Tourists flock to Italy every year without fail, and this beautiful country has retained the hearts of many. With scenic views, rolling hills and dramatic cliffs, the country is a great place to hire a car and hit the open road. The Amalfi Coast is no exception. Having been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997, there’s much to do along this stretch of coastline.
Positano, Amalfi Coast, Italy. Photo by: samael334/Stock
Where is the Amalfi Coast in Italy?
Located south of Naples, in the Salerno province, this stretch of coastline runs from Sorrento to Salerno.
When is the best time to visit the Amalfi Coast?
This region enjoys a Mediterranean climate year-round. This means warm summers and mild winters. Perfect for exploring any time of the year. As with any tourist hotspot though, you’ll want to avoid travelling during the peak of summer (July – August). Prices are higher and the crowds are bigger. However, you’ll also find that many restaurants and hotels will close over the quiet months between November and Easter so the area may not be able to cater for your needs as easily during this time. The best time to travel is during the spring, when the local flora is coming into full bloom, blanketing the landscape, or the autumn, when the seas are still warm and the local produce is at its peak.
Exploring the Amalfi Coast
This region is renowned for its incredible natural beauty. Backed on one side by the steep cliffs of the Sorrentine Peninsula and the turquoise waters of the Tyrrhenian Sea on the other, the views are breath-taking. You’ll struggle to find views more romantic than this.
The best place to pick up your hire car will be at Naples Airport; highly convenient if you’re just landing in Italy. Alternatively, you could collect from Sorrento or Salerno, both excellently placed to access the Amalfi Coast.
Whichever end of the drive you start from, you’ll be wowed by the pretty villages that have been terraced into the sheer cliff face, and the scenery along the way. Simply follow the Amalfi Drive to experience the best the region has to offer.
Cathedral of Sorrento, Amalfi Coast, Italy. Photo by: Liberty/Stock
Overlooking the Bay of Naples, you may base yourself here and take a trip inland for a few hours to spend discovering Mount Vesuvius. You’ll find some picture-perfect moments to capture from Sorrento as you look out from the cliffs over the Tyrrhenian Sea.
This area is known for its production of limoncello as the lemons required are grown here in terraced gardens. If you’re visiting in the spring or summer, you’re sure to see them visible as you tour the area.
Take a trip to Vesuvius to climb to the top and visit the remains of Pompeii, a truly sobering experience.
Visit Museum Correale and browse its 24 rooms across 3 floors for a range of fine arts artefacts including paintings, glassware, ceramics, watches and an archaeological collection.
Dine in one of the fabulous open-air restaurants; indulge in traditional pizza followed by incredible ice cream. You can even take a lesson in making ice cream.
For your fill of architectural delights, visit the Cathedral of Sorrento with its 11th-century doors from Constantinople.
During the middle ages, this was one of the most powerful maritime republics. Visit the Arsenal of the Maritime Republic, Arsenalle della Repubblica, a museum showcasing the area where the building and repair of warships took place.
Take a short trip to walk along the Valle dei Mulini; a ravine surrounded by ruined watermills that were once used to make paper. Afterwards, learn more about the history of paper-making in the region at the Museo della Carta which showcases Amalfi’s connection to paper. Take the guided tour which lasts around 30 minutes.
Duomo di Sant’Andrea, known as Amalfi Cathedral, is 9th century build dedicated to Saint Andrew, one of the 12 apostles. The Cathedral houses some beautiful features, which is accessible by the 62 steps, and a garden.
Further out from the town, there’s the Grotto dello Smeraldo, a marine cave that can be reached by boat, but you’ll need to take the elevator or steps in the rock to get to water-level first. Divers frequently enter the water to visit the submerged nativity scene that lines the bottom of the cave. The cave itself retains a brilliant blue light, casted by the hues of the water contained inside.
Here, visit the 11th century Cathedral which is home to one of three sets of bronze doors remaining in Italy which were created by Barisano da Trani. The mosaics here are also worth noting, as is the pulpit, which rests on marble lions. There is also a modest on-site museum that contains sculptures and works of art. Villa Rufolo is also in Ravello, a 13th century build visited by Richard Wagner who composed part of his opera ‘Parsifal’ during his stay.
Fun fact: Salerno is home to the Schola Medica Salernita, which was the worlds first medical school, founded in the 8th century.
There are three very distinct sections of this city, like slices through time showing the evolution of the settlement. The Medieval sector obviously dates back the furthest and showcases the oldest architecture. Then there’s the 19th century sector and the post-war buildings, which are mostly apartment blocks so you won’t spend much time here. It’s the older parts of the city you’ll enjoy meandering the most.
In Salerno, you’ll want to stroll along the 1950s seafront promenade, Lungomare Trieste. Parts of the tree-lined walkway were developed using ash from the eruption of Vesuvius.
To gain a better vantage point of your surroundings, the Castello di Arechi sits 300 feet high above sea level. You’ll want to take the bus to save your legs from the climb.
Your itinerary exploring the Amalfi Coast
If you’ve got a trip to Italy booked, then don’t forget your hire car.
Which attractions are you most looking forward to exploring? If you’ve travelled to the region before, then what highlights would you recommend to other visitors? Let us know in the comments below.
Written by Jessica Juby.
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