Amalfi coast in May

Jan 27th, 2015, 10:38 PM
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Amalfi coast in May

I have been to Italy quite a few times but never to the Amalfi coast. As it looks so beautiful I thought it would make a great destination for our holiday in mid-May. The plan is to base ourselves in one town for a week or so and take day trips by bus and ferry. However, I've now read repeatedly that it is insanely busy and buses are so crowded that it is possible that you can't get on the bus and have to wait for the next one, or the next one. I'm less concerned about pedestrian traffic but more about transport. Are the buses less busy at certain times of the day? Do the ferries say 'no more' and you have to wait for the next one as well? I'm starting to talk myself out of going. I know that it's highly subjective but - is it worth it? how bad will it be? am I worrying about nothing? I know that it won't be as busy as July and August. What was your experience? Thank you.
dreamon is offline  
Jan 27th, 2015, 10:57 PM
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Where are you going from your base? Are you staying mostly at your base and make limited trips out of your base?

If you base yourself in Amalfi coast itself, say Positano, then you have to deal with the transportation issue every time you want to go somewhere else.

If your definition of basing in "Amalfi Coast" is more broad and includes Sorrento, then basing yourself in Sorrento reduces this Amalfi coast transport issues except on the day you are actually heading to Amalfi Coast destinations. From Sorrento, Napoli, Capri, Pompeii, Ercolano, etc. are simple trips without any of those "crowded buses". If you get a room overlooking the bay at Sorrento, you will have a sunset view of Mt. Vesuvius across the Bay of Napoli.
greg is offline  
Jan 27th, 2015, 11:07 PM
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My input might not be very helpful, as it is dated (I visited in 2007) and I didn't really "base" in the area -- I spent a few nights in Napoli (SO much to see, and I loved its gritty, dynamic energy), 1 night on Capri (SO much more magical after day trippers leave), a few nights in Ravello (MY idea of paradise -- which might explain why it is hard to reach ;-) ), and a night in Salerno (vastly underrated, IMO). The only places where I had to wait for the bus (or was worried that I wouldn't fit onto the next) were Amalfi and Ravello, but I always made it. YMMV.

Hope that helps!
kja is offline  
Jan 28th, 2015, 12:40 AM
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Thanks for your feedback.

Our current plan is to stay in Amalfi or Positano and visit Ravello, Atrani, Sorrento, Capri and do some hiking. We prefer to avoid one night stops if we can and usually like the idea of staying a bit longer in each place but perhaps that's not so smart in this case. Would love to visit Naples but it's a case of not being able to fit in everything. Ravello sounded gorgeous but not great as a base to visit other places so will have to make do with a visit for the day, perhaps walking back to Amalfi.
dreamon is offline  
Jan 28th, 2015, 12:42 AM
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IMO, the walk from Ravello to Amalfi is well worth it. Enjoy!
kja is offline  
Jan 28th, 2015, 01:42 AM
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You say that you'll be on the AC in mid May, so that is outside of peak season. Although roads and transport will be well used, they won't be thronged as in high season.
Rubicund is offline  
Jan 28th, 2015, 03:08 AM
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If you stay in Amalfi, you can walk the trail up to Ravello (do not take the steps up from Atrani, come back down that way). Atrani is next door to Amalfi, so no need for public transit there.

From Amalfi, you can take the bus to Bomerano (go early) and hike the Path of the Gods (lovely) to Positano. Take the ferry or bus back to Amalfi.

You might consider a second base if you can swing extra days. Sorrento would be good for access to Naples and Pompeii.

That minimizes your public transport on Amalfi.
mama_mia is offline  
Jan 28th, 2015, 03:24 AM
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Since you are soliciting opinions, I visited the Amalfi coast once and never had any interest in returning to the coastal tourist towns. I went a month earlier than you and while I didn't encounter crowds, I found the bus trips on the winding roads unpleasant. I stayed in both Ravello and Atrani, and visited all the other towns.

By contrast, I have returned to Napoli twice, and to Pompei twiice, and I recently went to Salerno and Paestum and would gladly return.

At the request of a friend, I went to Capri on a daytrip from Napoli in the middle of May and it was windy and a bit too cool to comfortably enjoy the outdoors. Although I bought a 10e hat on Capri that everyone (including me!) thinks is lovely, I have no interest in returning to Capri. I'd sooner take a chance on Ischia or Procida.

Leaving the Amalfi coast the first time, my taxi was forced to take a detour through the back hills of Sorrento for a bit, and I thought it looked totally charming (and the lemon trees smelled wonderful), while the main part of town looked a total tourist depot. I may sometime go and find a place to stay tucked in the hills, or at the legendary Don Alfonso if the euro goes through the floor. But the touristy aspect of most of that coastal area is just a turn off for me. It feels like the tourists just wash in and out of there, day by day, trooping by with their roller luggage and mostly shopping. There are so many truly beautiful coastal areas of Italy with fabulous food, lower prices and traditional Italian life.
sandralist is offline  
Jan 28th, 2015, 03:33 AM
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By the way, many people who to the Amalfi in May come back reporting that the buses were very crowded. A poster here named flygirl wrote this about her visit last year in May. She stayed in Positano:

"The afternoon I went to Ravello I had to make a last minute call for a driver (not Renato, above). I only wanted to spend an afternoon - get lunch, wander around, meet Mamma Agata, and so on. The SITA bus was full twice in a row - in May - and I gave up and called a driver. That was frustrating. Beware, doing it last minute like I did was 160E, plus tip, for a total four-ish hour trip, including drive time. On the other hand the drive is part of the fun and the driver stopped in many places for photo opps. The drivers know the area very well and are very enthusiastic to show it off and know where to stop. Lesson to learn from that is that the SITA buses aren't terribly reliable as they fill up very quickly. Lucy, the local guide I met in Positano, said you are best getting the very first bus of the morning if you really want to go anywhere. Keep that in mind -the bus would have been a whole lot cheaper!"
sandralist is offline  
Jan 28th, 2015, 03:42 AM
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and this, regarding buses in peak travel season, which many people would say starts in late April:
sandralist is offline  
Jan 28th, 2015, 04:42 AM
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Re OP's question about Amalfi experience and is it worth it

We were there two years ago in late April. Buses were full. We could not get on the bus from Salerno to Atrani and ended up sharing a cab with another couple (but that was the April 25 holiday). Mid-May would probably mean more crowds.

We stayed in Atrani and walked over to Amalfi. We thought about dinner in Amalfi but it always seemed too crowded and hectic there, so we would walk back to the relative peace of Atrani (there are several nice restaurants there).

We did the Valley of the Mills hike and Path of the Gods and walked to and from Ravello. We are hikers and really dislike crowds. Ravello seemed less hectic but it is also a little more remote. Positano was busy but if you don't mind "pedestrian traffic" you may not be bothered. Bomerano (where we started the Path of the Gods hike) was a nice little town which I wish we had more time to explore.

We took the bus to Sorrento on a rainy day (not a pleasant bus ride in rain). Rain always colors my opinions so I won't speak on Sorrento, but some people here say it is a fine base.

Is it worth it? I am glad we went. We enjoyed the hikes (beautiful wisteria and lemon trees) and the great views from the bedroom window of our B&B (, which seemed to hover over the sea. We had some wonderful seafood dinners.

We disliked the crowds but were able to minimize contact with them. Some people would not be bothered by it.
mama_mia is offline  
Jan 28th, 2015, 04:49 AM
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Have been to the are twice inMay and loved it - but we stayed in Sorrento on the Bay of Naples. t is a larger town with a lot more hotels, restaurants and shops and has much better transit connections (train to Pompeii and Naples, bus or taxi down the coast to the small cliff towns, a large number of ferries and hydrofoils out to Capri, to Naples and also some down the coast.)

Can;t comment on the buses, since we had a car - but we drove the coast road twice and while it was slow (15 mph?) - that only made it better for sightseeing. Did not notice how mobbed the buses were.

We would have stayed in Sorrento anyway - since we don;t really care for very small towns (fin to visit for the day but don;t really want to stay there).

(I know that some don;t like Sorrento - think it too touristy. But there are some gorgeous hotels with private grounds - we like Gran Hotel Vittoria Excelsior - but it is not cheap.
nytraveler is offline  
Jan 28th, 2015, 07:40 AM
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I visited in late May 2013. I decided to stay in Cetara because my priority was good food at night with no transport needed. We stayed in a 50 euro per night b&b with a million dollar view. It was convenient for visiting Pompeii, being close to the mainland. I would not have done it differently given the amount of time we had, but the bus on Sunday was flaky, and we had to ride some unpleasantly crowded buses a few times. In Amalfi, people would actually run to line up for the bus.
We passed through Amalfi several times, as we took the bus to that area to access hiking trails. Amalfi was mobbed with people and there are some super-tacky things on offer--like nude-mimicry aprons--it really mars the place. However, I loved the area overall and would gladly return. Now that I have visited Pompeii and Naples, I would combine a return visit to Naples with somewhere at the tip of the peninsula where I could access walking paths but absolutely nothing else.
Based on my experience and reading about tons of others', I think your solution would be to pick two spots to stay--one that is convenient for sightseeing based on what you want to see--and a second place that is quiet and where you can enjoy the scenery but do nothing other than sit or hike.
I would never go in July or August, but it is still possible to find peace and of course stunning beauty in May. It is great for a hiker because you can walk between these towns if you can stand the thousands of steps up or down.
yorkshire is offline  
Jan 28th, 2015, 08:09 AM
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I rent an apartment for a week in Positano each June and absolutely adore it. Mid-May is not yet peak seaon, so it will not be as crowded as the summer months. I have pretty bad motion sickness, so I have never taken the bus. However, my friends and I have taken the ferries to visit Amalfi/Ravello, Capri and Salerno/Vietri Sul Mare. You can also take the ferry to visit Sorrento. The small "interno" bus that you can take up to Nocelle for your hike is different than the crowded SITA bus and you would have no problem with availability on that bus.

There is plenty to keep me busy for my week in Positano, between enjoying the beach and amazing scenery, touring the other villages, hiking and relaxing. Also, if you stay in one place for a week, you can rent an apartment which IMO is much more comfortable and spacious than a hotel room and is cheaper in the long run.
ekc is offline  
Jan 28th, 2015, 08:12 AM
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Here is your sneak preview--also in May.
bobthenavigator is offline  
Jan 28th, 2015, 08:21 AM
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We went last May. We flew into Naples and ferried to Capri for 3 nights (we wanted 2 full days there) From there we went to Positano for 4 nights.

We did not ride the SITA bus but used the ferry to Amalfi and a local bus to Ravello. Our plan was to walk back to Amalfi but a friend wasn't feeling well so we taxied back to Amalfi. The walk looked like it would have been very pleasant. We hired a driver to go to Pompeii.

We loved our week there and were happy we divided our time between Capri and Positano.
Judy is offline  
Jan 28th, 2015, 09:21 AM
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I've visited the Amalfi Coast many times, and mid-May- early June is a great time to go.

We usually stay in Positano. The "secret"- if you can call it that- is basing yourself at one of the hotels or apartments that is not at ground/beach level, so that you can avoid the throngs of day trippers when you want to,and enjoy amazing views of the coast/town from the quiet of your hotel.

We especially love HOTEL POSEIDON, but VILLA GABRISI is very nice, and so is an small apartment complex called LE SIRENE, if you don't mind extra steps going back and forth.

I have to admit that during the late morning-mid afternoon, Positano can feel almost like the Italian version of Disney. You can avoid some of that by heading to FORNILLO BEACH, which is an easy 20-30 minute walk out of town starting at the town dock.

Yes, there will be some tourists, but also a lot of Italian families, and it's a beautiful place to spend a few hours away from crowds in town.

Now about the bus. It has a bad rep for good reason, but you can often avoid that, too, by taking the boat between Positano and Amalfi. You would then take a taxi or walk up to Ravello. You can also hire a water taxi to take you to any number of towns along the coast, though that can be an expensive option!

I hope I haven't put you off by trying to paint a realistic picture of what to expect. Keep in mind that most of the towns along the coast, including Amalfi, will have similar crowds. And I simply don't find Amalfi that beautiful or charming.

So why visit at all? Because Positano has some of the most stunning views on earth. And the Amalfi Coast has some of the best food we've ever had in Italy. And I haven't even mentioned the hiking you can do between towns, or back down the mountain from Montepertuso!
WWK is offline  
Jan 28th, 2015, 11:17 PM
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Thanks, everyone, for sharing your experiences.
dreamon is offline  

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