HOw To Spend A Week oN The Amalfi
An attainable guide To the Coast
More often than not, whenever I see a travel guide for the Amalfi Coast, their roundups seem increasingly unattainable. They list the most beautiful hotels - that also come with the most outrageous price tags. Let me preface this by saying, I am not a “budget traveler”, but more of someone who thinks that any location should be attainable. Heading to Italy might require you to size up your jeans when you return, but it shouldn't totally break the bank!
Keep reading for a few of my favorite ways to spend my time along the coast that can be achieved no matter what your tax bracket is.
How Many Days
Carving out PTO can be a challenge for some, so naturally you want to make sure you’re spending the most of your time off. Ideally, if you’re doing the coast by itself (and not traveling anywhere else in Italy) plan to spend a week there. You’ll need this much time to explore, get used to the time change and ultimately their pace of life here. If you’re combining the Amalfi Coast with other spots in Europe or other areas of Italy, you can probably get the gist of it in about 4-5 nights. Don’t rob yourself of the experience though, the coast should not be rushed.
Getting To Costiera Amalfitana
Depending on where you’re flying from, Rome is usually the easiest option with the best flights. If you’re already in Europe, flying into Naples (Napoli) is your top pick.
Getting from Rome to Naples
Unless you can find a quick and easy hopper flight, just take the train. It’s about an hour from Rome on the fast train - Frecciarossa -and it’s much more pleasant than any airport experience.
Getting From Naples to The Coast
There are a few options for getting to the coast. You can take a local train from Naples to Sorrento and then find a car/cab from there or you can simply hire a car to take you from Naples to your destination. *This is always my first choice, for the obvious reason that we get to stop along the way and take pictures and for the less obvious reason that it’s simply more comfortable. The journey is half of the fun and seeing the coast from the road above is quite possibly one of my favorite parts of any trip to the coast. Expect to pay anywhere between $120-$160 (euro) but if you’re traveling with another couple or a group, splitting the cost of hiring a car/van is totally doable. *I always use Sorrentravel to get to and from the coast or to book tours and highly recommend them. They are a family run business that are super knowledgeable, friendly, and go out of their way to make sure you enjoy your time along the coast. Visit their website www.sorrentravel.com or email them directly firstname.lastname@example.org.
Where To Stay ON The amalfi
Over the years, this coastal region has exponentially gained more popularity. But don’t fret, you can still avoid the tourists crowds by exploring a bit more. I personally enjoy the small town vibes of spots like Positano or Praiano. However Ravello, Amalfi and Salerno are also well known spots to dock. My biggest piece of advice is to book your hotel before your travel. I learned this one summer when I booked my flight first (8 months in advance) and then frantically looked for places to stay. Things book up early, so be flexible with your dates.
Dimora Del Podesta and Casa Cosenza are two gems along the coast that are also relatively affordable.
I LOVE this place. It is run by a mother and her two daughters, which is part of the experience. It is a humble spot that is affordable and has the most stunning views. It is located high enough in the hill that you can see the coastline, but not too high that you’re going up and down a million stairs every time you want a cornetto and espresso! (She can also accommodate 3 in one room usually).
Dimora del Podestà
This was another great option in Positano. Although a little higher up the hill, it was not too bad of a walk. The room is gorgeous and they bring you breakfast in your room (on your own private balcony). They have a great little restaurant attached - the mom is the head cook- and they are super knowledgeable and offer great suggestions for day trips, restaurants and which beaches are best.
What To Do Along The Coast
Stroll, lounge, y mangi. While there are plenty of beautiful places to explore along the coast, be sure to take things at a leisurely place, this is the way of life here. Apart from eating fresh fish, delicious gelato and delectable pizza and pasta, you’ll want to carve out time to have a few lazy beach days and grab a scooter to explore the coast.
Hit the beach: There are many beach spots and beach clubs along the coast. You’ll want to call ahead and make a reservation if you can. Da Adolfo and Arienzo are beach clubs in Positano that you can take (free) boats to from the main dock - you’ll see small boats with their signs that you can catch about every half an hour at the main dock. When you make a reservation for the chairs, also make one for lunch, its part of the experience and the food is phenomenal.
La Marinella is a beach that you can access by a winding path at the bottom of the town. Grab a sandwich, a Pellegrino and some fresh fruit/veggies from the market and spend the day there. To get there, as you look out at the marina you’ll see a small staircase/walkway that hugs the mountain (not where the boat docks are). If you follow this path (about 5-10 mins) you’ll come to a more “remote” beach - a very small one where an old grumpy man will set up a chair + umbrella (2 for 20 Euros) for the entire day. (Go earlier, it is a better chance of getting a chair at the small beach) If not there is a larger beach/beach club through the tunnel.
Where/What To Eat In Positano
Tres Sorelles - most people recommend to go to Chez Black (which is famous, but not really breathtaking). At Tres Sorrelles, the squash blossoms and fritto misto are amazing (it’s one of their signature dishes). Basically everything there was great! It is right on the beachfront, and you can walk in a day or two ahead and make a reso or try and just walk in.
La Zagara - at some point on your trip, go here and grab a Sfogliatelle before you leave. It is a traditional pastry in the area that looks like a lobster and has different fillings inside.
La Tagliata or Ristorante La Terra (in Montepertuso) - You have to call or email ahead to make a reservation and they pick you up and take you up there - a lot of food but a great experience. You really feel as though you are part of the family when you have dinner here and it is such a great group experience, I wouldn’t skip! Also, if you love fish, tell them ahead of time that you don’t eat meat.
Buca Di Bacco (Not the main restaurant) the shop is on a side street just up from the main square) - hands down BEST stracciatella.
We rented Scooters from Pepe Positano (which also doubles as a sandal shop - so yes, you are in the right place) and that was one of our hands down favorite experiences. If you aren’t comfortable on a scooter, don’t start on now - take a tour with Sorrentravel instead. You’ll still be able to see the sights but won’t have to worry about oncoming traffic.
While it can be tempting to just lounge all day, depending on how long you have, you’ll want to get out and see some of the surrounding towns. From the mountaintops of Ravello to the small town vibes in Praiano, the beauty of Fuore, the sights in Amalfi and the lavish nature of Capri. Some spots (Amalfi/Capri) are accessible by ferry, others by boat, bus, scooter or private car.
What To Pack
While I have been a staunch supporter of “backpack” travel (which is easier due to the stairs), I am going to try out an Away Carryon this year and see how I fair. Not sure what to pack? Always be prepared when heading to the coast. While the seasons are normally steady, it is not unusual to get caught in summer rain or lightening storm. In terms of style, the Amalfi Coast is where Italians go to vacation, in true style - aka you’ll see a lot of linen and resort wear. You don’t necessarily need to “dress up” when you’re here, but being fashionable goes a long way. You won’t see ripped jeans or cutoff shorts, instead opt for fun printed tops and dresses and a skort if you plan on hopping on a scooter! If you’re planning on having a few nice dinners, men should consider loafers (which are totally acceptable to wear sans socks) and women can wear a summery dress with flats or wedges if you dare (just be careful walking on the cobblestone).
My inner beauty editor says “always bring a hat to shade yourself from the sun” and long layers to guard yourself from the mosquitos at night time - trust me on this one, it’s much easier than dousing yourself in deet.
You’ll want to pack plenty of bikini’s AND coverups. Aside from the beach, you won’t see the locals walking around in their bikini’s, they are always covered in the latest fashion and they make it a point to look presentable anywhere they go. There’s no need to be self conscious in Italy, everyone and their grandma’s (literally, the grandma’s) are enjoying the sun in their two-pieces. It is also acceptable to lounge topless so don’t be surprised, just embrace the culture and let free if you want to!
For more on what to pack, check out My Top Packing Tips For International Travel.