Nothing worth doing is easy. Getting to the Amalfi Coast can barely be described as hard, however it is a little long winded. Is it worth the effort? It totally is.
After 5 days in Croatia, Mrs FOMOist and I were super excited for our 6-day getaway at the Amalfi Coast. A number of blogs describe getting to the Amalfi Coast tricky, so we overprepared to ensure smooth and efficient journey to our destination.
To our surprise, getting to Praiano (where we decided to stay and could afford) was a lot easier than anticipated. We took a 40-minute flight from Split to Naples. I had pre-booked tickets to Sorrento from on Curreri Viaggi for €10pp so we just waited at the Naples airport until it was time to go. There is an option of catching a taxi for €100, but we are traveling for a few months and this is a luxury we chose to avoid. If you are going to Amalfi from Naples, get yourself to Sorrento and then you can get anywhere from there with ease.
The bus from Naples Airport to Sorrento took an hour and a half to Sorrento. The roads in between were windy but if you sit on the opposite side (right side of the bus), you will be rewarded with one of the most spectacularly breathtaking and adrenaline filled bus ride of your life. The adrenaline reference is made due to the narrow windy roads and since you’re sitting on the cliff-side, it literally feels like you’re gliding aon the edge of the earth. However, fear not, the drivers seem to know what they’re doing and if you’re anything like me, I rather leave it to the experts than hire a car and nervously sweat profusely through the entire journey.
The last stop of the bus was Sorrento Circumsuviana, which is the main transport hub. We got off the Curreri Viaggi bus here and got on the local Sitabus for €2.70pp, which took us all the way to Praiano. The funniest thing about catching the local bus is the level of confusion. You would think on a local bus, at least a small percentage of the passengers know where they are headed. You thought wrong! The only way you can tell if it’s a major stop (Fermata in Italian) is when the level of commotion among the passengers reaches sky high and the driver just sits there until asked about the stop. While it could be frustrating for some, it made us chuckle every time.
Once we arrived at the bus stop and after a few last-minute whatsapp calls to our host, we put our luggage on the luggage lift, before starting our maiden voyage up the 237 steps up the our room at Hotel Casa Colomba. I booked this place off Airbnb and before accepting, Guglielmo (I still don’t know how to pronounce his name so for the entire stay I just called him “heyyyy”) suggested I read through house rules to ensure I am happy to climb up these stairs. Looking at the pictures on the Airbnb listing of the view from the balcony, I was more than happy (and prepared) for the daily trek.
Dripping with sweat and out of breath, once we checked in and opened the window to our balcony, it reinstated my maddening decision to stay there. Even at night, the silhouette of the mountains against the moon lit sky was magnificent and we could hardly wait to wake up and admire it in the daylight.
To ensure I get it all down, I shall now provide a day-by-day blow of events to ensure I don’t miss anything.
We decided to sleep in and woke up to the view below. It literally is the view we woke up to every morning from our balcony! Even though I was preoccupied and frustrated with Australia Post’s incompetence to deliver a few important documents that we had sent from London, after a few deep breaths and realising how lucky we are to wake up to this for the next 6 days, we got ready and went for breakfast. I wanted to do the famous Path of the Gods walk (more like a hike) but got told (very sternly and rightfully) by Guglielmo to postpone it till the next day and start early. So we spent the day exploring Praiano.
Starting with the local beach (that I can’t remember the name of). The beach can be accessed via discretely marked steps next to the entrance of The Smeralda Hotel. If we were not told about this beach, we possibly would never have found it.
After a few hours, we decided to trek back up and walk around to grab some lunch and go relax at the second beach called La Praie. If one took an aerial shot of the beach, it’ll look like a beach enclosed in between rocks, making it look like a cave. It was beautiful but rammed with people so we stayed there until sundown before heading back.
On the way back, we picked up a €4.50 bottle of local wine, which was awful and a pizza from our local La Strada restaurant, which was yummilicious. After throwing half a bottle of the above wine, we called it a night.
We woke up early and after breakfast, with the blessing from Guglielmo, we started the Path of the Gods trek from Praiano to Nocelle. I am so grateful that our host stopped us from going the day prior. The trek might not be the toughest, but we are hardly athletic and the thousands of uneven steps coupled with the heat does take it out of you. The views throughout the trek were awe-inspiring and I am glad we did it. The terrain is so untouched (and somewhat unsafe) that I am surprised it’s legal to do it. Hopefully it’ll stay the same for an authentic experience. After sweating at least a litre, with our legs shaking, we arrived at Nocelle and took the bus to Sorrento where we were meeting Mrs FOMOist’s friend from London, who decided (last minute) to come join us in Amalfi and we’re glad she did. What do they say? The more the merrier? They were totally onto something!
After picking up Kathrine, we walked around Sorrento before settling in for lunch and beer to ward off the hunger and the heat. Personally, I don’t think Sorrento is representative of what Amalfi Coast has to offer. It is much easier to get to and has the main train and bus stop, but it felt like any other metropolitan European city. So rather than waste time, we finished up at Sorrento and took the Sitabus for €1.20pp to Positano.
As soon as we got off the bus and walked through the extremely busy Positano town centre, we were impressed. Positano seemed to be the busiest town of all, with shops, restaurants, bars and holiday makers everywhere. Since we had already had lunch, we opted to go straight to the Arienzo Beach and this is where everything changed for me.
I am a beach bum at heart and love flopping around in the shallow waters all day because I can’t swim. Katherine is a qualified lifeguard and offered to take me into the deep waters, so I could hold on to the rope at the edge of the swimming area to keep me afloat. Thanks to her, it was the first time I couldn’t feel the ground under my feet and was still calm in the water. The view from the sea of Positano town dotted with colourful walls, windows and rooftops will stay with me forever.
We booked a tour through our Airbnb host for a day trip to Capri. The tour was operated by Plaghia Charter, who were great. The entire trip (incl. pick-up and drop-off to our door) costed €60pp. We boarded the boat from Marina di Praia and stopped over at Positano to pick up some more people, before exploring the many caves en-route to the Isle of Capri. In addition to the infamous Blue Cave, there are several others like the Green Cave (shallower but just as magnificent), the White Cave (made out of salt with a statue of Madonna), and Orange Cave, highlighting the colour of the coral. There is an additional free to get into the Blue Cave and the queue was at least 4-hours long so no one on our boat wanted to go there (including us) so we just made our way to Capri.
The highlight of the tour for me was swimming in the open sea (without a designated swimming area). It may not be a big deal for many, but for someone who loves the water but doesn’t have the ability to stay afloat or alive on their own, this is a big deal. Before we arrived at Capri, the boat docked near one of the caves and we were encouraged to go for a swim in the open water. I was a little hesitant, but with a little encouragement from Mrs FOMOist and reassurances from Katherine, I jumped in with a pool noodle and managed to even propel myself in the water. This is the closest I’ve ever been to what normal people would call swimming. The weightlessness of ones body underwater is deliciously beautiful and it might be second nature to some of you, but it was a life-changing experience for me and I will be forever grateful to Mrs FOMOist and Katherine.
The water there is magnificently clear making it look a lot shallower than it actually is. Without even putting my head down, I could see tiny herds of fish circling around me, with the bottom of the ocean glistening under the sun soaked water.
Now about Capri. Once we got there, rather than rush around between Anacapri and Capri for 4-hours, we just decided to take the funicular to Capri Town Centre and have a wander around. Capri is a nice island, but if we were only on the Amalfi Coast for a few days, I could have easily given it a miss. The island is littered with people trying to flaunt their latest designer label acquisitions. My favourite overheard quote from the island went as follows:
Daughter: Mum where’s daddy?
Mum: Sweety, he’s at Valentino getting a fitting
Mrs FOMOist is a “hard crowd” on a good day and was constantly trying to manage her own expectations by giving an “okay” review to the entire trip. Even after the crew popped open bottles of Prosecco, offered local snacks and even pointed out a dolphin doing it’s thang out in the open sea. I still think Mrs FOMOist was secretly impressed but she is Simon Cowell when it comes to reviews.
The plan for the day was to go explore the namesake town of the coast – Amalfi. A quick 40-minute ride on the Sitabus took us to the vibrant Amalfi town. As far as towns go, this will be my second favourite (after Praiano, obvs). While Positano looked beautiful from the water, it was too crowded, too loud with too many ceramic shops. Amalfi, while it was just as rammed with people had a lot going for it. Firstly, the Amalfi Cathedral perched on the head of the town like a crowd is an architectural marvel, with tonnes of travelers staring at it with their mouths wide open. There is something to do for everyone at Amalfi – theatre, shopping, eating, drinking. The food is reasonably priced due to competition (I am guessing). We wandered around a fair bit of town and there are pockets of town that are serenely quiet so if one could afford it, this will be a nice town to stay in. Majority of the main beach at the port is private, but if you find a public spot, the tunes from the nearby bars keep you entertained for hours!
During this trip to Amalfi town, we also went for the quickest trip to Ravello. We were hot, we were bothered and were hoping to laze around the beach, but didn’t realise before boarding the bus that Ravello is inland and known for it’s cliff-side gardens. After admiring the ride up and laughing at ourselves through the entire journey, we got off the bus, walked around the main square, spotted a bus going back to Amalfi and boarded it as soon as we were able to and spent the rest of the afternoon chilling at the beach.
Day 5 and 6 were spent lazing around Praiano and getting back to Naples to continue our Italian affair.
Tips and tricks for anyone considering a holiday at the Amalfi Coast:
- Regardless of the preconceived notions, Amalfi Coast is not as expensive as you’d imagine. Accommodation can be pricey but if you’re smart about what you do and where you eat, it is no more expensive than any other seaside destination.
- Not hiring a car was the best decision – I seriously could not have dealt with the stress.
- If you stay where we did (or around), definitely get takeaway (or dine in) at La Strada, the food is delicious!
- If you visit Capri, don’t forget to get yourself a gelato from Gelateria Buonocore. It’s worth waiting 15-minutes in the queue and getting creamy gelato, wrapped in freshly made warm waffle cone. If you’re around the main square, your nose will lead you there, if the queue doesn’t get your attention first.
- If you are staying at a nice place and have a terrace ( like we did), rather than dining in at places and paying 10% service charge, just get takeaway and enjoy the view from your own balcony rather than pay for it.
- The coast is known for it’s cliffs, which means you have to climb up and down the steps to get to the beach. Steps that seem never ending. So many fcuking steps! Will I do it again? Yes, because it was so worth the trek! One more time – FCUKING STEPS!
- While the water is crystal clear, all beaches on the Amalfi Coast are pebble beaches so be ready to tippy toe in and out of the water.
Last but not least. if you’ve always wanted to go to the Amalfi Coast but couldn’t be bothered, get bothered and do it! Plus if you need any helpful information, let me know and I’ll be more than happy to help.