The Amalfi Coast stretches along the Tyrrhenian sea between the towns of Positano and Vietri Sul Mare, in southern Italy. With the Amalfi Drive listed among the most epic road trips on the planet, you may be tempted to hire a car and venture into the ‘Divine Coast’. But unless you plan your trip carefully, the picture-perfect scene of a convertible cruising along the narrow roads of beautiful hilltop towns could quickly turn into that of a car stuck in traffic for eight hours. Find your bearings with the map below and continue to read for the best tips to plan your Amalfi Coast holidays.
Amalfi Coast holidays: towns, transport & best tips to visit
When to visit the Amalfi Coast
Without a doubt, the best time for your Amalfi Coast holidays is during the two shoulder seasons: April (except for Easter) to May and September to October. Keep in mind that both April and October can be less predictable weather-wise.
My preferred month to visit the Amalfi Coast is September. Right after the high season (June to August) the large crowds begin to dissipate, and the scorching temperatures are replaced by comfortably warm weather with highs of 26°C (79°F). The water is still pleasant enough to go for a dip and the cost of accommodation decreases according to declining demand.
Avoid the winter months as many shops and restaurants will be closed or operating on reduced hours. There are also no ferry services between towns.
Cosy beach in Positano
Where to start your Amalfi Coast holidays
Your Amalfi Coast holidays are bound to start in either the town of Sorrento or the port city of Salerno. Both are connected by the Strada Statale 163 (SS163), which makes the famous Amalfi Drive. The closest international airport is in Naples, about 50 km (30 mi) from Sorrento.
You can arrive by train at both Sorrento and Salerno. The latter is part of the high-speed rail network, so it may be more convenient if you are travelling from Rome or Florence. There are no train services between towns on the Amalfi Coast, so you’ll have to choose between hopping on a ferry or bus or renting your own set of wheels.
Coastline view from the ferry
Transport in the Amalfi Coast
The roads on the Amalfi Coast allow for a maximum of two lanes, so traffic jams are unavoidable. I’d advise against driving if you visit during the high season. The 57 km drive from Sorrento to Salerno could take up a whole day, most of which you’ll spend manoeuvring between large tour coaches and dozens of other cars.
Even if visiting during the shoulder season, parking can still be a nightmare (and expensive!). And the winding narrow roads are somewhat dangerous to less experienced drivers.
Scooters are a great way to get around the Amalfi Coast and explore neighbouring towns, especially if traveling during the shoulder season, when temperatures are milder and there are fewer people. I’m not the most experienced rider yet felt comfortable enough to get by.
The cost of scooter rentals varies, but I paid 60 EUR per day in Minori, and the scooter could carry two people.
There are regular bus services that cover the Amalfi Coast as well as the nearby villages. Tickets can be purchased from any partner displaying the SITA SUD logo, including tobacconists, newspapers stands, bars, and shops. Bus tickets cannot be purchased from drivers, so have your ticket ready before you board and stamp it on entry to the bus.
Ticket costs vary depending on the duration of your journey. A ticket from Positano to Amalfi was 2 EUR at the time of writing. If you intend to travel consistently by bus, purchasing a 24-hour ticket may be a better alternative.
Due to frequent traffic, busses may not arrive at the expected time. Moreover, their schedules change often. If you are using a bus to catch a ride to the airport, I’d allow plenty of time to account for possible delays.
Buses can accommodate suitcases; however, seating is not guaranteed and can get extremely busy during the summer months.
Ferries operate from early April until the end of October and are quite possibly the most enjoyable way to move around the Amalfi Coast. Very popular among tourists, the ride between towns is typically short and the views of the coastline unbeatable.
Ferries usually run from 9/10 am to 6/7 pm with an average of six to eight daily services per route. Prices start at 3 EUR for shorter distances and can go up to 14 EUR. I found no need to book in advance during the shoulder season. You can check available routes, schedules, and costs at the Travelmar website.
If you have time to spare on the Amalfi Coast, a day trip to Capri is a great option. But ferry services can be pricey (around 20 EUR each way) and are not available in every town. In fact, Sorrento is the only city in the proximities of the Amalfi Coast that offers year-round ferry services to Capri.
With a tour, you’ll pay about the same amount as a return ticket. Additionally, you’ll go around the island and see the famous rock formations of Faraglioni, after which you’ll have plenty of time to do a self-guided tour, some shopping, have a meal, and enjoy time on the beach.
There are multiple tour operators, and most towns have a tourist information centre from which to find their details.
View of Capri and the famous Faraglioni rocks
How long to stay in the Amalfi Coast
The relatively short stretch of coast can theoretically be seen in as little as one day. However, with so much to offer, it’d be a pity to spend any less than three days. Ideally, a whole week would be best.
If you intend to spend two to three nights, you should be strategic about picking your home base. I believe Minori is a great alternative, as it is centrally located. It is also a short (but steep) walk away from Ravello and Maiori is literally around the corner. From Minori, you can also easily reach most of the Coast by ferry.
If you have a week, you could split your time between two towns. And add a day trip to Capri as well!
Best things to do on your Amalfi Coast holidays
There are thirteen towns on the Amalfi Coast, mostly centred on tourist activities: Vietri Sul Mare, Cetara, Maiori, Tramonti, Minori, Ravello, Scala, Atrani, Amalfi, Conca dei Marni, Furore, Praiano and Positano.
Each town has its own personality and would be worth a visit if you have the time. However, the ultimate Amalfi Coast highlights are:
Ravello and Villa Cimbrone
Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997, Ravello sits atop the Amalfi Coast. Visit Villa Cimbrone and its famous terrazza dell’Infinito (Terrace of Infinity) for the most breathtaking sea views.
View from the terrazza dell’Infinito in Ravello
Pedal boating in Minori
If you pedal towards Amalfi for about 20 minutes, you’ll arrive at a small bay next to Hotel Marmorata, where you’ll find a small waterfall to enjoy a cold shower. Using a pedal boat is a most entertaining way to spend a couple of hours exploring the coast. The rental cost is about 10 EUR per hour and the boat can accommodate two people.
Sentiero dei Limoni
Or Path of the Lemons in English, is a beautiful hike that crosses the village of Torre, that separates the towns of Maiori and Minori. The easy walk takes about an hour and although it has some steps, it is suited for most people. You’ll be able to admire the lemon groves and vineyards along the way, beautifully sloping down towards the sea.
Stop for a bite at Azienda Agricola Cuonc Cuonc, a family-run farm offering food made only from organically grown produce. The owners are attentive, the food just amazing, and the views of Minori from their terrace spectacular.
View of Minori and the village of Torre behind
Fiordo di Furore and its picturesque beach
Visit in the early afternoon, as it is the only time when the sun briefly peeks out. If you enjoy sitting in the shade, this beach will be perfect for you.
Fiordo di Furore
Popular among jet-setters, Positano has been featured in several films, including Diane Lane’s feel-good movie Under the Tuscan Sun. Its ever-increasing popularity makes Positano one of the most expensive bits of the Amalfi Coast. Beaches, dramatic views, historic sites, clothing shops, and restaurants, make this town an absolute must-see. Expect large crowds of people making their way down the narrow little streets.
I hope this post has given you enough tips to get your Amalfi Coast holidays going. If you’ve already been and discovered some wonderful places along the way, please share using the comment section below.
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