Amalfi Coast holidays

Experience Amalfi Coast

Experience [destination]

Best Places to Visit

The Amalfi coastline is one of the most spectacular coastal stretches anywhere on earth, with white-painted villages clinging to soaring cliffs and tiny, picturesque bays backed by forested mountains giving superb views over the bluest of blue seas. When it comes to beach holidays in Italy, the village of Amalfi has been a popular package holiday destination for several centuries and is now a hub for the rich and famous, with celebrity-spotting a favourite sport here. Its tiny, stepped streets hold ancient houses adorned with flowering bougainvillea, making Amalfi one of the world's most romantic destinations.

The smaller village of Positano is no less spectacular, with its picture-perfect churches and tiny houses winding down to the sea from the top of a hill. A UNESCO World Heritage site for its unspoilt beauty, Positano boasts two pretty beaches, with the smaller Fornillo Beach home to four beach bars and the larger beach home to the village's ferry port. Accommodation here is mostly in ancient heritage buildings with breath-taking views across the sea to the tiny offshore islands.

The lively port city of Salerno lies at the far southern edge of the Amalfi Coast and boasts a relaxing, laid-back ambience at odds with its size. Its historic Old Town is one of the best preserved old towns along the coast - full of quaint hidden squares, tiny passageways and heritage buildings. Salerno lies close to a little-known UNESCO World Heritage site, the Cilento and Vallo di Diano National Park, with nearby Agropoli town a good base for exploring. The coastal town has a picturesque old quarter containing an old port and picturesque medieval castle.

The unique island of Capri is considered to be part of the Amalfi Coast, with its soaring natural limestone landmarks of Faraglione di Terra located just off Punta Tragara on its south coast. Capri is home to the 14th century Pallazo Cerio, the peaceful cloisters of the Certosa di San Giacomo and the picturesque terraced Giardini di Augusto gardens. The island's highest point, Mount Solaro, holds the 14th century Santa Maria a Cetrella sanctuary as well offering magnificent views.

Half-way between Amalfi and Positano is the Emerald Grotto. Approached either by sea or land, it's a spectacular sea cave with brilliant emerald green waters as well as stalactites and stalagmites. Yet Capri's Blue Grotto is better known and another worthwhile visit.

Top Landmarks

An Amalfi coast holiday wouldn’t be complete without taking in the areas supreme natural beauty. This is, itself, one of Italy's major landmarks, and the main attraction for the thousands of domestic and foreign visitors alike who arrive year-round. Its charming churches, picturesque villages and breath-taking topography all delight tourists who take the trouble to look beyond the obvious.

For visitors looking far back into the region's history, the excavated Greek city of Paestum, set at the southern tip of the coastline, is a must-visit. The Doric Temple of Athena is its highlight, and there are two more temples, the remnants of city walls, a gymnasium and an interesting museum. The Collegiata di Santa Maria Assunta is Positano's main landmark, built in the 13th century and home to an allegedly miraculous Byzantine icon of the Virgin Mary, known as the Madonna di Positano.

Amalfi's historic main square, the Piazza del Duomo, is a history buff's dream, with its picturesque cathedral and heritage buildings. Also worth visiting in Amalfi are the 1,000-year-old Benedictine Monastery and Arsenal. Nearby Atrani is a glorious huddle of traditional buildings bounded by a coast road which winds high above the ocean.

The UNESCO World Heritage site of Ravello is set high in the hills above Amalfi and has a number of splendid historic landmarks dating from the early Middle Ages. The Duomo (cathedral) has a fine interior and Villa Rufolo, built on a rocky ledge, is a famous attraction for its connection with Richard Wagner, who was inspired to design his set for his opera Parsifal by its dramatic location.

Entertainment

Given the Amalfi Coast's attraction for the rich and famous, most of the nightlife here is chic, fashionable and expensive, although it's still possible to find quaint bars and cafés frequented by local people where a glass of wine doesn't cost the earth. Amalfi itself is perfect for visitors who favour sunset views from quiet cafés and bars, while sophisticated Positano has more to offer those looking for lively night-time entertainment.

Ravello's nickname is the 'City of Music', given for its popular jazz clubs and piano bars, as well as its extensive summer listings of musical events. Lively evenings in Positano begin at the famous Music on the Rocks beachside nightclub, and celebrity-spotting is easy at the Buca di Bacco bar. For a unique nightlife experience, watching local Positano fishermen dredging their catch at a sinkhole on L'Africana's dance floor is as good as it gets. Amalfi has several sports bars for those who can't miss a match and a number of the wine bars here double as outlets for local artists. A few bars and clubs stay open late, but the Amalfi Coast isn't the place for all-night parties.

For those looking for a buzzing night out, the university town of Salerno offers a varied selection of night-time haunts, from bars and cafés to late-late night dance venues. Disco-pubs are favourites, with DJs keeping the music going and pizzas, pub food and sandwiches keeping punters' energy levels up. For more sedate evening entertainment, the city offers opera, classical dance, plays and classical music performances at its beautiful Teatro Verdi theatre.

Dining Out

Dining out on a regular basis is almost a religion among Italians. Neapolitan cuisine, including the much-loved traditional pizzas, is based on the region's flavourful olive oil, herbs and ultra-fresh local produce. It has evolved over 2,000 years, and has Greek, Roman and Arab influences.

Italians eat their main meal after 20:00 - usually a family occasion interspersed with lively, loud conversation. A favourite starter is the local buffalo mozzarella cheese with sliced tomatoes or a bowl of rucola salad with a fresh lemon juice dressing.

Fish and seafood are the main ingredients, freshly caught the same day and served grilled with a vibrant lemon or herb tomato sauce. Octopus is tenderised by stewing in a clay pot with parsley, capers, olives and olive oil, and cuttlefish and squid are boiled, stuffed and baked, and served with salads. Clams and mussels are added to seafood salads or tossed with pasta after gentle stewing in white wine.

The grapes used in the wines of the region are grown in the rich, volcanic soil on the slopes of Mount Vesuvius and the local liqueur, Limoncello, owes its flavour to the huge, juicy lemons for which the region is famous.

Beach

Beaches along the Amalfi Coast tend to be small bays with either pebbles or large-grained volcanic sand. Amalfi Beach is of the pebbled variety and is crowded with Italians in August. Positano has two lovely, if small, sandy beaches, Fornillo and Spiaggia Grande. The village of Atrani's beach is quieter, as is the village itself, and Castiglione di Ravello Beach is dominated by dramatic cliffs. Only accessible by swimming or pedal boat, Cancelluzzo Beach near Marina di Vietri is sandy with shallow waters, while the town's Marinella Beach is backed by tamarind trees.   

Romance

The Amalfi Coast is one of the world's most romantic destinations for its sheer beauty and unspoilt towns and villages. Although it's busy all year, visitors arrive here for the ambience rather than for the riotous 24 hour parties see at many Mediterranean destinations. Your hotel or guest house is likely to be set in a charming old building, and sunset-watching over a delicious meal with wine at a harbourside trattoria is an experience that stays in the memory.

Family

The Amalfi Coast is a great destination for families with older children for its interesting sites and superb countryside. Walking and hiking in the mountains overlooking the sea are fun ways to visit remote villages and uncover secret places for a picnic, and boat trips along the coast visit all the settlements clinging to the rocky cliff sides. Kids are welcome here, with the Italians among the most family-friendly hosts in the Mediterranean.

Adventure

Walking, trekking and cycling are the main activities along the Amalfi Coast, with trails running across its mountainous interior and along the stunning cliffs which make up its coastline. Many of the trails are ancient mule tracks linking remote villages, travelled for centuries by the local people. Ravello, set on the heights above Positano and Amalfi, is a good base for walking and trekking, and has its own individual charm. A classic walking trail is the Walk of the Gods, descending from the high hills and ending in Positano. 

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Need to know

Need to know [destination]

Language

Italian is the official language along the Amalfi Coast. English is spoken to some degree in the main tourism destinations, as are several other European languages such as German.

Currency

As Italy is part of the European Union and the Eurozone, the official currency is the euro. In Amalfi, Positano and Salerno, banks, currency exchange outlets and ATMs are easily found, although in remoter villages there may be fewer facilities. All major credit cards are accepted at most venues, and the best method of payment here is cash for small purchases and card for larger spends.

Visas

Nationals of EU member states do not require a tourist visa to enter Italy and stay indefinitely, while nationals of the US, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and a list of other countries may enter visa-free and a stay of up to 90 days in any one 180-day period. Nationals of countries not on the list will need to contact their nearest Italian embassy for visa requirements.

Climate

The climate of the Amalfi Coast is one of the most pleasant in the whole of Italy, with the high summer months blessed with 10 hours of sunshine daily and temperatures topping 30 degrees Celsius in August. Sheltered by the Lattari Mountains and with cooling sea breezes, the coastline sees little rainfall in June, July and August. The shoulder seasons of spring and autumn are popular among visitors wishing to avoid the summer crowds. Winters are generally mild, with temperatures rarely falling below 10¡C. November and Easter are the wettest times here.

Main Airports

There are two options for air arrival from international destinations, Salerno Costa d'Amalfi Airport and Naples Airport. The Salerno facility is located 45km from Amalfi and Naples Airport is slightly farther away, with the hydrofoil the fastest was to travel to the Amalfi Coast. Low-cost, charter and full-service carriers offer flights from the UK, with Naples Airport the main hub, while Salerno Costa d'Amalfi Airport serves a flight from Munich.

Flight Options

Salerno Costa d'Amalfi Airport has no links with the UK so British visitors need to arrive via Naples. British Airways flies from London-Gatwick and EasyJet covers London-Stansted, Edinburgh and Bristol. Charter carrier Thomson offers seasonal flights from Glasgow, Dublin, East Midlands, Manchester, Newcastle, Birmingham and Bristol, and Thomas Cook offers a seasonal flight from Manchester. Visitors from the US can fly direct to Naples from New York with Meridiana Fly. European cities including Bratislava, Paris, Cologne and Milan have air links with the region. The average flight time from London is around 3 hours.

Travel Advice

The usual rules apply when looking to find a bargain flight, with checking on low-cost and charter airlines' websites for special offers and flight sales the best options. Local travel agents may offer last-minute deals on package holidays at little more than the cost of a flight. Avoiding travel during the high summer months of June through August saves money on flights and accommodation. Transportation around the region is by bus, taxi or hire car.

Other Transport Options

It is possible to travel by train from London to the Amalfi Coast, with the route a scenic delight - the perfect start to an Amalfi coast holiday. The journey's first leg is the Eurostar from London to Paris, where travellers can connect with the TGV daytime express to the Italian city of Turin. After overnighting in Turin, the next step is the high-speed express to Naples, followed by a bus or hydrofoil journey to the Amalfi Coast.

Getting Around

Ground transportation in the region is mainly by bus as the rail line from Naples terminates at Sorrento. Boats and hydrofoils link various towns along the coast, and taxi travel, although relatively expensive, is convenient for getting between destinations.

Bus

Amalfi, Positano and other villages along the coastline are built on steep cliffs and are small and easy to get around on foot. None of the coastal villages have bus routes due to their small size and the fact that buses can't run up or down stepped streets. SITA buses link the villages along cliffside roads and run to the city of Salerno, as well as to Sorrento on the Bay of Naples. Bus travel here is cheap and mainly comfortable, although heavy traffic in the high summer period makes for slow journeys between destinations.

Train

The rail line from Naples terminates at Sorrento, so access to Amalfi by bus or car is the preferred choice.

MAP

AMALFI COAST`S WEATHER TODAY

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FACTS

  1. Amalfi was one of the first places in Europe to make paper as we know it today. Find out more at the town’s own Paper Museum.
  2. Set on a cliffside, it helps to be fit to get the most from Amalfi. If you’ve not had enough of all those steps, there are 62 steps from the Piazza to reach the Duomo.
  3. The Amalfi coastline stretches for 55km. Coastal highway 163 stretches its length and takes around 80 minutes to drive, but, given that around 5 million visitors flock to this area every year, it can sometimes take longer!

FACTS

  1. Amalfi was one of the first places in Europe to make paper as we know it today. Find out more at the town’s own Paper Museum.
  2. Set on a cliffside, it helps to be fit to get the most from Amalfi. If you’ve not had enough of all those steps, there are 62 steps from the Piazza to reach the Duomo.
  3. The Amalfi coastline stretches for 55km. Coastal highway 163 stretches its length and takes around 80 minutes to drive, but, given that around 5 million visitors flock to this area every year, it can sometimes take longer!

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