Amalfi Coast Road Trip | Itinerary to explore South Italy
The Amalfi Coast (known as Costiera Amalfitana in Italian) is a breath-taking part of Italy, with picturesque scenery for miles. This stunning mountainous stretch of coastline is on the Gulf of Salerno on the Tyrrhenian Sea.
If you want to explore the region, the BEST way to do it is to drive. An Amalfi Coast road trip will give you the freedom to explore all of Southern Italy, at your own pace. This Amalfi Coast itinerary can be done in a day, but can be extended for as many days as you like. The only thing for you to do is consider which place you like the sound of the most!
Amalfi Coast Road Trip | Quick links
Quick reference guide
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Amalfi Coast Road Trip | Transport Options
While there are many different transport options available, why don’t you drive the Amalfi Coast in true Italian style, by a traditional Vespa moped?
A lot of people worry about whether it safe to drive the Amalfi Coast. The truth is, Italian roads can be daunting, particularly for tourists. Tackling the winding, mountain roads on a Vespa moped might not be for everyone. But, for those who dare, you’re in for a thrilling adventure. If moped is your choice of travel, take a look at these motorbiker gifts to prepare yourself for the journey.
If you’d prefer to complete the Amalfi Coast road trip by car, then you will still see the beautiful views of the coast, beaches and towns. You will be able to book your car hire in advance and collect from the airport, helping save transfer costs.
Amalfi Coast Parking
Parking on the Amalfi Coast can be challenging. The issue with completing the road trip by car, rather than by moped, is that an available parking lot is much harder to find. Most roads along the coastal towns on this route are narrow roads and very busy. Public parking is widely available, just not often very empty! Moped riders will be able to find more parking bays and the parking will be cheaper.
Whatever your mode of transport, if you’re a confident driver and you take it easy, you’ve got nothing to worry about.
Amalfi Coast Route Map
Below is the Amalfi Coast route map showing each stop on this road trip so you can plan your drive and the stops you want to take. The Amalfi Coast road trip is intended for a route trip route to and from Sorrento in one day, however it is easily adaptable should you want to add nights or start or end in a different Italian location.
Sorrento to Positano | Amalfi Coast Road Trip
In just over 10 miles and about 40 minutes, you’ll be in Positano, the first-stop on your Amalfi Coast drive. However, Its a bit of horror show leaving Sorrento, really grip onto the seat stuff! But, after a few miles, all you can see is the sea and the mountains. Therefore any anxiety that you might have had will fade away as you take in the glorious views.
While this route starts from Sorrento, you can easily drive from Naples to the Amalfi Coast. This journey is slightly further away so you might want to consider booking a hotel in Positano.
Driving in Postiano is easy, but the roads are very busy. There are some beautiful sculptures within the mountain stone on the drive down, which are worth stopping by to enjoy. You might have to follow the road as it heads away from the coast to park in Positano. Don’t wait for a ‘good spot’ as any parking spot will be hard to find. Perseverance is key. You will find somewhere.
Best things to do in Positano
Positano is my favourite spot on the Amalfi Coast. The colourful Italian houses set in the mountains are what you see on postcards. Mountains for miles, dotted with foliage that is awash with nature and wildlife. Positano is truly stunning.
One of the best things to do in Positano is explore Spiaggia Grande, next to the Marina Grande port. There are many restaurants, cafes and shops along along the beach front and you can choose to rent a sun lounger if you want to relax on the beach for a few hours.
Positano is known for its enchanting cascade of pastel-hued houses and the churches are no different. The Church of Santa Maria Assunta (Chiesa di Santa Maria Assunta) has an eye-catching colorful tiled dome. If you enjoy architecture, the inside is also remarkable and if you want to see it go between 8am to 12pm or 4pm to 8pm.
Positano to Amalfi Town | Amalfi Coast Road Trip
Another 30 minutes or so drive and you’ll arrive in Amalfi Town, the place this road trip is named after. Amalfi Town is another beautiful place, but a lot busier!
Be warned, parking in Amalfi Town can be a struggle and you might have to do a few laps in order to find a parking bay. In a lot of locations in Italy, you can park for free, however in Amalfi Town you will need to pay an hourly rate based on the type of vehicle. For mopeds this was 4 euros per hour. Look for the pay points to get your ticket.
Best Things to do in Amalfi Town
Amalfi doesn’t have a public beach, but it does have beach clubs that you can pay for. However, if you’re interested in beach time, take a look at the best beaches on the Amalfi Coast before making your choice. It’s also worth researching the different beach clubs in advance and make a reservation ahead of time, particularly if you go in peak season.
The quaint little town of Amalfi is bustling with activity. There are lot of shops, restaurants and monuments that can easily fill your day. One of the most significant sights in Amalfi Town is the 9th-century Amalfi Cathedral (Cattedrale di Sant’Andrea) and its beloved bell tower.. Set atop the staircase you climb from the coast to the centre Amalfi Town, you won’t be able to miss the Amalfi Cathedral.
A little fact about Amalfi is that it once was one of the most important paper producers in Europe. If you’re interested in the history of Amalfi Town, then take a look at the Paper Museum (Museo della Carta) to see the old water-powered paper mills.
Amalfi – Ravello | Amalfi Coast Road Trip
Ravello isn’t far away from Amalfi Town (4 miles or so), but it is a slow drive up through the mountains. You can see the route from Amalfi Town to Ravello on the Italy coast map below. Turning left at Catiglione, the drive initially begins on main roads, but you will soon have winding narrow roads to contend with.
Parking in Ravello is really easy. There is a long road with viewpoints through the grapes at a winery with ample parking. At first, it can be confusing to find where exactly to go as you can easily get distracted by the views or thing you need to head down. However, there is a pedestrian only entry way to a gorgeous square with lush green views. I had a glass of Prosecco from a bar right called ‘Al San Domingo’ and enjoyed the view as it turned to dusk.
Best things to do in Ravello
Ravello was founded in the 6th century by Romans and is now known as a picturesque cliff town town with stunning villas, bars and restaurants.
There’s not as much to do in Ravello than elsewhere on the Amalfi Coast, but Ravello is probably my favourite. Ravello is an idyllic village that has an air of sophistication and a laid back charm that the liveliness of the other places lacks. It even has one of the most prestigious hotels in the Mediterranean, the Villa Cimbrone.
Grab a coffee (or in my case a Prosecco) on one of the many outside terraces and enjoy the panoramic views. Make sure to stop by the Villa Rufolo which is a building within the historic center of the town, overlooking the front of the cathedral square. The flora and fauna of these gardens against the sweeping views of the ocean are simply not to be missed.
Ravello to Sorrento | Amalfi Coast Road Trip
So, you have two options for your return drive to Sorrento. Either do the same journey back, but probably hit the traffic from everyone else doing the same thing. Or, you can take the Amalfi Coast road trip through the mountains. Due to traffic, the routes were similar in time, although the mountainous route was longer.
You could even choose to extend this road trip to visit Vietri sul Mare. Another beautiful Italian town in the Salerno province of the Campania region is just a bit further East from Ravello.
Is the Amalfi Coast Mountain Route Worth it?
On the map of the Italian coast above, we drove North. However, in hindsight, we should have stuck to the coastal route. The journey was long, mostly in shade and we ended up on something that looked like a motorway – driving a Vespa! My outfit wasn’t made for flying down a motorway, so this made the journey both terrifying and memorable! That being said, this route is worth it just for the unexpected view of Mount Vesuvius as the sun was setting.
If you are staying along the Amalfi Coast and have a bit longer, this is also the drive you would take to Pompeii, Naples or Mount Vesuvius. Just don’t make the mistake I did and end up on the motorway, unless you’re in a car of course!
If you’re wondering where to base yourself for this trip, all places along the Amalfi Coast are worthy. However, if you stay in Positano or Amalfi, you can expect a bigger price tag. Sorrento makes a perfect base for travel across Italy, as well as being a beautiful town in itself. If you love the look of this region, consider a five day Amalfi Coast itinerary to really explore.
Amalfi Coast Road Trip Travel Tips:
- Plan your time in advance. If you’re doing this road trip in a day, figure out what you want to get out of the trip and plan accordingly. A lot of people will be doing the same thing so you can easily lose time with traffic or looking for parking spaces.
- Research the beach clubs. If you’re planning to go to the beach, research the different beach clubs available and the cost/facilities they provide. This will prevent surprise and you can factor the time and cost into your itinerary.
- Take it easy on the roads. The roads are windy and have a lot of traffic. Locals are used to them and it can be a little intimating when they fly past at speed.
- Look out for free parking. There is a lot of free parking throughout the Amalfi Coast, but spaces fill up quick!
Most of all have fun! If you are planning an Amalfi Coast itinerary for 2 or 3 days, make sure you check out Capri, which is a beautiful island a short ferry away. If you’re in Italy for longer, then check out the other great cities to see in Italy.
I’d love to hear how you found it as I definitely intend to go back…
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