5 unmissable highlights along the Amalfi Coast

A twisting shoreline of towering cliffs laced with lemon groves and dripping with pastel-hued towns, the Amalfi Coast is, without doubt, Italy's most stunning stretch of coastline.

Il Fornillo Beach on the Amalfi Coast, Italy © Mihael Grmek - Wikimedia Commons
Il Fornillo Beach on the Amalfi Coast, Italy © Mihael Grmek - Wikimedia Commons

It's rich in culture and history, which both infuse the necklace of stunning towns that cling to its rugged coastline. Amongst these, Positano, is the show-stopper, the Amalfi's fashionable front-page splash of tumbling, blush-tinted façades. Only the dazzling island of Capri, a short boat-ride away, can battle Positano for style points.

But behind all the glitz and glamour, the Amalfi Coast is also a place to indulge in more simple pleasures: hikes through lemon-grove cloaked valleys, lazy lunches on wave-lapped pebbly beaches, the cool-hush inside an age-old cathedral.

Getting to the Amalfi Coast: book yourself a great value break with TUI* and you could be exploring this immaculate coastline for less than you might think before you know it.

With so much on offer, it's easy to max out your itinerary, so from lofty Ravello to history-steeped Sorrento these are the Amalfi Coast highlights you shouldn't miss.

Sorrento

After the grit and gusto of Naples, Sorrento is the much-anticipated gateway to the Amalfi Coast. Charming and historic, Sorrento has long lured travellers to its sun-dappled streets.

Sunrise over Mt Vesuvius in Sorrento © Denisa Sterbova - Pixabay
Sunrise over Mt Vesuvius in Sorrento © Denisa Sterbova - Pixabay

It was all kicked off by Byron, whose time here inspired a host of literary visitors to follow, including Goethe, Dickens and Tolstoy, and cemented Sorrento as a must-do on the nineteenth-century Grand Tour.

Today Sorrento is a laid-back town, woven amongst craggy cliffs and amidst terraces of lemon trees and it's these lemons that make Sorrento so special. Come spring, the town is heady with the scent of citrus blossom; by summer, the trees are heavy with warm fruit - it's no wonder that Sorrento's limoncello is rated the best in the region.

All things lemon on the Amalfi Coast © Joe Ross - Flickr Creative Commons
All things lemon on the Amalfi Coast © Joe Ross - Flickr Creative Commons

An ice-cold glass of this sweet, zingy liquor is the perfect pairing to an evening in the town, strolling with the locals through the Piazza Tasso and tucking into a seafood dinner.

Positano

Few sights can compete with your first glimpse of Positano. Whether you arrive by boat or have tackled the nail-biting coastal road, as you round the curve of the mountainside, Positano's beauty slams into view: a dramatic cascade of terracotta, cream and blush buildings spilling down the hillside to meet the blue-depths of a sweeping crescent bay.

This is the Amalfi Coast's fashionable darling, a gorgeous tangle of wisteria-cloaked streets woven with boutique stores, swanky hotels and stylish restaurants.

View of Positano from the 'Path of the Gods' © Jürgen Mangelsdorf - Flickr Creative Commons
View of Positano from the 'Path of the Gods' © Jürgen Mangelsdorf - Flickr Creative Commons

By day, Positano looks out over the pebble beach of Spiaggia Grande, the imposing olive-green mosaicked dome of Santa Maria Assunta looming over a jaunty splash of parasols, the bay buzzing with gleaming white yachts.

By night, the sweep of Positano's glittering lights pinprick the valley. But it's not just glamour here: follow the locals to the neighbouring Il Fornillo Beach for a sunbathe and a grilled fish lunch at a simple beach bar, or take a day to hike the Path of the Gods, a celebrated cliff-side pathway abundant in jaw-dropping views.

Capri

Of the trio of islands that hug the Gulf of Naples, glittering Capri is the most dazzling: an island of majestic cliffs and sun-bleached bays, its verdant slopes speckled with white-washed villas and sculpted with gardens. Capri has long lured admirers, from Roman emperors to awe-struck artists, to its shores.

This island may be the favourite of the super-rich but dipping your toe in this luxury, and soaking up the island's history and views while you're at it, makes for an ideal day-trip from Positano. In fact, the boat ride, especially if you stop off at Capri's luminous cave, the Grotta dello Smeraldo, is worth the trip alone.

Looking down on Capri from the summit of Mt Solaro © Mikolajn - Adobe Stock Image
Looking down on Capri from the summit of Mt Solaro © Mikolajn - Adobe Stock Image

Once on the island there's plenty to fill your time: linger over a seafood lunch at the marina, wander through the bougainvillea-draped lanes of the hilltop town of Capri, then admire the town's cliff-edge Gardens of Augustus.

If time allows, explore the remains of Tiberius' Villa or take the chairlift from Anacapri to the highest point on the island, Mount Solaro, to soak up the views: a panoramic sweep that takes in Naples, Sorrento, Vesuvius and Ischia.

Amalfi

Set to a backdrop of vegetation-slung slopes, the pretty town of Amalfi squeezes out through a craggy ravine and saunters along the waters' edge. Petite and perfectly formed, it may come as a surprise that this little seafront town was a major Byzantine trading centre.

But a sense of history still permeates the town: narrow alleys swell to sun-baked piazzas, the grand bulk of the cathedral stands guarded behind foreboding eleventh-century doors, while the little Paper Museum remains a source of local pride.

That said, you can see much of the town in a few hours, and in summer the crowds can somewhat choke this little beauty. For a glimpse of the Amalfi that visitors rarely see take a short hike into the hills behind the town for lunch at farm-to-table Agricola Fore Porta.

The twenty-minute pathway to the restaurant transports you into a dramatic valley blanketed in terraces of lemon and peach trees. Just beyond the restaurant, you'll find a small woodland scattered with little waterfalls.

Ravello

From Amalfi, the road climbs heavenwards to Ravello, a place described by author André Paul as "closer to the sky than the shore". A lofty beauty perched high in the hills, Ravello stands out from the Amalfi Coast's cluster of seafront towns.

An unforgettable vision of garden-draped terraces, graceful villas and panoramic views, Ravello is an unmissable stop on an Amalfi Coast trip. Make time to visit the Duomo - the thirteenth-century marble pulpit shouldn't be missed - then make a beeline for the town's celebrated cliff-side villas.

The dramatic backdrop to the Ravello Festival at Villa Rufolo © Roberto Vuilleumier - Campania Tourism Office
The dramatic backdrop to the Ravello Festival at Villa Rufolo © Roberto Vuilleumier - Campania Tourism Office

Now a smart hotel, the Villa Cimbrone was once a haunt of the Bloomsbury Set, its manicured gardens are graced with some of Ravello's best views, meanwhile the thirteenth-century Villa Rufolo is home to gardens and an overhanging terrace that becomes Ravello's most celebrated music venue during the town's summer arts festival.

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 weather along the Amalfi Coast is characteristically very warm and sunny in summer, much cooler with less sunshine and fewer daylight hours in winter. Above shows the weather in Positano but you can find out more in complete weather guide to the Amalfi Coast.

Ready to discover the Amalfi Coast? Check out the latest deals on holidays to this glorious stretch of Italy with TUI, which departs from airports across the UK.

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Olivia Rawes

Olivia Rawes
Posted on Thursday 28th November 2019 in: Europe Excursions Summer

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