1) Take the train
You don’t have to fly into Naples to visit the Amalfi Coast. You can easily travel to the coast via the high speed train from any major city (Milan, Venice, Florence, and/or Rome). The high speed train arrives in Napoli Centrale. From there you hop on the local train called the Circum Vesuviana, which stops in Pompeii, Herculaneum, and Sorrento. You can also take the high speed train to the last city on the coast, Salerno (Sorrento is the first).
2) Visit Pompeii or Herculaneum on the way to or from the coast
Because the Circum Vesuviana passes through Pompeii and Herculaneum, it is easy to make a quick stop as you arrive or depart the coast. Unless, of course, you have a lot of baggage, then it would be worth getting to your hotel first. These archeological sites also make an easy day trip from Sorrento or Naples.
3) Take the public bus
Once you arrive in the Amalfi Coast all of the little towns are well connected by the SITA bus. You can purchase a 24-hour ticket for 8 euros, which will let you explore all of the towns along the coast. In Sorrento you can get the bus (and purchase the ticket directly from the driver/operator) in front of the train station. The best bus stop in Positano (closest to the beach) to get on and off of is the “La Sponda” stop. You can see the timetable and bus stops here.
4) Invest in motion sickness pills
The road that connects the coastline is called the “nastro azzuro,” which means blue ribbon. It is named this because it is a very long and winding road, like a ribbon. I have seen people who have never been car sick in their life turn green as the bus zooms down this road. In the high season the busses will also be crowded and hot, which only adds to the problem. I suggest sitting towards the front and bringing some motion sickness pills just in case.
5) Arrive by ferry
While the bus is convenient and cheap, arriving by ferry will give you incredible views of the cities. Amalfi, Capri (of course, it’s an island), Sorrento, and Positano are all connected by ferry.
6) Reserve your ferry tickets
It is best to reserve your ferry tickets ahead of time, especially in the summer months (a.k.a. high season). You can reserve ferries and see the timetables here.
Where to Stay:
7) Stay in Sorrento or Salerno
For logistical reasons, I prefer to stay in Sorrento. From Sorrento you can hop on a ferry to Capri, catch the Circum Vesuviana to see Pompeii, or take the bus to Positano (or any other town). And since Sorrento is connected to Naples via train and ferry, it is easy to get to and from with luggage. If you decide you want to stay in Positano, I recommend splurging for the car hire to take you directly from Naples to Positano (it will cost you about 100 euro and your hotel can help you arrange this). Like Sorrento, Salerno is connected by train. And since it anchors the southern part of the coastline, it is the best option if you want to explore the smaller more southern towns like Ravello, Minori, and Vietri.
8) Stay overnight in Capri
Because Capri is the most expensive destination on the coast, people usually only visit for the day. This makes the island super crowded and touristy during the day, but deserted and magical at night.
9) Avoid high season
To save money and avoid crowds it is best to travel in either May/June or September/October.
10) Get an early start
If you have to travel in high season, you can avoid overly crowded busses and ferries by getting an early start. I always manage to get a seat on the 8:30 bus from Sorrento to Positano, although you need to show up at least 15 minutes early to grab one (otherwise you have to stand in the aisle).
11) Rent a beach chair
It may seem expensive at first, but the beach chair/umbrella rentals are worth it since they typically come with access to facilities.
12) Rent a boat to tour around Capri
This is an absolute must in Capri! It is the best way to see the gorgeous grottos, famous Faraglioni rocks and, of course, the blue grotto. I recommend Motoscafisti Di Capri.
13) And tip your driver to take a swim
If you want to stop and swim during your boat tour around the island, just ask and offer a tip!
14) Put on your sneakers and hike/explore to take in the views
There are amazing hikes all along the coastline as well as on the island of Capri.
15) Visit the Blue Grotto when it’s “closed” (before 9 am or after 4 pm)
You can do this by grabbing a taxi from Anacapri and asking for the “Grotta Azzurra.” The taxi will take you to a set of stairs that lead down into the ocean and to the opening of the grotto. But only do this if you are an excellent swimmer and knowledgable about ocean currents and tides.
16) Don’t miss Amalfi
Despite it being the principle city of the coastline, few people make it to the city of Amalfi (it’s about half way down the coast, or 1.5 hours by bus from Sorrento). Amalfi is a gorgeous city with a stunning cathedral and was the capital of the region when it was an independent and powerful seafaring republic from the 7th to 11th centuries.
17) Taste the limoncello (or anything citrus flavored)
The region is famous for its citrus. You will see lots of lemon trees and giant citrons in every city. Their famous drink is limoncello, but the region also makes incredible lemon candies and lemon chocolate!
18) Eat the seafood
Obviously, it is fresh and delicious!
19) Save money and picnic on the beach
One of my favorite things to do is to have a picnic lunch on the beach in Positano. The nearby shop “Vini e Panini” sells panini, wine, prosecco, water, fresh fruit, and snacks, everything you need for a picnic.
20) Splurge on pottery and sandals
While the region can be expensive, the gorgeous pottery and handmade sandals are worth the investment if you want to splurge a bit.
Is the Amalfi Coast on your bucket list?