Amalfi Coast layout

The Amalfi Coast

The lay of the land on the Amalfi Coast: Its location, gateways, and major towns

The Bay of Naples is like a big backwards "C." The lower arm of the bay (the bottom of the "C") is called the Sorrentine Peninsula. (Off the tip of this peninsula lies the popular island of Capri, covered in its own section.)

The Amalfi Coast is the string of towns, villages, and forested slopes running east-west along the southern flank of the Sorrentine Peninsula—in other words, not the side facing the Bay of Naples. (Yes, it feels like you are going from north to south, but trust me: the peninsula actually runs almost due west-east. In fact, you actually end up a bit north of where you started.)

From west to east, the main towns of the Amalfi Coast are: Positano, Praiano, Amalfi, Ravello (in the hills), Minori, Maiori, and Vietri sul Mare. (There are a dozen other small towns and fishing communities in between.)

Linking these towns is the Amalfi Drive, also known by its route number, the SS163:

There are two main gateways to the Amalfi Coast:

  • The large town of Sorrento anchors the Amalfi Coast's western end. (Actually, Sorrento is located on the north side of the peninsula, facing the Bay of Naples, so from Sorrento you have to go over the peninsula's mountainous spine to get to the A.C. proper.)
  • The small city of Salerno lies just beyond Vietri to the east, where the Amalfi Coast ends and the flat Cliento Coast of Southern Campania begins.

Tip: If you intend to explore the Amalfi Coast by bus (recommended) or by car (not recommended), start in Sorrento. (If you start in Salerno, you'll be on the wrong side of the road for all the spectacular views.)

But first things first: Unless you are arriving from Capri, to get to the Amalfi Coast you must go through Naples (and then, probably, Sorrento).

» Getting to the Amalfi Coast

» Getting around the Amalfi Coast

Tips & links

Transportation links
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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