Italy’s Amalfi Coast has so much to offer, from ancient Roman ruins to gorgeous beaches and everything in-between. But visitors here are often faced with an important question: what’s the best way to travel around the Amalfi Coast?
Turns out, there are a few different ways to do it: you can fly into Rome or Naples, rent a car or hire a private driver, travel by train or hop on one of the ferries that connect these coastal towns.
In the interests of costs (and a sense of adventure!) we’ve chosen to start our journey in Naples, setting off from there in a rental car. Parking will be difficult, so you'll have to plan ahead, and motorcyclists are known to weave in and out of lanes in a haphazard way, so you’ll need to be on your guard. But this way, we’ll be able to feel the wind in our hair while we experience the famously thrilling drive along the Amalfi Coast.
|DAY 1: Naples|
Pizza lovers, rejoice: your journey begins in Naples, the city that first invented pizza. Take a taxi into town from the airport, drop your bags at your hotel, and head out to to find lunch. Naples is quite hilly, so be sure to wear comfortable shoes.
Once you've filled up on Pizza Margherita and espresso, it's time to do some sightseeing.
You can start off with a trip to the Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli (Archaeological Museum). Here you can marvel at a spectacular array of Greco-Roman artifacts including sculptures, exquisite mosaics and relics from Pompeii.
The Duomo di San Gennaro, a beautiful Gothic cathedral, is also worth a visit. It’s brimful of historical artistic masterpieces including stunning frescoes by Domenichino and Giovanni Lanfranco, paintings by Perugino and Luca Giordano, and an array of fourth-century mosaics .
If you’re up for it, venture underground to the spooky Cimitero delle Fontanelle (Fontanelle Cemetery), a cave housing thousands of human skulls and bones in neatly arranged rows and stacks.
This cavern was originally used as a burial place for Napolitanos once the churchyards and crypts in the city became overcrowded. Later, it was the final resting place for victims of the 1656 plague.
In the 19th century, it became popular for locals to “adopt” the skulls in this cemetery, pray for their souls, and ask them for favours in a macabre practice called anime pezzentelle (poor souls). Evidently, this Naples attraction is not for the faint of heart!
Like in many Mediterranean cities, nightlife in Naples begins late. Plan to go out for dinner around 9 or 10pm, and pace yourself - slow and steady wins the race when it comes to Italian dining culture.
If you’re in the mood for live music or theatre, there are plenty of venues in Naples. Ask your hotel concierge for recommendations or try checking out Teatro Bellini, located in the city centre, which regularly puts on dance, operatic and Divine Comedy performances.
Feel free to have a lie-in to sleep off all those Aperol Spritzes from last night - the drive to Sorrento will take just an hour.
Once you’ve rolled out of bed, it’s time to bid Naples farewell and continue on with your journey around the Amalfi Coast. So pack up your things, check out of the hotel, and go pick up your rental car.
Once you're on the road, take the A3 and then the SS145, following the signs to Sorrento. This leg of your journey may be hectic, but it will be worth it once you reach the charming seaside town of Sorrento.
Parking in Sorrento can be tricky, so try to book a room in a hotel that has some parking on the grounds. Then check in, drop your bags, and hit the town!
(If you’d rather not drive from Naples to Sorrento, you can also hop on the Circumvesuviana train, which departs every half-hour and takes just over an hour).
There are plenty of things to do in Sorrento, from shopping and sightseeing to hiking and boat tours. You can start by wandering through the narrow streets of the historic old town and visiting the Chiesa di San Francesco, a 14th-century church with a pretty white stucco facade and tranquil cloister within.
Break for gelato or coffee in Piazza Tasso, the central square. Then, if you venture just behind the square, you’ll be treated to a unique and surprising feast for the eyes: Il Vallone dei Mullini (Valley of the Mills).
Within this valley, which was formed by a volcanic eruption thousands of years ago, you'll be able to see the abandoned remains of an old mill. The stunning moss-covered structures are like something from a post-apocalyptic world.
After taking a few pictures of this wild sight, why not descend the ancient steps leading from the historic Sorrento town centre to Marina Grande, the fishing harbour below. Take a walk along the beach, enjoy some fresh seafood at a waterside restaurant, or simply find a perch and watch the boats come and go, with Mount Vesuvius looming in the distance.
Villa Comunale is a popular public park perched on the cliffside, and it happens to have the best views in town. It’s filled with tropical plants, palm trees, statues and benches, making it the perfect place to watch the sunset before you head off for dinner.
|DAY 3: Sorrento|
Today we’re packing in a lot of important landmarks, so try to get an early start. It might be worth stopping at a supermarket before you set off to pick up some snacks for the journey.
Once you’re well stocked, head to the Sorrento station and purchase a ticket to Pompeii. There are trains from Sorrento to Pompeii around every 30 minutes, with the journey taking just over an hour.
This vast archaeological site is truly epic, so you’ll need a few hours to navigate it and see the best bits. As you probably already know, Pompeii was once a thriving Roman city that was buried under volcanic ash from Mount Vesuvius’ violent eruption in 79 AD. During your tour you’ll be able to see ancient streets, houses and ruins, giving you a glimpse into daily life in the Roman times
The most heartbreaking section of Pompeii is the Garden of the Fugitives, where plaster replicas show the last moments of the men, women and children who were stopped in their tracks, asphyxiated by gases from the eruption and then slowly buried in ash.
The same train you took from Sorrento to Pompeii will take you to Herculaneum just a few stops away.
This excavated Roman town suffered the same fate as Pompeii in 79 AD, but in a slightly different way. Rather than being covered in volcanic ash, Herculaneum was destroyed by a pyroclastic surge that left it more preserved than Pompeii. It’s also smaller in size and therefore more manageable to explore in depth.
Allow two hours to roam around this UNESCO heritage listing, where you’ll see the remains of ancient streets, residential dwellings, shops and sculptures.
At the end of the day, get on the train back to Sorrento. Freshen up in your hotel room and head out to the Marina to enjoy a dinner of seafood pasta on the seaside.
If you fancy an after-dinner drink, chase your meal with a cold shot of Limoncello, a popular local digestif made with lemon peels and alcohol.
You’ve had quite the journey so far, and we haven’t even reached the real Amalfi Coast yet! Until now.
The scenic drive from Sorrento to Positano is a thrilling one that takes just under an hour on the SS163. But be sure to have a strong coffee before you head out on the road - you’ll need to have your wits about you when you navigate this cliff-side route.
As with driving in any country, safety here comes first . Take your time on the road (especially around sharp bends) and keep an eye out for speedy motorcyclists and monster coaches transporting tourists around the Amalfi Coast. You may have to back up and let coaches pass if there isn’t enough room on the road.
Once you reach Positano, you’ll quickly see that it was worth the drive. This colourful seaside village is one of the top Amalfi Coast towns to visit. Its crystal clear seas, winding pedestrian streets and pastel-coloured houses that seem to defy gravity give it an intoxicating charm that will make you want to stay forever.
So park up your car in a public car park and get ready to see the sights.
You can set off on foot to explore the small art galleries in town and do some shopping at the many chic boutiques touting handmade sandals.
Next, find your way to the Chiesa di Santa Maria Assunta, a Catholic church founded in the 10th century AD and famous for housing a Byzantine Black Madonna icon.
The church’s colourful tiled dome, which gleams in the sunlight, is a sight to behold and one of the iconic symbols of the town. Don’t forget to bring your camera: the church also has the best views in Positano.
Finish up your day with a walk along Spiaggia Fornillo. There are a handful of little restaurants here where you can enjoy an afternoon meal while listening to the peaceful sound of waves lapping against the pebbled shoreline. Heaven!
After an hour or so of rest in your hotel room, and perhaps a relaxing nap, it’s time for more sensational Italian food. Why not try one of the local delicacies for dinner tonight: tomato bruschetta, boiled octopus salad and meatballs with polenta.
Finally, enjoy a walk around the town square after dinner and try to get a relatively early night. Tomorrow will be a big day...
DAY 5: Positano
Rise and shine! Today’s an early morning if you want to take in all that the Amalfi Coast has to offer.
Once you’re out of your hotel, head to a cafe for a typical Positano breakfast of a cappuccino and a sfogliatelle (a shell-shaped pastry with a rich ricotta and orange peel filling). You’ll need all the energy you can get to fuel you up for the day ahead.
A stop to a supermarket for bottled water and snacks would also be wise before you set off on the hike of a lifetime.
Whether you’re a hiking regular or not, trekking Il Sentieri Delgi Dei (the Path of the Gods) will be something to remember forever. It may have a dramatic name, but you’ll soon see that it most definitely lives up to it.
To get to the start of the trail, hire a taxi or take a bus to the Bomerano stop. Signage is not ideal here, so you may have to ask fellow hikers which walking route takes you back towards Positano. Once you’re on the path, it’s about a 7km journey.
This walk takes place along a cliff that hugs the sea from great heights. All in all, it should take three to four hours, depending on your pace and how many times you stop along the way to admire the jaw-dropping scenery.
Your epic journey will take you past towering limestone mountains, bright fields of wildflowers and ancient ruins, all with phenomenal views of the sea in the background. Ask anyone who’s been and they’ll tell you it truly is the hike of a lifetime.
At the end of the trail there is a flight of steps leading back down into Positano. This leg of your journey has some of the best views of all, and it will leave you tired and ready for a meal at the other end. But if your knees aren’t quite up to all that downhill trekking (almost an hour), worry not: there is a bus service that goes from Nocelle to Positano.
If you managed to set out on the hike early, you should be back in town around lunch time. Rest your weary feet at a restaurant or rent a sunlounger on the beach and take a nap in the shade.
Whatever you do to unwind, make sure you get a nap in, especially if you’re not much of a night owl. Tonight we’re taking you to Positano’s favourite late-night hangout.
Tonight, you deserve all the calories in the world after that monster hike. Why not treat yourself to a hearty meal of grilled calamari and seafood pasta, followed by dessert and limoncello. You could get used to this, couldn’t you?
If you manage to muster up the energy after your long hike, get your dancing shoes on and head out to Music on the Rocks - a popular club venue with a standout setting in a cave on the beach.
The party here doesn’t get going til around midnight, so get ready to dance well into the night. The club often has famous singers and groups performing live, so check the listings before you go
Sadly, our time in Positano is coming to an end, and it’s time to head back to Naples. But first we need to make one final important stop: Ravello.
So pack up your bags, check out of your hotel and hop into your car to start your one-hour journey along the Amalfi Drive to the lush garden town of Ravello.
Wisteria-lined walkways, ancient villas and terraced gardens with unparalleled views of the sea… what’s not to love about Ravello, Italy?
This mountaintop town has won the hearts of many a famous figure including Greta Garbo, Jackie Kennedy and Tennessee Williams. After a day spent here, you’ll see why.
The top things to do in Ravello are to visit Villa Rufolo and Villa Cimbrone, two historic palazzos with breathtaking gardens overlooking the sea.
Villa Rufolo contains two vine-covered towers and a Moorish-style cloister that has been compared to Spain’s Alhambra. Take in the views here for a couple of hours, making sure to take plenty of photos, and then head to the main square for lunch.
Pack up the car once more and head back towards Naples. This is a relatively easy trip of about 1.5 hours, unless you decide to stop along the way.
If you’re feeling adventurous on your way back to Naples, you can stop at Mount Vesuvius. A hike to the top will give you panoramic views and a chance to peek inside the crater produced by that famous volcanic eruption back in 79 AD.
Hire a certified guide if you want to walk along the edge of the crater. The climb up and back should take about an hour and a half.
Whatever you didn’t have a chance to do on your first day in Naples, now’s your chance to do it. Take in a show, try a local dish, or sample the offerings at one of the city’s popular wine bars. The world is your oyster.
DAY 7: Naples
Sadly, your phenomenal trip has come to an end. Treat yourself to one last Italian coffee before packing up your things and driving back to the airport, leaving with plenty of time to return the rental car.
Let’s be honest - seven days is far too short to truly enjoy all that this part of Italy has to offer. If you’re craving a bit more sun, sand and scenery, we recommend tacking on a couple of days at the end of your trip to spend on the beautiful island of Ischia.
There are a couple of ferry services that provide trips from Naples (Pozzuoli) to Ischia several times a day, and the one-way journey takes about an hour.
You can take the train or drive from Naples to Pozzuoli, and board the ferry from there.
Capri may be the best known island near the Amalfi coast, but we prefer the less touristy, less expensive and more interesting Ischia. Why not spend a few days exploring Ischia’s beaches, natural hot springs and thermal spas for a restorative end to your journey.
A trip to Ischia isn't complete without seeing the Aragonese Castle, a centuries-old fortress connected to the island via a stone pedestrian bridge.
The castle has passed through many hands over the years, from the Normans to the Parthenopeans and the Romans. These days, it hosts regular art exhibitions and concerts as well as walking tours. You can also enjoy the views from one of its two scenic cafes.
And so concludes your perfect Amalfi Coast getaway, and what a trip it's been. We've taken you to ancient ruins and underground burial sights, on sky-high hiking trails and rocky shorelines. You've travelled by car, train and ferry over water, mountain and volcano - and all within a single week. We hope you've eaten well, learned a lot and taken plenty of pictures. If not, there's always next time!