Imagine cascading cliffs filled with colorful architecture, the breeze of the Mediterranean Sea, scenic coastal views that seem to stretch on for eternity, and the smell of sweet lemons in the air — this is a peek into all that encapsulates Italy’s Amalfi Coast.
Nestled along the tip of the Italian boot, this region is one of the most spectacular places in the world, a destination that gives one a sense of living in a dream. Known for its huge, fragrant lemons, the Amalfi Coast is the birthplace of limoncello and offers some of the freshest seafood in the world. There is a true sense of living la dolce vita when visiting any of the towns along the coast.
With that in mind, here are eight things to do on the Amalfi Coast.
Take in the views at Villa Cimbrone Gardens (Ravello)
Nestled about 1,200 feet above the Mediterranean Sea in Ravello, the Villa Cimbrone Gardens boast some of the most spectacular vistas on the Amalfi Coast. The 11th-century villa was transformed into a luxury hotel in 1904, and its gardens have since been brought back to their former glory.
Although the gardens are home to Roman statues and a temple of Bacchus, their real showpiece is the Terrace of Infinity. Rightfully named, the terrace offers views that stretch on as far as the eye can see, with the twinkling Bay of Salerno blending into the blue sky beyond. From that vantage point, the towns and buildings of the Amalfi Coast stand out like sculpted works of art.
The well-manicured gardens cost seven euro to enter, so be sure to stay for a while and take in the views at this spectacular vista!
Join the crowds at Marina Grande Beach (Positano)
Marina Grande Beach, also known as the Spiaggia Grande, is Positano’s main beach, offering a picture-perfect view of the town’s pastel architecture. Along one section, visitors can pay to rent a chair and an umbrella, but they should expect to drop at least 20 euro for this convenience. Budget travelers should instead head straight to the free section of the beach, where they can bring their own accessories and save some money as they lounge. No matter which section of the beach you choose, come prepared with water shoes — Marina Grande is rocky!
Although this hotspot can be very crowded during peak season, just remember that Italians are comfortable being in close proximity to their fellow beachgoers.
Relax at Fornillo Beach (Positano)
If you’re looking for a quieter, more relaxed beach away from the hustle and bustle of Positano’s main area, Fornillo Beach is a wonderful option, and it’s only about a 15-minute walk (via Positanesi D’America) from Marina Grande. You’ll encounter some steps to descend to the beach, but you’ll be offered incredible views along the way.
Similar to Positano’s larger beach, Fornillo has separate paid and free areas, but its paid area is cheaper than that at Marina Grande. Beach shoes are a must here as well due to the pebbled shoreline and, if you work up an appetite while playing in the water, there are several restaurants located nearby.
Explore the Duomo di Sant’Andrea (Amalfi)
In Amalfi, the coast’s namesake town, be sure to visit the Duomo di Sant’Andrea. This ninth-century cathedral is nestled right in the center of the town, so you can’t miss it.
Said to be the resting place of St. Andrew, Jesus’ first disciple, the cathedral is well worth a visit. It costs only three euro to enter the church, which features colorful medieval frescos and architectural features spanning several time periods. The entrance fee allows you to explore the church, visit the small museum inside (complete with old artifacts), and tour the crypt. Plus, if you’re up for climbing dozens of steps to the top, you’ll be rewarded with a stunning view of Amalfi.
To avoid the crowds, go early in the day. And after your visit, take time to sit on the stairs outside the cathedral, people-watch, and revel the city’s main square.
Sample local delicacies during a Lemon Grove Tour (Amalfi)
As previously stated, the Amalfi Coast is known for its uniquely large and sweet lemons. You can spot these fruits in the markets along the coast and see their groves high above the cliffs. Amalfi lemons are entirely edible, so enjoy eating both the fragrant peel and sweet fruit while you’re there. Amalfi’s famous liqueur, called limoncello, is also made with these lemons — so don’t forget to taste that as well.
The Amalfi Lemon Experience Tour has a meet-up point in the Piazza Duomo, in front of the cathedral. On this tour, you can discover a fragrant, family-owned lemon grove, sample lemony treats, see how limoncello is made, and visit the family museum. This enchanting tour costs 20 euro, so remember to book in advance!
Take a day trip to Capri and the Blue Grotto
When visiting the Amalfi Coast, consider journeying to the nearby small island of Capri, where you can visit the magical Blue Grotto, take in gorgeous views from Mount Solaro, and stroll in the Piazza.
The Blue Grotto is a natural sea cave that is illuminated by sunlight beaming from an underwater cavern. The light creates a spectacular blue reflection that consumes the grotto. To see the spectacular scene for yourself, book a boat tour or cruise through Viator or Capri.com.
Next, take the chairlift from Piazza Vittoria in the town of Anacapri to Mount Solaro, the highest point on the island. The panoramic views encompass the entire island of Capri, the Bay of Naples, and the Amalfi Coast. Tickets for the chairlift cost 11 euro round-trip or eight euro one-way. Hiking up to Mount Solaro is also an option for budget travelers, though that will require additional time, planning, and energy.
With daily ferry routes from Naples and Sorrento, the island is easily accessible. During peak season (summertime), there are also routes from Positano, Amalfi, Salerno, and Ischia.
Enjoy Sunset Views (Praiano)
Praiano is a small, beautifully constructed, fishing village that is often overlooked by tourists. Its architecture consists of stunning pastel homes, vibrantly colored staircases, and hand-painted Italian tiles.
But this small coastal town is also known for its steep stairways that lead travelers to off-the-beaten-path gems, so take some time to get lost and explore the town. Whether you choose to relax at Vettica Beach or enjoy an evening walk in Piazza San Gennaro, you’re in for a treat.
Whatever you do, be sure to stick around and watch day turn to night. Thanks to the town’s location, Praiano boasts some of the most spectacular sunsets on the Amalfi Coast. From the Piazza San Gennaro, you’ll be sure to enjoy unbelievable views of the Amalfi Coast and the island of Capri.
Tour Pompeii or Herculaneum (from Sorrento)
Although the towns of Pompeii and Herculaneum were destroyed by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 A.D., they were almost perfectly preserved.
Just a 45-minute train ride from Sorrento, these historical gems provide a great option for a day trip from Amalfi. Once you get off the train at Scavi di Pompeii, you can tour the ruins of Pompeii for just 11 euro. Allow yourself two or three hours to explore the cobbled streets of the ruins, and make sure you wear comfortable shoes!
Once you’re finished wandering, hop back on the train to head down a few stops to the ruins of Herculaneum, a slightly smaller town than Pompeii. There, you can tour the excavations for another 11 euro. Just remember that you’ll need around two hours to tour this site as well.
If you have limited time, you can choose to tour just one of the cities. Although Pompeii is larger and better known, Herculaneum is better preserved and less crowded, so choose the town that works best for you.
In Italian, the saying “la dolce vita” translates to “the sweet life.” While seeing the sights along the Amalfi Coast is important, you should also take the time to enjoy just that — the sweet life. Pop into a family-owned shop that piques your interest, eat at a restaurant just for the view, soak in every inch of this coastal paradise. The memories you will make in this lovely part of the world will forever be imprinted in your memory and your camera.
All images by Whitney Brown