Two of the first coastal regions that come to mind when planning a scenic European train ride are the French Riviera and the Amalfi Coast. We’ve been giving France a lot of attention lately, so let’s take a quick break to focus on Italy’s contribution to the ideal of the scenic European coastline.
The beauty of the Amalfi Coast region is best described by the myth from which the region gets its name: Hercules fell in love with a nymph named Amalfi, and when she died he is said to have buried her in the most beautiful place in the world.
Leave it to Italy to fulfill such a lofty and romantic reputation.
Pompeii is one of the region’s most popular destinations, but Positano, Sorrento, and Salerno also tend to grace the itinerary of any traveler headed in this direction. Each of these coastal towns is as vibrant as the next, offering the traveler a hefty dose of the winding streets, relaxing beaches, and seaside shops that complete the picture of the perfect summer escape. France does beaches very well, but there’s a distinct feeling of contentment that comes from sitting by the shore with a cone of gelato in hand and the sound of Italian andiamo’s in the background, a feeling that Italy can safely claim to have mastered.
How to Get to the Amalfi Coast by Train from Rome:
The Amalfi Coast is such a singular place that it is even serviced by its own private railway line: the Circumvesuviana Line. Traveling down from the north has one distinct advantage over traveling up from the south: you’ll be riding on the side of the road closest to the ocean, which means better views out your window. To get down to these coastal cities from Rome, you’ll first need to take one of the high speed Le Frecce trains to Naples.
The Le Frecce train is a high-speed train that travels at speeds up to 155 miles per hour. Onboard you will enjoy the beautiful scenery of Italy out your window, elegant dining services, and a newly added UMTS signal offering high-quality mobile phone reception and WIFI.
Once you reach Naples, you can purchase tickets for the Circumvesuviana Line at the train station to make your way towards Sorrento. There will be signs directing travelers to the Circumvesuviana ticket counters and platforms. From Sorrento, there are local buses ready to take you to the next stop on your list.
How to Travel to the Amalfi Coast by Train from the South of Italy
The nearest train station is Salerno, so make sure to purchase tickets to this station in advance. Salerno is worth a few hours’ exploration on your way to the coast – mainly a small port town, it has been experiencing increasing numbers of travelers in recent years and is becoming more of a destination rather than just a stopover on the way to Pompeii. Once you’ve seen the sights in Salerno, the rest of the coast is just a short bus ride away. Bus tickets can be purchased locally at the train station.
Bus driving in Italy is almost an art form – the roads are as narrow as they are winding, and bus drivers fear nothing (except maybe failure). If you’re looking to add a more adventurous aspect to your Italian coastal vacation, a bus ride might be your preferred mode of transport. In the height of summer you can expect a few delays, as tourists’ cars and buses tend to overwhelm the roads, each other, and anyone who happens to be watching.
If you have a Rail Pass that Includes Italy
The Circumvesuviana Line is the only railway in Italy that isn’t covered by a rail pass, but a pass will at least get you close. You can use the pass on any train headed towards Naples, where you can then purchase tickets at the train station to continue on to the first stop on your Amalfi Coast itinerary. Don’t forget to purchase passholder reservations for your trip to Naples – since it’s the last stop before the coast, seats can sell out pretty quickly during the summer months.
Seats will definitely be going quickly this year as Italy has just launched their new series of high-speed Italo trains. These trains are more environmentally friendly, more wallet friendly, and more time friendly – perhaps the friendliest trains in Europe right now? As luck would have it, one of the major cities serviced by these new trains is Naples, which gives you the perfect opportunity to be one of the first people to try it out and report back to us! We are still learning about this new train and would love feedback from all of the travelers who get to try it out this summer. We’re also slightly jealous of you.
If You Want to Treat Yourself
Maybe you want to save your train trips for the major cities – Rome to Florence, Florence to Venice, Venice to Milan. Maybe once you get to the coast, you’ll want to relax and have someone else work out the transportation for you. Totally understandable – you planned this whole vacation, and now you deserve a few stress-free days somewhere along the way. A sightseeing excursion, like the Pompeii and Amalfi Coast Day Tour, offers a welcome break from train timetables and mapping out the perfect schedule. As mentioned in a previous post, sightseeing tours and activities are often negatively stereotyped as being too touristy or expensive, but this one actually seems like it would be a nice addition to a rail pass. The pass would cover train travel throughout the majority of Italy, and the sightseeing tour would pick up where the pass left off – taking you along the Amalfi Coast in an air-conditioned van, dropping you off directly at sites like Positano and Pompeii, and allowing you to sit back and take hundreds of photos for your Facebook album without having to worry if you’re going to miss your stop.
If this doesn’t exactly seem like your thing, you might at least be interested in the Sorrento and Naples City Sightseeing Tours. These buses make very thorough loops around the city, similar to the routes that any of the local buses would take. Except that they also take you straight to the main sights, which doesn’t hurt. A lot of travelers find them to be as practical as any other form of local transportation.
Many people will only make it to Europe once, and if you’ve already gotten yourself all the way out there, you might as well try something you would never treat yourself to at home, right?
And even after all of the flights, the trains, the hotels, the currency exchange – getting yourself to the Amalfi Coast is definitely the easy part. It’s the leaving that might cause you some trouble. We’ve given you a head start, and now all you need to do is get there to see it for yourself!