At 6 a.m. one day in mid-August, I excitedly pushed to open out the door, tiptoeing out into the street. It was early dawn and the early morning dew was still cold. The streets were deserted, different from the bustling daytime scene in this Amalfi region. In this article I will share with you my experiences when visiting this legendary coastal region. So, what to do in Amalfi Coast and how to travel around the Amalfi Coast for the first-time? Let’s check out my Amalfi Coast travel blog (Amalfi Coast blog) and Amalfi Coast review with the fullest Amalfi Coast travel guide (Amalfi Coast guide, Amalfi Coast tourist guide) from how to get to Amalfi Coast, best time to come, where to stay, best place to visit on the Amalfi Coast, best way to travel the Amalfi Coast, what to eat and top things to do in Amalfi Coast to find out the answer!
The Amalfi Coast, more than 25 km long stretching from Positano, passes through the villages of Praiano, Amalfi, Ravello to Vietri sul Mare, which lies entirely in the Gulf of Salerno, south of Naples, the third largest city in Italy. The Amalfi Coast was listed as a UNESCO heritage site since 1997, is one of the most famous and popular holiday destinations in Italy every summer. I often love quiet, tranquil, deserted places, but today, I was here.
People often say “fate is inevitable”. The story is, many years ago, I have been to Amalfi. In those days, I fell in love with the charming little villages nestled on the mountainside, the gently sloping pedestrian streets, the brilliant pottery shops, the gardens on the villa grounds, the sun-drenched and flowers balconies, facing the sea to catch the cool Mediterranean breeze. The Amalfi Coast is truly Italian, romantic, luxurious but vibrant and passionate. Amalfi Coast is also a paradise for mountaineers. When I heard about the hiking trail «Path of the Gods» (Sentiero degli Dei) but never had the opportunity to set foot in, I made a promise to return to Amalfi.
The «Path of the Gods» is a hike of more than 8 km, starting at Bomerano, in Agerola and ending in Nocelle, right above Positano – one of the most beautiful villages on the Amalfi Coast. The “Path of the Gods” takes its name from legend. The story goes that the Olympians, wanting to hear the singing of mermaids, often borrowed the way between the sky and the sea, winding along the rocky shores of the Amalfi Coast. From halfway up the mountain, the gods could admire from the island of Capri, the Li Galli islands, the Sorrento peninsula in the west, to the bay of Salerno in the east.
In August, the tourist month, southern Italy is hot as hell, especially on the extreme crowded bus routes connecting Sorrento, Positano, Amalfi and Agerola. After two days of struggling with the sun, I looked at the map and saw that the “Path of the Gods” was located on the southern slopes of Monte Peruso mountain, and there was almost no shade of trees, I chose the only way to avoid the sun heating, departed very early.
From the corner of Piazza Paolo Capasso in Bomerano, a small path leads us to the starting point of the «Path of the Gods» at an altitude of 650 m. The sun has not yet risen, the morning dew still covered the sea surface, creating a thin layer of white clouds floating. Below, small boats are anchored head to head in a narrow cove. Layered on the mountainside, a few beautiful stone houses loom between the pine trees and the ripe grape vines.
After walking a little, a cool mist covered the space. The air warmed up to the rhythm of the rising sun, causing the water vapor to rise higher and higher, and after a while it completely dissipates. The sun drops glittering, melting in rays on the mountainside behind. In front, the deep blue Mediterranean water gradually appeared, the coastline glowed in the morning sun.
The “Path of the Gods” from Agerola to Nocelle gently slopes down, easy to walk like a footpath. One side is a high cliff, the other side is a vast space. About a hundred meters lower, the small yachts had begun to set sail. Seen from here, they are as tiny as grains of rice floating on the water. The sky was high, the sea was vast, who knows where the boundary was?
After about four hours of walking, leisurely taking pictures and enjoying the scenery, the houses of Positano in gentle pastel tones appeared in the distance. Nocelle is a small village located just above Positano, marking the end of the road. From Nocelle down further 3 km, there is a bus every hour from here to the harbor, where you can catch a boat to Amalfi. It was still early, the sun has not yet risen over a pole, we can walk to see the tiny streets, weaving between the typical pure white walls of the coastal villages.
Positano is one of the most beautiful villages on the Amalfi Coast. The houses here are arranged in a terraced shape, following the mountain topography. That is fair, every house can enjoy the sea breeze, every balcony can enjoy the cool blue water, and also receive the warm rays of the sun.
Coming to the Amalfi coast and the Central Italian province of Campania, you can’t forget to enjoy its delectable food, dyed in the Mediterranean sun. Everyone knows the most typical flavors of Italian cuisine such as crispy thin crust pizzas, hot plates of spaghetti, soft round mozzarella cheeses or fresh cream (gelato) made from mascarpone sweet cheese.
However, in Campania, each seemingly familiar dish brings more subtle nuances. Italians usually start their meal (primi piatti) with a plate of stir-fried spaghetti with clam or seafood along with a little olive oil to enhance greasy taste. The dish has both the crunchy texture of blanch spaghetti (al dente), it is not too firm it is not too cooked, and the light sweetness of clams and a little spicy to create a perfect taste.
Few people know that Italian pizza, popular around the world today, was born in Naples two centuries ago and has been classified by UNESCO as an intangible cultural heritage since 2017. Among them, the most famous is pizza Margherita which has three colors representing the Italian national flag: The green of the fragrant basil leaves, the white of the traditional mozzarella cheese made from buffalo milk and the red of ripe tomatoes grown on the slopes of Mount Vesuvius.
For dessert, it would be great to sample colorful whipped cream and cool limoncello served in a small, hand-decorated porcelain cup. The name limoncello is reserved for the famous lemon liqueur of the coastal strip from Sorrento to Amalfi. The liquor has a fragrant lemon aroma and a sweet bright yellow color, reminiscent of a sunny sea.
Amalfi Coast travel blog: When is the good time to go to Amalfi Coast?
Amalfi is one of the famous holiday places in Italy and Europe as well. The peak tourist season in Amalfi is in the summer months. In the summer, the prices are often rocket to sky. At this time, the streets filled with crowded of tourists, very hustle and bustle, traveling and moving here is not easy. So you should stay away from the peak tourist months of July, August.
May, June and September and October are the best times to visit the Amalfi Coast. In these months, although it is quite hot, it is suitable for beach tourism and is also less crowded. The prices of restaurants, hotels, tickets are no longer high.
Amalfi Coast guide: How to get to Amalfi Coast?
- The nearest international airport is located in Naples, then take a bus or taxi to Napoli Central station.
- From Napoli Central station to the two big cities located at the 2 ends of the Amalfi Coast, Salerno or Sorrento, there are trains, the fare is €5-7, there are many trips per hour. Train tickets purchased at the station.
- From Napoli Central station to Amalfi (the village is located in the center of Amalfi Coast) or to Agerola (the starting point of the hike «Path of the Gods», there is a bus of SITA, the fare is €5-7. This bus route much deserted than other coastal routes, and it is easy to find a comfortable seat.
- There is also a SITA bus service between the villages of the Amalfi Coast. Bus tickets are purchased at tobaaccoo shops (tabaccheria) near the bus stops. Timetable: http://www.positano.com/en/bus-schedule.
- Among some famous places such as Positano, Amalfi, Sorrento, Capri island, there are boats running many times a day. This is a fun way to see the scenery along the coast. Boat tickets are sold at the port or on the website: https://www.positano.com/en/ferry-schedule
No need to worry about finding a parking space. The bus station is usually located in the center, making it easy to visit the villages. Cheaper.
In the high season, SITA’s bus is very crowded, rarely has seats, need to come early to queue. The road here is short but winding, taking a long time to go. If you have to stand on the bus, it will sway, very uncomfortable.
- On summer days, sitting on the bus is also hot because few buses have air conditioning and cannot open the windows.
- Bus density is not much (about 1, 2 hours only with a trip, depending on the route).
- Hotels in the Amalfi are quite expensive compared to other places in Italy, it is difficult to find a cheap price place near the bus station in the high season.
Tips: The train route from Napoli to Sorrento is also the route to Pompei and Herculanum. If you want to visit Naples and these 2 places, you can buy a Campania Arte pass (3 days or 7 days). The 3-day pass costs €21, free / reduced admission tickets to many places in the Campanie region and free of all metro tickets, buses in Naples and a few train lines including the Napoli – Herculanum – Pompei – Sorrento line. This pass is purchased at Naples airport and a few other points of sale (see details on the website: https://www.campaniartecard.it/).
- Pros: The Amalfi coastal road is among the most beautiful roadtrips in Italy, with curves along the mountainside, with a spectacular view down to the Mediterranean Sea. Self-driving also helps increase initiative, not being dependent on train or bus time. There are more options when it comes to finding hotels.
- Cons: Narrow road, many sharp turns and traffic jams. Locals drive fast even though the speed limit is only 30 km/h. The center of Sorrento and around the villages of Positano, Praiano, Amalfi, Ravello are difficult to find a parking lot.
Amalfi Coast review: Must-Try dishes in the Amalfi Coast and the provinces of Campania region.
- Stir-fried spaghetti with mussels or clams.
- Black pasta made from squid and fried with seafood.
- A Napoli pizza spread with buffalo milk mozzarella cheese.
- Italian gelato made from fragrant buffalo milk.
- Sweet limoncello dessert liquor.
Amalfi Coast guide: Where to go, things and what to do in Amalfi Coast?
- Wandering around in the nooks and crannies of the most beautiful villages in Italy: Positano, Praiano, Amalfi, Ravello.
- Positano and Amalfi villages look like the 5 villages a lot in Cinque Terre, Northern Italy, but I personally find this Amalfi Coast more attractive and much more interesting to explore.
- Strolling on small streets, flanked by Italian ice cream shops, pottery shops, and colorful souvenirs.
- Watching sunset in one of the most beautiful sunset places in the world (Sorrento or Positano).
- Boating between Positano and Amalfi and seeing the Amalfi Coast from the sea.
- Back to nature, between mountains and sea on treks (Sentiero degli Dei, La Baia di Ieranto,…). More information about these treks can be found at: https://www.positano.com/en/e/footpaths-on-the-amalfi-coast-trekking.
- Spending time strolling around the tranquil gardens in the grounds of the old villas in Ravello (Villa Cimbrone, Villa Rufolo,…).
- Watching the Mediterranean Sea in the afternoon from balconies of romantic Italian restaurants and bars.
- Rent a boat to snorkeling, scuba diving or going to Capri, Ischia, and small Li Galli islands.
- Rent a kayak to paddle along the coast, find yourself a small beach far from crowded places.
- In spring, visit the fragrant lemon groves in Sorrento. Limoncello is a specialty of the Campania region.
Amalfi Coast tourist guide: Recommended an Amalfi Coast weekend itinerary 2 days
Afternoon: Fly to Naples, take the evening bus to Agerola, overnight in Agerola.
- Morning: Trekking the Sentiero degli Dei (The Path of the Gods) from Agerola (Bomerano bus stop) to Nocello. Walk or bus down to Positano (there is 1 bus every hour, about 1 hour on foot).
- Afternoon: Strolling around Positano, take a ferry from Positano to Amalfi.
- Dinner and overnight in Amalfi.
- Get up early to walk around Amalfi when the street is still deserted tourists.
- Take the Amalfi-Napoli bus (via Agerola), fly home from Naples.
If you have one more day for the Amalfi Coast, from Positano, you can take a boat to Capri Island to sleep one night, the next day trek on the island, return to Amalfi in the evening.
Amalfi Coast blog: Where to stay?
Below we recommend more best budget, mid-range and upscale hotels with good ratings and reviews you can refer to.
- Albergo L’Antico Convitto (Booking.com)
- NH Collection Grand Hotel Convento di Amalfi (Agoda.com or Booking.com)
- Santa Caterina Hotel (Booking.com)
- Hotel Marina Riviera (Agoda.com or Booking.com)
- Hotel Luna Convento (Booking.com)