Leaving Puglia behind, we drove for about 4 hours across the bottom of the Italian boot, reaching the most amazing place in Italy: the Amalfitan Coast. We were going to spend an incredible (almost) 3 days on the Amalfi Coast and had planned an amazing Amalfi Coast road trip itinerary.
As always, the plan from home does not always match the reality we found on location, and that’s why I want t share it with you so that you will know better.
Our Amalfi Coast road trip itinerary and what I’ve learned
Where to stay on the Amalfi Coast
When we decided to make the second 2019 trip to Italy as intense as possible, I knew I wanted to spend the night on the Amalfi Coast with a view.
Because how else would you live the region to the fullest?
Of course, the dream is Positano. But I’ll leave that for when I grow up and I’m rich and famous. Or just rich.
Thus, the cheaper accommodation option, but still with a breathtaking view and the perfect location for an Amalfi Coast road trip itinerary was for us this beautiful apartment in Vietri sul Mare.
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My first thought as I took the last curve and noticed where I was supposed to park the car, was fear and panic.
The parking space was just a piece of narrow stranded cement. Can I park the big SUV here? No, I can’t!
Luckily Max, our host, was so nice and helped us and parked the car.
As soon as we went down the stairs, the most amazing view stroke us. Waking up to this each morning, enjoying a traditional Italian breakfast on the terrace, taking in the blues. What else would you call perfect location on the Amalfi Coast?
When to visit the Amalfi Coast
When it comes to the best period for visiting the Amalfi Coast one thing is sure: August is not that time.
If I could have chosen, I would have planned the trip for Spring or Autumn.
In my opinion, the perfect weather must be in March – April or late September up to early November. That’s when the Amalfi Coast should be also less crowded, thus easier to visit and more enjoyable.
Getting around on the Amalfi Coast: drive or bus?
I must admit that when we first thought about the trip we were brave enough to consider driving on the Amalfi Coast.
Why not? We had a car, we both could drive, it would be much easier to get from one point to the other, and we could make our own schedule as we wished.
But as soon as we saw how people drive on the Amalfi Coast, how narrow the streets are, how perched on the top of a steep cliff, how hard it is to find a parking space, we went for the second option: taking the bus for our Amalfi Coast road itinerary.
Even so, getting around on the Amalfi Coast, from one village to the other by bus had its downsides:
- Almost every time we waited for at least 10 minutes up to 1 hour for the bus to arrive
- The road is winding and the bus is big, so I’ve seen people suffering from motion sickness getting off to puke
- Since it was August, the bus was super crowded and we had to travel on the stairs at one point
- In Amalfi, there were different bus stops and even though our destination was written on the bus stop, the bus was leaving from another place. Thus, it is better always to ask
- Because the buses are so big, taking some of the corners can be challenging, especially if other cars are coming on the other side of the road. This will make the trip even longer, so don’t plan your trip to the minute
Day 1 – Positano
Maybe the most picturesque and romantic town on the whole Amalfi Coast, or maybe in the whole Italy, Positano has seduced me ever since the boat starting approaching the port.
Getting there from Vietri sul Mare was an experience on its own because as we’ve learned, taking the bus on the Amalfi Coast can be hard in August.
What we did to get to Positano
The plan was to take the bus from Vietri sul Mare to Cetara, and from there to take the boat to Positano with a stop in Amalfi.
Bus schedule for the Amalfi Coast can be found here.
Travelmar boat schedule for the Amalfi Coast can be found here.
Needless to say that the bus did not come on time, we actually waited for one hour for it. And when it came, the first one did not stop because it was full.
So the plan changed, and we took the bus to Amalfi, and from there the boat to Positano.
What I suggest doing, to have a better journey and have more time in Positano
From Vietri sul Mare, take the 9:00 bus that will take you to Salerno in 15 minutes.
From Salerno, take the 9:40 boat directly to Positano.
This could be adapted of course based on the location you choose to stay in on the Amalfi Coast.
What to do in Positano
As I’ve previously said, Positano is maybe the most photogenic and photographed town on the Amalfi Coast, and maybe in the whole of Italy.
It is thus hard to walk around without seeing something that will impress you. For me at least it was.
With its colorful houses perked on the steep hills, reminiscing a bit Cinque Terre but more glamorous, Positano is packed with fancy little clothing shops, Italian colorful tiles to take home as souvenirs, and elegant bars and restaurants.
The first thing we did was to start climbing the stairs hoping to get to a nice belvedere point.
Read all the things to know before visiting Italy
Some of the best things to do in Positano include, but are not limited to the following:
- Eat a delicious lemon sorbet and drink some limoncello
- Shop for some colorful beautiful Amalfi Coast ceramics to take home
- Explore Positano beach (Marina Grande) and spend some time relaxing at the foot of this charming town, under the perfectly aligned blue umbrellas
- Do some shopping and take home one of the famous Sapori di Positano perfume which will take you back
- Go for a sunset drink at the famous Franco’s bar at La Sirenuse (the most luxurious hotel of Positano). Make sure to book a table in advance.
- Take a hike on the Walk of Gods – one of the most famous trekkings on the Amalfi Coast
- Eat at one of the restaurants with delicious authentic Italian food and breathtaking views
Day 2 – Amalfi and Ravello
The first time I’ve been on the Amalfi Coast when I visited Naples for my birthday with my mother some years ago, I only stopped in Amalfi.
5 years later I returned and found the place somewhat unchanged.
The same charming small beach, narrow street, but maybe a bit more crowded. There isn’t much to do, so a few hours were just enough for us.
The town of Amalfi is definitely cheaper than Positano, therefore you shouldn’t leave without drinking a strong Italian espresso, and buying some pasticcios.
What to do in Ravello
Unfortunately, we did not have the time to see Ravello, but that’s a good reason for me to go back to the Amalfi Coast, right?
But if you have one full day to spend, a few hours in Amalfi town and the rest of it in Ravello is a great Amalfi Coast road trip itinerary.
Getting from Amalfi to Ravello will take you 30 minutes by bus one way.
Best of the things to do in Ravello
Visit Villa Cimbrone and its sumptuous gardens
One can only dream to spend a few nights in this opulent Italian villa, splurge on incredible dinners at the restaurant, or more so, having the dream wedding at Villa Cimbrone.
For normal humans, like myself, just a visit at Villa Cimbrone and its sumptuous gardens would be a dream come true.
The view one has from the iconic Infinity Terrace with statues lined up to admire the impressive Amalfitan Coast, is surely one not to miss.
Opening hours: daily from 9 AM to sunset
Price: 7 EUR/person
Visit Villa Rufolo
Both the Villa and its gardens can be visited and will impress with their extraordinary heritage.
Having Arabic, Sicilian and Norman influences, the place is infused with history, which you can learn on a visit, or by attending one of the many musical or art events held here.
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Day 3 – Capri island boat trip
Since it is an island, Capri is not actually part of the Amalfi Coast but is surely a destination not worth missing if you have more time on your hands.
Unfortunately, I haven’t managed to get to Capri Island quite yet, but it is yet another reason (together with Ravello) for me to come back to this area of Italy.
How to get to Capri Island
The easiest way of getting to Capri Island from the Amalfi Coast is by boat.
Of course, there are several boat service options offering transfers from Positano, Sorrento or Naples (or any other town in between).
You can choose to take the ferry or to book a private boat tour, and even sail into the sunset in the most romantic manner possible.
What to do in Capri Island
Who hasn’t heard about the Blue Grotto? Since the destination is super famous, most people choose to see it on their trip to Capri Island.
And that’s a damn right choice because the crystal blue waters created by the natural setting of the grotto will charm you instantly and will make you understand why this is the most iconic place in Capri.
Another famous sight from Capri is the Faraglioni rocks, emerging from the deep blue sea.
Get to admire them from land (on via Tragara) or from the sea, they’ll be equally breathtaking.
Climb to Capri’s highest point, at Monte Solaro and admire the best view the island has to offer. And if you’re feeling lazy for the day, or choose to spend your energy differently, take the chairlift leaving at the station Anacapri all the way to the top.
See also an extensive list of some of the most beautiful Islands of Italy
Even if you’re no planning to go shopping, one cannot leave the island of Capri without going for a walk on via Camerelle.
I would surely see myself wandering around all the designer shops in the heart of Capri Town. Looking doesn’t cost anything, right?
Once you finish with the window shopping, head further to Piazza Umberto I, take a seat and a strong Italian coffee, sit back and just admire the sweet Italian way of passing time.
Other important places not to miss in Capri Island:
- the Marina Piccola, or the small port of Capri, with Via Krupp sliding down to it
- Marina Grande and its beaches
- Anacapri and Villa San Michele
- the former monastery of Certosa di San Giacomo
Other towns to see on the Amalfi Coast road trip itinerary
Only 5 minutes by bus away from Amalfi Town, Atrani is everything you’ve been expecting from an Italian sea village.
Our host told us to stop here if we are looking for something more authentic than the very touristic Amalfi Town, and we listened and took off the bus one stop early.
The bus stop is perched on a bridge, and in order to get to Atrani’s beach and to the main square, we had to take the stairs which were passing directly through people’s buildings.
We were introduced to the local’s way of living, listened to people talking while we made our way to Atrani’s small main square.
3 restaurants, one pasticceria, one tabaccheria, and a grocery store. That’s Atrani for you.
Locals coming home after a long day at work meeting and greeting each other, stopping by to share a few gossips, a fat cat begging for some food at every table, children playing football.
What else can be more Italian?
Oh, and you can take a 15-minute walk all the way to Amalfi. It is that close.
During my first trip to Southern Italy 4 years ago, I stayed in Naples and took the train all the way to Sorrento and then the bus to Amalfi.
In between the transfers, we had a few hours to spend in beautiful Sorrento and let me just say I loved it.
Everything looks so classy, the narrow streets filled with little local shops, the amazing view, fancy restaurants.
For me, Sorrento is a perfect base camp for one week on the Amalfi Coast road trip itinerary. From here, Pompei is close, Capri Island is close, Positano, Amalfi Town and everything else is close.
Minori, Maiori, Cetara
The 3 little towns in between Salerno and Amalfi Town have each their own flavor but are still very similar.
Maiori is bigger than the other two, with a Summer resort vibe to it. Many terraces along the seafront, the main street going towards the mountain filled with shops and restaurants.
It’s worth knowing that some of the buses have the end stop towards Salerno in Maiori, thus pay attention when getting in.
Minori and Cetara, on the other hand, are smaller, more tranquil and authentic.
In my mind, Ischia is a wonderful place where Elena from Elena Ferrante’s spent her beautiful vacations away from Naples. Where she fell in love, understood life a bit better, and enjoyed the amazing views the island offers.
And if you’ve seen the TV series, you have been captured by this place as well.
If you’re looking for a less crowded island than Capri island which attracts hoards of tourists each year, Ischia Island is the place for you.
Located in the Bay of Naples as well, Ischia is a volcanic island, home to over 100 thermal springs, thus the right place to go looking for the zen, reset your mind, body, and soul.
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