I know I use the line “This place was one of my favorites” quite a bit, but this is THE all-time favorite of mine. It’s even better than the photos because even a camera can’t really capture just how magical it feels to be in these old, romantic little Italian beach towns. The food is incredible, the people are so friendly, and everywhere you look makes you feel like you’re in a fairytale. I hope and pray that one day, after all my travels, I can settle down in one of these amazing towns on the Amalfi Coast. It’s been a year now since I traveled here and it still has my heart.
Sorrento, the land of citrus, is where I stayed on my visit to the Amalfi Coast. That being said, most of my tips and recommendations will be Sorrento-based (but keep reading for day trip tips and guides to the surrounding Amalfi Coast towns). I personally think Sorrento is the best place to call your home base during your visit because it’s one of the bigger, but less touristy towns along the coast. Plus, in Sorrento there’s countless places in town and at your hotel to set up day trips to the surrounding towns and islands (i.e. Positano, Amalfi, Ravello, Capri & Pompeii).
Hotel: My boyfriend and I actually stayed at in Sant’Agnello, which is a very small coastal town that’s a 15 minute walk outside of Sorrento (Still within the Amalfi Coast). The hotel we stayed at in Sant’Agnello was called Villa Margherita and we couldn’t have felt more lucky/pleased with this accommodation. It was crazy affordable for our 5 night stay ($80 per night), which is very rare in the Amalfi Coast. Not only that though, it was also located in such an authentic little Italian town with barely any tourists. During our walks into the town of Sorrento, we discovered beautiful lemon orchards (see photo above- Sorrento is very famous for these orchards and their limoncello) and some of the best lunch spots with incredible views. As for the hotel, it was family-run with an attentive staff that can help you with all your travel plans and activities, had a beautiful exterior with large, spacious rooms inside. The room themselves were a bit outdated, but they still have an Italian charm to them. Right down the street from the hotel is a beautiful lookout point on a cliff where you can watch the sun set every night. Gorgeous!
Transportation: I already touched on this a bit in the last section, but I want to reiterate that you should use your feet to walk around! These places are very small so they are very walkable. If you’re tired of walking though, you can also take a bus or a cab (but may have to set the latter up with your hotel). As for getting from town to town, you can set up a car tour, a boat tour, or rent a smart car. If you want to make your trips by land, I strongly recommend going on a car tour with a professional driver because the roads along the coast are skinny and windy with a lot of crazy, speeding Italian drivers.
Restaurants/Bars: You’ll find a mix of Italian and seafood along the coast and lots of limoncello!! Here’s a list of my favorite places I found-
- Don Geppi– My boyfriend and I still talk about this meal to this day, it was unreal. We just stumbled upon this place because it was across from our hotel and had no idea we were about to have the best meal of our life. I don’t know if you’ll get as lucky as we did, but the night we went we happened to be the only ones eating in their tiny, beautiful dining room, meaning we had the chef and waiters to ourself. They started out our dinner with a bread tray of 5 different breads and a bottle of rose. Next, we had this amazing rice ball in marinara sauce (not sure the Italian name of this), then some incredible house-made pasta. The waiter treated us like royalty and was SO friendly and sweet and so was the chef (he came out at the end so we could thank him and praise his food!). We learned that the ingredients in their kitchen are all collected from their garden in the back of the hotel as well as collected from local businesses, which came as no surprise. Anyways, I’m rambling, but this restaurant so deserves a lengthy worship!!
- Europa Grand Hotel & Restaurant– We stumbled upon this restaurant when walking into Sorrento and the views + food were unbeatable!! From our table, we had incredible views of the Naples coast while eating our fresh caprese salad & amazing rigatoni bolognese. It was exactly the kind of experience I was hoping to have during my visit.
- La Terrazza– Located right down the street from our hotel on a cliff overlooking the Sorrento coast. It’s a bit overpriced, but it’s worth it for the views. Go at sunset if you can!
- Ciao Toto– Great pizza, very cheap. Located right up the street from Villa Margherita!
- Antica Gelateria Sorrentina 1860– Located among all the shops in Sorrento. They were advertising themselves as the best gelato in Sorrento and they were not lying, it was amazing! Plus, they’ve been running since 1860…enough said.
- L’Incontro Garden Bar– The only bar we went to during our visit and it was awesome! Big drink menu with lots of different beers on tap. Half of the bar is outdoors and half is covered with a canopy so it has a cool, open-air feel throughout. It appeared to be where all the locals were getting a drink and hanging out!
Bread Plate at Don Geppi
Food + Views at Europa Grand Hotel & Restaurant
View from La Terrazza
- Most important thing to do in Sorrento- walk around and explore! You’ll find breathtaking views, beautiful lemon orchards to tour, cute, authentic Italian shops, colorful marinas, and spectacular food along the way.
- Try limoncello- you can even have multiple tastings at one of the many lemon orchards they have!
- Visit the Marina Grande– this is the main port of Sorrento, which is lined by colorful old Italian houses and multicolor row boats. It’s probably the most picturesque spot in Sorrento!
- Plan a day trip to the coastal towns next to Sorrento. By car or boat, you can see Positano, Amalfi, and Ravello in one day. These are places you MUST see along the Amalfi Coast. Each town has its own unique, charming qualities that make each special and different (See more below).
- Plan a boat trip to the island of Capri. Words cannot describe the water surrounding this island and the town of Capri is SO cute 🙂 (See more below).
- Rent a car and visit Pompeii, the ancient Roman city ruins preserved by a huge volcanic eruption in 79 AD (See more below).
Car Tour Stop #1: Positano
These car tours are not cheap. Ours was $150 eur0s, but it was SO worth it! Not only are the places you go must-sees when you visit the Amalfi Coast, the tour offers you a safe, responsible driver on the dangerous, windy cliffs, a knowledgable tour guide that will teach you a lot about the history of each place, and usually a great, fresh-tasting lunch with free waters and beers! I don’t have as much to say about each of these towns because we only stopped for about an hour-2 hours in each place, but that is in no way a reflection of my thoughts and feelings towards each place. Each was sososo stunning and so different from the next.
Our first of 3 stops was Positano, which is famous for it’s stacked, colorful houses right on top of a beautiful beach! This town is very very small and the paths that go up and down are narrow and windy coble-stoned streets with bougainvillea and vines lining the top. So beautiful!
- First of all, you must go down to the beach. First, take pictures, and if you have time, stay for lunch or sunbathe on the beach.
- Shop in their high-end stores- the shops in this town were much nicer than the other towns, and not surprisingly, much more expensive.
- Beware of the tourists that will flood the beach! When I first arrived, it was so quiet and a perfect time to take pictures. But when the boats of tourists all showed up at the same time, the beach became flooded with hundreds of people. It was a bit overwhelming, so stay around for the quiet hours if you have the time (I wish I could tell you an exact time, but I’m not positive when this is!).
- If you get a chance, go back to Positano to see the sunset and the city at night. Supposedly, the stacked houses are all lit up and sparkling and it’s equally as beautiful as it is during the day, but in a very different, romantic way.
Car Tour Stop #2: Amalfi
We only got to stay in this town for an hour, but that hour was wonderful! The whole town is centered around this famous, historic church and the large set of steps leading up to it. Surrounding the church are tons of cute, authentic Italian restaurants, gelaterias, and little gift shops.
- This town probably had the best beach of them all with soft sand and lots of room for sunbathing! We didn’t bring towels on our tour, but I recommend doing so to sunbathe and drink some beers on the beach while you’re at it!
- This town also has the best shops for buying gifts and souvenirs because the prices are affordable and there are so many everywhere you go.
- Eat your lunch on the steps of the church. We enjoyed our amazing caprese sandwiches given to us on our tour with a cold Italian beer we bought at a convenient store nearby and it was perfect! You can stay there to people watch or even tour the Church if you please.
Car Tour Stop #3: Ravello
I don’t even know where to start with this place…it was so magical and probably my boyfriend and I’s favorite stop on the tour. Our tour guide said the reason for this was because “we’re young and in love,” but I think it would blow anyone away!! It’s different from the other stops because it’s located up on a high cliff rather than on the water. Because of it’s location, you can see some of the most unbelievable views of your entire visit!
- Visit Villa Cimbrone– This will MAKE your visit to Ravello. It’s so worth the small fee to get in. It looks like a villa/castle out of Romeo and Juliet with beautiful gardens, Renaissance porcelain statues, and views of the Amalfi Coast so vast, you won’t believe your eyes. I vowed that I would come back to this place one day and that it would be for my wedding!! Words can’t even do this place justice…
- Go wine and cheese tasting in town! There’s so many cute, little wineries to do this at.
Being silly with their humongous lemons for sale lol
Boat Tour to Capri
The boat tours to Capri may be pricey for your budget (we payed 80 euros/~$90 for a group tour of 8 people), but the money is so worth it! The ocean surrounding the Amalfi Coast is the deepest, brightest navy color, like nothing you’ve ever seen before, and it only gets better as you get closer to Capri. The water surrounding the island is so bright it looks as if there’s aquamarine lights on the ocean floor illuminating the water. The huge jutting rocks that surround the island look like something out of Jurrasic Park or Avatar with greenery growing all over the white cliffs and countless birds soaring around them. It’s hard to put this place into words so I’ll let my pictures do the talking.
- Choose Mamma Mia Boat Service for your tour!! The staff is so nice, you get such a quality experience for a great price, and the boats are beautiful! Plus, the delicious caprese sandwich and several beers they provide are great too 🙂
- Beware of the crowds that gather around the Blue Grotto– It was an hour wait to get in when we arrived and if you wait it’s usually on rough bumpy waters (AKA sea-sickness waiting to happen). The Green Grotta was so beautiful, our whole tour was fine with skipping this detour.
- Snorkel and swim in the Mediterranean! It was an unforgettable experience being able to swim in those navy waters, even though it was chilly. You won’t regret it!
- Once you arrive in Capri, you must ride the funicular up to the highest point on the island. While on your ride up, you’ll pass over the locals’ beautiful little homes and gardens. I even heard some roosters from time to time. At the top is the most incredible view of the island and the ocean. Make sure you go when it’s sunny though or else you’ll get to the top and only see fog!
- Eat gelato in the marina and people watch. The marina/ports are beautiful!
- Use the bus to get around instead of cabs- you’ll save so much money! I think it was only 1 euro to get to the top of the island versus 25 euros for a taxi. But be prepared for the skinny winding roads while riding this big bus. The experience was a little terrifying but worth it (Plus, the drivers are very experienced so don’t worry!).
The Green Grotta (look at that water!!)
Day Trip to Pompeii
The Pompeii ruins were some of the best-preserved I have ever seen in my life! It truly allows you to imagine what it may have been like to roam this Roman city when it was thriving in early AD. The volcanic ash preserved everything from skeletons, pottery, walls, columns, and other architecture throughout the vast grounds of the ruins. My boyfriend and I would walk through all the nooks and crannies of each home, as well as wander through all the ancient “streets” and it was an incredible experience!
- Depending on when you go, the ruins can be very hot, especially when walking around the huge grounds, so bring water with you (you can bring it in your purse, but not sure if they’ll let you in if they see you holding it). The water you buy at a convenient store outside the ruins will be much cheaper than at one of the stores inside.
- I really recommend getting a tour guide if that’s something that interests you. We didn’t get a guide OR a map so we were walking around aimlessly. It was still a great experience without the guide, but if you want to learn about each room and all the artifacts left behind I definitely recommend getting one!
- Do not eat at the restaurants across the street from the ruins, even though they’re the only convenient ones in the area. They are overpriced and bad quality.
- Save money and don’t travel during high seasons (July & August). May/June and September/October are still warm months to visit with much less tourists.
- Stay in a villa rather than a hotel. This is another money-saving hack. Villas are usually smaller, renovated Italian homes/mansions turned into hotels and charge much less than accommodations established as “hotels.” They may not be as luxurious, but they have an old, authentic Italian charm to them and are still beautiful in a less refined way.
- One mode of transportation I didn’t mention before is the SITA Bus, which travels to all the major cities along the Amalfi Coast. This is much more affordable than buying a car tour and just as effective in getting around. It also gives you more freedom and independence when exploring each town. I loved having a tour guide to teach me about each place, but if that’s not important to you, take the bus!