The Amalfi Coast is an incredible stretch of coastline that is known for turquoise waters, colorful houses perched on cliff faces, and winding roads with stunning views of the Mediterranean Sea.
You will also find jam-packed crowds in the peak months in some of the most popular towns!
You could easily fill two weeks full exploring the region, but we only had five days and managed to squeeze a lot in!
In this post, we will share our full Amalfi Coast itinerary, including some detours to Capri, Sorrento, and Pompeii.
Table of Contents
There are 13 villages you could visit along the Amalfi Coast and if you wanted to see all of them you would need much longer than five days.
This itinerary covers the most popular towns in and around the Amalfi Coast and includes day trips to areas just outside the region:
- Day 1 – Salerno
- Day 2 – Amalfi and Ravello
- Day 3 – Positano (including the Fiordo Di Furore) and Maiori
- Day 4 – Sorrento and Pompeii
- Day 5 – Capri
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Amalfi Coast Itinerary
Day 1 – Salerno
This is an optional stopover that is easily accessible by train if you wanted a stepping stone on your way to the Amalfi Coast.
Many will travel through Salerno and jump straight on a bus to their final coastal destination. But if you wanted to stick around you can check out the following highlights:
- Arechi Castle and the incredible views over the town over the Gulf of Salerno.
- Salerno Cathedral and the Temple of Pomona, both located at Alfano Square and offer a glimpse into the old Roman period.
Day 2 – Amalfi and Ravello
We kick off our first full day on the coast by taking a day trip to the town of Amalfi.
On arrival, we are greeted by an incredibly busy port area that is the primary transport hub for the village. Here you can take a bus or ferry in any direction and you will see crowds in every direction.
Right next door is the main beach, which is also busy but still with enough space to lay a towel down (if you don’t want to pay for an expensive sun bed) and a comfortable swim.
We decided to first explore the town and walked away from the waterfront towards the mountains.
- Piazza Duomo and St Andrea Fountain
- Amalfi Cathedral
- Beaches on either side of the port
You are first greeted by the town square which has a number of restaurants on the edges and has the St Andrea statue in the middle sitting opposite a grand staircase that leads up to an old cathedral that overlooks the area.
As you head deeper into the town, the main street narrows (yet still fits cars through) with very little space between the balconies in what could only be described as a very italian streetscape.
There are a number of small laneways that branch out in a jumbled mess to all corners of the village. The occasional faded pink house and mountain backdrop make Amalfi a very charming place to explore on foot.
We sampled the local wines, pasta, and bruschetta at a restaurant as far away from the port area as possible (we assumed this would be better) and were very impressed with the food!
Now it was time to sample the signature lemon sorbet packed in a real lemon. I was skeptical that this was more of a gimmick than anything of substance but I loved it!
Being able to switch the sorbet around the edges to catch more of the sour goodness of the lemon was a refreshing treat after a heavy lunch.
Now it was time to cool off with a swim at the beach. By this time it was mid-afternoon and the crowd was still manageable.
However, if you are looking for a quieter place to swim you can walk to the western end of the town and there is a smaller beach there with very few people.
We only discovered this after walking to the end of a long walkway around the marina so we could get a view of the village. This was worthwhile even in the heat so we could get the full view of Amalfi.
The best views will be from the water on a ferry or boat, but this was good enough while on dry land.
From there we headed back to the bustling bus station at the port to make our way up to the mountaintop village of Ravello.
- Mountaintop views and
- Cliffside gardens of Villa Rufolo
- Town square with rural outlook
The views from the final bus stop are nothing short of amazing! You are very high up and can see over the towns of Maiori and Minori down towards the east.
There are bars and restaurants perched at the top of the cliff with uninterrupted views, but we wanted to explore the town first and headed towards the main square.
Ravello is a much more peaceful place and feels much more rural compared to the seaside towns.
It has a much more cultural feel with a number of artsy vendors and galleries scattered amongst the narrow streets, that have an older look to them compared to Amalfi.
Day 3 – Positano (via Fiordo di Furore)
Today we would travel by bus from Ravello along the coast to the popular town of Positano, and see some highlights along the way.
It is a slow trip on the bus due to the narrow road and busy traffic. You will frequently come to a stop while vehicles try and squeeze past each other!
So be prepared to lose a big chunk of your day to travel.
Fiordo di Furore
This is one of the most recognizable places on the coast. The small beach with an arched bridge towering over it is a beautiful sight.
There are ledges along the edge of the staircase where you can cliff jump into the deep water below, and overall it would be a fun place to hang out if it were not for one exception!
What the pictures cannot tell you is that the corner of the beach where the sun first hits each day stinks!!
When you have a small beach with a narrow waterway, that is visited by thousands of tourists, it should not be surprising that the place smells like a toilet.
I was able to avoid the smell and swim on the shaded side of the beach but it still feels a bit icky overall. So we didn’t hang around long.
- Views from the walkway heading into Positano
- Fornillo to get away from the crowds!
This is the busiest village we encountered on the coast. From a distance, it may be the most beautiful town but when in the middle it can be a bit overwhelming during the day.
The bus drops you at the top of the hill leading into town and there is a walkway that hugs the cliff’s edge, with restaurants and viewing points scattered along the footpath.
This is where you get the best views of Positano! It is an amazing sight to see the colorful houses stacked up on the mountain, with the beach at its foot, and the glowing blue water all around.
As you walk down the hill the streets get narrower and the crowd gets thicker. There are some charming laneways that would be nice if it were not for the shoulder-to-shoulder crowd trying to make their way through in both directions.
We had to retreat into one of the waterfront restaurants to get some breathing room and avoid the stifling heat. The location was amazing, but the food was mediocre (and expensive).
Typical of a tourist focussed restaurant.
The beach was also very crowded and with sunbeds crammed in without space for much else. Unless you are going to spend the whole day here it is not worth the expense.
So after all of that, we were running out of reasons to stay, so we decided to get on a ferry to seek out a quieter beach where we could relax and swim without the chaos.
Boarding a ferry was equally chaotic, crowded, and generally unpleasant in the sweltering heat. Once we got moving and the breeze picked up it was much nicer and the views looking back at the coast were very nice.
Overall, we were not thrilled with our Positano experience. I am sure it is nicer in the evenings when the crowds thin out but it is not a place I will be returning to in a hurry.
We found a nice and spacious beach at Maiori and were able to swim and relax there to finish off the day.
This was more of a family-oriented area with more open spaces on the beach.
There was also a long shopping strip that ran through the center of town with a more modern style of bars, stores, and restaurants that was high on convenience but lower on cultural value.
We were happy to return to our sanctuary at the top of the mountain and enjoyed another nice dinner with amazing views at Ravello.
Day 4 – Sorrento and Pompeii
Today we would move our home base from Ravello to the city of Sorrento.
This would give us easy access to the Island of Capri and transport links back to the major cities.
Despite getting on the first bus of the day from Ravello it still took over two hours to arrive in Sorrento (which is why we planned to stay and not travel back & forth).
By the time we checked into our new hotel, it was approaching lunchtime. So we thought we could squeeze in an afternoon to explore Pompeii.
Is half a day enough to explore Pompeii? I think yes, but I could have easily spent a full day there.
The area is so big that it is impossible to see it all in half a day, but you can cover a lot of ground!
Unless you are well-read on the subject, it would really be worthwhile taking a guided tour at the start of your day. I wish we had organized this ahead of time!
This would give you more context when exploring things on your own afterward.
Having said that, it is still an amazing experience to explore independently. Some of the old buildings are preserved so well that it truly does give you a window into the lifestyle of some of the wealthier occupants.
The detail that was still visible in the wall decorations, paintings, statues, and furniture was beyond what I expected.
When you encounter the castings in the shape of bodies it is very moving. You also get a feel for the tragedy of the event and just how quickly the eruption of Mt Vesuvian buried the city.
There is a feeling of despair in how some of these bodies were positioned. Which is a sobering reminder of how quickly your life can change.
- Old Town with its lively atmosphere day and night
- Another old cathedral (if you’re into that)
- Our hotel!!
Later that evening we explored the city of Sorrento, which really comes alive at night time!
It has more of a city feel with large commercial areas that are buzzing with street performers, restaurants that spill out into the mall, and bars everywhere.
There is a fun vibe and was much more lively compared to the peaceful settings of Ravello.
We were always happy to come home to our hotel, Villa Giovanna.
It was a ten-minute walk out of town but they ran a free shuttle service from the edge of town to the hotel on a schedule, and would sometimes do ad-hoc drop-offs on request.
Day 5 – Island of Capri
Capri is such a fun place to visit and our day trip to the island was our favorite part of the whole week!
It was an easy ferry ride from Sorento to the port at Capri, and from there the first activity was our two-hour boat rental.
- Mt Solaro
- Faraglioni (you’ll need a boat to get close!)
- Blue Grotto
I had never driven a boat before but it was fairly easy. Within 15 minutes of leaving the port, I was testing my skills by driving through the famous Faraglioni rock formation.
There is a queue of boats lining up to go through there and it was not the tight fit that I expected. So we managed to get through with the boat unscathed!
From there we traveled further down the coast past a number of super yachts and other tourist boats until we found a nice quiet cove to drop the anchor and have a swim.
This was a lot of fun and I wish we spent more time here. Unfortunately, we cut it short to 30 minutes so we had time to make it all the way around the island and back to port within the two-hour rental period.
This was a mistake! There is no need to go around the island unless you plan on accessing the blue grotto from the water. You can pull up at a buoy outside the entry and a small boat will bring you into the blue cave.
However, the boat rental is expensive, and considering you can access the blue grotto from land anyway there is no need to do this on rental time.
So after circumnavigating the island and seeing more than enough coastline for the day we returned the boat at the port and went on to enjoy a nice lunch on the waterfront.
There are a number of beaches to choose from around the main town. But they do get very busy!
Just the site of the crowded shore made us wish we were still on that boat where we could swim almost anywhere we liked!
So we moved on to seek out the best views on Capri!
The bus ride from the port area to Mount Salerno is an experience in itself! The road is narrow and follows a winding road along a cliff’s edge. The views are incredible, and only get better the higher we go.
To reach the top of Mt Salerno you take a single-seat chair lift. The first few minutes are a bit dull but once you start to get some altitude you emerge from the canopy to see incredible views over the Gulf of Naples.
We had a wonderfully clear day and could see all the way to Mt Vesuvius (I think) on the way up.
When at the summit, you have views in every direction.
Day 6 – Train from Sorrento to Rome
We spent our final morning enjoying the views from our hotel and enjoying the swimming pool and gardens, all with magnificent views.
Sorrento has much easier access to transport links than the Amalfi Coast and after checking out we had an easy time jumping on a train to head back to Rome.
Tips for Selecting Accommodation On the Amalfi Coast
For a first-timer, it is easy to underestimate the effort required to walk from accommodation to a bus stop or into town.
As a general rule, if you are walking toward the coast you are going downhill, and vice versa. But what you need to know is just how steep these short walks can be!
They are steep! And a 200m walk that looks easy on Google Maps could be a serious leg workout that will leave you sweaty and sore.
So, if you are looking for a room with a view outside of the main towns remember these tips when selecting your accommodation:
- Look for somewhere with nearby bus stops both above and below the location.
- Check if the accommodation offers a shuttle service (many do!) so you can avoid buses.
- At bus times of the day, buses get to capacity fast and will not stop to pick up passengers. The further away from town you are the more likely you can get a ride. If somewhere in the middle you risk being stuck for what could be hours.
Amalfi Coast Transport
The location, infrastructure, and terrain around the Amalfi Coast make it a much more difficult place to travel compared to other popular coastal regions such as Cinque Terre (which has a train line!).
There are some pitfalls that we will point out below. But with some basic planning, you can navigate your stay without too many hiccups.
How to Travel Between Villages on the Amalfi Coast
There are two main options unless you plan on having your own vehicle. Both are fairly slow and crowded in the busier months, this will not detract from your experience too much in most cases.
There is one main road that runs the stretch of the coast and it is busy, narrow, and very slow to travel.
At peak times there is also the risk that buses will be too full to pick you up and you may be left stranded if not boarding at one of the major towns.
Having said that, the views are amazing and the prices are relatively cheap.
If you have a long journey and are traveling with suitcases try and travel early before things get too crowded!
Full timetable information and route information is available here.
The ferry links are excellent between all of the major towns but there are two major pitfalls:
- The cost will be far higher than the bus.
- The lines to board a ferry can be long and brutal in the hot sun!
Having said that it is by far the most pleasant way to travel when you are on board. The sea breeze and the views of the coast are stunning!
If you plan on driving a car the smaller the better! The buses mentioned earlier take up a lot of road and squeezing past them is a constant battle.
Parking will also not be easy!!
The trade-off is you have the ultimate freedom to go wherever you like whenever you like.
You could also rent a small motorbike or scooter. This will be much more convenient but has obvious risks.
Also, make sure you check your travel insurance as a lot of policies will not cover you when on two wheels!!
How to Travel to the Amalfi Coast
We had an awful time getting to the coast from Naples airport. A combination of our lack of planning and a taxi strike on the day of our arrival resulted in us spending the night on the train platform at Salerno.
So read this section carefully so you do not end up doing the same… It was not fun!
For each of these options, we are assuming traveling from Naples airport. If you are coming in by train then you can skip the first step in each case and the remainder will be relevant.
I wanted to mention this first because if I ever return this is what I will do, no question!
It is the most expensive option by far, but if you have at least one person to split it with then I think the per-head cost is absolutely worth it compared to the gauntlet you have to navigate while lugging around suitcases.
There are multiple services that will meet you at the airport and take you directly to your accommodation. This will be a 90-minute trip compared to what would be at least half a day otherwise.
The next easiest option would be to take the bus from the airport to the main train station at Naples.
From there you can take the train to either Sorrento or Salerno, depending on which end of the coast is your final destination.
The distance between these two points is over two hours’ worth of bus time so it is worthwhile considering your shortest route.
From there you can take the most appropriate bus to get to your accommodation. Again, check the link mentioned previously with bus route options and timetable information.
Note: if taking this option you should arrive early in the morning to give yourself the full day to navigate the above and reach your destination. It may take longer than you think!!
Once you take the bus into Naples you have a number of ferry options.
- Naples to Sorrento -> followed by a bus to your final destination
- Naples to either Capri/Positano/Amalfi -> followed by a bus to your final destination.
All of these options are inconvenient and time-consuming.
The Amalfi Coast allows you to choose your own pace of holiday.
There is so much to discover and you can fill your days with activities on the sea and on land, but you can also lay on the beach drinking cocktails all day.
We can’t wait to return to the Amalfi Coast so we can do both!
For more on the Italian seaside, you can also check out our comparison of the Amalfi Coast and Cinque Terre here.