From the first moment I arrived on the Amalfi Coast in Italy back in the 1990’s, I knew it would hold a special place in my heart. This is, hands down, one of the most magically beautiful stretches of coastline in the world. Even Unesco thinks so! There are 13 towns along the Amalfi Coast that have received World Heritage Site designation since 1997. In honor of that, I’ve decided to give you 13 things to see and do on the Amalfi Coast during your next visit.
It’s like the mountains just broke off into the sea and slowly towns were built vertically, wedged into the rock face. And it appears all the structures should be sliding into the sea, but they don’t.
How to get to the Amalfi Coast?
I first took a train to Naples then hopped on another train, the Circumvesuviana, to Sorrento. Once I arrived in Naples Centrale train station I went one floor down to reach the Circumvesuvian Train. Italian high speed trains between large cities are quite classy these days, but the Circumvesuviana is like a step back in time – a bit more rickety and there is no air con. Tickets cost €3.60 ($4) and it takes between 50 min and 1h 10 min all the way to the end: Sorrento. Sometimes, I don’t have a seat, and am squished in with lots of others, so I take care of my valuables. I use Sorrento as my base for discovery. It’s easier.
13 Things to See and Do on the Amalfi Coast
While there are a ton of things to do on the Amalfi Coast, I picked 13 of my favorites to coincide with the number of World Heritage site awards. I hope you, too, will fall under the spell of the Sirens, the intoxicating smells of lemon blossoms and get lost in the labyrinth of stairways and narrow alleys as you discover the paradise that is the Amalfi Coast.
1) Book a room with a view of, and tour Vesuvius
I’ve stayed a couple of times at the very central, Hotel Zi’Teresa and besides sea view balconies, they have a spacious rooftop terrace with spectacular 360° views of the surroundings. When I was there two years ago, it was a 3*. I now see it has reached 4* status, so well done, Aunt Teresa! I would splurge on an organised tour. There are many tour operators where you can get a glimpse upclose of Vesuvius, so be sure to check them out.
I’ve also stayed at the Hilton Sorrento Palace with a huge shared terrace and sweeping views of Sorrento toward Vesuvius. It’s a bit out of town, but well worth the view. I love their stunning ‘Pompeii-esque’ indoor pool and infinity pool looking smack at Vesuvius. It is so decadent.
2) Visit the ancient city of Pompeii
I have visited the ancient city of Pompeii numerous times. Pompeii was smothered under a thick carpet of volcanic ash in 79AD from the eruption of Mount Vesuvius. Locals were covered in nearly 75 feet of smoldering ash that fell over a six-hour period! It was rediscovered in 1748 and excavations have been going on ever since.
I really enjoy the numerous intact artifacts, statues, frescoes, and stunningly beautiful architecture; and original pieces can be found in the Naples National Archaeological Museum. Pompeii receives 2.5 million visitors per year, so you will be in good company. I was lucky to snap some shots without the hoards. Cost @ €20 ($22.50).
Sometimes I visit en route from Naples to Sorrento, or I go back once I get settled in Sorrento. When I want to avoid a bazillion tourists, I head to Herculaneum and Paestum, which suffered the same fate, and I enjoy it more easily.
3) Take in an open air concert in Sorrento
During the warmer months, there are many open air concerts in Piazza Tasso right in the middle of town. Check with the tourist office, and many are free!
4) Dine at Ristorante Museo Caruso
I’ve been here a couple times. My mom loved Caruso! Italy is known for music and Enrico Caruso is synonymous with opera. He was famous in Europe and the US in the early 1900’s, and was born near Naples. He’s famous for traditional Italian music, from opera to Neapolitan songs and this restaurant is a museum as well as a memorial to Sorrento’s adopted son.
Each June/July, the Caruso Award is awarded by the City of Sorrento to an artist who has contributed to spreading the Italian culture in the world. It’s a lovely, upscale restaurant with a superb menu and loads of Caruso photos and paraphernalia on the walls. I enjoy listening to Caruso music throughout my meal. Ristorante Museo Caruso is located at Via. S. Antonino, 12 Sorrento
5) Enjoy a beverage at the Marina Grande in Sorrento
This is a very chilled area with a variety of sea side restaurants specializing in seafood, but I usually just grab a drink at one of the romantic little tables they position sea side. I’ve also swam down there and rented local paddle boats. It’s a great way to chill and see the beautiful coast line.
6) Take a SITA Sud bus to Amalfi and Positano
I ‘m always in for the ride of my life. I give the bus drivers a lot of credit. Those hairpin turns of the Amalif Coast are not easy to navigate with tons of traffic, and the Italian penchant of just parking where they like. This ride was not easy on my stomach. I sit on the right side (as seated) when I’m going from Sorrento to Amalfi, and on the left when I’m returning to Sorrento. I caught the bus in Piazza Giovanni Battista De Curtis in Sorrento, near the station of the Circumvesuviana of Sorrento. The ride takes about 1.5 hrs is €6.80/ ($7.65).
7) Take the boat to Capri
It’s so decadent to say, “I went to Capri for the day.” From Sorrento’s Marina Piccola, I took the AliLauro, which takes 20 minutes for €18.50 ($21). There is also the Caremar at 30 minutes for €16 ($18.50). It’s a beautiful voyage to marvel at the stunning Amalfitan Coast and its mountainous landscapes.
8) Enjoy a beverage at the Gran Café – Piazza Umberto I, Capri
Located in Piazza Umberto I, and is the most famous piazza in Capri, I love stopping here to watch the world go by. This lovely café has been around since the mid 1930’s.
9) Ride the funicular to Mount Solaro in Anacapri
This funicular reaches the highest point on Anacapri (589 meters/1932 Feet). I departed from Piazza Vittoria in Anacapri. A lot of people miss this. It’s a 12-minute ride with a variety of ‘holy shit’ and extremely quiet moments as you are floating in air, but the views are amazing! So are the flirty men in front of you! It’s €11 ($12) rt.
10) Stay at Hotel Le Sirenuse in Positano
Hotel Le Sirenuse is part of the Leading Hotels of the World collection and it’s pure luxury. The Marchese family opened it in 1951. They turned their summer home into a hotel overlooking the bay of Positano. This is a summer home!!?? It has 58 rooms and an intimate feel of a cultured private home. Pulling random dates to find the most reasonable, I found a double with a courtyard view for €300 ($340) in October 2017, with view of the pool and partial sea for €490 ($550) or a sea view for €600 ($675).
I stayed here for a couple nights many years ago and paid about $200 for a sea view! Many Hollywood A-listers have stayed here and it’s truly a once is a lifetime experience. Their restaurants, service and pool bar none. They are located at Lattari Mountains Regional Park, Via Cristoforo Colombo, 30, 84017 Positano
11) Dine at the highly-recommended Ristorante Da Constantino
This family run pizzeria/restaurant first opened in 1978. I went with a random group from Le Sirenuse hotel and we had such a lovely time chatting with the owners and staff. I even got into the kitchen to watch my pizza bake! The hotel took us there and back, and this was the first choice when we asked where to dine. A definite must try for traditional familial Italian cooking. They are located at Via Corvo, 95 – Positano.
12) Visit Villa Cimbrone Gardens in Ravello
The magnificent gardens at Villa Cimbrone are open to the public every day, from 9.00 am until sunset, and the ticket costs € 7.00 ($7.85). It’s also a hotel, and the price for a double room in June 2017 starts at $560 for an view of the Chiostro, and nearly $900 for a superior sea view room. You will be lost in luxury, so visit the hotel and gardens at Lattari Mountains Regional Park, Via Santa Chiara, 26, 84010 Ravello.
13) Sample local limoncello
Limoncello is the liquid gold of the Amalfi Coast, and there are some of the finest and largest lemons around. Authentic limoncello can take months to produce, and it is well worth the wait for a taste of this. The best is at Limonoro at 49 Via San Cesareo, where they produce and sell their high-quality limoncello on site. They use the best lemons of Sorrento (“femminello” variety), untreated and grown in the area beneath the characteristic “pagliarelle” or straw mats.
The lemons are hand-picked and hand-peeled, and ready for production within two hours of being picked. Amazing! “This preserves the organoleptic characteristics that are at the heart of producing a higher quality product which effectively preserves the original aroma of freshly picked lemons, “ according to Limonoro.
13 Things to See and Do on the Amalfi Coast
I hope you’ve enjoyed my selection of 13 things to see and do on the Amalfi Coast. There are many others. Drop me a line and tell me what you think. I know many other villages quiet well. Happy to help direct your stay.