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 3 days on the Amalfi Coast and had planned an amazing Amalfi Coast itinerary.
As always, the plan from home does not always match the reality we found on location, and that’s why I want to share it with you so that you will know better. If you plan to be touring the Amalfi coast by car, the 50 km long stretch of winding road, it might be worth knowing why we eventually gave up on the thought and opted to go by bus or boat instead.
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Our Amalfi Coast itinerary and what I’ve learned
Getting to the Amalfi Coast
The most common way of getting on the Amalfi Coast is by landing in Naples, the closest airport to the dream coast.
From Naples airport, choose one of the following transportation options towards your accommodation on the Amalfi Coast:
- BY TRAIN: Take the Circumvesuviana train from Naples Central to Sorrento (roughly one hour ride) and then hop on a bus or ferry to your final destination of the Amalfi Coast. Tickets from Naples to Sorrento cost EUR 3.60;
- BY CAR: rent a car and pick it up from the airport in Naples and drive your way towards the Amalfi Coast; my go-to car rental company is always Discover Cars. It 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. You will most probably need a car to get to most of these places, especially if you want to keep a schedule. Get your best offers here!
- TRANSFER: arrange for a shuttle transfer – most of the hotels in Positano might offer this kind of service; of course, when you rent an apartment from Airbnb that option would possibly not be available. You will find plenty of options for private transfers from Naples airport to Positano or other places on the Amalfi Coast.
Another option for getting to the Amalfi Coast when you have more time available and want to see more of Italy is landing in Rome.
Read also: Renting a car in Puglia – a comprehensive guide
Of course, all of the above options are available for making your way down South toward the Amalfi Coast:
- take the train from Rome to Naples, then the Circumvesuviana train from Naples Central to Sorrento
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Driving the Amalfi Coast
If you will start looking online for opinions on driving the Amalfi Coast, you will get scared and will forget all about it. However, things aren’t as scary as some people make them look, and if I can drive on the Amalfi Coast, so do you!
It all depends on your experience and desire.
Driving in Italy can be a bit hectic at times, especially in the Southern part of the country, but trust me when I say it is absolutely doable.
The road winds and twists on top of cliffs and might not be for the fainthearted to look below, but if you are behind the wheel you won’t have time to do that.
When you plan in advance and follow some easy rules, you will actually enjoy driving the Amalfi Coast. With a car, you will have the flexibility to go wherever you want to and skip the crowds as you discover hidden gems.
Rules to follow when driving the Amalfi Coast:
- Choose a small car – roads are narrow and winding, and parking spaces are hard to find. That’s why it is recommended to rent a small car (such as a Fiat 500, my dream car in Italy) that will allow you to make your way easily towards your destination.
- Rent ahead of time to make sure the right car is available – that is so important! We ended up getting a car from the airport and the only one available was an SUV. We had to take it because there was no other option, but let me tell you driving an SUV on the Amalfi Coast is not ideal. Choose your car here!
- Make insurance – if there’s one place in this world where you don’t want to skip insurance, that’s on the Amalfi Coast! You will want to be covered against any possible incident.
- Don’t risk it if you don’t have enough experience – and I don’t mean 20 years of experience, I had been driving daily only for the past 3 years before driving the Amalfi Coast. What I mean is that it helps to be able to be confident and relaxed behind the wheel.
- Plan your itinerary and start early – skip the crowds, traffic jams, and potential accidents.
- It is all about the honking – because the roads are so narrow, just before a narrow curve bus drivers (and not only) honk to make their presence known to the cars on the other side. If you hear a honk it means you must slow down or even stop and be extra careful.
- Parking on the Amalfi Coast can be challenging and expensive in some areas. But that doesn’t mean it is impossible to find a spot, especially when you start early in the morning. Remember that Italians don’t always leave space between cars when they park, so that’s another reason why you will want to buy insurance.
- There are no gas stations along the way, so fill up your tank before driving the Amalfi Coast.
- Don’t leave any valuable in your car when you leave. I’ve heard so many stories about breaking into cars while in Italy and you don’t want to risk it! Take all your documents, money, and any other valuable things such as phones or cameras with you.
If you still consider touring the Amalfi coast by car, here are a few other things you should know:
- You’ll find the Amalfi Coast on the map as the SS163 (Strada Statale 163) linking Sorrento and Salerno together;
- During summer, expect crowds, the whole distance could take up to 2 hours to make, it will be hard to find a parking space, and very much expensive;
- The advantage is that you will be able to stop anywhere you want (as long as you find a spot) along the way to admire the stunning view; you will also skip the crowds on the bus and not risk having to wait for it for an hour (as we did at some point);
- If you’re afraid of heights, try going from Salerno to Sorrento – that way you will be closer to the mountain, not the edge of the cliff. On my first visit, I sat by the window on the bus going from Sorrento to Amalfi, and I was so scared.
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 make the best out of what the region has in store?
Of course, the dream is Positano, one place anyone should have on their Italy bucket list. But I’ll leave that for when I grow up and I’ll be rich and famous. Or just rich. Needless to say, accommodation prices in Positano are sky-high.
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Some of the main advantages and disadvantages of staying in Positano
- Advantage: stunning breathtaking views everywhere you turn your head
- Advantage: direct train to Naples or Sorrento
- Advantage: pretty restaurants and small shops with local products
- Disadvantage: many stairs, might not be so friendly for some
- Disadvantage: hotels are some of the most expensive in Italy
- Disadvantage: the most crowded town you’ll get to during your Amalfi Coast itinerary; thus sometimes finding a parking space can be a challenge
Staying in Positano, during your Amalfi Coast itinerary
If however, you choose to stay in Positano, Italy’s gem, here are some hotel options to have in mind. Also, make sure to check out my comprehensive guide for where to stay in Positano.
- Alcione Residence – a family-run hotel with a great location and stunning views, AC in all their rooms. Make sure to book way in advance, because they have only a few rooms.
- Villa Magia – bright airy rooms, perfect for a special occasion such as spending your honeymoon in Italy. Breakfast is made by the house chef and can be delivered on your balcony so that you can enjoy it with a stunning view.
- Il San Pietro di Positano – a larger hotel, with super friendly and professional staff, with views worth of fairytales.
- Hotel Le Agavi – using a funicular to get to the beach can be a fun experience!
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 a beautiful apartment in Vietri sul Mare.
If you want to travel on a budget, here are a few charming cheap hotels on the Amalfi Coast.
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 the perfect location on the Amalfi Coast?
Staying in Sorrento during your Amalfi Coast road trip itinerary
Sorrento is another option when considering visiting the Amalfi Coast in Italy, along with some other destinations such as Capri, Ischia, and some of them below.
Accommodation options for Sorrento, Italy:
- Monica B & B in Sorrento – set up high on the hills above Sorrento, peaceful and quiet. With fresh breakfast, breathtaking views, they provide a shuttle to/from the main city area to the villa every couple of hours.
- Grand Hotel Aminta – great all Italian traditional food, beautiful pool, incredible views, and a convenient shuttle bus.
- Hotel Palazzo Guardati – incredibly central location, with a rooftop pool and killer views.
Advantages and disadvantages of staying in Sorrento
- Advantage: Much cheaper than Positano, with stunning views
- Advantage: flat, without many stairs to climb
- Advantage: lots of restaurants and shopping choices
- Advantage: ferry for Capri and other important locations on the Amalfi Coast
- Disadvantage: a bit further away from some of the destinations on my Amalfi Coast road trip itinerary
The best time for driving 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-May 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. However, I recommend going after Easter and in late October, because during winter all hotels and restaurants are closed.
Read next: mistakes to avoid on a road trip (including a printable road trip checklist)!
Seeing the Amalfi Coast by scooter
A very popular means of transportation in Italy, the scooter or the Vespa are easy, cheap, and fast ways of getting from one place to the other.
However, you will want to have some previous experience of driving a Vespa before you go on a tour of the Amalfi Coast.
You can rent one easily from anywhere in Sorrento, Salerno, or in the smaller villages on the Amalfi Coast. Also, you can choose to go on a full-day private Vintage Vespa tour where you will be guided through the colorful villages in one of the most stunning destinations there is.
Getting around on the Amalfi Coast, from one village to the other by bus had its downsides:
- In August, we waited for at least 10 minutes up to 1 hour for the bus to arrive on every trip
- 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 at 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 from 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 of Italy, Positano has seduced me ever since the boat started 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 perfumes which will take you back
- Go for a sunset drink at the famous Franco’s bar at La Sirenuse (the most luxurious hotel in 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 was 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 to 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.
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 on your Amalfi Coast road trip itinerary
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).
Check out and book your Day-trip to Capri from Amalfi Coast ahead of time. Make sure you get the right price, have everything planned, take advantage of the easy online booking, and easy cancellation process in case something shows up.
Read next: My complete day trip to Capri guide!
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 on 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.
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.
Tours on the Amalfi Coast
When you prefer taking an organized tour, there are plenty of options out there. However, here are a few tried and tested options for you to take into consideration:
- Local Living Italy Amalfi Coast – spend 8 days with G Adventures exploring this amazing part of Italy. Get to see Naples, Furore, Amalfi, Ravello, Pompeii, Positano, and so much more. The trip includes cooking demonstrations, hiking, most meals, a scenic ferry ride along the coast to Amalfi, and much more.
- Local Living Italy in Sorrento – a 7 day escape to Heaven. The trip includes a visit to an organic lemon farm, a pizza-making demonstration in the pizza’s birthplace, a climb on the “Path of the Gods”, a full-day cooking class, a day trip to Capri, and much more.
- A 7 – day cruise on the Amalfi Coast – Fall in love with Italy’s Amalfi Coast on a cruise through Sorrento, Capri, and Procida.
Italy Travel Resources
- Why not include the Amalfi Coast on your one week in South Italy Itinerary?
- Take the perfect pictures for your forever memories in these Instagram spots in Positano.
- Or head North for another 7 days in Northern Italy itinerary.
- Check out the ultimate Italy 10 days itinerary and plan your trip with these 2 options.
- Make your trip longer and stop for one day in Rome, spend 3 days in Cinque Terre, and finish it off with one day in Genoa. Or do it differently, but however, take a Cinque Terre day trip.
- Looking for those authentic Italian villages? Check out my list of 11 less known Italian towns to add to your list of places to see next in Italy.
- Taste great food and explore red streets in 2 days in Bologna.
- How many days in Venice? That’s the question you might ask yourself and I got you covered. Together with all the best attractions to include on your list.
- Did you know that you can see the French Riviera on a day trip from Genoa? Check out my complete list of great day trips from Genoa.
- Cannot travel to Italy or you want some inspiration? Check out these Italy virtual tours!
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