We spent a week on the Amalfi Coast and it. Was. Fabulous. Prior to our trip we did a significant amount of research about where to stay, how to get around, what to see and where to eat. Here’s our itinerary, which worked out really well, so you can follow in our footsteps (and not have to do all the legwork required- until you get there and have to walk up all the hills, that is!).
Getting to the Amalfi Coast
We flew in and out of Naples. The airport is pretty nice, but its a bit difficult to get to the Coast from there. We took the bus from the airport to Naples station, and then a train to Sorrento and a boat to Positano. Most boats are not direct to Positano or Amalfi, but stop in Capri first. There are also options to take a bus direct to Positano from Sorrento (or even Naples) or to hire a taxi. We liked our choice because we got to see a lot of the countryside, and Vesuvius. However, our flight back was at 11:15am and we had to hire a taxi to get us to the airport in time for 130 euros, so keep in mind to book late flights if you’re using public transport to get back to the airport.
Days 1 and 2: Positano
Our first stop on the Amalfi Coast was Positano, my second favorite place on the whole trip. It was pretty heaving with tourists, but we stayed at a lush four star hotel, Hotel Poseidon, away from the city square, so we were pretty far removed from the throngs except when we were at the beach.
The beach was slightly pricey, about 40 euros for a day– and we decided not to rent chairs and an umbrella in the first three rows, which would have been more expensive.
In Positano we mostly walked around, and spent our time at our hotel and the beach. We also spent the first two nights in nice restaurants, which you can read about here (along with our experiences in other Amalfi Coast restaurants). We had free breakfast at our hotel, but there seemed to be a lot of coffee shops and cute cafes for breakfast and lunch, as well, which I didn’t see as much in the other towns.
I would highly recommend a stop in Positano. It has such beautiful views of the coast, and in my opinion was the easiest place to get around by foot, although you need to be prepared to walk up a LOT of steps.
Atrani, Amalfi Coast
Our next stop was Atrani, which is about a 10 minute walk from Amalfi. We got from Positano to Amalfi by boat, which took about half an hour (you can also take a bus, but the views from the boat were pretty incredible!).
I was not very impressed with Amalfi. The Cathedral is a must see, but the beach was crowded and lacked the amazing views Positano’s beach had, and I felt even more assailed by tourists than in Positano. There wasn’t much personality in Amalfi, it just seemed so full of places catering to tourists.
Atrani is a short (but kind of scary) walk from Amalfi, and is well worth staying in if you don’t want to be crushed by tourists the minute you walk outside your door. You can still have all the touristy allure of Amalfi (it is quite easy to get to places from there) without the hustle and bustle.
We booked an Airbnb to save a little money, and cooked both nights we stayed there, although I will say that Atrani’s one little supermarket left a little to be desired, and our second night we hit up the larger market in Amalfi for staples beyond pasta and sauce.
Since Atrani was so close to Amalfi (you just walk through a really scary tunnel with no sidewalk, cars whizzing both ways past you, and voila! you’re there), we were able to get into Amalfi early one morning to explore before too many tourists hit the street.
Then, we returned to Atrani and enjoyed the beach, which is much cheaper and less crowded. Personally, I think the view of Atrani is much prettier than the view from the Amalfi beach, as well.
We spent one morning touristing since Amalfi is a transport hub along the coast; we went to the Emerald Grotto (it was about 15 minutes away by boat). It wasn’t the most stunning tourist experience ever, and our tour guide was more interested in singing along to his iPhone than explaining what we were seeing, but for the 5 euro ticket, it was something to do if you want to spend an early morning out on the water.
Ravello, Amalfi Coast
After two nights in Atrani, we got up very early and took a 20-minute bus ride to Ravello. The bus was packed, so I’d advise to get on at the first stop (Amalfi) or be prepared to stand as you make your way through seriously winding roads that should be one lane but are treated as multilane highways.
We only spent one night in Ravello, which was more than enough time (if you arrive early) to see everything. This was my favorite place on the Amalfi Coast. The view from Ravello is just perfect. However, if you are looking for a beach holiday, I wouldn’t recommend staying in Ravello. You’ll need to take a bus, and then walk about 300 steps, to the nearest beach. It is much better if you want to take in some seriously beautiful views.
We stayed at another Airbnb and this was our view from the window. It was seriously an incredible place to stay- simple and affordable, but with an fantastic view!
There were a few must-see’s in Ravello, which I’ll get to, but it is worth just walking around the town, as well. There are a lot of beautiful gardens and vistas, and you seriously just feel as if you’re on top on the world.
One thing you won’t get away from in Ravello is stairs, which is really a consistent theme about life on the Amalfi Coast. But the higher you get, the better the view gets, so the effort is worth it.
One of my favorite views was the organic vegetable garden from one of the local restaurants, which had HUGE veggies all over the terraced field up and down the side of the mountain. You won’t miss if you’re on your way to Villa Cimbrone.
Villa Cimbrone is the number one place to visit in Ravello (according to TripAdvisor), and it did not disappoint. It wasn’t the highlight of my trip or anything, but I would definitely recommend it if you’re in Ravello.
I wasn’t really sure what to expect, but it turns out the Villa is a five star hotel with amazing grounds that you can pay 7 euro to walk around.
The view from the end of the garden is spectacular, and its pretty cool to think about it being built at the turn of the 18th century. Even with today’s modern tools, I’d be terrified, so just imagine without all our newfangled cranes and stuff!!!
There isn’t just the top of the garden, but a ton of other statues and grottos and mini-gardens within the larger garden that you can see as you walk around.
Back on the street (or stairs), you’ll find more beautiful sights and old passageways.
If you’re feeling peckish, stop by Baffone for a gelato. The lines at this place are pretty insane, which is why we knew it would be good. I got coconut and chocolate, and C. went for mango and banana.
Conca dei Marini, Amalfi Coast
For our last two days we decided to stay in a little town halfway between Positano and Amalfi, Conca dei Marini. There wasn’t a whole lot about the town online, but we found a lovely three-star hotel with a sea view that was fabulous, so we decided to give it a go.
We definitely had the best views of our entire trip from Conca dei Marini. But, inevitably, there were a lot of stairs involved in enjoying this tiny little town. From our hotel, we walked about 300 steps up to the main part of the town, where there’s a bakery, small church and convenience store, and 300 steps down to the beach, where there are three restaurants and a beach that gets covered by the sun at around 3pm.
If you’re staying in Conca, make sure you walk around the town, even though its a bit of a tough workout with all the stairs. There are some beautiful views from almost every point on the stairs.
Also visit Punta Vreca, which is a really pretty viewpoint where you can see toward Positano and Amalfi.
Overall, I would highly recommend all the places we went, and the cadence at which we stayed in each place. We had really wanted a beach holiday without the stress of renting a car replete with nice food and wine, and opportunities for excursions as they arose. The Amalfi Coast hit the spot, and added in simply beautiful views. If we hadn’t paid for days at the beach and gone to the public beaches (which we did one afternoon in Atrani, only to find they were dirty, uncomfortable and the rocky sand was full of broken glass) it would have been relatively inexpensive, too. Overall the Amalfi Coast is a place worth visiting, just pick your accommodations carefully and make sure you’re up for the challenge of all the stairs!