What are best places to visit on the Amalfi Coast? Which resorts and hotels to choose? Should you stay overnight in Capri? This ultimate guide to the Amalfi Coast has all the answers.
The Amalfi Coast is one of Italy’s most captivating destinations. From the pastel-painted houses of Positano, to the hill top town of Ravello, from lively Sorrento to the stunning Isle of Capri. And that’s on top of a coastline surrounded by turquoise seas and brimming with pretty piazzas.
The Amalfi Coast is bucket list destination for sure, but thankfully for us it is easily accessible. However, it can be daunting trying to decide which towns and villages to visit, as let’s face it, they are all beautiful! This ultimate guide to the Amalfi Coast will help you figure out what resorts to choose, and will show you the best places to stay in Sorrento, Positano, Amalfi and Capri.
I visited the Amalfi Coast on a few occasions, but it was many years ago. I needed some help compiling this ultimate guide to the Amalfi Coast, so I reached out to my friend and former travel agent Christine Callinan for some help. Christine has just returned from a two week trip around the Amalfi Coast and explored all of the main towns and villages, and also stayed on the isle of Capri.
Christine has over 25 years experience in the travel industry and has visited over 40 countries. She has three children and is an expert at sourcing beautiful boutique hotels, as well as family friendly resorts in top locations. Christine has documented her trip below, along with top experiences, restaurant recommendations and the best places to stay on the Amalfi Coast.
The Amalfi Coast makes for a wonderful adventure full of colour and taste. You can take it in bite size chunks or little nibbles. Christine chose to go for chunks staying a few nights in each main area. Her first port of call was the town of Amalfi.
Arriving into Amalfi we were immediately hit with the hustle and bustle of the main square. The main bus station is right in the middle giving you access to all the other towns on the Amalfi Coast. The ferry port is also there which I believe is a much more pleasant way to travel.
Amalfi is a surprisingly small town that can be explored easily by foot. The town has a couple of small extremely busy beaches where you can rent sun-beds for the day. The beaches are shingle and not very pleasant underfoot, so beach shoes are essential.
The main focal point in the town is the Church, the Duomo di Sant’Andrea, a wonderful architectural feat that commands the main centre. There is one main street with lots of colourful shops selling souvenirs, clothing, shoes to name but a few.
You will also find many restaurants here with outdoor seating, serving a wide selection of cuisine. We enjoyed fresh seafood as well as pizzas and pastas at Restaurant Locanda Del Mariniao.
Where to stay in Amalfi:
We stayed in the 4-star Residence Hotel, which is right on the sea front facing the beaches. It’s a lovely boutique hotel that was once an aristocratic palace of the eighteenth century, and was converted into a hotel in the 1950s. It’s small, with only 27 rooms, so early booking is essential. We chose this hotel as it rated very highly on TripAdvisor, and for its proximity to the ferries and buses.
Amalfi also has some good value apartment and villa accommodation, compared to staying in similar accommodation in Positano or Sorrento. The centrally located Loft Apartments are a great choice if travelling as a family or with friends.
We travelled from Amalfi to Ravello by bus which we caught from the main bus stop across the street from the Residence hotel. Be prepared buses are busy and they certainly know how to pack you in! The drive to Ravello is steep but the bus drivers command the road. When you arrive in Ravello the drive will be well worth it for the spectacular view that greets you. Photo opportunity right there.
Ravello centre square is dominated by the church and the entrance into the gardens. The entrance fee into the gardens is €6.00 and you must have a green pass ( our DCC ) to enter, and that includes children. Ravello is definitely worth a day trip or for the views alone, but you can also choose to stay here.
Where to stay in Ravello:
The 4-star Graal Hotel is one of the most popular hotels in Ravello. It is located right in the centre of the town and offers stunning views. There is also pool with terrace and a choice of dining options on site – what more could you want?
If you really want to push the boat out, the 5-star Caruso Hotel is one of the world’s most luxurious hotels. It might be worth considering even spending one night here if you were celebrating a special occasion. Sarah stayed overnight here during a holiday to Sorrento many years ago.
We caught an 11am ferry from Amalfi to Positano, at a cost of €9 per person and €2 for suitcases. This is the most wonderful way to travel between the two towns. You can sit on the top deck and leave your bags downstairs tucked away for safety.
There is nothing quite as spectacular as arriving in Positano by boat. Your first view of the cliffside village will take your breath away. It’s everything you see in photos and more.
However, getting from the ferry to your hotel with luggage is no mean feat. TOP TIP: If you have heavy suitcases, make sure to prebook a baggage porter with your hotel. They cost €10 per suitcase and will bring them to your door. However, you still have to make your own way to the hotel. This can involve hundreds of steps depending on the level you are staying on, but the higher you are the better the view.
Positano has two beaches, the first being Spiaggia, which is the main beach where you can rent sun beds for a whopping €30 – and you can not even share them with children!
The second beach is Fornillo beach, which can be located from a walkway by the ferry port. It’s no less busy but tends to be more family orientated. They are both shingle beaches so beach shoes are needed.
Positano is buzzing with life. Restaurants are plentiful, but make sure to ask your hotel to make reservations as it gets very busy in high season, particularly if you are looking for a sunset view. There are shops galore ranging from designers like Missoni, to cheap souvenir shops, there is something for everyone in Positano.
Their main goods on offer are hand made sandals, clothing and anything to do with limoncello. You will find lemons on offer everywhere on the Amalfi Coast, ranging from drinks to gelato.
Nightlife in Positano revolves around restaurants and bars. It’s not the party capital of Italy, but it certainly attracts the glitz and glam. Franco’s Bar is one of those places where you can people watch for celebrities. It is located right across the road from the Villa Rosa where we stayed. Drinks in Francos cost €20 – that’s the minimum spend.
Where to stay in Positano:
We stayed in the glorious Villa Rosa on the sunset side of the village. This meant we had sun all afternoon on our terrace and what a terrace that was. The Villa Rosa is a stunning small boutique hotel situated conveniently near the centre of Positano, just a few minutes walk downhill to the beaches, restaurants and shops.
It is only a three-star hotel, but don’t let that put you off. We booked a standard sea view triple room which was just amazing.
We were walked to our room by the receptionist who took great delight in opening our french doors to the most magnificent view I have ever seen. I felt practically giddy at the sight! Breakfast is served every morning on your terrace which is just delightful. The terrace also comes equipped with deck chairs and sun loungers, what more could a girl ask for.
We stayed for four nights in August and it is hot hot hot! We certainly burnt off any pizza or pasta calories consumed by climbing those steps to and from dinner. Speaking of which, the pizzas are delicious in Capricci and Lincanto at the beach is great for paninis at lunch time.
If you are looking for a table with a view, go for Caffe Positano. It is owned by the same owners as the Villa Rosa, so they will collect you and bring you home after your meal.
I understand that Positano is a popular location for celebrations. With that in mind I thought I should mention on the of Positano’s best hotels – Il San Pietro de Positano. It is a luxurious five-star hotel, with a price tag to match, but if you are looking for that bucket list experience – check it out.
The mid morning ferry from Positano to Capri took approximately 50 minutes and cost €22 one way. There are numerous ferries operating daily but all cost roughly the same. Capri is famous for day trippers, but there is so much to see and do on Capri – it is worth a stay in its own right.
To get from the port to Capri town centre take the Funicular rail, this journey costs €2 each way – not only is this a novel way to travel, but it is also very efficient. You can also take a local bus or open top taxi.
Capri town has a main square full of bars and restaurants, surrounded by flower covered laneways and alleyways, leading to upmarket shops and restaurants. It definitely has a chilled vibe, and you could sit in the square for hours just watching the world go by, with an Aperol Spritz in hand of course. Your main pastime while in Capri will likely be shopping and people watching.
Capri was all about the scenery for me and we took every opportunity to investigate the island but also used it for some down time. We enjoyed lots of relaxing, swimming in the pool, and simply enjoying our surroundings.
The Blue Grotto is the main tourist sight on the Isle of Capri but be prepared for queues. You must transfer from a larger boat onto a row boat, and lie down while entering the cave – this is definitely not suited to anyone who may be claustrophobic.
A visit to Anacapri is a must. It is Capri’s second town and can be reached in 10 minutes by taxi from Capri Town. It is quieter than Capri and is home to upmarket hotels, B&B’s, plenty of shops and restaurants, as well as stunning sea views. We enjoyed delicious pizza and pasta in Materita in Anacapri.
Where to stay in Capri:
The 4-star Della Piccola Marina Hotel is an excellent choice if you are looking for a hotel with a pool. It is just ten-minutes walk to the main Piazzetta, Capri’s main square.
Hotels in Anacapri tend to be lower in price, and the Villa Ceselle is sure to please. It’s panoramic location, stylish interiors, and large rooms have received excellent reviews on TripAdvisor. It is located near the cable car and the central square, Piazza Caprile, and you can enjoy free use of the swimming pool at its sister hotel.
After a battery recharge in Capri it was time to visit Sorrento. We caught a midmorning fast ferry from Capri to Sorrento, which had us there in 30 minutes, and cost €19.50 one way. Arriving into Sorrento we took the cliff elevator (lift) from the beach area to the centre of Sorrento. For €1.00 this is money well spent, the other option involves lots and lots of steps!
Sorrento has so much to offer. It’s bigger than any of the other Amalfi Coast towns, and has a busier vibe about it. It is split in two main areas, a cliff wall with the beaches below, and further along the coast a flatter region with restaurants and bars. It’s quite a nice walk to the flat area but it is all uphill on the way back.
The town of Sorrento can be best seen from a tourist train that covers the whole area for a fee of €6 – it gives you a great view of the town. Sorrento can also be used as a base to visit the rest of the Amalfi coast, as there are ferries available to all of the major towns departing from its port. However, I personally believe to get a true feel for each town it is best to stay in them.
There is an abundance of shops and restaurants in Sorrento. The main shopping street off the main plaza has multiple alleyways leading off it. The historic buildings house everything from designer shops to local souvenirs, so there is plenty of choice.
Shops stay open until 8.30pm, so you can enjoy a leisurely browse before dinner. Restaurants are plentiful, but always busy, so ask your hotel concierge to help you in securing reservations. We enjoyed typical Italian cuisine in Restaurant La Basilica, good value steaks and sea food in Restaurant Zintonio, and seafood and pizzas in Acqu e Sale near the port.
Where to stay in Sorrento:
Once again we hit gold with our hotel in Sorrento. We stayed in the Palazzo Marziale, a luxury boutique hotel right in the heart of Sorrento, just steps away from the lift. All rooms have names, not numbers. We stayed in Hilarity which had french doors opening onto a view of the church and the sea. The balcony is small but big enough to enjoy the view.
There is no pool at the Palazzo. but there is at their sister hotel. This is about 10 minutes away and they will organise a transfer for you if you would like to spend some time by the pool, Lunch or a drink can be purchased at this hotel too.
If you are travelling with younger children or friends, the centrally located Hotel Rivoli offers two bedroom suites, while the luxurious 2-bedroom Villa Caruso offers stunning views over the Bay of Naples.View Hotel Rivoli
Things to do on the Amalfi Coast:
This guide to the Amalfi Coast should hopefully give you plenty of ideas when planning your next trip. However if you decide to base yourself in one town, rather than move around like I did, I recommend you take the ferries and visit these gorgeous towns.
You can’t visit the Amalfi Coast without exploring the colourful town of Positano, but the views from the hilltop town of Ravello should also not be overlooked. A boat trip to the Isle of Capri is a must, and if you fancy a day at the beach, try the historic town of Maiori – it boasts the longest unbroken stretch of beach on the Amalfi Coast.
You may have noticed I haven’t mentioned a visit to Pompeii which will have to be put on hold for the next time. From the 6th August Italy has introduced the green pass, which is similar to the DCC. This restricts entrance into any government run public sights and indoor restaurants for anyone over seven years of age.
We were not refused entrance into any restaurant but the public sights all requested to see a pass. We therefore decided against risking a trip Pompeii, as we had children with us. However clearly this is one of the Amalfi Coast’s top attractions and should not be missed if restrictions allow you to visit.
For those seeking adventure, it is possible to hike Mount Vesuvius – although it is probably best avoided in the hot summer months.
How to get to the Amalfi Coast:
Aer Lingus and Ryanair fly directly from Dublin to Naples. We organised a taxi transfer to collect us upon arrival and drive us to Amalfi, and similarly on our return from Sorrento to Naples. The cost of this transfer is roughly €100 but it is worth it to drive directly – around 90 minutes.
There are cheaper means to get there, but they involve trains, transfers and buses. You can get a taxi to the port of Naples for €30 and then a ferry from Naples to Sorrento for €15. As there were three of us travelling it made more sense to book transfers directly to and from our hotels.
Car hire is something that many consider, and there is no doubt that the Amalfi Coast is one of the world’s most scenic drives. However, roads are very narrow, so you will need to be a very confident driver. Roads can also be congested during the summer months and parking is virtually non-existent in towns. Hotels do offer parking, but usually at a cost of €30 per day!
I hope you liked my travel guide to the Amalfi Coast and that it helps you with your travel plans. Watch out for more coming soon.