The Amalfi Coast – with its bougainvillea-draped fishing villages and rugged coastal panoramas – tops many a traveler's bucket list.

And with good reason: this 50km (31 mile) coastal stretch spanning the towns of Positano to Vietri sul Mare holds treasures ranging from colorfully tiled cathedrals to cloud-grazing hiking routes. But where to start? Read on for our picks of the best places to visit in this stunning region of Italy.

An adult and child hold hands and gaze up towards a boutique shop at the top of a set of stone steps
Wear sturdy shoes when exploring the alleyways and staircases of Positano © MNStudio / Shutterstock

1. Positano

Glitzy resort town Positano has come a long way from its humble fishing village roots, with the price tag to prove it. But even if you can't afford to stay the night – room rates often start at €350 – Positano's greatest riches are very nearly free, starting with the first sight of its pyramid-shaped cliffside expanse from the ferry.

You'll need sturdy shoes (and lungs) to explore this unique cliffside village, accessible only by climbing an endless series of staircases cut directly into rock. But you'll discover boutiques, galleries and restaurants shaded by garlands of blooms, as well as soaring coastal panoramas at the town's summit, where you can stop for an aperitivo on the terrace of the historic Hotel Le Sirenuse and gaze down at the Gulf of Naples with a Negroni in your hand.

2. The Path of the Gods

Now put down that Negroni and lace up your boots: the Amalfi Coast is home to one of Italy's most thrilling hikes. The Path of the Godsil sentiero degli dei in Italian – is a 7km (4.34 mile) stretch of rosemary-perfumed Mediterranean shrubland, a staggering 630m (2065 ft) above sea level, seemingly suspended between the clouds and the earth. The trail's name comes from its mythical backstory; said to have been cut into the earth by the gods stampeding down from heaven to save Ulysses from the sirens' song.

The medium-difficulty trail has several entry and end points, but the most popular course starts in the mountain village of Agerola (Bomerano) and ends in Nocelle with a refreshing lemon slushie from the granita stand before hiking the 1700 stone steps down to Positano. Along the way you'll pass lemon groves, olive and chestnut trees and relish heavenly views of the coast.

Planning tip: Hit this trail in spring or fall or start out as early as possible during summer and winter months to beat the heat and maximize daylight. Trail shoes are a must. 

A small sandy beach tucked into the crevice of cliffs
Follow a stone staircase down to the secluded beach at Furore Fjord © YKD / Getty Images

3. Furore Fjord

The "fjord" in Fiordo di Furore is a misnomer: fjords are formed by glaciers, whereas this craggy inlet was carved into the cliffs by the Schiato torrent. But the resulting secluded beach – crowned by a dramatic arched bridge – is no less otherworldly, and worth the hundreds of stone steps you'll need to hike down (and then back up) to get there. Arrive directly by boat or water taxi, or head east on the SS163 state road by car or 5070 SITA bus to the hamlet of Furore, where you'll find the staircase leading to the beach just outside the Marisa Cuomo Winery. Your reward: a joyous pebbly beach with crystal clear waters.

4. Amalfi

Amalfi, the coast's seaside hub (and namesake), is a beautifully walkable medieval village full of boutiques, restaurants and snaking alleyways to explore. Its splendid Piazza Duomo is home to the historic pastry shop Pasticceria Pansa and a dramatic 62-step staircase leading up to the Cattedrale di Sant'Andrea; a 12th-Century Gothic cathedral and reliquary. Amalfi has also been a producer of artisanal paper since the 13th century as well as the region's main cultivator of Amalfi lemons.

Stroll down Via Lorenzo D'Amalfi – the main drag – to the edge of town, where you'll find Amalfi's Museo della Carta (Paper Museum), housed in an original 13th-century paper press, as well as the Amalfi Lemon Experience, a generational lemon grove where you can visit the town's historic lemon groves and sample artisanal limoncello.

5. Ravello 

Head high up into the Lattari mountains to find romantic Ravello, with its exquisite 800-year-old villas and the most breathtaking views of the region. Just 5.7km (3.5 miles) inland from the coast, this tiny village served as a refuge from Barbarian invaders in the 5th century and has welcomed world-weary visitors ever since, from great artists like Richard Wagner and DH Lawrence to anyone hoping to escape the seaside fray.

Ravello's stone-paved streets lead from its lively main square, Piazza Duomo, to its stunning villas, Villa Cimbrone and Villa Rufolo. The manors were each built over several centuries; notable for their various strata of architectural embellishments as well as their beautiful gardens and coastal views. Wander through Villa Rufolo's curlicued Moorish courtyards and get lost in Villa Cimbrone's rose bushes before stopping at the Terrace of Infinity to gaze down at the Gulf of Naples from 365m (1198ft) above.

Planning tip: Ravello is especially beautiful in summer when the gardens of Villa Cimbrone and Villa Rufolo are in bloom and the Ravello Music Festival is in full swing.

iStock-527091143-RFC.jpg
Admire the ceramic tiles and details found throughout Vietri sul Mare's cliffside village © iStockphoto / Getty Images

6. Vietri sul Mare

Lemon yellow, forest green and sea blue are the color palette of the Amalfi Coast. But in Vietri sul Mare – the birthplace of the exquisite hand-painted Vietri tiles adorning nearly every inch of the region – that palette explodes to rainbow intensity.

Vietri sul Mare is the coast's easternmost village and an open-air museum in every sense of the word. Wander along its main thoroughfare to find ceramics lining stairways, storefronts and alleyways in a colorful blaze. Browse its ceramics workshops where artisans are hard at work crafting vases and tableware, or the Solimene Ceramics Factory with its distinctive colorful tiled exterior. When you've crammed your suitcase full of handmade ceramics, head down to the Villa Comunale, an "urban garden" of rainbow-hued tiled steps leading down to the sea.

Planning tip: When purchasing Vietri ceramics, remember: no two pieces of true artisanal crafts are ever alike.

7. Sorrento

Seaside Sorrento is on the Sorrento Peninsula at 30 minutes' west of Positano is technically not part of the Amalfi Coast, but its proximity makes it an easy, and obligatory, detour. Yes, it's crawling with tourists, but you'll also find layers of Ancient Greek, Roman, medieval, Renaissance and Baroque architecture as well as a thriving cultural scene.

Piazza Tasso is Sorrento's beating heart, adjacent to the town's cobblestoned ancient quarter with its enclaves of artisanal woodworking shops. Stroll past grand villas and through the lush gardens of Villa Comunale overlooking the Gulf of Naples, then peruse art exhibits at the Chiostro di San Francesco with its tranquil ivy-covered courtyard. Cap things off with an oceanfront dinner at Marina Piccola pier or O'Parrucchiano La Favorita, where you can dine in a lemon grove strung with fairy lights.

Planning tip: Sorrento is the birthplace of limoncello, but skip the mass produced offerings and head to the Giardini di Cataldo lemon grove, which produces 100% artisanal limoncello right in the city center.

8. Bagni Regina Giovanna

The words "swimming hole" and "Ancient Roman villa" rarely go together, except at the Bagni Regina Giovanna – found 3.6km (2.2 miles) west of Sorrento. Once the seaside escape of the Roman nobleman Pollio Felix, today the 1st century villa's sunken ruins serve as a natural swimming hole where ecstatic bathers dive off the villa's rooftop into the Gulf of Naples; a 46m (150ft) drop. The atmosphere is pure Pagan joy and utterly unforgettable.

Planning tip: Only visit here if you're in peak physical condition. The 600m-long (1969ft) cobblestoned path leading to the villa is extremely uneven, to say nothing of the ruins themselves – crumbling and punctuated by precipitous drops.

9. Baia di Ieranto

Also on the Sorrento Peninsula, this wow-worthy secluded cliff beach is a 45-minute hike from the village of Nerano. The trek starts out gentle but ramps up to medium intensity in the last 15 minutes, leading you down a rocky slope to reach the bay with an amazing view of the faraglioni (rock towers) of Capri. The vibe is sheer bliss, interrupted only by thrill seekers diving off the cliffs. The Sorrento Peninsula – particularly the Baia di Ieranto bay – is believed to be the land of Homer's mermaids, so keep watch.

Explore related stories

Low angle view of smiling young Asian woman with straw hat, using smart phone while walking in the old town, Puglia, Italy. Solo traveller. Technology and lifestyles.
1432971124

Budget Travel

How to visit Puglia on a budget

Mar 26, 2024 • 6 min read