The Amalfi Coast is probably the most stunning place I’ve ever been! Prior to this trip, St. John was probably at the top of my list, and while Caneel Bay will always be one of my favorite destinations, there’s just something about the Amalfi Coast that makes it hard to believe this place is even real!
Travel Day: Getting to the Amalfi Coast
From Chicago to Rome to Naples to Positano, it was 17 hours of planes, trains, and automobiles. I left Chicago Monday evening on a redeye into Roma and finally got to Positano around 5pm on Tuesday. I took the Leonardo Express train directly from the airport to the Roma Termini train station to catch the TrenItalia Frecciarossa to Napoli. I organized a transfer via private car through my hotel from Napoli to Positano, which is about a 90 minute drive (accounting for some traffic). There are ferrys and buses that connect a lot of the towns on the Amalfi Coast, as well as trains that take you from major Italian cities to both Naples and Salerno. I found this graphic to be extremely helpful when figuring out how to get to the coast. It can be a bit of a hike to get to, but the juice is worth the squeeze!
Where to Stay
In Positano, I stayed at the Palazzo Marzoli, which is pretty high up on the hill. (Read: SO MANY STEPS!) It was fun to get the experience of the steps (even if I was dripping in sweat most of the time I was there), I really loved my hotel, and the view from my hotel room was pretty fabulous. But next time I stay in Positano, I will book a hotel that isn’t as far away from the water. When you look at places in Positano on the map, the farther away from the water, the farther up the hill.
Palazzo Marzoli // The staff was super friendly and accommodating! I had a giant terrace with an incredible view. Each morning, I had my choice of room service delivered for breakfast on the terrace… And that’s included in the hotel price! The hotel does have a shuttle that goes to and from the beach, but naturally, I didn’t realize this until I was checking out and saw the sign. Whoops! The only thing that was kind of annoying was that wifi was 10 euro per day, per device. But it was actually fast (really fast!), which is rare in Europe! Another little blip that ended up being fine… Late on Sunday night, less than 24 hours before I was supposed to get on my flight, I got an email from the hotel apologizing for the “technical difficulty,” but they wouldn’t be able to confirm my reservation. They put me at their other property, La Caravella, right on the beach. I was annoyed with the last minute switch, but didn’t think there was much I could do about it. Then the next morning before I left, I got another email saying that they could accommodate me. It all worked out, but it was frustrating being that it was so close to my check-in time. All in all, I would recommend staying there if you don’t mind the steps and/or take advantage of the shuttle!
Tips for Travel
Give yourself a few days to relax when you’re on the Amalfi Coast instead of trying to explore and go, go, go everyday! My favorite days were when I kicked back and relaxed and soaked up the beauty around me.
You can get around by bus and by ferry along the Amalfi Coast, but I mainly stuck to walking around the cities that I was in. To and from Naples, I opted for a private car. (About 110 euro for the hour and a half trip and I arranged it through my hotel.) I was originally going to do a bus or ferry, but the day before the trip, I figured the last thing I would want to do after that many hours of travel was figure out another leg of transportation. I was beyond happy with my decision! I was interested in the ferry mainly for the views, but since my hotel was at the top of the hill, I would have had to carry my suitcase from the dock up to the top if I would have taken a ferry. NOPE! If you’re staying right on the water or close to it, the ferry could be a good option. Like I mentioned, I took the train to Naples from Rome, but there are a lot of options for private cars from Rome directly to the Amalfi Coast. (I believe it’s about 400 euro to do so!)
Not to toot my own horn, but while I was on the Amalfi Coast, I kept thinking how I did a pretty good job of packing and getting a feel for the land before I arrived. See my full packing guide here!
Striped Hat | Yellow Necklace | Sunscreen | Mirrored Sunglasses | Orange Romper | Pom-Pom Clutch | Bright Lipstick | Striped Towel | Orange Tassel Earrings | Lace-Up Sandals | Pom-Pom Tote | Striped One-Piece
Since the town is so colorful, you can get away with a lot of color here! Don’t be afraid of prints, either. I mainly packed solids, but saw a few chic-looking women in leaf-printed dresses and wished I had brought at least one printed dress. You’ll see lots of whites and lots of linens in the shops.. That’s what the locals are wearing if you want to blend right in!
Even though I included a beach towel in this round-up, I forgot to pack one. If you’re heading to the beach at all or to a beach club, you have to bring your own! A linen towel is perfect because it’s lightweight, dries quickly, and doesn’t take up that much room in your suitcase.
Ankle strap sandals (or lace-ups!) are also a must. With all of the steps and uneven pavement, I feel like my clumsy self could have rolled an ankle. I was so glad to have only packed sandals that tied up around my ankles! Oh, and don’t even bother packing heels in Positano. If you aren’t walking much and have a fancy evening, espadrille wedges would be fine. But honestly, I saw a woman wearing nude peep-toe patent pumps and it just seemed like too much. Plus, can you imagine ruining your vacay with a rolled ankle? Yikes.
I loved every second of it, but it was really hot and the sun felt pretty intense. Make sure to pack sunscreen and a hat to keep the sun off of your face! And this might be TMI, but baby powder was my best friend in Italy. You just sweat so much and you’re wearing dresses and your legs will rub together. Powder early and powder often, trust.
After the most scenic car ride along the coast from Naples to Positano, I finally got checked in to my hotel. My driver was great and taking the turns pretty slow so I never really felt carsick on that ride. However, I had multiple other drivers throughout the week that were maniacs and I felt like throwing up for majority of the ride. I’d recommend telling your driver that you get carsick easily so they don’t drive too crazily!
The ride along the Amalfi Coast is easily one of the most stunning that I’ve seen. After each and every twist and turn, the view gets better and better!
After I got settled in my hotel, I ventured down to the beach for dinner at Le Tre Sorelle. So, so good! It’s essentially beach front dining and the staff was really sweet. And they had an excellent rosé menu… I may or may not have ordered a bottle of Whispering Angel for myself. (And then corked it to take back to my hotel to finish on the terrace. Whoops! No hangover though, gotta love that sulfate free wine.)
I was up and at ’em early on Wednesday! After breakfast on my terrace, I made my way down the the beach again to photograph the picture perfect umbrellas. After wandering around for a bit, I went up to Le Sirenuse for a delicious late breakfast. I would highly recommend showing yourself around the hotel, too. It was gorgeous! And I can’t wait to go to their champagne bar on my next trip. After breakfast, I explored the square, visited a few shops (got a dress at Idillio!) , got a pair of Italian sandals made (highly recommend La Botteguccia… Giovanni was awesome!), and made my way back to the hotel in the afternoon.
Post afternoon breather and shower (and picking up a slice of pizza at a little deli), I ventured back out for a cocktail at Franco’s Bar and had dinner at Ristorante Max. I had kind of a weird experience at Ristorante Max, but the food was really good and I would recommend going back there, just maybe not while dining alone. (And I think it was a good spot because at least four couples/groups I saw at Franco’s – a hot spot – were dining at Ristorante Max afterwards!) It was some of the best buffalo mozzarella I’ve ever had! I got the scallops, which were awesome, but there were only four and I was starving. So I finished with the lemon cake! // On the awkward part… I prefer to sit outside when eating alone, if weather allows. Better for people watching, I like being outside, and it just feels less stuffy when you’re by yourself. I had made a late reservation specifically for a table outside and when I got there at 9:30, they told me I would have to be inside. Oh well, I thought. They ended up putting me literally in a corner faceting a window to outside (it was dark so I could only see my reflection) next to the wine racks. So I basically stared at bottles of wine the whole meal. My server was very friendly and initially very attentive, but as they got busier, I was pretty much just stuck in the corner. I mean, I only had one glass of wine for my entire meal. The small table next to me was a couple who was beyond annoyed that I was seated next to them ruining their romantic little corner. Like, do you think I want to be sitting here listening to your boring conversation about your food?? Let me assure you I do NOT. Of course, the restaurant can’t control the rude glares of the other guests, but my weird table location just kind of put a tiny damper on the experience. (Also, when you’re dining alone it goes one of two ways… Waiters either love you and shower you with attention or they literally forget about you.)
I hate to pick favorites, but Day Three just might have been my favorite day of the entire trip. Truly one of the most blissfully amazing days I’ve ever had!
Beach Clubs are a huge thing on the Amalfi Coast. Sounds Vegas-y, right? Not really. I’ve heard that people can get pretty drunk by the end of the day, but everyone was super chill at the beach club I went to on the day I was there. (The staff told me that the crowd on the previous day was super rowdy though, ha!) But basically, you take a boat to a secluded little beach, pay for a beach chair (I paid 12 euro), eat lunch at the restaurant at some point during the day, and just relax. After a few long days of travel and exploring, this was exactly what I needed. (I’m going to do a packing guide for beach clubs, too. There were a few things I wish I had brought and a few things I was so glad I had!)
Da Adolfo came highly recommended, maybe too high. Apparently Leo was spotted there recently, so perhaps that’s why it has gotten nearly impossible to get into. During the busy season (summer, namely July & August), you pretty much always need a reservation to any of the beach clubs in the area. I called and called and called and called Da Adolfo and never got someone to pick up. I even went down to the dock in Positano on Day 2 to stalk their boat and their driver told me that calling was the only way. Oooookay, on to plan B! When I was down at the dock, I saw a few other beach club boats and wrote down the names to check out when I was back at the hotel later. D’Arienzo looked picture perfect with the orange striped umbrellas, they answered on the first call, they were super friendly, and they had a reservation for me the next day. Score!
As they say, everything happens for a reason. Bagni D’Arienzo was so incredible, I can’t recommend it enough! The staff was so warm and family-like. From the moment I got on the boat and told them my name for the reservation, I was called Jessica all day long. The food and drinks were so tasty, too! It’s a quick five minute boat ride from the main dock in Positano, but you honestly feel like you are miles away from the rest of the world. I ordered a juice in the morning and I was so pleasantly surprised to see that it was fresh squeezed, right in front of my eyes. In the afternoon, I indulged in a pina colada and I seriously couldn’t believe it when I saw her juicing pineapple and coconut for the drink! Truly incredible. I was on the first boat to arrive (leaves Positano at 10am) and I didn’t leave until one of the last boats out around 6pm. I wish I could have stayed forever! If I would have had an extra day, I 1000% would have come back again.
Oh, and before I got on the boat… I went to Collina Bakery for a takeaway iced cappuccino and fell in love with the place! (And the hot Italian baristas.) I also stopped in to Pepito’s and bought another dress. Their dresses are sewn right in the basement of the store and will happily alter anything for you, it’s included in the price! Definitely check it out. I had a hard time at first trying to figure out which shops were tourist traps and what were truly local boutiques. If you are coming from the top of the hill and head down to Pepito’s, there’s a stretch before you hit the main square that had a lot of little shops that felt more local!
I headed to Maiori that night to meet up with my friends that were staying there for a wedding over the weekend. We ate at Ristorante Masaniello and it was delish. (I truly never had a bad meal in Italy.) It felt very local and not that touristy!
Beach Club Outfit: Wala Swim Bikini Top & Bottoms, Sail to Sable Tunic Dress, M.Gemi Lace-Up Sandals (also brought my Jacks along!), Hat Attack Hat, Clare V Straw Tote, Express Sunglasses (sold out; identical pair here!)
Okay, maybe *this* was my favorite day of the trip. It’s so hard to say! I moved from Positano to Maiori to the night before (to meet up with my friends!), and we were up and at ’em early on Friday to board a boat to Capri. One of the main activities I was in charge of was finding a boat to take us from Maiori to Capri and back, before my friends had to be back to get ready for the wedding they had that night. We ended up using Capone Servizi Marittimi in Maiori and it was honestly one of the most magical days! (Chances are, you probably won’t be staying in Maiori when you’re on the Amalfi Coast. I did a lot of boat research and Gianni’s Boats seemed to be the one to go with!) After a long nap that afternoon, I went to Eldorado for dinner. It was right across from the hotel (I stayed at Hotel Panorama) and I figured it was going to be kind of touristy and not that great. The food was unbelievable!! I got the tagliatalle and the seared sesame tuna and both were so good. And I got gelato at their front shop on the way out! It’s making my stomach growl just thinking about it… Take me back! Another great gelato place next to our hotel was Geljada… SO GOOD!
A little bit about the boat tour… Most boat tours are either half-day (~4 hours) or full day (~8 hours) tours. Since we were coming all the way from Maiori, it took us an extra hour there and hour back, as opposed leaving from Positano. My friends had a wedding on Friday night, so we arranged ahead of time to cut the tour short and be back by 3pm. (Our boat company usually does 9am-6pm from Maiori to Capri, and that includes an hour or two to get off the boat and get lunch on or explore Capri.) Since we had to cut it short, we didn’t have time to get off and explore Capri at all. We traveled to Capri, boated completely around the island, did some swimming in the Mediterranean off the Capri coast, and traveled back to Maiori. On my next trip, I’ll definitely be adding in some days to visit Capri, it’s very high on my list!
A little bit about the hotel, Hotel Panorama… It was very affordably priced, had a great breakfast on the terrace each day, and had the cutest navy blue and white interior! I’d stay there again if I was ever in Maiori. (There was a mix up with my room and I thought I was supposed to be in a water-facing room with a balcony and I was in a corner room without a view and no balcony. It was fine, but I would have loved to be able to see the water.) To be honest though, I didn’t love Maiori. I liked the hotel, the food was great at the two restaurants I went to, the boat company was awesome, and I loved how close it was to Ravello for a day trip, but Maiori itself didn’t really have a whole lot to offer, in my opinion. If you’re looking to save on the hotel and planning on taking day trips mostly to other towns along the coast, I could see how it may be an option! Or if you’re coming in/out of Salerno and staying in multiple cities along the coast, it could be a stop for a night.
Another favorite day of the trip! It’s so hard to choose, already counting down the days until I can go back to the Amalfi Coast. I had a slow morning eating breakfast and getting some work done and then took a taxi from my hotel up to Ravello. Ravello is not on the water like most of the other popular towns on the Amalfi Coast, but up in the hills. While you may not be beach front, the views are absolutely stunning! I literally cried in Ravello because it was so pretty, but we’ll get to that. Since it’s not on the beach, the town of Ravello is so much more lush with trees and flowers everywhere, it’s so gorgeous. The whole town has a much more intimate and romantic feel. No wonder Julia & Anel had their honeymoon there! Jackie O actually vacationed in Ravello in the Summer of 1962 so I believe there are quite a few places still around that she used to frequent.
I got dropped off at Cumpa Cosimo for lunch and absolutely loved it. It’s a local little spot and I believe that it’s one Jackie O used to dine at during her summer in Italy! I had a caprese salad and the special pasta of the day (mushroom fettucini) and couldn’t have been more pleased. Wish I would have saved room for the tiramisu!
From there, I wandered around and shopped a little bit. (Got a few ceramic pieces at one of the local little shops!) When I was ready to sit down and take a little breather, I headed to Palazzo Avino for a drink on the terrace. Oh my gosh, you guys. YOU MUST GO!! Truly one of the most magical hotels I’ve seen and it’s now on my hotel bucket list to stay there. (The pool looks so incredible!) I had the best seat along the railing on the terrace that over looked the Amalfi Coast and enjoyed sipping on a spicy dirty martini. So so good! If you’re a dirty martini fan, they had TEN PAGES of martinis in the drink menu and since olives are grown locally, it was truly the best martini I’ve ever had. And I don’t even know what vodka was used! I showed myself around the hotel after I had a drink 😂 (#noshame) when I was “looking for the bathroom” … It’s so gorgeous! And from the hotel website, the rooms look fabulous, too!
From there, it just kept getting better and better. I went up to Hotel Caruso next (another Jackie O spot) and I truly felt like I had died and gone to heaven. Hands down, the most incredible and stunning hotel I’ve ever been to. I had a crisp glass of rosé (or two) on the terrace and had the whole thing to myself, it was so lovely. The bartender and I ended up striking up a conversation and he insisted on showing me around the hotel before I left. You guys, I literally almost fainted when I saw the pool. It was un-effing-real. An expansive infinity pool right over the edge of the Amalfi Coast into the Mediterranean Sea. (I mean, just look at this picture of the pool!) The #1 hotel on my bucket list right now, without a doubt!
There is a church right across the street from Hotel Caruso and there was actually a wedding in progress. The sweet bartender showed me the grounds at Hotel Caruso where they were setting up for the reception and it was the most magical sight. #GOALS, am I right?! The doors were open to the church and you could see that the aisle was blanketed in white flower petals and that’s when I lost it. Truly the most beautiful thing I’ve ever laid eyes on!
If I would have had more time (spent more time that anticipated at both hotels since they were so stunning!), I really wanted to check out Villa Cimbrone… On my list for next time!
And my good luck continued… I grabbed a taxi from the taxi stand right near the main underpass off the square of the town and totally lucked out! Giancarlo from Ravello Taxi was an absolute dream. He gave me a tour and a history lesson on our way back to Maiori. He’s apparently the driver for a lot of the big celebrities when they come into town and I can see why, he is an absolute gem. Naturally, I now can’t remember a lot of the facts that he told me (I considered just recording the conversation, but didn’t want to creep him out), but definitely call him when you’re in the area and need to set up transportation!
After I got back to the hotel and got ready for dinner, my friends and I headed to Pizzeria Donna Stella in the town of Amalfi. We were seated underneath lemon trees, which definitely added to the experience. The pizzas were so so good! (I would know, as I tried a slice of everyone’s. I accidentally ordered a pizza without cheese or sauce, which was essentially bruschetta. 😂)
After dinner, we went to Africana Nightclub and while we were really looking forward to it, most of us absolutely hated it. It’s down in a cave on the coast, but don’t be fooled as it will not be remotely cavernous. It was SO EFFING HOT. And literally ZERO airflow. The music was pretty awful and the crowd was pretty sketchy. We had a table behind the DJ booth, but when I was walking through the main crowd to get to the outdoor terrace (in hopes it would be cooler out there, it was not), a guy reached up my dress and flat out grabbed my ass. Not even going to try to sugar coat it… Needless to say, I literally hit him as hard as I could and kept walking. I was so skeeved out that I finished my first drink and never made myself another the rest of the night. Save yourself the night and headache of getting there and avoid this place at all costs. Maybe it was an off night when we were there, but I have no intentions of ever finding out. Not trying to end this on a poor note, but I had to say it since I mentioned it in the videos. It was truly the only subpar night I had on the Amalfi Coast!
On Sunday morning, we packed our bags and headed to Florence. Stay tuned for that recap (and daily videos) soon!
Other Restaurants & Recommendations
I had so so many recommendations from friends and from my research, but only had a few nights on the Amalfi Coast. Here are some other restaurants and recommendations in case you’re planning a longer trip!
Ristorante da Costantino // This was on my must list for dinner, but it just didn’t happen. If you call ahead, they will come pick you up for dinner. Next time, for sure! (Sometimes it’s kind of nice saving things so you have an excuse to go back, right?)
Casa e Bottega // A great spot for lunch when (/if) you want a break from Italian. A bit lighter and healthier! The decor looks incredible, too. On my list for next time!
Ristorante La Pergola // Right next to Le Tre Sorelle, another great spot right on the beach. Their pizza looked delish!
La Tagliata // Another must for dinner. A shuttle will come and pick you up if you call ahead or have your hotel call. There is no menu, but excellent food. Go at sunset!
Al Palazzo in Hotel Palazzo Murat // I walked into this hotel to peek at the gorgeous courtyard and would love to go back for dinner. I’ve heard the veal meatballs, lobster ravioli, and beef carpaccio are amazing!
Villa Franca // Gorgeous hotel. Go for dinner if you aren’t splurging to stay!
Rada // Rooftop Bar on the water with incredible views!
Donna Rosa // The restaurant arranges transportation for you, just call ahead of time. It’s high up the mountain in a small village and the most amazing food and service. Family owned!
Mamma Agata’s Cooking School in Ravello // I’ve heard great things about this cooking class in Ravello! It’s a small house looking over the sea and she teaches a small group to cook a variety of Italian dishes with her mother. It’s mostly observation, along with eating and wine!
Corcione in Sorrento for sandal shopping!
Santa Caterina in Amalfi // This is supposed to be a gorgeous hotel. (The pictures look incredible!) If you aren’t staying there, grab a drink or dinner!
Path of Gods Hike from Amalfi to Positano // It takes at 3.5 hours and there are a lot of steps, but the views at the end are supposed to be incredible! (Plus, never hurts to get a workout in when you’re on vacay!)
Pompei // Pompei is between Naples and Positano and I so wish I would have had time to visit!
A Map for Easy Reference
When I went to London and Paris with Lauren last spring, she taught me how to save custom maps on Google and it’s honestly life-changing for trips! You can pull them up on your Google Maps app so if you’re ever out wandering around, you can see if any of your hotspots or recommended places are nearby. And it always helps me plan out my days when I can see different areas and stops visually!
I saved my Amalfi Coast map with different layers for each city. I included all of the recommendations that I found or were given to me by credible sources, including the places I didn’t have enough time to visit. (I included Capri, too!) For reference, I’ve noted if I have personally been. Hope this helps on your next visit to Italy’s Amalfi Coast!
*Also, a little note about the videos… I’m new to the video game and these are pretty rough, as I simply saved my daily snapchat stories and added some music to go along. It’s been a goal of mine to incorporate more video onto Bows & Sequins for a while now (years!) and I figured a beautiful place like Italy was the perfect place to start. I had a really great response to my Snapchats while I was in Italy, so I hope you enjoy seeing the rough-around-the-edges, behind-the-scenes footage that typically goes away after 24 hours. 🙂 I’m still getting the hang of simple video editing and learned a lot of things about how to make the YouTube videos better on my next trip. I know the sound is kind of wonky during parts of some of the videos, but I think I know how to fix it for next time! (I believe it’s in the way the videos were saved form Snpachat.) But anyway, be easy on me this time around! I figured done was better than 100% and I wanted to get my travel guide up sooner rather than later.
Any other questions about the Amalfi Coast? Anything I missed?! Let me know in the comments below!
Stay tuned for Part 2 from Florence! xo
(Oh, and an Amalfi Coast Photo Diary is coming soon, too. Stay tuned!)