Unmissable experiences along Italy's Amalfi Coast

Jessica Baldwin

Jessica Baldwin

With a string of iconic sherbet-hued towns cascading down lemon-speckled mountains towards the glistening Tyrrhenian Sea, it's easy to see why the UNESCO-listed Costiera Amalfitana, or Amalfi Coast, has become Italy's most iconic coastline.

Beautifully dramatic scenes on Italy's Amalfi Coast
Beautifully dramatic scenes on Italy's Amalfi Coast © WitR - Adobe Stock Image

Since Roman times this vertiginous land, now peppered with luxury hotels and Michelin-starred restaurants, has been a magnet for the rich and famous.

Yet, despite the obvious allure of its ritzy hangouts, many of its best attractions are hidden away from the big-name resorts, buried deep within its mountains, valleys and gorges.

Venture off-piste and you could find yourself hiking through fragrant lemon groves, floating in coastal grottos or listening to a world-class concert in the clouds. Don't miss these must-try Amalfi Coast experiences.

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Watch divers plunge into Italy's only fjord

Once a hiding place for bandits, Fiordo di Furore lays claim to being the only fjord in Italy*. Each July, thrill-seeking crowds line the vertigo-inspiring bridge, which connects the valley's two sides, to watch high divers from around the world plunge almost 30 metres into the crystal-clear waters below.

Italy's only fjord, Fiordo di Furore
Italy's only fjord, Fiordo di Furore © Lucamato - Adobe Stock Image

When it isn't being used for daredevil diving, the gorge is a popular snorkelling spot and home to one of the Amalfi Coast's smallest, but most photographed beaches.

The village itself is worth a visit too, Furore is so well-hidden locals began calling it 'Neverland'. Bursting with colour, it's covered in murals, earning it a reputation as the Amalfi Coast's 'painted village'.

Float beneath stalactites

You don't need to venture to crowded Capri for an out-of-this-world cave. Hidden beneath the tiny village of Conca dei Marini is the peninsula's very own Emerald Grotto.

Discovered in 1932 by a local fisherman, the 100ft sea cave has a tiny underwater aperture to thank for the vivid green light that illuminates it. Take the steps (or lift) down from the main road and jump aboard one of the waiting rowboats for a tour.

Peer beneath the surface and you will see the eery underwater nativity scene, made from Vietri's famous majolica ceramics - don't get too comfy, the jovial guides often break into song at this point. Once back on dry land, head into the village to try its famous sfogliatella (sweet shell-shaped stuffed pastries).

Enjoy an open-air concert

Perched on a mountain buttress, high above the commotion of the beach resorts below, hides lofty Ravello. Famous for inspiring some of the world's most iconic creatives; everyone from Woolf to Wagner has sought solace amid its grand villas, ornate gardens and breathtaking sea views.

A sunrise concert at Villa Rufolo
A sunrise concert at Villa Rufolo © Roberto Vuilleumier - courtesy of Campania Tourism Office

From March onwards, the 'City of Music' is in full swing, with regular performances, but the pièce de résistance has to be Ravello Festival's open-air concerts at Wagner's beloved Villa Rufolo.

Expect an impressive international line-up from philharmonic orchestras and opera singers to jazz bands. Feeling indecisive? With the shimmering Gulf of Salerno as the backdrop, the sunrise concert is spectacular.

Try Cetara's famous anchovy sauce

To get an authentic taste of the Amalfi Coast*, bypass the glitzy resort restaurants and head to humble Cetara, home to the Costiera Amalfitana's best seafood.

This refreshingly traditional fishing town has one of the Mediterranean's most important deep-sea tuna fleets; it even holds a four-day festival dedicated to the fish each summer. However, it's its anchovies that steal the show here.

As night descends, the fishermen head into the shallows brandishing lamps to attract the tiny fish. Grab a table at one of the restaurants and indulge in a simple bowl of steaming spaghetti tossed in the town's famous colatura di alici (anchovy drippings); don't forget to buy a bottle of this fishy elixir to take home, it's seriously addictive.

Hike the Path of the Gods

High above the hubbub of pastel-hued Positano hides one of Italy's most famous hiking routes: Path of the Gods.

Starting in sleepy Bomerano, the ancient path undulates its way through dense chestnut forests, past fragrant lemon groves and above some of the Amalfi Coast's most famous towns, before winding its way down to the tiny hamlet of Nocelle.

Find epic views along the Path of the Gods
Find epic views along the Path of the Gods © Bogusz - Adobe Stock Image

Despite being set high in the mountains, the trail itself is relatively flat by local standards, though those wanting an extra challenge can descend the 1,500 steps into glamorous Positano for a refreshing dip and a well-earned limoncello.

Still got itchy feet? You can expect cascading waterfalls and rare orchids in the lush Valle delle Ferriere or hit the family-friendly Path of Lemons for an easy amble through the groves.

Explore the ancient Paestum

Can't face the queues at Pompeii and Herculaneum? Cross the border into neighbouring Cilento, where you'll find three of the world's best-preserved ancient Greek temples without the crowds.

The ancient city of Paestum, originally named Poseidonia, dates back to the 7th century BCE. Abandoned following a deadly malaria outbreak and relentless Saracen raids, it became ravaged by forests.

The ancient city of Paestum
The ancient city of Paestum © DiegoFiore - Dreamstime.com

Lost for centuries, it was only re-discovered during the Grand Tour. Today, this bafflingly empty UNESCO World Heritage Site is great value and crowd-free. Take a picnic, bed down in the surrounding meadows and enjoy lunch with a view.

Bathe in volcanic thermal springs

When you think of island hopping in this neck of the woods, Capri is the usual suspect. Skip the crowds and jump aboard a hydrofoil to lesser-known Ischia.

Under an hour's sail from Sorrento, this volcanic island, carpeted in forests and manicured gardens, is fringed by sandy shores and peppered with over 100 natural thermal springs. Whilst the island is full of luxury spas, access to many of Ischia's mineral-rich springs is free.

Head to the Bay of Sorgeto, descend 200 or so steps to reach the beach and a string of steaming rockpools await. In summer, the local restaurants and bars even deliver your drinks to you, so you can cool down with a frosty limoncello mid-soak.

Weather along the Amalfi Coast

  Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Maximum daytime temperature °C
Hours of sunshine (daily)
Days with some rainfall
Sea temperature °C

The above guide shows the weather in Amalfi. Find out more about conditions across the country in our complete guide to the weather in Italy.

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Jessica Baldwin

Jessica Baldwin

Posted on Tuesday 14th February 2023 in: Europe Excursions Nature

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