Amalfi Coast city guide
Even just the name Amalfi Coast is synonymous with the height of Italian glamour. This impossibly picturesque short stretch of coastline south of Naples overlooks the Gulf of Salerno and has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1997. A popular destination for the jet-set, its fame dates back to the days of the 18th-century Grand Tour, when aristocrats would descend from Northern Europe to soak up the sunshine and learn about ancient culture. Fast forward to more recent times and this rugged “divine coast” has been the backdrop for movies such as Federico Fellini’s Roma and The Talented Mr Ripley.
Alongside its jaw dropping geography and chic tourist spots, the Amalfi Coast is also known for the production of delicious limoncello, made from lemons that grow on the terraced hillsides from February to October. Other local products include salty anchovies typical of Cetara and colorful ceramics.
Although driving the Amalfi Coast road is not for the faint-hearted, each of the villages along its route has something special to offer, from the vertiginous Positano and more sprawling Amalfi to the elevated Ravello with its scenic views, and tiny Praiano that boasts exclusive beaches.
What to do and see in the Amalfi Coast
- Positano is the most fashionable spot along the coast. Although it benefits from a spectacular setting with photogenic views around every corner, it is also very hilly, so not great for heavy suitcases!
- Amalfi is the coast’s biggest town with plenty of lively bars and restaurants. It is also home to the impressive Cathedral of Sant’Andrea and a small but perfectly formed paper museum.
- Pompeii is known all over the world for the eruption of Mount Vesuvius that took place in 79 AD, burying and preserving the ancient Roman city in layers of volcanic ash. Nearby Herculaneum is not as well-known but just as evocative—smaller than Pompeii; it was a seaside resort for the wealthy Roman elite.
- Capri is a small island with a big reputation. Reachable by ferry from Naples and Sorrento, its cliffs rising from the sparkling blue sea make it stunningly beautiful. To escape the crowds, climb up to the ruined Villa Jovis, once home to the Emperor Tiberius, who chose this spot for privacy and security.
- Getting into or out onto the water is not to be missed. The crystal-clear azure sea is just waiting to be dived into. You can also rent boats for a few hours at a time for a different view of the coast from offshore that allows you to truly grasp the splendor of its unique geography.
Tips & Tricks when visiting the Amalfi Coast
Spring and fall offer the best combination of warm weather and fewer crowds and traffic. June and September make particularly good choices. August is when most Italians take their annual vacation, so it will be busy, although this is a great time for cultural events.
The time zone in the Amalfi Coast is GMT+1 from late October to late March and GMT+2 the rest of the year.
There is a tiny airport in Salerno although most flights into Southern Italy arrive at Naples International airport, the gateway to the region. If Rome is your only option, a car or train transfer will take around three hours.
Driving around the region can be a challenge and parking is often hard to come by. Public transport makes a good, cheap alternative, with train links to Sorrento, buses connecting the villages, and frequent ferries.
Best ways to visit the Amalfi Coast
- The Amalfi Coast is unbeatable for a romantic couples trip or honeymoon. Romance lurks around every corner, whether you’re indulging in a lingering lunch, lazing around on the beach, or strolling the wisteria-draped streets looking for souvenirs. Up on the hillside past Amalfi, Ravello is one of the most romantic spots thanks to the lush gardens at Villa Rufolo and Villa Cimbrone. Not as accessible as some of the other, more popular towns along the main road, Ravello often tends to be less crowded.
- Like much of Italy, the sights along the Amalfi Coast are simply so astonishing your kids will be impressed without much prompting. The villages clinging to the hillside, lemon groves, and rocky beaches will appeal to all ages. The town of Maiori is flat so makes a good base with children and also has the area’s largest sandy beach.
- Foodies will love the Amalfi Coast for its fresh and abundant seafood. Other local products are grown on the coast’s terraces, including olives, tomatoes, and eggplants. Thanks to the coastline’s glamorous reputation, there are many upscale restaurants, although you don’t always have to fork out wallets full of euros to eat well. Made from Amalfi lemons, sponge cake, and cream, the classic Delizia al limone (Lemon Delight) dessert is the Amalfi Coast on a spoon and was invented by a local chef in 1978.