This may surprise you, but Amalfi once was one of the largest and most powerful maritime towns in Europe.
Thanks to its strategic location southeast of Naples in the heart of the Mediterranean, the small trading town slowly grew into an independent republic. Its seemingly impossible location amid harsh mountainsides and cliffs made potential invaders think twice.
“For the people of Amalfi who will go to heaven, judgment day will be a day like any other”local proverb
But that was 1,000 years ago. Nowadays the traders are gone and the European glitterati have moved in. They speed among Amalfi’s vertiginous streets, drink Aperol spritz and bask in the eternal sunshine (they don’t come in winter).
Which is kind of a shame, because Amalfi happens to be one of the most beautiful places in the world? And the whole region has become a kind of travel cliché – tainted by unattainable wealth.
Affordable Accommodation on the Amalfi Coast
Recently there has been a move to change the preconception that staying along the 50-kilometer (31-mile) Amalfi Coast is expensive. Low-cost hostels are beginning to set up shop around the region, and their views are just as spectacular as the five-star hotels.
The BriKette Hostel, for example, offers cooking classes, wine tastings and discount shuttle rides around town.
Another important thing to remember is that the region is very seasonal. You can save a lot of money if you plan your travel outside of the peak season (May to September).
The months of April and October are just as pleasant, and the hotels significantly drop their prices due to less demand. This way you can avoid the hordes of tourists and the harshness of peak summer sun.
Day 1: Positano
Where to eat
Instead of heading into the center for lunch where the prices are through the roof, there are small family-run delis that offer exquisite local produce. We were taken to Latteria, where the prices are cheap and the quality is of a kind that you know the locals would approve of
Here they will make you a panino with all kinds of cold-cuts, verdure sott’olio (vegetables in olive oil) including artichokes, aubergines and courgettes, and mouth-watering mozzarella di bufala like nothing else in the world.
They have salads, salami, pasta and everything that comprises a typical southern Italian lunch. A sandwich and a cold beverage costs around 10 euros.
Up the hill you will find a little fishmonger shop that doesn’t have a name. It doesn’t have a name because it doesn’t need a name; if you live in the area you just know about it. And besides, a name would ruin its magic. Every day they are supplied with whatever the local fishermen hauled in that morning.
If you come early enough you will find fresh clams for a spaghetti alle vongole, prawns to eat straight off the grill, and prime cuts of tuna and bream to be seared in the pan with the juice of the famous lemons native to Amalfi. Address: Via G. Marconi, 392.
Positano has a thriving art community, so after an obligatory dive in the ocean, explore the art galleries and stores where you can find local artists at work and affordable memorabilia to take home.
A local bus will take you to the top of the town where the coach departs for Amalfi. The bus stop sits directly opposite the famous Bar Internazionale, good for a break from the sun and a Peroncino beer while you wait.
For a different type of experience, check out this boat tour on the Gulf of Salerno and stop at the best sights on the Amalfi Coast. See the beautiful art and history and get to snorkel off the boat! Book this tour here and cancel anytime up to 24-hours before the event for no charge.
Day 2: Amalfi
Where to eat
Pasticceria Andrea Pansa
The first thing you must do in Amalfi is to take a typical Italian breakfast at the Pasticceria Andrea Pansa. Here the locals will invariably order a cappuccino accompanied with sfogliatelle (sweet pastries with almond, citron and orange fillings) and sit out in the piazza musing on the splendor of life.
The cafe sits under the magnificent Duomo di Amalfi, Cattedrale di St.’Andrea (pictured), named after the patron saint Andrew. It’s more than 1,000 years old and reflects the various cultures that have influenced the city over time.
Its architecture consists of Arab-Norman, Gothic, Renaissance and most recently Baroque styles – a feast for the eyes.
Check out the best options for tours of the Amalfi Cathedral here. From the top-rated Full-Day Guided Tour of the Amalfi Coast to the exclusive Private Limo Tour of Naples and the Coast, find the perfect activities for your getaway.
Day 3: Ravello
From the center of Amalfi you can catch a small bus that climbs the steep hills up to Ravello. Overlooking the Bay of Salerno, the views here are breathtaking.
Its ravishing gardens, quiet cobblestone streets and grandeur have attracted some of the world’s greatest poets, artists, musicians and actors over time. Prices are generally higher here, so booking accommodation in Amalfi and taking day trips are common.
Where to eat
Trattoria da Cumpa’ Cosimo
In the ancient town center, you will find the family-run trattoria of Cumpa’ Cosimo. It doesn’t have the views, but if they did the prices would be double. They make up for it with excellent homemade pasta, scallopini and a myriad of seasonal dishes with great service, often by Nonna herself.
This little restaurant has graced the likes of Jackie Kennedy, Gore Vidal (a longtime resident) and Humphrey Bogart.
Roughly a 15-minute walk from the main piazza is the Hotel Villa Cimbrone. A 7-euro admission fee will grant you access to the most revered palatial gardens in the world. The views from the Terrazzo dell’Infinito are worth the admission alone.
The Belvedere and surrounding scenery were an inspiration for D.H. Lawrence, who wrote “Lady Chatterley’s Lover” here, and described by Gore Vidal as “the best in the world.”
See the Villa Cimbrone and the best of Ravello with the All-Inclusive Amalfi Coast Tour. This day adventure with certified experts takes you through Ravello, Positano and Amalfi with lunch and a market shopping visit included! Book your tour here.
If you time your trip to Ravello well, you might be able to catch a concert at the Ravello Festival. It is held in the gardens of the ancient Villa Rufolo, where Wagner composed a major portion of his final opera in 1880, “Parsifal.”
Of Villa Rufolo, Wagner wrote “Il magico giardino di Klingsor è trovato” (the magical garden of Klingsor has been found). The town returned his appreciation and contribution by establishing the annual music festival in his honor.
So, if you’re planning a trip to Italy and thinking of avoiding the Amalfi coast because of your budget, just remember you can save a significant amount of money by choosing wisely where to stay, eat and drink. It can be possible on almost any budget, so why miss out on the most beautiful place in the world?
Book This Trip
Ready to getaway to the paradise that is the Amalfi Coast? Plan your escape to the beautiful beaches and cuisines dreams are made of. Check out transportation, hotels and insider knowledge through Travelocity and TripAdvisor.
Kiwi is one of the best options for booking a travel package. From flights to buses and hotel rooms, Kiwi allows you to book together at one price to fit all of the different travel needs you have. Book everything you need in Amalfi here.
Author Bio: Joshua Faris is a freelance writer and photographer with an appetite for all things travel, culture and the arts. With a background in anthropology and history, his work scratches beneath the surface to uncover useful cultural insights and travel tips.