiking in that direction, as well, as it slightly more uphill if hiking from Nocello. Two sets of stairs connect the path with the coastal highway. One ascends from the coastal highway, near Positano, to meet the path in Nocello, and the other connects Praiano to the path close to the Bomerano end.
Our recommendation is to start the hike in Bomerano. There is a free parking lot in town, or look for buses to Agerola with a stop in Bomerano. Hike to Nocello and then take the stairs down to the coastal highway near Positano. If you pack swimsuits, enjoy the afternoon at the beach in Positano before catching a ferry to Amalfi, and then a bus back to your car in Bomerano. This provides for a much less strenuous hike and keeps the better views in front of you on your way to Positano. Be forwarned, climbing the stairs at the start of your hike should be reserved for the more physically fit among us.
Weather and time of day should be a major consideration for your hike. Early in the morning is recommended (especially on hot summer days), however, the first day we attempted this hike, nearly the whole path was engulfed in fog. For our second attempt, we tried a clear day in the late afternoon. While we could certainly see more, the majority of the coastline (looking towards Positano) was now in the shade and haze. Keep an eye on the weather report and if at all possible, stay flexible with your daily plans.
We hope you find these tips useful…. Feel free use the comments below if there is anything we missed! Let us know if you have any questions and we’ll see if we can get you answers.