costiera, amalfi, costa

The best of Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast

The Amalfi Coast, Italy

The Amalfi coast is one of the most beautiful, picturesque, and famous stretches of mountainous coastlines in the world Located in the Campania region of southern Italy. The rocky coastline with its steep cliffs, beautiful towns, lemon groves, and vineyards stretches 50 km along Italy’s Sorrentine peninsula. This stretch of coastline is home to 13 of the most beautiful towns in Italy like Positano, Furore, Ravello, and more, and all are connected by the SS163 road, or otherwise known as Amalfi Drive. The Amalfi Drive is a beautiful, classic Italian road offering spectacular views along this stunning coastline.

Planning a trip to the Amalfi coast for the first can leave you feeling a little overwhelmed, especially, if like me you are on a time budget. You may wish to know things like, How far is Sorrento from the Amalfi coast? How do I get around the Amalfi Coast? How many days do I need to visit the Amalfi Coast? Where is the area to stay on the Amalfi Coast?

Hopefully, by reading my guide to the Amalfi Coast, you can start to plan you’re itinerary and gain a little bit of knowledge about the area. Ideally, you would need 5-7 days to truly experience everything the Amalfi Coast has to offer, but you can definitely visit a good chunk of it in 3 full days, so here is some recommendations to help you make the most of your Mini Break.

Getting there

The closest international airport to the Amalfi Coast is Naples, although you can also fly into Rome, which is sometimes more popular because it’s cheaper and there are more flights daily to Rome than Naples.

If you are flying into Naples you will need to get the airport shuttle into Naples central station (Stazione Napoli Centrale) and from there you can get the train to Sorrento, which is the starting point of the Amalfi Coast, this takes just over an hour. Or you could hire a car for a few days from the airport and take to the open road and explore the beautiful scenery and drive down to Sorrento. Another option is to take the ferry across the Bay of Naples and into Sorrento. There are two ferry companies that offer crossings, the NLG, which has 7 crossings per week, and the Alilauro which has 5 crossings daily. The journey takes between 35-45 minutes.

If you are traveling from Rome to Sorrento you will need to get the train from Roma Termini to Napoli Centrale and then get a connecting train to Sorrento.

Where to stay on the Amalfi Coast

Sorrento. What you could call the starting point on the Amalfi coast tour. Although the gorgeous town of Sorrento is not strictly speaking on the Amalfi Coast, it’s a great place to base yourself for your Amalfi coast tour.

If you are not on a budget I would recommend the Hotel Excelsior Vittoria. The hotel overlooks the bay of Naples and is amazing in every way, from its surroundings to location, fantastic staff, and the restaurant overlooking the sea. This is a 5-star hotel is set overlooking the bay of Naples in 3 historic buildings and features a few quality restaurants, a swimming pool, live music and entertainment, a spa, and some beautiful gardens. This hotel is luxury and so is the price tag, but if you are on a budget, there are plenty of b&bs and cheaper hotels in Sorrento. The Best Western Hotel La Solara is more budget-friendly.

The Hotel Excelsior Vittoria Sorrento
The Hotel Excelsior Vittoria gardens Sorrento
The Hotel Excelsior Vittoria Sorrento
The Hotel Excelsior Vittoria Sorrento
Overlooking the Bay of Naples from the balcony of the Hotel Excelsior Vittoria Sorrento

What to do on the Amalfi coast

When visiting the Amalfi coast you really are spoilt for choice, with its beautiful towns and villages that all offer something unique, some breathtaking scenery, delicious Italian food, and authentic Italian culture, making it a place you simply must visit.

Sorrento

Sorrento is famous for its Lemons

Although Sorrento is not actually on the Amalfi coast, it’s a great starting point, the gateway to it. Sorrento, a town famous for its lemons, is a very popular place with tourists and does become very crowded in the height of summer but despite this, I love it here. The beautiful sunshine, the lemon groves the sunsets, the lemon-colored buildings, and the culture all combine to make Sorrento one of my favorite places to come visit.

Sample a Limoncello. Sorrento is famous for its lemons and a fair chunk of them may go into producing Italy’s famous Limoncello. Limoncello is an Italian lemon liqueur, produced mainly in the southern part of Italy, including the Amalfi Coast. With its high alcohol content, it is enjoyed as a shot or can be used as a mixer in drinks Like gin for example. However, you may drink it, sip it and savor the flavor.

Experience Pizza and Limoncello making with the Sorrento farm and tastings tour where you will get a true taste of this beautiful region. Visit a family-run farm, a cheese factory, and a pizzeria, where you can learn about true Italian family recipes, and even have a go at making your own pizza. Sample some of the local homemade bread, lemonade, and the Limoncello, as well as some of the region’s finest extra virgin olive oil.

Head down to the harbor. Although Sorrento doesn’t have sandy beaches, there is no shortage of waterfront places for you to chill out, walk along or swim in. The steep stretch of coastline along the Marina Grande and the Marina Piccola are lined with restaurants overlooking the bay, and there is plenty of space for you to enjoy an opportunity to swim or simply soak up some rays. Here, you can find boat tours and a ferry to Naples, the romantic city of Capri, and explore the Amalfi coastline.

Marina Grande in Sorrento

Pompeii and Herculaneum

Everybody has heard of Pompeii – this ancient and once-thriving Roman city that was buried under ash and brought back into the light by archaeologists, from the tons of lava that have covered it since the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79AD. Pompeii covers many acres so comfortable footwear is a must, I also think a bottle of water and a snack is a good idea as it takes several hours to walk around the site. One word of advice, in the entrance hall where you buy your ticket, you may be approached by a guide who will offer to take you and a group of others around the most
interesting buildings – make sure you ask how much he/she is going to charge you, as payment is not usually taken until the end of the tour and you may be left reeling at the charge! I was. If you decide not to use a guide, it is a good idea to refer to the street map issued with your ticket. Allow your imagination free reign as you walk along the ancient roadways and peep into shops and houses, get
a taste for the lives of the people who lived here. And then imagine the end – the nearness of Vesuvius will help – it is truly terrifying!
Having visited Pompeii, I thought that Herculaneum would be more of the same, however, I would advise you to make the effort to visit, as it is here that you will be most struck by the horror and the tragedy of the eruption.

The ancient city of Pompeii on Italy’s Amalfi Coast

Mount Vesuvius.

For all you daredevils out there I would recommend a journey to the top of Mount Vesuvius. The mountain is only about two-thirds of its original height following the 79AD eruption and is still an active volcano – steam continues to seep from its crater. The journey to the top takes about one hour in a heavy-duty vehicle and is interesting in itself as one travels through the markedly different areas which make up the terrain. The last few meters are taken on foot. On a clear day, the Bay of Naples can be seen in all its glory from the top. The only trading point on the summit is a lady selling beads made from pumice stone – a neat little memento of your adventure on this incredible landscape! I can guarantee that when your feet are firmly back at sea level, having walked on Mount Vesuvius, you will feel on top of the world!

Hiking up Mount Vesuvius


Trek up Mount Vesuvius

Capri and Villa Jovis

A taxi driver told me that the island of Capri, in the middle of the Bay of Naples, looks like a pregnant lady lying in the water and this image has stuck with me ever since. So recognizable is Capri that keeping track of where you are is easy. If you want to visit Capri from Sorrento (or any of the other islands), take a boat from the harbor, it’s so easy and the boats leave at regular intervals. In high season, you may need to queue for a while so be prepared to get out early if you don’t want to lose any time. I was not surprised that Capri was the choice of the Roman Emperors for their retreats. Not only is it beautiful and has the most wonderful views of the Mediterranean but it must also have been easily defendable from assassins. Once you arrive in the harbor at Capri, if you are fit enough, walk up the hill to Villa Jovis, it is a long way but the outlook is stunning. I made the journey early one beautiful warm September morning – the ambiance and scenery took my breath away! The Villa was built for Emperor Tiberius and stories abound of his activities here. Various places mentioned in these tales can still be identified – read about them before you go if you are interested. If you like to see native wildlife, you may love the little blue lizards which abound here.

Ferry’s and tour boats leave from the Marina Grande In Sorrento and these depart every 30 minutes and the crossing takes about 25 minutes.

Ferry from Sorrento to Capri

Amalfi

Amalfi is a town in a beautiful natural setting below the steep cliffs on the southwest of the Amalfi coast, and although it does not have the tourist attractions that Rome has, it’s still a stunning place to come and relax. If you are on a budget, the best way to get to Amalfi from Sorrento is by bus. However, be warned, the journey can be stressful if you are of a nervous disposition – it may be best to sit downstairs away from the window. The narrow road winds its way around the vertical cliffs and navigates past oncoming traffic at alarming proximity. Once you reach Amalfi, a walk around the shops can be interesting. A dip in the sea from one of the private beaches owned by the hotels is a great way of spending the hottest part of the day, although you will have to pay a fee. Alternatively, a free public beach by piazza Flavio Gioia won’t cost you anything. In the Piazza del Duomo, stands the Cathedral dedicated to the apostle Sant’Andrea – it’s a stunning building, reflecting a mixture of Byzantine,
Romanesque and Arabic influences through the ages. If you have time, the museum here contains some veritable treasures for you to discover.

A beech in Amalfi

Ravello

Just 3 miles from Amalfi is the little town of Ravello. Everywhere you look in the small town of Ravello is pretty stunning. Built on the face of a vertical cliff and sitting above the coastline, 365 meters above, in fact, the views are terrifyingly awesome. Getting around Ravello is easy, it’s mostly pedestrianized which also makes it safe. Ravello is much less busy than the towns of Sorrento and Amalfi but its 100 percent worth visiting. Be sure to visit the Villa Cimbrone garden on your visit here. There are plenty of pottery shops that sell ceramics in the most gorgeous colors, typically bright blues, reds, and yellows, making great gifts to take home, although some careful packing will be needed. One of Ravello’s summer highlights is the Ravello Festival, held from early to later summer the Ravello’s Music Festival is held in various venues across the town – you will need to book tickets in advance for this.

Stunning view of the Amalfi coast

I hope you found this Guide to visiting Sorrento and the Amalfi coast useful and I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

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