Do you ever want to go all Secret Life of Walter Mitty and step right into photos?
I do. Basically, all the time.
And I don’t just dream about all the places in the photographs. I add them to my bucket list and plan to actually GO—which is exactly how I wound up visiting the Amalfi Coast.
Italy was high on my bucket list for a while. Anywhere in Italy because, ugh! I couldn’t narrow it down. There are a LOT of best places to visit in Italy… Rome, Florence, Venice, Pisa, Verona, Siena, Cinque Terre, the Amalfi Coast… I’d need at least a month to see all that!
But, I only had a week. One week for my first trip to Italy. And I didn’t want to speed date my way through the country, so I forced myself to pick just two places to explore in depth.
Florence was kind of a no brainer. One of my favorite college professors spent a sabbatical there, and her passion for this Tuscan city stuck with me. So, Florence was a done deal. But where else in Italy should I go?
I had to narrow it down.
Why I decided to visit the Amalfi Coast
Being a coastal Florida girl at the time, I decided on Mediterranean views. And then it was between Cinque Terre and the Amalfi Coast. It was tough, but I chose the latter. I suppose I’d seen enough Amalfi Coast photos on Instagram and in T+L articles to convince me I’d regret not visiting Amalfi.
The next step was deciding what do on the Amalfi Coast.
I wanted a non touristy experience, so I did my research. Hidden gems. Off the beaten path. Hikes. Bus vs. car. All the research. And I planned a trip that I truly believe was the hidden Amalfi Coast experience.
If that’s what you’re looking for, here are my tips.
Tips for a hidden Amalfi Coast experience
1. Drive from Naples to the Amalfi Coast
Sure, you can take the bus, or a ferry (during peak season). But driving that narrow road with its endless curves and guardrails is a RUSH.
The views from your car windows? INSANE.
Plus, there are a few pull off spots with overlooks—and with your own car, you can pull off anytime you want.
I recommend renting a car in Naples and driving to your destination along the Amalfi Coast. For reference, the drive from Naples to Sorrento is just under 1 hour. Though Sorrento isn’t technically part of the Amalfi Coast, it’s one of the last towns before you round the bend to that part of the coastline.
If you don’t want to take the bus, but still don’t want to drive, another option is hiring a car. For me, though, renting one and driving myself gave me that authentic experience. Prepare for a wild ride!
2. Wherever you stay on the Amalfi Coast, walk as much as possible
It may not seem possible, but you can walk on the Amalfi Coast road—albeit carefully.
There’s barely or no shoulder in most places, with blind curves and lots of bus and car traffic. But, people do walk it.
Walking the road offers the best Amalfi Coast views and photo ops, though it’s more practical than that. Parking in the towns is limited and expensive, so walking is a cost-effective and hassle-free way to experience neighboring towns.
While I still stand behind walking, you can still avoid the parking issue by taking a bus—though you’re then tied to a bus schedule. Ferries are also an option during peak season, and scooter rentals are popular—and could add to the local experience, if you’re down for that.
3. Hike along the Amalfi Coast to find the real hidden gems
Stairs basically serve as streets here, so your glutes will think you’re hiking the entire time.
Still, there are real hikes and I recommend seeking them out. Two I recommend are:
- Hike from Minori to Ravello — The trek from Minori (sea level) to Ravello (in the hills) takes approximately 1,500 steps. Tough, but there were lots of stopping points along the way. And the views? Some of my favorite from the trip! My Airbnb host recommended this hike, and locals know the best hidden gems, right?
- Path of the Gods near Positano was actually on my original itinerary, but I opted for the hike from Minori to Ravello because I was already staying in Minori and didn’t feel like driving back to Positano.
4. Stay at an Airbnb along the Amalfi Coast
The most authentic experience is feeling like you actually live there. For this, Airbnb is the best option.
I found the perfect, studio Airbnb in the town of Minori, Italy that was far more affordable than Airbnbs in some of the more popular towns, like Positano and Amalfi.
Not only did I feel like I lived in Minori for a few days, I also saw fewer tourists there than anywhere else on the Amalfi Coast during my trip.
You can also read more about why I love Minori here.
5. Try food and drinks authentic to the Amalfi Coast
My Airbnb host gave the best recommendations. He told me Minori is know for its handmade pasta and for growing lemons. Even if you don’t stay in Minori, you must try handmade pasta on the Amalfi Coast. Sounds cliche, but you CAN taste the difference.
I also recommend anything with lemon flavoring—lemoncello, lemon tiramisu, anything!—and fresh seafood.
Here are a few meals I enjoyed during my trip.
6. Buy authentic souvenirs on the Amalfi Coast
If you’re looking for souvenirs beyond the t-shirts, keychains, and shot glasses, the Amalfi Coast won’t disappoint.
You’ll see the lemon theme play into handmade items throughout the shops, and be sure to buy a bag of handmade, uncooked noodles to take home.
Also look for handcrafted paper goods and ceramics—both produced by Amalfi Coast artisans for centuries.
7. Visit the Amalfi Coast during off season
This is my last tip, and I share it because I’ve heard the Amalfi Coast is quite busy during the summer months and into October even!
I visited in November, and there were far fewer tourists—though towns like Positano and Amalfi were still more crowded than Minori where I stayed. Vising during off season has its pros and cons, of course. It really just depends on your priorities.
Pros of visiting the Amalfi Coast during off season
- Less traffic and fewer tourists
- Cheaper hotel and Airbnb rates
- Possibly cheaper flights to Italy
- Mild weather (in November, at least!)
Cons of visiting the Amalfi Coast during off season
- Limited bus schedule
- Some shops may have limited hours
- Ferries between towns stop running
- Cooler (though still mild) weather
If the less touristy, authentic, possibly cheaper experience is for you, off season is ideal. If you want a summer Amalfi Coast trip with everything open and running, and cost isn’t an issue, by all means, visit in the summertime.
And there you have it. My best tips for an authentic, Amalfi Coast experience. Whether you prefer the larger towns with more amenities, or the hidden gems and less touristy places, the Amalfi Coast has what you’re looking for.
Have you been to the Amalfi Coast? Is it on your list?