Amalfi coast travel guide
2 MINUTE SUMMARY
The Amalfi Coast is one of Italy's most acclaimed destinations - but venturing beyond the main attractions reveals a world of subsistence farmers working the terraces, fragrant lemon groves, idyllic waterfalls and the slow pace of rural life. Which is why hiking or cycling the ins and outs, ups and downs, are the best way to discover this 50km stretch of coastline which dominates Italy’s Sorrentine Peninsula. The Bay of Naples shimmers on the north of the peninsula and the Bay of Sorrento on the south, with beautiful towns set into the cliffs, reaching down to the water like fragile, elegant, old ladies taking their daily dip. Because Amalfi is grand, but it is old. Chic but with ancient culture. Fun, but fragile. Just take one look at what Vesuvius did all those years ago, and you’ll get that.
The Amalfi coast is...
deservedly a UNESCO World Heritage Site
The Amalfi coast isn't...
just for movie stars. Just a few steps off the red carpet is the real Amalfi.
Amalfi coast map & highlights
MAKE THE MOST OF YOUR TIME
The Amalfi coast presents a sophisticated face to the Gulf of Salerno, A-list beaches and marinas interspersing chic towns like Sorrento, Positano and Amalfi, with glamorous hotels dotting steep coastal hills. It’s all so Bond movie really, with funiculars for fighting in, volcanoes to helicopter over and shimmering sea to saunter out of nonchalantly. The island of Capri has that chic speed boat vibe, but the unspoilt west coast hikes are another wild world. Similarly, the mainland’s Path of the Gods is a stunning walking trail from Bomerano to Nocelle leading you along gorges, cliffs and precipices where generations of shepherds, farmers and foresters have walked, and still do.
In a ravenous ravine setting with majestic Monte Cerreto as its natural overseer; the cultural one is the giant 9th century duomo. In the heart of the Amalfi coast, it gets packed in August, but this is hardly surprising as it is just stunning, with a pebbly beach, chic boutiques and boat trips to Capri. It is easy to escape the tourists, however, by heading into the nearby Valle delle Ferriere NP for heavenly hiking routes.
Island of Capri
If ever there was an island idyll, Capri is it. If hedonistic history, ancient architecture, chic clientele and boutique bliss are your thing. Roman emperors used to vacation here – and party in a style that would make Ibiza look like Eastbourne. Escape the daytrippers, however, on the maze of empty walking trails, either circumnavigating this stunning island, or up to spectacular sights such as the Arco Natural. Ferries from Naples, Amalfi, Positano and Sorrento.
Another painfully pretty coastal town, set into the cliffs, with stairway after stairway to heavenly piazzas, gorgeous grottos or blissful beaches. It is often the reward at the end of a day hiking on the 'Walk of the Gods’ trail, luckily not just the territory of the gods, but open to all. There are two beaches, but hike over to Fornillo, the smaller, more secluded one with no ferry traffic.
Oh, romantic Ravello, famed as the beautiful landscape ‘Where poets go to die’. They must do a lot of sighing and crying before they do, because the views over the Bay of Salerno are so stunning they could make a grown man weep. It also has the obligatory dominant duomo, because it’s rude not to on the Amalfi coast, but heavenliness abounds in the gardens and environs of Villa Rufolo and Villa Cimbrone too.
On the west side of the peninsula, this is considered one of the main entry points to the Amalfi coast, also known as the Sorrentine Peninsula. Another stupidly pretty town clinging to a clifftop, it is used as a base for visiting Pompeii or Mount Vesuvius, and indeed Naples, with the coastal train service, Circumvesuviana, following the coast from here around the base of Vesuvius. It is also boat trip central.
Although not strictly the Amalfi coast, it dominates a lot of the backdrops and is a popular day trip. The ruins at Pompeii and Herculaneum, caused by the eruption in AD 79, are also easily reached by the Circumvesuviana Railway from Naples. Buses will take you to a certain point, but you will have a hot and steamy 800 metre climb. Bring poles, good shoes, water and snacks. It’s still a wasteland.