Writing about places we hold dear is never easy. I have left a piece of my heart to the Amalfi Coast so you’ll surely understand why I found it very hard to finish this article!
Packing light for the Amalfi Coast is mandatory. Read our guide to see what do Italians wear in summer and learn about the “Positano Style“!
I discovered the Amalfi Coast thanks to my husband, Aldo. Always passionate about this stretch of coastline, he has been riding it up and down since… well. Forever.
Seventeen years ago he brought me there for the first time, and it was love at first sight.
I have a lot of stories to tell, from the time we spent more than five hours at Sal de Riso in Minori, stuffing our cheeks with cakes to assist our best friend after a bad break up (the “sacrifices” we make for our friends!), to our romantic candlelight dinner on the beach, to that time (please, don’t rent any vehicle you can’t drive!) when a British tourist riding a Vespa almost run us over at Vietri sul Mare.
I’ve tried very hard not to write an overly nostalgic post, but I still hope to be able to share some of the love I feel for this stretch of coast that is now like a second home.
We spend almost every summer weekend (and not only Summer) riding there on our MotoGuzzi Griso for a special Amalfi Coast road trip.
If you’re planning to visit Italy, you should definitely consider adding the Amalfi Coast to your itinerary. And if you don’t feel like planning everything on your own, you could opt to book one of my favorite Amalfi Coast tours: they’re by far the best ones!
The Amalfi Coast is considered a World Heritage Site by UNESCO since 1997 and it’s located to the South of the Sorrento Peninsula.
It goes from Positano to Vietri sul Mare.
You should be able to start your Amalfi Coast Road trip on the SS163.
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If you intend to use public transport and are coming from Naples, you will need to take a train, Circumvesuviana, to Sorrento.
From there, SITA buses will take you to Positano and to the other towns, up to Vietri sul Mare.
The ticket you have to purchase is the Unico Campania NA-6 which is valid for 190 minutes from the first validation and costs €5.
If you are planning to visit Naples for a longer trip, use the public transport in stead than renting a car. We have amazing Art Stations in Naples: free contemporary art museums in the metro stations!
Alternatively you could book a private transfer, but I won’t lie: they are usually pretty expensive.
If you know how to drive a scooter and you have decided to find a hotel on the Amalfi Coast, you can rent one to explore without having to worry about finding a parking spot or a bus stop!
The most important thing is not to let the internet trolls scare you away from visiting Naples.
The city and the surrounding areas are safe and it’s a good starting point to explore the Amalfi Coast on a budget.
The Amalfi Coast is also the perfect place for couples. Check out my article on the most romantic getaways in Italy to find out the best couple activities in this area (it includes tips on where to propose!)
I can also suggest you explore all the best beaches on the Amalfi Coast, mostly known only to us locals!
The SS163 State Road is accessible by car, but it’s always very busy (consider this also if you get there by bus).
Locals prefer to enjoy the Amalfi Coast road trip using scooters or motorcycles.
This road offers stunning views and it has a super-power: it makes you feel tiny. On one side you’ll have a majestic mountain, on the other a lovely stretch of sea.
Roadtripping here is absolutely amazing!
Yet you should be careful at all times, especially if this is your first visit to the Amalfi coas.
The SS163 has only 2 narrow lanes and it bends a lot, sometimes at weird angles.
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On high season, the big tourist buses tend to occupy almost two lanes. That’s why it is important not to speed.
There have been a number of accidents, and especially if you are traveling on a motorcycle or in a scooter, you might hurt yourself pretty bad.
Make sure you always go slow: after all if you speed you won’t be able to enjoy the view. What’s the point to plan an Amalfi Coast road trip if you want to rush the whole thing?
In case you intend to visit Southern Italy from Rome, renting a car might be easier and cheaper than hopping on several trains or having to try the train + private driver combo.
Click on this link for the best prices you can find online: it’s a company we’ve used often and that offers budget rentals also from Rome!
While on the Amalfi Coast road trip you will find some scenic spots with viewpoints large enough to make room for one or two cars (or the granite food trucks you see in the picture).
If you use the public transport you won’t be able to stop at the viewpoints: do not attempt to get there by walking on the road!
I always recommend scheduling at least one full day to the Amalfi Coast. If you arrive in the morning, you can explore the area for the whole day. Then you could stop for a quick lunch and possibly even for a romantic dinner by the sea, before you have to leave.
As I already mentioned, roadtripping on the Amalfi Coast feels like being sandwiched between a massive mountain and cliffs overlooking a wonderful crystal-clear sea.
Take a look (unless you’re driving, doh!): you will feel tiny and in awe.
The small and colorful houses are usually decorated by flowers, so if you visit in spring, the air smells like roses, daffodils and wisteria.
Visiting Positano and its beaches
The first town you will find on your Amalfi Coast road trip is Positano, maybe one of the most photographed towns in Italy together with the Furore Fjord (keep reading for more!).
The picturesque houses that cover the hill, down to the sea, blend with the green of the Monti Lattari and the blue of the sea: it looks like a painter’s palette.
In the summer months there are ferries that can be used as water taxis. They’re also a cheap way to visit many cities on the Amalfi Coast avoiding all the traffic on the main road.
In Positano you can’t drive your car (or a scooter).
If you get there with your own vehicle it would be better to park in one of the private car parkings at the entrance of the city.
The few parking spots available on the road leading to the pedestrians only area are reserved for residents.
I suggest wearing comfortable shoes, because the streets of Positano are narrow and steep. Wearing high heels is not mandatory: the town is very relaxed and doesn’t care about sundresses or flip flops!
People visiting Positano in summer can just do it like the locals do. They walk around wearing flats and cute dresses. It’s comfortable and it helps to deal with the scorching hot summer days on the coast.
If you’re going to visit in low season, you can also order a pair of handmade sandals in Positano as a unique souvenir from your trip!
Usually the artisans are less busy so it shouldn’t take them too long to make a new pair for you.
The main beach in Positano is Marina Grande, in front of the Li Galli islands. Here you will also find a few restaurants and a nightclub.
Marina Grande is also the best place where you can spot all the celebrities visiting the Amalfi Coast.
It’s not uncommon to see Bruce Springsteen and his wife Patti, or Beyonce.
The only downside is that of course it tends to get overcrowded and way too noisy in the summertime, when it’s full of tourists.
If you’re looking for a quiet place to tan and enjoy your day, Fornillo beach would be a much better choice.
The other two beaches in the area are Arienzo and Laurito.
That’s where you can take the best pictures of the Positano houses on the hill.
Yet getting there is going to be hard. There’s a huge numbers of steps you have to descend… and even worse, you’ll have to climb them to get back to the main road!
Note: avoid climbing all these steps or staying too long in the sun if you’re visiting from June to the end of August. It will be very warm and you might get a heat stroke.
Praiano and Marina di Praia
Get back to your car to explore further. Your Amalfi Coast road trip has just begin!
The next town you should visit is Praiano.
The main highlight here is the Church of San Giovanni Battista, famous for the wonderful tiled floor of Neapolitan maiolica.
It dates back to the 18th century (the Church, however, was built around the 11th century) and it’s particularly beautiful,
The entrance to this Church is free so make sure you visit!
As any other Church in Italy, it has a specific dress code. You will only be allowed to visit if you have covered your shoulders and legs (also in summer!).
Make sure you pack a light cotton scarf in your backpack that you can drape on your shoulders and back before to get inside.
The nearest beach is Marina di Praia, located at the base of a steep cliff.
From Marina di Praia you will clearly see one of the Saracen towers (Torre a Mare, to be more specific) which were formerly used to guard the coast.
This is a tiny cobblestone beach, the entrance to a restaurant which is pretty popular… and particularly expensive.
From Marina di Praia you can also access the Africana Club, the most popular disco on the Amalfi Coast.
There is also a tiny, family owned bar. It’s one of the only places where you can buy some water, snacks or an espresso, but prices are higher than usual.
Consider bringing a reusable water bottle, especially if you’re planning to visit the Amalfi Coast on a budget!
Furore: the gorgeous fjord
Immediately after Praiano, along the highway, you will find the only fjord in Italy: Furore.
It’s easy to spot, not because of the road sign, but because of the small crowd of curious and bikers who come here to take pictures.
The deep deep inlet of the sea between high cliffs looks almost surreal. Looking from above you’ll see the perfect blue of the water and tiny boats resting on the sand.
The Furore fishermen’s village is also where Roberto Rossellini’s movie “Amore” was filmed.
To celebrate that movie set, this place is now home to the Costa Diva Museum.
If you like movies, I suggest a short stop here, to learn about all the movies filmed here on the Amalfi Coast.
Sadly, we still don’t know exactly when the museum is open. Take into account that it’s often closed, so consider this as a “bonus stop”.
If you’re lucky you’ll get to visit: we’ve only been lucky once!
During high season this beach is quite crowded.
Not worth the visit, if you ask me! When Furore is overcrowded, it loses its magic.
We much prefer to go there at sunset, so we can sit on the sand while the tourists start to leave.
It’s a pretty romantic spot if you want to enjoy a quiet evening on the beach!
Amalfi: art and lemons
Go back to the SS163: there’s still so much to see!
After a series of spectacular curves near the mountains, you’ll see many gorgeous houses.
Usually we feel a bit jealous: imagine living there and being able to wake up to that view every day!
If you want to take pictures, remember that there are people living there. Be respectful and try to avoid stepping inside: they’ll call the police (obviously).
To get to Amalfi you will have to drive for a while more.
This is also where you can buy local souvenirs, because there are quite a lot of factories and ceramic shops, selling the Amalfi Coast painted tiles.
After the last tunnel, the scenic road will show you the port of Amalfi. In case you’re driving a vehicle, you should park it here.
The city of Amalfi is one of the most popular tourist spots in Campania, known and appreciated all over the world.
The Duomo is certainly one of the highlights of Amalfi, with its Arab façade and the large staircase.
It dates back to the 9th century and you can visit it for free (cover your shoulders with the abovementioned cotton scarf!).
If you want to visit the Chiostro del Paradiso or the Cathedral Museum, you will need to pay an entrance fee of 3€.
I suggest you take a long walk through the narrow alleys of the old town, and climb up the small stone steps leading to the highest areas. Over there you can take wonderful photographs of the coast and of the lemon gardens.
The Amalfi lemons, grow in almost every garden along the coast. They are used to make our local liquor: Limoncello.
While you’re here, you should also try the yummy local pastry: Delizia al Limone. It’s a sponge cake filled with lemon cream and covered in whipped cream.
The smaller towns: Atrani, Minori and Maiori
Immediately after Amalfi, on the SS167 scenic drive, you will find Atrani, one of the most beautiful (and tiny) villages in Italy, with just over 800 inhabitants.
It is the smallest Italian town, yet there is still room for a cute beach. It’s only about 130 meters wide but hey. The sea on the Amalfi Coast is to be enjoyed every day, so the locals love to have an accessible beach all to themselves!
The next town on our Amalfi Coast road trip is Minori, home of the delicious pastry shop by Sal De Riso.
Don’t worry, you won’t need a map to find it: it’s just on the side of the road, perfectly visible and usually crowded.
This is our meeting point with friends, a little corner of paradise where we have been seeking shelter for many years.
The old shop had some wonderful sofas outside, overlooking the sea. You have no idea how much we have laughed there, under the stars!
The current one, however, isn’t as cool.
The tables are enclosed in a sort of metal cage that in my opinion makes the atmosphere a bit suffocating: it is outdoors, but it seems to be still inside the pastry shop.
In Summer it is not exactly the most pleasant experience, sadly!
The inside of the pastry shop looks like some kind of museum of edible artwork. Large tables showcase tiny pastries that more often than not look just too good to eat.
If you need some pictures for the ‘gram, this is where you should take them!
Sal De Riso also sells many products that you could bring home as yummy souvenirs from this Amalfi Coast road trip.
From lemon peels dipped in chocolate to chocolate cream jars, and even colorful macarons.
What you absolutely have to eat here is the delizia al limone by Sal.
In other shops it tastes like whipped cream and sugar, but here it smells like the Amalfi lemons.
Sal De Riso owns quite a few lemon gardens along the coast so he uses only his bio lemons to make his pastries!
Another yummy thing you should try is melanzane al cioccolato (eggplants with chocolate). I can almost see your shocked face, and I confess that at the beginning I wasn’t sure they’d be good.
The eggplants they use for this dish are kind of sweet and seasoned with a delicious creamy and spicy chocolate, nuts, hazelnuts and candied fruit.
What can I say… you can only eat them on the Amalfi Coast, so don’t feel too sorry. Dieting in Italy is never an option anyway!
During summer time in Minori, as well as in Maiori, there’s a nice beachfront market.
You will find stalls selling local products, shell necklaces and souvenirs, and even food trucks selling fried fish.
If you park your vehicle in Minori, you can just walk to Maiori, through the market stalls.
The two towns are in fact located next to each other.
Cetara and the fried anchovies
Cetara is at about 20 minutes from Minori if you follow our itinerary for this Amalfi Coast road trip.
At sunset, this area will probably be flooded by the warm rays of the sun setting.
The rocks, at the end of the day, get colored by beautiful orange light. This is when I want to stop at every turn to take hundreds of pictures.
You just never get used to this kind of view!
Cetara is a picturesque seaside village, located at the foot of Mount Falerio, in a valley lined with vineyards and lemon groves.
It is famous for the anchovies (find them as “alici di Cetara”) and for the festival of San Pietro on June 29th, which ends with a wonderful fireworks show by the sea.
Every year they have a tuna festival in Cetara. That’s when you can eat a lot of traditional dishes and local products.
We always stop at Cetara for a traditional Italian dinner after a day spent on the Amalfi Coast.
Before entering the village there is a car parking for motorcycles and scooters, and a smaller one for cars.
Cetara is a ZTL, which means you need to have a special permit to drive inside the town.
In the evening it’s nice to enjoy some window shopping, with the scent of the sea in the air. You can walk up to a little square next to the beach.
Looking at your back you will see the mountain that seems to want to swallow you, with vineyards that go down to the sea.
And then there are colorful benches next to a children playground.
Sit here and eat a nice cuoppo of fried anchovies for dinner. It’ll be cheap, warm and delicious!
Vietri sul Mare: the last stop
Vietri sul Mare is the last city on our Amalfi Coast road trip. It is located on the opposite side of the Northern entrance of Salerno.
La Baia is the first beach you find, coming from Salerno, and one of the few sandy coves along the coast.
This’s also the longer seafront you’ll see on this Amalfi Coast Road trip. It’s about 400mt and usually pretty crowded.
Due to the proximity of the port of Salerno, the waters of Vietri sul Mare are not always crystal clear as in other areas of the Amalfi Coast.
Famous for its colorful ceramics since the Middle Ages, Vietri is full of shops selling dishes, majolica and hand-painted objects in bright and vibrant colors.
During the Christmas holidays, just like the neighboring Salerno, Vietri sul Mare lits up. The whole city turns into a big Santa Claus village: kids of all ages will love it.
Yes, by that I also mean that this big kid who’s writing makes sure to visit Vietri for Christmas so she can walk under the light tunnels while drinking hot cocoa.
When should I visit the Amalfi Coast?
This is the question that I get asked more often.
What is the best time for an Amalfi Coast road trip?
Our Winter is (almost) never too cold, but there are abnormal ones: in December 2016 the Vesuvius was full of snow.
However, it might rain.
March is one of those months where there will probably be no tourists along the Amalfi Coast, but you can’t really predict the weather.
I think that the best months to visit the Amalfi Coast, are April, May and the first half of June (so basically a late spring trip to Italy!), September and maybe even October.
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This post is also available in: Italiano