An Amalfi Coast road trip is truly a feast for the senses. As you wind your way along the cliffside roads, you’ll be treated to breathtaking views of the shimmering Mediterranean sea below. The towns perched on the hillsides are like something out of a postcard, with brightly colored buildings stacked on top of each other and charming little alleyways leading to hidden gems.
The beauty of the Amalfi Coast is not just in the scenery, though – it’s in the atmosphere. There’s something magical about the way the sunlight plays off the waves, the sound of church bells echoing through the narrow streets, and the scent of lemon trees in the air. It’s a sensory experience that stays with you long after you’ve left.
In this blog post, we’ll explore what you can see on an Amalfi Coast road trip, including the different towns you can visit, what it’s like to drive, and whether a boat tour might be a better option for some travelers. Whether you’re planning your next vacation or just dreaming of one, this post will give you a taste of the magic that awaits on the Amalfi Coast.
Why take an Amalfi Coast road trip?
The Amalfi Coast is consistently ranked as one of the most beautiful drives in the world. Its natural beauty has drawn in travelers for centuries, from writers and artists seeking inspiration to vacationers seeking relaxation. With so much to see and do, it’s no wonder that it’s a favorite destination for people from all walks of life.
Whether you’re a history buff looking to explore ancient ruins, a foodie searching for the perfect pizza, or a beach lover hoping to soak up some sun, the Amalfi Coast has something for you. Get ready to hit the road and discover the magic of this enchanting corner of Italy.
What and Where is the Amalfi Coast?
The Amalfi Coast is a 50-kilometer stretch of Italian coastline that runs from Positano in the west to Vietri sul Mare in the east. Along the way, you’ll encounter some of the most stunning views in Italy. The road winds its way up and down the cliffs, offering glimpses of sparkling blue sea and charming towns perched precariously on the hillsides. It’s a drive that’s not for the faint of heart, but the reward is well worth it.
The Amalfi Coast is made up of 13 villages: Amalfi, Atrani, Cetara, Conca dei Marini, Furore, Maiori, Minori, Positano, Praiano, Ravello, Scala, Tramonti, and Vietri sul Mare. Several of these towns are a must-visit on an Amalfi Coast road trip. Here are just a few of the most popular.
With its pastel-colored houses and narrow, winding streets, this picturesque town is undeniably one of the most famous on the Amalfi Coast, and it’s not hard to see why. Its striking beauty makes it a favorite destination for many, and the enchanting atmosphere of the town has made it a popular choice for travelers seeking an unforgettable experience.
One of the most iconic sights in Positano is the Spiaggia Grande, a long and wide beach lined with colorful umbrellas and loungers. It’s the perfect place to relax and soak up the sun. For the more adventurous, there are plenty of water sports to try, such as kayaking and paddleboarding.
Positano is also home to some of the best shopping on the coast. The town is known for its high-end boutiques and artisanal shops selling everything from handmade sandals to beautiful ceramics. If you’re a foodie, be sure to sample the local limoncello, a sweet and tangy liqueur made from lemons grown on the coast.
If you’re a fan of the movie Under the Tuscan Sun, you’ll be familiar with Positano, as it was one of the settings and filming locations. In fact, that movie was the very reason my husband and I first decided to visit Tuscany and, specifically, Positano!
Nestled between Positano and Amalfi, Praiano is a small and peaceful town that offers a more laid-back experience than some of the other towns on the coast. Praiano is known for its rugged coastline and crystal-clear waters, making it a great spot for snorkeling and swimming.
Praiano is also home to several noteworthy churches and historical sites. The Church of San Luca Evangelista, with its striking blue dome, is a must-visit. You may want to explore the Grotta dell’Incanto, a sea cave that can be accessed by boat and features stunning rock formations and crystal-clear waters.
Praiano is known for its delicious seafood, with plenty of restaurants serving up fresh catches of the day.
3. Conca dei Marini
Located between Amalfi and Praiano, Conca dei Marini is a small and charming village that offers a unique blend of natural beauty and cultural attractions. The town is situated on a hill overlooking the sea, and its narrow streets and white-washed houses give it a traditional and authentic feel.
One of the main attractions in Conca dei Marini is the Grotta dello Smeraldo, or the Emerald Cave. This sea cave is accessible by boat and features a stunning emerald green color caused by the reflection of sunlight through the water. Visitors can take a boat tour of the cave and admire the beauty of the natural surroundings.
In addition to the Emerald Cave, Conca dei Marini is also home to the beautiful church of Santa Maria di Grado. The church dates back to the 12th century and features stunning Byzantine-style mosaics that are a must-see for art and history lovers.
For those looking to soak up the sun and enjoy the sea, Conca dei Marini offers several small beaches that are perfect for swimming and sunbathing. You can also take a hike along the Path of the Gods, a scenic trail that offers breathtaking views of the coast and the sea.
This town gives its name to the entire coast, and it’s easy to see why. The main square, Piazza del Duomo, is dominated by a stunning cathedral with a striking bell tower. The church is a mix of architectural styles, with elements of both Byzantine and Romanesque design. If you’re interested in history, be sure to visit the Museo Archeologico, which houses artifacts from the town’s ancient past.
One of the best ways to explore Amalfi is on foot. The town has plenty of narrow alleys and staircases to discover, each one more charming than the last. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can also take a hike up to the nearby Valle delle Ferriere, a beautiful nature reserve with waterfalls and lush vegetation.
If you’re looking for a more serene experience, Ravello is the town for you. It’s situated high above the coast and boasts some of the most stunning views in the area. The town is home to several beautiful gardens, including the famous Villa Cimbrone. The gardens are filled with sculptures and fountains, and the views from the belvedere are simply breathtaking.
Ravello is also a cultural hub, with several music and arts festivals throughout the year. One of the most famous is the Ravello Festival, which takes place in the summer and features concerts and performances by international artists.
6. Vietri sul Mare
Located at the eastern end of the Amalfi Coast, Vietri sul Mare is known for its stunning ceramics and colorful houses that line the coastline. One of the main attractions in Vietri sul Mare is the church of San Giovanni Battista, which dates back to the 17th century and features beautiful frescoes and artwork.
Vietri sul Mare is also known for its beautiful beaches. The town has several small beaches that are perfect for swimming and sunbathing, including Marina di Vietri and Spiaggia della Crestarella. You can also take a stroll along the town’s picturesque promenade, which offers stunning views of the sea and the colorful houses that line the coastline.
What It’s Like to Drive on the Amalfi Coast
While an Amalfi Coast road trip can be thrilling, it’s important to be aware that driving can be challenging. The roads along the coast are narrow and winding, with many hairpin turns and steep inclines. In addition, traffic can be heavy during peak tourist season, making it difficult to navigate the roads.
It’s also worth noting that there are restrictions on driving for tourists on certain days of the week. During the high season, traffic can be so heavy that local authorities restrict access to the coast road, allowing only vehicles with special permits to drive. If you’re planning to rent a car for your trip, it’s important to check the driving restrictions in advance to avoid any surprises.
Despite the challenges, many travelers find that driving on the Amalfi Coast is an unforgettable experience. The stunning views of the coastline and the sea are well worth the effort, and the opportunity to explore the charming towns and villages along the way is an added bonus.
If you do decide to drive on the Amalfi Coast, it’s important to take your time and be patient. It’s easy to feel rushed and overwhelmed by the traffic and the winding roads, but it’s important to stay calm and focused. Be sure to follow local driving laws and customs, such as yielding to oncoming traffic on narrow roads.
Finding parking can also be a challenge on the Amalfi Coast, particularly in popular tourist areas like Positano and Amalfi. One tip is to look for parking in less popular areas and then take public transportation or walk to your destination. Many towns also offer shuttle buses or tourist trains that can help you get around without having to drive yourself.
Check out this post for more Amalfi Coast travel tips, which includes more specific information on driving.
Alternatives to Driving
If driving sounds too difficult, you may wish to consider alternatives. If you still want to do it by car, but don’t want to accept the challenge of driving it yourself, you can hire a private driver. Or, instead, you can take a boat tour or travel from town to town using the ferry.
Amalfi Coast Boat Tours
Boat tours offer a relaxing and scenic way to take in the stunning views of the cliffs, sea, and towns from the water. One of the benefits of a boat tour is the ability to visit smaller towns like Furore and Conca dei Marini that are only accessible by boat. However, it’s worth noting that a boat tour does have its downsides. While you’ll be able to see the towns from the water, you won’t be able to explore them at your own pace. Additionally, boat tours can be quite expensive, particularly during peak tourist season.
Despite the downsides, many travelers find that a boat tour is a highlight of their Amalfi Coast trip. The chance to see the stunning cliffs and towns from the water is truly unforgettable.
Amalfi Coast by Ferry
Another option for exploring the Amalfi Coast is to take a ferry. Ferries run regularly between the towns along the coast, providing a convenient and affordable way to see the sights.
One of the advantages of taking a ferry is the opportunity to take in the stunning views of the coastline from the water. As you travel between the towns, you’ll be able to appreciate the dramatic cliffs, sparkling sea, and charming villages from a unique perspective.
If you’re particularly interested in visiting the town of Amalfi, taking a ferry is a great option. The town is situated on a natural harbor and has a long history as a maritime power. As you approach Amalfi from the water, you’ll see the impressive 9th-century Duomo di Sant’Andrea (Cathedral of Saint Andrew), which dominates the town’s skyline.
Once you arrive in Amalfi, you can explore the town’s narrow streets, picturesque piazzas, and historic landmarks at your own pace. Be sure to check out the Museo della Carta (Museum of Paper), which showcases the town’s tradition of papermaking.
Overall, taking a ferry is a great way to experience the Amalfi Coast. Whether you’re interested in seeing the coastline from the water or exploring the charming town of Amalfi, a ferry ride is a convenient and enjoyable way to do so.
An Amalfi Coast road trip is an unforgettable experience, offering travelers the chance to see some of the most beautiful scenery in Italy. From the stunning cliffs and sparkling sea to the charming towns and delicious food, there is something for everyone along this picturesque stretch of coastline.
Whether you choose to explore the Amalfi Coast by car, boat, or ferry, be sure to take your time and soak up the beauty of the area. Drive carefully, take in the views, and savor the local cuisine. And if you’re looking for a truly unique perspective, don’t hesitate to take a boat tour or ferry ride to see the coastline from the water.
In the end, an Amalfi Coast road trip is a must-do for anyone visiting Italy. So pack your bags, hit the road, and get ready for an unforgettable adventure!