The 5 Best Villages and Town on Amalfi Coast for Tourists
Known for its stunning white buildings and reliably warm year-round climate, Amalfi is popular with tourists and locals alike. Perched high on the coastline, this is the region’s largest city and has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1997.
As the birthplace of cannelloni, Amalfi remains rich in gastronomic expertise. Choose from beachfront favourites such as Marina Grande for fresh fish dishes and Lo Smeraldino wheretraditional pizzas and risottos can be enjoyed alongside a spectacular view of the city’s fishing fleet.
The beach is small but offers an excellent view of the turquoise Tyrrhenian Sea, plus visitors are well served by stores offering towels, beds and sun umbrellas for hire. This stretch of sand can become crowded, so if you’d prefer a quieter pace, stroll across the headland to Atrani wherethere is usually more space.
Inland, the Arabic and Sicilian architecture of the ninth-century duoma towers over the central piazza. Dedicated to the city’s patron saint, Andrew, it contains his holy relics, along with a well-curated selection of sculptures, artworks and mosaics. To find out more about the city’s seafaring history head to the Arsenal museum, the site of Amalfi’s ancient shipyard and home to numerous exhibits some of which date back to the middle ages.
You can spend a morning or an entire day here just strolling through the narrow streets, shopping for products made with local lemons or other souvenirs. For longer walks, the breakwater offers panoramic views of the town and the marina, but travel higher to reach the lemon groves for a more tranquil hike.
Offering a bird’s eye view of the sea and the colourful city below, Ravello sits on the rocky cliffs above Amalfi. This peaceful village is rich in history and has become a popular destination for couples as well as families. The town is backed by lush countryside, but there are also two highly manicured gardens to explore in Ravello.
One at Villa Rufulo offers especially ornate formal grounds and one at Villa Cimbrone, is home to the Terrace of Infinity with its breathtaking sea views. Both of these tropical retreats are open to visitors and have restaurants if you choose to stop for lunch.
The Cathedral of St Pantaleone is an imposing Baroque and Romanesque structure that dates back to the 11th century. It houses several relics associated with Pantaleone, as well as stunning marble sculptures and a wonderful pulpit. Take the stairs down into the crypt to visit the Museo del Duomo, where various historic treasures and artworks are on display.
The town’s sweeping views are said to have inspired the German composer, Wagner, and today the Ravello Concert Society ensure that music remains an important feature of life. Visit between March and November to enjoy a program of concerts staged at the Villa Rufolo with the ocean as a backdrop.
Walkers are spoilt for choice in Ravello as a network of footpaths run through valleys, agricultural terraces and orchards, offering a route to nearby towns including Amalfi. As ever, the coastalvistas are stunning, but some of the ascents can be a challenge especially in the height of summer.
Set in the Campania region, Positano is a stylish resort town valued by locals and tourists for its quaint architecture and interesting boutique stores. The streets and cliffs above are connected through a series of winding stairways, flanked by pastel-hued homes and gated gardens.
Despite this being a thriving town, you can walk into the hills around Positano for a relaxing afternoon stroll. You’ll pass numerous fruit orchards and cultivated vegetable terraces, as you head towards the mountainous region beyond.
Many intimate palazzi remain from the sixteenth century, some are now in elegant decline but others have been lovingly restored and are now hotels. Stay between October and November if you prefer a quieter mood, or June to September to see the town in all its cosmopolitan glory. Positano may not be the cheapest destination at any time of year, but if you appreciate a more exclusive atmosphere and the opportunity to browse for high-end leather goods and ceramics, it’s ideal.
A stand out attraction for visitors is the Church of Santa Maria Assunta with its gold and green dome. Drop in to enjoy the airy interior on a warm day and stop to take in the neoclassical gold decor.
Like many other towns on the Amalfi coast, the local restaurants specialise in seafood, pasta and pizza dishes. Try Lo Guarracino for alfresco dining with a warm sea breeze and views of the crystalline ocean. The seafront offers a couple of small beaches for sunbathing and swimming, both with a covering of grey volcanic shingle. The Spiaggia Libera is free but tends to be lively whilst Fornillo may be less crowded.
People come to Maiori and Minori to get away from the hurly-burly of other resorts on the Amalficoast. They are rewarded with cheaper hotels and restaurants, but also a wealth of ancient buildings that are some of the most significant in the region. The Villa Marittima Romana was once a lavish Roman villa with a swimming pool fed by the nearby stream, now you can explore inside to see many original frescoes and mosaics.
Minori remains a working town with a wealth of local shops, a great beach and a friendly seafront. The culinary showpiece here is scialatielli, thick ribbons of pasta which are covered in a rich sauce and offered at many local restaurants.
In Maiori, it’s the pastries at Salvatore De Risos that take centre stage. Here fruits are combined with chocolate and creamy ricotta to produce a range of treats.
This town has a mostly sandy and famously long beach, making it perfect for a lazy day of sun-worshipping and swimming. For a more active afternoon, head to the 15th century Castle of San Nicola de Thoro-Plano which looks down over the entire town. Here you can explore the impressive battlements and chat to friendly staff about the military exhibits. Back in town, the caves that make up the ancient Santa Maria Olearia abbey are fascinating, parts are now a luxury hotel complex, but many original catacombs and crypts remain. The restaurant terrace has excellent sea views and makes a great retreat after a hectic day.
A discreet resort that’s becoming best known for having a low key art scene, Praiano is a beautiful place to visit or stay. A scattering of whitewashed homes, cafes and shops dot the landscape towards the imposing Monte Sant’Angelo with plenty of open spaces in between.
The nearby Marina di Praia is a small but attractive harbour that’s perfect for a stroll, but you can also see more of the area on the footpaths that go around and above the town. At night, the beachfront Africana nightclub keeps tourists and locals entertained until the early hours. It’s quieter now, but once this 1960’s hotspot welcomed many of Europe’s trendiest revellers.
Fringe by lemon orchards and fields of colourful blossom, Conca dei Marini has grown from a tiny fishing harbour to a select destination. Only a few permanent residents live here but nestled in the clifftops with sweeping sea views, it’s a magical place. Even so, the small bay overlooked by the atmospheric Saracen Tower is rarely crowded.
The town is mainly famous for being home to the emerald sea cave, or Grotta dello Smeraldo. Discovered in 1932 by a fisherman, it is bathed in green light thanks to the unusual lighting conditions inside. You can visit by boat, or descend in a lift to take a closer look.
While here don’t forget to test out the sfogliatella dessert which was created by nuns at the Convent of St Rosa in the 17th century. Each year in August, a festival called the Festa della St Rosa is held to celebrate the delicious filled pastry.