There are songs written about it, stories turned into movies about it, and even perfumes that are inspired by it. The sparkling stretch of the Amalfi Coast of Italy is considered one of the best places in the world to spend summer.
Picture the steep cliffs plunging into the glimmering waters of the Tyrrhenian sea, azure as the endless sky. Then, plant the pastel faces of pretty houses reflected in glowing sunlight against the mountains and you’ve got yourself the pretty scenes of Amalfi coast.
Learn how to navigate the 50 kilometres of rugged coasts and quaint towns and spot the distinct offerings each can provide.
As one of the best Italian getaways, the entire stretch of Amalfi Coast is bookended by Salerno and Sorrento. I recommend starting your summer in Italy at Sorrento and staying near there as your base. Traffic can get extremely heavy along the narrow, winding coastal road when the tourist crowds come in, so it’s best to stay there to use the train service. This is also the only town to face the Gulf of Naples.
Because Sorrento is so accessible and such a popular spot, come during September and October to enjoy more peace, as well as cheaper prices. From here, you can easily visit Naples for culture or Pompeii (best in the morning) for history, or enjoy old-world charm with convenient modern-world amenities.
Palazzo Marziale offers one of the best rates for a boutique experience, with gorgeous rooms and public areas perfect for social media.
As we move towards the Bay of Salerno, we are beautifully sandwiched between views of Mount Vesuvius and the Li Galli Archipelago at Sant’Agata. Pop into a simple Osterie and ask for some Sant’Anna tomatoes – a regional speciality – and pair it with some delicious wine. For sightseeing, pop by to see the ancient Greek necropolis, or get a scenic vantage at the Carmelite monastery Monastero del Deserto.
Afterwards, take a cab to the village of Nerano where the fishing trade continues, despite the legends of how sirens tempted Ulysses at this spot. It’s a location that will not only psyche myth fans but divers as well, as the Amalfi coast beaches here disappear into the clear waters of the Punta Campanella Natural Marine Reserve, perfect for those underwater excursions. While here, don’t forget to grab a plate of spaghetti with zucchini pesto!
Get your glutes and knees ready because Positano is known as the “vertical town”. Even as you admire the pastel faces of the houses facing the gorgeous gulf, you’ll soon come to know that the layout is only possible because of the incline and numerous steps! This is definitely not the town for those that are less mobile. But for the rest, you can enjoy exploring this town littered with eateries, bars, and clubs.
Staying in Positano is one of the priciest, given that it’s popular with the rich and famous. Which is why you’ll find more upscale shopping here and an almost “city” lifestyle, just surrounded by better scenery. If you care to spend a little, the handmade leather sandals here are amazingly chic. Use them at the sandy beaches here to enjoy some Amalfi Coast weather.
Hotel Montemare gives off a stately vibe, with stunning views of the deep blue sea. Ask for one with a balcony and, if you’re lucky enough to get it, one of your itinerary items is already right in your room.
When it comes to planning a romantic Italian getaway, look no further than these two overlooked towns. Away from the main traffic and with views that stretch over endlessly into the Tyrrhenian sea, Praiano and Conca Dei Marini is the ultimate escape along the Amalfi Coast stretch. Here, you can hike the famous God’s Pathway trail or catch the liquid gold and purple sunsets at one of the beaches, or from the terraced gardens.
When at Conca Dei Marini, opt to sample a very limited and special dessert known as sfogliatella. The shell-shaped pastry was created in a monastery in 1600 where the recipe was kept secret for 150 years. Bite down through the thin leaves of pastry and enjoy a taste of the Amalfi Coast.
Finally, we come to the namesake town. It’s definitely one of the big three – the other two being Sorrento and Positano – but has a better balance of everything. There’s enough variety of everything from accommodation, restaurant, and beach types (at better prices than Positano) for everyone. As the first of the Four Maritime Republics of Italy, the town bears a rich history of Amalfi Coast. Don’t forget to try the incredible world-famous limoncello here at Cooperative Cata amongst many others – you can’t go wrong here in Amalfi!
With the highway running right through the town, it’s a great middle-ground to base yourself off from if you prefer to explore the coastline locations. You can also take a short cab ride to Atrani, situated at the mouth of Valle del Dragone, where you can enjoy a less fussy experience along the beaches and a natural amphitheatre experience in Italy’s smallest town.
Hotel Miramalfi is a whitewashed gem and gives great value for the room views you get. Clean and stark palette and quiet elegance fill the room at night, while sunlight gives the rooms a glow during the day.
Maiori and Minori
If you’re a sand scuttler and love to languish your hours away on the shores, then Maiori is perfect for you. Home to the biggest beach on the entire stretch, you can while your time away at one of the main ones or take a boat to more exclusive spots. While cruising around, you might wish to stop by the Grotta di Pandora and witness the mysterious sea cave.
Hungry? You’ve arrived at the right place. Minori cements its title as “City of Taste” as a powerhouse in handmade pasta. Nothing compares to enjoying this traditional craft at the many breezy trattorias with the rustling of lemon trees in the background. For an extra treat, experience ndunderi. This UNESCO-certified gnocchi is one of the oldest in the world and is made from fresh ricotta.
Enjoy a throwback experience when you witness Cetara because, with its thriving fishing trade, it escapes the pressures of tourism and feels totally authentic. With a constant haul and a lively set, it is no wonder many think this the best spot to enjoy seafood.
Try the famous tuna when it’s in season, or settle for the humble yet incredible Colatura di Alici. Forget what you know about anchovies, this potent sauce is an elixir that punches up any dish you add it to.
Speaking of punches, Hercules was said to have founded the nearby hamlet of Erchie on his arrival from Greece. Visit there to imagine his arrival or enjoy yours with some quiet beach time.
Vietri Sul Mare
The last town before reaching Salerno, Vietri sul Mare is the perfect stop for picking up some souvenirs. Along with the same stunning views and delicious food you’ll find along the Amalfi Coast, the town’s claim to fame is its artisanal ceramic tradition since the 15th Century. Known as majolica, the vibrant colours of the ceramic covers the town with cheer.
Take home a saturated piece of the Amalfi Coast home with you as you settle down at a no-frills sand beach by the pretty town.
It’s one giant panoramic tour as you go on the oceanic trail. The Amalfi Coast with its rolling picturesque scenes will win your heart easily or maybe help you win someone else’s over as a romantic Italian getaway. No matter your agenda, this is truly one of the best ways to spend your summer in Italy and a great reason to go beyond Asia.