Amalfi Coast Italy Europe Summer Vacation Sorrento Positano Isle of Capri
The Amalfi Coast in Italy is the summer vacationer’s dream location – with little seaside towns perched on cliffs overlooking the ocean, delicious local seafood dishes to try, and endless European summer sunshine, it’s heaven on earth. Whether you get a heady dose of the beauty of the Amalfi coastline in a day or a long weekend, or whether you spend a whole summer exploring the tiny towns and beaches at your leisure, a visit to the region is well worth it!
One recommended route along the Amalfi Coast has its starting point in Sorrento, with a day trip to the Isle of Capri, and then onwards to glamorous Positano and tiny, but richly historic, Amalfi. Read on to see what gems this beautiful stretch of coastline holds for visitors!
Practical Info for First-Time Visitors
The Amalfi Coast is incredibly popular, and its narrow, winding, cliff-side roads are usually congested with tourist traffic. The local SITA tourist buses are one way to get around – provided you are not prone to motion sickness! – or you can rent a car / motorino to explore the route at your own pace. Exploration of the towns is possible mainly by foot, especially in Positano, which has very steep stone staircases that traverse the cliffs all the way down to the azure water. Good walking shoes are a must if you plan on exploring on foot.
High season is in summer, between mid-July and mid-August, and accommodation prices will be higher during this time. Early June and late August / early September are the shoulder seasons, when the weather is warm and mild but not too hot. Winter can be windy and rainy, with rough seas, and so it’s not recommended to visit between November and March if you want an active vacation.
A great place to start your Southern-Italian adventure is in the pretty and charming town of Sorrento.
Named after the infamous Sirens that attempted to lure Odysseus to his death in the great epic The Odyssey, Sorrento was once a Greek settlement before it became an ancient Roman colony.
The Sorrento of today has only recently become popular as a major tourist destination, and so it is still mostly laid-back, friendly, and welcoming. There are a few large resort hotels and many B&Bs dotted up and down the cliffs, and so you have a great range of accommodation options to suit your preferences. Bay-view rooms with balconies are highly recommended!
There are many great restaurants near the harbour and overlooking the cove – keep an eye out for seafood restaurants, as the specials are caught daily and prepared according to centuries-old local traditions.
You can get to Sorrento via ferry or hydrofoil from Naples, which I would highly recommend simply for the view of the bay, or via bus from Naples central train station. A day trip to Capri is also easy to organize from Sorrento.
Positano -The Pleasure-Seekers Paradise
Colourful, vibrant Positano is the most glamorous and beautiful corner of the Amalfi Coast. One of its most striking features is the black, volcanic-sand beaches with their characteristic bright orange-and-green striped beach umbrellas. Pastel-hued houses perched on steep cliffs give Positano an untouched and picturesque atmosphere, and you will often catch a whiff of lemons as you pass tiny lemon-tree groves nestled on terraces built into the sides of the cliffs.
There are plenty of places in this elegant town for fine dining and wine-tasting, as well as shopping at some of the best souvenir shops. Positano is one of the birthplaces of Limoncello, the tart lemon-flavoured liqueur loved by Italians and tourists alike. You can purchase a bottle of limoncello and a set of special limoncello glasses from local family-run workshops, or enjoy a glass after an indulgent seafood dinner.
There are also several lovely walking paths in Positano – cliff-top walkways that give you great views of the coastline and the sea below.
Amalfi – The Town Swallowed by the Sea
Amalfi, the little town that gave the coastline its name, dates back to the 6th century CE. It was once a bustling maritime port that traded with Syria, Egypt, Sardinia, and other neighboring Mediterranean maritime powers. Tragically, most of the town and part of the port was destroyed in 1343 by a huge tsunami, and Amalfi never quite regained its prior high status and importance.
Today, it is the home of the beautiful Baroque-style Duomo di Amalfi, which protects the shrine of St. Andrew within its crypt. The town is quieter and more laid-back than Positano, and it’s very family friendly with free beaches and affordable restaurants.
Capri – Vacation Spot of Emperors
The Isle of Capri is a gem set in the Gulf of Naples, famous for its beautiful Blue Grotto, picturesque and panoramic vistas of the bay, and the curious limestone crags that jut out of the sea. It is easiest to visit Capri by ferry or hydrofoil from Naples or Sorrento, and spend the day exploring the island. The Blue Grotto is an absolute must-see – this curious limestone cavern reflects light off of its white base, creating the otherworldly, bright azure blue light that fills the cave.
To enter the cave, tourists transfer from their private boats into small wooden rowboats guided by seasoned locals. One has to lean back to fit through the small entrance to the cave (accessible only at low tide, and in calm seas), and then enter the glittering blue world inside. It is definitely a once-in-a-lifetime experience!
The Amalfi Coast has so much to offer to those who take the time to explore, and experience the local culture. Unplug from the daily grind and immerse yourself in what the Italians call “il dolce far niente” – the sweetness / beauty of doing nothing. Eat well, soak up the sun, swim in the warm Med, chat with the locals, and forget about your worries and responsibilities, just for a little while. It’s worth it.