Nestled along the coastline of southern Italy is the Amalfi Coast. This 50 kilometer stretch of land is one of my favorite regions in Italy. I wanted to share my Amalfi Coast itinerary because I think the towns I visited are just a few of many must see hot spots. While I didn’t get the chance to make it to every town and village along the way, I think if you have a few days to visit the area, you can’t miss these towns.
Amalfi Coast Itinerary
I arrived in Naples in the wee hours of the morning before most people were waking up and while people back home had already drifted off to sleep. I was to make my way to Meta, a little town just next to Sorrento, and my airbnb host suggested that I catch a bus for about 10 euro. This was fine by me, except that the buses to Meta didn’t start running until about nine or 10 and I had landed at 6:00am! After deciphering the bus schedule, with no help from the attendant who spoke no english, I moseyed back into the airport to wait. If this ever happens to you don’t stress it. Just relax and have you an airport, yet local, breakfast. Croissant and cappuccino for one, please.
When the bus finally showed up I hopped on and luckily got my own seat. My phone and camera were glued to my hand, and my hand was glued to the view out of my window. The mountains, the homes in the hills, and the ocean are thankfully embedded in my memory forever.
The year before, I visited Venice and Milan during my birthday trip. While some may have been hesitant going to Italy two years in a row, I can guarantee you that none of the cities are like the last. Even along the Amalfi Coast I can vouch that the look, the feel, the atmosphere and energy of Sorrento felt nothing like Positano. Positano felt nothing like Amalfi, and so on.
When I finally maneuvered my way to Meta (it’s not easy when the gist of your Italian consists of Bongiorno! and Ciao!) it felt a lot like my first day in Paris . The jet lag was a killer and if you let me sleep I won’t be the one to jump out of bed. Luckily during one of my many naps, after settling into my apartment directly on the beach, I awoke enough long enough to realize that the sun had already set and food was needed. Naturally, being in an apartment and all, I set out to find a grocery store for dinner and hopefully food for the rest of the week. However, I happened to stumble down a dark street, made a wrong turn in a stairway/alley, and ended up on a boardwalk pathway that led to several restaurants…all of which were right on the beach. I could see my apartment complex in the distance in addition to islands only lit by the moon, and the actual Amalfi Coast. I opted to eat dinner at one of the cuter joints, ordered a bottle of wine to go with my seafood spaghetti (which I originally discovered in Venice), and literally got lost in the sounds of the waves crashing against the shore. It was the perfect first night, and nothing short of amazing.
I usually wing it when traveling and try to stay as far away from a preplanned itinerary as I can. However, because Positano is the town that sparked my initial desire to visit Italy again, I thought it quite apropos to spend my actual birthday there. It was…magic.
Before trekking to Positano, the goal of the morning was to wake up and watch the sun rise. The only problem was that we kept missing sunrises and sunsets because we were always behind one mountain or another as the event was happening. Waking up early did have one perk. I would finally get a couple shots of the area we were staying in for the first part of the trip.
It was officially time to get the day started. After taking in the atmosphere of what would be home for the next few days we got ready and headed up the mountain (really, up the mountain) to the bus stop. I highly recommend using public transportation in Europe, period, unless advised otherwise. The train is a great way to get between Naples and Sorrento, but buses are just as good and go from each point of the coast several times a day.
After arriving at the bus stop and deciphering the schedule, I quickly realized the bus wouldn’t be coming for another two hours. Don’t ask, we had conflicting information. I was the only one willing to trek down the mountain and back up for when the bus actually did arrive so it wasn’t an argument worth having. The only other option was to stop at a nearby grocery store and stock up on provisions for the wait. Baguettes, salami, grapes, and pears were purchased for consumption, and boy was the small feast delicious. It easily held me over until dinner.
Once we were onboard it was literally a movie. These coach busses are packed beyond capacity as they speed from town to town, roaring around corners, down hills, and along winding roads. I have to be honest, it’s not for someone with a weak stomach as I got nauseous at one point and even witnessed a woman get sick from the ride. Sorry, I like to be honest about the bad, if any, that I encounter on trips.
Finally we arrived in POSITANO.
Unfortunately Luckily we got off a stop early and had to walk down into Positano as opposed to getting off atop the hill that was right above the action. One of the best mistakes of the day.
Walking down didn’t take too long and gave me the chance to stop into a boutique to check out some dresses. Before descending even lower to where people were shopping, eating, and relaxing on the beach, I noticed a small cafe and decided to take a breather. Okay, I really just wanted to see if they had limoncello because everyone makes such a huge deal about it.
I must warn you so that you don’t go into it thinking like me. Limoncello is not some sweet and sour delicious concoction with alcohol added. The flavoring is from the lemon skin soaking in alcohol, not the actual inside of the lemon (some soak the entire unpeeled lemon). I half expected it to taste like a lemon drop shot, or martini, but it was very far from it. I tossed it back and was on my way down the hill, slightly disappointed.
I was halfway surprised at the amount of vendors selling clothing, shoes, and trinkets, but then again Positano is the most popular destination along the Amalfi coast with it’s small population more than doubling every tourist season. I can easily see a large portion of the towns income coming from tourism alone. I tend to stay away from shopping while on vacation because I don’t like to buy things that don’t scream “take me home”, but also, I don’t like to have a lot to take back home. I made it through the market without managing to spend a single euro and finally to the beach to relax a bit and take in the views from the bottom. This would be the end before eventually making it back up the hill and catching the bus back to Meta. Naturally, wine and prosecco were bought along the way.
Capri & Sorrento
There was nothing like waking up to this view every day. The only bad part was knowing that it wasn’t mine. It didn’t belong to me. And it wouldn’t be permanent. However, these weren’t my thoughts on this particular day. The night before, on the way back from Positano, we had to get off of the bus in Sorrento to board the train back to Meta. Driving through the streets of Sorrento I could tell that we were missing out on all the nightlife. Looking back on the trip, the only real towns with nightlife were Sorrento, and Naples of course. The streets of Sorrento were packed with people shopping, late at night might I add, eating, and just strolling like they had not a care in the world. That’s when I realized we had to add it to the packed itinerary, and this day was the perfect day to do so.
We opted to go to Capri on this particular day and the easiest way to do so was to board a ferry from Sorrento. Ferries stopped running pretty early in the evening so it was best to explore Sorrento once we caught the ferry on the way back. That would give us more than enough time in Capri and about the same time to see what Sorrento had to offer.
After getting off at the wrong train stop (
easy mistake), we headed in the right direction on foot in hopes of flagging a taxi to the next train stop so that we wouldn’t miss our ferry. In usual european fashion, a gentleman pulled over and offered to give us a ride. I asked if he was a taxi and he said no but was willing to take us. He spoke no English and I didn’t pretend to speak Italian. Okay, I tried, but it’s horrible and broken. Once we got to the correct station I asked how much the ride was and he told me it was free. Hand signals and warm smiles are universal. I know “free” in every language.
Now I know you’re probably wondering what on earth would make me get into a strangers car when I’m in a foreign country and don’t even speak the language. Well, to be honest I feel safer in every country I’ve been to except the US. Unless it were a dire situation, I would never technically hitchhike in America (I mean it’s illegal anyway). It was broad daylight, I wasn’t alone, and I had a ferry to catch. A lady had places to be and I had no time to reflect on every horror movie I’d ever seen and every bad story I’d ever heard. More often than not, they’re urban myths and plain old fiction. When I travel, I become a local, and locals tend to get rides from other people. I actually didn’t realize it was a thing until my trip to Trinidad earlier this year, but that’s another story.
Using my still very broken, basic Italian, I made my way to the marina to thankfully board the ferry right on time. I even managed to get some great shots from the boat. (Let’s pause for the photoset from the ferry)
When you finally arrive in Capri and step off the ferry, you notice the colorful architecture, the droves of people, and the stand right on the dock that’s selling tickets for boat tours around the island. Because a visit to the blue grotto is a must see when on the island, I stepped right up to purchase my ticket. You can understand my disappointment when when I found out that the tide was too high on this day, and that there would be no entering the grotto. However, and for cheaper, I could purchase a regular ticket on a small boat that would take a group of folks around the island. I waited for a few minutes before it was time to set sail.
The tour was about an hour (I think a little longer) and the guide spoke english as he told us about the history of the island, the different grottos, and pointed out points of interest that had cute stories as well as made for good photos.
We even got to visit the “love arch.” I expect my lover to be entering my life any day now…
Upon returning to the mainland we got to explore Capri a bit and do a little gift shopping. I actually bought all of my souvenirs in Capri, for no particular reason. There really isn’t much to see when on foot around the island, so I definitely recommend booking a boat tour and grabbing a bite to eat accompanied by a bottle of wine. That was precisely what I did. We sat and ate prosciutto and ravioli, and finished it off with a bottle of white wine and complimentary limoncello shots. The day couldn’t have been better.
After our super late lunch we hopped on the last ferry to Sorrento and decided to do some shopping. The goal of my trip was to find a leather backpack. It was literally all I wanted and I was told I would find cheaper authentic leather in Italy as opposed to the US. Unfortunately after stumbling in and out of alleyways I couldn’t find the perfect bag to spend upwards of 100 euros on, but I did find the perfect leather jacket.
I have this thing where every place I visit I traipse into church or a cemetery, simply because I think they’re beautiful. I’ve been told it’s
morbid, but let’s go with beautiful. Naturally I found this pastel gem, one of many in Sorrento, and decided to sneak in and get a shot.
After walking around and shopping until we were tired, it was time to head back to Meta as it was pretty late. Upon arriving at the train station we soon found out that we had missed the last train. The next best option was to catch a bus because a taxi would have been 50+ euros. From what we could decipher from the bus schedule, one should have been coming soon, only we were told the busses had stopped running. This was the most disappointing news of the trip and I couldn’t believe we had missed our way home due to shopping of all things! The gentleman who alerted us of the busses no longer running offered to give us a ride back to Meta. He lived in Positano and said it was on his way. Now, if you know anything about the Amalfi Coast, you’ll know that Sorrento is in between Positano and Meta. Therefore in no world is Positano on the way to Meta, but I could tell he was just trying to be nice. We had no other option except to spend a chunk of money on a taxi so I, again without much hesitation (don’t worry, it’s always there), accepted his generous offer. Wouldn’t you know it, we arrived safely back in Meta.
The day I planned to simply visit Amalfi was not only the best day of this trip, but hands down one of the most pleasant days of my life. The night before was rocky to say the least. In addition to almost being stranded, I noticed soon after arriving back at the apartment that I had lost my phone. After a frantic search of all of my shopping bags, and a triple check up the mountain we hiked down just to get to the apartment, I quickly realized I had left it in the car of the complete stranger I had no intention of seeing again. Ever again. Thankfully it turned out that he was a tour guide and he’d given me his card should we want a tour before our departure. It took no time to get an email exchange going and he volunteered to deliver my phone to me the very next morning. Imagine doing all of this without being able to call the person and arrange an exact pickup location and time. All I could say was meet me at the top of the hill where you dropped me off and thankfully he remembered the exact spot. Alcohol consumption and pitch black darkness didn’t stand a chance.
The next morning, once I got my phone back, Franco (of course his name is Franco) asked what I had planned for the day and volunteered to drive us all the way to Amalfi, but not without a few stops first. Sidenote: I have to admit it’s always strange when people have bad stories about Europeans, though I don’t discount their truths. This was the third time in two days that we had been offered a ride, free of charge. I hope this lucky travel streak continues…Back to the story.
After a quick breakfast of croissants and tea/coffee, Franco decided that he would take us on a very quick tour of towns and areas we wouldn’t have visited otherwise. We ended up in a town (pictured above) that I still don’t know the name of. All I can tell you is that we drove and drove up a mountain until we couldn’t go any further north. There is where we would have lunch.
You can imagine my surprise when Franco walked into the restaurant, personally greeted the owners, and walked us out onto the patio to this.
Not only did we get a private, authentic Italian lunch complete with wine, but we didn’t have to peruse the menu to try and translate and figure out what was good. He ordered for us. An Italian ordering an Italian spread for a couple of Americans is bound to be delicious. I’m still convinced he was trying to fatten us up as he spooned more pasta and bread onto our plates well after we were done.
The next stop on our journey was a quick hike. As you can see from the pictures below, we ended up atop yet another mountain trekking along The Pathway of the Gods. No, seriously. It’s called THE PATHWAY OF THE GODS. At this moment I doubt I could have felt more regal. Overlooking vineyards, homes nestled atop cliffs, and the sea was beyond breathtaking. Had I had a little more time to explore I probably would’ve reached Nirvana.
Up until it was time to leave we were pretty much the only people along the path. I was surprised that everyone we ran into had an Australian accent. We actually met more Australian tourists than American ones.
Now it was time to make the trip to Amalfi, the furthest town on our destination list. I have to admit that Amalfi, albeit gorgeous and different in its own right, didn’t have much to do. The plan was to get dinner but after our delicious and filling lunch, we had no appetite. Because we had no interest in shopping, we roamed the town until sunset. My favorite part had to be the gorgeous cathedral we came across, but everything was a vision and the perfect end to a perfect day.
My last full day on the Amalfi Coast was bittersweet, but thankfully didn’t leave me wanting more. I had seen enough and regretted nothing. I must admit that should I ever visit again, I’ll have a laundry list of new things to do. On my last morning I rose with the sun and finished packing whatever I needed to. Once I realized that the train was the best and fastest way to travel from town to town, I immediately decided that getting back to Naples must be done via train. Sure, I could’ve stayed an extra day on the coast, but being as close to the airport as possible for that morning flight back makes more sense to me. Plus, Naples was another town to explore and I couldn’t pass that up.
I must admit that I was surprised by the hustle and bustle of the city, especially because it was still the early afternoon when we arrived to check into our studio. (Use my airbnb code to receive $20 off of your stay). We walked from the train station to the studio centered in the heart of Naples, and even though it was slightly tough with luggage, I wouldn’t have had it any other way. This was beyond an authentic Italian experience, which is the #1 reason I prefer airbnb’s over hotels. Here is the view of the courtyard from our balcony. Don’t let the looks fool you. The studio was nice and modern, albeit “cozy,” and we all know cozy translates to “tiny” in hospitality language.
After a quick rest period it was time to head out and roam the city. The first stop was food, and well, when in Napoli…
Pizza was for sure on the menu, mushroom and ham to be exact. I washed it down with an ice cold Peroni. That seems to be the beer of choice in the area and I enjoyed every bit.
As usual I walked off this delicious lunch and burned more calories than I probably should have. We roamed and roamed as I window shopped until it was night time and it was time to find our way back to the apartment as we had a super early flight. Stopping along the way for midnight snacks and Prosecco was another must.
Travel Tip: When staying at airbnb’s, be sure to consult with the host about transportation to the airport, especially when you have early flights. Hotels usually have taxi stands and/or can arrange one on the spot, but home lodgings in urban epicenters or rural areas can obviously be a bit tricky. Luckily for us, our host mentioned having a neighbor who drove people to the airport for a small fee. It beats trying to hail a cab at 7am and in a way I got to support a small business. Ha!
I hope you enjoyed my Amalfi Coast itinerary. What are some must see towns along the Amalfi Coast that you recommend?