A First Timer’s Travel Guide to the Amalfi Coast
The Amalfi Coast is by far one of Italy’s most popular destinations. Not only that but it’s the most picturesque place I have ever seen. From the dramatic cliffside views to the pastel homes, it’s easy to fall in love with this part of Italy. Did you know the entire Amalfi coast was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997? It’s for reasons like this that celebrities and royals flock to the coast during summer. In this “A First Timer’s Travel Guide to the Amalfi Coast, I’m going to outline the best things to do on the Amalfi coast, where to stay, travel tips, and the best ways to get to the coast.
When to Visit the Amalfi Coast Italy
To experience the Amalfi Coast in its glory it’s best to visit the Amalfi Coast during the warmer months. You can take a swim in the Mediterranean, a boat ride along the stunning coastline, and catch a sunset in Positano. Peak tourism for this part of Italy is June through September so prices will be higher during that time, along with very crowded streets. Consider shoulder season for the best months to visit (September/ October or May) when the temperatures are still high enough to swim and the crowds are sparse. Finally, we visited the first week of October, and while the water was a bit cold temperatures we’re perfect beach weather.
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Best Things to Do on The Amalfi Coast
Boat Tour of Amalfi (Amalfi)
Easily the best money we spent while we were on the Amalfi Coast. Did you know that you miss roughly 80% of the coast’s beauty by staying on land? So because of that, it’s imperative that you get out there and explore The Amalfi Coast by the sea! If you take anything away from this Amalfi Coast Travel Guide, let it be this! This boat tour is the one we chose (departed from Sorrento) and it was fantastic.
Day Trip to Ravello
Ravello is located high atop the Amalfi Coast and it’s more secluded than the rest of the towns. There are no beaches in Ravello however, it doesn’t take away from its charm. Whether you’re strolling around the main piazza or visiting the gorgeous villas you’ll want to dedicate at least a half-day to exploring this little gem.
Visit Villa Rufolo
Villa Rufolo is a cliffside villa with stunning Mediterranean views and a beautifully kept garden. This was such a highlight of our Ravello tour. It costs seven euros to enter and the gorgeous flower displays are year-round. Villa Rufolo also hosts a summer concert series here at dawn. It’s easy to say that this is now a bucket list goal of mine!
Dating back to the 11th century, Villa Cimbrone has expansive gardens and cliffside views atop Ravello. This villa is also a 5-star hotel but the gardens are open to the public.
Duomo di Sant’Andrea aka Amalfi Cathedral (Amalfi)
The Amalfi Cathedral is a medieval roman catholic church dating back to the 9th century. This beautifully preserved church is well worth the visit and houses the crypt of St. Andrea, Protector of Amalfi. Walking past the cloisters and looking down on the bustling piazza below is a moment I will never forget! Finally, it is open most days from 10 am-5 pm.
Spend the Day in Positano
We loved Positano so much that we came back for a second day during our stay on The Amalfi Coast. The pastel-colored homes and cliffside views are what drew us back. It’s a fairly small town so you can cover most of it in one day. However, it’s best to relax when you’re visiting Positano. Finally, be prepared to climb a lot of steps when visiting Positano. If you want to capture the best views journey to the top of town and make sure to wear comfortable shoes!
TRAVEL TIP: Spend the day at the Arienzo beach club. It’s a bit pricey but totally worth the cost to be able to use the facilities and relax all day. Also do note the beach is very rocky as opposed to soft sand so make sure to bring water sandals or shoes.
Take a Day Trip to Capri
One of the prettiest islands I have ever laid eyes on is Capri, Italy. You can easily spend a night or two here but if you only have time for a day trip, I highly recommend taking it! We booked our tour through Viator and loved the service and the people we met on this journey.
TRAVEL TIP: take a taxi/cab up to the top of Anacapri as soon as you get there and walk your way down. It’s a bit pricey but waiting for the funicular is a hassle. If you take a day trip here, you only have a limited amount of time so use it wisely!
Walk of the Gods (Positano)
The Walk of the Gods hike is a strenuous hike but the views will take your breath away. The beginning of the trail is at Bomerano and it takes you all the way down to Positano Beach. Make sure to have good walking shoes on and bring your camera to capture the views! To learn more about what to expect, head to this post.
Best Places to Stay on the Amalfi Coast
There are a few options when choosing to stay on the Amalfi Coast. You can stay in Positano, Amalfi, Ravello or Sorrento. Those are the 3 most popular places when choosing a hotel on the Amalfi Coast. For the most budget-friendly option, stay in Sorrento. You can easily visit all the places by booking this private tour or a public van tour. We opted for the van tour (which has over 5k reviews) and enjoyed our guide so much!
If you’re looking to splurge consider these hotels below:
- Le Sirenuse ($$$$) – This patrician house turned luxury hotel boasts one of the prettiest views of Positano. The pool is unlike any other and they have the best sunset in Positano.
- Villa Cimbrone ($$$$) – A small walk from Ravello Center but for the uninterrupted view of the coastline, this hotel is well worth it. This Villa is tranquility at its finest and is a great pick if you want seclusion.
- Villa Lara ($) – Villa Lara is a great budget-friendly option. It’s a quintessential Italian Villa that is within walking distance from everywhere in Amalfi, Italy.
- Hotel Santa Caterina ($$$) – First class hotel with excellent service and a breathtaking terrace view to enjoy a nice Aperol spritz.
- Grand Hotel Ambasciatori ($$$) – A luxurious hotel overlooking the water in Sorrento. We stayed here and loved every minute of it. Sorrento is a great home base if you plan to visit more of the Amalfi Coast. Finally, the spa here is fantastic.
- Hotel Bellevue Syrene ($$$) – Another great option to stay in Sorrento
Best Restaurants Amalfi Coast
- Chez Black (Positano) ($$$) – Chez Black is a restaurant located directly on the beach of Positano. It’s so charming and they have delicious seafood.
- Sensi Restaurant (Amalfi) ($$$) — Chic restaurant with a beautiful setting and delicious seafood. Best to go here for lunch when it’s not crowded and you can take in the gorgeous scenery.
- Rossellini’s (Ravello) ($$$$) — Expensive but delicious. This Michelin-star restaurant has a delicious menu and remarkable views. Make sure to make a reservation, especially during the high season.
- La Taverna dei Briganti (Amalfi) ($) — A hidden gem with a warm atmosphere, welcoming service, and mouth-watering food.
- Ristorante Max (Positano) ($$$) — Located in the middle of town this restaurant is a little off the beaten path but super classy and romantic full of beautiful works of art. Make sure to get the seafood risotto – it’s a favorite.
Ristorante La Sponda ($$$) — This bar has the most stunning views of Positano at night-time. The ambiance is top-notch and the cocktails are delicious.
Bar Al San Domingo ($$) — Located right off Ravello Square this place was frequented by Humphrey Bogart. They even have a room named after him! Great atmosphere to sit and people watch.
What to Pack for the Amalfi Coast
This part of Italy has a warm climate year-round. You’ll want to make sure to have these on hand for your trip:
- Bathing suits! If you overpack anything in your suitcase let it be this. Being that Italy is full of beautiful stretches of coastline you’ll always want to have bathing suits handy! I always find great suits at Summersalt, Cupshe, and Revolve.
- These Madewell Sandals are my favorite since they’re timeless and comfortable. The perfect combo for an Italian vacation. Also, you could use a sturdy pair of flip-flops that you can wear walking through the towns since most of them are steep. These Olukai Sandals are my go-to and have lasted me years and are the most comfortable.
- Sunscreen: Being that you’ll mostly be outdoors, you’ll want to be prepared to protect that skin of yours. I’m obsessed with this sunscreen brush from SUPERGOOP. It’s the easiest way to re-apply throughout the day without messing up your makeup.
- Neutral dresses: all of these neutral dresses are perfect for Italy and can be dressed up or down. Shop them here and here.
- Shorts: Abercrombie has the best shorts for all sizes and shapes. These Levi Shorts are a classic. Also, check my favorite pairs that have lasted multiple seasons here.
- Basics: I always find the best basics at either Free People & Abercrombie. It’s nice to have some neutral tees and tanks handy during your stay.
- A large sun hat. Nothing screams the Amalfi Coast more than pairing an outfit with a large sun hat for the ultimate vacation look. Shop my favorite affordable straw hat here.
- Water Shoes are super helpful especially when visiting the beaches since they are more on the rocky side.
Amalfi Coast Travel Guide: Getting Around
It’s extremely hard to get around the Amalfi Coast. For the best option, I would hire a private driver for the day. It will cost you upwards of $200 but believe me it’s worth it. For more affordable options I’ve outlined them all below for you.
Rent a Car or a Vespa ($$$) — If you’re feeling adventurous and want to drive along the dramatic cliffs and windy roads then I highly suggest renting a car or a Vespa. Mostly, the roads are skinny two-lane roads so be sure to keep an eye out for larger vehicles and the crazy Italian drivers.
The Sita bus ($) — 10 euros for an all-day pass. Make sure to catch the early bus out and try to get on a mid-afternoon or late evening (buses run until 9 pm) bus back otherwise you could be waiting hours for a seat! It’s not the most reliable mode of transportation but if you’re patient it’s an affordable way to get around.
Thank you for reading my “A First Timer’s Travel Guide to the Amalfi Coast”. If I can recommend any place in the world to visit, it’d be the Amalfi Coast. If you need more help planning your trip check out more of my Italy Travel Guide!
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