A Destination Elopement/Wedding Travel Guide by Destination Wedding Photographer: ME+HIM Photography
A Complete Travel Guide To The Amalfi Coast
The author John Steinbeck said the Amalfi Coast is “a dream place that isn’t quite real when you are there and becomes beckoningly real after you have gone” and we couldn’t agree more. The coast is where Italians go on vacation for a reason. It is simply one of the most beautiful places we’ve ever been. Kelly and I are destination wedding photographers and have travelled all over the world documenting intimate weddings in Asia, Europe and South America. But we keep coming back to the Amalfi Coast when we list our favorite places to travel for a wedding, a vacation, heck even for a beach day and hike. And then there’s the food!! (Ok, we’re getting ahead of ourselves). Here’s the rub: whether you are planning a destination wedding or looking for an idyllic place to take your family, there is no other place on earth like the Amalfi Coast.
Where To Stay
If you ask Google where to stay they will tell you Sorrento or Positano and we will tell you that’s dead wrong. Those are great cities to visit. Sorrento has great shopping and museums and Positano has a beautiful beach and the quintessential Amalfi Coast view. In fact, if you’ve ever googled the Amalfi Coast we 100% guarantee the first photo you see is from Positano. But we often ask ourselves, why are traveling? Is it check boxes off on some bucket list, or is it to expand our lives? We travel to see, experience, eat things that are different from the life we have at home. It helps us think differently, and that’s a good thing. So we recommend getting yourself out of the tourist traps and seeing the people that live on the coast via the nooks and crannies. Our two favorite towns to stay in are Praiano and Salerno.
Staying in Praiano
Praiano is 10 mins east/south of Positano, so it’s centrally located on the coast. You will easily spend 50% less on hotel costs for the exact same service just by moving 10 minutes away. Our favorite hotel is Hotel Pellegrino which is run by the most charming man in the world, Luigi. Luigi and his sister run the hotel and have lived on the coast their entire lives. When we arrived for our first stay with them Luigi immediately whisked us away to the roof where he served us Limoncello and cooked us a 3 course meal. Luigi was also able to make a few calls for us and get us a private tour of our favorite Amalfi Coast winery, Cantine Marisa Cuomo. You will see their Fiorduva wine on the menus of all the best restaurants on the coast (and Italy) for a reason. Buy every glass and bottle of it you can (and one for us too!).
Staying in Salerno
Five or so years ago it was de rigueur that if you went to the Amalfi Coast as a loud American you stayed in Sorrento, while everyone “in the know” stayed in Salerno. It made a lot of sense, if everyone was staying in Sorrento and you were in Salerno, then you could avoid the traffic when traveling along the coast. Unfortunately the word is out and Salerno is getting more visitors. But don’t let that fool you, Salerno is still one of the best places to stay on the coast. If you’re looking for a billion of the same shops all selling Linen shirts, Limoncello and kitsch, Salerno isn’t for you. If you want to stay where the Italians stay, you’re in luck. Because the economy of Salerno is not primarily tourism you will see (and eat) like the locals do. It has a beach in walking distance and easy travel to sights away from the Amalfi Coast that you can’t get to from any other coastal city, like Pompeii and Capri.
Make Sure To Check Out Our Post: 5 Things You Can’t Miss On The Amalfi Coast
Getting There & Getting Around
The main hubs of travel to the coast are via Rome and Naples. Both cities offer several travel options including buses, trains and even ferries. Our personal favorite trip to the coast we hired a private driver (or private transfer as it’s sometimes called) to drive us in from Naples. It will set you back €120 to €150, one-way, but you are complete control over your route, destination and stops. One good thing to note, from Naples, taxis are meant charge a fixed rate, as per the tariff set by the City of Naples.
Getting to the coast from Naples is significantly easier than coming in from Rome, plus the best pizza in Italy exists in Naples. If you’re travelling to the north, including Sorrento, you want the Circumvesuviana from the main Naples station (Napoli Centrale). When you enter the train station look specifically for the signs that say “Circumvesuviana” and buy from the desk, because the main ticket machines will not offer you the right tickets. Now Sorrento is not technically part of the Amalfi Coast, it works well as a first stop on your travel. Via the SITA bus system, you can get to Positano, Praiano and Amalfi. If you’re continuing on to our favorite city on the coast, Ravello, you will need to switch buses at Amalfi.
From the bus depot at the Tiburtina train station, you can hop a bus to both Positano and Praiano. Avoid getting on the local buses which board outside the station. The Positano bus leaves at 7am and will get you to Positano by 11:30AM and Praiano by 11:45AM. You can also take the train to Naples via Trenitalia and Italotreno, and the journey for the fastest train takes a bit over an hour.
Getting Around The Amalfi Coast
The coast is a long, 34-mile string of seaside towns. You can’t get lost because there is only one road, the SS163 highway, otherwise known as Amalfi Drive. Much like Highway 1 in Big Sur, California or the Icefields Parkway in Banff National Park, this is the only road along the coast. It’s considered one of the most scenic drives in the world and honestly, it’s worth the trip just to drive the coast. A car is the best way to get around, although taking on the drive yourself isn’t for everyone. The Amalfi Drive snakes along the coast, and at times you will be feet away from a 500 ft cliff on a hairpin turn. If you’re traveling between May-October, which is considered peak season, be ready for some sporadic traffic. Although, Kelly and I have been there in July and experienced only minor backups. Personally, we rented scooters and used them to get around. Other than Kelly screaming in my ear “CLIFF!” or “BUS!” it was the perfect way to get around. Alternatively you can hire a private driver, and like the drive from Naples to the coast, anyone that’s traveled this way will highly recommend it. Private cars average a few hundred dollars and you can book private transfers directly on the Positano Tourism Board website. Once you’re in the towns it’s best to just walk. These towns were not built for cars, they’re built on cliffs for goodness sakes, so parking can be difficult. That’s exactly why we recommend getting a scooter, private transfer or doing the bus thing.