If you drove along Italy’s Amalfi Coast from the city of Sorrento to the city of Salerno, it would take at least a couple of hours, one-way, with no traffic. During that drive, you’d pass the iconic Amalfi Coast towns of Positano, Amalfi, Ravello, and others. But which Amalfi Coast town should you choose as a base? Take our advice below to choose the right fit for your trip.
Amalfi Coast Towns: questions to help you decide where to stay
Before we get to anything else, we need to look at a map. This map has Pompeii, Sorrento, Positano, Praiano, Amalfi, Ravello, Maiori, and Salerno marked on it. (I’ve put the markers in places where they don’t block the name of the town. Therefore, the towns are located where the name is printed, not where the marker is pointing.)
Source: Google Maps
What do you want to do during your stay on the Amalfi Coast?
If you’d like to visit Pompeii, there’s a handy train to get there from the town of Sorrento. If you’d like to visit the island of Capri, the hydrofoil from Sorrento will have you there in twenty minutes, or there are slower boats from Amalfi and Positano. If you’d like to head south and visit the amazing Greek ruins in Paestum, keep in mind that they are a 90 minute drive south of the town of Amalfi. Positano is 45 minutes from Sorrento. Amalfi is another 45 minutes away, and Ravello is another ~10 minutes up the hill.
So first, decide what you want to see and do on the Amalfi Coast (here are suggestions for a 4 day Amalfi Coast itinerary). Then, look at the map and see which towns might work well as a base, geographically.
Path of the Gods hiking trail
How are you going to get around?
Trains do not run to any Amalfi Coast towns between Sorrento and Salerno. Between Naples and Sorrento, there’s a commuter-slash-tourist train called the Circumvesuviana / Campania Express. But to get between other Amalfi Coast towns, travelers must use boats, buses, taxis, rental cars, or their own two feet.
I highly recommend NOT renting a car to visit Amalfi Coast towns in high season. Traffic is nuts and parking is virtually impossible. We have lots of advice on Driving in Italy.
Do you mind crowds?
Many Amalfi Coast towns are busy and can be touristy in high season. So, if crowds bother you, don’t stay in Sorrento or Positano.
Do you like high-end hotels?
The Amalfi Coast towns have some of Italy’s nicest andmostexpensivehotels, so if you want to splurge, this is the place to do it! Sea views, infinity pools, a private beach, and a vista of an endless coastline can be yours. For this type of hotel, expect to spend at least $1,500 per night for a double room with sea view. The towns of Sorrento, Positano, Ravello, and Amalfi have the most number of high-end hotels.
Amalfi Coast Towns: pros and cons of staying in Sorrento, Positano, Praiano, Amalfi, Atrani, Ravello, Minori & Maiori
Note that before booking any accommodation, look it up on the map. Just because it has a Ravello address does not mean it’s right in the center of town.
Pros and cons of staying in Sorrento
Pros: there’s a train from Naples. In addition, it’s easy to get to and from Pompeii. It’s also easy to get to and from the islands of Capri or Ischia on the fast ferry. The adjacent Sorrentine peninsula has pretty towns, gorgeous beaches, and offers excellent hiking. Sorrento has lots of great hotels that are also good value for money (relatively speaking). It has excellent restaurants, beautiful views, and is relatively flat. And finally, it’s small enough that you can get around on foot.
Cons: it’s very touristy. There are lots of daytrippers. It’s technically not the Amalfi Coast. Unfortunately, it’s a cruise ship port. It’s hard to meet any locals.
Pros and cons of staying in Positano
Pros: it’s stunningly gorgeous. It has lots of little shops and alleyways. It has amazing restaurants and a couple beautiful beaches. The boat stops there. It’s easy to visit the rest of the coast by bus. The stunning Path of the Gods hiking trail is easily accessible. There are many excellent hotels and restaurants. It’s easy to get to Sorrento and Amalfi and Ravello. And finally, if you don’t mind walking uphill and downhill, it’s small enough to get around completely on foot.
Cons: unless you’re walking on the beach, you’re probably walking either uphill or downhill. It’s extremely touristy. The hotels are expensive, not great value for money, and they sell out early. The beaches are busy and somewhat small. It’s worth noting that parking is almost impossible.
Pros and cons of staying in Praiano
Pros: it’s a small town with a local feel. It has several excellent hotels, and many are good value for money. It has excellent restaurants. While not on the main boat line, private boats will pick up and drop off in Praiano. Geographically, it’s ideally located, halfway between Positano and Amalfi. In addition, Praiano is right on the main road, with easy bus and taxi access to the rest of the coast. It’s small enough that you can get around the town on foot. And finally, there are lots of great hiking trails nearby.
Cons: It doesn’t have a good sandy beach; its coastline is rocky and steep. It’s not connected to the main boat line.
Pros and cons of staying in Amalfi
Pros: it’s a small town with more of a local feel. It’s less touristy. And, the Cathedral is gorgeous. It’s convenient for boats and buses. There are lots of hiking trails in the area. It has a pretty beach. There are lots of excellent restaurants. There are lots of great hotels – both high-end “wow” hotels and also a good variety of B&Bs that are good value for money. It’s just down the hill from Ravello. And finally, it’s on a quieter end of the coast compared to Positano.
Cons: It’s further down the coast, so 45 minutes from Positano and an hour from Pompeii.
Pros and cons of staying in Atrani
Pros: it’s a quieter town, with a much more local feel. It’s right next to Amalfi, connected by a pedestrian path through the town’s parking garage, making it a safe and easy walk to get between the two towns. There are some great hotels that are good value for money. There are some excellent restaurants. Great hiking trails nearby. Not a bad option if you need a rental car. And finally, it has a cute beach.
Cons: It’s further down the coast. No high-end hotels.
Pros and cons of staying in Ravello
Pros: first of all, the views are unbelievably spectacular. There are some amazing high-end hotels. Most of all, the views! There are a few nice places to stay that are good value for money. The Gardens (Cimbrone + Rufolo). In addition, there are nearby hiking trails. Ravello has some great restaurants that are good value for money. It also has a couple Michelin-starred restaurants that offer a once-in-a-lifetime experience (and must also be booked months in advance). If you must have a car, Ravello would be a good option. And finally, Ravello is a small town and you can get around on foot if you stay in the center of town.
Cons: it’s up the hill. As a result, anytime you want to go anywhere, you must go down the hill to Amalfi and go from there. There’s a bus, and there are hiking trails, but taxis called at the last minute in high season may try to fleece you, because they can. And finally, Ravello can be touristy in high season.
Pros and cons of staying in Minori or Maiori
Pros: these little towns have nice beaches! They offer excellent value for money in terms of accommodations. If you are going in high season, or with kids, and you don’t mind being an hour from Positano, stay here. These towns are both easy to get around on foot. They are both on the bus line. Both have good restaurants and lots of decent hotels. There is much more of a local feel in these towns. And finally, they are very convenient if you’d like to head south to the ruins of Paestum or the town of Cetara or visit the buffalo mozzarella farms.
Cons: these towns are pretty far south. So, it will take you an hour to get to Positano, an hour to get to Pompeii (through the mountains), and it might be tough to get to Capri. The hotels in these towns aren’t amazing, but relatively speaking are good value for money.
A note on other Amalfi Coast towns
If you’re looking for accommodations on the Amalfi Coast (on booking.com, for example), in your search results, you’ll see B&Bs and hotels in several towns I haven’t mentioned above. You may ask: what about Scala, or Agerola, or Furore? It’s true, accommodations are much less expensive in these towns. But, before you book, look these towns up on a map. You’ll see that these Amalfi Coast towns are up in the hills. Therefore, if you have a rental car or you are looking for inexpensive accommodation, or you would like amazing views, or you are planning a hiking vacation, staying in one of those towns might be ideal.