Where to go on the Amalfi Coast instead of Positano

Robin McKelvie

Robin McKelvie

The Amalfi Coast is a glorious, life-affirming swathe of paradise; the ultimate senses-popping cinematic Italy*. From the sparkling Med terraced slopes climb through impossibly pretty towns and villages topped with church spires and alive with lemon groves, sweeping up in search of peaks that soar above 1,000 metres.

Colourful and much-revered Amalfi
Colourful and much-revered Amalfi © Boss Tweed - Flickr CC BY 2.0

But the Amalfi Coast* is no secret in this celeb-loving, TikTok-following age of the selfie. The most famous resort of Positano* has become a lightning rod for anyone bemoaning the excesses of overtourism and it's hard to argue with the detractors on a traffic-clogged, tourist-strafed sweaty August day when no Italian would be seen dead here.

What about other charmers on the Amalfi Coast then? Grab your sunglasses and your best posing gear now as we venture to find the place for you, whether you're after a foodie treat or that 'secret' Amalfi getaway you've always dreamed of.

Getting to the Amalfi Coast: find affordable holidays to destinations along the Amalfi Coast with TUI*, which departs from airports UK-wide.

For resort fans

Newsflash: crowded Positano is not actually a great place to unfurl a towel and spend a chilled day on the beach. Maiori*, further to the east, is much better and that is why it is the Italian holidaymakers' Amalfi Coast resort of choice; they've been flocking here since the days when the sands were smoothed by Roman sandals.

There's a sandy beachfront here rather than the coast's signature pebble and rock. Indeed, it's home to the longest unbroken stretch of beach in Amalfi. An annual film festival, a sprinkling of churches and a handy ferry connection complete the compelling Maiori cocktail.

For genuine foodies

You get fancy restaurants and superb Amalfi produce all over the coast, but if you want to cut to the Mother Lode of Amalfi's gastronomy head for Tramonti. Known as the 'Green Lung' of Amalfi, this hinterland charmer is indeed a breath of fresh air, with produce bursting from the airy valley and its verdant terraces.

Tramonti has its own distinct pizza, which - whisper it - is a match for Napoli's finest just across the Bay of Naples. Its secret is a much lower cooking temperature and the use of local wild herbs worked into the dough, which adds flavour. They make excellent mozzarella here too, which always helps.

For sunset lovers

Relatively sleepy Praiano makes for a more chilled Amalfi base as it's a resort not served by ferry, though get here soon as there have been initial scoping works on setting up docking.

Once the holiday retreat of the Amalfitan Doges and a former fishing village, Praiano eases down precipitous slopes to its dazzling dalliance with the Med.

Hillside Praiano
Hillside Praiano © Claudio Colombo - Adobe Stock Image

The swimming is good here; the views, even better. Set at an angle to the rest of the coast, there are great views west in the Positano direction and, yes, fantastic sunsets, arguably the best on the whole Amalfi Coast.

Seek out Gastronomic Trekking, which runs superb walking trips that combine foraging, cooking and eating.

For history lovers

Yes, there are more famous historical buildings ravishing in the fancier towns, but Scala* is where it all started, the wee settlement that grew into a grand Republic to rival Genoa, spreading its maritime wings across vast tracks of the Med and forging as its symbol a distinctive cross.

Scala's roots sweep way back to the 4th century. Never ask why they use the 'Maltese Cross' as their cross pre-dates that of the archipelago to the south.

Hit the hiking trail from Scala
Hit the hiking trail from Scala © Cheryl Ramalho - Adobe Stock Image

As it's higher up hiking here is a cooler joy, best combined with visiting a church or two on the way. Scala's 11th-century cathedral is unmissable. You can walk to the more famous historic mountain bolthole of Ravello from here too.

For lovers of tourist-packed towns

Stick with me here. Amalfi Town is as close as anywhere on this coast gets to Positano when it comes to popularity. But, and it's a big but, there are still swathes of real local life here and a few nuggets you have to see.

It's a great base with a proper ferry port too. The cathedral is sublime; the shops around it that pedal lemon products, the famous local paper and other overpriced delights not so much.

Gaze across Piazza Duomo, Amalfi Town
Gaze across Piazza Duomo, Amalfi Town © Kirk Fisher - Adobe Stock Image

Instead, follow the main drag uphill. The cafés and shops peter out and you come to the Amalfi Lemon Experience. There is a shop, but the Aceto family still farm these vertiginous slopes as you'll see as you hike a tiny part of the 1,000-odd steps up into the terraced heavens.

You'll try divine lemon juice, moist lemon cake and, of course, limoncello. If you're lucky you will also meet the family's cheery patriarch.

Just down the road is the Paper Museum. When the town's once burgeoning paper industry collapsed after WWII, this old mill was turned into a fascinating museum in 1969.

You can still make your own paper using the original mill gear. Amalfi paper is still used by the Vatican and the Italian Government and this hands-on museum brilliantly tells the story and how it was inspired by contact with the Middle East and adapted for local use.

For those after something quieter

Ok, so Amalfi Town proves too busy for some. How about Atrani? Joined at the walkable hip with its more illustrious sibling, it's like the Amalfi Coast in miniature.

They have the beach, with the usual private section if you want to feel exclusive. Then there are the lovely churches. San Salvatore de Birecto is worth a visit while the Collegiata di Santa Maria Maddalena, with the last remaining slice of Rococo architecture on this stretch of coast, is essential.

There is, of course, a charming piazza to sip espresso on and watch life go by, in the form of Piazza Umberto I. And the busier charms of Amalfi Town are just a wee walk away.

For lovers of a wild card

So let's get this potential deal breaker out of the way first: Salerno is not actually on the Amalfi Coast. But, and this is a huge but, as a proper city, where real people lead real lives, it boasts much cheaper accommodation and restaurants.

It is also a brilliant base as it's a rail and bus hub with easy connections to Naples* and a major ferry hub for the fast ferries that zip up and down the Amalfi Coast.

And if that is not enough you get better views of the Amalfi Coast than many places on that hilly coast, where often you can see very little beyond what is in the bay you're standing in. A wildcard and a brilliantly fun one at that. Recommended as an alternative base.

Climate in Amalfi

  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 climate in Amalfi. Find out more about conditions across the region in our complete guide to the climate in Campania.

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Robin McKelvie

Robin McKelvie

Robin McKelvie is a Scottish travel writer, author and broadcaster. He has visited over 100 countries and regularly writes about Scotland and the Canary Islands. As well as frequently contributing to Weather2Travel.com, Robin writes for publications including The Telegraph, The Independent, The Guardian, The Times and Wanderlust, and has authored more than 30 guidebooks.

Posted on Friday 22nd December 2023 in: Beach Europe Summer

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