This Amalfi Coast itinerary explores this gorgeous Italian coastline and UNESCO World Heritage Site. It's a place where the scent of lemons fills the air, along with sweet rose dust, some rosemary, a hint of thyme and a brush of silver leaves. On the Amalfi Coast, you can even walk the path of the gods.
The closest city is Naples, an urban spread of chaos that's easily reached by international flights and high speed trains from Rome. Some people choose to spend a few days in Naples first. However, the atmosphere is very different. If you're looking for calm and peaceful beauty, the Amalfi Coast is for you. If you thrill on the scrum of city life, spend more time in Naples.
When it comes to planning your Amalfi Coast itinerary, the big question is whether to stay in one place or travel along the coast.
Many itineraries recommend basing yourself in Sorrento, for example, and taking day trips from there. Usually, I'm a big fan of doing this: packing and unpacking each day can become a chore.
However, transport along the Amalfi Coast includes some hair-raising bends, narrow roads, congested traffic and wandering farmyard animals. The key Amalfi towns become very crowded with day trippers and so most of the magic arrives at dawn and dusk when you have the place to yourself if you are staying there.
For those reasons, this Amalfi Coast itinerary recommends you move yourself along the coast, beginning in Amalfi and finishing in Sorrento.
We did this through a tour company who specialise in walking holidays (see below) but you could travel independently as well.
Take the fuss out of planning your Amalfi Coast itinerary by following this day by day guide. The pace is steady but not frantic, allowing plenty of time to soak up the quality of life, panoramic views and great food the region is famous for. You'll also hit the main sights but it's not a checklist based exercise.
Transfer from Naples to Amalfi either by tour company or your own car.
Take a day trip by bus or walking up to Ravello and its extraordinary gardens that overlook the Mediterranean Sea. This day can be skipped if you want to fit in both Pompeii and Capri towards the end of the itinerary.
The walking route from Amalfi to Positano, otherwise known as the Path of the Gods, is one of the best things you can do on the Amalfi Coast. Or indeed, perhaps, any coast.
Begin in Bomerano, pass through Nocelle on on to Positano.
Beautiful Positano has enough to keep you occupied for the day, with a pebble beach to relax on or a gentle walking route to Fornillo Bay and its Saracen watchtowers. Alternatively, today might make a good day to zip to Capri and back, if you have your heart set on the island.
This choice really takes you away from the over-processed, overcrowded parts of the Amalfi Coast into the real Italy. A four to five hour walk completes the journey or you can drive yourself. Marina del Cantone has a pebble beach and a completely different feel to other parts of the coast.
And so it's back to the "big smoke" of Sorrento, with perhaps a side excursion of a walk along Jeranto Bay. Consider a detour to Annunziata and its Aragonese castle or just hot foot it to pastel-pretty Sorrento with its view of Vesuvius on the horizon.
Perhaps your Amalfi Coast itinerary will need to end here as you zip back to Naples to catch your flight. But if you have the full day, it's a good time to head to the island of Capri, the ruins of Pompei or to take some time and wander around Sorrento.
Enjoy this travel article. Full Amalfi Coast itinerary planning follows at the end.
The stillness surrounds, save for the scrunch and soft thump of my boots on the edges of the scorched summer earth. The scent of lemons fills the air, along with sweet rose dust, some rosemary, a hint of thyme and a brush of silver leaves every now and then as I weave around the edges of the deserted olive grove.
Somewhere, sometimes, I hear the zippy buzz of a vespa. Or perhaps a sugar-smothered bee, drunk on syrup and skitting through the air, and sometimes I hear the thoughts that sweep and sashay through my mind.
There is sunshine, stone and soft summer rain. Cream-coloured cliffs that dip into sparkling seas and spiked tufts of grass that scratch the skin above my ankles.
I’m on the road from Amalfi to Sorrento, well, one of the roads at least. This one's a road come windy path come slippery mud track come moss-soaked track and then back to start all over again.
Recommended reading: How to Spend 10 Days in Italy and Other Handcrafted Itineraries
The Amalfi Coast is a popular part of Italy, as each stop in a coastal town reveals. New to me, the pastel-flecked, clifftop-caressing villages have long since made acquaintance with the world and his wife, her tennis coach and his gang of mates from down the pub.
Sorrento knows the power of the tourist crowd as it basks in the shadows of Vesuvius and has the barefaced cheek to serve unsuspecting visitors chips cooked on top of pizza. And, yes, it tastes as bad as it sounds.)
Amalfi, my first stop in the Bay of Naples, was rather more forgiving. Limoncello and tumbling lemons adorned the shopping baskets amid the teacloths, soaps on ropes and ceramic trinkets. And as the sun set , it washed a soothing amber glow across the 9th century cathedral steps where just below children splashed through the fountains.
Perched high on another cliff (Amalfi is not the place for you if you don't care for bendy roads,) the Luna Convento Hotel jutted out int a physics-defying move above the churning Tyrrhenian Sea (or so it felt on the balcony. And on the walk to the restaurant. Truly, actually breathtaking. And a little whiteknuckling if you’re unsure about the health and safety records of medieval builders.)
Then there was Positano, a sneaky Italian beauty. Along the seafront and curving main road, the place showed its well-heeled, glitzy side, a town with international aspirations that would wear kitten heels as it teetered down to its compact little beach.
But in hiking boots on the back roads, things were different.
More than 1000 steps separate the soak-into-my-bones-how-can-such-a-place-be-so-beautiful Pathway of the Gods from the quiet white back streets of Positano.
Now, 1000 steps going down may not sound like such a challenge (and believe me, I was grateful I wasn't going up) but, oh trembling thighs and creaky knees, it showed me another side of
my ageing body Italy alright.
One of farm houses and steepled churches, purring cats and serene scenery.
A world as far away from the "beaten track" as a pair of boots can be, and yet this track did so amidst one of the most visited coastlines around.
In short, this walking route fulfilled my favourite travel writing cliché: it fulfilled its promise to get me off the beaten track.
And for all the peace, for that near silence, the sound of sirens filled my mind.
The Greek sirens (although I suppose I should call them Roman while in this part of the world.)
…those ancient sirens, those mythical women who lured lusty sailors to their untimely demise through their seductive songs, apparently hailed from these parts.
In fact, you can still see them today
On the crescent-shaped outcrop that looped to our hotel set in a secluded cove (yes, really) a glance over my shoulder revealed the sirens in all their briny glory.
Behold! There were those temptresses who drove men to distraction over a period of thousands and thousands of years: three greyish humpy rocks protruding like the bellies of the morbidly obese from the otherwise resplendent blue sea.
I thought of the beauty of the Path of the Gods, of the Bay of Naples, of the shadow of Vesuvius and the voluptuous outline of a lemon. The beauty of the crunch of feet on waiting paths and the slurping of spaghetti fresh in chilli and virgin olive oil. I remembered the sonorous violins in family-run pizzerias and the thrilling vertigo on the swooping coastal roads.
Those memories made me think of beauty.
And then there were the sirens, these shapeless lumps of stone.
I stood still, in the silence and drank in the sight of the sirens.
I can only imagine they knew some very good songs...
I returned my thoughts to my boots, and walked back around the cove.
One of the joys of the routes is getting away from it all. That, of course, means you need to bring some of it all with you – things like water, snacks, basic first aid & sunglasses. You’ll pass through beautiful hamlets – but many places don’t accept cards so do make sure you have some cash before you set out.
You can either carry a picnic and trail mix with you – or stop off for a three course dinner with wine on most days (check the itinerary first.) Just remember that it’s hot and hard work walking and (whoever thought I’d end up being a killjoy?) it may be better to save the wining and dining until dinner.
The Amalfi Coast Itinerary we've talked about allows for a few options. Here's a little more about each of them...
Stunning Ravello overlooks Amalfi and the Mediterranean Sea. It's famous for its lavish gardens at Villa Cimbrone and Greta Garbo's legendary Villa Rufolo, as well as its Duomo at the Cathedral of Ravello at Vescovado Square.
You can reach Ravello by bus from Sorrento, Amalfi or Positano and can enjoy the walk along citrus groves and past watchtowers back down towards Amalfi. The views aren't too bad either ;-)
William Somerset Maugham's The Lotus Eater saw a Bostonian visit the island of Capri and never return: he gave it all up for a life of leisure on the Amalfi Coast. But he wasn't the first to have that idea. Even the ancient Romans came to this island and its glittering Blue Grotto to relax and abandon their worries and cares.
Today, though, you'll be joining plenty of people who want to do the same thing, which can make the whole thing somewhat less relaxing.
Capri is 40 minutes by hydrofoil from Ischia or you can arrange a specialist luxury water taxi from Amalfi, Sorrento and Positano.
Personally, I feel that there are more isolated and beautiful spots to explore. But if you want to add it into your Amalfi Coast itinerary then travel there as a day trip instead of Vesuvius.
On 24th October, 79 AD a terrible event happened that the world still remembers today. Mount Vesuvius erupted, killing 3000 and covering the city of Pompeii in volcanic ash and pumice. It preserved the daily life of ancient Rome in incredible detail: streets, vases, even people.
Today a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it takes several hours to visit Pompeii and you need to be able to walk comfortably in the heat over rocky, uneven surfaces. A visit works well as a stand alone day trip, with several tour companies running guided walks and tours around the site.
Yes, but it pushes the limits. It's larger than many of the other Amalfi towns.
This one! It explores the main sights as well as some of the off the beaten track areas and includes flexibility to suit your energy levels and sightseeing needs.
We'd happily recommend the Hotel Miramalfi as a mid-range option. Rooms look a little dated but the location is excellent, staff are friendly and the views out to the sea are incredible.
It's entirely possible to create your own Amalfi Coast itinerary and book everything separately. However, it's also much easier to have someone else take care of things for you, including moving your luggage while you walk and sightsee during the day. We travelled with Headwater, whom we have worked and travelled with for years.
How Headwater Works
Headwater run a number of different activity holidays. On this trip, walking from Amalfi to Sorrento, they handled the flights, hotels and luggage transfers leaving us to just walk around and enjoy ourselves. We shared transfers to the starting points for the walks with two or three other couples but each couple then drifted away and we all took the route at our own pace.
Headwater provided in-depth maps of the area (which we barely needed) and detailed step by step instructions for the walking routes as well.
Although the Path of the Gods was an established walking route, many of the other days saw us walking through farms and hidden pathways as well as the odd time on the side of a road. This enabled us to well and truly get away from the crowds and was a wonderful, sensuous experience.
There’s supposed to be a rep somewhere on the ground (we received a phonecall on day one to check that all was OK) but you never actually meet anyone. To me, this was perfect, as I love the feeling of independence when I travel and this was a hybrid, the best of both worlds
Disclosure – I paid a reduced rate to travel with Headwater on this walking holiday along the Amalfi coast for review purposes. All opinions, daydreams, photos, scribbles and all the rest of it remain my own. As always, as ever, otherwise there’s just no point. Thanks for reading!
Hi, I'm Abi, a doctor turned writer who's worked with Lonely Planet, the BBC, UNESCO and more. Let's travel more and think more. Find out more.
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