Are you an adventure seeker? Personally me, I’m not. Are you someone who prefers to stay home and cook something delicious to consume it in front of the TV? For sure, not me. But from time to time, I feel like either of these. And then imagine, I have to plan a week of vacations for three so different people! So, I’m going to reveal now how to plan a week of Amalfi coast vacations to please all the different tastes. A ready to use Amalfi itinerary below!
Day 0 and Day 1. Where to stay on Amalfi coast – Amalfi, Maiori, Vietri sul Mare or Salerno?
What I call ‘day 0’ is the arrival. And in our case, it was really a zero-pleasure day and night. Delayed for almost 3 hours flight to Naples, as a result – a missed shuttle bus. And therefore, a 150 EUR taxi drive instead of 45 for 3 people by airport shuttle. I was calming myself down saying that life will compensate this disappointment for sure. But what happened later is a carsick sister, completely destroyed by hillside driving ‘a la Italiana’. Well, the most important thing is that at the end we happily ended up in our cozy Amalfi Airbnb villa in the middle of nowhere. But, oh dear, how long it took the driver to find it.
Tired of life, finally at home, and all of a sudden, our feet caught that Italian nighty restlessness. So, at 10:30 pm on a dark night we headed to almost nowhere, just because our Airbnb host said: ‘there is a pizzeria in the end of the village, and it might be still open’. And voila here we are after 30 min walking up the hill along the roadway we were rewarded by huge pizzas in one of the few restaurants in our village 😊
Next day I promised to be soft and let everyone sleep, without planning anything special for the day. So, the first day of our Amalfi coast vacations was dedicated to walks in the town, gathering information about boats and buses, introduction to the nearby beaches.
Where to stay on Amalfi coast – Amalfi, Maiori, Vietri sul Mare or Salerno?
Day 2. Amalfi coast hiking routes. Sentiero dei Limoni or the Lemons’ Pathway
Now the adventure begins. There are many hiking routes on Amalfi coast, actually you can spend a whole week on Amalfi coast hikes discovering the region by foot. There can’t be anything more beautiful to do in Amalfi. Just have a swimming suit in your backpack to have a beach break – you’ll spot many stairs leading down to beautiful azure waters of Tyrrhenian Sea.
Oh, perhaps if it was a solo trip to costiera Amalfitana I would really do only hiking in Maiori, Minori and Sorrento))
Because I didn’t know a lot about the difficulty of routes mentioned on the web, I decided to start from the easiest one. Sentiero dei Limoni is a Maiori to Minori lemon walk. The path lays along the lemon plantations throughout the hills! As you can understand, locals in the old times, before the coastal road was built, used this route to commute on donkeys or by foot, to deliver lemons to the sales spots. It’s one of the most beautiful Maiori walks with lots of ups and downs, and obviously, even more stairs! But we did it to the extremes, really putting ourselves on a place of a typical Italian lemon-grower.
I couldn’t find a map of this route, only many recommendations and, actually, happy reviews. It’s easier to begin the route in Maiori, the starting point is clearer.
Sentiero dei Limoni or Lemons’ Pathway guide:
- Start at the Limonetum in Mairori (or navigate to the tourist office).
- Take the Scala Santa stairs on Via Pedamentina. Pass the Maria e Mare Collegiate Church and turn right. Here you can fill your bottles with water. Let the route start as you are on the Via Vena!
- Keep straight and follow the Sentiero dei Limoni waymarks. They are either very noticeable and made of tile, or just tiny lemon stickers on trees or poles.
Writing you directions for the route itself doesn’t make much sense. Advices like ‘turn right at the carob tree’ or ‘pass the huge laurel bush’ didn’t help me. After all, neither the carob, nor the laurel are eternal. Just don’t be afraid to get lost! Then it’s a real adventure, worst case, you’ll just go back and down. And remember: there are many locals, and other travelers you’ll meet on your way. All of the locals will be able to advise you the correct direction. Well, in getting lost I have firsthand experience.
I said before that we really lived a day of an Amalfi lemon-grower. That’s because instead of keeping straight on our lemon way, I was sure that climbing up the stairs is the correct choice. So, we climbed the hill with lemon farms precisely up to the top, until there was nowhere to climb anymore. Then I remembered the farmer we met a bit before on our way, he was with donkeys, carrying lemons. He was my only hope, since going lower and taking another turn didn’t help either and took us to even wilder forest. Luckily, we heard the donkeys’ bells ringing nearby and our farmer wasn’t long in coming. That’s when he impressed me by saying that the plain, flat route much below us is the right one!
Everyone who passed the route on their own or with a guide without making our mistake will tell you that it’s an easy hike. I can confirm that if you are going to repeat my mistake, see the most impressive farms which stay hidden away from tourists, you will have a moderate to difficult hike. But that’s your choice, or the destiny’s! Whatever you choose, a hike on your own, without any guides is the real Amalfi lemon experience!
Returning on the right track we finally started seeing the route indicators again, water taps and more stairs where matching the picturesque views in the best way. You will finish the hike in Minori, reaching the centre after overcoming another thousand of stairs down from the hill. That’s why I say it’s better to start in Maiori – the start point is not only clearer to find, but also begins less exhausting keeping your energy for later. And after all, this is where you should stop for a while to taste the famous Minori Limoncello. I’m telling more details regarding Minori and Maiori separately.
Restaurants in Minori. Beach in Maiori
Restaurants in Pogerola
Day 3 – Cooking workshops in Sorrento. Amalfi – Sorrento bus
In this area workshops and any other ‘amalfitano’ experiences are quite pricy comparing to the rest of Italy I’ve been to. For example, a culinary class in Calabria was 35 EUR, here – you won’t find anything for less than 60 EUR. Well, tickets were bought, accommodation paid, I was already hooked by Amalfi, so nothing to do, but going for the other bills as well. And I decided that you haven’t been to Italy, if there was no culinary experience during the trip.
After long research I faced a dilemma of either booking via an agency when I wouldn’t know who would do the cooking class, or contacting a restaurant/cook directly, but then there is no organized transfer to the place. Still out of these two I prefer to struggle with the route, rather than a possibility of having a non-Italian as a chef teaching me to make pizza. So, my search got filtered more and at this stage I realized that unless you go to an ‘agriturismo’ (a country house, usually not easily reachable), there are cooking classes only in Sorrento. That’s how we ended up there, in the city of art!
We booked two classes at Old Taverna Sorrentina – a pastry and a pizza making class. And because you are supposed to eat what you cook I was precautious and placed them on different days. After all, it’s a better idea to pay, learn and eat, rather than just pay and eat as in a restaurant.
The organizers of the workshop are a typical Italian couple, where the man is the Chef, but the woman is the strict accountant of his generosity. It was very funny to observe them, felt like watching an old Italian comedy. Guigliermo, the Chef, always tried to cook some more things, use more ingredients, while his wife always had to put him back into effective business running mode. So usual Italian family negotiations 😊
They have a cafeteria & gelateria on one of the central and touristy streets of Sorrento. And then a kitchen used for their cafeteria is also used for the workshops. Which is also interesting, when else would I end up on a professional restaurant kitchen?
The pastry workshop was intense. We learned making the Italian pastry cream, lemon cake, crema Chantilly, sponge cake, a lot of information about how & when to add lemon to your pastries, and, of course, tiramisu. It was a simple one with lady fingers in a martini glass. But again, masterpiece is in details, which we now know! Afterwards, as expected, we had to consume all prepared and even managed to take a lemon cake with us home 😊
What about Sorrento? If you decide to go on holidays here, you will end up shopping every single day. There are too many shops of all kinds, both touristic with souvenirs and also designer boutiques. Staying at a secluded location helped us avoid spending on stuff. And guess what, 80% of the souvenirs and presents I bought during this day trip to Sorrento.
Sorrento beach on the water. Sorrento - Positano - Capri ferry
Day 4 – Amalfi – Salerno ferry. Pizza in Salerno. Amalfi Coast Boat Tour on a budget
I’d call it a relax by the sea. Of course, it didn’t go that smooth and plans always get adjusted on the way. But not all is simple here. The only way of commuting had to be sea transport. So, I checked out Travelmar and the furthest destination to the East was Salerno. After a few hours there I planned to get a boat to Cetara (a traditional fishermen village on the coast). Then from Cetara either a stop in Maiori or Minori or getting a boat directly to Amalfi. The initial plan as following:
- Amalfi to Salerno ferry arriving to Porto Turistico, next to Concordia train station. Obviously the boats are always full of people with suitcases going mostly to Naples by train from Salerno.
- Salerno to Cetara boat
- Cetara to Maiori or Cetara to Amalfi boat
All schedules here and of course you can just simply take a Salerno Amalfi ferry to shorten the way back. I consider it as a budget version of a boat tour on Amalfi coast 🙂 All the real ‘tours’ would start at a 100 EUR price pp. With TravelMar, I guess, I didn’t spend more than 20 EUR per person.
Obviously, I planned to fry ourselves a bit on a beach in Salerno, but… Salerno appeared to be out of beach destinations. To clarify your doubts about this city I have to say it’s not worth staying here at all. Salerno is an industrial port, as a result, it’s more dangerous walking along the promenade at night, and even day time I felt some looks and intentions. The beach is industrial as well, you wouldn’t want to swim in that unclear water and non-romantic scenery. And besides that, going a bit more to the East, we found another public beach which wasn’t swimmable because of the stormy waves. That’s right, I have to mention that the sea in Salerno is always full of high waves. Which is the reason surfing being popular around, but not the beach life.
At the same time, I discovered a beautiful beach just next to Salerno in Vietri sul Mare. But I already spoke about it in the beginning. So, if you are looking for beaches in Salerno, just take a boat or bus to Vietri!
Because of this we decided to use our time wisely and spend it on lunch. And another surprise was on its’ way. For the first time in our consumer lives we had a pizza with croquettes. Literally, 4 large croquettes on a pizza dough. The restaurant would be nice, but everything including my tuna salad was over salted. If you like salty, try it out – Pizzeria Saporito.
A positive aspect of Salerno is its’ empty streets. I mean, you won’t have a problem taking a photo in front of its’ cathedral, trying to wake up early before other tourists do, so you have the stairs empty. Not this city. All the streets and cathedrals are yours. We even entered the Salerno cathedral with an ongoing wedding.
From Salerno we bought tickets for a boat to Cetara. It’s around 15 min. Getting closer to the little port of this village my cousin made a facial expression of the most unsatisfied person in the world, since she saw a small and crowded beach, which was additionally serving as a port. So, I did something very criminal. Knowing that the boat continues to Maiori and then to Amalfi, I told them to sit and act as we go to Maiori. At least I knew what beach to expect there! The difference in price is 2 EUR, so I don’t consider it as a big sin, bearing in mind how much I donated to the maritime business of the region during our Amalfi coast vacations in total.
The evening finished on our much-loved beach in Maiori. With sunbeds and umbrellas being 3 EUR only. And a dinner in a hidden restaurant – for the first time here, my phone felt lost and couldn’t locate a place. The restaurant was La Tana del Luppolo and while the food was really good, I hated the service with all my heart. They had waiters which could only take an order, or the ones which were only supposed to take your empty plates away. This led me asking for something from a person who’s taking my plate and never getting what I asked for, so waiting for that one and only waiter who can take orders. Then we had to wait some 20 min to finally get the check, and basically the waiters were just rude.
Again, the food made it worth visiting, all the meals were creative, and the plating was well done. The only remark I have is that shrimps fried in their shell were impossible to eat, I constantly had to clean them which made the dining experience less and less enjoyable.
More about restaurants in Maiori here.
Day 5 – The most beautiful town on Amalfi Coast. Ravello. Villa Rufolo. Frozen yoghurt and Ravello-Amalfi walk
I heard a lot about Ravello, and not from touristic sources. For people coming from the IT industry Ravello is related to a cloud-based software, which is named after the place where it was developed. In Ravello. After seeing a few photos of the town it’s easy to understand how people come up with industry changing ideas. Ravello is inspiring, perhaps in that blooming heaven your mind gets a better connection to the Universe to source creativity.
So, we had a free day which I had to fill in with a nice town. It was either Ravello or Positano. Considering the vicinity of the first one, and the fact that’s it’s not a coastal location, we headed towards Ravello.
Once you find yourself in that bus going up and up to the hills through little, secluded countryside locations, green and shady, you literally want to press the stop button and say you go by foot, whatever it takes. Actually, at the end that’s what we did once we found out about the Ravello to Amalfi walk.
I don’t like those Amalfi coast must sees, but despite the fact it being very touristy, Villa Rufolo in Ravello is a not to miss while on the coast. We didn’t take a tour, so I know little about the villa itself, besides the info on the brochure. Although its’ most charming part is far not the architecture, but the garden, maintained all through the long history by descendants of the original gardeners. Well, these famous Ravello gardens, such a colourful piece of land, inspired Wagner for the setting of the Klingsor in Parsifal. No surprise that everyone is in love with the garden ever since. By the way, for classical music lovers, the villa hosts a Wagnerian concert every year and generally impresses by the many artistic venues. More about Ravello events below 😉
Eating in Ravello & the secret Ravello – Amalfi walking path
Talking about Ravello as a town. I would live here, perhaps 😊 But, it would take a while to understand the decent places to eat – I’m not looking for expensive and posh places, just good food for reasonable price. I had some nice restaurants and cafeterias saved in my list for Ravello, but since it was Sunday, everything was closed, or didn’t exist anymore in this world. So, we ended up on the main square in Duomo Café Ravello. Their pastry looks very attractive, so maybe I ordered the wrong thing. But this was the worst tuna salad in my life so far. When you order a tuna salad you imagine it having some vegetables, corn, in Spain even boiled eggs and asparagus. Here it was plain salad leaves cut on small pieces and tuna, which was incredibly salty. And, of course, the price of this salad was something like 10 EUR. But I had a positive culinary experience in Ravello as well, about it below.
Ravello to Amalfi walk
From the top of the villa’s garden you’ll see an eye-catching cobblestone route. Find the starting point of this path when exiting the villa and turning on the left. There will be an amazing frozen yogurt shop (I recommend the plain one, without toppings) and following the path down the hill you’ll find those cobblestones. Where does it lead? Almost wherever you want! Amalfi, Atrani, Maiori, Minori, Scala, Castiglione. All these depending where you turn – left or right.
We went to the right towards Amalfi, crossing Atrani. Just like the Lemons’ Path this is the old route connecting the towns, with stairs and lots of ups and downs. And again, as the previous staircase hike we took, this also opens unbelievable views in front of you. The sea always impresses more when you look from the top.
We walked along beautiful villas, cafeterias located in the middle of nowhere waiting for god knows whom to buy a coffee, abandoned houses and then we were disappointed by getting out on the roadway. Luckily if you cross the road you’ll find more route indicators taking you down the stairs, so we didn’t have to walk along the cars even for five minutes! At some point the path will take you to Atrani, where you can maybe have a longer break than we did. A beautiful little town, very similar to others on the coast of course, but choosing your favourite città is always a matter of taste. Our evening finished at the main square of Amalfi though with some aperol and prosecco. And then a late-night pizza in Pogerola at La Capannina, which I already mentioned above. This time we were impressed by a pizza covered with French fries on top of it.
- Villa Rufolo
- Villa Rufolo Event Calendar
- Ravello Event Calendar
- Fruit Passion Frozen Yogurt Shop Ravello
More about things to do in Ravello, restaurants and hotels here.
Day 6 – pizza cooking class in Sorrento. Recipes!
As promised we returned to Sorrento one more time before leaving the coast. This time a pizza cooking class waited for us in Sorrento and since we learned from our mistakes the last time, we had only a small breakfast before it. So first the chef explained us that there are only 2 types of pizza – good pizza and fast pizza.
Pizza Napoletana. Dough recipe
Pizza Toppings a la Napoletana
Pizza Margherita. Pizza Marinara. Lemon Pizza. Pizza Primavera. Focaccia. Calzone
This mouthwatering feast was the last day of our trip. On our way back on the next day we had some troubles in the airport with Ryanair who charged us 100 EUR for exceeding 2 cabin bag sizes. I’ve never seen an airline checking your luggage in such a disgusting way. All of us had standard sized hardcase suitcases, so they couldn’t increase by us pushing in more things (actually we didn’t bough anything which would make our bags increase comparing to the flight to Napoli). However, as it happens with me second year in a raw, somehow, they let you fly in Italy without any checks, but once you are leaving, the importance of checking not only the height but also width of your bag somehow grows to extremes. You buy the priority ticket to have that small clutch hanging on you, you buy a seat, so you can stay together with your friends/relatives, and then they decide to charge another 100 EUR because such a ‘why not’.
Despite Ryanair flies to so many tempting destinations I promised never ever again get on board of their plane.