Welcome to my new series, Summer Suggestions, where I recommend places for you to visit this summer because we can’t! While I’ll offer some ideas about how to get there, what to do, this series isn’t meant to be comprehensive. I just want to write about fun destinations and put some ideas out there for people to get in their heads. For the first of this series, I’ll discuss things to do in the Amalfi Coast in Italy, and why we loved it so much.
Believe it or not, before I got married I had forgotten my love of travel. My wife and I planned a two week trip to Europe for our honeymoon that involved a week of culture (cities) and a week of relaxation (the coast). We settled on the Amalfi Coast in Italy because we both fell in love with Italy separately earlier in our lives. If you’re looking for a lovely summer vacation, family or otherwise, might I suggest the Amalfi Coast? My one caveat: you may want to consider somewhere else if your kids still use strollers. I remember shaking my head at this poor family carrying a child in a stroller up hundreds of steps in Positano. Jokes on me now, I guess!
Why visit Amalfi? It’s beautiful, with cities cut into cliffs over the ocean. Despite it being very popular with tourists, you can find quiet spaces if you’d like. If you’re active, there are lots of great hikes, if you love the water, you can find a beach or get out on the water yourself. The food and drink, of course, are great as in all of Italy,
Let’s take a quick look at how to get there, where to stay, and things to do in the Amalfi Coast!
How to get to the Amalfi Coast
Let’s be honest, odds are you choose to fly into Rome. While I don’t love Rome, it’s still pretty neat and we spent a day there before going to Amalfi. From Rome you can take a train to Naples or Salerno, Salerno already is part of the Amalfi Coast. However, most people like to go see Sorrento, which is what we did. From Naples we took a second train to Sorrento and then explored the city for a day before taking the SITA bus to Praiano where we stayed.
If you travel to the Amalfi Coast, you’ll likely become very acquainted with the SITA bus. You can buy a multi-day pass and if you’re anything like us, you’ll end up using the SITA bus to travel between the various towns dotting the Amalfi Coast. Watching these SITA bus drivers navigate tiny roads on cliff sides brings both fear and awe from new riders. It’s something you have to experience to believe, but rest assured they are professional and great at their jobs. Except maybe that one time the driver refused to yield to oncoming traffic and caused a huge traffic jam.
Miles and Points availability to Rome
Like I said, I don’t mean for this post to be comprehensive, but I did do a quick search for flights to Rome. Sorry for the East Coast bias. NYC-FCO has lots of space in economy on Delta for four:
Detroit and Boston look similar. Turns out, if you’re willing to fly economy, UA and even AA have space too. Not a bad deal for a family of four.
Where to stay in Amalfi Coast
Positano and Amalfi are the large towns and have hotels, but I would suggest renting an apartment. We rented one in the small town of Praiano, which sits in between Positano and Amalfi. You can take the aforementioned SITA bus or hike between towns. We rented from Summer in Italy, although obviously plenty of other options popped up since our honeymoon. The news that AirBnB plans to start a loyalty program might entice some people, plus there’s always VRBO and even random stuff like Trip Advisor.
We really enjoyed staying in an apartment. We cooked some of our own food, lived among the locals, and took lukewarm showers. OK, maybe it wasn’t all great. But definitely for a family (which we’ll be next time we visit), I think an apartment is the way to go.
Things to do in the Amalfi Coast
We loved our time in Amalfi, in large part because we took part in so many different activities. We stayed in our apartment for a week and had a nice mix of active and relaxing activities. While I don’t remember exact details, I’d like to give you a little taste of what you can do in Amalfi.
I detailed our sort of crazy hiking expedition a couple of years ago. Since the various cities of the Amalfi Coast sit in the mountains, you can hike from one to another. With the ocean below you, the experience of hiking from town to town really struck a chord with me. Like all hikes, it’s super peaceful, though these particular hikes are punctuated by the random honks of SITA buses. That added to the charm for me. Grab a map at the local TI, although the hiking is pretty straightforward: just climb in the direction of the next town and you’ll likely find it. Bring comfortable shoes!
OK, it’s Italy, so this is sort of cheating. But we had some amazing meals on the Amalfi Coast. Some of the best were, of course, after long hikes. I’m 90% sure we ate here in Positano. I might as well have written the Trip Advisor review that states, “We climbed up one million steps and wandered around and stumbled here for a drink. They couldn’t have been more accommodating and nice.”
But what I’d suggest above all, as I would in all of Italy, is eat like the Italians do. Take your time, drink your wine, and enjoy to the fullest. And leave room for dessert, either at the restaurant or at a gelateria.
One thing we loved about staying in Praiano was taking quiet strolls in the evening after dinner. Since it’s a smaller town, it sometimes felt like we were the only tourists out at night. One night we happened on what I assume is the town square. Families of multiple generations just hung out at night. Kids playing soccer, grandparents having a chat. It was simultaneously a cacophony and very familial and intimate. I hope to bring my kids to hang out there one day.
While we didn’t end up sitting on the beach ourselves, there are lots of beaches available if you want to just relax in the sun. Some connect right to town, while others require walking down more flights of stairs. With the cliffs above and the sea in front of you, it’s tough to think of many more picturesque places to relax than the beaches of the Amalfi Coast.
Or, if you’re feeling more adventurous, find your own private beach. We rented a small motorboat for $100 USD (though this was 10 years ago) from Amalfi. After hiking, this marked my favorite part of our time in Amalfi. When you hike, you get to see the view from the top of the cliffs. In a boat, you see the view from the bottom. We boated from town to town until we found a small beach cut into the rocks. My wife swam over and had her own personal beach for half an hour. If you’re comfortable driving a boat (it’s basically like driving a car, don’t take sharp turns, stay away from the shore), I’d highly recommend this.
Like I said, this series isn’t meant to be comprehensive, but I hope you at least have an inkling of what Amalfi Coast has to offer. If you’re still deciding where to visit, I’d highly recommend putting it on the list. We had a blast and plan to go back with our (now much larger) family one day.
Have you been to the Amalfi Coast? What would you recommend? Let us know in the comments!
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