Cue "O Sole Mio"
I took a trip with my family to the Amalfi Coast when I was 11 years old, and that initial feeling of awe has always stuck with me. I don't remember very much from that trip other than the scenic ferry ride, a glance of the Duomo Di Sant'Andrea, and amazing gelato. Last year, I revisited the coast with my friend, and let me tell you, my jaw still dropped like it was the first time I'd ever been there. The Amalfi Coast is located in the Campania region of Italy, and consists of vibrant fishing villages and small beaches along the Sorrentine Peninsula. Some of those villages include the well-known Amalfi, Positano, Sorrento, Capri, Ravello, and Scala. The coast is full of life, romance, incredible food, unforgettable scenery, and limoncello. You'll see so many vibrant yellow trees in the mountains, and be able to taste the final product in just about every village. If the Amalfi Coast is the next stop on your bucket list, here's what you need to know:
Any way you choose to get around the coast is scenic, so if that's your main concern, you have nothing to worry about. My friend and I spent two euros on an hour and a half bus ride from Salerno to Amalfi, and I assure you, there's no better way to do it (just be mindful of what you eat before because the whole ride is on winding roads). Taking the bus along the coast is an experience in itself. There are two lanes on the edge of a cliff, and the bus driver Renato and his buddies are FLOORING it. The confidence these Italians have is absolutely insane, so just sit back, relax, and enjoy the scenery outside your window. You can purchase bus tickets at any of the tabacchi (tobacco) shops, which is very convenient as they're usually located by the major bus stops. The most expensive bus ride came out to 2.50 euros, and for a two hour ride....that's insanely good if you ask me.
Where to Stay
You'll find when you do your research that some villages are more expensive than others. I found that majority of the hotels were more expensive the closer you are to the water, including places like Amalfi and Positano.
My friend and I chose to stay just 30 minutes outside Amalfi in Scala, at a family owned hotel called Albergo La Margherita. The hotel is run by a Nonna and her granddaughter who joked that we needed boyfriends just to carry our luggages (as if we're going to take just a carry on a five week trip to Italy). The hotel was clean, had an incredible view of the mountain, and costed us a fraction of what we could've paid staying in Amalfi. Albergo La Margherita serves breakfast at their restaurant with a panoramic view, and dinner at their sister hotel called Villa Giuseppina down the street. The breakfast is generally slim in Italy, but the dinner menu made up for it, and i'm still having dreams about their homemade scialatielli con fruitti di mare (native pasta in Amalfi similar to a tagliatelle, with fresh seafood).
Things to Do
It doesn't matter where you stay in the Amalfi Coast, because there's something to do in every village. Whether you love lying by the beach, walking through the mountains, or enjoy a boat cruise with your significant other, there's something for everyone. Here's what you need to do on the Amalfi Coast:
Relax by the beach in Amalfi. You can rent a lawn chair with a sunshade for the day for three euros at the public beach. Grab yourself some refreshments at the local market, and soak up the sun.
Visit the Duomo di Sant'Andrea. This was the backdrop for several wedding photos that were taking place during our trip. Tickets are three euros, and reduced to one euro between 10am to 5pm.
Go on a boat tour. There are multiple tour companies that offer half or full-day excursions to suit your budget. You can find tours of individual islands, or ones that cover majority of the coast. Most of these tours start in Positano, and you'll find tons of tour companies selling packages by the water. We paid 75 euros for a Capri full-day tour that included pickup from the port in Positano, music on the boat, tour of the grotto's, three hours of free time on the island, a swim break in the mediterranean, and a toast of prosecco to end the tour.
Hike down the mountains. If adventure and a killer workout are two of your favourite things, this activity is for you! There are almost ancient steps and paths that you're able to follow on your way down.
Visit Villa Rufolo. If you make it to Ravello, you should consider seeing Villa Rufolo. Tickets are seven euros for a guided tour of the Villa, and you must reserve a spot for your tour. The villa also has a stunning garden overlooking the coastline.
Enjoy limoncello everyday. Limoncello is a lemon liqueur famous in Southern Italy, and specifically the Amalfi Coast. You'll find it at restaurants, and all over local stores. It's a great gift for your loved ones, and a souvenir to keep the vacation going at home.
It's a given that seafood is the specialty of the Amalfi Coast, and there's no better place to indulge. There are a variety of both high and low budget food spots along the coast, and I personally think it's best to experience both during your trip. It's relatively easy to budget for all meals during your visit to the coast, especially if you find a cost-friendly spot that you can repeatedly visit. In just under a week, my friend and I had our go-to spots, and experienced cuisine of mainly two areas. Here are some of my favourite food spots in Amalfi and Positano:
Pizza Express. This is a tiny takeout spot in Amalfi that quickly became our go-to spot for lunch on beach days. It's perfect for one of those days you're looking to save, since the most expensive item on their menu is eight euros. You can find anything from pizza, to sandwiches, oven roasted chicken and more. My friend and I visited a few times, and our favourites were the margherita (4 euros), arancini (1.50 euro) and crochettes (1.50 euro).
Savoia Pasticceria and Gelateria. I've become very careful when selecting where I get my gelato in Italy, because I like to find places that not many tourists visit, and those actually turn out to be way cheaper. This gelateria was heaven in Amalfi. It's located right next to the main bus stop, and surprisingly was not a busy spot. Savoia offers a variety of incredible flavours for a reasonable price. You can get a medium sized gelato for three euros, which is perfect in my books.
Pasquale l'ostricaro. This is the seafood spot for many locals in Amalfi, and a great spot to stock up on water for a euro or less before you go back to the hotel.
Super Market. Amalfi has a small super market with just about everything from small bottles of limoncello for your family, to soaps, and more importantly, DRINKS! Be sure to stop by the market for some wine for your hotel room, or a pack of mini spritz bottles for the beach! NOTE: Don't fall in the tourist trap at the beach bar for an eight euro spritz, when you can go to the market and get three bottles for about the same price.
Leoncino Traditional Italian Food. This is a popular dine-in or takeout spot in Amalfi, known for its 10 euro cones of fritto misto di mare (fried seafood).
Ristorante Buca di Bacco. A lot of the restaurants in Positano are expensive, so keep that in mind when you're visiting. My friend and I spent the day in Positano and we found Hotel Buca di Bacco, where we know would be splurge-worthy. The hotel has a casual bar downstairs, and a more formal restaurant on the main level with a view of the water. We visited the ristorante on the main floor, in hopes of indulging in calamari fritti (fried calamari) and other seafood, with a view. Our server gave us fiori di zucca (fried zucchini flowers) on the house, and we got fritto misto di mare (fried seafood plate) along with baccala (fried cod). Everything with so fresh, and it was easily the best seafood I've ever had.
Majority of the well-known nightlife in the Amalfi Coast is found in Positano, and Praiano. If you choose to stay outside those areas, it's a bit of a hassle to get back at the end of your night out. Be mindful that the bus hours are not too extended, and you may be faced with hefty cab fare. This was something my friend and I really considered since we stayed in Scala, and we chose to budget for other activities instead. If you choose to stay in Positano or you're willing to pay the price, be sure to check out these places:
Africana. Located 30 minutes from Amalfi, this club in Praiano is quite popular on the coast.
Music on the Rocks. This club is said to be the most popular spot in Positano, and will be at the top of my list for my next trip back to the coast.
I hope you consider some of these tips on your next trip to the Amalfi Coast, and be sure to enjoy some calamari fritti for me as well! Stay tuned for my next post on another amazing Italian destination.
Fa la brava,