The Amalfi Coast
The Amalfi Coast, Italy (la Costiera Amalfitana) is a beautiful and renowned stretch of mountainous coastline south of Naples, in Campania. The southern end of the Bay of Naples stretches out in a steep and rocky peninsula that reaches towards the Isle of Capri. Sorrento, another major tourist destination, looks back towards Naples from the north coast of the peninsula. The southern side of the peninsula is dotted with picturesque villages and towns clinging giddily to cliffs; this is what is known as the Amalfi Coast.
For decades these fishing villages, stacked precariously above the sea, have been one of Italy’s major tourist attractions. Nowadays the area’s principal industry is tourism, and a staggering number of hotels have been squeezed into the restricted spaces of the small towns. Well-accustomed to catering for affluent foreign tourists, the area offers a generous selection of restaurants, bars, boutiques, boat trips.. just about anything self-indulgent that you can spend money on.
Although prices are generally high, there are affordable options in the area. Some visitors find the region over-developed and over-crowded, especially in the height of summer, but for many the little boutiques, ceramics shops and the welcome laid on for tourists is part of the coastline’s charm. The views are undeniably breathtaking, and away from the main road and the tourist hot-spots you can still discover the peace that charmed earlier visitors.
Amalfi Coast holiday information
The main town of the coast is, of course, Amalfi, and this makes a good base for exploring the area. Other popular destinations are Ravello and Positano. Ravello is famous for its beautiful gardens perched high in the mountains above the sea, and for its classical music concerts. Positano is on the coast to the west of Amalfi, and is a traditionally ‘posh’ resort, where incredibly well-dressed tourists wander past exclusive boutiques before dining at even more exclusive restaurants.
Tourism is of prime importance in the area, and is the major employer. Consequently, almost everyone you meet will be friendly, obliging, speak very good English and will do their best to help you.
Amalfi Coast travel information
The coastal road along the Amalfi Coast is famous for its hairpin bends, fantastic views and general scariness. The busy artery winds along the cliffs, affording glimpses of blue sea directly below. The towns are all built at a very steep angle, so streets zigzag backwards and forwards along the slopes. Many buildings – including hotels – are only accessible by steep alleys and stairways.
The public transport along the coast is cheap and fairly efficient. A company called SITA runs blue buses along the coast, from Salerno to Amalfi, from Amalfi to Sorrento, and from Amalfi to Ravello. Other small buses provide transport within the towns.
Ferries connect the principal resorts of the Amalfi Coast area, and can be much quicker than buses. Travelmar (tel. +39 089 872950) run connections between Salerno, Minori, Amalfi, Positano and Sorrento. In Salerno there is a tourist information office to your right as you leave the station; they can give you a timetable for the boats. Salerno to Amalfi takes 35 minutes, and costs Ђ4, with eight departures daily in each direction. Although the bus trip along the road is dramatic, it can leave you feeling quite queasy and I find the boat is a much more comfortable option.
The nearest airport to the Amalfi Coast is Naples Capodichino.
If you’re travelling to the Amalfi Coast from Rome or other parts of Italy, there are a number of options for getting to the area: You can take a train to Naples or to Salerno. From Salerno you can get the SITA bus to Amalfi, and then a bus connection onwards if necessary (or take a ferry all the way from Salerno). From Naples you can take the Circumvesuviana train to Sorrento (see Sorrento page), then take a SITA bus to Amalfi via Positano.
An alternative option is to take a bus all the way from Rome. This is a much better idea than it may sound at first. A bus company called Marozzi run a fast efficient coach service from Tiburtina Station in Rome to Amalfi (summer season only) or to Sorrento (all year round). Obviously this method of travel depends upon road congestion, but the buses are usually fast and comfortable. Typically the Rome – Amalfi bus will leave Rome at 7am, arriving in Sorrento at 10:30am and Amalfi at 12 noon. The Sorrento service outside summer months generally leaves Rome at 3pm and arrives in Sorrento at 7pm. The return journey is at 3:25pm from Amalfi, picking up in Sorrento at 5pm and reaching Rome at 9pm. There is also an early morning service from Sorrento at 6am. Do check the latest timetables (link on the right in our links panel) as the times may change. The cost will be around Ђ20 each way or Ђ35 return to Amalfi, less to Sorrento. It is possible to buy tickets online, at various travel agencies in Rome (listed on the Marozzi website) or at the Marozzi kiosk by the bus station. (This is outside Tiburtina station; cross the area where orange ATAC buses are parked and you find a smarter covered area for long-distance coaches.) When I last travelled on the buses a few years ago in October I was told there was no need to book in advance, so I queued at the kiosk just before departure, but I’d suggest calling ahead to check, especially in peak season.
Bear in mind that the buses may not stop close to your hotel, and streets can be steep, or no more than staircases. Ask your hotel for precise directions, and if necessary carry the address in your hand, and ask the first locals you see. Some hotels offer their own minibus service for pick-ups, trips down to the beach etc.; find out about this if your hotel is one of them.
Amalfi Coast accommodation
Before you look for an Amalfi Coast hotel, villa or apartment, take a few minutes to think about where you want to stay. Do you want a convenient base for travelling about by public transport? Do you want to find a beautiful tranquil spot where you can remain for a long weekend? Our destination guides (links above on the left) will help you compare the towns along the coast. Or perhaps your priority is simply to find a luxury hotel for a special holiday – an Italian honeymoon, perhaps – and you’re not too bothered about where you stay. If you’re looking for a luxury hotel, we have compiled a special selection of charming luxury hotels along the Amalfi Coast: Amalfi Coast luxury hotels.
> The best hotels along the Amalfi Coast – our selection of good-value, friendly and comfortable places to stay.