There are numerous things to do in while traveling the Amalfi Coast from north to south. On Italy’s southwest coast, in the Campania area, is the legendary Amalfi Coast. The coast, a Unesco World Heritage site, is noteworthy not just for its clear sea and culinary delights but also for its abundance of history, art, craft, customs, and unmatched natural beauty.
The rocky Monti Lattari is home to enchanting settlements, some of which extend to the Tyrrhenian Sea’s azure seas. Some cities, like Sorrento and Positano, are well-known, but only seasoned travelers are aware of others that have just as much to offer.
In Sorrento, try a lemon dessert
Everything tastes better in Sorrento; it could be the water used to cultivate or wash the produce, or it could be the salt air. Hills vegetables and fruits have distinct shapes and flavors, such as the famous pumpkins and zucchinis, which sometimes appear so strange that you almost don’t want to cut them. Of course, the seafood is a marvel in and of itself. But it’s Sorrento’s lemons and their big brother, the citron (cedro), which can be three or four times the size of a regular lemon, that steal the show.
Lemon delice (delizia al limone) is a traditional Sorrento dessert that is a true treat for the senses. It has a lemony aroma and a delicate and creamy flavor. After a big meal, wash it down with homemade limoncello, which is usually on the house. If you don’t drink alcohol or are lactose intolerant, substitute a lemon granita or sorbet.
Visit Bagni by kayak. Giovanna Regina
Bagni Regina Giovanna was named after Giovanna II of Naples, one of Europe’s first queen regents, who bathed there in the 14th century. This cove is located between a rocky outcropping and a natural archway above the water. It is now a popular tourist and local destination for a swim in the clearest water. The site is a natural reserve for its landscape and archaeological beauty, and it still contains the ruins of a first-century CE Roman villa that belonged to Virgil’s mentor, Pollio Felice. There are no man-made structures, no places to rent sunbeds or umbrellas, and no places to buy water or snacks. You must bring your own towels and whatever shoes you are comfortable walking in on rocks.
Outdoor enthusiasts can make the half-hour hike down the hill to the beach that surrounds the gorge to reach Bagni Regina Giovanna. The most convenient way to get to the sparkling cove is by water; rent a kayak, canoe, or pedal boat in Sorrento’s Marina Grande and enter the gorge from the sea, passing beneath the natural archway. The best time to visit is in the early morning. On weekends, Regina Giovanna is crawling with locals who close up shop to enjoy this magnificent place.
Sail around the island of Capri and into the Blue Grotto
A guided boat tour around the island is another must-do in Capri. From Homer’s Odyssey to the many celebrities who own incredible villas on the island today, you will hear fascinating stories. You’ll also get to see the iconic Faraglioni, Capri’s most famous landmark. The two rocks were thrown by the cyclops Polyphemus in pursuit of Odysseus, who had cheated him, according to legend. Listen to the captain sounding the boat’s horn as you drive through the two rocks, and don’t forget to kiss a loved one.
The Blue Grotto is arguably Capri’s most beautiful location (Grotta Azzurra). You may believe that the photos you’ve seen on the internet have been doctored because the sea water can’t possibly be that blue, but you’d be wrong. The enchanting effect of crystalline blue water is created by sunlight passing through an underwater cavity. This grotto was Emperor Tiberius’ preferred swimming pool as well as an underwater temple two thousand years ago. The statues that once stood at the grotto’s entrance are now housed in Anacapri’s museum.
Once outside the Grotta Azzurra, you must board a smaller boat with oars because engines are not permitted near or inside the grotto. Please keep in mind that the grotto may be closed due to inclement weather, so always check with Marina Grande staff before booking a boat tour. Swimming and diving are not permitted inside the grotto, but simply admiring the colors is a magical experience. The best time to visit is between noon and 2 p.m., when the water is at its brightest.
Travel to Positano via the Walk of the Gods
Positano, in the province of Salerno, is located on the other side of the coast. You’ve probably seen photos of its vibrant alleys, cafes, and umbrella-lined beaches. You can reach Positano by ferry (the most convenient option), car or bus (though you may encounter heavy traffic), or on foot. If you’re feeling adventurous, take the Walk of the Gods, which begins in Bomerano, a town in Agerola known for its fior di latte, a type of mozzarella that you can snack on along the way.
The three-hour hike to Nocelle (Positano) includes breathtaking views of unspoiled nature set against the backdrop of the blue sea. Monte Pertuso, a literal hole in the mountain created by the Virgin Mary herself, is located at the hike’s summit, directly above Positano. If you’re brave enough to climb, you should pose for a photo inside the hole. If you go at sunset, you can use the hole as a natural frame to capture the moment the sun sets on the sea. After that, stroll through Positano’s charming alleys and treat yourself to a seafood dinner with a view of the sea.
At the Emerald Grotto, you can see an underwater Nativity
Whether you visit the Blue Grotto on Capri or not, you should not miss the magnificent Emerald Grotto on the mainland. It is located in Conca dei Marini, a charming village located between Praiano and Amalfi. The inside of Grotta dello Smeraldo feels like stepping into Oz, with its water resembling a mosaic of tiny emeralds shining brightly. The cave’s walls, which contrast with the green paradise, are covered in semi-monstrous stalactites and stalagmites that sometimes merge halfway.
Tickets to the Emerald Grotto cost €7 or more, depending on whether you take a boat tour. Keep in mind that the grotto’s hours vary depending on the season. You can arrive at the Emerald Grotto by car, bus, or sea and take a lift down to the boat platform. In either case, you’ll arrive at the grotto by rowboat and be able to see the Nativity scene, which has been at the bottom of the cave since 1964.
There are statues of the Virgin Mary, Saint Joseph, baby Jesus, an ox and a donkey, just like in a typical Italian presepe. Local scuba divers organize an underwater procession around Christmas to commemorate Jesus’ birth and pay homage to the Holy Family. Tourists are not permitted to bathe inside the grotto or touch its walls for the rest of the year because doing so could endanger the grotto’s ecosystem.
In Amalfi’s paper museum, you can make your own paper
At the Museo della Carta, a former paper mill turned museum, you can learn how paper was made nearly a millennium ago and even try your hand at it. Amalfi is the oldest of the Maritime Republics, powerful seaports that dominated Mediterranean trade during the Middle Ages. Paper was invented in China, but Amalfi’s network was so extensive – via its colonies and Middle Eastern partners – that its ships brought paper and the art of making it to Europe. You can see the original machinery, witness the authentic process, and re-enact it at the museum.
If you’re concerned about resource waste, know that Amalfi’s Museo della Carta promotes recycling, combats paper waste, and reuses all materials. Every day, the museum offers guided tours and workshops at varying prices. A regular ticket costs €4.50.
Shopping for artistic ceramics in Vietri is one of the best things to do on the Almafi Coast
Vietri Sul Mare is the last town on the Amalfi Coast before the sea. It is restricted to the city of Salerno, which is also worth seeing. For centuries, the economy of Vietri has been based on the production of pottery. Ceramica vietrese, an ancient craft tradition, has distinct and recognizable patterns adorned with bright colors – usually blue, yellow, and red – and often geometric or natural designs. You can find them almost anywhere; any household object you can think of is handcrafted in Vietri with colorful ceramic. If you wanted to buy elegant tiles, a fancy set of plates, or beautiful ornamental objects throughout Italy, you would get Vietrese pottery.
Since at least the fifth century, when they sold their pottery to the Etruscans, the people of Vietri have been ceramic experts. Ceramica vietrese did not become a valuable and popular export throughout the Mediterranean until the Middle Ages, around 1200. If you’ve been to Sicily, you may have noticed that they have pottery traditions similar to Vietri. Visit Vietri’s colorful Villa Comunale and explore the town’s historical center for a unique view of Salerno and the Amalfi Coast.
The town is a work of art in and of itself, with ceramic and majolica designs on the walls, steps, and railings. The majority of the items are handmade and one-of-a-kind. Inquire with a local artist about the popularity of asinelli or ciucciarielli, the popular tiny statues of donkeys sold in every store. They will gladly answer all of your questions: these businesses have been passed down from generation to generation in a local tradition that hopefully will not die.
From Maiori to Minori, take the Lemon Way
The Amalfi Coast has a path called il sentiero dei limoni where you can walk through miles of lemon orchards and breathe in their heavenly scent. It’s a scenic walk between Maiori and Minori on what was once the only road connecting the two towns, where the sfusato lemon grows. Start in Maiori and return to Minori for 3km (1.8 miles) of easy hiking: two hours of ancient, picturesque stairs, slopes among lemon trees, and the occasional house. If necessary, you can stop at a farm along the way to sample some sfusato.
You can walk down the lemon path at any time of year because the sfusato is perennially in bloom, but it’s especially beautiful in the spring and summer, when farmers pick hundreds of lemons. You can imagine what it was like in ancient times when (female) farmers would carry their loads of lemons down to the bay to be shipped throughout Europe. Wear comfortable shoes because the pavement can become slick, and avoid going if it is raining. The path doesn’t provide much shade in the summer, so it’s best to walk it early in the morning or as the sun sets.