Are you planning a trip to Italy and the dazzling Sorrento and Amalfi Coast? Southern Italy is a paradise of crystal-clear blue waters and idyllic, quaint villages planted by the sea begging to be discovered and explored. This region of Europe’s boot is highly popular and sought out by tourists and renowned personalities alike. Who does not want to marvel at the dreamy Mediterranean Sea while savouring a mouth-watering traditional Italian meal?
To ensure you enjoy your trip to the Sorrento and Amalfi Coast to the fullest, we invite you on a journey along these destinations, the landmarks you need to tick off your bucket list and the best time to visit.
Buckle up, let us get you Italy-ready!
The Amalfi Coast
You might have heard of the Amalfi Coast, however, do you know what is considered part of this dreamy stretch of Italian land? Running from Nerano, passing by Sorrento and ending in Vietri Sul Mare, this rocky 50km coastline made of dramatic cliffs and steep hills is located in the Campania region in the southern part of the country.
The Amalfi Coast overlooks the Tyrrhenian Sea and the Gulf of Salerno and is split into 16 different municipalities declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Its characteristic pastel-coloured, historic houses, picturesque villages and small beaches lost in coves allied to the warm, inviting weather make it a desirable destination.
On top of the hills, you can spot the lemon trees scattered around the land, the manor houses and vine plantations, which encapsulate the Italian culture, tradition and heritage into the perfect postcard picture to save in your memory box.
When is the best time to visit
Every year, over 5 million tourists are allured to the Italian Amalfi Coast, making it one of Europe’s most popular summer destinations. As a result, overcrowding has become a problem over the years, especially for those who enjoy exploring locations on foot without the hustle and bustle of noisy crowds. Long queues and hot weather can make it quite impossible to enjoy your time travelling here.
During Winter, this region of Italy becomes quieter, and, on the downside, most local shops and attractions close. At the end of the day, the Amalfi Coast is a seasonal destination that thrives particularly in the warmer months. So, when is the best time to visit?
The off-peak season might be your best bet. In the months of April and October (Spring and Autumn, respectively), you can enjoy nice warm Mediterranean weather with little to no days of rain, allowing you to enjoy late afternoon strolls in these seaside towns.
Nonetheless, it is important to understand you still need to book your visit with time, as these small fishing villages attract a great number of visitors all year round.
How to get to know the pearl of the Mediterranean Sea
First things first, choose a place to stay in the surroundings of the Amalfi Coast or the towns of Sorrento and Salerno. Naples can be the perfect location. This city is about 61km away from this destination, making it quite easily accessible either by car or public transportation.
The village of Amalfi and its dramatic hills are particularly popular. Even if you try to book in advance, it can be rather difficult to find a vacancy for your preferred time. All in all, the best option is to stay in a nearby city where you can expand your knowledge of Italian culture!
Secondly, driving. We all have heard stories of the traffic in Italy or even watched examples on the big screen. The steep hills and cobblestone streets can be particularly tricky to drive on. Plus, there are rules and restrictions you might not be aware of. For example, if your car plate ends in an odd number, you can only drive on that specific road on odd-number days.
With this in mind, the best thing to do when visiting the seaside towns on the Amalfi Coast is to have an experienced local driver to drive you around. This way, you will have the amazing opportunity to pay attention to the mesmerising views over the Mediterranean Sea and Mount Vesuvius.
Places to explore
Romantic, charming and fascinating are words some use to describe this Italian village. Coined by the grand poet Homero as the “city of mermaids”, Sorrento boasts a mythical beauty enhanced by the striking blue waters flapping on the city’s pristine beaches. On a clear day, be aware of the horizon as you might be able to glimpse Mount Vesuvius!
This town overlooking the Bay of Naples is a popular destination of the Sorrentine Peninsula and the perfect place if you are looking forward to exploring Pompeii and the Amalfi Coast. As a historical Italian town, Sorrento’s history dates back as far as the 8th century BC. Today you can marvel at this destination's heritage in the historical centre. Its culture and traditions are ever present in monuments like the Chiesa di San Francesco, a 14th-century peaceful monastery.
When the sun starts setting and the streets are immersed in a romantic orange hue, eating an Italian gelato or drinking the traditional limoncello, a lemon liquor produced in this region, might be the perfect way to end your day!
Approximately 16km east of Sorrento is Positano. This hamlet planted by the sea is a known location and a popular holiday spot in the Salerno province. During the Roman Empire, this was a hotspot for luxurious Roman villas. Over time, Positano became increasingly popular, especially after John Steinback’s description of the village as “a dream place that isn’t quite real when you are there and becomes beckoningly real after you have gone.”
Like other seaside towns along the Amalfi Coast, Positano is characterized by its steep hills and narrow streets, which make it both unique and difficult to walk. One of this destination’s attractions is the enchanting Church of Santa Maria Assunta. When visiting, pay attention to the majolica-tile-made dome and the 13th-century Byzantine black Madonna icon (a mythological symbol part of Positano’s folklore).
The Amalfi Drive, or strada statale 163 Amalfitana, starting in Sorrento, is a 50km road that passes by Positano. Every year, tourists worldwide travel to Italy to cross this particular route. If you also want to tick the Amalfi Drive off your bucket list, the best time to do it is in the off-peak season!
The next stop is Praiano, a commune in the province of Salerno, right between the towns of Amalfi and Positano. This village’s name derives from the Latin word pelagium, meaning open sea. In the Middle Ages, Praiano was mainly known for being the summer residence of the Duchy of Amalfi’s doges.
Some of the main sites to visit in this location are the 12th-century Church of San Luca Evangelista, decorated with Renaissance paintings by Giovanni Bernardo Lama. You should also see the Church of San Giovanni Battista, which features a beautiful and well-preserved majolica tiled floor.
One of Praiano’s biggest attractions is, of course, its beaches. Therefore, coming here, you must definitely set a time for a dip in the sapphire-blue waters of the Mediterranean Sea. You can hop from beach to beach or choose a specific one to spend your day at. One of the most popular ones is Marina di Praia, located between two rocks.
Another cliffside town on the Amalfi Coast is Ravello. As it sits atop a high hillside, to get here you must take a car or bus (unless you are fond of steep hikes). Due to its natural beauty and breathtaking views of the Tyrrhenian Sea, Ravello has been a destination that attracted artists (namely writers and musicians, such as Virginia Woolf and Tennessee Williams). Once there, the village is quite easy to get to know on foot. So, put on your best shoes and be prepared to get to know a beautiful Italian town!
Ravello’s highlights start in Piazza Centrale, a small square populated by cafes, local shops, restaurants and an art gallery where you can immerse yourself a little bit more in the Italian culture. Here, you can also find the Duomo di Ravello, an 11th-century cathedral elevated to the status of Minor Basilica by Pope Benedict XV.
In the afternoon, enjoy a stroll through the beguiling gardens at Villa Rufolo. Built in the 1200s, this was the site of one of the most luxurious and largest villas on the Amalfi Coast. Kings, wealthy merchants and nobility would gather here for banquets and socialisation. Today this is a coveted site every tourist wants to visit!
This is a small town that gives the name to this specific stretch of the Italian coastline. The perfect starting point to explore the region or to uncover the wonders of its historical town centre. Amalfi experienced the ex libris of its splendour in the 10th and 11th centuries when it dominated the Mediterranean trade routes.
You can observe the heritage of this village’s success today in Amalfi’s stunning architecture and landmarks. For that reason, the port and the arsenal (now a museum) are an obligatory stop. The harbour and marina are still busy places where ferries and boats arrive bringing new visitors every day. Here, the first thing to pay attention to are the mediaeval watchtowers perched right above your head!
Other sites to discover are the fountain of St. Andrea right in front of the equally dazzling Amalfi’s Cathedral. Here you can admire an elaborate sculpture while filling your water bottle with fresh drinkable water. At the end of the day, lose yourself in the narrow streets and alleys of this charming small town, where you can find local restaurants and shops to take a little bit of Amalfi home with you!
Bordering Amalfi is the commune of Atrani. Counting only 30 acres, this is considered one of the smallest villages on the Amalfi Coast and Italy. Despite its size, this hidden gem is full of spellbinding places to visit and explore!
Walking along its cobblestoned lanes is the best way to get around and become acquainted with Atrani’s lifestyle and culture. On your way, you will find several restaurants where you can have a delectable fresh seafood meal that will leave you craving more.
One good way of spending your day here in this hamlet of the Amalfi Coast is to relax at the beach. In Atrani, there are two, and they are ideal for a leisurely afternoon!
For some architectural sightings, you must go to the Church of Santa Maria Maddalena, built in the distant year 1274 on top of the ruins of a mediaeval fortress. Later in the 16th century, it suffered some additions, with the majolica Dome and the new bell tower enlarging its beauty.
Vietri Sul Mare
The last stop in Amalfi Drive is Vietri Sul Mare. This is one of Amalfi Coast’s less trodden paths and the ultimate location to live the Italian motto and lifestyle, “il dolce far niente”, the pleasantness of doing nothing. Here, you will enjoy a day basking in the warm sun and marvelling at the rugged mountain landscape.
Aside from wandering along the ceramic-covered streets and the city’s heart, Corso Umberto I, Vietri has a Ceramics Museum where you can deepen your knowledge of this craft and its importance to this specific Italian commune.
Then, it is time to hit the beach and enjoy the peace of Vietri Sul Mare. This is the perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of the previous stops, such as Amalfi and Positano. Vietri has one of the longest beaches on this coastline. Some of your options are Marina di Vietri and Spiaggia Crestarella!
Things to do
Taking postcard pictures
Most of these scenic Italian seaside villages are picture-perfect in real life. Each of them, with their pastel-coloured houses draping down the mountains and cliffs form an idyllic picture you will want to share with your loved ones. So, pick up your camera and eternalise the views you have in front of you!
Do not know where to get THAT shot? Look for viewpoints and gardens in the surrounding area. Villa Cimbrone in Ravello is a good example. This historic villa dating to the 11th century has the Terrace of Infinity, a locale with picturesque statues and a view to make your jaw drop! The ultimate spot for an unforgettable postcard picture.
Southern Italy is known for its magnificent landscape but also for its regionally produced liquor, Limoncello. This drink is made from Femminello St. Teresa lemons. It is usually served in small ceramic glasses as a digestif or apéritif (before a meal) to aid digestion.
You will find Limoncello in most local restaurants along the Amalfi Coast. If you want to have a more hands-on experience and understand the history behind this traditional drink, you can opt for a workshop. This type of activity is rather inclusive as it grants you insight into the production process!
Get lost in the picturesque streets
Discovering the real Italy passes by allowing yourself to get lost in the streets of these picturesque villages. Your heart will be automatically stolen with such a simple thing to do, just walking!
The ancient buildings, the city centres and the hidden terraces are true gems to getting to know the Amalfi Coast to the fullest. From the city, you can get a different perspective of this popular destination and the allure it possesses that attracts so many tourists every year.
Your starting point can be the staircase at Amalfi’s Cathedral! These majestic stairs give you a point of view of the rooftops and lofty heights, which you will surely want to remember. Another monument you can visit is the San Gennaro Church in the heart of Praiano.
Go on a hike along Sentiero degli Dei trail
Also known as Path of the Gods, Sentiero degli Dei is one of the most popular hikes in Italy and on the Amalfi Coast. This trail will lead you along a distance of about 4.7 miles starting in the village of Bomerano and ending in beautiful Nocelle, Positano. The route is marked by white and red signs (look for the number 02 written on them).
En route walking across the Italian countryside, you will have the opportunity to have a unique point of view of Capri Island and the extension of the Amalfi Coast. Most of the path runs downhill, so it is recommended caution and attention to the ground.
To get to these locations, catch a Sita bus departing from the town of Amalfi to Bomerano. It is highly pivotal that you let the drivers know that you want to stop in this specific village. From there, follow the road signs to the trail’s beginning site. Alternatively, you can opt for having an experienced private driver to drop you off at the right place.
Catch a boat to Capri
As you may know, the only way to reach the sought-after Capri is by boat or ferry. This island in the Gulf of Naples is an obligatory stop. Its sublime natural beauty and dramatic landscape are the epitome of the bucolic Italian charm and glamour. With just one day, you can get to know the main highlights, including the Blue Grotto and the town’s fairy-tale-like streets!
You can catch a ferry from Naples and Sorrento during the off-peak season, which is the perfect complement to make your trip to the Amalfi Coast even more memorable! At this time of year, even though still highly popular, you will be able to take in Capri’s majestic environment more easily.