Last updated on January 13th, 2023
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.
The newly restored Casa dei Vettii in Pompeii opened for visitors in early 2023. The former mansion displays a beautiful interior that’s worth checking out.
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.
The second part of our 7 days in the Amalfi Coast takes us to its most scenic sections. We’ll spend the first day exploring the hilltop village of Ravello before heading down to the coast (and the crowds) in Amalfi. On the second day, we’ll hike the Path of the Gods and explore Positano and its surroundings.
Follow all the places mentioned in this section with this companion map, simply click on the image to open Google Maps
Ravello and Amalfi are two of the most famous stops on the coast. Both villages are steeped with ancient history but their claim to fame is thanks to their days as posh summer vacation destinations for the rich, famous, and royalty.
With Amalfi squeezed between the mountains and the coastline and Ravello’s challenging hilltop location, exploring the two is no easy task during the tourist season. My recommendation is to start your day early in Ravello and make your way down to Amalfi. Ravello is far more scenic and enjoyable, so having a few hours before the tourist buses arrive is a big plus. Ravello is also a romantic place to base yourself and it has quite a few accommodations.
In order to avoid having to search for parking in Amalfi after your Ravello visit, I recommend parking your car in Amalfi and using the public bus to get to Ravello and back down to Amalfi. Try the Luna Rossa garage, on the coastal road between Amalfi and Atrani.
After a lovely breakfast with glorious views at the World Center, we drove straight to Ravello, passing Amalfi on the way. The drive to Ravello was quite challenging but very scenic. The road snaking up the mountain is narrow and even capped to on lane in certain sections, so be on the lookout for traffic lights and adhere to them!
Upon reaching the village, the driving doesn’t get any easier but the views are to die for. The stunning coastline scenery is some of the Mediterranean’s best and, once again, it’s incredible to see how locals have changed the impenetrable landscape with their homes and agricultural plots.
We parked in the garage of the Oscar Niemeyer Auditorium for 2€ per hour which is dispensed into a machine so be sure to have enough change and regularly check the time. Arriving at around 9 am, the village was still pretty much free of tourists.
The highlight of your visit to Ravello is the mansion and gardens of the Villa Rufolo (7€) so I recommend starting here before the crowds arrive. While the mansion’s interior is impressive, it’s the exterior that will take your breath away.
From the edge of its gardens, you’ll find some of the Amalfi Coast’s most scenic images and you’ll want to hang around here for a while to let everything sink in. The villa’s gardens also host numerous concerts throughout the summer season so be sure to check the lineup if you’re looking for some evening activity. You can also climb its tower which exits to a small terrace but it was a disappointing climb after the views from the gardens.
The obvious next stop after Villa Rufolo is Ravello’s main square and cathedral. This is a good spot for overpriced coffee and some window shopping. The cathedral itself is nice but nothing mind-blowing (free to enter).
This was a very interesting walk with a lovely garden (Giardini Principessa di Piemonte) and a couple of five-star hotels along the way. The street ends at Chiesa di San Giovanni del Toro which doesn’t see many crowds and is impressively made entirely from stone.
Searching for the road to Villa Cimbrone and its gardens, we got totally lost and ended up walking along this street which eventually turns into a path connecting neighboring villages with Ravello. In some sections, it is actually carved into the mountain to allow people to pass. We really enjoyed the views from here and the local feel of the area, not to mention the fig trees and colorful bougainvillea to add to the romance of the area.
The road heading down from Ravello to Amalfi offered a few scenic stops. From here, you can admire the views of the seaside village of Atrani, the Toro del Ziro, and the lemon groves which cover the mountainsides like carpets. Down in the valley, you can see some of the paper mills for which this area used to be famous.
Parking in Amalfi was an absolute nightmare as all garages were full. To make a long story short, we circled back and parked on the very same road to Ravello. That meant we had to walk down to the coastal road and walk through the village Atrani just to make it to Amalfi (and walk back).
Take extra caution in this part of the Amalfi Coast both as a pedestrian and as a driver. Locals drive recklessly and many buses share the road without any space for error (literally).
The bottom line when it comes to Amalfi is that, yes it is beautiful but my god it has been overtaken by tourists (and this was just the start of June). The village boasts a couple of black sand beaches and pastel-colored houses that impressively cling to the mountainside – creating a beautiful panorama. But it is just very crowded around here and unpleasant.
If you’re after some beach time, the one in Atrani and on the far end of Amalfi are more pleasant.
Set atop a flight of steps and commanding fine views over the central plaza, the 13th-century Cathedral of Amalfi celebrates the apostle St. Andrew who is buried in the cathedral’s crypt. It is absolutely worth the price of admission so don’t get lazy. Besides the main hall, be sure to explore the Alhambra-like cloister and the magnificent crypt.
Amalfi’s main plaza is the obvious choice for lunch, that is if you can find a table. We had no such luck and ate in Trattoria Pizzeria “Al Teatro” – a small family-owned restaurant off some interior alley.
Walking from the main square along Via Pietro Capuano, you can literally hear the water running beneath your feet. The street is actually constructed in a gorge and this was, back in the day, Europe’s hub for paper production. We paid a visit to the Museo della Carta to learn about the history of paper production in the area. In fact, this is the oldest paper mill in Europe but there used to be 65 others around Amalfi.
We were led to a damp room carved into the mountain where a small factory still turns cotton into paper. Our guide explained that cotton was imported to Amalfi and the water flowing down from the mountains provided the energy to turn the mill’s wheels. As for the paper’s color? That was owed to the “secret ingredient”… animal urine! The museum visit isn’t a must but children and curious travelers will enjoy the experience.
The fourth of our seven days in the Amalfi Coast will be our most active one. We’ll embark on the finest hike on the coast and visit the stunning seaside village of Positano. To end the day, we’ll hit the beach while avoiding the crowds.
Connecting the villages of Agerola and Positano, the Sentiero degli Dei (Path of the Gods) is the finest walk on the Amalfi Coast. Its most popular leg is between Bomerano and Nocelle and you can hike in either direction. However, the Bomerano to Nocelle route is far easier as it’s almost completely downhill and ends in the vicinity of Positano.
Legend has it that the gods came down to this pathway to reach the sea where the sirens that tried to seduce Ulysses with their singing lived (whatever that means). In any case, gods or no gods, you’ll be in heaven as you walk along the path.
Logistics: since the hike is not circular, you’ll need to somehow get back… We arranged with our hosts at the World Center to drive us to the Bomerano trailhead and pick us up from the Amalfi ferry terminal for just 20€ pp (including sandwiches). This was one of the smartest things we did on the trip since we were car-free, and carefree for the day, not to mention the ferry from Positano to Amalfi offers exceptional vistas.
The hike to Nocelle will take about two hours and from here, it’s about another 40 minutes of downhill steps and some walking to Positano. I recommend wearing good hiking shoes to protect your ankles, packing 1.5L per hiker, and bringing a change of clothes. Don’t forget sun protection!
The Path of the Gods led us to the village of Nocelle, where we paused for some lemon granita with a view before heading down to the village square for a picnic lunch. There are lots of great-looking bed and breakfasts in the village, definitely a solid alternative over the madness down in Positano (if you have a car). Nocelle is also famous for Ristorante Santa Croce though it was closed when we passed through.
Funny enough, walking down the flights of stairs from Nocelle to the coastal road was harder than hiking the Path of the Gods. However, if you take it slow and pause for some views, it isn’t too bad and definitely a lot easier than hiking in the opposite direction. Once on the coastal road, it’s another 20 minutes to Positano (40 mins total from Nocelle), once again with many scenic stops along the way and a possible beach stop at Bagni d’Arienzo Beach Club if you fancy a swim.
However, if you can find the path down to this seemingly private beach, drop me an email and share the secret!
Positano should be renamed “Posh-itano”. It is no doubt worthy of a postcard but even more so than Amalfi, it is completely overrun by tourists (perhaps due to its relatively close proximity to Sorrento) and overpriced. I would recommend avoiding buying anything in its boutiques or so-called “factory ceramic shops”.
Much like its famous sister down the coast, Positano’s main street basically runs through a creek. It can be a challenge not to rub shoulders with others as things are very tight around here. However, Via Pasitea is higher up in elevation and offers exceptional views of the surrounding area.
Positano’s main historical attraction is, no surprise, a cathedral. Santa Maria Assunta is in the center of the village, not as impressive as the Duomo in Amalfi but it’s a nice escape from the June heat and the June noise of the outside.
Frightened at the thought of having to kill a few hours in Positano before the ferry back to Amalfi, we tried our luck and made it just in time for an early ride back. Overall, we spent about an hour in Positano and even that was too much. The Travelmar ferry from Positano to Amalfi cost us 8€ each and took about 20 minutes. It was incredibly scenic on the way, basically the coastal version of the exact same scenery we saw from the Path of the Gods.
After a brief rest, we headed to the beach at Conca di Marini before dinner. This is one of the prettier beaches on this end of the coast, secluded by tall cliffs and requiring a walk down many stairs. Down at the rocky beach, there is a restaurant and cafe and you can even rent a boat. As with all Amalfi Coast beaches we encountered, they’re nothing to write home about.
In the upper section of Conca di Marina, we grabbed dinner at La Piazza da Nino which is just down the road from Le Bonta del Capo. The prices were geared for tourists but the food was great and the outside seating was a blessing. The feeling was of dining in an old European Village that hardly makes it into second gear, even during the summer tourist season.
The third leg of our 7 days in the Amalfi Coast takes us to the “celebrity” of the coast. We’ll start the day with a drive from Amalfi to catch the ferry to Capri from Sorrento and spend the rest of the day exploring the island. Spending the night in Capri, we’ll see what’s in store when the bulk of the tourists have left and enjoy a beautiful morning stroll in the island’s remote side.
Follow all the places mentioned in this section with this companion map, simply click on the image to open Google Maps
Capri’s status of extreme glamor far outweighs its geographical size. Over the years, Hollywood stars, royalty and folks with lots of cash, have elevated Capri high above its closest neighbors. Though Capri boasts incredible natural scenery of intense blue meeting sheer limestone cliffs, its biggest drawbacks are its unbearable crowds and the cost of pretty much everything. If it’s the serenity that you’re after, consider swapping Capri for the less popular island of Ischia. Here are a few essential tips for visiting Capri.
Anacapri is Capri’s larger and more “local” town and as such, it boasts a wider range of budget options. However, if you’re already spending the night in Capri, I recommend splurging a bit and staying in Capri Town where the views are far more impressive and the vibe on the outrageously glamorous side of the scale.
We stayed at the Villa Helios in Capri town for one night. Located just five minutes from the central square, Villa Helios is reached via the pedestrian lanes and commands sensational views from its 800-year-old property. Under new management since 2016, this place is exceptionally well maintained and offers excellent value for money. Rooms are clean and air-conditioned, breakfast is adequate, and the staff is super friendly.
The drive from our accommodation near Amalfi to Sorrento took about 75 minutes, with the leg between Praiano and Positano especially slow going. With many sharp bends, buses, and opportunities to stop and snap some photos, I recommend planning extra time for this drive. A particular scenic stop is atop the Furore Gorge, a picturesque natural setting with a small fishing outpost by its pebble beach. You can take the stairs from the bridge all the way to the beach.
If the weather is nice, be sure to grab a seat on the outer deck and enjoy awesome views of Sorrento, the Sorrentine Peninsula, and finally of Capri as you approach the beautiful island.
After checking in to Vila Helios, we set out to explore sections of Capri Town, the historical heart of the island. By noon, the town was overrun by tourists and selfie sticks. Most of the action happens around Piazza Umberto (La Piazzetta) – the main plaza, where you’ll find many restaurants, cafes, and the historic Santo Stefano church which was closed when we visited.
On the north end of La Piazzetta is the entrance to the cable car station and a terrace that commands views of the mainland and Capri’s mountainous interior that is not to be missed.
From the central square, a number of pedestrian lanes branch out. These make up Capri’s main shopping area, though, with names such as Louis Vuitton and Dior, you’ll likely be doing more window shopping around here.
Capri town’s impressive sites are best enjoyed from the southern side of town, where we’ll head tomorrow morning in this itinerary so be sure to follow along.
Leaving some Capri town sites for tomorrow morning, we hopped on the bus for the short ride to Anacapri on the island’s western side. The bus route literally takes you through the mountains, and the views are sensational and frightening at the same time.
Absolutely worth it unless it’s an absolutely cloudy day, the 11€ cable car ride to the summit of Monte Solaro is not to be missed. It takes about 10 minutes to reach the top via the single-seat chairlift, giving you enough time to soak in the views along the way. The more you ascend, the quieter it gets and you can actually hear the birds as you leave the noise of the village behind.
At the summit (589 meters), you’ll be treated to the finest 360-degree views of Capri. Here’s a teaser…
Back down on level ground, we strolled for about 30 minutes in the historic center of Anacapri before heading back to Capri Town. It’s clear there’s a lot less action around here but that might not be such a bad thing. Be sure to visit the shop of Antonio Viva – probably the island’s most famous shoemaker. Capri is famous for a particular type of sandal and Antonio has sold his fair share of pairs to the world’s rich and famous. Watch him in action and buy a pair or two if you fancy, though prices average around 150€.
The Grotta Azzurra is Capri’s top attraction, a cave that can only be entered from the open sea and where sunlight illuminates its water to intense blue color. As the island’s top attraction, visiting the Blue Grotto is very time-consuming and expensive. It is best visited in the morning hours when the sea is calm but even if you’ve set out on your adventure, you might not get the “green light” to enter. We opted out of visiting this tourist trap and had no regrets.
With the day-trippers back on the mainland, Capri’s charm was much easier to sense. After checking a few places out, we dined at La Capannina Wine Bar where we sat in its interior facing one of the pedestrian lanes. Like many restaurants on the Amalfi Coast, La Capannina’s walls are decorated with pictures of its most famous diners over the years such as Bill Clinton and Jackie Onassis.
Besides the romantic vibe, we enjoyed some marinated anchovies and tomato salad for starters (Capri is famous for its local tomatoes), spaghetti and salmon for mains, and some tiramisu for dessert along with a bottle of wine for 115€ (including cover and service charges). Other recommended dinner options include Ristorante Da Tonino (good views but a bit of a walk from the center of Capri) and Ristorante Le Grottelle.
Spending the night in Capri was a great decision. Not only was the evening quite romantic, but mornings in Capri are absolutely glorious. We used our last few hours in Capri for hiking and for visiting a few leftover spots in Capri town that we had skipped a day earlier in favor of the climb to Monte Solaro on the Anacapri side of the island.
Overall, it took us about 2.5 hours to visit the Capri’s rugged and less-visited side. I recommend packing some snacks or sandwiches and wearing comfortable shoes as it can get a bit slippery if it has recently rained. In addition, you will have the opportunity to head down to the beach so if you have some extra time and feel the need to get wet – pack accordingly.
About 20 minutes on foot from Capri town’s main piazza, the Arco Naturale feels a world away from the madness. The sound of seagulls and pine trees swaying in the wind is only interrupted when speedboats zig-zag up and down the coast. From here you can really start to appreciate the dramatic landscape of Capri. It’s amazing how vertically the cliffs rise of the sea, beautifully eroded over time to form sharp pinnacles where only the birds can visit.
From the Arco Naturale, walk back in the direction of Ristorante Le Grottelle and pick up the snake-line staircase that descends to Grotta di Matermania (about an eight-minute walk). Though there’s not much evidence left, this limestone cave was once the site of a bizarre religious ritual but, in any case, it’s on the way to our next scenic stop.
From the cave, the trail ascends back to the cliff’s edge and the views are incredible without a single soul around. From up here, you can catch a glimpse of the historic Villa Malaparte.
A few minutes later, you’ll reach an unofficial lookout towards Capri’s most iconic natural landmark, the Faraglioni – three limestone stacks that rise off the Capri coast up to a height of 111 meters. There are so many boats racing from all directions that the scene appears to be of a maritime highway, but the views are just fine from up here. A few minutes further, you can detour via a 300-meter trail down to a beach and get even closer to the cliffs. The Faraglioni of Capri is also home to the “blue lizard” which is only found on one of the pinnacles.
The scenic trail merges with Via Tragara and this is a good opportunity to rest for a few minutes while enjoying the views from this lookout.
From the Belvedere di Tragara, it’s a pleasant 20-minute walk to the Augusto Gardens (1€ entry fee). The gardens are not that impressive (besides a ceramic-tiled bench) but the views totally are. From here, you’re treated to an additional angle towards the Faraglioni cliffs but, more interestingly, towards Via Krupp and Marina Piccola.
By far the most interesting street in all of Capri, Via Krupp connects the area of the Augusto Gardens and Marina Piccola. There’s an incredible beach along the way but, unfortunately, the snake trail was closed at the time of our visit without any signs of reopening. Apparently, you can explore Via Krupp coming from Marina Piccola but do note that you will need to head back the same way you came from…
If you have another 30 minutes to spare, consider heading even further up to this scenic lookout for additional views of Capri’s southern coast. We did not have time for this detour and headed back to the port to catch our ferry to Sorrento.
The final leg of our 7 days in the Amalfi Coast takes us to Sorrento and its quiet peninsula. We’ll explore on foot one of the Amalfi Coast’s most famous towns before spending an entire day “village-hopping” in the neighboring peninsula which bears the town’s name.
Follow all the places mentioned in this section with this companion map, simply click on the image to open Google Maps
By the early afternoon, we returned from Capri with a few hours left to explore Sorrento. Built on a flat cliff overlooking the Mediterranean, Sorrento was and is a popular resort town for foreigners and Italians alike. Most of its charm is concentrated around its historical center and that’s where we’ll spend our time.
If you have a car, I actually recommend staying outside of town. We spent a couple of nights at Hotel & Spa Bellavista Francischiello in the area known Massa Lubrense. Located about 10 minutes by car from Sorrento, this turned out to be a great choice, mainly for the views – incredible sunsets and Capri in the distance. The hotel could use slight renovations but it was really comfortable, had a decent on-site restaurant, it was clean and quite fancy for the price we paid. The location is perfect for exploring the Sorrentine Peninsula and there’s even a beach and dive center nearby (Sea Club Conca Azzurra).
Other good locations are Sant’Agata Sui Due Golfi, Nerano and Termini, the latter two more adequate if you want to stay in tiny villages without a lot of tourists around you. If you’re traveling with children, Marina del Cantone could do the trick as hotels are close to the beach and there are plenty of dining and excursion options around.
Sorrento’s main square is a place for people-watching, though with the city’s traffic passing close by, it can get a bit hectic. That said, there are a few architecturally-worthy landmarks worth checking out around the piazza’s perimeter, not to mention a number of ice cream options.
Sorrento’s Old Town is mostly pedestrianized these days with Corso Italia and Via S. Cesareo as its main artery. The grid streets of the Old Town make for a pleasant stroll, not to mention souvenir shopping. Stop at Limonoro and at Nino & Friends for the tasting (they’ll both make sure you’ll leave the shop either drunk or on a sugar rush) but save your limoncello buying for later.
En route to the Sorrento Cathedral, we viewed the 15th-century Sedile Dominova from its exterior. Back in the day, this mansion was a famous meeting spot for the area’s elite. While it looks nothing out of the ordinary from the outside, the Sorrento Cathedral was one of the most impressive churches we visited on this trip. Its frescoed ceiling was just out of this world.
Not too far from the cathedral, on Corso Italia 63, you’ll find an excellent salumeria – kind of a delicatessen shop – called Antica Salumeria Gambardella. Besides sandwiches, this is a good place to buy some Italian food to take back home and their alcohol selection is pretty wide and well priced (cash only).
From the salumeria, we walked for about 15 minutes to the public gardens (Villa Comunale). The gardens themselves are nothing to write home about but the views are quite interesting, especially of the unappealing man-made beach below.
For Limoncello, we headed to I Giardini di Cataldo – an actual lemon grove and limoncello producer in the heart of Sorrento. It was cool to walk among the lemon trees but the shopping experience was less than optimal and totally geared for tourist buses. So, we grabbed some ice cream and headed to the Corner Shop which specializes in local wine, spirits, and other typical foods.
On the last day of our week on the Amalfi Coast, we planned for a beach day but the weather was not cooperating. So instead, we spent the day road tripping in the charming villages of the peninsula which turned out to be a memorable adventure. The Sorrento Peninsula is home to a number of picturesque villages. There isn’t a whole lot of action to speak of but it’s the drive, the stroll through the village, and the food which all come together to make the adventure.
For the best beaches around, check out The 100 Beaches of the Amalfi Coast by Roberto Pellecchia. Also note that the Sorrentine Peninsula boasts a number of great hikes, ranging from easy walks to hikes that rise to summits and descend to deserted coves.
Our first real stop was in the village of Termini though we had planned to make it all the way down to the tiny fishing village of Marina Lobra. The drive to Termini was quite scenic and we caught glimpses of Capri and the fishing village.
Termini was quite a pleasant surprise. The village itself is tiny but the vibe felt very local and there weren’t many tourists around. Besides awesome views from the main village square, we also stumbled upon Nastro D’oro – a famous local producer of limoncello and La Campanella Di Galano Monica – a local ceramic artist. Both offered excellent prices and we used the opportunity to wrap up our souvenir shopping.
At the advice of locals, we set out on a hike that began at the lower end of Via Campanella (follow signs to Monte S. Costanzo). Picking up the path which leads to the white mansion, this was an easy and quick hike to a panoramic lookout and 360-degree view of the entire coast – a real trip down memory lane considering this was the end of our journey.
This area offers several other paths which lead to secluded coves.
The next stop was at the village of Nerano, where we bought sandwiches and some fruit for a picnic lunch in the village center. Time really seems to have taken a break in Nerano and if this vibe suits you, there are a number of accommodations here. Nerano is also the starting point for a one-hour hike to Ieranto Bay.
Marina del Cantone boasts a number of hotels and restaurants set on the coast of Ieranto Bay. The beach itself is rocky so bring along a pair of sandals if you wish to get wet. We enjoyed the scenery over a glass of wine and considered dinner options here in Lo Scoglio and Le Sirene.
Nestled in the Lattari Hills, Sant’Agata is a much larger village than the ones we visited so far on this road trip but the vibe is still very low-key. After checking out the local cathedral, we walked to the Desert Monastery of Sant’Agata which is run these days by Benedictine nuns. The monastery itself dates back to the 17th century and has a very interesting history, but the views of the peninsula were the main attraction in our case (look for opening hours before visiting).
The village of Sant’Agata is considered a foodies heaven so we looked for dinner options to celebrate the end of our week in the Amalfi Coast. Its most famous restaurant is the Don Alfonso – a Michelin star establishment in a luxury hotel, but we liked the sounds coming out of Lo Stuzzichino.
With a live band wrapping up their act, we sat down for one of the best meals we’ve ever had. Operated by the proud De Gregorio family, Lo Stuzzichino serves Sorrentine cuisine in a warm atmosphere where the chef frequently checks if the food is to your liking.
We really splurged here but the price tag wasn’t that high, especially not by Capri standards. What a great way to end a week in the Amalfi Coast!
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