It pains me to say it, but our trip to the Amalfi Coast could have been a little better if I had properly prepared and planned ahead of time. Don’t get me wrong, it’s hard for a trip there to be anything but amazing when you are surrounded by endless beauty as far as the eye can see, but we learned a lot of lessons when it came to making the trip as smooth and easy as possible. So to help save you the hassle and trouble we experienced, here are the best tips we’ve got for planning a great Amalfi Coast vacation.
- Transportation from the Naples Airport to Amalfi: You will most likely fly into the Naples airport, and will then need transportation from the airport to your final destination. The airport is about an hour to an hour and a half from most of the popular Amalfi Coast towns such as Positano and Amalfi. There are a few options ranging from trains, buses, ferries, and private car transfers available in addition to taxis. Originally the agency that handles the villa we rented quoted us €160 for a one way private car transfer for 4 adults and 1 baby. At the time we thought this was way too expensive and opted for public transportation. In reality, buses are at least €10 per person, ferries are around €20 per person, and the train is only around €4 per person but you also have to pay for a taxi to get to the train station. Each of these will only get you from Naples to Sorrento at which point you will have to take a different bus on into Positano and Amalfi, and thus have to buy another ticket. Although not typical, we ran into the situation of road closures due to fires and ended up paying €20 for two bus tickets, and then had to pay another €100 for a taxi to take us from Sorrento to Conca Dei Marini/Amalfi because the buses weren’t running.
- The Better Solution: There are multiple car services that offer transfers. Shop around and request quotes. We later learned we could have booked a private transfer for our whole party for as low as €120 total, or €30 a person. It would have been well worth it to have someone waiting for us at the airport and to be delivered directly to our villa, as well as not having to deal with our luggage on and off buses and in and out of expensive taxis.
- Location, Location, Location: Deciding which town to call your temporary home while visiting the Amalfi Coast can be a tough choice. It is important to evaluate your vacation goals and desires prior to picking a location. Staying in town means you will have much easier access to all of the restaurants and shops, as well as the marinas and beaches, but it also means a lot more noise, lots of traffic, and no real way to “get away from it all.” We wanted both the opportunity to relax, as well as the ability to go into town when we wanted, so we chose to stay just outside of town knowing there was public transportation that would allow us to visit Positano or Amalfi whenever we wanted.
- Think About The Worst Case Scenario: You can’t control external factors such as fires and road closures, so with that in mind, make your location decision based on the consideration of not being able to move from town to town easily or cheaply. Our party is still torn, some of us wishing we would have stayed in town so the road closures wouldn’t have affected the trip so much, the others happy to have had the ability to relax and enjoy the natural beauty of the area at a slower and less crowded pace.
- Villa Versus Hotel: This is another situation where you will need to consider who is traveling with you, and what type of accommodations will best fit everyone’s needs. Villas offer more room to spread out (important in a big group that may need some space after a few days of togetherness), kitchens allowing you to prepare some meals for yourself or at least to have breakfast together at a more relaxed pace, multiple bedrooms which come in handy if you have children that sleep better when not sharing a room with their parents. Some villas have their own terraces or balconies, and a few have shared or private pools. However, with a villa you will have to handle a certain level of cleaning, taking out the trash, and potential issues like hot water or power malfunctions that are less likely than with hotels. Many villas (although not all) also require a little more work to access as they are built in residential areas versus the middle of town. Hotels will provide the normal amenities, and are generally in more central locations meaning you will have easier and quicker access to the town and sites. Some have free shuttles to and from town during the day, and while you won’t be able to cook for yourself, you will most likely be close enough to restaurants and such so it won’t be too much of an inconvenience to find food. Both villas and hotels often have people who can help you plan excursions and transportation.
- Activities: It’s important to note that the towns are not very big, and the beaches are quite small and crowded. You may find that a day or two spent exploring the town you are staying in may be more than enough time to see what you want of it. The beaches tend to stay busy so it may not be feasible to plan to spend everyday sunbathing.
- Plan An Excursion (or two): We can’t recommend the boat tours enough, so much of these coastal towns revolves around the water and there is no better way to get the full experience than by getting out on a boat (even if it’s just a ferry). However, there are also a number of wine, food, sightseeing and hiking tours available. It’s always important to schedule in some much needed R&R, but the memories you will cherish will most likely be the ones made while you were out taking in the local sights, sounds and delicacies. *The company we used for our Capri Daily Boat Tour
- Cash: Plan to use cash more than you will your credit card. While many restaurants and stores will accept credit card, there are many that won’t, and the cabs and buses require cash. We also ended up paying cash for our boat tour. There are ATMs within the bigger towns, but smaller towns, like the Conca Dei Marini, may not have an ATM.