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The Amalfi Coast Drive – one day road trip itinerary

Italy’s Amalfi Coast Drive is one of the most stunning coastal roads in Europe. Winding its way along the Italian coastline south of Naples, the route is breathtakingly beautiful but, at the same time, slightly terrifying. And around every hairpin bend, you’ll find a view even more spectacular than the one before.

Amalfi Harbour, Italy
Amalfi harbour, Amalfi Coast

Let’s take a look at how to drive the Amalfi Coast and some of the main destinations along the Amalfi Coast Drive route. I’ll also share some tips for driving the Amalfi Coast road and some alternative options if you don’t fancy getting behind the wheel.

Driving the Amalfi Coast is one of the top things to do in Italy and a bucket list experience.

The Costiera Amalfitana (SS163) weaves its way along the Italian coastline for over 60 kilometres starting at Sorrento and heading south before ending at Vietri sul Mare, near Salerno. Views along the Amalfi drive are stunning.

Amalfi Coast Towns

The Amalfi Coast road links the main towns of Positano, Praiano, Ravello and Amalfi, but there are a total of 13 towns and villages included on the Amalfi Coast Drive route. Running eastwards from the unofficial starting point of Sorrento, these are:

Positano, Praiano, Furore, Conca dei Marini, Amalfi, Atrani, Scala, Tramonti, Ravello, Minori, Maiori and Cetar.

Much of the road is hewn from the near-vertical, limestone cliffs which plunge into the sapphire Tyrrhenian Sea far below.

Driving the Amalfi Coast

We zig-zagged our way along the narrow ribbon of coastal road, tour buses zipping past within a hair’s breadth of our little blue Fiat. Nippy Vespers wove their way deftly through the traffic, and locals hooted their horns impatiently, gesticulating wildly at anyone who got in their way.

Driving in Amalfi can be nerve wracking. Hugo, the skilful driver of the car we were squashed into, was keen to preserve his paintwork and was a regular Amalfi Coast driver.

Much of the Amalfi road is hewn from the near-vertical limestone cliffs which plunge into the sapphire-blue Tyrrhenian Sea far below. Terraces of lemon trees, vineyards and olive groves line the roads between the fishing villages, and colourful houses cling precariously to the steep hillsides that rush downwards towards the ocean.

Amalfi Coast, Italy
Amalfi Coast, Italy

Best views on the Amalfi Coast Drive

If you start the Amalfi Coast Drive route from Sorrento, the best views are to your right. Giovanna, our guide, regaled us with tales of local legend and folklore as we drank in one breathtaking view after another.

As we headed towards Positano, Giovana pointed out an archipelago of three small islands in the distance. Li Galli, also known as the Sirenusas, is the home of the mythological Sirenuse or Sirens, who lured sailors to their deaths on the rocks with their irresistible, enchanting voices.

The islands were also irresistible to the ballet dancer Rudolf Nureyev, who made his home there in his later years.


Amalfi Coast Italy
Li Galli Isles on the left and Positano right


The little Fiat struggled valiantly up steep inclines and around sharp bends, and soon we passed through picture-postcard Positano. I’d have loved to explore this pastel-hued town, but there’s minimal parking in the centre of town and not a single space was to be seen on the day we were there. It’s worth noting that Positano fills up quickly with visitors so plan to get there early if you’d like to stop.

Not being able to explore the town was such a tease, and I was itching to take some shots with my camera. I looked back wistfully over my shoulder as we left Positano behind, and made a silent pledge to return as soon as possible.

Positano  from the Amalfi Coast Drive, Italy
Positano from a viewpoint on the Amalfi Coast drive

If you can’t find a parking spot then all is not lost. One of the prettiest views of Positano can be found by looking back as you head towards Amalfi. There’s a convenient pull-over spot where you can park and soak up the views, so I took full advantage. That view was enough to have me planning a visit to Positano the following year.


Travelling just a few more miles down the winding Amalfi Drive brought our little Fiat to Praiano. Unlike some of the bigger, more popular destinations on the Amalfi Coast, this sleepy fishing village has managed to retain its quiet charm.

A tangled maze of pathways and staircases leads you around Praiano, dotted with tributes to San Gennaro, the patron saint of Naples.

While in Praiano, you should definitely check out the church dedicated to San Gennaro (Saint Januarius), the only example of Baroque architecture on the Amalfi coast. Its dome is covered in spectacular Majolica tile work in traditional shades of yellow, cobalt blue and green, and it has stunning views out to sea.

Another church, this time dedicated to San Domenico, hosts Praiano’s annual festival of light, Luminaria di San Domenico, which usually takes place in late July or early August.

And if you have time to linger a while in Praiano, you might like to take on part of the Footpath of the Gods (Sentiero degli Dei) hiking trail, which wends its way through the Lattari mountains. There’s a heart-pounding climb up 1900 steps to reach the trail, but at least you can reward yourself afterwards with a meal in one of Praiano’s excellent seafood restaurants.

Back in Hugo’s blue Fiat, we journeyed on to Amalfi, a small harbour town that appears to be shoe-horned into a narrow ravine at one end and tumbling out into the bay at the other.


Amalfi’s name conjures up images of 1950s film stars, Martinis and sleek white yachts. With plenty of car parking available, it’s an ideal place to break your journey.

Amalfi, Italy
The town of Amalfi

A wander through Amalfi’s pretty town centre is a must. Amalfi was an independent republic in the 10th and 11th centuries, and its blue flag can be seen fluttering in the steep, narrow lanes that lead up from the small harbour.

The steep cliffs looking down on that harbour are lined with stunning villas, houses and hotels, and there are plenty of cafes where you can stop for a coffee and a delectable Italian pastry. But it’s not all about 50s chic in Amalfi.

The 9th-century Amalfi Cathedral, with its elaborate black and white facade, is dedicated to the Apostle Saint Andrew and houses his relics. Once you’ve explored the cathedral, you can wander round to the peaceful Chiostro del Paradiso. This Moorish-style cloister and tropical garden lies behind the cathedral and offers a quiet corner in the bustling town.

From the front of the cathedral, 62 steps will lead you down to the Piazza Duomo with its impressive fountain. The piazza is surrounded by plenty of places to eat and drink, where you can sample the local speciality, limoncello, made from the thick-skinned Amalfi lemons.

If your Amalfi Coast Drive continues further south, you may be looking for somewhere to break your journey overnight. If so, you might like to consider spending a night or two at the stunning Palazzo Belmonte Historic Residence in Santa Maria di Castellabate. Read more about Palazzo Belmonte on Christina’s Cucina.

Duomo di Santa Andrea, Amalfi
Duomo di Santa Andrea, Amalfi


Ravello is one of the hidden treasures of the Amalfi Drive and sits high on a hilltop more than 365m above the Mediterranean Sea.

The Ancient Greeks first landed on the Amalfi Coast around here over 2600 years ago, and the Romans inhabited the area in the first century A.D. Around 40,000 people used to live in Ravello, but in the 1600s a devastating plague hit the village and now there are fewer than 3000 residents.

However, famous actors, composers, authors and artists are frequent visitors to Ravello, arriving in search of inspiration and relaxation. It’s a pretty village to wander around, and the gardens at the ruined Villa Rufolo are stunning. You may also like to visit the 11th-century Duomo di Ravello, which has an art gallery and museum inside.

This charming village has become known as the City of Music and has a vibrant cultural scene. The Ravello Festival, which takes place in July, is one of Italy’s oldest and most respected festivals, hosting artists from the worlds of classical music, opera, jazz, pop and more.

Vietri sul Mare

Although it’s not strictly part of the Amalfi Coast Drive route, Vietri Sul Mare is an excellent base for exploring the area. It may not be as pretty as Positano or Amalfi, but it is close to Salerno and has good road links.

The town has a lovely beach that doesn’t get as busy as some of the more popular destinations on the Amalfi coast, and there are plenty of shops where you can pick up some of the local traditional pottery.

It’s the perfect destination if you love exploring old towns with winding alleyways, and the stunning decorative tilework on many buildings makes Vietri sul Mare very Instagrammable. Be sure to call in at the Church of San Giovanni Battista (St John the Baptist), a UNESCO World Heritage site featuring a dome decorated with Majolica tiles.

Return drive to Sorrento and a memorable meal

On the return drive to Sorrento, we stopped for a meal in the hills above the town of Positano at gorgeous hilltop restaurant, La Tagliata.

If you only have time to eat one meal in Positano, make it at La Tagliata. Read my La Tagliata review – one of the best meals I’ve ever had for many reasons.

On the way back to Sorrento, you’ll travel on the road’s inside lane, so your view is slightly obstructed by traffic in the outside lane. This means the views aren’t quite as good, but it’s not nearly as hairy either – or as exhilarating!

Positano and the Amalfi Coast road, Italy

Tips for driving the Amalfi Coast road

Driving the Amalfi Coast road is no longer simply a matter of hiring a car at the airport and heading off down the coast.

Changes to legislation have introduced restrictions on when cars can access the busiest stretch of the SS163 from Positano to Vietri sul Mare. These restrictions will be in place throughout August and on weekends from 15th June until 30th September.

They also take effect during Holy Week and between 24th April and 2nd May.

Cars with a registration plate that ends in an even number cannot access the Amalfi road between 10am and 6pm on even-numbered days, and cars with a plate that ends in an odd number are banned between 10am and 6pm on odd-numbered days.

Certain vehicles are exempt from the restrictions, including:

  • Residents of the 13 towns
  • Taxis and NCC cars
  • Public transport
  • Police and emergency service vehicles

Vehicles over 10.36m long are banned from this stretch of road, while camper vans and vehicles towing trailers are banned between 6.30am and midnight.

Considering the difficulties in parking along the Amalfi Coast, and the fact that you can only see so much when your eyes are on the road, it’s probably easier to forget hiring a car and travel by bus, taxi or boat instead.

The Amalfi Coast drive, by bus

Have I whetted your appetite for the Amalfi Coast?

If you don’t want to hire a car and risk missing out on those spectacular views, there are other ways to drive the Amalfi Coast. The SITA bus leaves twice an hour from outside the train station in Sorrento.

It heads first to Positano and then heads on to Amalfi. You can either purchase individual tickets for each journey or buy a UnicoCostiera pass which will give you 24 hours of unlimited travel along the length of the Amalfi Coast.

For the best views, sit on the right-hand side of the bus (as you face the front) when travelling from Sorrento to Amalfi and take a seat on the left of the bus when you board for the return journey.

However, the bus gets busy in the high season, and a seat or even standing room on the bus is not guaranteed.

Amalfi Coast by Ferry

If you fancy a different view of the coastline, why not take a ferry for the return trip to Sorrento. The ferry runs around six times each day between Amalfi and Positano, and the 20 minute journey costs around €13. The 60 minute ferry trip between Amalfi and Sorrento costs around €20, and the ferries run around 4 times each day. However, the frequency of ferries varies seasonally, so check before you travel.

When is the best time to drive the Amalfi Coast?

The best time to visit the Amalfi Coast is in the ‘shoulder season’ on either side of the main tourist season. In May and September, the temperature is still between 20°C and 25° C, and most activities will be running but the crowds are smaller than in July and August.

However, between mid-October and late April is probably the best time to drive the Amalfi Coast. This is the low season, so traffic is relatively light and the drive is slightly less nerve-wracking.

If you visit out of season, you might find that restaurants and hotels in the smaller towns are closed until Spring. Larger cities like Naples and Sorrento will be your best option for hotels.

Take a tour of the Amalfi Coast

Another alternative to taking the bus or hiring a car is to book a guided tour of the Amalfi Coast.

This is a great way to see all the sights along the Amalfi Coast Drive with the added bonus of entertaining commentary from your knowledgeable guide and without the scary driving!

Have you visited the Amalfi Coast in Italy? Share your tips for driving the Amalfi Coast in the comments below.


amalfi coast
The Amalfi Coast


Wednesday 17th of December 2014

i love the Amalfi Coast and this post makes me want to go back so badly!! We, too, had lunch at La Tagliata and it remains one of my all time favorite dining experiences.

Suzanne Jones

Wednesday 17th of December 2014

Hi Denise, I totally agree with you - I can't recommend La Tagliata enough, just fabulous!

Picture Perfect Positano - MumRx - MumRx

Saturday 12th of October 2013

[…] and lemon groves to give the town a dreamy feel not to be mistaken for anywhere but Italy’s Amalfi Coast.  You’d almost expect to see a young Audrey Hepburn drive past in an ice-cream coloured sports […]

Picture Perfect Positano | the travelbunny

Thursday 30th of May 2013

[…] and lemon groves to give the town a dreamy feel not to be mistaken for anywhere but Italy’s Amalfi Coast.  You’d almost expect to see a young Audrey Hepburn drive past in an ice-cream coloured […]

Pictures of Pompeii | the travelbunny

Friday 15th of February 2013

[...] Making the Most of the Amalfi Coast [...]


Friday 18th of January 2013

The Amalfi coast is something I always wanted to see – every time I see photos from there I feel the urge. But because I don’t drive anymore and my travelling buddy she have lost 50% of her sight – it will not happen, because to see it the right way there has to be a car involved and going on a coach tour is not my thing.

You really have a lovely blog – I thought I was bad when it was about travelling – but your bet me with a horse length. Like I like where I landed and I will stick around.

The Travelbunny

Friday 18th of January 2013

Hello! You can hire a car with driver but I don't know the cost of this - probably a bit steep I would think. Am looking forward to exploring your blog further too :)

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