The Amalfi Coast in southwestern Italy is arguably one of the most beautiful coastlines in the world. Before I (finally) made this trip of a lifetime happen, I drooled over photos of it for six years.
I thought about swinging a visit there in 2012 when I was studying abroad but I didn’t want to lessen this incredible experience on a college student’s budget. After all, this was my dream trip! This is not to say there aren’t ways to make it work on a smaller budget, but I personally wanted to save it for when I had a bit more money in my pockets to enhance the experience.
In the summer of 2017, I had the perfect opportunity to put this trip on the front-end of a work trip to save me the cost of a one-way flight. For the other one-way segment, I used AA miles (American Airlines), bringing my total flight cost to only $5.60 to and from Rome. Yes, that is five dollars and sixty cents. My flight was free, I only paid the fees!
What a steal, right?! I mentioned the trip to a few others to see if anyone was interested, but because the trip was only a few weeks out and in the middle of July (high season), it was difficult to find anyone willing to splurge on inflated flight costs. This was a trip I refused to pass up so I decided to go alone.
It was easily one of the best trips of my life! The weather was perfect. I was in one of my top bucket list locations after years of dreaming about going. Traveling solo actually turned out to be the best part of this trip. I did things at my own pace and never once had to sacrifice or compromise on what I wanted to do. The trip was 100% catered to my checklist and preferences.
There are dozens of ways to see the Amalfi Coast, and there’s no right or wrong way to do it. You could spend a month or more exploring this entire section of Italy. At this point in time, I had six full days to make this trip work and I was determined to hit all my highlights.
Before laying out my itinerary, I asked myself 3 questions:
ONE: What do I want to see and do? I like to start my planning process by determining what I want to experience when I’m in a place. What are my non-negotiables and what are nice-to-haves if time allows? For me, my top priorities were Pompeii, Path of the Gods hike, visiting the Island of Capri, visiting the villas in Ravello, and spending some time wandering through Positano.
TWO: What is the best way to get there?
I was able to fly directly from New York City to Rome Fiumicino airport. I’m not a fan of layovers so I took a direct flight to Rome and spent a day there before taking a train down to Naples.
Note: I had already been to Rome years before on an equally epic trip. If you’ve never visited Rome before, I highly recommend spending at least three days there before heading down to the Amalfi Coast or splitting the two into two separate trips to Italy. Rome is truly an outdoor museum. It’s worthy of all the historical hype and will be a good round-trip base for your trip if you’re able to find flights in and out.
If it’s easier and cheaper for you to fly roundtrip in and out of Naples, that works too. Naples is closer to the Amalfi Coast than Rome. Additional Note: there are significantly FEWER direct international flights into Naples vs. Rome. I recommend exploring both options before booking.
THREE: Where will my base be?
Positano is the most popular city on the Amalfi Coast and the pricing of accommodation reflects this. I really didn’t want to blow the bank on accommodation so I shopped around a lot before booking.
Based on its central location and favorable pricing compared to Positano, Sorrento was the perfect base for my itinerary. I found a lovely private room with a terrace and a private bathroom in a bed and breakfast. I was only a 3-minute walk from the bus/train station, and a 15-minute walk from the port. My main mode of transportation on this trip was the bus.
Other reasons Sorrento was a killer choice for me:
- Sorrento was at the beginning of many bus lines. This allowed me to secure a seat for the 30-minute to 1-hour bus rides along the coast. During high season, it is common for buses to be packed forcing many people to stand in the aisles for the duration of the commute.
- Sorrento was also about equidistant between Naples and Amalfi which cut down on backtracking and unnecessarily long daily commutes. There’s also a direct ferry route to Capri from Sorrento.
Next, I created a plan that prioritized my must-sees, took advantage of a one-day pit stop in Rome, and capitalized on the location of my base, Sorrento.
The below itinerary can be tweaked to your liking and can be extended if you’d like more time to enjoy one of the most picturesque places on earth! In my particular case, I had a week to work with and I feel the itinerary was perfect for my needs at that moment. I did not feel rushed. I was able to accomplish everything I wanted and explore at my own pace.
- Land in Roma FCO airport (morning)
- Take the Leonardo Express train from FCO to Roma Termini station and walk to my hotel in central Rome
- Check in to the hotel (1-night stay)
- Casually sightsee, eat, walk around revisiting some of my favorite sights
- Walk to Roma Termini station, take a morning train down to Naples (train options can be found and booked online at www.raileurope.com. Direct high-speed trains take only an hour and fifteen minutes to arrive at Napoli Centrale. There are slower options and options with stops that may be cheaper but will take longer to arrive.)
- At Napoli Centrale, buy a Circumvesuviana train ticket to take a separate train from Napoli Centrale to Sorrento
- Walk from Sorrento train station to Airbnb
- Check into Airbnb (4-night stay)
- Nap (because I really needed one)
- Casually walk around Sorrento old town center and port area
- Grab a bite at one of the many beautiful restaurants overlooking the coastline
- Go to the beach
- Catch an early morning ferry to the Island of Capri
- Take a boat ride around the island (visit the Blue Grotto if the water level allows)
- Gardens of Agustus
- Villa San Michele
- Monte Solaro (take the chairlift up)
- Leisurely explore the island, grab lunch with a view
- Take an evening ferry back to Sorrento
- Dinner in Sorrento town center
(in the future, I’d like to stay overnight in Capri to explore further)
- Catch an early morning bus to Amalfi
- Take a second bus from Amalfi to Ravello
- Visit Villa Rufolo
- Visit Villa Cimbrone
- Take the bus back to Amalfi
- Rent a beach chair at one of the private beaches
- Visit Amalfi Cathedral
- Walk through the town center in Amalfi
- Grab dinner in Amalfi
- Take the bus back to Sorrento
- Catch the first bus in the morning from Sorrento to Amalfi
- Transfer at Amalfi to the bus from Amalfi to Agerola
- Get off at the “Bomerano” stop which is where the Path of the Gods hike begins
- Follow the signs for “Il Sentiero degli Dei”
- Hike from Bomerano to Nocelle
- Once you reach Nocelle, you can get to Positano by either bus or on foot by descending 1,500 stairs to the Positano town center
- Once in Positano, grab lunch along the water
- Take a break at the public beach
- Catch the bus back to Sorrento after sunset
- I recommend grabbing dinner in Sorrento once you return. I personally fell asleep on the bus and didn’t even realize I was back at the station until someone woke me. I was so sleepy from all the sun and exercise I got this day!
- Check out of Airbnb
- Take the Circumvesuviana train from Sorrento to Pompeii-Scavi station (please note: Pompeii-Scavi station is the correct station for the ruins of Pompeii. The “Pompeii” station is just for the town. Make sure you pay close attention and only get off at the “Pompeii-Scavi” station if you are going to the ruins.)
- Drop off your luggage at luggage storage at the Pompeii-Scavi station for only 8 euro.
- Visit the ruins of Pompeii comfortably without carrying your bags (Note: it is best to get to the ruins very early in the morning when they first open. It gets extremely crowded quickly. The ruins are also scorching hot in the afternoon with very little shade from the sun available. I was LITERALLY the first person inside of the ruins that day which allowed me to avoid most of the crowd.)
- Explore ruins and get lunch at the canteen
- Pick up your luggage from storage! Don’t forget!
- Catch a late afternoon/early evening train from Pompeii-Scavi to Napoli Centrale
- Catch a train from Napoli to Roma Termini Station
- Walk to your centrally located hotel and check in
- Get dinner and wine in Rome to savor the last night in Italy
- Take Leonardo Express from Roma Termini back to FCO airport
- Fly home
Have you ever visited the Amalfi Coast? Which towns along the coast did you travel to? Which town or island is your favorite?
I hope this is helpful for your trip to the Amalfi Coast! Be sure to comment and let me know if you incorporated any elements from my itinerary into your trip!