Beth takes us on a tour of sun-kissed Southern Italy
The Amalfi Coast has long been the crown jewel of the Mediterranean, frequented by celebrities and the uber-wealthy on massive yachts and towering sailboats. Spend your vacation on the Southern Italian coast and find yourself surrounded by sweeping water views, incredibly fresh seafood, and unlimited (and affordable!) Italian wines. Small towns dot the coast, and it’s easy to visit multiple towns on one trip either by renting a car (at your own risk, as driving along the cliff side roads can be scary) or by taking ferries. Some of the coast’s most popular towns include Amalfi, Positano, Sorrento, and the island of Capri is only a short ferry ride away.
Getting there can be a bit of a hassle, but it’s completely worth your while. Your best bet is to fly into Naples, Italy, then hop on a 20-minute bus ride from the airport. It’ll take you right to the port in Salerno. From there, you can board an inexpensive ferry to Amalfi. Try to get a seat in the front of the boat; the views are incredible! Alternatively, you can skip the ferry and board another bus from Salerno to Amalfi, but the busses can be crowded, so the ferry is preferable and only about $5 more expensive.
View on the ferry from Salerno, Italy to Amalfi, Italy
Upon hopping off the ferry, you can cross the street right into Amalfi’s town square. The main sight in the piazza is the gilded Cathedral of St. Andrew. Climb the 57 steps to get inside for a beautiful view of the Cloister of Paradise, an atrium flanked by pointed white arches.
Cathedral of St. Andrew, Amalfi, Italy
Most of the homes, hotels, and vacation rentals in Amalfi are built into the cliffs, creating vast and stunning views. You can gaze down at the harbor and see swimmers, sunbathers, and luxury yachts dropping anchor in the distance. If you’re lucky, you end up staying somewhere with a pool that overlooks these views.
Infinity pool overlooking Amalfi, Italy and the water
View of the Amalfi harbor and the bougainvillea that grows wildly all over the town
Lunch Like a Local
When you’re ready for lunch and an adventure, head to the harbor and look for a boat that says Ristorante Santa Croce, a local secret. There’s no sign for it at the harbor, but if you keep your eye out for that blue boat, you’ll find it. Hop on (the captain only speaks broken English), and it’ll take you to a restaurant only accessible by boat. Pack a swimsuit- the restaurant has changing facilities, umbrellas and lounge chairs for sunbathing and swimming before or after your meal. We recommend the seafood at Ristorante Santa Croce- the grilled king prawns are especially delicious! Service isn’t quick, so plan on it taking awhile. Order wine, bring a book, and enjoy the slow pace of Amalfi life. When you’re ready to head back to Amalfi mainland, the same blue boat will ferry you back.
Ristorante Santa Croce, Amalfi, Italy
Grilled king prawns, Ristorante Santa Croce, Amalfi, Italy
Dinner in Town
Enjoy a shower and a nap before heading back to Amalfi’s piazza for drinks and dinner. Stop in at any of the piazza’s cafes for limoncello, Amalfi’s signature liqueur made from their enormous local lemons. When you’re finished with your drink, head deeper into the town to Trattoria da Barracca. It’s a family-run restaurant with outdoor and indoor seating, incredibly fresh pasta and seafood, and great people watching. The seafood pasta is highly recommended, but don’t forget to start with the mixed plate of freshly smoked fish. If you’re lucky, a local band will serenade the small square during your meal. Post meal, head back into the main square and stop for a gelato on the steps of the church.
Trattoria da Barracca, Amalfi, Italy
Seafood Pasta, Trattoria da Barracca, Amalfi, Italy
Taking a Day Trip to Capri
Taking a day trip from Amalfi to Capri isn’t cheap, but it’s worth the money. Board a boat (most of the charters allow up to 12 people per boat) in Amalfi at 10am and spend the day en route to Capri, stopping at grottoes like the Emerald Grotto and world famous Blue Grotto along the way. You’ll get dropped off in Capri from noon-3pm for a leisurely lunch and time to explore. But just before Capri, your boat captain will take you under the Lover’s Arch- an incredible rock formation in Capri. It is said that if you kiss your partner under the arch, you’ll have a lifetime of happy love.
The harbor area of Capri can be crowded and touristy, so we recommend hopping in line for the funicular up to Capri’s town center. Here you’ll find beautiful cafes, luxe shopping, and winding pathways surrounded by flowers and white stucco walls. For a quieter experience, take a taxi from the harbor to Anacapri on the other side of Capri. Once you hop back on the boat, you’ll head back to Amalfi with time for one more swim, arriving around 6pm. For a half-day experience, choose the Amalfi to Positano boat trip. In Positano, you’ll find more affordable (though still quite luxe) shopping, and tons of stairs to explore the cliff town.
Boat trip to Capri, Italy. Stopped for a refreshing swim!
Stunning turquoise water near an Amalfi grottoes
Snapped a picture post-lunch in Capri, Italy before getting back on the boat
Lover’s Arch, Capri, Italy
Staying in Amalfi is a great option, and there’s no shortage of activities. Wander the cobblestone streets and alleys while shopping for handmade pottery, a wide variety of local lemon-based products (think oils, beauty products, and candles), or leather goods. Enjoy cappuccinos in cafes and gelatos on the beach. Kick off your shoes with a book and delight in the sensation of warm sand and cool water. And if you’re feeling adventurous, on the cliffs above Amalfi harbor, you’ll find a 13th century monastery and private cloister overlooking the water.
View above street in Amalfi, Italy
13th century monastery in Amalfi, Italy
13th century cloisters at monastery in Amalfi, Italy
Whether you decide to explore the town(s) or take it easy on the beach, Amalfi and the entire coast is a sight for sore eyes. It’s the perfect place to escape your cubicle, turn off your phone, and enjoy fresh food and gorgeous views.