If you are part of those travelers who don’t know what to choose between mountain and sea, then this article is for you. In fact, this article is for you regardless of your choice, because I don’t know anyone who wouldn’t fall in love with this fascinating part of Italy. A spectacular combination of the green mountains, the turquoise Tyrrhenian Sea, the intense yellow of the lemons grown in terraces, the narrow streets, and the multicolored houses situated on the steep cliffs.
Writing about the Amalfi Coast, as it is clear that this is the subject of this article, I realize that no matter how hard I try to describe it, it is difficult for me to portray the real beauty of the landscapes that will impress even the most pretentious traveler. It’s the place you see and admire in pictures and you want to visit it as soon as possible but is so beautiful that it seems surreal.
Therefore, you are afraid not to create too high expectations and be disappointed. Well, Amalfi not only will not disappoint you, but it will show you that there are places that even though you will explore as much as you can, you can not get enough of them. Places that go directly to the top of your favorite destinations of all time.
That’s exactly what happened in my case, after visiting the most beautiful places on the Amalfi Coast in mid-June, on a 9-day excursion that included the Cote d’Azur but also several other Italian cities. We organized everything in such a short time. It was more like a spontaneous journey rather than one planned long ahead.
Therefore, I recommend that you organize everything for at least a few months in advance. Especially if you want to get here during Summer when most of the accommodations are fully booked. However, we’ll talk about where to stay on the Amalfi Coast in a future article.
The Amalfi Coast is composed of 13 small towns, but to visit all of them you would need at least two weeks, probably. If your time is limited and you spend only a few days here, then you should know where you must stop. Let’s take them one at a time…
The most beautiful places on the Amalfi Coast
Let’s start with the place that will give you an overview of the coast, from the height. Ravello is a city full of history, but also very chic, a sort of hidden gem. It has been occupied by many different nations in time so you will see a harmonious mix of Greek, Roman and even Arabic influences in some places. Although resembling the other cities on the Amalfi Coast, Ravello is distinguished by the unique sea panorama it offers, as well as the sumptuous villas you can visit here.
Once you have visited the Dome, but also the lively town center and made your souvenir stock from craft shops, it’s time to cross the threshold of the two famous villas, Rufolo and Cimbrone. After I briefly review them, I will reveal to you which one is my favorite. At the moment, you have to know that the entry costs 7 euros for each one and they are located close to each other.
Villa Rufollo was built by a wealthy family of merchants, sometime in the 13th century, and is probably the most visited of the two. A significant contribution to that comes from the Ravello Festival which is a music festival held here every summer since 1953. The festival is dedicated to the famous German composer Richard Wagner, who fell in love with Villa Rufolo and even got inspired to finish here an opera on which he was working at for a very long time.
From the villa’s terrace, you can admire one of the most beautiful views of the Amalfi Coast, situated at a height of about 400 meters above the Tyrrhenian Sea. Also from here, you can see the upper part of Santa Maria delle Grazie church. The villa is very beautiful, it has many long terraces and many gardens with multicolored flowers and palm trees, and its Arabic details make it often comparable to the famous Alhambra castle in Spain. You’ll need about two hours to explore each corner, as the construction is like a maze.
Situated just a few hundred meters from Villa Rufolo, there is the Cimbrone Villa, older, more mysterious and more beautiful, but that’s just my opinion. The construction of the villa dates back to the 11th century, but in the 20th century, it has undergone a complete renovation and now functions as a hotel. Fortunately, the gardens and part of the building are open to the public for visitation.
If at Villa Rufolo there is a music festival, here, there are various ceremonies that take place. If Rufolo was Wagner’s favorite, Cimbrone was the favorite of the actress Greta Garbo. Even between the views offered by the two villas, it is hard to choose. Both will reveal a dreamy panorama of the sea, one that can easily be confused with a postcard.
My favorite is, however, the panorama from the Infinity Terrace of Cimbrone Villa, where, as soon as you pass by the statue of Ceres, you can admire an artistically and dramatically aligned series of marble busts. It was hard to leave this place and you will probably find it difficult to say goodbye to such a view, as well.
Every time I think about Positano, I spell the name with an Italian accent and that’s because Positano is practically a small authentic Italy, compressed in this fairy-tale town with colorful houses in all the colors of the rainbow. It is definitely the best of Amalfi Coast, but also the favorite of the celebrities and the millionaires and rightly so.
Why? Because in Positano you will walk along cobbled streets, covered with flower ceilings that will lead you to the beach or to hotels and restaurants overlooking the sea. For the two slopes on which the cute houses are situated, creating a surreal beautiful view from which you can hardly take your eyes.
For the handmade, gorgeous artwork, either in the shape of intense colored paintings, either in the shape of pottery pots that deserve to be taken home and placed on the shelf with memories from your best vacations. For the beaches studded with umbrellas in perfectly straight lines, as colorful as the houses on the cliffs. For the panorama of the Tyrrhenian Sea, crossed by all sorts of boats. For the stalls where lemonade is sold, made from the most immense lemons you’ve ever seen. For countless reasons.
But Positano wasn’t always like this. In the past, more precisely between the 15th and 17th centuries, it was an extremely prosperous port, where the trade was basically the main activity. Unfortunately, somewhat later in history, the city has experienced a major regression, when nearly half of the population emigrated to America.
And later, John Steinbeck was inspired enough to publish in 1953 an essay dedicated to Positano in Harper’s Bazaar, in which he described the place very nicely, saying that “It is a dream place that is not quite real when you are there and becomes beckoningly real after you’ve gone. “
Since then, Positano has gradually earned his well-deserved celebrity and has appeared in various cinematographic productions and is now one of the most popular destinations in Europe. It is true that most tourists come here to enjoy its superb beaches, Marina Grande, Li Galli or Fornillo, but Positano has much more to offer.
But if you only have one day to explore it, make sure you sit down on a terrace with a beautiful view and enjoy a lemon-based cake, alongside a limoncello, a sort of famous liqueur in the area. Guess what? Still based on lemon, obviously. To conclude, when you say Positano, you say lemon. Simple as that. That is why you must to go home with a refrigerator magnet like the one in the picture below.
Positano can become very hot and extremely crowded during the full season, so I recommend avoiding the months of July and August, maybe even June and getting here in spring or early autumn when the air is more breathable and the crowd not so big. For the simple reason that you shouldn’t create a wrong and underestimated picture of the city just because you came here at the wrong time of the year.
If there were no red roofs, the houses in Amalfi could have made the city look like Santorini. Things in common? Mountain, white houses staged in the cliffs and the sea. If you are confused about Amalfi, you must know that yes, there is an Amalfi town on Amalfi Coast and it is somehow a capital city if we consider its name because otherwise, it is just a small and cozy city in the center of which stands an impressive cathedral. We didn’t explore Amalfi very much, but from here we took the ferry to Capri Island and we also took the bus to the town where we were staying, to Agerola.
If your bank account is not made up of at least 6 digits, then, like most tourists, you’ll probably come to Capri just for a one day trip. I’m saying this because the luxury stores and the prices of night accommodation here are easily comparable to those on Rodeo Drive. It is an island dedicated to the rich but it will not cost you much to visit it for only a day.
Capri is charming but also extremely crowded at the same time. So, the same advice I will give you this time. Try to come here in May, June or September and you will definitely have a much more enjoyable experience. Once you get off the ferry, go and hop on the funicular and climb to the city of Capri, quickly cross its narrow streets and head towards Augustus Gardens. For just one euro, you will have a paradise view.
You can admire the Faraglioni cliffs on one side and the other the crooked road that leads to the sea. Do not forget to sit on a terrace and savor a pizza as only the Italians know how to prepare and you have to visit the island’s perfume with lemon flavors, Carthusia. The possibilities of spending time in Capri are extremely many so I will dedicate a separate article to them. The schedule and the rates for the ferry can be found here.
Fiordo di Furore
Instagram brought me here, I could say honestly. Definitely, is a place you can easily skip if you didn’t see it on a social network first. Fiordo di Furore is practically a bridge, behind which is a semi-hidden beach and a small bay in which a small part of the Tyrrhenian Sea withdraws.
Depending on the period of the year and the day you arrive here, you can be lucky to be the only person on that beach or to be filled with other equally enthusiastic tourists. In my case, it was somewhere in the middle, so I managed to sneak in and take some pictures in which the whole place seems to belong to me. It just seems.
Other places where you can randomly stop and admire
This part is especially for those travelers who will go on the Amalfi Coast with their own car or a rented one. There are wonderful views all the way and you will definitely want to stop and stare. If you have enough time, you can venture up close to Salerno, where the altitude will begin to gradually descend. For example, we drove up to Erchie town, and I can say that we would have gone further if we would have had more time to waste.
How to get to Amalfi Coast
It would be best to fly to Naples, then rent a car or use public transport. In this regard, you should know that from Naples there are buses that go to the Amalfi Coast, more precisely to Sorrento, and from there you can reach all the cities of Amalfi either by bus or by ferry. Here, you will find the schedule for the bus the ferries.
Parking is extremely expensive, especially in Positano, Ravello, and Amalfi. There are also cheaper parking lots on the outskirts that we found quite hard, but it does matter that they exist and will help you to save from the travel budget.
Another option is to rent a scooter if you have the patience, the courage, and the skill to squeeze through the cars on the extremely narrow roads. Whatever the chosen method of travel, a trip to the Amalfi Coast will be a memorable one.
Hotels on the Amalfi Coast:
I’ve stayed at San Nicola, Agerola B&B. ⇒ Find everything about it, here.