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.
The good news is that this part of the world, with its dramatic coastal paths, lemon groves and ancient villages overlooking either the Bay of Naples or the Bay of Sorrento is reasonably easy to access by train. In peak season, this area is falling down with chic but it can also be falling down with coaches or cars. So taking the train is the truly cool way to go in our view.
Travelling from Rome to the Amalfi coast
Travelling to the Amalfi coast from Rome in the north of Italy has one dramatic advantage over travelling from the south: you’ll be following the west coast of Italy for a lot of the way which is quintessentially ‘belissimo’. You can also get there pretty quickly, using a high-speed train to Naples in as little as 1h 08 mins. But with views like these you might want to take the slower Regionale train via Formia which can take up to 3 hrs. Note that if you take a high-speed train to Naples, you will most likely come into Naples Afragola station, completed in 2017 and famous for its magnificent contemporary architecture, designed by world renowned Zaha Hadid Architects.
Travelling from Naples to the Amalfi Coast
Naples is not actually on the Amalfi coast, but boasts plenty of tourist treats: medieval heritage, the sultry Santa Lucia waterfront district and of course day trips to Pompeii and Herculaneum. You can also take a ferry from Naples to the island of Capri, which is one of the treasures of the Amalfi coast. From Naples you can travel by train to the small coastal town of Vietri sul Mare (known as region’s ceramic capital) in just over an hour or to the larger port town of Salerno in as little as 40 mins.
From Salerno you can link up with buses along the coast but you can also take a high-speed ferry to Positano or Amalfi from here, which are in the heart of the Amalfi coast. Or take a taxi to Minori or Amalfi town, both of which are gateways to Amalfi hiking trails.
Path of the Gods
This is a collection of veritable stairways to heaven and if you say its name in Italian, the Sentiero degli Dei, you really feel as if you are capturing poetry in nature. You will certainly be praising the beauty of this five hour walking trail through hilltop towns, flower-filled meadows and traditional villages far off the main tourist trail, with a final descent into Positano. To get there, take a local bus from Amalfi to Bomerano, then walk to Nocelle. And be prepared to have your breath taken away, in all senses.
This is a private train company operating on narrow gauge lines, and which you can only buy tickets for locally. It doesn’t take a Latin scholar to work out that it circumnavigates Mount Vesuvius. It is not, therefore, actually on the Amalfi coast, but is still a must do if you are in the area. Buy tickets and board the train at Naples’ Garibaldi station which is below Naples Centrale station. This is a very cheap service with priceless views.
Valle delle Ferriere Natural Reserve
If you can bear to turn your back on the aquamarine views, you have a whole world of inland walking in this region too. The Valle delle Ferriere Natural Reserve has walking trails to cooler climes with waterfalls, high ridges, the Canneto River, ancient forests as well remnants of former paper mills and iron works. You can walk into the heart of it from Amalfi town which, as above, is accessible by bus or ferry from Salerno.
Best time to visit the Amalfi coast
The best time to visit the Amalfi Coast is outside the main summer holiday season of July and August. Not only because the tiny roads and villages become overcrowded but because temperatures also soar. Hikers hit the trails from March onwards, with temperatures as high as 16°C in March and 24°C in May. October and November can still be mild with temperatures between 17-20°C although most ferries stop and hotels shut for the winter. It is worth noting that the period between Good Friday and Easter Monday is busy with worshippers so, although it is a fascinating time in terms of local traditions, it’s a good time to escape to the quieter spots of the Amalfi coast.
Image credits top to bottom: Beach with boat in Sorrento iStock ©Montegia, Old houses in an Italian town iStock ©[email protected], Nocelle church and Path of Gods at Tyrrhenian sea, Amalfi coast iStock ©RomanBabakin, Sorrento Gulf with Vesuvius in the background iStock ©Fani Kurti