There are a few iconic sights in the town of Amalfi that you should see! Here’s how to do Amalfi in an afternoon.
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A quick note about coronavirus and my travel content: in these crazy times, I know much of the world isn’t traveling right now. But my hope is that you keep dreaming and planning for travel, and when the time comes, you go! In that spirit, I’ll continue sharing travel tips for when it’s safe for global travel.
Within the Amalfi Coast sits a town that shares the name. It’s a pretty small town but a popular destination within the larger coast. If you’re planning a trip to see as much of the coast as possible, Amalfi should get an afternoon!
For the purposes of this article, if I call it “Amalfi,” I’m talking about the town, not the coast in general.
Getting to Amalfi
The town of Amalfi sits pretty much in the middle of the Amalfi Coast, meaning you have to plan ahead to get there.
We spent a few hours in Amalfi on part of our Amalfi Coast boat trip. Traveling by boat is a great way to get a feel for the different Amalfi Coast towns and take in the coastline’s beauty. If you can do one of these, do it! This one was very affordable but still excellent service.
You can also take ferries between the cities, but they only run a few times a day depending on the time of year. The most available routes are via Positano, but you can also get there from Salerno, Naples, or Capri.
Driving or hiring a driver is also an option, although you’ll run into the usual complications with parking. My suggestion? Take a boat!
One of the most famous sites within the town of Amalfi is the Duomo, called the Cattedrale di Sant’Andrea. The gorgeous exterior is somewhat unique among cathedrals but reflects the Amalfi Coast’s many cultural influences over the centuries. The cathedral has an attached museum with an entry fee, but it’s free to enter to pray as long as you’re dressed appropriately. Even if you don’t go in, climb the steps to see the gorgeous ceilings on the front facade.
There’s a central street that runs directly away from the water with most of the town’s shopping. Amalfi is packed with shops selling limoncello and ceramics. Many are gorgeous and locally made, but I really liked Ceramiche La Colonna, found on google maps here. They had several different styles and if I could have bought one of everything, I would have!
When you head up the main street that far, make sure you see the nativity fountain. Originally built to give donkeys a water break while heading down from the mountain, it’s now full of nativity figurines native to this area (especially Naples). A little hokey, but if you walked up the street to explore it’s worth seeing.
Want epic views without climbing hundreds of stairs? There’s an elevator tucked away to get you straight to the top! In the parking lot near the municipal museum, there’s a tunnel that leads to the elevator. (I know that sounds creepy, but I promise there’s a big sign at the beginning of the tunnel.) At times it’s free to use, but sometimes there’s a small fee – typical Italian system.
The elevator takes you up to a beautiful lookout! From the vantage point, you can see the entire city and surrounding harbor. Truly gorgeous. There’s also a cemetery up here with a unique tomb-style setup, taking advantage of the sheer mountainside. But note that it has very limited hours – a few hours mid-morning and again late afternoon. The viewing platform is open 24/7.
If the elevator is out of service, you can still make it up there if you’re prepared to walk! Follow signs for the cimitero and be prepared to walk up the 600 steps. We did it, and the view is still worth it after all those steps!
Lunch in Amalfi
Especially if you climbed the steps to the cemetery, you probably want something to eat and a refreshing drink!
Amalfi has two piazzas. The main one just off the harbor is packed with big restaurants, but most of these are overpriced and hoping to catch tired tourists. If you turn left (across from the cathedral), you’ll see signs for Piazza dei Dogi: a small piazza just off the beaten path. This piazza still has several restaurants filling the open space with tables, but locals still frequent the nearby shops.
We ate at La Piazzetta and loved it – the food was great and it was quiet enough. Locals chatted as they ran errands near our table, always the sign of a good location. I had some delicious lemon pasta, which I’m now slightly obsessed with recreating, and the frittura mista was perfectly light, crunchy and fried without being heavy or greasy.
After multiple visits to Amalfi, I feel pretty confident that I’ve rounded up the best of the best!