Road Trip

Amalfi Coast

  • Take a trip around the Amalfi Coast

    A little-known haven for the famous for centuries – everyone from Richard Wagner to Greta Garbo sought serenity here – the Amalfi Coast is arguably the most stunning coastal Mediterranean landscape in Europe.

    Awarded a hallowed spot on the UNESCO World Heritage list in 1997, in recent years it has garnered a reputation as a mecca for luxury-seeking holidaymakers. As such, the Amalfi Coast drive is best experienced outside the peak summer season, mid-September to October and May, when the tour buses are scarce enough to allow the testing roads to be enjoyed without distraction. Over the 40 or so miles of winding coastal road, which meanders 500m above the turquoise sea, past almost infinite lemon groves and ornate, pastel-hued villas perched on the mountainside, you’ll soon realise why this idyllic locale has long had such an enduring draw.

  • Ravello

    If you’ve flown into nearby Naples, take the A3 down towards the coast and pick up the SS163, the ‘road of 1,000 bends’, at Vietri Sul Mare, weaving your way to Ravello, an enchanting village perched in the hills above Amalfi, replete with picturesque gardens. The grounds at Villa Cimbrone and Villa Rufolo – both open to the public – are some of the most stunning in all of Italy.

    If you’re driving through on a Tuesday, you must stop off at the bustling street market and pick up some delicious fresh local produce. Image credit: István

  • Amalfi

    Situated at the mouth of a deep gorge, the town of Amalfi was once a powerful maritime republic. These days, the cargo ships have been replaced by tourist rental boats.

    If you’d rather enjoy a stop-off somewhere less crowded then Amalfi’s abundance of cafes and shops are best avoided. Instead, you must check out the town’s majestic 9th-centruy cathedral, Duomo di Sant’Andrea, with its spectacular Arab-Norman Romanesque architecture.

  • Praiano

    Continuing west along the SS163, which was commissioned by King Ferdinand II of Naples and completed in 1852, you’ll come to the majestically situated little village of Praiano. If you fancy a dip in the sea, it’s definitely worth the descent of 350-plus steps to the Praiano’s rocky beach of La Gavitella, which is bathed in sunlight until 8pm in the summer.

    If you fancy some food, head to Marina di Praia, for some quaint restaurants by the beach.

  • Positano

    When Pulitzer Prize-winning author John Steinbeck visited Positano in 1953, he described it as thus: ‘A dream place that isn’t quite real when you are there and becomes beckoningly real after you’ve gone.’

    Since then the quaint fishing village has become a chic holiday resort popular with the rich and famous. If you don’t fancy plying with the cognoscenti for a sun lounger and fancy a swim, your best bet is to take a small boat to the Spaggia di Lauriot, a small cove perfect for swimming.

  • Sorrento

    Legend has it that Roman Emperor Augustus had his own villa in the centre of this vibrant town, which is perched between cliffs overlooking the water to Naples and Mount Vesuvius.

    Its lofty location means that there are no beaches for swimming, but if you’re looking to pick up a souvenir on your trip, you won’t find much better choice than Sorrento. You’ll find plenty of shops selling distinctive inlaid intarsia furniture, an ancient Sorrentine craft. If instead you prefer to just browse, some wonderful examples can be seen in Museo Bottega della Tarsia Lignea, a museum housed in an 18th-century palace.

Image 1 credit: István

Image 3 credit: Jensens

Image 4 credit: Fenners

Image 5 credit: Joergsam