Rising out of the cliffs of the Sorrentine Peninsula, the Amalfi Coast towns have been enchanting visitors for centuries. This stunning coastal drive winds itself between the port city of Salerno and the jagged coast of Sorrento. Along the cliffs and rugged shoreline are picturesque villas, lemon groves, vineyards and beaches. Declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Amalfi Coast towns are a culinary, cultural and visual feast for the senses.
While the Amalfi Coast drive is spectacular, it shouldn’t be your only experience. Skip the touristy joints that offer mediocre quality and hang out with the locals in the many restaurants, coffee shops, museums and galleries.
The 13 amazing Amalfi Coast towns
From the well-known to the ones that don’t make it in the guidebooks, the Amalfi Coast towns offer something for everyone. Although most visitors tend to stick to the larger, better-known towns (hello Positano, Sorrento and Amalfi), there are 13 Amalfi Coast towns to explore. Let’s get to know them.
Amalfi is the largest and the most historic of all Amalfi Coast towns. This one powerful Maritime Republic had a monopoly on trade with the Far East. Its glory was eventually cut short by the conquering Normans and plundering Pisans during the 12th century.
HereHere you’ll also find the iconic 10th century Duomo di Amalfi, also known as the Cattedrale di Sant’Andrea. The church is a blend of Arab-Norman, Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque elements. If you don’t want to climb up the steps leading to the church, you can grab a table at one of the restaurants in the square below and enjoy the view.
Amalfi has a wide range of shops selling local products and specialties. You’ll also find clothing and souvenir shops. There are plenty of food and drink options as the town is a popular tourist destination. Expect Amalfi to be busy as it’s a connecting point for boats and buses to other towns.
When it comes to images of the Amalfi Coast towns, Atrani is probably the one you have seen a lot. With a population of around 1,000 residents, Atrani is the smallest of Amalfi Coast towns. During the glory of the Republic of Amalfi, Atrani was home to many Roman patricians. It was also where numerous Dodges were crowned at the Church of San Salvatore de’ Birecto.
Located just beside the more famous Amalfi, Atrani seems to rise out of the two hills (Civita and Aureo) it is nestled between. It is a small fishing village that has preserved its traditional character. Narrow roads and stacked antique houses with balconies decorated with pretty flowers and 13th-century baroque churches.
The road that winds the Amalfi Coast cuts right through Atrani, almost as if it floated through the town. Below the road, supported by spectacular arches, lies a small beach with pretty blue chairs. Yet, most tourists mostly pass it over in favour of more popular towns.
You can easily walk over to Atrani from Amalfi and have a drink in the piazza as you ponder the local legend of a fire-breathing dragon that was rumoured to live here. Atrani is also a great alternative to staying in Amalfi, away from the crowds.
Like the other Amalfi Coast towns, Cetara is a small fishing village with cheerful buildings descending into a harbour. Here you’ll also find a small beach, with pretty blue umbrellas. Cetara, like the other towns, seems to rise out of a valley, filled with citrus groves and vineyards. However, the town’s specialty is salted anchovies.
Cetara is not as visited or well known as the other towns. Those who make the trip will find pastel houses, fresh seafood delights and a look at what the Amalfi Coast was like before all the tourists arrived. But don’t let the small-town feel fool you. Cetara has a sizeable commercial fishing operation, mainly focused on processing and preserving tuna and anchovies.
Conca dei Marini
Like many of the other Amalfi Coast towns, Conca dei Marini has a maritime past. This small fishing village was once an important trading centre and home to many skilled sailors and traders. Today, it offers spectacular views and tranquillity that even the likes of Princess Margaret of England, Jacqueline Kennedy and the Queen of Holland have enjoyed.
Conca dei Marini is known for its Mediterranean-style houses with lemon trees and fragrant gardens. Here you’ll also find the Tower of Capo di Conca, also known as the Saracen Tower or White Tower. Once part of the defensive system against pirates, the tower then served as a cemetery till 1949. Today it offers visitors spectacular views
While visiting Conca dei Marini, try the local specialty called the Santarosa, a seashell shape pastry with cream and black cherry. You can also enjoy a trip to the impressive Emerald Grotto, named after the spectacular hue reflected from the underwater rocks.
Hidden in a deep Fjord, Furore was once a place for outcasts of society and exiles of Amalfi. Lacking a central piazza surrounded by clusters of houses, the town was often overlooked by travellers passing by above it. This was the reason Furore became known as a place that doesn’t exist.
Furore gained an identity when an enterprising mayor invited artists to paint murals on local houses. Each September, artists gather here to add to the collection of murals. From cheerful seascapes, mythical creatures and the celebration of the god Bacchus, bright colours make this place a worthy gem.
You can get to Furore by car or by bus from Amalfi. This is also a great starting spot if you want to hike Amalfi Coast trails.
Maiori’s beach is the largest out of all the Amalfi Coast towns. It’s a vibrant town with numerous shops, restaurants and bars. Because of its easy connectivity with other towns and multiple hotel options, it’s a great home base for exploring the coast or relaxing on the beach.
Maiori, originally called Rheginna Maior to distinguish it from the neighbouring Rheginna Minor (Minori), has its origin in Etruscan times. The town feels more modern than the rest of the villages. There is a reason for that. While sometimes referred to as a separate town, Erchie is part of Maiori.
Maiori was no stranger to looting, floods and other natural disasters over the centuries. So, when the town’s river overflowed in 1954, destroying most of the ancient centre, it was an opportunity to rebuild. The river flushed the debris towards the sea, creating the large beach we see today.
The ancient town of Reghinna Minor, Minori, is known for its history of pasta making and processing the famous Amalfi lemons. Known for its culinary delights, Minori is a great place to eat out. You can find the thick ribbons of fresh pasta known as scialatielli in many local restaurants, and it’s delicious.
Once a retreat for wealthy Romans, today Minori is unpretentious and less overrun with tourists than the more popular Amalfi Coast towns. It is also a great spot to set up a home base for exploring the area.
In addition to several historical churches and defensive towers, you can also explore remnants of a Roman villa discovered in 1932. You can hike up to the Castle Mezzacapo, named after the family who had it built, to admire the views. If you can afford to stay here, you’ve got the best views and a perfect location between Minori and Maiori. Be sure to let us know about your stay! We’re jealous already.
With whitewashed houses, dramatic staircases, streets lined with gift shops and expensive restaurants, Positano is a popular tourist destination. The darling of Instagram girls everywhere; this is one of the best-known of Amalfi Coast towns.
Positano (also includes Montepertuso and Nocelle) is famous for its handmade leather sandals, cotton/linen clothes and stunning views. There is no denying that it is a gorgeous place, but it is also a costly one. If you’re looking for places to eat, we would recommend you don’t settle on the restaurants that are right by the beach and the pier. They are overpriced and not of good quality. You can find better options the further you get from the beach.
Positano is a lovely town, but it’s not one of our favourites. If you feel the need to visit to see what the hype is about, we recommend visiting off-season. You can take a ferry from another town and spending a few hours checking it out. You will either love it or hate it.
Located between Amalfi and Positano lies the lesser-known but just as stunning Praiano. With a small yet isolated beach, this is the place to live la dolce vita. Narrow streets, old churches and terraced gardens await as you make your way up to the town.
Add it several old churches, defensive towers and homes to typical of the area, and you have yourself an adventure without the crowds. For nature lovers interested in hiking Amalfi Coast, Priano is where you can check out the famous Path of the Gods (Sentieri degli Dei). The trail offers magnificent views.
Praiano is also home to the Africana Famous Club, where Jackie Kennedy supposedly partied back in the ’60s. It is inside a cave with a generous terrace overlooking the sea. If you’re not into the night scene, you can opt to drop by for a meal.
Ravello (also known as Marmorata) is by far our favourite of all the Amalfi Coast towns. Perched above the coastline with panoramic views, manicured gardens and charming villas, it’s easy to see how it has inspired so many. You can relax in the main square or walk along the lovely streets that often provide excellent views of the vistas. Enjoy some gelato or a meal made from locally produced ingredients.
The Ravello Festival, held annually in the summer, is the oldest music festival in Italy. It draws its inspiration from the 19th-century composers Richard Wagner and Evard Grieg. Each year, music lovers can feast on concerts that range from chamber music, opera and jazz to dance and contemporary. With the Amalfi Coast in the background, that is one concert you’re not going to see anywhere else.
For more of the iconic views from Ravello, visit the Villa Rufolo and the Villa Cimbrone. The manicured gardens and strategically placed statues play into the magical feel of the place.
Scala is the oldest of the Amalfi Coast towns and offers excellent views of Ravello and other small villages. This town is also the birthplace of the founder of the Order of the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem (Knights of Malta), Gerardo Sasso. The town is surrounded by chestnut trees and lush hills, making this an excellent spot for those interested in hiking and exploring.
Scala sits about 400 metres (over 1,300 feet) above sea level and was used as a defensive system for the Republic of Amalfi. As expected, there are numerous churches and tower remnants for those interested in the area’s history. The wealthy merchants that once lived here left behind artistic and historical monuments and buildings decorated with frescoes and precious marbles.
Tramonti can be translated to among the mountains (tra i monti) or sunsets in Italian. It is made up of 13 small hamlets nestled in the valleys of the Lattari mountains. Here you’ll find lush greenery, vineyards and enjoy the local bounty. Try the pizza, wines and beer as you explore these lesser-known towns.
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Small towns like Tremonti contributed to the greatness of what was the Republic of Amalfi. That’s why they are part of the Amalfi Coast towns. They often acted as defence systems and providing the republic with resources, both human and natural.
Vietri sul mare
As you go west of Salerno, you’ll find the first of Amalfi Coast towns, Vietri sul Mare. The town is well knowns for its pottery production that dates to Roman times. The royal house of Naples was once its most important client. You can buy different types of pottery at the numerous shops that line the town.
This is the place for pottery workshops, wine tastings and shopping for artisanal souvenirs. It is an excellent base for exploring the coast and with pretty views, great food and charming streets. You can explore the hillside or hang out on by the water as you put in some beach time with your food and shopping.
While Sorrento is often mentioned by those visiting the Amalfi Coast, it is not officially one of the Amalfi Coast towns. However, due to its location on the peninsula and the proximity to the famous coastline, many assume that it belongs in that definition.
Sorrento can be your home base for visiting the Amalfi Coast towns, or you can drop by for a day or even a few hours. If you choose to stay in Sorrento, you’ll have many choices for lodgings and restaurants as the town caters to tourists. It also gets hectic during the high season.
Sorrento is a beautiful place with amazing views that have been attracting celebrities for decades. It wasn’t our favourite because it is so overrun with tourists. It almost doesn’t even feel like you’re in Italy. If that is irrelevant to you, then you’ll probably enjoy staying here.
How to get to Amalfi Coast
There are several ways you can see the Amalfi Coast, depending on how much time you have. You can opt to stay in nearby towns, like Salerno or Naples, and make several trips or a one-day outing to the coast. Alternatively, you can choose to stay at one of the Amalfi Coast towns and use that as your base for exploring.
There are several ways to get to Amalfi Coast. You can even combine some of the options if you want to ensure you get the most out of your trip. Time of the year might also play a role in your decision. During the summer months, the are more crowds, and prices are higher, whereas going offseason might offer more value for your money.
Amalfi Coast by car
Seeing Amalfi Coast by car is a spectacular experience. The winding road (SS163 known as the Amalfi Drive) offers 38 km (24 miles) of stunning coastline views while passing through enchanting towns, steep hills and abundant lemon groves.
There are occasional viewpoints where you can stop and take some pics, but don’t expect it to be easy. The road has one lane in each direction and can be extremely busy, especially during summer. With endless steep curves that seem to disappear around every corner, the road can be quite dangerous. It’s not for the faint of heart, but possible. We drive the route quite frequently, but it’s easier to let someone else drive if you feel uncertain.
Parking is another issue to consider if you decide to drive. With jagged cliffs, steep and narrow roads, parking can be challenging and competitive. There are options in the Amalfi Coast towns, but most are expensive (about €5 an hour in the parking garage). During the summer months, it might be even more challenging to find available spots. If you choose to stay in one of the towns, make sure the property offers parking options where you can safely leave your car.
Amalfi Coast by bus
Seeing the Amalfi Coast towns by bus is an excellent option if you don’t want to drive. With regular routes and robust connectivity between towns, taking the bus is an easy and convenient choice. However, keep in mind that you are limited by timetables as well as departure times.
You can take the bus from Naples to Salerno or Salerno to Naples and make stops at different towns throughout the journey. You are not likely to enjoy all the villages in one day, but you might be able to visit some of the larger ones. If you decide to stay in one of the towns, the bus provides an easy way to explore the others.
Amalfi Coast by ferry
To fully take in the stunning landscapes of the Amalfi Coast towns, try taking a ferry. Before the roads were carved into the mountains, this was the only way to reach the towns in the past.
Ferries run between the ports of Amalfi, Positano, Maiori, Cetara and Minori. You can also take a ferry to and from Salerno as well as other famous Italian islands. Keep in mind that there are different routes, and not all will stop in the same towns. The routes are posted in the ports, so it’s easy to figure out where you want to go.
While the ferries can get busy, they are a great alternative to being stuck in traffic on the road. The service is efficient and easy to use. The ferries operate from early March to the end of October.
Best time to visit Amalfi Coast towns
While summer is a great time to enjoy the towns, it’s also a busy one. The biggest crowds and highest prices are in July and August. The temperatures can get relatively high, making it more challenging to walk around or hike. As many of the towns have steep streets and stairs, they are not the best for exploring during scorching heat.
For us, the best time to visit Amalfi Coast is either May/June or September/October. The weather is still spectacular, crowds are smaller and prices are lower. It’s even less busy between November and March, but keep in mind that the ferries are not in service during this time.
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Things to do in Amalfi Coast
When it comes to things to do in Amalfi Coast, it comes down to how much time you have. For beach lovers, Amalfi has many pretty ones to choose from. Spend a day or a few relaxing on the beach under cheerful umbrellas and take in the beauty around you.
Lemons groves, vineyards and fishing are staples on the Amalfi Coast. Indulge in local specialties ranging from Limoncello, wine, pasta and fish as you explore the different towns. You can also shop for ceramics, fabrics and souvenirs to bring home.
We love taking ferries between towns and spending time exploring the coast from the water. If public ferries aren’t doing it for you, rent a private boat and enjoy the trip at your own pace. It’s quite a sight during the day as well as at night.
If you’re into hiking Amalfi Coast, there a few options with spectacular views. Keep in mind that during the summer months, the temperatures can soar during the day, making hiking challenging. Ensure that you are dressed for the weather, with plenty of sunscreen, water and protection from the element before you set on hiking the Amalfi Coast.
For the history and architecture lovers, the Amalfi Coast towns offer numerous churches, small museums and historical sights to explore. What will you decide on?
So, what are the best Amalfi Coast towns?
Having spent a lot of time here, we feel that all the Amalfi Coast towns offer something for everyone. The ones often recommended as “the best” are the largest, most touristy ones. Moreover, it seems that many of those making these recommendations have not seen the rest of the towns. You can’t proclaim that Positano is your favourite because it’s the only one you’ve visited.
You can spend a day or a week on the Amalfi Coast. It’s a beautiful area with breathtaking views of the sea, the mountains and the towns. If you have the means, spending a few days here will allow you to explore all the towns, beaches and trails. You will experience it very differently than if you only spend a day or two hopping between the most touristy places.
Whatever you decided and where you decide to stay is up to you. We wanted to show you all the Amalfi Coast towns and introduce you to those that aren’t always on the radar of visitors. Let us know about your trip to the Amalfi Coast!