Getting around the Amalfi Coast – All you need to know
Getting to and around the Amalfi Coast may not be as easy as it seems. Distances are not huge, however, trains, buses and ferries have their own schedules, most of the time not synchronised.
This means you cannot purchase your ticket or check your route on a central booking website, unfortunately.
You may think that renting a car is a better idea. In fact, that is true if you favour flexibility. However, be sure to keep my warning and suggestions below in mind.
I have developed this guide over the years to help make your holiday on the lovely Amalfi Coast a smooth one.
But let’s dig into it
Getting to and around Amalfi Coast without a car
Here is a summary table that compares the 4 ways to get around the Amalfi Coast: train, bus, ferry/boat and taxi. Click on the mean of transportation to go deeper into the description or just keep reading.
|Access to destinations/sites||Limited||Extensive||Moderate||Comprehensive|
|Best for||Budget travellers |
Access to major sites
|Access to small towns|
Comfort & Flexibility
|Worst for||Exploring the Amalfi Coast itself |
(travelling only up to Sorrento)
|Avoiding traffic and crowds||Tight budget|
Getting to/around the Amalfi coast by train
Unfortunately, there is no train on the Amalfi Coast itself, however, there is a very handy train line that connects Naples to Sorrento.
This train line is part of the larger Metropolitan Railway Service of Naples and stops at various towns along the way, including the archaeological area of Herculaneum and the archaeological park of Pompei.
By the way, if you are planning an itinerary covering more than the Amalfi Coast, one of the best places to stay in Naples is close to the Central Station, so practical.
There are two types of trains running on this line: the Circumvesuviana and the Campania Express.
These are the main differences between the two types of service:
- Duration: The Circumvesuviana takes approximately 1 hour and 10 minutes to travel from Naples to Sorrento, while the Campania Express takes around 50 minutes for the same journey.
- Frequency: The Circumvesuviana operates more frequently, with trains running every 30 minutes. In contrast, the Campania Express has a more limited schedule, with fewer departures throughout the day.
- Comfort: The Campania Express offers a more comfortable travel experience with air conditioning, reserved seating, and a generally less crowded environment. The Circumvesuviana is often more crowded, especially during peak travel times and tourist season, and may not provide the same level of comfort.
- Cost: The Circumvesuviana is generally cheaper than the Campania Express. The price difference may vary depending on the type of ticket you purchase, but the Campania Express is designed to cater to tourists and typically has higher fares.
- Stations and stops: The Circumvesuviana makes more frequent stops along its route, serving various towns between Naples and Sorrento. The Campania Express, on the other hand, is a more direct service with fewer stops, focusing on major tourist attractions like Herculaneum and Pompeii.
- Target audience: The Circumvesuviana is a local train service used by both locals and tourists. The Campania Express is designed specifically for tourists, offering a more comfortable and convenient travel experience.
|Aspect||Circumvesuviana Train||Campania Express|
|Duration||1 hour 10 minutes||50 minutes|
|Frequency||Every 30 minutes||Limited schedule|
|Scenery||Beautiful views||Beautiful views|
|Access to Sites||Herculaneum, Pompeii||Herculaneum, Pompeii|
|Comfort & Crowding||Crowded, less comfort||Less crowded, more comfort|
The train is the cheapest of all the transportation options, however, it can take you only as far as Sorrento from Naples.
From Sorrento, you will need to take the local bus to the Amalfi Coast.
PROS of getting to/around the Amalfi Coast by train:
- Cost-effective: Train travel is generally cheaper compared to other transportation options like private transfers or taxis.
- Scenic views: The train ride offers beautiful views of the coastline and the surrounding areas.
- Access to archaeological sites: The train stops at Herculaneum and Pompeii, allowing for easy access to these famous sites.
CONS of getting to/around the Amalfi Coast by train:
- Limited reach: The train only goes as far as Sorrento, requiring additional transportation to reach other destinations on the Amalfi Coast.
- Crowded trains: Circumvesuviana can be crowded, especially during peak travel times and tourist season. The Campania Express is a better option
- Inconvenient schedules: The Campania Express, while more comfortable, has a more limited schedule compared to the Circumvesuviana.
The best area to stay in Sorrento is the Historical Centre, close to the local train and bus station. A great base to explore the coast.
You can pre-book the train ticket directly on the Campania Express website or buy them once there, although availability is a problem in peak season.
Getting around the Amalfi Coast by bus
Getting around the Amalfi Coast by bus is the easiest of the options. I personally loved the practicality and flexibility of the service, less so the delays LOL
The main operator is called SITA which connects all the major destinations on the Amalfi Coast
SITA buses run along two main routes: the Amalfi-Sorrento line and the Amalfi-Salerno line.
In this respect, I have always considered Amalfi as the most practical place to stay on the Amalfi Coast, right in the bus hub.
Both routes offer breathtaking views of the coastline and the Mediterranean Sea, making the journey itself an enjoyable experience.
The Amalfi-Sorrento line (west side of the Amalfi Coast) connects the two major towns, stopping at several smaller towns and villages along the way, such as Positano, Praiano, and Conca dei Marini.
This route offers frequent service, making it easy to hop on and off at various stops to explore different parts of the coast.
The Amalfi-Salerno line (east side of the Amalfi Coast) runs from Amalfi to Salerno, passing through towns such as Ravello, Minori, Maiori, and Vietri sul Mare.
This route also offers frequent service and allows travellers to explore the eastern part of the Amalfi Coast.
In addition to the SITA buses, there are also local city buses that serve individual towns and villages. These buses are helpful for accessing more remote areas or reaching specific attractions within a town.
When using the buses on the Amalfi Coast, it is essential to purchasing your tickets before boarding.
Tickets can be bought at tobacco shops, newsstands, or authorized ticket offices.
It’s also important to validate your ticket upon boarding the bus by inserting it into the ticket validation machine.
PROS of getting around the Amalfi Coast by bus:
- Affordability: Buses are the cheapest way of transportation on the Amalfi Coast (unfortunately the train covers up to Sorrento only), especially if compared to private transportation and taxis.
- Accessibility: Buses stop at many towns and villages along the coast, making it easy to explore various locations and attractions.
- Scenic views: Traveling by bus allows you to enjoy the stunning coastal scenery, as the buses navigate the winding roads along the cliffs.
CONS of getting around the Amalfi Coast by bus:
- Limited schedule: While buses run frequently, they may not operate as late into the evening or as early in the morning as some travellers might prefer. This could potentially limit your options for dining or other activities.
- Crowded buses: During the peak tourist season, buses can become quite crowded, making the journey less comfortable. It’s not uncommon to have to wait for the next bus because of way too crowded. I experience it a few times myself.
- Narrow, winding roads: The Amalfi Coast is so beautiful because of its rough coastline and its lovely narrow winding road, which is a pleasure to admire from a viewpoint, but it can be a nightmare for the bus driver to go through. Traffic congestion due to stuck buses is not as uncommon, which takes to an unreliable time schedule.
Keep in mind also that the bus network works year around, however, the runs are much less frequent in the off-season, between mid-November and March
You can read all the stops and the timetable directly on the SITA website.
Getting around Amalfi Coast by ferry/Boat
Taking a ferry to get around the Amalfi Coast is probably the most picturesque way to see the region itself.
The journey becomes part of the experience, with amazing views all the way through.
There is only one drawback of the public NLG ferry. It runs only from June to September.
Taking the ferry from Naples to Positano and Amalfi is a dream come true.
NLG also connects the Amalfi Coast to Sorrento and the island of Capri, very handy for day trips.
NLG does not stop in the small towns along the Amalfi Coast.
For that, you need to check out TravelMar Ferries, a local company that stops in smaller towns such as Maiori, Minori, etc.
Be aware that the ferries may charge a small fee if you take large pieces of luggage with you.
Medmar, Caremar and Alilauro connect also the island of Ischia to Capri, Naples and the Amalfi Coast. So handy if you are on an itinerary of the area.
PROS of getting around the Amalfi Coast by ferry/boat:
- Scenic views: Traveling by ferry offers stunning views of the coastline and the surrounding sea, making the journey itself an unforgettable experience.
- Avoid the traffic: Using ferries and boats to navigate the Amalfi Coast allows travellers to avoid the narrow and winding roads that can sometimes be congested.
- Access to islands: Ferry services provide easy access to nearby islands such as Capri and Ischia, making day trips and extended itineraries more convenient.
CONS of getting around the Amalfi Coast by ferry/boat:
- Limited schedule: Some ferry services, like NLG, operate only during the summer months, restricting options for travellers visiting during other times of the year.
- Luggage fees: you may have to pay an additional fee if you travel with a larger than usual bag.
- Weather-dependent: Delays or cancellations due to unfavourable weather are not uncommon, although the summer has usually a nice predictable sunny weather
If you are wondering where to stay in Positano considering you arrive by ferry, keep in mind that the town develops on two hills, so try to book accommodation close to the beach and you will avoid hiking around with your bag.
Getting around Amalfi Coast by taxi or private transfer
Travelling the Amalfi Coast via taxi or private transfer presents an alternative to public transportation like buses and ferries. Although it can be pricier, you will certainly enjoy the convenience and luxury of the service.
Taxis are easy to spot at the Naples Airport and the main destinations on the Amalfi Coast, like Positano or Amalfi.
Usually, taxis are minivans that can transport up to 7 people, very handy if you are travelling in a group or a big family.
My biggest tip here is to take only official taxi drivers and even so, make sure they do start the taximeter. If unsure, ask for the expected price for the run, which depends also on the traffic.
Many tourists opt for taxis when arriving in Naples and travelling to the Amalfi Coast, as it allows them to skip multiple stops and reach their destination more swiftly. Plenty of flexibility.
Another notable advantage of private transfers is their door-to-door service, picking you up from your lodgings and dropping you off wherever you desire, which is very handy if you are travelling with heavy or bulky bags, especially if you are staying in the steep Positano, with beautiful views but also plenty of steps to go to the bus station or the ferry harbour.
With a taxi, you will be also more flexible with your time schedule, quite important if you have a very late/early flight, for example.
I already mentioned how taxi is much more expensive than bus or ferry transportation.
I should also mention that during the peak season, especially in July and August, finding a taxi may not be as easy (book well in advance if you have already your plan on paper)
From Naples Airport to Sorrento I suggest this value-for-money shared minivan.
From Positano to Naples (Airport) or even Rome I suggest this private transfer transportation.
From any Amalfi Coast destination to/from the Naples Airport I suggest this private transportation, very convenient for a group of travellers.
Getting around Amalfi Coast on foot
The entire Amalfi Coast is a great place for hiking.
There are a few paths that are really outstanding, with unique viewpoints along the route.
Some of them can be started from the towns, meanwhile, for others, you would need to get better organised.
I highlight here probably the most beautiful walk, the Path of the Gods hike with one of the most striking panoramas in Italy.
It starts from the hilly village of Bomerano to finish in Positano.
More information about the Amalfi Coast
- Where to stay on the Amalfi Coast, the best (and worst) areas to book your holiday
- Best itineraries of the Amalfi Coast for 3, 4, 5, 7 or 10 days (with maps and daily plans)
- 33 great experiences to have on the Amalfi Coast, including a few hidden gems
- The Ultimate Guide to the Amalfi Coast – All you need to know with plenty of tips
- Positano or Amalfi, which one works best
Getting to the Amalfi Coast from Naples
If you are in Naples and you want to travel to the Amalfi Coast, you have a few possibilities:
- take the train to Sorrento and then the bus to Positano/Amalfi
- take the direct bus to Amalfi (see SITA timetable). From there, you would need to change if your final destination is Positano
- take the direct NLG ferry (it works only in summer) to Positano
- book this Private Transfer to Positano, which will avoid you from taking the train, the bus or the ferry, saving a ton of time
If you fly to Naples (Capodichino Airport) you can :
- take the direct SITA bus to Sorrento, bypassing Naples and from there the bus to any destination on the Amalfi Coast
- book this great value Shared Transfer that will take you straight to your final destination on the Amalfi Coast
- if you travel in a family or group, you should check out also this Private Van Transfer, which becomes more convenient if you are in 4 or more people.
- the last possibility is to take the Alibus from the Airport to Naples and from there you can choose one of the before mentioned options.
If you are in Naples and you want just to have a day trip to the Amalfi Coast, then you should join this organised experience by bus to the region, the only way to see all in one day.
Getting around the Amalfi Coast by car
Your holiday on the Amalfi Coast will be so much more flexible if you rent a car.
Furthermore, travelling times can be drastically reduced, by as much as 50%.
Additionally, the trip itself, as well as the stops in small villages along the route and the views from the roadside are beautiful.
But I would be totally dishonest if I would not mention the drawbacks.
First, consider that everywhere you go on the Amalfi Coast, parking is expensive, especially in Positano. Budget at least 40 Euro/day and more. And remember to pre-book it if travelling in July and August.
Traffic can be a problem, roads are often congested, especially between 4 pm and 7 pm when even the locals are going home after a day at the office.
Keep also in mind that there are rules to allow cars with number plates ending in an odd or even number to have access on alternate days.
These rules run usually from the 15th of June to the 30th of September and on Eastern time unless you are driving the car there with an already booked hotel on the Amalfi Coast.
- rent your car with full insurance. It’s not just for the possibility of accidents, as in any other place in the world. It’s mostly for minor damages, which happen more than often (mostly due to small streets and limited space for parking) and the rental agencies may charge you more than you think (not to say “more than it should be”).
- Take a small car. Avoid booking a big SUV that you will have difficulties manoeuvring on narrow roads, especially with incoming buses
- do not leave anything visible in your car. You should not leave any bag visible in your car, even if it is empty. There is a chance they will break the glass to get it, leaving you with damage. It is always better to keep valuables out of the boot, and even leave nothing in the trunk. You never know what will happen.
- it’s possible that the roads are narrow in some areas, and it may be tricky to overtake cars and buses in some cases (no worries on the major roads, though).
- driving in Italy is on the right side, and automatic cars are not as common (you need to ask for one).
I do not discourage the idea of renting a car to tour the Amalfi Coast.
To be honest with you, however, I would personally rent a car only if I am planning to visit other destinations unreachable by public transportation from the Amalfi Coast.
For renting a car, I personally recommend using DiscoverCars.com, a great website that compares all the major rental companies providing the best available prices (read the cheapest).
Personally, I avoid no-name local renters, especially at bargain prices.
Enjoy the Amalfi Coast