There are 20 regions in Italy, some of which are household names – Tuscany and Sicily among them. There are also parts of Italy that, while not technically regions, are still familiar to everyone who has ever planned an Italian vacation. The Amalfi Coast is one of those areas. Here’s an overview of the Amalfi Coast to help you plan your trip.
The Amalfi Coast is, as the name suggests, a coastal area made up of several towns. It’s entirely within the region of Campania, stretching along the Tyrrhenian Sea between the towns of Positano and Vietri sul Mare.
The towns and beaches of the Amalfi Coast have long been a popular vacation destination during the warmer seasons of late spring through early fall, with summer being the peak of the Amalfi Coast tourist season. This is the sort of area where seeing the rich and famous on holiday isn’t uncommon, and the kind of place that makes everyone feel like a celebrity.
Looking at the map below, you can see the location of the Amalfi Coast (between the arrows in the lower right) as it relates to Naples, Sorrento, and Mt. Vesuvius.
The Sorrentine Peninsula juts out into the water south of Mt. Vesuvius, and the Amalfi Coast is on the Sorrentine Peninsula. Sorrento, however, is not technically part of the Amalfi Coast. Plenty of vacationers make Sorrento their home base, though, for its ease of access and because there are more transportation options.
You see, the Amalfi Coast towns aren’t connected to Italy’s train lines.
The closest you can get to the Amalfi Coast by train is Sorrento on one end and Salerno on the other (the latter is even part of the Trenitalia and Italo high-speed rail networks). After that, you’ll need to hop on one of the many buses that serve the Amalfi Coast towns or rent your own set of wheels. (The latter is not always a good idea, what with the devilish curves in the road that snakes along the coast, not to mention the distinct lack of parking.) During the high season, there are boats that also act like water-buses, connecting the towns along the coast.
Even with more limited access, the Amalfi Coast can be an excellent base from which to explore some of the incredible attractions of Campania. The ancient Roman ruins of Pompeii, and Herculaneum and the ancient Greek ruins of Paestum aren’t far away. You can hike up to the summit of Mt. Vesuvius, the volcano that looms over the entire landscape. The remarkable archaeological museum in Naples is not to be missed (and neither is the city’s famous pizza).
Because of the Amalfi Coast’s popularity and its somewhat limited season (some of the towns are really, really quiet when it’s not summer), it’s important to book accommodation well in advance of your trip if you want the best selection.
Keep in mind that while off-season visits to the Amalfi Coast may mean smaller crowds and lower prices, they also often come with cold and wet weather. The ferries that connect the coast with Sorrento, Naples, and the islands don’t run in the off-season (the water is too choppy), so you’re limited to buses or renting a car. Some businesses keep shorter hours or close up entirely for their own annual holidays. In other words, as long as you’re prepared to be more self-sufficient and not spend all day on the beach, a winter trip to the Amalfi Coast can be lovely.
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