From coast to coast – Amalfi, Positano, Sorrento, Ravello, and the island of Capri
If you thought Greece was an extraordinary destination, hold on to your champagne glass, because Italy’s Amalfi Coast is a competitive show-stopper. I am the type of traveler who typically does not like to go to the same place twice, however, there are certain countries that just have to be exceptions. Italy is one of them.
If there is one thing that I have learned, it is that any place along the Mediterranean sea is, for lack of better words, stunning! The Mediterranean sea is Europe’s best-kept secret, and any place along these beautiful waters is sure to be a good time. In comes the Amalfi Coast! There are several stellar towns you can visit when in the Amalfi Coast, however, the most talked-about areas are: Amalfi, Positano, Sorrento, and Ravello. A little added bonus is the island of Capri. A traveler’s dream, driving along the coast itself is a wonder.
Now before you do anything, let me inform you of one thing- the Amalfi Coast is a “hilly” region. What do I mean by this? Well, as a soon-to-be-tourist you will become used to the idea of just walking around the place to really get a feel for it. Its lovely to do, but not so appealing when tons of hills, steps, or too much walking is involved. Trust me, you’ll be in for a workout.
Renting a car is a great option, but be aware that the coast itself is rather small. I will tell you the traffic can get ridiculous, especially during the Summer. Additionally, although the roads are beautiful, there will be a lot of twists and turns along the way. So brace yourself! Parking can also be a bit challenging, but you are certain to find parking lots in the area.
You can also grab a taxi, although it might be a good idea to finesse your haggling skills, as prices can sometimes start from 40 Euro, depending on where you are going.
Public transportation is another option. Personally, this was the route I had taken. The transit system in the Amalfi Coast is surprisingly very well connected. I personally can vouch for both the buses and trains. The buses, which are called SITA buses, run along the entire coast, and the cost is dependent upon the route. Tickets cannot be purchased on the bus. Rather, you can purchase tickets at any train station, local bar, or a tabacchi (which is the Italian version of a bodega). Prices can run anywhere from 1.30 Euros to 5.50 Euros. The website, Ravello, provides one of the best and most succinct ways in which to travel by bus (which I will not lie, can be confusing at times). There is information on different routes, schedules, and places where you might be able to purchase tickets. You can also use check the SITA bus website directly for timetables and booking information. Wherever there is a bus stop, there is most certainly a place nearby to purchase tickets.
Trains are also very convenient, but they run once or twice an hour. The Circumvesuviana is a train line that connects the northern Naples region to Amalfi Coast. The Amalfi Coast itself can be a bit expensive, and if you are on a budget, you might want to consider staying in a region just outside the coast- which is what I had done. I stayed in Pompeii, which is located between Naples (the main region where the major airport is located), and the Amalfi coast. The Circumvesuviana helped me tremendously when traveling. You cannot buy tickets in advance- only at the train station. It can get a bit crowded and hot during peak season, but it is not overbearing. It is also very affordable. I should also warn you that some of them are not the best looking, but hey…we are looking at the price. Haha
Another train option is the Campania Express train. It is a tourist train, that costs slightly more than the Circumvesuviana commuter rail. The Campania train, however, makes express stops, has ongoing air-conditioning and can be booked online in advance.
Also, it might be ideal for you to double-check if there is a strike happening that day. Yes, you read that right- a strike. These strikes are known to happen frequently from Naples all the way down to the coast. Trust me, it is the most inconvenient experience. I was actually stuck on the train for a few hours due to an evening strike. Be sure to check the EAV website for any notices.
The Ferry is another great way to get around the coast. They typically run from April/May through October. Although it is possible to purchase tickets in advance, which can be done through the websites Travelmar and Live Salerno, you can also purchase at the docks themselves. I had done this, and although it can get a bit chaotic trying to figure out the right place to be, you will find people willing to help you. You might even see the long lines, indicating you’re in the right place. Honestly, I preferred buying in person because there are times when the ferries do not sail because of rough seas- keep this in mind. This is the only advantage to buying in person, the day of your trip.
A very cute and quaint location, it is worth it to make a stop here as it stands at the heart of the coast. On your day-to-day, you will certainly pass-through Amalfi. While you are there, be sure to have a glass of limoncello liqueur! Originating from this region, you’ll notice locals have a passion for their limoncello- made from pure lemons. You cannot leave Amalfi and not try this staple.
Now this place was my all-time favorite. I don’t think I had ever had a better time than in Positano. It is easy to navigate on foot and is a great place to mix and mingle. Not to mention, the food is incredible! But everywhere in the Amalfi Coast, the food is incredible. I mean…we are in Italy! It also seems to be a celebrity hot spot, with a booming music, art, and festive culture. Not to mention, beaches and sailing will be your greatest pastime. Bottom line, you will not be short of things to do in this region.
Similar to Positano the vibe of Sorrento is one that is very relaxing. I found the highlight of this region was the endless options of restaurants. It is also a major docking port for ferries. The Circumvesuviana train also stops here, so it may also be seen as an ideal way in which to start your travel along the coast.
Now here is a charm not to be missed. A hub for gardens and villas, it is an absolute must-see. For example, a highlight spot is the famous Villa Cimbrone. Located on the cliffside of this region, it has one of the most spectacular views of the coast. You might find yourself spending the entire day there. During the peak season, which is the Summer, you might even see outdoor concerts. The only challenge you will have is getting up there. As I mentioned, Ravello is located on a cliff, and Amalfi Coast already being “hilly” means that you are in for a trip. Not to worry! If going by public transportation, there are buses that will take you there.
Where do I even begin? This is probably the best-kept secret of the Amalfi Coast! An island, located right below Sorrento, Capri is an Italian-island dream. To get there, you can just catch a ferry directly from Sorrento. There are quite a few interesting things to do in Capri. However, I must say my favorite part was the food. I personally went to relax on the beach but found myself eating halfway to the beach. I highly recommend the pasta bolognese at any restaurant you find!
Additionally, you will find that there is an obsession with lemons in this region as well. Come to think of it, this lemon fascination is indicative of several areas in Southern Italy. Make sure to grab yourself some natural lemon-scented perfume or soaps. You’ll thank me later.
In a nutshell
The Amalfi coast is a region you will thoroughly enjoy. Italy NEVER lets you down. Be sure to check out my upcoming posts on each of these locations for more detailed information.