Ah, the Amalfi Coast. Where sceneries rival even the best Instagram filters and where each meal is an elevated treat for your taste buds (lemon on everything!). With so much to see and do, it can be overwhelming to want to visit each part of the coast. Lucky for you, I’ve put together a guide to my top Amalfi Coast highlights, from Ravello to Capri, and in between.
While everyone heads to Marina Grande beach in Amalfi’s city centre, I tested out two others nearby. The first, Conca dei Marini, will charm you at first sight with its clear waters that are as warm as bathwater. It can be reached by walking town plenty of steps (scalini, as the locals call them) – it’s not for the faint of heart. If you’re lucky, you’ll be able to snag an umbrella and long chair on the Solarium that floats above the water (read: the shade hits later, meaning you get more time in the sun). Unfortunately, I always arrived too late so I didn’t get to test it out! The second is the popular Santa Croce, a boat ride away from Amalfi’s port. During the boat ride, we spot Sophia Loren and Carlo Ponti’s old summer home!
Tip: Most of Amalfi’s beaches have large pebbles instead of sand. Also, the sun sets early on the coast, leaving most beaches in the shade by late afternoon so be sure to arrive early.
Don’t be fooled by G.A.S. Bar’s tobacco shop interior – or the fact that they refer to themselves as an American bar. Climb up to the terrace for spectacular views of the coast. You’ll see locals sipping espresso and playing Scopa in dialect (in fact, we discovered this place thanks to our Airbnb host). To beat the heat, I kept ordering their crema di caffè. Wondering what it is? Picture a Starbucks Frappuccino but way better. In the evening, they turn into a restaurant/pizzeria with pizza starting at €3! The inexpensive price doesn’t mean they skimp on quality. My pizza of choice arrives generously topped with fresh ingredients and the flavours are on point.
If you’re headed to Amalfi’s main square, go on a scavenger hunt and track down Cuoppo d’Amalfi for some local street food. I found it after seeing several Italians walking around with fried seafood cones in hand. After walking through a maze of small streets, you’ll find this tiny eatery on Supportico dei Ferrari. Ignore its dingy appearance – sampling their fresh seafood is totally worth it.
Once you’ve built an appetite for dinner by walking through the city’s small streets, head over to Da Gemma for a lemon risotto with prawns for two. At €40, the mouth-watering rice dish is made with lemon and topped with a layer of shrimp. The result is near perfection. Their elevated outdoor terrace is ideal for watching the city unfold. End your evening with gelato from Cioccolato e Gelato Andrea Pansa. Chocolate, crema, nocciola, pistacchio, limone – each flavour is delicious!
JP Amalfi stands out from the touristy shops that flood the town, with its iconic fish logo and delicate Amalfi canvas bags. Their lovely selection makes the perfect gifts. Obsessed with the products you’ve been sampling over the course of your trip? Visit La Piccola Repubblica to purchase everything from fresh herbs to Limoncello-flavoured risotto (obviously, I bought that).
Ravello is a music town, so if you find yourself there in August like I did, be sure to attend a concert at the Belvedere di Villa Rufolo. Walking through Villa Rufolo’s cloister is already an enchanting experience, so seeing a live show overlooking the sea under the moonlight is the cherry on top.
Mimì Bar Pizzeria is known for its lemon specialties. Their slogan is “Save Water, Drink Limoncello,” so you know they’re legit! Pair your meal with one of their signature citrus cocktails (Limoncello Cosmopolitan, anyone?) and you’re good to go. My Sfusato pizza is topped with mozzarella di bufala, arugula, bresaola, and of course, lemon zest. It’s all about lemons in this region, so try as many variations as possible.
Eat & Play
Want to have a chauffeur pick you up in Positano and drive you to one of its top restaurants? Il Ritrovo is your classic Italian fare done right. Seated on a gorgeous terrace surrounded by greenery, overlooking the water, we opted for a set menu. It included: A salumi platter, tagliatelle with mushrooms, sausage, and tomato sauce, and a main composed of various meats and vegetables. By dessert, I couldn’t breathe, but their tiramisu was divine. Ending the meal with Limoncello will wake you up from your impending food coma. Because of its elevated location, the restaurant is difficult to reach. Simply give them a call when you arrive in Positano’s city center and they will accompany you there and back.
At just three months old, Franco’s Bar is already a bustling hotspot in Positano, due in part because of its location above the popular Le Sirenuse hotel. This is the place to see and be seen. With patrons eyeing coveted seats that overlook Positano’s spectacular coastline, they fill up quickly. Order the spritz with elderflower, soda, fresh mint, and prosecco – you won’t regret it. They always serve complimentary olives and chips and will sometimes give out fried seafood in small paper cones to each table.
I spotted Palo Borracho Open-Air Boutique as I was walking above it. You’ll see a garden covered in greenery with clothes and accessories casually displayed. Once inside, imagine shopping for breezy clothes while you catch glimpses of Positano’s landscape.
Don’t feel like struggling to find a spot on Positano’s crowded main beach? Head over to the boat rental booth at the beach’s entrance and ask for a two-way boat ride to La Porta (€20 total). This virtually abandoned, pebbled beach can only be accessed by boat and is frequented by the locals. Again, like most beaches on the coast, shade covers the entire beach by 5 pm.
Tip: Unlike Positano’s main beach, La Porta doesn’t have any facilities – no restaurants, no cafes, no washrooms. I suggest buying takeaway food before getting on the boat and having a picnic.
Want to uncover a concealed orchard that produces lemon-flavoured goodies? With its unassuming exterior that leads to a large garden adorned with lemon trees, l’Agruminato is tucked on Via Correale in Sorrento’s city centre. Entrance is free. Once there, you’ll be able to sample the region’s Limoncello and buy their products. The Saint Francis cloister is another hidden gem I discovered while in Sorrento. I suggest visiting the secluded space in the evening for a quiet and peaceful experience.
For the best pizza in town, head to Pizzeria Da Franco. Its backdrop, in true Italian fashion, consists of a display of prosciutto hanging from the wall and a pizza oven in the back. The eatery usually has a long lineup of regulars chatting up the staff while waiting for their takeout pizza. On site, pizza is served in an old school metal tin.
I’ll admit it – Capri has yet to charm me. I’m not talking about its idyllic sceneries and gorgeous grottos. I’m mostly referring to the fact that the island doesn’t – how can I say this – have any coveted places in my opinion. Between tourist traps and luxury boutiques you can find in most big cities, it lacks that southern Italian charm that the rest of the coast embodies. I generally stick to admiring the great view.
Enter Pizza Man, dubbed Capri’s pirate, we stumbled upon him as soon as we arrived. I was already dreading taking a tourist-ridden boat tour so we went for it – and I’m glad we did. Not only did this fisherman take us on a lovely private boat tour, but he shared his extensive knowledge on most of the things we saw, from pink corals to l’arco dell’amore (the arch of love).
Want to skip directly to the food? Head over to the Huffington Post to read my article on where to eat all along the Amalfi Coast!
Have you visited the Amalfi Coast? Let me know what you thought in the comments below!