If you’re looking to plan a romantic vacation in one of the most beautiful places in Europe, places like the Amalfi Coast and Santorini are certainly on your list. But which one to choose between the 2?
Since I’ve previously been to both destinations and having visited the Amalfi Coast twice already, I think I can help you with a comprehensive comparison. I’ll try to answer a few of the most important questions you might have, and help you make an informed choice.
Whether you are visiting for your honeymoon or another type of special vacation, you’ll find all the answers you need here.
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But before we get started, here are a few useful things you might need for your trip, no matter where you end up going after all:
- Omio is your getaway to trains, buses, and flights. All in one place. I suggest using it especially for booking train tickets for Italy or Germany. Calculate your train fare here!
- Discover Cars is a great aggregator that will help you find and book the best option for renting a car during your trip, helping you save up to 70% on your car rental. They have a pretty good Cancellation policy that would give you options in case your flight or travel plans change. Choose the best price here!
- Day trips and experiences can be easily booked through GetYourGuide – they have a wide selection of tours and a great cancellation policy that will offer you a full refund if you cancel up to 24 hours before the tour. Explore perfect tours here!
- Don’t forget about insurance – at AardvarkCompare.com you can compare from over 30 insurance plans and find your best option. Compare insurance options here!
Amalfi Coast vs Santorini – which one to choose?
THE AMALFI COAST
Located 40 kilometers outside of Naples, getting to the Amalfi Coast is not that difficult no matter if you land at Naples International Airport, or Fiumicino Airport in Rome.
You can always rent a car, pick it up from the airport, and drive your way to the coast, or you can easily get there by public transportation – trains, buses, boats.
While driving on the coastline is not for everyone, you can easily book a private transfer and get there without any worries.
From Naples airport, it will take you roughly 1 hour, depending on where you choose to stay on the coast, and how you get around.
You can get from Rome to Naples by fast train in around 1 hour and make your way to Sorrento, Positano, or other places on the Amalfi Coast by ferry, bus, or car.
Set in the Cycladic Island, not far from Crete or Mykonos, Santorini Island is served by its own airport, close to the island’s capital, Thira.
However, it might not be as easy to get there, depending on where you come from. During the peak season, many European capitals have direct flights to Santorini, thus coming from the US would mean flying into Athens or other European hub and from there getting to Santorini.
This might mean that your flight would be a bit longer than the one for the Amalfi Coast.
Easier to get to: the Amalfi Coast
As mentioned above, there are plenty of options to get around on the Amalfi Coast.
While renting a car is advisable only for those with a ton of experience – narrow winding roads, perched on top of rocky hills – you have plenty of transportation options to choose from.
The Amalfi Coast is serviced by the SITA bus and you can find the bus timetable here. It is worth knowing that you shouldn’t plan your trip to the minute when you choose to travel around by bus, especially during peak season.
We waited for more than 30 minutes for a bus and barely made it in once it arrived.
Buy your ticket in advance from the tabaccheria in any town and validate it on the bus.
Another option is to travel by boat and get to see the coastline from the water. It is not as crowded, and the ferries link Sorrento to Salerno, Positano, Amalfi, but also the islands of Capri or Ischia. Check out ferry schedules and prices here!
Santorini, on the other hand, is a small island with a good public transportation system – KTEL. Their buses link all of the most important villages on the island, and a ticket costs between 1.6 and 2.2 EUR depending on the length of the ride.
Even so, it would be easier to book private tours that will pick you from your hotel, an ATV to travel around the island, or a boat tour to some of the neighboring islands. You can do all that here!
Santorini is smaller and easier to get around, but the Amalfi Coast has good public transportation as well.
When it comes to accommodation on the Amalfi Coast, there is something for everyone.
Don’t be fooled into thinking the Amalfi Coast is only Positano. Yes, that’s the most popular destination (particularly for Americans), with luxury boutique hotels and breathtaking views, but there are plenty of other places to choose from. In my where to stay in Positano guide, you’ll find plenty of accommodation options for any budget and request.
If you are traveling on a budget, I suggest you check out my comprehensive guide for where to stay on the Amalfi Coast on a budget. There are destinations for families, couples, and even larger groups of friends, in places like Cetara, Vietri, Maiori, or even Sorrento.
You can stay in an authentic Italian apartment, a hilltop villa with an infinity pool, a historical palazzo in the middle of lush gardens, and whatnot.
The same is valid for Santorini island. While most people think about Oia as being Santorini, there are plenty of other villages on both sides of the island that will offer stunning accommodation options for any occasion and budget.
If you make it all the way to Santorini, you should stay in a traditional cave hotel with caldera views for at least a few nights of your holiday. Here are a few options of hotels with private infinity pools.
Of course, there are also plenty of budget-friendly hotels and apartments on the island, both on the Western and Eastern side, offering access to the beach and sea, or stunning views.
To make the best choice and understand a little bit more how the island is organized, which village to choose to stay in, and much more, make sure to read my comprehensive guide on where to stay in Santorini.
Both Santorini and Amalfi Coast offer great accommodation options for any budget, and you should look beyond the most popular towns.
Sure, the Amalfi Coast is the most expensive destination in Italy, but that doesn’t mean you cannot see it on a budget. If you know when to visit, where to stay, and how to plan ahead of time, your vacation can be anywhere between budget, mid-range, or luxury.
I’ve visited the Amalfi Coast a few years back and spent 3 days exploring and I’ve only spent around 450 EUR including accommodation in peak season. Of course, we haven’t been to the most expensive restaurants and bars, and haven’t stayed in Positano, by doing that you can spend 3 times or even 4 times more.
It all depends on so many factors and on your personal style and desires, that it would be very hard to come up with a fixed budget.
Santorini is the second most expensive Greek island. However, when you choose to visit outside of peak season, stay on the southern or eastern part of the island, rent an apartment with a kitchen, you can do it on a budget as well.
While there are plenty of luxury restaurants and hotels to choose from, you can also eat very well with less when in Santorini. We would spend around 80 EUR for a meal for 2, including drinks.
Overall, Santorini might be easier to plan on a budget, but the Amalfi Coast has more luxury restaurants and hotels.
THE AMALFI COAST
With countless villages to see, old villas, hikes with breathless panoramic views, historic sites perfect for day trips (such as Herculaneum or Pompei), and lovely islands to sail to, it is impossible to get bored on the Amalfi Coast.
Plan your vacation with my 7 days Amalfi Coast itinerary and you will have a step-by-step guide filled with activities, places to see, hikes to go on, and restaurants to try.
You can easily spend even 2 weeks on the Amalfi Coast without getting bored.
With Oia as the center of attraction, Santorini has plenty more other things worth doing and seeing. I’ve gathered here only 12 reasons why you should visit Santorini, but I’m sure you will come up with plenty of more after your trip.
Staying in a cave hotel, hiking the volcano, or walking on the cliffs along the sea from Thira to Oia, sailing along the caldera for sunset, learning about the local wine production and tasting all the different unique types of wine, or skipping the crowds to see the most famous sunsets – these are all things that will easily fill your time no matter if you are visiting for 2, 3 days, or even one week.
Depending on how active you want to be, the Amalfi Coast offers more things to do, while in Santorini you can mix rest with sightseeing.
Perfect honeymoon destination
In my opinion, the Amalfi Coast might be the most romantic destination you can get! Positano with its yellow, pink, red, and blue houses perched on the hill, all the beautiful flowers, boats docked close to the beach, fancy restaurants, and luxury boutique hotels is for a reason the number 1 honeymoon destination for many people.
On top of that, only minutes away you can find places like Atrani or San Lazzaro, where you will feel immersed in Italian life and culture.
With plenty of romantic activities and trips to choose from, you can easily plan a honeymoon on the Amalfi Coast with the right guide, that I happened to write myself.
I’ve gathered some of the most romantic hotels which offer honeymoon suites that will blow your mind, stunning restaurants with breathtaking views but also heavenly food, and everything you should try doing on your honeymoon.
Santorini is another honeymoon destination preferred by many. Even though the island is much smaller, there are still plenty of romantic things to do and see on your vacation.
Stay in Oia in a cave hotel with a private infinity pool facing the caldera, go on a cruise for sunset or wine tasting, plan a photo session for some unique pictures that will remind you all your life of the stunning honeymoon you had, enjoy the delicious local cuisine at some of the most beautiful restaurants you could choose.
If you’re into island life and want a more laid-back honeymoon, Santorini is the place for you. Here is my Santorini honeymoon guide that will help you organize your trip.
Both destinations are loved by honeymooners, but I would choose the Amalfi Coast for a more active vacation and Santorini for a more laid-back option.
Beach and water sports
Sure, you will be on the coastline, by the sea, but the beaches aren’t an important attraction for this area. Of course, that doesn’t mean you won’t get the chance to swim into the sea or spend a day or 2 under the sun.
There are plenty of small beaches along the coast, and almost every village has its own. There are larger strips of beach in Maiori or Vietri sul Mare, but also Positano or Amalfi have their small beaches.
Just don’t expect sand and wild nature, they are all pebble beaches where you can find and rent sunbeds and umbrellas.
Being a volcanic island, Santorini is dry and rocky, with hills and cliffs. That’s one of the reasons why you won’t find sandy beaches on the island either.
The most popular villages, Oia and Thira, are built on the top of cliffs, without access to the sea – but almost all hotels and villas have their swimming pools. On the other hand, there are places like Perissa or Kamari, on the eastern part of the island, that offers access to wide beaches and the possibility to spend time swimming and enjoying the island life. However, these are pebble beaches as well, and most have black sand, so you will want to bring special slippers.
None is a destination known for beaches and water sports, but you can find options if you really want to.
Food and restaurants
When it comes to food, I always say it is a very subjective topic, because we are all different and have different tastes. Additionally, Italian food might not be what you expect it to be if you’ve never tried it in Italy until now.
That aside, on the Amalfi Coast you can find plenty of Michelin star restaurants, luxury places, authentic ones, all serving fresh food made with their local products. Don’t be afraid to go inside some of the most basic-looking places, because that’s where locals go and that’s where food is the best.
Greek food is absolutely delicious, and in Santorini, you can taste fresh fish and seafood, along with other typical dishes such as the cava beans, tzatziki, or saganaki.
You can eat at fancy restaurants in Oia and Thira, with caldera views, or at the corner taverna in the small villages, and food won’t disappoint.
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