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Lemons, sea breezes, tiny beaches, cliff sides, and pizza, that’s what comes to mind when we think of Amalfi. We’re not here to convince you to visit Amalfi. No one needs convincing to come to this coastal paradise. We’re here to show you the best places to stay, places to eat, and places to enjoy the scenery when you’re all done hiking.
The biggest decision you’ll have to make is deciding which charming coastal town you want to stay in. In this guide, we have highlighted Naples, the town of Amalfi, Sorrento, and Positano and, to an extent, Agerola. The choice is really up to you. You can’t make a wrong choice, but make sure you know how you’re getting around because both bus and car have their challenges depending on where you stay.
Bring your sunscreen and lots of water and everything else should fall into place. You’re going to love your trip to Amalfi; it really is “La Dolce Vita”.
The closest airport to fly into is Naples, which could also be where you plan on staying. It is known as either the Naples International Airport (NAP) or the Capodichino Airport. It’s only 5.9km outside of Naples, but the problem is it is often more expensive to fly into than the main alternative: Rome.
Rome’s airport is an over 3h drive to The Amalfi Coast and an even longer public transit trip. If Rome is where you’re going to fly into then you have three options for getting to The Coast: rent a car, use the train, or hire a driver to take you to The Amalfi Coast. Just keep in mind if you decide to take the train that you will have to lug your bags around to get to the train station, but if you came to Amalfi to hike, you are likely in good enough shape to move your bags around.
The absolute best time to go to The Amalfi Coast is May. In May most of the tourists haven’t arrived yet and the little villages are coming out of winter hibernation. The flowers are in bloom and the weather is just right. June is good too but the crowds will pick up a bit.
July and August are the most popular months, of course. It might also be the only time you’ll be able to go, which is totally fine. Just be prepared for busier roads and hotter weather, or perhaps more accurately, be prepared to take advantage of the beaches!
September is almost as good as May because the bulk of the tourists will have left and the weather is still quite warm. By the time the winter rolls in the weather will be much more wet and you’ll find the little villages almost shut down completely. So, we don’t recommend going in the winter months.
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If you rent a car for your trip, be prepared to drive on the coastal roads. For a good driver with good spatial awareness it won’t be too much of a problem, but there are lots of other factors involved. You’ll want the smallest car they can rent you, which if you’re with a bunch of kids is hard. A big car makes driving harder and parking almost impossible. You’ll also want to avoid driving in the peak season/summer months because the roads are extra busy and therefor more challenging.
If you want to use public transit that’s great too. If you’re coming from Rome (as we started above) and want to take the train. It is fairly fast, but just make sure you aren’t carrying heavy bags because getting to and from the train station with big bags can be a hassle.
Once you reach The Coast you can use transit to get around and our hike descriptions will tell you which SITA bus to take. The SITA busses are going to be crowded during the peak season though, so be prepared for that. There are also boats that will take to and fro; so public transit is very do-able along The Coast.
Looking for a luxurious, smaller hotel in Sorrento? Try the Magi House. They have a beautiful rooftop patio where you’re served breakfast in the summer. They have a number of suites and room options to choose from, including two full apartments for rent with full kitchens and laundry. That being said, there aren’t too many rooms in total meaning a quieter stay for you. The hosts are able to help you with whatever you need. They even have a luxurious speedboat that will tour you around the coast for an extra fee.
If you want luxury in the town of Amalfi, Try the Hotel Marina Riviera. This is your quintessential Italian Coast Hotel, white arch doorways and beautiful tile floors. There’s a rooftop pool. It’s by the beach. Breakfast is included. The patios all have incredible views. What more could you possibly need?
If you want to stay in Naples and commute in, the best value for a hotel is Hotel il Convento. The building was originally built in the 1600’s but is now beautifully restored. The breakfast is included with the price and then when you add in the fact that it’s only a short walk to the shopping on Via Roma/Via Toledo you really can’t get anything better at Hotel il Convento’s prices point. This is the best value we’ve come across, which is why we included it even though it is in Naples.
Palazzo Tasso, in Sorrento is modern and the rooms are always clean and chic looking. They also have a limited amount of rooms, so you’re always guaranteed great, personal service from the staff. What’s even better is that the price is reasonable considering the quality of the décor. Plus there is a charming continental breakfast each morning.
For an even lower price try Villa De Angelis. They are a 25 minutes walks away from the city centre of Sorrento but they do offer great views. The rooms are more basic but they are bright and well lit.
If you want to be in Agerola try staying at the Beata Soliutudo. They have camping plots, hostel-style accommodations, and Bed and Breakfast options too. It feels like an Italian lodge and, depending on which style of room you pick, it is our most affordable option on the list.
Last but not least is the town of Positano. Positano is famous for its shopping (more on that later) and a side effect of this is it tends to be a little on the touristy-side, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a great place to stay. In fact, it’s a pretty great jumping off point for a good handful of our hikes, so to balance out the touristy nature of Positano we recommend staying at a B&B while you’re there because that way you’ll get a more of a local feel while staying there.
Our two favourite B&B’s are the Villa Mary and B&B Mamma Rosa Positano. Both have fabulous hosts who will gladly help with your luggage or recommend a place to eat and both have highly adored breakfasts as well. Villa Mary is a little more expensive, more lavish, and more centrally located, while Mamma Rosa is actually just outside Positano in a town looking down onto Positano. It’s quite a few stairs to get to Positano (they say it’s 25 minutes away), so we would recommend Mamma Rosa if you have a car. They do have free parking there which helps. The real benefit of being further away is it’s a little quieter and it has amazing views.
Before we get into this section, lets get one thing clear: You came to Italy for Italian food. We know that there are lots of other great restaurants, but we also know that different regions have vastly different cuisines. So yes, there may be restaurants that would feel more Northern Italian, but there’s also going to be a lot of seafood because you’re on the Amalfi Coast!
Let’s start with a great lunch spot in Naples: La Masardona. Many of you won’t have tried Fried Pizza before, but you’ll be glad you did when you go to La Masardona. This place is popular with locals too, but it isn’t in the most welcoming neighbourhood; however, we think it’s worth the trek and the wait. Very cheap, locally made, and filling, the Pizza Fritta is exceptional.
For a fine dining experience in Naples we would recommend the Caruso Roof Top Dining Room at the Grand Hotel Vesuvio. The food is regional, but not entirely seafood (although that is a big part of the region). The setting is sensational, which is why it pushed its way to our list. You’ll love eating an amazing meal while looking out over the sea.
If luxurious regional cuisine is on your radar, but you’ve booked a stay in the town of Amalfi try Da Ciccio Cielo Mare E Terra. The same family has run it since 1931, while seafood is their specialty they do have other proteins on the menu (but their seafood pasta cooked in a parchment parcel is quite famous). They’re Zucchini blossoms are also well known and they grow those in their own garden along with other seasonal vegetables.
All that being said, you don’t NEED to spend big bucks to eat well in Italy. Amalfi also has an excellent pizza joint where you can get a full meal for a few euros. It is called Pizza Express Amalfi and they’ll make your order from scratch and do it all with a welcoming smile on their faces. It’s some of the best pizza on The Coast.
When in Sorrento try Accento Restaurant. They are very popular with tourists because the staff is always very accommodating and their prices are fair for what they’re offering, great mid-scale Italian cuisine.
For a fun, little, family-owned bar and restaurant why not try AZZ! Sometimes they are known as a cocktail bar or tavern, but in reality they are a fun small restaurant with tables spilling out into the street. The owner and Chef often comes out from the open kitchen and chats with his guests. The prices are low, and the atmosphere will make you feel like a local.
If you’re staying in Positano we can recommend Ristorante da Costantino for a place that is fancy without being outrageous. It’s great Italian food with an accessible menu. If you go, try and reserve a table by the window. The views are awesome. Otherwise, if you followed our advice about the B&B’s, just ask your lovely hosts and they’ll know all the best places to go, avoiding the tourist traps.
When in doubt, if you’re looking for a quick lunch to go, perhaps to bring on your hike, stop at any rosticceria you find along your way. They’ll serve you up any number of roasted meats or antipasti. They’re essentially a deli and if you order your meal “da porta via” (on the road) you can take it with you to enjoy during a break on your hike.
If you could only visit one of the many churches along The Coast, The Cathedral in Amalfi is the one to see. It is almost more of a collection of religious buildings fused together into a large amalgam. It’s really quite striking and full of fascinating architecture from many different time periods.
While you’re in Amalfi you can also check out the Emerald Grotto. It’s a cavern of sorts with the most stunning emerald water and stalactites dripping from the ceiling.
One of the most popular activities in this region would have to be shopping in Positano. They have lots of beautiful ceramics, linens, as well as designer clothes in Positano. An experienced shopper could easily make a day of it, while the partner of that experienced shopper might want to get comfortable at a little trattoria with some limoncello.
We recommend doing a day trip to Pompeii, especially if you’re staying in Sorrento. The Circumvesuviana Train makes it easy to get to both Pompeii and Naples. Pompeii of course is both fascinating and haunting. To see a city so preserved like that is amazing. There’s not really anything like it anywhere else.
We also mentioned above the speedboat service offered out of the Magi House. There are lots of companies that will do this, we just happen to like the look of the Magi Boats. This is a fun way to relax and take in the splendour of the coast. You’ll get to see lots while being refreshed by the wind and sea spray.
While you’re in the area, why not check out the beautiful town of Ravello. They have a Classical Music Concert Series held in some gorgeous, historic settings, and some well-manicured gardens throughout the town, during the summer. Even if you don’t like classical music, the city itself has its charms. They also have a stunning Cathedral worth checking out.
Then, of course, there are the beaches. That Amalfi-lemon sunshine seems to shine just a little bit brighter than in other parts of the world. It’s a fantastic way to spend half a day and truly is an essential part of the Amalfi Coast experience. Why not bring your beach gear with you on our Bay of Ieranto hike? The little Capitiello beach is such a gem.
- The heat is an obvious danger along the coast, especially in the summer months, but any good traveler should be prepared to keep the sun off of them and stay hydrated.
- In crowded bus and train stations you’ll want to keep your belongings close and well guarded because there is still a risk of pickpockets in the more crowded areas.
- Driving is always near the top of peoples “dangers” lists. We covered this already, so just keep in mind that it’s not an easy task and only the better drivers should attempt this.
- English is very commonly spoken throughout the Amalfi Coast, so you don’t need to stress too much about studying your phrase book. The locals might not know as much English, but restaurants, guides, and hotel staff are all easy to communicate with.
- Just because a street looks pedestrian doesn’t mean it is pedestrian. Keep an eye out even on small one-lane cobblestone paths because cars can pop up out of nowhere.
- Tipping is not expected, and if you do tip you only have to tip maybe 5-10%. Restaurants also won’t typically bring you a bill unless you ask for it, so keep that in mind too.