A Complete Travel Guide To The Amalfi Coast
Last week, I had the absolute privilege to travel the Amalfi Coast with two of my best friends. It’s a place I had long dreamed of visiting and now, after months of excitement and planning… the trip has come and gone. (This coming week I’ll be posting a video diary from this trip so you can get a taste of what it was like)!
A BIG part of any trip is the planning… and traveling Europe is a tad different than what we’re used to in the US. For those of you hoping to one day visit this area, here is my complete travel guide, exact itinerary, pricing, ideas, tips and tricks from our trip to the Amalfi Coast. There’s a lot of information here and I hope it will help you in planning your trip! If you have any questions, feel free to leave them in the comments!
So! We had 8 days for our trip. We flew into Rome and from there visited Atrani, Amalfi, Praiano, Positano, Sorrento, Capri and then back to Rome to fly home. We traveled the whole way by bus and train and stayed in Airbnb’s (besides the last night in Rome where we stayed at an airport hotel). There was no lack of available Airbnb’s (just book a bit in advance especially if traveling in the Summer) at a good price. For the 3 of us our average cost per person per night was about $60. Quick side note! If I didn’t write about a meal it’s because we had better. Every place that I think is a must eat (that we ate at) is included here. But don’t get me wrong, literally everything was so good. Yum carbs.
From Rome to Amalfi/Atrani
From Rome you take a high speed Italo train to Salerno which leaves from the central train station called, Termini. Termini Station is really easy to get to from anywhere in Rome. If you are coming straight from the Rome Airport you follow signs to TRAIN and take the Leonardo Express Train to Termini Station. This takes about 40 minutes. There are a handful of train times to get from Rome to Salerno throughout the day. If possible, buy your train ticket ahead of time. The Italo trains do sell out and the cheaper seats sell quicker. We made this mistake on the way to Salerno and ended up paying about 50 euros each when the ticket could have been as little as 29 if purchased in advance. There are also trains that aren’t high speed but they take about twice as long and don’t cost much less so I recommend the high speed Italo trains.
Once you arrive in Salerno, you can take a bus or a ferry to Amalfi. We opted for the ferry for a few reasons. It takes half the time of the bus, it’s only 4 more euros, being outside sounded amazing and the views of the coast from the water are spectacular. The port is only a 5 minute walk from the train station. Once you walk 1.5 blocks outside of the station you will see the ocean and the port. There are ferries about every hour and 20 minutes. Head straight to the ticket counter to buy your tickets because some of the ferries sell out too. Don’t worry if you have to wait, there are plenty of places to sit in the shade and 2 cafes within 5 minutes walking. You’ll see them both on the way to the ferry.
Our first stop on the Amalfi Coast was Atrani. It’s a small, charming town right next to Amalfi. To get to Atrani you take the ferry to Amalfi (it doesn’t stop in Atrani) and from there it’s only a 5-10 walk back in the direction the ferry came from to Atrani. You walk on the road in the direction you came from, take your first left up a cobblestone street with stairs and then your first right into a tunnel. Once out of the tunnel, take a left and walk down the road, you will see Atrani pretty much right away. We stayed at a small bed and breakfast that we found on Airbnb that was about a 5 minute walk from the beach. Atrani is tiny so anywhere you stay will be fairly close to the water.
For dinner in Atrani we ate at Le Arcate which is located on the water on the West side of Atrani Beach. We were pleasantly surprised by fair prices, amazing seafood pasta (if you haven’t yet learned, pasta is my weakness. I ate it every day in Italy), fresh salads, good pizzaand cheap (ish) wine.
After dinner, we walked back into Amalfi to see what it was like. It’s a bit larger and busier than Atrani. We were recommended to go to Masanellos which everyone said was the only bar with something happening. There’s not much night life there. Night one it was empty, but we went back the next night and had a fun time!
The next morning we had breakfast at our Airbnb.
For lunch we ate at Mistral Ristorante Pizzeria, the restaurant in the easternmost corner closest to the beach in the main square of Atrani. There is a place to sit but if you walk all the way to the corner there is a takeaway window. The 3 of us split one pizza (it was so good) and fries to eat on the beach. The total for all 3 of us was 8 euros.
Our days in Atrani were spent entirely on the beach. There is one beach in Atrani comprised of a public and a private beach. The private side ofAtrani Beach has chairs and umbrellas that are always set up. At Atrani Beach, it’s 20 euros for 2 chairs and 1 umbrella for the whole day. The public beach is available and you can bring your own towels or chairs. Also, if you walk to the east side of the beach there’s a little cafe called Bar Neptune where you can rent lounge chairs for 5 euros each to use on the public side of the beach. They have small snacks and cold drinks there (prossecco in the fridge) but if you take a short walk back into town- the drinks in the convenience store are a little cheaper.
The second night we stayed in Atrani we decided to visit neighboring Ravello.
From Atrani to Ravello
To get to Ravello it’s about 30 minutes on the SITA bus (the bus will say where it’s going). Bus tickets are 1.30 euro each way and you can buy them at the tobacco shop in the main square or at Bar Nettuno on the east side of the beach. I recommend always buying two tickets (one to get there and one to get back) because it can be tricky in some places to find a place to buy bus tickets. You catch the bus on the main street on the side closer to the ocean. The bus runs about every 45 minutes or so. This next tip applies to ALL of the busses you will take on this trip... If you get car sick, take dramamine! The roads are super windy and some of the bus drivers are wild.
The bus drops you off right at the entrance to the adorable town of Ravello. Ravello has two amazing gardens, we went to Villa Rufolo. You will see it immediately on the left when walking into Ravello. Although we didn't go, we heard that Villa Cimbrone is also incredible. Ravello is worth exploring. All the tiny streets are so charming and you can also walk up to the view point (although it’s not much different than the view from the garden).
There are a variety of restaurants in Ravello. We ate at Cumpa Cosimo. I think it was the best dinner of the trip (and every dinner was damn good). It’s tucked away and kind of hard to find so just ask. Everyone is super friendly and will point you in the right direction. We all had pasta at dinner (go figure)… fettuccine bolognese, penne arrabiatta and gnocchi alla sorrentino. Each dish was killer. We also heard that Mimi’s Bar is an awesome place for dinner in Ravello if you want pizza. Can you say, ricotta filled crust??? um… YUM. For desert we went to the gelato place right outside Cumpa Cosimo with the mustache on the sign. It was the best gelato of the whole trip. I had black cherry (you can see it in my video diary).
After desert we bussed back to Atrani and the next morning it was onto our next stop.
Atrani to Praiano
For the next two days we stayed in Praiano which is the lesser known neighbor to the famous Positano (about 15-20 minutes on a local bus). To get from Atrani to Praiano, you need to take the SITA bus from Amalfi. You walk back to the same spot you got off the ferry (the port and bus station in Amalfi are right next to each other). You take the SITA bus going to Praiano and to get to the main area in Praiano you get off at bus stop number 9.
As far as Praiano goes, there’s an amazing beach area called Praia and there’s one of the only night clubs in the Amalfi coast called Africana. Unfortunately, it was closed the night we were there. In all honesty, besides those two things there’s not much going on. Here we grocery shopped at the little market near our airbnb and had breakfasts and our second lunch at the house. Day one we ate Trattoria da Armando right on the water at Praia beach. We started with the best caprese salad of my life. I don’t usually like tomatoes but these were fresh and sweet and delectable. Then I of course ate pasta. Schiallatelli with shrimp and rockets to be exact. It was delish. Fun fact; apparently Italians call arugula, rockets.
Praia beach is amazing. It’s such a fun place to spend the day. There’s one section that is actually beach where you can rent chairs. But, we opted to lay out our towels on a concrete platform (doesn’t sound glamorous but look at the photo below) that had an amazing view and you could jump off right into the ocean. It was mostly locals here , which we loved. The first evening we went to Positano for dinner.
Praiano to Positano
To get to Positano you can take the local bus from stop 9 in Praiano. On the local buses you can buy tickets right on the bus (you can’t do this on the SITA busses). It’s a super easy trip to Positano except from our experience the local busses never run on time, so just be prepared wait a bit (the most on time local bus we had was 15 minutes late). Busses back to Praiano stop running around 11pm so just schedule accordingly.
Day two we woke up early to snag good spots at Praia beach. We spent the whole first part of the day there sun bathing and enjoying the gorgeous water day dreaming that Italian boys with names like Lorenzo or Allerio would offer to take us out on a boat… For the second half of day two we went back to Positano.
Positano is straight off of a post card, it’s unreal. (I’m going to write a whole post on Positano and what I thought of it). We stopped for a drink at Franco’s bar which is on the left side of the main street when you’re walking from the bus stop into Positano. This is the most expensive thing we did the whole trip. But, I have no regrets. If you want to treat yourself to a delicious drink at a swanky bar with an amazing view- this is your place. Expect to pay at least 15 euros per drink (I think beers were 9). Needless to say, since the trip was budget friendly, we moved on after one drink. We explored the streets of Positano, mozied in and out of shops (the shopping is amazing here) and spent some time on the beach, enjoying the view. We headed back to Praiano for dinner. The next morning we headed to Sorrento.
Praiano to Sorrento and Capri
To get to Sorrento you take the SITA bus from stop 9 in Praiano. It’s about 45 minutes (reminder- dramamine, dramamine, dramamine). Sorrento is a much larger city. It’s quite a bit more crowded than every other place we visited but has some gorgeous areas. We went to Sorrento because it was easy to get to Capri from there and being a hub it would be easier to get back to Rome than from one of the smaller towns we visited earlier.
We booked what is called a “luxury tour” to go to the Island of Capri. You can book online, but your Airbnb host or concierge at your hotel can definitely help with this and advise what is a good tour to do. These tours are 85 euros per person. It includes a semi private boat (max 12 people) lunch, prossecco, time swimming and time to explore Capri. Keep in mind, if you don’t have a tight budget, there are tours far more luxurious than the one I’m referring to.
Sadly, the day we had this booked was the only day of bad weather so our boat trip got cancelled. SO! We took the big ferry over to Capri. Capri is gorgeous but I would highly recommend doing a boat tour around the island where you can swim, eat and enjoy. If I ever make it back, that’s absolutely the way I’d see Capri!
We ate both dinners in Sorrento at an amazing little place called La Tavola Di Lucullo (highly recommend it- book a reservation through a website called The Fork and you’ll get 25% off your meal). Our final lunch in Sorrento we ate at this little place called La Cantinaccia del Popolo and is was SOOO good. I would go back in a heartbeat. Both of those restaurants are a bit off the beaten path which for me is a big plus.
Sorrento to Rome
Getting back to Rome from Sorrento is kind of a pain. If possible, book your return ticket home from Naples. There are direct trains from Sorrento to Naples, but not to Rome. To get back to Rome you take the train from Sorrento to Naples (this ticket is only 4 euro) and then from Naples you take the Italo train back to Termini station in Rome which is the city center. If you’re going straight to the airport, you then get on the Leonardo express from Termini to the airport (about 40 minutes). Reminder to try and book your Italo train tickets in advance to save money and be sure they don’t sell out. We totally lucked out and met some people from San Diego who were driving back to Rome the same day we were, so we caught a ride with them. If you rent a car, it’s about a 3 hour drive.
A Few Tips
From everything we read, saw and heard from others, having a car on the Amalfi coast is really difficult and really expensive. Although time consuming, public transportation saved a lot of headaches.
Traveling with friends? Make a joint “wallet”. My friend Argi who we were traveling with taught us this and it made things SO easy. At the beginning of the trip, everyone put in the same amount of money (say 100 euros) then, one person holds onto it and you pay for everything out of “the wallet”. It makes paying for things super easy especially when you just say “3 bus tickets please” instead of all 3 people having to pay separately.
In the Summer the Amalfi Coast is CRAZY HOT. Without being in the water some of the days would have been unbearable. Be prepared to sweat! Always have water with you because it’s so easy to get dehydrated. Similarly, the sun is strong. Don’t be scared to lather up! I wore SPF 50 every day on my whole body, face and lips to protect my skin. THIS sunscreen saved my face.
Ask for recommendations! Almost everyone we met was so nice and super helpful.
Pack a floaty!!! The one thing we wish we had was a floaty! It would have been amazing to just float in the sea and enjoy the sun!
DON’T DIET! Italy is one place you just have to say f*** it! The food is so good. Just eat all the pasta and all the pizza and all the cheese and tiramisu because it will never be as good at home!
Do you have any other tips or any questions!? Feel free to leave them in the comments! I’d be happy to answer any questions you have about our trip!!