What to see along the world’s most beautiful coastline.
With a thrill every 100 yards and a photo op at nearly every bend, the Amalfi Coast is probably the most beautiful 30 miles of coastline in the world. The region’s fairytale towns, like postcard-perfect Positano and the magical mountain enclave of Ravello, are national treasures that have long attracted curious travelers. Even the ancient Romans vacationed here. On top of its natural beauty, the region is a cornucopia of culinary goodies, making it the envy of food lovers worldwide. The Amalfi Coast was deemed a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997, nodding not only to the stunning landscape but also to the clever way humans adapted to the dramatic terrain with precariously perched villages and terraced vineyards and orchards.
See Italy in Miniature
The tiny coastal hamlet of Atrani is the smallest municipality in southern Italy and a welcome reprieve from its more popular neighbor, Amalfi. It’s built in the dimple of a valley between two large cliffs, so the already diminutive streets, arcaded lanes, and tightly packed homes in pastel shades are even more quaint and romantic. There’s even a charming little beach where you can rent chairs and umbrellas. There are less than 1,000 residents, and they all inevitably pass through the town’s darling little Piazza Umberto I, where cafes, restaurants, fruit and vegetable vendors, and all the things that make the town so wonderful seem to converge.
Dine at Da Adolfo
The landmark Da Adolfo trattoria is a beachfront institution on Positano’s Spiaggia di Laurito. There’s a laid-back atmosphere that keeps the la dolce vita sensibility alive. The restaurant is a horn of plenty for seafood lovers, and a glass or two of cold white wine with yellow peaches at sundown is a must. A free ferry leaves for the restaurant from Positano every half hour.
Treat Yourself at Le Sirenuse
In terms of grand luxury, Le Sirenuse is really the only competition for the Il San Pietro di Positano hotel. Stay here to realize the truth of John Steinbeck’s sentiment when he recalled that Positano “is a dream place that isn’t quite real when you are there and becomes beckoningly real after you have gone.” A meal at the La Sponda restaurant is an indulgence that everyone should experience. An afternoon spent sitting by the lofty pool and soaking in the hot sun and scenery is time well spent.
Take Selfies at Positano
Pastel-colored houses cascade down to the azure sea in this remarkable village, described by artist Paul Klee as “the only place in the world conceived on a vertical rather than horizontal axis.” Rose, peach, purple, and ivory-colored cubist building, draped in bright pink bougainvillea, are constructed in tiers up the side of the mountain, making it no wonder that Positano is the most photographed fishing village in the world.
Take in the Coast Loftiest View
Speed Along the Coastline
The road along the Amalfi Coast combines the thrills of a roller-coast ride with spectacular views. If you’re taking a car, you’ll need a confident driver. Go by bus if you want seasoned pro behind the wheel and more time to appreciate the scenery.
Experience the Glamour at Ravello
Perched like an eagle’s nest above the stunning coastline, Ravello is perhaps the most peaceful and charming town on the Amalfi Coast. With its largely traffic-free lanes, vertigo-inducing terraces, and elegant gardens, the town exudes are an air of restrained glamour. Ravello was a favorite escape for Greta Garbo and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis.
Marvel at Amalfi’s Duomo
One of the region’s most fascinating architectural wonders, Amalfi‘s Duomo di Sant’Andre is a mash-up of various architectural styles (think Baroque, Gothic, Byzantine, and Romanesque), but it’s the Arab-Norman details that are most predominant. Glimmering mosaics dress up the church’s facade, which is imposing and almost awkward in appearance, given its cramped position between palazzos near tiny Piazza Duomo.
Indulge Yourself at Il San Pietro di Positano
Recognized as the most opulent and storied hotel along the Amalfi Coast, Il San Pietro di Positano is a slice of heaven and an architectural wonder carved into the hillside just outside Positano’s historic center. The gardens, with their giant rosemary hedgerows and jasmine bushes perfuming the air, are intoxicating. Add to the list of pleasures the Michelin-starred Zass restaurant and private beach and you have a recipe for the ultimate holiday getaway.
Hike the Path of the Gods
This is the Amalfi Coast’s most popular and visually stunning hiking trail, stretching between the hilltop towns of Agerola and Nocelle. The best way to tackle the 4.8-mile trail is to begin at Agerola, where the path gently slopes downhill. Spectacular views of Capri and the colorful towns of the Amalfi Coast are your prize. The trek takes about three hours and is well marked by red or white signs directing you to towns below in case you want to deviate from the main trail for lunch or a shorter trek.