Amalfi Coast beaches

The beach at Amalfi. (Photo by rikstill)
The beach at Amalfi.

The best swathes of sand where you can catch some sun along the Amalfi Coast

It needs to be said that the Amalfi Coast—most of Italy's western coast, really—does not have the best beaches. There are crescents of sand here and there between the rocky coastal outcroppings, but they tend to be be small and crowded, ranked with rentable chairs and umbrellas where you have to pay for the shade.

This is all fine—and describes any typical Italian beach. I just didn't want you to arrive expecting unending miles of California sand, or even a wonderfully wide Jersey Shore experience. This is a European beach scene, with its own charms. Also, try not to be shokced by the toplessness.

There is an unfortunate inverse relationship on the Amalfi Coast between beach quality and historical/cultural interest. That is to say, the most interesting towns have the crummiest beaches.

Amalfi's beach is really just a scrap of sand, wedged below the coastal road. It's not terrible; it's just tiny and crowded.

Ravello—for all the charm of its gardens, its concerts, and its lovely cathedralis located up in the hills and therefore utterly beachless.

On the other hand, Maiori and Minori both have (for the Amalfi Coast) long, wide beaches of sand... and virtually nothing to do. Both towns consist mostly of low-rise hotels along the beach; that's something you can easily find in Florida (though the food's arguably better here).

Positano is something of a happy medium, with two beaches—the busy beach below the main part of town, where the ferries dock, and the quieter beach in the sleepy Fornillo neighborhood just around the headland. Then again, postcard-pretty as it is, Positano itself is kind of dull, with no real sights, just overpriced boutiques and restaurants.

While I will continue to protest that Sorrento is not actually part of the Amalfi Coast, it bears inclusion here, if only to point out: Sorrento has no beach, just elevators down to the cliff bottom to access the town's swimming piers.

Tips & 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

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