Amalfi Coast

Positano. (Photo by Reid Bramblett)
Postiano, jewel of the Amalfi Coast.

A travel guide to the Costiera Amalfitana (Amalfi Coast) and the towns along Italy's famed Amalfi Drive—including Amalfi, Positano, and Ravello—and its gateway, Sorrento

Why the Amalfi Coast?

The Amalfi Coast is one of Europe's great scenic wonders. The impossibly winding Amalfi Drive road that follows it high up on the cliffside—often cantilevered over empty space—is a marvel of engineering and one of the world's best white-knuckle thrill rides outside of an amusement park.

This 50km (30 mile) stretch of crinkly coastline between Sorrento and Salerno offers breathtaking scenery as you make your torturous, winding way from one gorgeous sea cove into the next, some craggy inlets so sheer and deep they almost qualify as mini-fjords.

High, tree-swathed cliffs on your left plunge tumultuously into the azure waters below you on the right, the inlets and headlands punctuated by scraps of beaches, terraced groves of giant lemons, and some of the most inviting, relaxing, and beautiful small towns in Italy.

The bougainvillea-crowned and jasmine-scented villages of the Amalfi Coast range from pricey resort town to old-fashioned fishing hamlet. Among the some dozen communities strung along the coast is a trinity of required stops: posh Positano, historic Amalfi, and garden-filled Ravello.

In between you'll find everything from the Emerald Grotto sea cave to the ceramics of Vietri sul Mare. (For a quick overview of the drive itself—synopses of the major towns listed above and details on the bits you pass along the way in between them—check out the "Amalfi Drive" page.)

Just offshore (and accessible by ferries from any Amalfi Coast town, Sorrento, or Naples) lies the fabled island of Capri, a hedonistic getaway resort since the time of the Caesars.

Amalfi Coast quick guide

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Tourism info
How long does the Amalfi Coast take?

Planning your time: Budget at least a day for the Amalfi Coast. Simply to drive the coast without getting out (except to change buses in Amalfi) takes at least five hours—that's three hours touring the coast from Sorrento to Salerno, plus another hour on each end to get to and from those gateway towns.

If you do want to pack it all into a single day—and actually stop and get out in a few towns—it might be best to just book a tour that picks you up at your hotel, gives you time in each of the main Amalfi Coast towns, and returns you to your hotel 6–9 hours later:

  • From Sorrento, group tours start from $40, private drivers from $60, and private tours from $90. » book
  • From Naples, group tours start from $97, private drivers from $55, and private tours from $85. » book

Otherwise, it makes far more sense to spend at least one night on the coast.

If, however, your schedule doesn't have that much leisure time, might I suggest riding the first leg—from Sorrento to Positano to Amalfi—taking a quick spin around Amalfi town, then catching a ferry either back up the coast to Sorrento or over to Capri.

» Amalfi Coast itineraries

Amalfi Coast tours
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Tourist information:
Autonomous Tourist Board
Via the Maritime Republics
tel. +39-089-871107

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