Pristine coastal views and colorfully painted Italian homes perched on the cliffs are only a few reasons to visit the Italian coastal shores of the Amalfi Coast. Between the historic archaeological site of Pompeii, the world-renown town of Sorrento; one of the best places to stay in Amalfi Coast, and the vacationer’s dream destination of the island of Capri, there are plenty of things to do in the Amalfi Coast to make it a perfect location to see the best of the best Italian road trip offered. Standing cliffside, looking over the Mediterranean Sea to the other side of the Gulf of Naples where pizza originated, you’ll see a colorful view and in-active volcanoes as your gaze shifts to the vast wide-open sea. There are a handful of things to do in Amalfi Coast whether you’re a luxury resort-type traveler or looking for an authentic countryside experience, with this guide you’ll know plenty of what to do in Amalfi Coast in no time.
There’s even more to things to do in Sorrento Italy than the history surrounding the coast and its awe-inspiring vistas. Luxury travelers and backpackers alike will enjoy walking through local orchards, handcrafted souvenir shopping and much more. Don’t forget the Italian gelato, either! Anything from its cobbled-stone streets lined with orange trees to its fishing docks filled with culture, you will notice there’s just something about the charm of the Amalfi Coast that will keep you exploring and begging for more.
I’ve backpacked around over half of Europe in the span of three years, and I still believe the coastal views, the laid-back Italian town culture, its prime location makes it one of the top European backpacking destination. The best advice I can give is to spend more than just a day trip cruising the coast. With so many amazing destinations surrounding it, you could easily spend a few days of any backpacking trip in the coastal town.
Italy is a country geographically placed in the southern part of Europe. It borders its Austrian and Swiss neighbors to the north, French neighbors to the west, and also shares a border with Slovenia to the east. The entire boot-shaped peninsula is surrounded by the grand Mediterranean Sea. It is, truly, very well-located for any American tourist backpacking through Europe routes. The Italian coast, the ancient Roman temples, and the canals of Venice are only a few of the highlights of what could be an incredible Italian backpacking trip. The Amalfi Coast can be easily reached by train from the larger city of Naples and the train from Rome to Amalfi Coast is a wonderful trip. Now, all you need to do is prepare for your trip!
Things to do in Amalfi Coast
There are plenty of things to do in Amalfi Coast that can keep you busy for as long as you want to stay. You can see Sorrento in a day which is one of the best town in Amalfi Coast – that’s part of the reason this Italian coastal town makes an excellent stop on anyone’s ‘Euro Trip’.
Here are a few must-see places that should be on everyone’s Amalfi Coast itinerary:
Opera e Lirica or the Great Opera in Sorrento is one of the most thrilling things to do in Sorrento Italy and can be an authentic experience at its core. I never had the chance to attend, but there’s no doubt it would be one of those things to do in Amalfi Coast that you wouldn’t soon forget.
Cooking Classes are another one of those authentic things to do in Amalfi Coast that can be done in almost every town. Take home some extra knowledge and impress your friends with some Italian cooking abilities.
Villa Comunale is the most popular park in the city of Naples. You can find hundreds of locals there any given day. It’s one of the best things to do in Amalfi Coast.
Villa Cimbrone Gardens is a historic building in Ravello. Erected since, at least, the 11th Century, it’s known for its beautiful belvedere, the Terrazzo dell’Infinito. It’s what to do in Amalfi Coast while in Ravello even if only for an evening. It’s one of the most popular things to do in Amalfi Coast.
Liminoro taste-testing is one of the top things to do in Sorrento Italy. Whether it’s an official tour or your own self-guided tour, you must try some of the unique flavors of Sorrento.
Punta del Capo is one of the top things to do in Sorrento Italy. It’s my favorite beach west of town and has beautiful views across the Bay of Naples.
Santiero degli dei (Path of the Gods) is a scenic walking route in Positano. It’s a moderately difficult hike and somewhat as difficult to find. Make sure you ask a local as it is one of the most beautiful things to do in Amalfi Coast.
Valle delle Ferriere is a nature reserve with ruins of old mills and ironworks. Among the ruins are rare Italian plant species which makes it one of the most fascinating things to do in Amalfi Coast.
Le Vigne di Raito is the most famous winery along Italy’s southern coast. It is privately owned and offers gorgeous panoramic views of a wide open sea and colorful hillside.
Kayaking and Canoeing is one of the more action-packed things to do in Amalfi Coast. If you’re an adrenaline-seeker, along with hiking the cliffs, this is one of those things you do when you don’t know what to do in Amalfi Coast.
Taste-testing the best of Sorrento’s limoncello
Coming from Naples, it was only a short hour-long train trip to one of the Amalfi Coast’s best stops; Sorrento. I knew little about Sorrento before arriving but there are plenty of things to do in Sorrento Italy. I knew about its famous lemon-flavored liquor, limoncello, but besides trying that, I knew no other things to do in Sorrento Italy. Coupled with the fact that it was near Pompeii (which is one of the excellent day trips from Sorrento Italy), I knew there was enough Sorrento Italy things to do.
However, that’s not a lot to know about a city when first arriving. It was going to be a real explorer’s journey through the city as I found out everything I’ve come to learn about it. However, one of the first things that I came across in the coastal city was the main tourist street. It’s not hard to find — only a few blocks from the train station — I knew I was in the heart of tourism for Sorrento as soon as I saw all of the handmade souvenirs being displayed on the sides of the narrow streets.
It wasn’t long before my friends and I hit our first limoncello shop. Inside, a little old Italian man with excellent English hinted towards trying a few. Albeit, he was a little shy in introducing a taste-testing being that it was only nine o’clock in the morning, but my friends and I agreed that once we got off the tourist track, which we planned to do soon, we may not get another chance to try the famous liquor Sorrento is world-famous for.
So, we tried a tiny sample. Soon after, the old man brought us another sample of a different flavor; this one apricot flavored. Soon enough, one more. And another, and another. Who knew there were so many flavors to try that all tasted so good – they hardly tasted like liquor at all! By mid-morning, our taste-testing had expanded to two more shops with a wide variety of flavors to try.
It was early in the morning, a bit tipsy, but one of my favorite experiences in Sorrento was conversing with the makers of each limoncello that we tried. Sometimes, our conversation veered from the liquor itself and each man told us a little bit about life in Sorrento. It was an authentic experience we couldn’t pass up. I totally recommend the self-guided taste-testing tour.
Pro-tip: Go early in the morning to avoid the tourist rush so that you really get a chance to speak with the locals and find where to eat in Sorrento Italy before the crowds take over.
The Tale of the Tape on Sorrento, Italy
Sorrento is the largest city on the Amalfi Coast with only 16,000 citizens within its city limits. Sorrento is known worldwide for multiple things. It’s renowned orchards and vintage antique shops make it one of the best Amalfi Coast towns. Foreign vacationers from all over the world flock to the city in the summertime via plane, train, and boat every year.
What to do in Amalfi Coast – Explore the Local Cuisine
If you want a taste of the local cuisine further than taking a Brussels beer tour, try these traditional foods:
Pizza. . . It all starts with the pizza of the Amalfi Coast — specifically from Naples which is the godfather of all pizza. That’s right, pizza was born right across the Bay of Naples from the Amalfi Coast. So, naturally, you’ll find some of the best pizza in the world in this region.
Dried Pasta is very popular in the region as well. If you’re looking at rigatoni on steroids, it’s probably the right dried pasta. Homemade Italian noodles; you can’t beat that as a gift to bring home to friends!
Citrus Fruits are popular all over Sorrento. As soon as you get within sniffing distance of this beautiful coastal town, you will be hit with a powerful scent of citrus that is unavoidable. Walk the groves of lemons and tangerines in town for an unforgettable experience!
Seafood is still a go-to in any coastal town. Often times, the seafood cuisine is forgotten in a place that is a treasure trove for so much! The seafood in Sorrento is to die for and trying it should be considered one of the tastiest things to do in Amalfi Coast.
Best time to go to the Amalfi Coast
Sorrento, Positano, Cinque Terre, Naples, Capri; they all make a great place to travel year round. While I visited in the winter and it was certainly still jacket weather, it still beat a winter dealing with below freezing weather and snow.
In the summer, the sun hardly sleeps and the tourists run the show. However, with as big and spread out the entire coast is, you don’t notice it as you’d expect.
However, my favorite time to visit the Amalfi Coast would be in the spring. Particularly in late March when there are fewer tourists and the vibrantly colored flowers start to pop on the cliff-sides hovering the big blue Mediterranean.
Best Amalfi Coast Towns
All over the Amalfi Coast are wonderful small towns for every type of traveler. Whether it’s Sorrento, Salerno, Pompeii, Atrani, Amalfi (the town), Ravello, Cetara, or Erchie — they all have something to them that make each of them special to every type of traveler.
However, none of them quite suit every traveler like Positano does in my opinion. That is why I consider it to be the best Amalfi Coast town. Known for its pastel-colored homes sitting on the hillsides in front of the sea, it is a traveler’s heaven (excellent for photographs, too). If you’re not sure what to do in Positano, take a hike up to the cliffside for completely gorgeous photo opportunities.
How to get there/get around:
There are trains to Naples from virtually anywhere in Italy. The train from Rome to Amalfi Coast is a beautiful trip in itself. Once on the Amalfi Coast, there are two ways commonly used to travel around the region.
The first and most expensive way is via private tours. These vary greatly in price depending on length of the trip, distance traveled, and what company you use but could be one of the top things to do in Amalfi Coast. The second and less structured way is to rent a car or scooter for your travels. This allows you the freedom to explore a little bit more but can also be more difficult and stressful to plan. There are also buses in the area, but I wouldn’t plan on a bus to take you everywhere. Some routes to smaller towns don’t exist and sometimes those are the treasures to be found on the coast.
American Survival Guide
Traditional Italian Meal
A traditional dinner in Sorrento is not as much as you would think; $14-$16 will usually cover a delicious Neapolitan pizza and homemade Italian wine for two.
A Night Out
A night out in the party capital of the Amalfi Coast, Positano, can be quite expensive. Expect to pay around $3-$4 for a beer in most places, but can vary throughout the travel season. However, the ambiance of a night out in Positano is what makes it one of the top things to do in Amalfi Coast.
Bus or Train
Public transport is fairly inexpensive on the Amalfi Coast when compared to other cities also on a Europe backpacking itinerary. It costs around $7 for the train from Naples to Sorrento and, generally speaking, the mode of transportation all over southern Italy is adequate for most travelers. Alternatively, you can book private transport in the form of taxis or other private tour companies. This way is much more expensive and I certainly do not suggest taxis for travel within each city.
There’s not one tourist pass available. You will have to check prices on individual and week-long tours from all the available companies (and there are many). Alternatively, you can purchase a three-day SITA bus pass that will take you across the majority of the Amalfi Coast for about $20. I highly suggest this if you are going to be doing a lot of moving around on the coast in a short timeframe. However, if you’ve time to spare, I suggest taking it and slowly moving across the coast.
AirBnB Amalfi Coast
The Amalfi Coast has quite a range of luxurious and budget accommodation. You can usually find an entire apartment in Sorrento for anywhere from $70-$130 on a nightly basis varying greatly on when you travel there. There are also more expensive places for the luxurious traveler. However, if you only want to see all of the things to do in Amalfi Coast, a budget accommodation will do the job.
For an individual room, one person can normally find a bed for less than $35 per night.
However, if you’re looking for something cheaper than that, you’d be better off at a hostel where you can stay for as cheap as $15-$20.
People from Sorrento are Italian speakers. Check out this basic Italian language guide before you go! Although, generally, I had no problems communicating with the locals as they are used to interacting with tourists by the busload.
If you want cell service, it’s important to check with your provider about international charges. In addition, it’s always a good idea to alert your provider (and your bank) that you’ll be traveling internationally.
Credit Card Transaction Fees
It’s important to check your credit company’s policy on international transactions before using it abroad. There are plenty of credit cards available that advertise “No International Transaction Fees”. If you want to get a new card before leaving, find one like this.
Things to have before you arrive
It’s not imperative; however, I’ve always found travel much more relaxing when you arrive without a dire need of any essentials. Here are a few of them:
- Electrical Adaptors
- Power Bank
- Offline Map (app)
- Directions to your accommodation
Sorrento – or the Amalfi Coast and Italy, in general – is a country a part of the European Union – which means Americans are granted 90-days in a 180-day period to travel freely throughout the E.U. This means if you plan to be in Europe for longer than three months, you should take a look at this. It’s best to know what to do in Brussels in accordance with your visa before you arrive.
There are a lot of stereotypes that Americans have adopted over time. There are, also, a lot of stereotypes we have made about Europeans that just aren’t true.
With that being said, there are some cultural differences in everywhere you go. Embrace those – they’re the best part about traveling because those differences educate you.
In Italy, tipping is not common but not totally uncommon. Most gratuity, if any, is already included on your bill and therefore not expected. Rather, it is considered a ‘bonus’ for extra good service. This is unlike in America, so be careful and don’t assume you’re obligated to tip.
Discover what to do in Amalfi Coast
Sorrento and the rest of the Amalfi Coast is absolutely beautiful and I only wish I had more time to explore more of the small town Italian culture. If you want to find out more about how to travel Europe on a budget, and all that it has to offer, click on over to our Europe travel blog page dedicated to tips for backpacking Europe! You will find these to be informative, giving you excellent insight into planning a trip through this multi-cultural continent.
I would suggest Water Taxis or ferries for getting around on the Amalfi Coast. Traffic can be horrendous slowing buses taxis private cars down considerably. Driving yourself on the winding roads is not something most Americans would be able to do safely. Plus the views from the water taxis are stunning. You also have a lot of flexibility in terms of scheduling to and from different cities Sorrento makes a great home base from which to visit.
Hi Margot, thank you for your top tips for travel along the Amalfi Coast! Thanks Mark