The Amalfi Coast, Italy: Paradise Found
January 1, 1970
by Sophie Mendel
The Amalfi Coast: Paradise Found
I’ve traveled to many places in my life. Traveling is a passion of mine, and I’ve been nearly all over the world. However, one of the places that has stuck out to me the most throughout my travels is the Amalfi Coast, Italy. The picturesque landscapes tucked away high up into the mountains of Italy might just be the most romantic place on earth. Even if you’re not looking for romance, you can still enjoy the beauty of the colorful mountain towns, winding roads, and views over the Tyrrhenian Sea. Here, the preferred mode of transportation is moped, which makes this destination even more picturesque and charming. The Amalfi Coast is a fantastic place to go to escape from the rest of the world and just completely relax, taking in the views and appreciating the beautiful things that this world has to offer.
Once there, you can indulge in the luxuries of Italian food and wine as well as beautiful beaches and landscapes in each of the small towns along the coast. Though getting to the Amalfi Coast can prove to be a bit of a pain, once you arrive it is rather simple to move from town to town.
What to do there:
Within the Amalfi Coast there are several beachy towns that are relatively close to each other and very easy to get to via public bus. Of these towns, the ones that I visited are Sorrento, Amalfi, and Positano, and I also took the short ferry ride to the island of Capri. Though there are many more towns similar to these all along the coast, for a short trip, I would recommend each of these spots to capture the full Amalfi Coast experience.
Of the towns that I visited, Amalfi is by far the most picturesque and what could be thought of as “the face of the Amalfi Coast”. This tiny town, while definitely touristy, embodies the overall feeling of the southern Italian coast. The public beach is sandy and allows for excellent views of the vast coastal landscape. When you’re ready for lunch, you can walk up into the tiny town for some pizza, pasta, wine, and gelato. Though this area is mostly filled with pricy touristy restaurants and gelato shops, if you walk a bit deeper into the town it becomes slightly less touristy and you may be able to get a feel for the real, underlying local culture.
Apart from Amalfi, Positano is perhaps the favorite tourist destination along the coast. Positano is a bit bigger and is home to black sand beaches, which originated as a result of the eruption of Mount Vesuvius thousands of years ago, and left ashy black sand in its wake. Positano is filled with shops, restaurants, and markets that spiral through its winding roads all the way down the beach. Though the beach itself leaves much to be desired, the water is the clear and fresh, and if you turn to see the town from the water, the view will truly take your breath away. One could easily spend a day or more wandering through the town and soaking up the sun on the beach.
Of the coastal towns, Sorrento is definitely the biggest and most developed, yielding many high-end hotels and restaurants. It is also a main port for catching the ferry to islands off the coast such as Capri, and for catching buses to any of the other surrounding towns. Sorrento is less charming in the lazy, quiet way that some of the other towns are, but it could still be worth it to spend the day checking out the cute street markets, restaurants, and beaches here. As a general warning for all of the Amalfi Coast towns including Sorrento, it is important to know that most of the beaches, the ones that aren’t completely crowded with people anyway, are reserved for paying customers. There are some public beaches where you don’t have to pay anything and are allowed to find a spot with your towel on the sand, though these are much smaller and as I mentioned before, typically packed with people. Though this may be the more uncomfortable option, it is free and it’s a great way to meet the locals. If this isn’t your style, it might be worth it to pay around 12 euros to rent a beach chair for a few hours at one of the private beaches. But whichever option you choose, the water is gorgeous and the views are unbeatable.
Another great option is to take a short ferry ride from Sorrento to the Island of Capri. The ferries are inexpensive and run frequently throughout the day, allowing for a quick and relaxing day trip. Once in Capri, you can also take the tram up to the town at the top of the mountainous island, which is called Anacapri. On the mainland of Capri, you’ll experience many touristy restaurants and shops as well as beaches that are rocky but have the clearest, bluest water that you can imagine. In Anacapri, you’ll see views of the entire island and sea, and you can experience the charm of the Italian-style town, which is filled with churches, restaurants, shops, and homes. Another attraction that brings tourists to Capri is the Blue Grotto, for which you can book a boat tour. I did not personally visit the Blue Grotto but I have heard good things about it.
How to get to the Amalfi Coast:
To be completely honest, it is a bit of a pain to get to the Amalfi Coast. It is really tucked away and transportation in Italy can be unreliable, as a result of frequent labor strikes and just generally inconsistent transport. However, if you’re up for it, the destination is completely worth it. And if you’re an adventurer or travel lover like me, you’ll know that getting to a place is an adventure in itself. The best way to get to the Amalfi Coast is via Naples. I recommend flying into the Naples airport and from there taking a direct train to Sorrento. If you are not staying in Sorrento, you should be able to find a public bus or train from there that will take you to your final destination.
Where to stay:
I recommend staying in Sorrento or just outside of it. None of the main towns have very many, if any, hostels, so if you plan to stay in one of those towns hotel or Airbnb will likely be your only option. However, I found a small town called Sant’Agnello, which is just a two or three-stop train ride from Sorrento and has several youth hostels, to be a charming option for the budget traveller. The trains between Sorrento and Sant’Agnello are fairly reliable and come quite frequently. I found that staying here or in Sorrento was a good base location from which I could easily travel to all the other towns.
When to go:
The Amalfi Coast has a Mediterranean climate, which means hot summers and mild winters. T
he best time to visit would be in spring/early summer, when the greenery is finally in bloom and it is just warm enough to swim. This way you will also avoid the tourist rush and intense heat of the late summer months.