A trip to Italy is a frequent choice for many travellers. Looking at Italy from the outside, we romanticize Italian culture, the ancient ruins of the Coliseum, the wine regions of Tuscany, the glitz and glamour of Milan’s fashion, and the jaw-dropping views of the Amalfi Coast, Italy.
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The Amalfi Coast cities have been a popular destination for thousands of travellers, attracted to the towns along the coastline not only for the breathtaking postcard views but for their rich cultural significance. From the first day, you’ll find no shortage of things to do in Amalfi Coast.
The best way to experience the Amalfi Coast towns is by hiring a car in Naples and travelling down the coast to Amalfi, stopping in Pompeii, Sorento, and Positano along the way. Before creating an itinerary, decide how much time you want to spend visiting Amalfi Coast. Give yourself enough time, at least 4-5 days, as an Amalfi Coast tour offers several opportunities to experience Italian culture, including ancient architecture, modern arts, and traditional Camparian cuisine.
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Naples (or Napoli)
Ditch the car. The traffic in Naples is dreadful. So, save yourself from the imminent road rage and choose to explore on foot.
Start at the historic centre, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that boasts over 400 historical and monumental churches. Naples is a vibrant city that has retained a lot of its original culture within the historic centre. Explore every street with curiosity, an open mind, and attention to detail, and you’ll be amazed by the accurate reflection of Naples’s character in the graffiti art lining the streets.
Be sure to visit the Museo Cappella Sansevero, a chapel from the late 1500s that is now a museum filled with baroque artworks and ornate architectural details. This is a very popular tourist spot. So, be sure to purchase entry tickets ahead of time.
For history buffs, anything in Underground Naples will be a treat to see. There’s the ancient Catacombe di San Gennaro, the living museum Galleria Borbonica, and an extensive labyrinth of tunnels and underground aqueducts to explore. A guided tour of Underground Naples is the best way to make the most of your time and learn the rich history of the city.
Naples is not just another picturesque Italian town. Its struggles with crime, pollution, and poverty are overt and real. This causes many travellers to feel uneasy in this city, once known as the “Paris of the South.”
If you’re truly interested in exploring Naples’ culture on your Amalfi Coast holidays, there’s a guided walking tour of the Fontanelle Cemetery and Rione Sanita.
No stay in Naples is complete without an adventure into a Napoletana Pizzeria. Luckily, you don’t have to search hard to find authentic options. Every restaurant makes a great pizza! Some label it as “Vera Pizza Napoletana” (True Neapolitan Pizza), others just refer to it as “Pizza Margherita.” For the best cultural experience, look for a restaurant with no tourists! As the rule of thumb goes, if the place is good enough for the locals, it’ll be good enough for you.
If you want to learn how to make a true Neapolitan pizza, this pizza-making class will teach you all the secrets. You’ll learn about the history of pizza, make traditional dough from scratch, and use the classic ingredients for a Neapolitan pizza.
Where to Eat in Naples
Naples is full of great restaurants and the best pizza you’ll find, but if you’d rather experience traditional Neapolitan dishes prepared with the highest quality, locally sourced ingredients from the Amalfi Coast, La Locanda Gesu Vecchio is highly regarded for its amazing food. Its convenient location in the centre of the museum district makes this restaurant the perfect end to a day of exploring.
From Naples, follow the A3 motorway South towards one of the most well-known Amalfi Coast towns, Pompeii, passing by Mt. Vesuvius, a volcano about 9 km east of Naples. It was the eruption of this volcano back in AD 79 that buried the city of Pompeii in ash, killing all of its residents.
Pompeii, which was first rediscovered in 1599 and later again in 1748, is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most important historical and cultural sights in Italy. It is said that the excavation of Pompeii has had a strong cultural influence, not only in Italy but also in greater Europe. Designers, architects, and many artists have drawn inspiration from the ruins of Pompeii.
Pompeii is a fascinating site that allows you to literally step back in time. It’s a must-see while you look for things to do in Amalfi Coast. Walking down the maze-like cobblestone streets of ancient Pompeii immerses you in the life of ancient Roman civilization.
You can explore the insides of houses, admire decorative frescoes on the walls, or check out the remains of temples, baths, Basilicas, theatres, and brothels. It takes hours to get around Pompeii. So, make sure to leave yourself enough time for this leg of the trip.
If you would like to learn as much as you can while you’re there, there’s a tour of the remains that are guided by an archaeologist. You’ll skip the ticket line and long wait and get a personalized 2-hour tour of the ancient site. This tour will give you an up-close view of the preserved frescoes, mosaics, and architecture while learning about the history of Pompeii and Mount Vesuvius.
If you have time, there is more to see in Pompeii besides the ruins. Located in downtown modern Pompeii, the Pontificio Santuario di Pompei is a religious complex with an ornate church, tower, and museum. Get a break from the heat and crowds and wander around this magnificently decorated complex. Then, take in stunning views of Pompeii, Mount Vesuvius, and the Amalfi Coast from the tower.
Where to Eat in Pompeii
Na Pasta is the perfect spot for cheap, delicious local dishes when you just want to refuel after a full day of exploring Pompeii. This restaurant is about a minute’s walk from the Pontificio Santuario di Pompei. It’s also about five minutes away from the ruins.
Travelling south from Pompeii towards Sorrento as you’re driving the Amalfi Coast, you’ll have a chance to admire incredible views of Sorrento’s beautiful limestone buildings perched up on the high cliffs above the Tyrrhenian Sea.
Be sure to stop along the way and take in the views as you please – another benefit of road-tripping! If you really want to take advantage of the scenery, add a guided hike of the Path of the Gods to your Amalfi Coast itinerary.
When you hike the Path of the Gods, you’ll follow an ancient route along the coast of the Sorrento Peninsula used to connect the historic towns of Nocelle and Bomerano. From the Path of the Gods, you’ll get stunning views of the Amalfi Coast and its picturesque towns. The trail is about 6 kilometres long and moderately challenging, with a bit of rock scrambling along the way and steep drop-offs to be aware of. The ancient Path of the Gods ends in the historic town of Nocelle. The town has plenty of cafes for a nice lunch before your return trip.
Exploring Sorrento is best done on foot. Strolling from one side of town to another will take you 1-2 hours, but we would advise that you give yourself at least 1 day to properly explore Sorrento’s culture. The old section of Sorrento is great for getting lost in the narrow alleyways and stopping in small shops along Via San Cesareo.
One of the most unique cultural experiences you can have in Sorrento is indulging in lemons! Yes, that’s right! Sorrento is surrounded by lemon terraces, and lemons are harvested here year-round.
You’ll find lemons in a lot of local dishes, from mains to desserts and, most importantly, in traditional Italian lemon liqueur –Limoncello. Produced mainly in Southern Italy, this unique, refreshing lemon liqueur is traditionally served as an after-dinner digestive. Any restaurant in Sorrento will have Limoncello on the menu. So, give it a try and make sure to bring lots back for friends and family. It’s dirt cheap and makes for a great souvenir!
Where to Eat in Sorrento
Trattoria dei Mori offers seasonal dishes with handmade pasta, local produce, and seafood freshly caught off the Amalfi Coast. Located an 8-minute walk from Leonelli’s Beach, this spot is perfect for an early dinner followed by a view of the stunning sunset from the Amalfi coastline.
Your next stop along the coast is Positano, known as the most picturesque town along the Amalfi Coast, Italy. Its vibrant pink, orange, and yellow buildings add contrast to the blue waters, creating surreal postcard views.
Positano’s roads run from the top of the hills down to the beach, with plenty of stairways along the way. There isn’t really too much to do in this Amalfi town other than explore the narrow alleyways, peek into luxury boutiques, or unwind with a cup of tea or coffee and a slice of lemon cake in one of Positano’s many restaurants.
Beach bums may enjoy checking out Fornillo Beach, located just a short walk away from Positano Harbour. This 300-metre (328 yards) long beach is one of the largest on the Amalfi Coast. It’s one of the most glamorous too. It’s a lot less crowded than the main beach in Positano. Thus, it attracts a great crowd of the rich and the famous.
To pack in more sights, there are Amalfi Coast Boat Tours that will take you on a day-long cruise along the coastline, including a stop at the Emerald Grotto. Your boat tour guides will take you to a secluded sea cave. Also, they will provide snorkelling equipment should you decide to explore. This boat tour does not include admission to the Emerald Grotto. So, make sure you have a bit of cash on hand. The guides for your boat tour will pick you up from the Positano port. Then, they will take you for a cruise along secluded coves away from the tourist crowds.
Where to Eat in Positano
Il Tridente is a highly-rated restaurant that offers amazing views of the beautiful town and the Amalfi Coast below. The restaurant offers informal lunches and elegant dinners. Plus, a Sunday brunch if you happen to visit Positano during the weekend. Vegetarian and vegan options are available, and the menu changes frequently to include seasonal produce from the Amalfi Coast.
Continue your drive along the Amalfi Coast to reach the town of Amalfi. Amalfi is the main town of the Amalfi Coast and, on a regular day, is quite similar to the other towns along the coast, though you can take a private walking tour of the surrounding villages and scenery. To get a break from the crowds, pop into the Amalfi Cathedral, a peaceful historic church full of artifacts. Also inside the Amalfi Cathedral is a beautifully decorated crypt that houses the relics of St. Andrew.
There are, however, 3 cultural events that set it apart from the other towns and attract thousands of visitors on a yearly basis. They are:
- Festival of Sant’Andrea, which takes place on the 25th-27th of June and the 30th of November, commemorating the miracle that saved Amalfi from the pirate Barbarossa in 1544. During this highly anticipated traditional event, the locals celebrate Sant’Andrea with a religious procession followed by entertainment and fireworks.
- Byzantine New Year’s Eve, which takes place on the 31st of August. This three-day festival is famous for historical reenactments with medieval games that take you back to ancient times. Expect to also see theatrical performances, water races, archery, and a large costume parade.
- Ancient Regata, which takes place on the first Sunday of June in Amalfi every 4 years. While this 2 km race is the reason for the celebration, the costume parade that precedes it is said to be just as exciting as the race itself.
Where to Eat in Amalfi
Agricola Fore Porta is a farm and restaurant with a rich history. They offer traditional dishes prepared with ingredients grown on the farm. Located in the north part of Amalfi, you’ll hike for 25 minutes along the Valle delle Ferriere from central Amalfi to the farm. They are only open for lunch. So, make sure you plan accordingly.
Your last stop on the Amalfi Coast is Salerno. Salerno is not the most popular town on the coast, but that’s exactly the appeal! The lack of tourist crowds means lower prices and a more authentic feel. The streets of Salerno aren’t lined with shops selling lemons and restaurants serving lemon cakes; instead, you have an opportunity to observe real Italian culture and true life on the Amalfi Coast, Italy.
A guided walking tour of some of the top attractions would be a great addition to your Amalfi Coast itinerary, and it’s perfect for a history buff. The tour lasts just a few hours and takes you to some amazing historic sites and Roman ruins dating back to the 1st century.
If you prefer to explore at your own pace, you won’t have any trouble finding the attractions Salerno has to offer. The Duomo di Salerno is full of beautiful mosaics, artworks, and stunning architectural details. You can easily spend half a day wandering through the narrow streets of the town, popping into shops and mini-markets. To end the day, grab a gelato and stroll along the Lungomare di Salerno, a waterfront promenade lined with bars and restaurants.
Where to Eat in Salerno
La Posteria is a wine bar specializing in tapas style dishes to accompany the local wines that they offer. The large selection of tapas has plenty of vegetarian and vegan options, plus local cheese, honey, and fruit preserves. The wine selection includes organic vintages and several different styles from the Amalfi Coast.
No trip to the Amalfi Coast would be complete without an excursion to the famous Island of Capri. Ferries run from most towns along the Amalfi Coast, so you could easily make it a day trip. Check these ferry schedules to see what works best for you.
Once you’re on Capri, you can take a walking tour on your own to see points of interest and amazing scenery, like the ruggedly beautiful rock formations known as the Faraglioni, the Gardens of Augustus, and the artisan workshops and traditional houses in Anacapri. Marina Grande Beach is the island’s largest beach. However, it’s right next to the main port and can get quite busy. If you want to swim, there are plenty of spots that aren’t nearly as hectic as Marina Grande Beach.
If you prefer to spend the day exploring the coastline of Capri, this boat tour will pick you up from Sorrento. They will take you on a guided excursion to the absolutely stunning sea caves and beaches of the island. You’ll see the famous Blue Grotto before tourist crowds get there, then to the smaller Green Grotto and gorgeous swim spots with crystal clear water. If the Blue Grotto is a must-see on your itinerary, this small group boat tour will be a much more comfortable day trip than the packed tour boats leaving from the island, plus you’ll get lunch and prosecco!
Where to Eat in Capri
Lo Sfizio is a moderately priced restaurant that offers traditional dishes and excellent pizzas. The dishes are prepared with fresh produce from the Amalfi Coast and seafood caught around the island. The restaurant is a little off the beaten path. It’s the perfect lunch spot if you plan to visit the ancient ruins of the Villas of Tiberius.
The romantic town of Ravello is about a 15-minute drive from Amalfi and well worth the trip. Ravello is full of historic villas, gardens, and gorgeous views of the coastline. It is considered to be the most romantic place on the Amalfi Coast.
The historic Villa Cimbrone offers beautiful gardens to explore, stunning views from the Terrace of Infinity, and a wonderfully restored 14th-century estate. To see the garden in full bloom, it’s best to visit during late Spring.
Architecture and history buffs, be sure to visit the Villa Rufolo. This medieval estate was built with combined elements of Arab and Byzantine architecture. It features a large courtyard and a vast garden started in the 13th century. Villa Rufolo includes a cloister, a chapel, and several event spaces.
Finish your tour with a visit to the Piazza Centrale (central square) of Ravello. You’ll get to tour the 11th-century Duomo di Ravello, visit an art gallery. Also, get a mid-day boost of espresso or gelato at one of the cafes lining the piazza.
Where to Eat in Ravello
Mimi Ristorante offers regional dishes and pizzas prepared with local ingredients. It also features excellent antipasto plates with artisan cheeses from the Amalfi Coast and homemade preserves. Conveniently located halfway between Villa Cimbrone and the Piazza Centrale, this restaurant is a perfect resting and refuelling spot. Be sure to check out their artisanal limoncello and other liquors, which are available for sampling and purchase.
Where to Stay in Amalfi Coast
Along the Amalfi Coast, hotels aren’t exactly in short supply, but we do have some recommendations. After all, if you’re looking to plan any tours of Amalfi Coast, beaches and local attractions are probably pretty important.
- NeapolitanTrips Hostel & Bar offers a great atmosphere, along with a shared lounge and bar. It’s within a short walk to some local landmarks, as well as the seafront promenade.
- Casa Pacifico is a bed and breakfast just a 2-minute walk away from the ruins and just a 17-minute walk from the Forum.
- Casa Ela is a guesthouse in the heart of the town. It’s also in partnership with a local cafe and is just a short walk from several beaches and Amalfi Coast attractions such as Il Vallone dei Mulini.
- Palazzo Margherita is a condo-hotel in a beautiful 19th-century building, with staff almost as warm as the weather. There are terraces and balconies with views of the sea. Also, there’s a private boat and the closest beach is a 10-minute walk away.
- Il Porticciolo di Amalfi is a bed and breakfast in a renovated historic building. It has a perfect view of the marina, the beach, and the Tyrrhenian Sea.
- Vittoria Guest House Salerno is near both the harbour and the beach, and it’s within easy walking distance of the historic old town if you want to take a shopping trip or head to a restaurant.
- Villa Striano is just a 5-minute walk away from the central piazza of Capri town. The restaurants are within walking distance and to most points of interest on the island. The boutique hotel feature gardens full of fruit trees and art to enjoy during breakfast.
- La Dolce Vita Ravello offers panoramic views of the Amalfi Coast and apartment-style accommodations with a private terrace or patio. The hotel is a 5-minute walk away from the central piazza, mini-markets, and restaurants.