Don’t get swept up in the crowds flocking to the larger Amalfi Coast towns. Yes, they’re some of the best in the business when it comes to sea views and chic cobbled streets – but they all have smaller, equally charming equivalents just a short drive – or boat trip, away. We’ve handpicked the Amalfi Coast’s best places for Italian architecture, fishing history, gourmet eats and hilltop places to swerve the crowds.
The UNESCO-listed town of Amalfi is THE place to experience the best of the Amalfi Coast in one spot. Iconic pastel houses cling to the shoreline, steps weave you up to alleys packed with historic buildings, beautiful architecture other European towns can only dream of – and, they somehow manage to mingle a lemon grove or two in to the mix. The harbour, beach and boat trips combined with a foodie scene to make your mouth water all neatly deliver the refined dose of la dolce vita you’re looking for. There’s just one caveat. Amalfi’s on everyone’s to do list, so it can get a little crowded. Which isn’t a prompt to skip Amalfi, but prepare to share it with a few thousand friends.
Orbzii tip: Pair Amalfi’s historic setting with a little foodie history at one of the best restaurants on the Amalfi Coast. In the 60s, La Caravella was the first restaurant in the region to pick up a Michelin Star, which it still holds today. Art, ceramics and citrus-zested seafood dishes are all on the menu.
Fish and seafood is a big deal in Cetara. The village’s name stems from the ancient word for fishmongers and (almost) everywhere you look, you’ll find fishing boats, fish dishes and barrels stuffed with anchovies. The brine-based delicacy that seeps from the tubs is largely what keeps Cetara’s anchovy fleet at sea night after night. But there’s also a tuna fleet keeping village traditions alive. On land, trying the colatura di alici here isn’t hard – it’s liberally splashed over veggies, spaghetti or any dish in need of some expertly aged-anchovy. Sandwich your mealtimes between leisurely mooches around Cetara’s three churches and an amble along its very short – but undeniably marvellous beach.
Find your way to Minori – not for a picture-perfect sea front, but for the food. All the Amalfi Coast towns will feed you well, but Minori has the gastronomic edge. Fertile soils help to make the lemons grown here that little bit sweeter – which only adds to the limoncello liqueur’s appeal. The citrus fruits plucked from the terraced gardens and groves hewn into the cliffside also find their way into the bakes, cakes and carbs that put Minori on the foodie map. In the 18th century, the town was churning out pastries and pastas for nearby Naples – with mills harnessing the Rheggina River to grind flour to feed the kingdom. Today, Minori’s pasta is still in demand, though the mills have been replaced by quiet streets – perfect for using up some of your carb-loaded energy on. Stroll the square, track down the Santa Trofimena and muse over who might have lived in the Villa Marittima Romana ruins.
Orbzii tip: Don’t miss a walk along the Path of Lemons between Minori and Maiori. Expect to bump into donkeys carrying the fruit crop and lemon growers tending to the groves that have flourished here since the 17th century.
The cheerful pastel hues of Positano do little to reflect the turbulent times this coastal cranny of the Amalfi Coast has endured. Pirates, pillaging and tsunamis have come and gone – but the enduring appeal remains. Thanks, in part, to an influx of A-listers after WWII who put the town firmly on the chic and luxurious travel map. Today, Positano is still thriving, as tens of thousands of visitors are wooed by the terracotta swatch palette that tips towards the sea. One of the many Amalfi Coast towns that seem to defy gravity, this town practically mocks it. If you can lure yourself away from taking just. one. more. picture. on the Spiaggia Grande, the piazzas and Roman history that lie at the top of Positano’s steep steps are worth the climb.
Put some pre-game work in on your thighs and quads before you jet out – and you’ll be more than ready to browse and bask in this picture postcard idyll.
Back in the day, you’d schlep up to Ravello to avoid barbarians in the mood for an invasion. Today, little has changed. Except, perhaps now, we’re swapping barbarians for cruise passengers and summer holiday crowds. Perched 350m high on the green hills that loom over the beaches below, Ravello doesn’t quite suffer from the same footfall as the coastal nooks it watches over. Reason enough to come here. But you’ll also find Villa Cimbrone’s vertigo-inducing terrace of infinity, Villa Rufolo’s garden that inspired Richard Wagner to press on with an opera that was decades in the making and whispers of buried treasure. The real prize is the top down view of the Amalfi Coast towns below.
Orbzii tip: For a six degrees of separation cooking class, learn from the best chef on the Amalfi Coast – Mamma Agata. Over the years, Mamma has taught Pierce Brosnan a recipe or two, prepped a meal for Humphrey Bogart and wowed the judges on Masterchef.
While all eyes are firmly on the coast, whizz your hire car up to Tramonti. One of the Amalfi Coast’s best places to get away from all that endlessly shimmering sapphire seascape, it’s a vineyard-strewn set of villages loosely strung together to form a town. Sprawling, rustic and peppered with a flock or two of sheep, it’s a world away from the ceramic shops and fashionista filled streets below. Simplicity is the allure here. Expect to max out on back to nature vibes, clean mountain air and farm to table dining.
Orbzii tip: Don’t, even for a second, feel any FOMO in the Tramonti mountains. There are views, foodie experiences and exquisite chapels that could keep you here for days.
Revel in the crowd-free streets and recharge ready to join the fray back on the coast.
Where to stay
There’s no right or wrong answer to the question: Where to stay on the Amalfi Coast? It all comes down to your Amalfi Coast itinerary, budget and whether you’re planning on picking up a hire car. If you’re not keen on driving on the Amalfi Coast’s narrow roads, stay central in Amalfi. Day trips from here are simple and easy thanks to its network of ferries, coaches and hiking trails.
Planning an Amalfi Coast honeymoon? Book a stay in the über romantic Ravello for clifftop sunsets and balmy nights with ocean views. If you’re jetting in for some of the coast’s hidden gems – such as the excellent scuba diving and snorkelling, stay in Positano.
The beaches are glorious and you’re a short drive from the Punta Campanella marine reserve. And, if you’re planning an Amalfi Coast road trip. Start your stay at either end of the SS163 highway in Sorrento or Vietri sul Mare to explore the coast day by day.