For years I saw pictures of the Italian, dreaming about an Amalfi Coast drive next to the blue Tyrrhenian Sea. It wasn’t until 2017 that I finally went, taking an Amalfi Coast road trip to discover this paradise. Although it sounds impossible, the actual Amalfi Coast is more beautiful than pictures!
Our Amalfi Coast road trip itinerary took us to three of the most famous beach towns: Positano, Ravello and namesake Amalfi. And both the Amalfi Coast drive and the actual towns were breathtaking. Although the steep hills could be scary, the never-ending azure and tiny coastal villages infused us with wonder. Deep blue as far as the eye could see, in easily one of the most beautiful places on Earth.
The narrow medieval streets can be tricky to drive through. If you can opt for the passenger seat during an Amalfi Coast road trip: whip out your camera! A visit to Amalfi is a treat for the senses and soul: a must for travelistas! Hope you enjoy all my sweet spots in this travel guide!
Recommendations ahead of the Amalfi Coast drive…
– Avoid high season! This is one of the most popular destinations in southern Europe, and summers are crowded. I’d recommend to plan your Amalfi Coast drive to visit in May or September.
– Book everything well in advance: don’t get left out of the beautiful Amalfi Coast road trip spots!
– I’d recommend to begin your Amalfi Coast road trip itinerary by renting a car at the airport. We had a great experience with Budget. Go for a Fiat to increase the Italian vibe!
– Plan your Amalfi Coast drive with a buffer to avoid – You will want to stop at every corner for the amazing views and pics.
– To enjoy the many things to do in Amalfi, stay between 7 to 10 nights. However, it’s still doable on a long weekend.
Traveling – How to Get There?
Choose where you want to start your road trip. We flew in from Rome, where the Amalfi Coast drive is about 3.5 hours away. Naples, however, has an airport and is closer: just 65 km away. Take your pick to start the amazing Amalfi Coast road trip!
Amalfi Coast Road Trip: The Italian Tyrrhenian in 6 Days!
Your Amalfi Coast road trip itinerary will depend on your start point: Rome or Naples. We took 6 days, starting in Rome and then visiting Pompeii, Positano, Amalfi, and Ravello, with 4 nights on the Amalfi Coast. I still would have added 2 to 4 more nights in these cute villages, seeing more of Positano and Ravello. I would’ve also loved to add a day boat trip to Capri as well as some trekking in the mountains to our Amalfi Coast drive!
We landed on Rome in the evening, rented a car and stayed on the outskirts of the city. We needed our rest before the start of our big Amalfi Coast drive adventure!
First Stop: Pompeii
About 3 hours away from Rome stand the ruins of Pompeii, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Once a vibrant Roman city, Pompeii is among the most tragic places on Earth: it was buried under lava. On 79 DC, the entire city and its inhabitants perished from the heat and fumes of Mount Vesuvius. The ruins were then lost and mostly forgotten for centuries and it was a sobering start to our Amalfi Coast drive.
While taken aback with Pompeii history, we were also amazed at the sheer size of the ruins. The amount of restored areas is surprising: you can almost feel the pulse of this once grand ancient city.
I’d recommend buying your tickets ahead online as to not waste precious Amalfi Coast drive time. I used GetYourGuide.com, which worked like a charm! You should also book a tour guide, as otherwise you’ll miss out on most of Pompeii history. There is almost no information within the site and our guide was amazing, taking us all back to life there and then.
Once we got our fill of history, it was time to continue our Amalfi Coast road trip.
Second Stop: Positano
After a few hours in Pompeii, we drove towards Positano. It was an hour away, but we took about 2. We kept stopping during the Amalfi Coast drive for pictures on the road!
Visiting Positano was one of the highlights of the Amalfi Coast road trip. Perched on a hill and facing the sea, this lovely village is taken straight out of a Mediterranean dream. And so we began our search for the most breathtaking boutique hotels!
My Favorite Boutique Hotels in Positano
The most famous hotel in Positano, Le Sirenuse is where movie stars stay when visiting town. Colorful and with some of the best views in town, this is a must visit, whether you’re staying here or not. The views are breathtaking, the ambiance is incomparable and the design is a clear labor of love and fine taste. Enjoy a drink by the pool or have a romantic dinner by the stars on their candlelit ristorante!
Hotel Flavio Gioia
Our home in Positano, Hotel Flavio Gioia is next door to the Church of Santa Maria Assunta, steps away from the beach. Loved the easy-on-the-eyes Mediterranean décor in bright, beautiful colors. Although in the center of town, it’s still secluded enough to not hear the sounds of maddening Italian traffic. Our room had a kitchenette and a balcony with a breathtaking view – a breath of fresh air after the long Amalfi Coast drive!
Of course, when in Italy, one activity stands above all others: eating! Positano was the best start to our Amalfi Coast road trip restaurant experience:
The Best Restaurants in Positano
Casa E Bottega
My favorite breakfast place in town, Casa E Bottega has only one downside: no view. A concept café and boutique, it stands out for both its delicious food and lovely, unpretentious design. Their fresh juices, granola bowls, and banana pancakes were the best way to start the day!
Caffè Positano offers one of the best views around, but the food at Casa E Bottega is a bit better. Still, it’s perfect to have breakfast overlooking the blue sea and yearning to continue the Amalfi Coast drive.
A luxury restaurant with a beautiful terrace, Next 2 is a place for romance. Have a mesmerizing dinner for two here and try the delicious catch of the day!
Next door to Caffè Positano stands Da Vincenzo, a family restaurant with amazing service. Their Italian menu is outstanding – and it’s a great place to get the local feel! If there is a cue, the owner will offer a glass of Prosecco while waiting!
What to Do in Positano?
Walk around the town, with its tiring and still lovely uphill climbs. Soak up the sun in two of the local beaches: small and secluded Fornillo or large Spiaggia Grande.
You can also take a day trip on a boat to the gorgeous nearby islands, like Capri, Paestum or Ischia or do a trekking along the Path of Gods with a spectacular view!
Third Stop: Amalfi
After two nights in Positano, we drove to the village that gives the coast its name: Amalfi. About 40 minutes from Positano, it was very different to our previous Amalfi Coast road trip stop. Amalfi is much more touristy, and it can feel overcrowded during the day. Still, the town lights up at night, once the day cruise tourists leave: then, magic happens.
Loved how Amalfi is truly tucked into the hill, and some of its streets feel more like tunnels. So unique! When you climb to the top, you’ll find the cutest little houses and boutiques, away from crowds, true hidden gems!
My favorite Amalfi boutique hotels:
Amalfi Luxury House
A recently refurbished house, the Amalfi Luxury House kept so many of its original features, while adding a modern touch. A hidden gem, located 100 m up along the steep stairs on the hillside. Entering the door you find this cute little hotel among the yards of the locals.
Our suite overlooked the village center, with a tiny glimpse of the sea. The hotel’s rooftop was magical and the best place to chill after a long Amalfi Coast drive.
A 5-star hotel on a cliff, the Santa Catarina décor beautifully mixes antique and modern. Its many rooms and corridors are almost labyrinth-like – and then you’ll suddenly find the terrace! The beach club offers a magnificent view, one of our favorites from the Amalfi Coast drive.
My favorite Amalfi restaurants
Although unimpressive from the outside, Marina Grande turns into a wholly different experience inside. This friendly and cosy family-owned ristorante has incredible food, organically sources to maintain authenticity. The view from this beachside eatery will take your breath away, as do so many things of the Amalfi road trip!
Pizzeria Donna Stella
Another family-owned eatery, Pizzeria Donna Stella specializes in the most famous item of Italian cuisine. The pizza and wine were delicious, but it was the cosy yard that did the trick for us. Pizza under the lemon trees, a joy of the Amalfi Coast drive!
Il Teatro isn’t just a family-owned restaurant – the owners also serve you! While the design is nothing to write home about, the pasta was fantastic, and so was the atmosphere. If you’re a football/soccer fan staying in Amalfi, this is where you belong!
An all-Italian bakery from the early 20th century, Pasticceria Savoia is the best local place for gelato. Try their amazing Nocciola ice cream while walking around the village center!
What to Do in Amalfi
Walk around the city center and get a whiff of this old village. The 10th-century cathedral is a must visit for all history buffs!
While the beaches tend to be overcrowded in the summer, beach clubs are always a fine idea. Our favorite of the bunch was Santa Catarina, which offers a bewitching view.
Another great activity during your visit? Take an Amalfi Coast drive to Ravello, and enjoy a unique and all-Mediterranean excursion!
Fourth Stop: Ravello
After two nights in Amalfi, it was time to end our Amalfi Coast drive – but not without another addition! A 30-minute drive from Amalfi stands Ravello, our last stop in the coast. This village has the most outstanding views of our entire Amalfi Coast road trip!
A muse to famous German composer Richard Wagner, Ravello is a Mediterranean diamond among other jewels. Atop a mountain, Ravello calls to revel in beauty.
While we didn’t spend the night, our short day-visit made us fall in love during our Amalfi Coast road trip. The medieval stone streets took us on a journey of color and culture, of gardens and art.
Villa Rufolo in particular, a palatial Moor-style estate, inspired Wagner to write the second act of Parsifal. The architecture and the view from this gorgeous villa are enthralling, kind of like visiting a land of fairytales.
We didn’t stay because we didn’t know how much we’d fall in love with Ravello during the Amalfi Coast drive. I’d recommend to think ahead and stay here at least one night, to best soak up its beauty.
When leaving by car, choose the mountain path instead of the coastal one, to see a wholly different perspective. Here, you’ll see Pompeii and Mount Vesuvius from a distance, as you finish the Amalfi Coast road trip!
Fifth (And Last!) Stop: Rome
After a long Amalfi Coast drive, what better way to finish a trip than Rome? The Eternal City opened its gates for us to feel the magic of its ancient history. Once the political center of the western world, the Italian capital has so much to offer!
You can read more about my time in Rome on my travel guide of the city, right here. The same goes for my list of favorite restaurants – because, in Italy, we’re all foodies! I’ve stayed at the Gens Luxury Suites Rome and the Roma Luxus Hotel, two fantastic boutique hotels.
Lastly, if you’re looking for a quick intro on what to see there, this is my list of must-sees in Rome.
In all, our Amalfi Coast road trip was one of the most visually stunning and soul-filling experiences of my life. The immensity of the Tyrrhenian Sea, the colors of each picturesque little town, the all-around history. Even those places we only saw passing by were so beautiful they seemed almost from another, more beautiful reality. I hope you will enjoy the spectacular Amalfi Coast drive as much as I did!
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