18 Oct An Indispensable Travel Guide to the Amalfi Coast
The Amalfi Coast is one of the most famous and stunning places of Italy! This stretch of coastline is located in the south of Italy close to Naples. Here is an indispensable travel guide to the beautiful Amalfi Coast, with all the things you need to know before your trip!
I traveled to the Amalfi Coast at the end of September 2020 for the first time and it was amazing! But there are many things I wish I knew before to go there. I am answering here all the questions you may have before your visit. And I am giving you tips for a perfect trip to the Amalfi Coast!
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I want to be fully honest with you in this travel guide to the Amalfi Coast… So let me start by admitting that I never really dreamed about the Amalfi Coast! Yes I have seen countless of beautiful pictures of this place! But I heard so many bad feedbacks about people saying it’s overpriced and overrated, especially Positano, that it never attracted me. I was not sure if the Amalfi Coast was worth the hype. Therefore I didn’t want to come here during my 2 weeks trip to Italy. But it just happened to be on the way, so I decided to give it a try. And… I loved it! Because there were not many tourists, it was a real pleasure to enjoy this place!
The Amalfi Coast is in fact really beautiful! On the one hand, the coastline is stunning: the pristine turquoise waters meeting with the mountains offers a wonderful scenery! On the other hand, the villages in the Amalfi Coast have a lot of charm! They are full of colors, filled with lovely corners and offer breathtaking views! As a consequence, since 1997 the Amalfi Coast is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site! This explains why it’s so popular and why you should visit it! The Amalfi Coast is totally worth the hype, but better to choose wisely when to visit it if you want to enjoy it to the fullest. Check out the next paragraph to get an answer to that question!
What is the best time of year to visit the Amalfi Coast?
If you really want to enjoy the Amalfi Coast, better to avoid the crowds! The Amalfi Coast being such a popular tourist destination, it can get very busy in summer. I discussed about it with friends who visited at this time of year. They actually told me it was a nightmare, especially to move around. It totally wasted their experience.
I had the opportunity to visit at the end of September in this very special year 2020 and it was very quiet and pleasant! Here are some of the benefits:
- I didn’t have traffic on the road,
- It was easy to find a parking spot,
- I managed to find a good deal for my accommodation
- I could go to any places I wanted to eat or drink
- The towns were not crowded
That’s why in this travel guide I would recommend you visit the Amalfi Coast in Spring or Fall rather than in summer! If you come during high season, be ready to face some complications!
Is the Amalfi Coast really expensive?
Travelling in Italy can be quite affordable but a lot less in the Amalfi Coast. That’s why I really want to talk about the cost of travel in this guide to the Amalfi Coast. This area being very touristy and coveted, the prices are in general twice or three times more expensive than in the rest of Italy. This is valid not only for accommodation, but also for restaurants and parking. But it’s still possible to find some good deals, especially if you travel there out of the high season.
Here are some examples of prices.
For the meals:
- I paid 13€ for a hot drink and snacks for breakfast in a cafe on the piazza del Duomo in front of the cathedral in Amalfi. My secret tip: check out Bar Francese: expensive but great view.
- The pasta dish was between 13 and 17€ in a nice restaurant in Minori. My secret tip: check out La Locanda Del Pescatore, delicious!
- My dinner in Positano costed me 30€ for a pasta dish, an Aperol Spritz and a dessert in a restaurant on the beach.
- But I also managed to find a pizza to take away for 5€ in Minori. Check out Ristorante La Botte: very kind service.
- I had dinner for 12€ in a bistro in Minori for a piadina, a glass of wine and a dessert. My secret tip: check out Bistrot 52, great for the price and yummy chocolate cake!
- And I bought some yummy pastries and cookies for breakfast to take away in a cafe in Positano for 4€. My secret tip: check La Zagara, the sweets are very good and quite affordable!
For the accommodation (check the paragraph about ‘Where to stay in the Amalfi Coast’ for more info about these places):
- I rented an apartment in Minori for 103€ for 2 nights (booked last minute at the end of September – it was cheaper than usual).
- I booked an hotel room with a view in Positano for 130€ for 1 night (last minute at the end of September – it was cheaper than usual).
For the parking:
- 3€/h in Minori – we paid 10 euros for 24h in September (the price for locals) via our accommodation. They gave us an official local paper to leave in our car.
- 5€/h in Amalfi.
- 30€ for 24h in Positano in Parcheggio di Gennaro.
How to get to the Amalfi Coast?
There are a few different ways to get to the Amalfi Coast, via Naples, Salerno and Sorrento.
The closest International airport from the Amalfi Coast is in Naples. Otherwise you can land in Rome and take a train to get closer (to Naples, Salerno or Sorrento). The second version via Rome is cheaper.
From Naples you can:
- Rent a car,
- Take the train to Salerno (to reach Amalfi, Ravello, Minori, or Maiori) or Sorrento (to reach Positano and Praiano),
- As well as take a bus to Salerno or Sorrento (around 7€),
- You can take a ferry to Positano, Amalfi or Sorrento (around 12€),
- Or take a taxi or a private transfer (this is the most expensive option: count about 120 to 150€ one-way).
You can choose the best option depending on your budget and how independent you want to be!
How is driving on the Amalfi Coast?
This is one of the questions that bothered me before travelling to the Amalfi Coast: is it complicated to drive there? Although I am used to drive, I just don’t like to drive in dangerous places or where other people are driving crazy. Therefore, I really have to tell you all about it in this indispensable guide for the Amalfi Coast!
You have to know that there is only one winding road along the coastline leading to all the different villages: the road 163 “Amalfitana”. This road offers you stunning views of the coastline! But it’s rather narrow, it has only one lane in each direction, and there is constant traffic on it. You will cross path with cars driving very fast, coaches, but also motorbikes, scooters and cyclists. Many of them are overtaking on blind bends which will increase the danger. Moreover, if you visit during high season, many cars are parked on the side of the road as there are no more parking spots in the different towns. Given this context you can imagine how stressful it is to drive here! The towns in the Amalfi Coast are not far from each other but it can take you hours to go from one to another in summer! For that reason, it’s better to avoid pick hours or you will get stuck on the road in your car under the hot sun for ages!
My experience with driving on the Amalfi Coast
As I was visiting at the end of September 2020 there was not many people on those roads, and it was fine most of the time. Although at some point we got in a situation with 2 coaches having to cross path in a bend with us in the middle of it. It took some time for this mess to get solved and it was quite frightening!
I heard many people complaining about scrapes on their car after driving in this area: that could be problematic if you are renting the car (especially because Italian rental agency are NOT complacent AT ALL, believe my experience!).
In any case, I can only recommend you drive here with extreme caution!
Nevertheless, if you have the opportunity to drive there when the traffic is not intense you will enjoy the view! There are places with viewpoints where you can pull over on the side of the road to be able admire more of the landscapes. Those are great places to take some photos!
Parking on the Amalfi Coast
If you consider driving on the Amalfi Coast you also need to consider parking. The villages on the Amalfi coast are vertically developed which causes more difficulties to park. You will find a few parking lots in all the towns but there is not enough space to allow everyone to park in high season. I know some people who had to give up on visiting Positano because it was too busy, and they couldn’t park.
How to move around on the Amalfi Coast without driving a car
If you don’t want to take the car to move around, you can use a motorbike or a scooter. This will allow you to avoid traffic jams! And – great news – parking is almost always free for two-wheeled vehicles!
You can also take the bus to commute in between the villages. Be aware that the buses also get crowded in high season.
Finally, you can pay for a taxi to drive you around, but this will be super expensive.
Which places to visit on the Amalfi Coast?
There are a few beautiful villages to visit on the Amalfi Coast. In this travel guide to the Amalfi Coast I am giving you a list of the most important ones from West to East. Then you can decide which places you want to visit!
Sorrento is the easiest town to reach in the Amalfi Coast. It’s the best place to stay if you want to take day trips to Naples and Pompeii and the rest of the Amalfi Coast. Sorrento having such a strategic location, it can get very crowded in summer.
No need to introduce this iconic town, Positano is the most famous of all! With its pastel houses, sheer cliffs, and sandy beach, this place is stunning, hence very popular! It’s especially frequented by a wealthy and glamourous crowd. Positano is the most expensive village on the coast.
Between Positano and Amalfi, Praiano is a very romantic tiny village offering fantastic views, a sunny beach, and a great base for hikers (for the trail called the Sentiero degli Dei).
Amalfi is the second most popular town after Positano and it’s also the largest and the most historic one along the coast. In the piazza del Duomo, the main square, you can enjoy the elegant cafes and shops and the stunning cathedral. The architecture here is influenced by the Byzantine style. There is also a beach in Amalfi.
You will find Atrani right close by Amalfi, their beaches are even connected to each other! This well-preserved fishing village is the smallest village on the Amalfi Coast.
With its ideal location atop a hill overlooking the sea, Ravello is a gem in the Amalfi Coast. The town’s luxurious villas offer breathtaking panoramic views of the whole coastline. The only disadvantage is that you are not directly on the beach.
The village of Minori has a more laid-back atmosphere then the previous towns and is less crowded. You will find here a nice little sandy beach and is a hot spot for fresh pasta!
Although a little less charming because it’s more modern, Maiori offers the biggest sandy beach on the Amalfi Coast and it’s less expensive than the others.
How many days to spend on the Amalfi Coast?
As you can see after reading the list of all the villages on the Amalfi Coast, there are many places to visit here!
I would recommend a minimum of 3 days to visit this beautiful Amalfi Coast with at least a day trip to Positano (if you are not staying there).
It’s possible to do it in 2 days but in that case better to stay in only one city as you will lose a lot of time in going from one place to another – especially if you travel during summer.
I think 5 days is ideal to enjoy the whole area and visiting a few of the villages without rushing!
Where to stay on the Amalfi Coast?
Now that you have read the list of all the villages with their assets, you might already have an idea about where you should stay. Let me add some info in this travel guide to the Amalfi Coast to help in your decision!
Positano is definitely the most expensive village on the Amalfi Coast. But it’s so beautiful that it’s worth to stay at least one night! Precisely because not everyone can afford to stay here, most of the tourists are leaving at the end of the afternoon. Therefore, if you stay there for the night, you will enjoy this glamorous place in a more intimate atmosphere!
The cheapest villages on the Amalfi Coast are Sorrento, Minori and Maiori. If you want to visit the Amalfi Coast but are on a budget, I would recommend you stay in those places.
Depending on where you stay you can take a day trip to the other villages on the Amalfi Coast, do a boat tour or travel further to Naples or Pompeii.
When I visited the Amalfi Coast, I stayed in Minori for 2 days and 2 nights and stayed in Positano for 1 day and 1 night. I was glad I stayed at least one night in Positano! It gave me the opportunity to get the vibes of this unique place and I had the time to enjoy the beach and to wander in the village!
Recommendations of places to stay on the Amalfi Coast
Here are some recommendations of places to stay on the Amalfi Coast.
Minori Apartment in Minori: a beautiful 70 m² apartment in the center of Minori. It can host up to 6 guests, but you can also stay there if you are less people. I booked it for 2 and it costed us only 104 € for 2 nights at the end of September. This apartment has an ideal central location, it’s big and well furnished. I enjoyed my 2 days there!
Villa Giusi in Positano: here you can get a lovely room for 2 people with a breathtaking view. Although you will have to climb some steps to get there, Villa Giusi enjoy the same view as le Sirenuse, one of the most famous luxury hotels in Positano, and you will be at the beach in less than 5-minute walk! I loved it here!
Le Sirenuse in Positano: you want to treat yourself with one of the best hotel in Positano, then Le Sirenuse should be your choice! With a killer view, a Michelin-starred restaurant, an amazing pool and more, Le Sirenuse has it all!
Looking for other ideas: check out Booking a place on the Amalfi Coast.
Dealing with stairs and steps on the Amalfi Coast
If you are planning to visit and stay in Positano (or Amalfi and Atrani), I need to give you a few extra tips regarding the stairs in this travel guide to the Amalfi Coast.
Positano is a vertical village built on the cliff, that’s the reason why it’s so beautiful (same as Amalfi and Atrani)! But that’s also the reason why it’s so complicated to walk around. To reach most of the hotels, restaurants and shops you will have to climb stairs… many stairs! It looks charming at first but walking up or down those steps can be quickly tiring, especially if you carry a luggage or a bag. That’s why the higher and further your hotel is located from the beach and the road, the cheaper it is.
The staff at your hotel or at the parking lots will propose to help carry your luggage to your destination for a fee. Take the offer, you will thank me later!
My experience with steps in Positano
Let me share my experience with you. Once I parked my car in one of the parking lot, the staff asked me if I needed help for my luggage to get to my hotel. They offered to call a guy to help me carry my stuff for 15€ per baggage.
As I was on a 2 weeks trip in Italy, I had with me a big luggage (23 kg) + 1 backpack + another bag. I was not aware of the real situation and I didn’t want to spend an extra 15€. They told me that there were around 100 steps from the parking lot to the hotel. I thought it would be hard but that I could do it…
OMG I regretted it quite quickly: I should have paid for the help! First of all, finding the hotel was not easy and I got lost on the way (which means I had to climb even more steps…). Then most of the steps are narrow and steep. My friend even broke the handle of her luggage as she was going up.
When we arrived completely exhausted at the hotel the staff there told me they could have send someone to help for 10€ per baggage. I wish I called them to talk about this before my arrival! So I guess the guys from the parking lot were taking a commission.
As a consequence my secret tip for Positano is to ask at your hotel in advance to send help for your luggage and get a fair price. Do not overestimate your strength!
With this indispensable travel guide to the Amalfi Coast I did my best to help you prepare your trip! I hope all my tips and hints will allow you to have a perfect time on the Amalfi Coast!
If you have any remaining question, feel free to ask them in the comment section below or send me an email! I wish you amazing moments in the beautiful Amalfi Coast!
Check out my other articles about Italy here!