Last updated on May 4th, 2022
Among Southern Europe’s most stunning coastlines, Italy’s Amalfi Coast evokes visions of deep blue meeting lemon-covered hills and villages hanging on for dear life. And though the region gets more than its fair share of tourists, the Amalfi Coast retains a glamorous allure that is simply too hard to resist. Add to the mix one of Italy’s most interesting and affordable cities, and you have yourself a recipe for a memorable holiday. Planning a week on the coast? Here’s a seven day Naples and the Amalfi Coast itinerary to spark your romantic getaway.
This week in Naples and Amalfi Coast itinerary is based on my own travels and extensive research. I visited the region during the start of June on a couple’s trip and our preference was for active days filled with sightseeing, hiking, lots of walking and great food. We focused less on beach bumming though we did visit a few of those as well.
This map contains all the places mentioned in this sample itinerary. Click on the image to open in Google Maps.
Our 7 days in the Amalfi Coast begins in Naples, Italy’s third-largest city. Naples suffers from a bad reputation and many tourists do their utmost to spend as little time here as possible. Sure, it might not be the cleanest city in the world, its dilapidated buildings might be in need of a touchup, and some of its Camorra-controlled sections are certainly a no-go zone for tourists. However, Naples has so much charm to it that it would a shame not to spend a little bit of time in one of Italy’s most historic cities. Following a quick visit, we’ll hit the road and climb the Vesuvius Volcano, before exploring its “victim” – the ruined ancient city of Pompeii.
Listed in this section are specific travel tips for planning your visit to Naples. For general travel tips for the Amalfi Coast, visit this article.
Sleeping smack in the historic center – the Centro Storico – will be challenging so opting for something “in the perimeter” is recommended.
We spent a night at A Cassa di Mamma, a charming bed breakfast located about 15 minutes by foot from the historic center. From the moment we met our hosts – Marina and her son – we knew we made the right choice. Speaking excellent English and doing everything possible to make your Naples visit a memorable one, this accommodation is perfect for both couples and families who seek interaction with locals.
A Cassa di Mamma is situated in one of those “classic” Naples apartments, one with an antiquated feel, an elevator that might not be working, and windows overlooking the busy street traffic (you’ll sleep like a baby so not to worry). Rooms are quite large and air-conditioned, the shower works just fine, and a typical breakfast is offered with a never-ending flow of coffee. Another advantage to A Cassa di Mamma is its close proximity to a parking garage where the owners know Marina, something which provided us with the extra confidence of trusting our car (and keys) in the hands of strangers.
After checking into our bed & breakfast, we geared up for nearly a full day of exploring the city on foot, from the grid-like streets of the Centro Storico down to the marina via the downtown boulevards. We ended the day after walking 15 km, well deserving our evening pizzas.
En route to the official gateway to the historic center of Naples, we walked through the Via Port’Alba. Entrance to this tiny street is via a stone gate and the highlight here are the books… there are lots of them. Via Port’Alba is known as “the library street”, with a handful of antique bookshops lining both sides and a few stalls taking up space in the middle. Some shops also double as cafes and bars.
This is the de facto entrance to the Centro Storico and its two major streets: Via dei Tribunali and Via San Biagio dei Librai. Piazza Bellini is quite small and offers some seclusion from the hustle and bustle of the city. You’ll find here a few cafes and some Roman ruins. Parallel to Piazza Bellini lies a large municipal square – Piazza Dante – but there isn’t much happening here apart from the odd evening musical performance.
Approached from Via dei Tribunali, the Piazza San Domenico Maggiore can hardly be missed, mainly thanks to the large obelisk taking up center stage. The obelisk was erected in the mid 17th century to celebrate the city’s deliverance from a terrible plague.
Not to be missed is the Scaturchio chocolate and pastry shop, one of the city’s most famous. You can order at the counter or sit outside but whatever you do, try the ministeriali – essentially a slice of hard chocolate injected with rum-flavored cream. We also ordered a “side” of delicious cannolis and washed everything down with shots of espresso.
Last but not least, visit the church which this piazza is named after. The San Domenico church was a surprising and awe-inspiring visit. It looks nothing fancy from the outside but once you step inside, it’s a totally different ball game. Originally dating back to the 13th century, the church’s incredible colors and magnificent ceiling are not to be missed.
This is the “major” street of the historic center, a narrow thoroughfare where pedestrians, cars, and scooters must share the scarce real estate. This is the Naples you’ve imagined: narrow, hardly any sunlight making it through the tall crumbling buildings, narrow alleys criss-crossing from either side, and lots of action. We’ll come back later to this area for dinner but if you’re after some lunch, there are plenty of options around.
We meandered along on foot until finally pinpointing the Sansevero Museum. Though you do have to pay a small entrance fee of approx 5€ (discounts for under 24s and seniors) and you absolutely cannot take photos inside, it’s well worth the visit. Dating back to the late 16th century, the museum is blessed with the most exquisite interior in Naples.
The museum’s centerpiece is the world-famous marble statue of Jesus. The statue was carved from a single piece of marble and the incredible level of detail is something that you must see with your own eyes. Lining the perimeter are other marble statues and tombs, while the chapel’s ceiling is, once again, something out of this world. The person responsible for this incredible collection was also a local alchemist and some of his chilling work is displayed in the basement.
Free to enter, there’s no excuse for not visiting the prime cathedral of Naples, though be warned – you must have your shoulders covered! Built in the 18th century, the cathedral is dedicated to the patron saint of Naples and the man responsible for the city’s greatest mystery – San Gennaro.
The martyred saint was killed in the year 305 and when his body was later transferred to the cathedral, what was left of his dried blood liquified in the hands of the bishop. The miracle of San Gennaro is celebrated each year during the month of May and is certainly a topic worth further exploring if you want to learn more about the superstitious side of Naples.
On the way back from the Duomo on Via dei Tribunali, we climbed the steps of this church for a unique vantage point over the historic center’s major street. From up here, we glanced for a while at the mix of tourists walking by and locals going about their daily chores.
Right after Piazza San Gaetano, we turned on Via San Gregorio Armeno before exiting the historic center through the less exciting Via San Biagio dei Librai. Via San Gregorio Armeno is one of the prettiest streets in Naples and is famous for shops selling Christmas decorations throughout the year.
If you still fancy getting blown away by the over-the-top interior of classic European churches, step inside the Gesù Nuovo church whose exterior facade can’t be missed.
Via Toledo is the central avenue in Naples, the city’s main artery and a pleasant way to go from the historic center to the sea. As you make your way down, there are several worthwhile stops and you’ll need to spare extra time for the dozens of shops lining both sides of the avenue. Also worth noting are the small alleys rising from the avenue’s western side. These make up part of the grid of the Spagnoli Quarter. It makes for a pleasant walk which, without stops, would only take about 20-30 minutes.
One of the landmarks along the way is the Galleria Umberto I, an impressive shopping arcade topped with a glass ceiling. In recent years, the arcade has gotten a facelift and is now a favorite shopping and dining spot for locals. If you have the extra time (or if it’s raining in Naples), the Castel Nuovo is just a few minutes by walk from Galleria Umberto I. This 13th-century castle is now the city’s main museum. Another worthwhile stop is at the Via Toledo branch of Il gelato Mennella, a local chain of ice cream parlors. They’ve been around since 1969 and I must say it was one of the best ice creams we tasted on this trip!
Further down Via Toledo is Piazza Trieste e Trento and the Teatro di San Carlo. This is the largest and oldest opera house in Italy and you can either attend an evening show or tour the building. Across from Piazza Trieste and the opera house is Gran Caffe Gambrinus. Over the years of traveling in Europe, I came to learn that every large city with a bit of history has its classic cafe and in Naples, this is the one. The cafe was founded in 1860 and is famous for its pastries and ice creams. With waiters dressed in their finest outfits, you can either down an espresso over the counter or grab a seat outside and watch the world go by.
This marks the end of Via Toledo and is Naples’ main square. Its size is certainly something out of the ordinary in cramped Naples but there isn’t much happening here apart from admiring the architecture and enjoying the occasional live show. From the Piazza, you can detour to the Castel Nuovo – a 13th-century fortress that now houses the Civic Museum.
If you’ve got more time, consider heading straight down to the waterfront and catch awesome views of the Vesuvius Volcano. There are also a few paths that can extend your walking tour.
On this day, one of the biggest questions on your minds will no doubt be “where can you find the best pizza in Naples?” Well, I must say there were many candidates but they were all very much geared towards tourists (accordingly was the wait in line). There was Gino e Toto Sorbillo – famous among celebrities and the simpler Pizzeria I Decumani.
However, we simply asked our lovely host – Marina – and she told us that wise locals head to Pizza di Matteo instead. She was absolutely right as there were quite a few locals inside. The over was firing pizzas by the dozens and the taste was great, soft at the center, and only really baked at the edges – a classic pizza Napoletana. The price? About 5€ per pizza pie!
Since the time of the ancient Greeks, the ground beneath present-day Naples is dissected by a maze of tunnels and caves. Due to the relatively soft tuff – which is essentially compressed volcanic ash, the ground was ideal for excavation. Over the years, these caves were used as cisterns, ancient Roman theatres, escape routes, bomb shelters during WWII, and burial grounds – much like the catacombs of Paris.
There are several routes in the Naples underground. The popular ones are the Naples Underground in the historic center and the famed Bourbon Tunnel with its remnant antique cars. However, our host recommended the Catacombs of San Gennaro and the Catacombs San Gaudioso as better alternatives. In the interest of time, we opted out of heading underground.
On day two of our weeks in the Amalfi Coast, we finally make it to the actual coast. We’ll start the day scaling the mighty Vesuvius Volcano, before exploring the ruins at Pompeii. Our day ends with a beautiful drive to our base for the next few days around Amalfi, and a romantic dinner to celebrate the “official” beginning of the trip.
Clearly seen from Naples, the sight of the mighty volcano (1,281m) is a constant tease, a hard-to-resist opportunity to scale an active volcano in the heart of Europe. Since erupting in 79 AD and destroying Pompeii, Vesuvius has been a constant threat and is expected to erupt in the coming decades.
If it’s a completely overcast day, consider skipping the visit to Vesuvius in favor of more time in Pompeii and/or the surrounding archeological sites. Visibility at the top will be minimal.
Driving to Mount Vesuvius from Naples takes about 30 mins but have lots of coins handy as the motorway is tolled in numerous sections (you can also take a bus from Naples). As you head up to the summit, the road snakes around the volcano. The scenery constantly changes with every bend and there are a number of panoramic spots overlooking the Gulf of Naples.
However, the road doesn’t go all the way to the top. At some point, you’ll reach the upper car park which costs about 5€. You can then either pay 1€ and be driven to the ticket booth (10€ entrance fee) or you can climb on foot for about 15 mins (the public bus goes all the way to the ticket booth). Reaching the crater rim takes about 20 minutes of climbing. The climb itself is not difficult at all but it is dusty (so wear show) and it will get chilly (and perhaps wet) if it’s an overcast day.
Peaking through the massive crater is pretty impressive but the real highlight is the view of Naples and the gulf from the summit, something we didn’t get to enjoy during our visit due to the bad weather…
On August 24 in the year 79 AD, the Roman city of Pompeii was wiped out by a massive eruption of Mount Vesuvius. At the time, Pompeii was a major center of commerce in the Roman Empire and its destruction was tragic. The ruins of Pompeii were first discovered in 1600, but excavations only began in 1748 and, in fact, they are continuing to this very day. Over the years, archaeologists have made chilling discoveries of residents and their pets frozen in time in layers of volcanic ash that have preserved their final postures.
Pompeii is a huge attraction to take in and it can easily consume half of your day. However, we spent a couple of hours strolling around and it was more than enough. We got the point, were super impressed, but we were ready to move on.
You can visit Pompeii on a bus trip from Naples but if you have a car, keep in mind that you can enter the site from two gates but it’s the Marina Gate that you want to plan for. There are a handful of restaurants lining the main avenue and they’ll let you park for free if you grab lunch, which we found to be a good option. Entrance to the site costs 15€, with discounts for EU citizens under the age of 24 (skip-the-line tickets are also available).
Once inside, we strolled straight in the direction of the forum which was essentially “the downtown” of Pompeii. We took in the various highlights around the forum, including the mosaics, bathhouses, and what seems like the remains of humans and animals but are really the contours of volcanic ash which covered the poor souls who did not flee the ancient city. The only missed Pompeii highlights that were on our list were the amphitheater and the grand palace but they were on the far end from the forum and we really wanted to hit the road, and finally hit the Amalfi Coast.
If you’re interested in the subject, consider combining your Pompeii visit with a tour of Herculaneum. Slightly closer to Naples than Pompeii, this site is a lot less crowded than its more famous neighbor.
The anticipated drive from Pompeii to our Amalfi base for the next three nights was incredible. Once you leave the coast and enter the mountains, the drive becomes challenging and exhilarating. The views are spectacular and if you’re not in a hurry, take the time and make a few stops. We made such a stop in a lookout near the village of Agerola, inside the Parco Regionale dei Monti Lattari. The views from up here are the views we were dreaming of when planning our vacation on the Amalfi Coast.
As you continue the drive, man’s victory over nature is absolutely mindblowing. The entire scene on the Amalfi Coast looks like a children’s game of “snakes and ladders”. Rows upon rows of lemon and olive trees blanket the contours of fertile hills and small vertical footpaths lead from homes clinging to the hillside down to cultivated plots of land.
Such a “collision” between man and nature has surely yielded the highest per capita ratio of steps to residents, not to mention locals with extremely strong leg muscles, regardless of what is happening around the waist. This seemingly inaccessible area poses a challenge for tourist drivers, perhaps the reason for the constant boat traffic going up and down the coast.
The answer to that is to actually not stay in Amalfi. The famed village is overcrowded with tourists not to mention with cars. Instead, stay in the village of Ravello or at the gem of a place that we found called World Center Resort. Located in the countryside about 10 minutes by car from Amalfi, this is the ideal location with stunning coastline views. Units have been recently renovated and their layout provides privacy.
Breakfast is generously served in the beautiful garden and if you need any extra services such as a ride to and from Amalfi or a lift to the start of the Path of the Gods trailhead, that can be arranged on the spot. The only downside at the World Center is the lack of mosquito screens on the windows (but there is air conditioning).
Our first dinner on the Amalfi Coast was at Le Bontà del Capo in the village of Conca dei Marini. We came here at a friend’s recommendation and it was our best dinner on the Amalfi Coast. It’s amazing just how good the food was and how reasonable the price was. We sampled some local wine to go along with octopus and Caprese salad to start things off. For mains, we had the fish ravioli and grilled sea bream. And for dessert… tiramisu, of course. Reservations are essential and I recommend asking for an outside table right on the terrace. Even in June, it might be a bit chilly in the mountains, so bring something warm just in case.