While part of the charm of the Amalfi Coast is how remote it is, getting to the Amalfi Coast can be quite challenging for a first timer.
When we were planning for our trip, I scoured every travel blog for how to get to the Amalfi Coast, and each one provided a different answer.
The choice we ended up going with was the one we regretted the most, so I’m here to tell you exactly how to get to the Amalfi Coast without headaches or hassles like we endured.
1.KNOW YOUR ITINERARY FIRST. Make sure in advance you understand that traveling to Capri first versus anywhere else on the Amalfi coast is going to give you different options for flying in. Traveling to Capri first, it’s easiest to fly into Napoli whereas traveling to Amalfi Coast first it would be easiest to fly into Roma and I will explain why below.
2.By Plane: Chances are, wherever you are flying from you will need a connection. Since we were flying from Atlanta we were able to do with just one connection and we chose to connect through Charles De Gaulle with a 2 hour layover on our first leg and an hour layover on our way home. Huge mistake on our part. I would not recommend connecting through De Gaulle unless you want to stay in Paris for a couple of days (which if we’re being honest I had secretly hoped we missed our connection home so we could have stayed in Paris for a few days.) If you are connecting in Europe, do your best to connect through Amsterdam. I’ve heard their airport is extremely efficient and safe, so if you’re traveling with a family this is the route I would take. The flight time is the exact same (from ATL) to Amsterdam as it is from DeGaulle. However if you have the option, select to connect through Rome, then you’re flight to Napoli will only be 55 minutes. My next option is to fly direct to Rome and then take the train to Sorrento.
3.By Train: One wonderful thing about Europe is that trains are such a popular mode of transportation, and truly one of my favorite ways to travel abroad. If you are flying direct into Rome, I highly recommend taking the train straight to Sorrento and skipping through Napoli. From Sorrento, depending on your itinerary, you can take a Hydrofoil straight to Capri or take an automobile to the Amalfi Coast.
4. By Automobile: When it comes to driving in Italy, as an outsider I would NOT recommend it. Their road laws are much different than what we are used to in America and if you are a hesitant driver you will be dangerous to other motorists on the road. I highly recommend skipping the bus. The bus was the most cost-effective way to get from Napoli to Positano, but it took us 6 hours. What I recommend is coordinating with your hotel a reputable car service to come pick you up. For about $140 they will escort you, your bags and your sanity to your hotel safely, comfortably and quickly. A car ride from Sorrento to Positano is about 40 minutes. Our bus ride took 2 hours. We lost out on an entire day because we wanted to save $100. To us, it wasn’t worth taking the bus. Not to mention, my friend got car sick due to the winding roads and was miserable the rest of the day. If you fly into Napoli, I recommend having a car pick you up. I would not recommend hiring a taxi or a car waiting by the curb to take you to your destination. Those individuals love to take advantage of tourists.
5. By Boat: If you are flying straight into Napoli and are heading to Capri first, I recommend jumping on a hydrofoil to take you straight to your destination. The hydrofoils (in the summer) run just about every other hour and will deliver you to Capri within an hour. You also can take the hydrofoil to other destinations on the Amalfi Coast, which I recommend over the bus and will be slightly more expensive (about $15 per person). If you are flying into Rome and then taking the train to Sorrento, you also have the option of taking a hydrofoil from Sorrento’s port to any destination on the Amalfi Coast and Capri.
What we did: I planned our entire itinerary of travel with information gathered from other travel blogs, I thought they had well equipped me for getting to the Amalfi Coast but our experience said otherwise. We left Atlanta’s airport around 4pm and slept (or attempted to sleep) on the plane. We arrived at Charles De Gaulle around 10am the next morning (Paris time), and after exhaustingly waiting through customs, had enough time to grab some macarons from Ladurée for breakfast and coffee from Paul’s in the International Terminal. We boarded our plane shortly thereafter and took a turbulence filled trip to Napoli.
Arriving at noon to Napoli’s airport was less than ideal, and the entire airport was extremely dirty. Almost no one spoke English, and our English to Italian translation book was not helpful. The people we did encounter in Napoli who worked there, were not focused on helping us, ever. We decided to save some money and take a bus to Sorrento. What should have been a 40-minute bus ride to Sorrento ended up being an hour and a half bus ride due to the multiple stops we had to make along the way. When we arrived in Sorrento, the bus waiting to take us to Positano informed us that for 3 Euro we could be taken to Positano versus the $120 car ride from Sorrento to Positano. After waiting over an hour for the bus to leave Sorrento (which he informed us was going to leave in 5 minutes when we got there), we finally started heading to Positano.
The bus chugged along slowly, winding through the hills of Sorrento and teetered on the edge of the mountainside when taking curves. My stomach begun feeling ill and the hot stagnant air in the bus was not helping. After a 2 hour trip to Positano, the bus dropped us off at the top of the hill with not one English speaking soul to help us figure out how to get to Hotel La Reginella. Another agonizing 45 minutes of trying to figure out which way to our hotel, we jumped on the local Positano bus and it dropped me and my car-sick friend off in front of the hotel with only 30 minutes to get ready for our 7pm dinner reservation at Le Sirenuse, which to be honest, was a complete disappointment for what we had hoped to have started our vacation off with.
After 28 hours of travel from Atlanta, I greatly regretted taking the bus. We could have saved so much time (and my friend’s car-sickness) by renting a private town car to deliver us to our Hotel. The $140 fare it would have been to have us picked up at the airport by our hotel was, looking back, well worth every penny we would have paid.
In the future, I have decided that we will take a direct flight to Rome, take the train to Sorrento and have a hydrofoil take us to our next destination. The hydrofoils and trains are reliable in terms of schedules, but the buses are at the whim of the driver and should be used as a last resort. The hills of the Amalfi Coast do not make for friendly automobile travel, so I would avoid it when planning your itinerary to Positano and Capri.
If you have any travel questions regarding Positano and Capri you can see my previous posts linked below or feel free to reach out to me via email at darlingdownsouth [at] gmail [dot] com.
Positano Travel Guides
Capri Travel Guides
I hope this helps you plan your trip to the Amalfi Coast! We had a wonderful time aside from the traveling portion, and I hope you don’t let the egregious trip to get there deter you from visiting this wonderful place.
I appreciate the honesty and realism in your post. Travel usually is portrayed as such a fun thing to do (and it certainly is and can be don’t get me wrong!!), but it can be challenging and stressful at times even for those that plan everything to a T! When I went to Positano a few years ago, I was studying abroad in Florence. We took the train to Rome, then a Lenzer-style tour bus to Sorrento. Once in Sorrento, we rented a tiny car to travel around more easily. I loved all of your pictures and posts from Italy!! *heart eyes emoji*
Thank you, Shannon! I’m glad you enjoyed the post. Traveling to the Amalfi Coast is not “easy” with a limited budget but the overall experience there is well worth the hassle.