Amalfi Coast road trip itinerary
Driving along the Amalfi Coast has to be one of the simplest – but show-stopping, road trips imaginable. The SS163 highway does most of the heavy lifting for you, with many of the thirteen Amalfi Coast towns dotted along the route. We’ve mapped out the basic order of the towns here, but below we’ve got a rundown of what to expect from the Amalfi Coast highlights – and the detours to make to see it all.
Sorrento – Positano – Praiano – Furore – Conca De Marini – Amalfi – Atrani – Scala – Ravello – Minori – Tramonti – Maiori – Cetara – Vietri Sul Mare – Salerno
Day trip your way along the coast, pick a few towns to dig into a little deeper or drive the entire, seascape-strewn SS163 in one go. Clocking in at 55km – it’s an unforgettable 2 hour drive.
Driving the Amalfi Coast?
The SS163 is the drive of a life time. But one look at the tight turns, slender streets and narrow ledges of the Amalfi Coast road might leave you wondering if your road trip might be a little hair raising. But there are solutions. Most Amalfi residents prefer to zip from town to town by scooter. Parking is easier – and those narrow roads suddenly feel a lot wider. SITA buses connect the towns, if you’d rather leave the driving to someone else. And, to escape the hot confines of a bus, some towns are so close together they’re linked by gorgeous hiking trails.
Officially, the Amalfi Coast starts in Positano, but it makes sense to start your trip in Sorrento. The town delivers on pastel pink homes, lemon groves, sea views and travel history – as well as being a ferry ride away from Naples. Handy for hopping straight in the hire car from the airport, and starting your trip in style. Potter around the basilicas, piazzas and harbour – but see it as inspo for highlights further along the coast. The Sorrento must see? The Il Vallone dei Mulini ruins. Sorrento’s mills once stood tall in this valley that must have bustled with industry. Now, nature is staking a claim on the buildings, leaving you a very lush, green ghost town to explore.
Picking up the SS163 in Sorrento’s hills, head south east along the road until the shimmering coast comes into view. Eight view points along Amalfi Drive allow plenty of chances for you to whip out your selfie stick. And, when you reach Positano itself, expect narrow, winding roads before you reach a stretch where the town spills out below, stacking into the cliff sides with all the shabby chic allure you’d expect. Positano is your introduction to the real Amalfi Coast. Glamour with an well-worn edge that comes with citrus-addled dishes, sun-baked pebble coasts and water taxi rides to secret coves. Like most of the towns along the coast, Positano’s best photographed from above – or from the sea.
Orbzii tip: Vantage points on the SS163 tend to be little more than a tiny lay-by. Try to bag a parking spot where there’s a kiosk selling local fruit and produce. A limonata overlooking the ocean below? Bliss.
How do you find a town that isn’t a town? With no piazza and little to suggest it’s even there, Amalfi Coast road trippers miss this Italian fjord that’s hidden in plain sight. You drive over it on the SS163 but with no parking, it’s a tricky little nook to snuffle out. To see the mini beach, park in Praiano and hike the 2km or hop on a SITA bus. The bus stops right next to the 200 steps that drop down to the shore.
Don’t be put off by the tight tunnel that squishes you into Amalfi’s streets. Once through, you find yourself in one of the Amalfi Coast’s largest towns – with parking, and plenty of sights to uncover. Potentially allow a couple of days here to wander the Piazza del Duomo, learn about Amalfi’s paper making industry, taste an almost indecent amount of limoncello and be overwhelmed by the sheer number of ceramics you can buy depicting lemons and lemon trees. The Old Town is the highlight – with a little leg work needed to scale the steps to the higher vantage points.
Orbzii tip: If summer crowds and traffic-filled streets aren’t your thing, by all means swerve Amalfi and head for Atrani instead. Mostly pedestrianised, this mini-town is one of the best preserved on the coast – and delivers the real Amalfi Coast experience most travellers are looking for.
Leave the simplicity of the SS163 for a short while and navigate up into the hills. Heading north on the SS373, you’ll pass through Atranii on route to Ravello. The drive starts simply enough, heading through coastal suburbs to wind up through the garden terraces and lemon groves of the hills above. Is it worth the detour? Well, the views from Villa Cimbrone’s infinity terrace inspired Richard Wagner to finish a long overdue opera. Today, Ravello hosts an annual festival dedicated to his music. A magical, inspiring and flower-strewn spot that’s been the muse of artists and musicians for centuries.
Orbzii tip: It’s worth taking a detour here to enjoy one of the best things to do on the Amalfi Coast – taking a cooking class from the talented chef, Mamma Agata.
Vietri Sul Mare
Amalfi Coast road trips begin and end in Vietri Sul Mare – which can make it a drive-thru town that few take time to explore. Big mistake. Ceramics are big business here, so if your suitcase has a space or two left, now’s the time to pick up those pieces you’ve been eyeing on your trip so far. Away from the homewares, you can add a splash more colour to your Insta-feed with Vietri Sul Mare’s vibrant palette of primary shades that add a little pizazz to the famous pastel tones you’ll see elsewhere. Vietri Sul Mare also bucks the coast’s pebble beach trend with the sandy shores of Baia.
Orbzii tip: Be sure to explore beyond the main duomo – the smaller churches in Vietri Sul Mare hide stunning frescos and ceilings.
If you don’t want your Amalfi Coast road trip to end just yet, carry on to Salerno. The city stylings do snap you out of the more simplistic dolce vita found on the coast road, but the airport is handy for the flight home. To keep your journey through Italian history going just a little longer, head to Salerno’s old town in the Rione Duomo district.