Last summer, I took short jaunt to Italy, and in my 3 days I visited Rome, Naples, and the Amalfi Coast.
The Amalfi Coast is a scene from a romance film: fashion models with perfectly-primped hair drink mimosas on schooners in the Mediterranean, and the backdrop behind them boasts a picturesque town sitting at the edge of a mountain.
But the truth is, you can go to the Amalfi Coast and still be frugal. Here’s how:
Where to Stay
The biggest cost of a trip to the Amalfi Coast is accommodation. In the small, coastal towns, popular hotels can run you $1,000+/night. And while I’m sure the service and experience is incomparable, I budget for about $40/night.
Sorrento is the main hub of the Amalfi Coast. The central bus and train stations are located here, and from Sorrento you can easily take a bus to *your destination. Sorrento is a larger town and although it lies on flat terrain, its coastline views are still superb. As the hub, it has many restaurants, low-cost hostels and hotels, banks, etc.
Here are a couple recommendations for accommodation in Sorrento:
Sorrento Flats Bed & Breakfast – $50+/night
Casa Rachele – $25+/night
*I will be inserting “your destination” when talking about the small towns that make up the Amalfi Coast. These include – ordered by proximity to Sorrento – Positano, Praiano, Furore, Conca dei Marini, Amalfi, Atrani, Ravello, Minori, Maiori and more.
Naples (Napoli) is a large metropolis close to the Amalfi coast, and it’s a good place to stay at the bookends of your trip. From Napoli, you must take a train to Sorrento, then a bus to your destination. For this reason, it wouldn’t be a good idea to base your trip in Napoli, or you’ll end up spending most of your days traveling on public transportation.
Staying in Napoli at the bookends of your Amalfi Coast vacation, however, will allow you to experience the local culture and eat the original Italian Napolitano pizza at Gino Sorbillo’s. I arrived at Gino Sorbillo’s 45 minutes before opening, and I was third in line.
I couchsurfed in Naples, but you can also find a wide array of cheap, paid accommodation on sites like HostelWorld and Airbnb.
When travelers spend a fortune in the Amalfi Coast, their itineraries usually include private transportation in restored classic cars or high-class limousines.
The rest of us depend on crowded, sweaty public transportation, but fortunately, it’s pretty cheap. Taking a bus from Sorrento to your destination only costs a few bucks. It’s a fun experience too: snag the front seat on the bus, and when the driver swerves around the mountain bends at 80 mph, you’ll get an adrenaline rush. Or the urge to purge.
Space on the bus is limited and first come, first serve. If you’re lucky enough to choose your seat, I recommend sitting on the side with the best views. This means sitting on the right side of the bus from Sorrento to your destination, and on the left side of the bus on the way back.
If your starting point is Naples, you can take a train to Sorrento. Honestly, this train is basically scrap metal held together with twist-ties. It’s janky. But it departs Naples several times throughout the day, passes by Pompeii and Vesuvius, and is dirt-cheap.
…You can also take a ferry from Naples to Sorrento at a slightly higher price.
If your starting point is Rome, you can get to Naples by train or bus. Bus is the cheaper option, if you like having intense nausea. I prefer the train as it only takes 1 hour and lets me rest before traveling the mountain roads.
Bagni della Regina Giovanna
OK, so this “hidden” beach isn’t much of a secret, but it’s still a beautiful place to swim in Sorrento. You’ll have to trek there, but the views and experience are unparalleled.
While the 1% takes $500-lemon-orchard tours, I walked down a dirt path in Sorrento and accidentally came across a beautiful one. The Amalfi Coast is famous for its lemons and delicious limoncello, so if you do a little research beforehand, you can find an orchard and create your own Wikipedia-informed tour.
Hike Sentiero degli Dei (Path of the gods)
Hiking in the Amalfi Coast is a great way to get all the views without spending a fortune. For this hike, you’ll want to start in Agerola (near Furore) with your destination being Nocelle (Positano). There are many different starting points depending on the length and direction of your hike, but this is the one I recommend.
Here is a website dedicated to the Sentiero degli Dei that can provide directions and other FAQ.
If you’ve been to the Amalfi Coast on a budget, leave your recommendations in the comments! And if you haven’t… start planning your trip now!
The Wayfaring Woman