I first visited the Amalfi Coast in Italy in the 1990’s, and it continues to be one of my favourite places. It has some of the most amazing scenery and coastlines in the world. It’s literally breathtaking and holds a special place in my heart. Unesco has awarded 13 towns along the Amalfi Coast with World Heritage Site designation since 1997, so there is a lot of unique history and archeology to see. So, on with my guide of what to see and do on the Amalfi Coast during your visit.
First, how do you get to the Amalfi Coast?
Easy. You’ve got to get to Naples! Either fly to, or take the train to, Naples, then go downstairs at Napoli Centrale Train Station and grab the Circumvesuviana train to Sorrento. The Circumvesuviana is a step back in time. It’s rickety with just the basics, and no air conditioning. Tickets are $4, and in about an hour you arrive in Sorrento. At times, no seats are available and you are packed in with others, so keep track of your bags. Sorrento is the best city to use as a base to discover the top part of the Amalfi Coast.
You can also arrange a private car transfer from Naples to Sorrento for about $125.
While there are a ton of things to do on the Amalfi Coast, I picked a handful of my favourites. I hope you, too, will find these interesting. Enjoy the intoxicating smells of lemon blossoms and get lost in the labyrinth of stairways and narrow alleys of the Amalfi Coast.
You must book a room with a view of Mount Vesuvius
There are a ton of hotels in Sorrento, whether inexpensive or over the top, so you might as well get one with a sea view toward Mount Vesuvius! It’s magical to wake up and open your windows to see Vesuvius. She’s a site to see. One good choice I’ve stayed at a few times is 4* Hotel Zi’Teresa. It is close to the central piazza in Sorrento, offers a good breakfast, has a pool, and the multi-lingual staff are friendly. Besides having balconies that face Vesuvius, they have a massive rooftop terrace with spectacular 360° views. Room rates run around $100-130 a night depending on the season.
Another great choice is the 4* Hilton Sorrento Palace, a little further out of town. It has a shared terrace with views of Sorrento and Vesuvius. They offer top-notch services and amenities for which Hilton is known, and a great choice if you want to use some of your Hilton Honors points. I love their stunning ‘Pompeii-esque’ indoor pool and infinity pool looking smack at Vesuvius. It is so decadent.
Take a tour of Pompeii
You can’t visit this area without seeing the city of Pompeii. Mount Vesuvius exploded in 79AD and smothered the entire city of Pompeii under a thick carpet of volcanic ash. The unfortunate locals were asphyxiated in nearly 75 feet of smoldering ash that fell over a six-hour period! Can you imagine? Pompeii was rediscovered in 1748, and excavations have been going on ever since. You can do a self-tour, or rent a headset and walk the important sections of the city.
I really enjoyed the numerous intact artifacts, statues, frescoes, and stunningly beautiful architecture. Other original pieces can be found in the Naples National Archaeological Museum. So you know, Pompeii receives 2.5 million visitors per year, so you will be in good company. I was lucky to snap some shots without the hoards. Entrance fee is $22.50.
To avoid a bazillion tourists, head to the sites of Herculaneum and Paestum, which suffered the same fate, but are not as busy as Pompeii.
Take in some culture on the Amalfi Coast
Throughout the year there are numerous festivals, theatre performances, concerts and museums to enjoy along the coast. In summer, you can catch open air concerts in Sorrento’s Piazza Tasso in the centre of town. The Sorrento tourism office has up-to-date information on the arts and attractions. And many are free! The Amalfi Coast website is also a great resource for information about dining and hotels in the villages along the coast. Another resource Positano.com, offers information about sights and activities along the peninsula.
Book a table at Ristorante Museo Caruso
Enrico Caruso was a famous opera singer in Europe and the US in the early 1900’s. He was born near Naples, but Sorrento has adopted him, and this restaurant is a museum to his memory of singing traditional Italian operas and Neapolitan songs. It’s a really unique and local experience.
Each summer, an Italian artist wins the Caruso Award, which is given to those who spread Italian culture worldwide.
Caruso’s is a lovely, upscale restaurant with a superb menu and loads of paraphernalia on the walls. You can enjoy listening to Caruso’s music throughout your meal. It’s a real step back in time. Ristorante Museo Caruso is located at Via. S. Antonino, 12 Sorrento.
Take a seat at the Marina Grande in Sorrento
There’s nothing better than facing the sea in this quiet port area of Sorrento. Marina Grande is very chilled with a variety of seafood restaurants perched near the water. I usually grab a drink at one of the little tables they position sea side. You can also swim there and rent paddle boats. It’s a great way to relax and admire the beautiful coast line.
Cruise over to the island of Capri
A trip to the Amalfi Coast wouldn’t be the same without a visit to the island of Capri. From Marina Piccola in Sorrento, you can catch the AliLauro boat for $21 for a 20-minute ride, or the Caremar for $18.50 for a 30-minute ride. Either way, you will be amazed with the stunning landscape and its wondrous mountains.
Stop at the famous Gran Café in Piazza Umberto I in Capri
The Gran Cafe has been around since the mid 1930’s, and you find it in Piazza Umberto I. It’s the most famous piazza in Capri! This is such a great place to chill, watch the world go by, and refuel.
Take the funicular to Mount Solaro in Anacapri
This funicular reaches the highest point on Anacapri (589 meters/1932 Feet) and offers the best views of Capri and the Coast. You leave from Piazza Vittoria in Anacapri and it’s a 12-minute ride to the top. You’ll have a variety of ‘holy shit’ moments as you float silently in the air, but the views are amazing! It’s $12 rt.
Take the bus to Amalfi and Positano
You are in for the ride of you life when you take a SITA Bus along the Amalfi Coast. The bus drivers have to have nerves of steel to navigate the hairpin turns of the Coast! This ride will not be easy on your stomach, but the views will be spectacular! Sit on the right side (as seated) when you go from Sorrento to Amalfi, and on the left when returning. You catch the bus in Piazza Giovanni Battista De Curtis in Sorrento, near the station of the Circumvesuviana. The ride takes about 1.5 hrs is $7.65. Barf bag not included…
Treat yourself to Hotel Le Sirenuse in Positano
Part of the Leading Hotels of the World collection, Hotel Le Sirenuse is pure luxury. This 58-room hotel used to be the summer home of the Marchese family. Pulling rates for the end of October 2018, you can have a double room with a view of the pool and/or partial sea for $575. For $600, you can have a sea view.
I stayed here 20 years ago and paid about $200 for a sea view! Now, many Hollywood A-listers stay here and it’s truly a once is a lifetime experience. Their restaurants, service and pool are impeccable. If nothing else, come for a lovely lunch at La Sponda Restaurant. They are located at Lattari Mountains Regional Park, Via Cristoforo Colombo, 30, 84017 Positano.
After a few days in Sorrento, take the bus to one of the villages on the south coast of Amalfi and use one of those as a base. Depending on your budget, you will find very economical hotels in Minori and Maiori, whereas Amalfi and Positano are quite pricey. Use Minori or Maiori as your base to explore the south side of the Amalfi Coast. I’ve stayed in Maiori and the hotels are a fraction of the cost of Sorrento, which means more to spend on excursions and dining.
You must see the gardens at Hotel Villa Cimbrone Ravello
Villa Cimbrone is very close to Amalfi and Positano, and their magnificent gardens are open from 9a until sunset at a cost of $8.00. They are considered one of the most, ‘important examples of English botany and landscape in Southern Europe. ‘ Take a look at the fantastic video produced by Roberto Vuilleumier below. Roberto’s family were instrumental in restoring the gardens to their current glory after a decade of neglect post WWII.
“The most beautiful sight that I have ever seen in the world is the panoramic view from Villa Cimbrone on a bright winter’s day, when the sky and the sea are so vividly blue that it is not possible to distinguish them from each other.” ~ Gore Vidal
I completely agree with Gore Vidal.
It’s also a hotel, and the price for a double room in summer starts at $780 for an view of the Chiostro, and nearly $950 for a superior sea view room. You will be lost in luxury. The hotel and gardens are at Lattari Mountains Regional Park, Via Santa Chiara, 26, 84010 Ravello.
You must buy some local limoncello
Limoncello is the liquid gold of the Amalfi Coast, and they grow some of the finest and largest lemons around. Authentic limoncello can take months to produce, and it is well worth the wait. The best is at Limonoro at 49 Via San Cesareo, where they produce and sell their high-quality limoncello on site. They use the best lemons of Sorrento (“femminello” variety), untreated and grown in the area beneath the characteristic “pagliarelle” or straw mats.
What to See and Do on the Amalfi Coast
Have you enjoyed my options of what to see and do on the Amalfi Coast? If so, drop me a comment. Would love to know where you’ve visited and what you liked about it.