Whenever someone says “Italian Beach”, I’m sure that the first image that pops into their head is of the beautiful Amalfi Coast just south of Naples in Italy. Imagine deep blue water, melting gelato, scooters zooming around the hillsides, the freshest seafood anywhere and scents of lemon wafting down from the hills above. This is paradise! This land is what honeymoon dreams are made of, and it couldn’t be a more relaxing and gorgeous place to travel to after your wedding.
Designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Amalfi Coast (Costeria Amalfitana) sits along the southern coast of the Sorrentine Peninsula just south of Naples. The name Amalfi comes from the mythological nymph Amalfi whom Hercules was in love with and was buried by the gods in this area. Thirteen small towns stretch across this coastline, where mountainous cliffs plummet into the ocean and houses balance on the edge of the mountains. It is an amazing place, filled with such culture, tradition and magic – a perfect location to spend your honeymoon (or ‘luna di miele’ as the Italians say).
HOW TO GET THERE:
Getting to the Amalfi Coast is not for the faint of heart. There is only one main road that winds along the coast, full of hairpin curves on the edge of sheer cliffs. The main arrival points are to fly into Rome or Naples and take the train south to either Sorrento or Salerno. While Sorrento ‘seems’ closer, if you’re going to travel by train I recommend going to Salerno. It’s on the southern end of the coast, but much easier to transfer between the train and bus station where you’ll have to take a bus to one of the main towns along the coast. Believe me, I’ve taken the multiple trains and busses from Naples to Sorrento to Positano and I don’t recommend it. Once in Salerno, at the main station grab a Sita Bus ticket right outside and wait for the blue Sita Bus that says Amalfi. This was about a 45 minute ride and the bus only stopped a few times.
However, the best way to arrive is by hiring a private driver. You can take the train from Rome to Naples and have the driver meet you at Napoli Centrale Station. From there, they will literally deliver you to the doorstep of your hotel, no loading and unloading your luggage from trains and busses and dragging them up hills steeper than the Alps! I recommend Positano Tony for car service.
WHEN TO GO:
Summer is prime-time for the Amalfi Coast as tourists and even Italians flock to the beaches for the sunshine, il sole. Towns along the coast are booming during June – August with every restaurant, beach and gelateria packed to the brim. It’s still manageable to travel around the coast during this time, but the busses and transportation can be crowded and traffic can be backed up along the coastline. If you’re traveling in the summer, I’d recommend staying in one location where you don’t have to go anywhere and just lounge on the beach or by the pool. Private resorts like Le Sirenuse in Positano or Belmond Hotel Caruso in Ravello are perfect for escaping the crowds and experiencing a more private, luxury getaway!
My personal recommendation if you want to travel throughout the entire coast is to go in late April, May or early September. The weather is still pretty warm during those months and you’ll be able to enjoy the beaches with less crowds.
(Amalfi during the less-crowded month of April)
WHERE TO GO:
There are so many beautiful little towns to explore along the coast, and I encourage you to travel to the lesser-known towns but in this article, I’m going to share the must-see locations.
If you’ve watched ‘Under the Tuscan Sun‘ five million times like I have, you have probably dreamed of coming to Positano! The scene on the beach where Francis and Marcello find the little kitten (piccolino) and kiss under the stars? Che romantico! Positano is more beautiful in person and is so full of hidden gems, tiny piazzas and hidden beaches it’s no wonder that people flock here – especially for their honeymoon.
Duomo – The duomo is an icon in Positano and sits in the center of town, nearly on the beach. You can see it prominently from the beach and sea as well as the towering hills above town. It is a must-see in Positano.
Shopping – Positano is well-known for it’s amazing shopping. Everything from hand-made sandals fit to your own feet to linens and luxury clothing, Positano has it all. I particularly love the small vendor stands along the major streets that feature artwork by local artisans. I’ve purchased several paintings here.
Beaches – The Main beach in Positano is popular, but don’t be afraid to wander to other locations as well. Spiaggia di Fornillo on the western side of town is beautiful and quieter. You can also try Laurito, Arienzo or discover your own hidden beach by boat!
Excursions – There are numerous excursions available from the dock in Positano, just stop by the beach at the bottom of town to see what is available while you’re there. Your hotel can also arrange trips for you as well.
Amalfi is the first town I ever visited along the Amalfi Coast, so it has a special place in my heart. I was in love with this town from the first moment I saw it at sunset. What I loved most was that I visited here in April and in the early morning it was a regular, sleepy little town with no tourists. You could really get a sense of real, everyday life here and that’s what I loved the most! Ferry Boats brought tourists from Positano and Capri during the day, when it could get quite crowded but after 4pm it would return to a quiet little town again.
Duomo – The Cattedrale di Sant’Andrea sits on the main piazza in town and is most recognizable by it’s bell tower with a brightly colored cupola. From the piazza, you must ascend a long set of steps up to the front doors to enter the main cathedral and museum beyond. The stone and tile work is just exquisite!
Museo della Carta – The Museum of Paper is a little gem in the town of Amalfi and a must-see. The museum is located at a 14th century Amatruda paper mill along the Canneto River and founded by Nicola Milano, a descendent of one of the key paper making families in Amalfi. The paper mill is still active and you can see the entire production process on restored machinery and buy paper made here. The paper is sumptuous and lovely and I still have a small stash that I write very special notes on.
Ristorante la Caravella – I’ve been told this is the best restaurant in Amalfi, but definitely call ahead for reservations.
Stop by Andrea Pansa for traditional Neapolitan snacks and desserts including the famous Sfogliatelle.
Visit Marina Grande on the beach for an after-dinner aperitivo. It’s a great spot, right on the beach, and has a fantastic bar and restaurant.
Insider Tip: Take a boat to one of the smaller beaches outside Amalfi like Concha di Marini. You can catch a boat from the harbor in Amalfi to La Tonnarella or Ristorante Trattoria Ippocampo which both provide a free boat ride to their restaurants if you are dining there.
I discovered Ravello after photographing a wedding there and it is by far my favorite town along the Amalfi Coast. It is hidden in the hills way above the town and seems like a world away from the hustle and bustle of the touristy coast. Many celebrities have been known to come here because it is so peaceful and has a more local feel to it, we even spotted a few during our time there. The tiny streets, alleys and paths are perfect for exploring and trekking and you’ll find hidden gems around every corner. Be sure to do a bit of shopping here, the porcelain bowls are famous here and made with such artistry.
Villa Cimbrone – This old villa and gardens is gorgeous and a must if you’re visiting Ravello. It’s located on the very edge of town and is a nice walk from the main piazza. The gardens are meticulous and feature so many beautiful plant species as well as a 360 degree view of town and the sea that is breathtaking!
Oscar Niemeyer Auditorium -Ravello is known as the ‘city of music’ and hosts the annual Ravello Music Festival here.
Strolling & Shopping – Getting lost is a must here, so take some time to just stroll along the tiny streets and discover the hidden corners of town. It is also a great place to shop and purchase locally made limoncello and lemons.
The famous Isle of Capri is unfortunately one of the places that I haven’t explored yet in my travels. I’d love to go someday and would definitely spend at least a week there relaxing and adventuring. One great thing about Capri compared to the other towns along the Amalfi Coast is that it is an island, and you can travel here by ferry directly from Naples or Sorrento! If you’re traveling to Capri from one of the coastal towns, there is a ferry from both Amalfi and Positano to Capri. While there, hike or take the gondola to the top of Mt. Solaro or tour the Grotta Azzurra (Blue Grotto) by boat. And don’t forget to get a custom pair of sandals made here, they’re famous.
WHAT TO EAT:
So many delicacies in this area – so little time! I am drooling just thinking about all of the amazing food that I ate here. These are the “must-try’s”:
Seafood – The fish and seafood here is so fresh and delicious, I’ve never had seafood that was so good! You must try everything too, from the fritti misti (mixed fried fish) typically served in paper cones, to the calamari, mussels, clams and octopus. Just delightful!
Scamorza affumicata in foglia di limone – A typical antipasti along the Amalfi Coast, a smoky cheese called scamorza is sliced and grilled on top of fresh lemon leaves. The leaves infuse the cheese with a bit of lemon flavor and the taste is wonderful!
Granita – A granita is a frozen treat of crushed ice mixed with fruit flavors – you must try the lemon granita. Stands along the side of the main road along the coast are a great place to stop and take in the view, and a sweet treat!
Lemons – Limoncello is very popular here and typically served as a digestivo. There are many different local producers, in particular a great shop that you’ll find off of the main square in Amalfi.
WHERE TO STAY:
There are some amazing hotels and resorts on the Amalfi Coast, and for your honeymoon only the best will do! Here are a few recommendations of hotels that I’ve been to that I’d recommend:
Amalfi – Convento di Amalfi Grand Hotel
AirBnb is also a great choice in this area for private apartments or homes. I’ve used them more than once on the Amalfi Coast and have always found great places to stay.
Wherever you go along this beautiful coastline, you will be in awe of the land, the sea, the people and the amazing food and history. You’ll have no choice to come back because you’ll definitely leave your heart here. Buon Viaggio!
All words and images by Melissa Schollaert
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