Visiting Sorrento And The Amalfi Coast On A Budget
The ‘Costiera Amalfitana’ is such an idyllic spot that it seems to have sprung out of a fairytale set in an endless summer. The pristine fifty kilometer Amalfi Coast is one of the most desirable sun-soaked destinations in Italy. Despite the Amalfi’s immense allure, traveling and staying there does not have to be an expensive ordeal. Money-conscious travelers using the tips below, can still experience the Amalfi Coast’s glowing beaches lined with immense cliffs, enchanting coastal towns, and mesmerizing scenery while staying on budget.
Actually, traveling anywhere in Italy does not have to be costly. For people who are on a budget and thinking about exploring Florence and the surrounding Tuscan countryside, read our tips about travel, wine, and food on a budget in Tuscany.
Trip Planning and Budgeting
Depending on how many time zones visitors cross to reach the Amalfi Coast, five or six days free of jet lag is the perfect amount of time to explore Sorrento and other towns. Avoid summer crowds and high season prices, by planning a trip in spring or autumn. The weather is also more mild during these seasons. In winter, not only is any good beach weather on hold, but many hotels, bed and breakfasts, and restaurants shut their doors until after the winter holidays. Some are even closed until after Easter.
No matter the time of year, choose travel dates, book accommodation, purchase plane tickets, and hire rental cars or book any train tickets in advance to get the best deals. Everything is more expensive and more in demand during the summer months, so book everything even further in advance if going on holiday in June, July, August, and September. Consider selecting travel days during the middle of the week, when plane and train tickets are more reasonably priced compared to on or around weekends.
Arriving in Italy and Transportation to Amalfi
Most travelers fly into Naples International airport, known as ‘Aeroporto Internazionale di Napoli,’ and then take public transportation or drive to the Amalfi Coast. The drive to Sorrento, the first destination on the Amalfi Coast when coming from the north, takes about an hour and a half. Be prepared for a longer drive, since there often is tourist traffic along the Amalfi.
If using public transportation, the best option is to take buses from the airport to the Port of Naples and then a ferry boat straight to Sorrento. The forty-five minute ferry, which runs daily, gives travelers the true sea experience right from the get-go. Boat tickets cost around fifteen euros, sometimes more and sometimes less, depending on the season. Sea wary travelers can take a combination of buses from the airport in Naples to Sorrento instead. Both of these options, take roughly two and a half or three hours, and a little longer with traffic.
Before booking a flight to Naples, check to see if flying into one of Rome’s airports, either Fiumicino (FCO) also called Leonardo da Vinci International Airport, or Ciampino (CIA) also known as Ciampino G. B. Pastine International Airport, is significantly cheaper. If so, buy tickets to Rome instead of Naples and maybe take a day or two to get over any jet lag. Explore the many free sites, including the shining ‘Fontana di Trevi,’ the delightful statues and fountains of ‘Piazza Navona,’ the ancient Roman ruins of ‘Largo di Torre Argentina,’ the powerful view of the Colosseum from the outside, and the countless enchanting churches and piazzas of the Eternal City, just to name a few.
Driving or taking public transportation from Rome to Sorrento takes about three hours. Travelers without a car, should take the train from ‘Roma Termini’ station to ‘Napoli Centrale’ and then the ferry from the Port of Naples to Sorrento. For the cheapest train tickets, book on Trenitalia or Italo at least one month in advance. If driving, stop off in Naples and explore Pompeii and Mount Vesuvius before plunging into the splendor of the Amalfi. Here are some tips of how to have the perfect weekend in Napoli.
The Best-Priced Ways to Get Around Amalfi
The winding roads of the Amalfi Coast are the easiest to navigate by car, although they can get clogged with traffic during the summer and at weekends. Visitors will notice that most locals and Italians zip around traffic on scooters or motorcycles along the coastal roads.
Using public transportation is not impossible. Buses operated by ‘Sita’ run relatively frequently. Tickets only cost a few euros and can be bought at any ‘tabaccheria,’ or tobacco shop. Remember that buses, just like the roads can get crowded, so when using public transportation always plan bus rides with some extra time in mind.
Staying in a hostel or renting an apartment will be less expensive than staying in a hotel, especially because there is access to a kitchen and guests do not have to eat every meal out. Younger travelers may want to opt for hostels, which are definitely the cheapest option. Prices on Hostel World range from twenty to sixty euros per night in shared dorm rooms. Search Airbnb for the most affordable shared or private apartments.
Look for rooms or apartments in ‘agriturismi,’ which are working farms that offer places to stay and often have a restaurant with delicious local dishes. Very close to the town of Amalfi is ‘Agriturismo Il Campanile,’ which has two apartments available to rent for fifty euros per night. This lovely lemon farm on the sea also has some campsites available for thirteen euros per night. Renting a tent and parking a car cost a little extra.
Bohemian budget travelers, or simply those who are more outdoorsy, can opt for beach camping. There are a number of beach campgrounds, including luxury ones, along the coastline, as well as on the islands just off of the Amalfi Coast. Mirage, on the island of Ischia, offers camping on ‘Spiagga dei Maronti’ with large tents, campers, or caravans for about twenty-five euros per night in low season and thirty euros in high season. Prices are slightly lower with a smaller tent and without a car. To camp on the mainland near Sorrento, try Nube d’Argento and Santa Fortunata Village Camping.
Another savvy and affordable option for house or apartment owners, especially those who live in desirable destinations, is to house swap. Swapping houses requires planning several months in advance and some flexibility in terms of timing. However, once both sides reach an agreement, your accommodation in the Amalfi Coast could be absolutely free.
Beaches are a Bargain!
No matter the weather or the season, Amalfi Coast visitors will inevitably end up on the golden sand and hopefully swimming in the glistening sea. Generally, going to the beach is free in Italy. However, beaches often have ‘stabilimenti,’ sometimes called ‘bagni,’ which are private strips of beach that are owned for the summer period. Each ‘stabilimento’ rents out beach umbrellas called ‘ombrellone,’ deckchairs or ‘sdraio,’ and comfortable sun beds known as ‘lettini’ for a price. For budget travelers who do not wish to rent space or equipment on the beach, look for the free, public section on beaches. The free areas are easy to spot, because they do not have the rows of the same colored, rented umbrellas. In the height of summer, arrive at the beach early to grab a good free spot.
Exploring Almalfi’s Coastal Towns Cheaply
Once on the Amalfi Coast, no matter where travelers decide to stay, visiting other coastal towns and neighboring beaches by bus or car can be a very affordable adventure. Get inspired to start exploring by reading about the top five things to do on the Amalfi Coast.
Sorrento is not the best beach town, but with Naples and Vesuvius looming in the distance, it surely is stunningly beautiful. Admire the homes built in the cliffs and the originally eleventh century Roman-Catholic cathedral, ‘Duomo di Sorrento’ which is decorated with lovely frescos inside. Known for lace, ceramics, and other trinkets, go window shopping and peruse the ‘centro storico,’ or historical center, of Sorrento for interesting and unusual items.
If an island visit is in your budget, chose to get the boat from Sorrento, because it will be the cheapest. A twenty-five minute ferry ride from Sorrento to the heavenly island of Capri costs about twenty or twenty-five euros one-way and forty euros roundtrip. Avoid staying overnight on Capri or Ischia, unless opting for camping. They are known for being expensive, offering an overwhelming about of luxury accommodation, and attracting many celebrities and people with pricey yachts .
Gleaming with pebbled beaches and stacks of pastel-colored homes clustered on top of each other above the sea, Positano is a delightful town to relax in. Head to Positano’s main beach, ‘Marina Grande,’ and explore the town’s twisting streets which have plenty of shops and cafes. Go inside the domed church, ‘Chiesa di Santa Maria Assunta,’ and revel in the white and gold walls, arches, and high ceilings. Other magnificent beaches include ‘Bagni d’Arienzo’ and ‘Spiaggia del Fornillo.’ Be warned, for those on a budget, Positano is better to visit and not to stay in.
Another absolutely photogenic spot and slightly more expensive place to stay is the town of Amalfi. The elegant eleventh century cathedral, ‘Duomo di Amalfi,’ also known as ‘Cattedrale di Sant’Andrea,’ illuminates the town and overlooks the sea. Two of Amalfi’s most stunning beaches are ‘Santa Croce’ and ‘Il Duoglio.’
Between Amalfi and Positano and bursting with color and character, is Praiano, which originally was a fishing village and then a center for silk production. Praiano has some outstanding beaches, especially ‘Spiaggia della Gavitelli’ and ‘Marina di Praia.’ This little town is one place hikers can start their journey along the ‘Sentiero degli Dei’ or Path of the Gods.
The ravishing hilltop town, Ravello, is famous for epic villas, luscious gardens, and riveting views over the turquoise Tyrrhenian Sea. If you do not want to pay the seven euros entrance fee for the pristine gardens of the eleventh century ‘Villa Cimbrone’ or the same price for the thirteenth century ‘Villa Rufolo,’ then explore the town and drink in the views instead. Go inside Ravello’s cathedral, ‘Duomo di Ravello,’ and imagine all of the famous writers, artists, and musicians, including DH Lawrence, Virginia Woolf, and Greta Garbo, who have frequented this Italian paradise.
Walking or Hiking is Free!
For a leisurely downhill walk, start at Ravello’s thirteenth century church called ‘Chiesa dell’Annunziata’ and go down the winding path and ancient stairs, while taking in the majestic sea views. After about forty-five minutes, walkers will reach the smaller town of Minori, which has kept its authentic charm, despite years of welcoming visitors.
For a just as beautiful, but longer walk, go from Ravello to Amalfi or vice versa on foot. The two-hour walk takes people along a delightful coastal path upon the cliffs through the towns of Atrani, Scala, and Castiglione.
The ‘Sentiero degli Dei’ or Path of the Gods, which got its name because of the astounding scenery, is an absolutely epic, all-day hike along the Amalfi Coast. Starting from the towns Agerola or Praiano and ending in either Nocelle or Positano, the path slopes gently downhill this direction and will take people about three hours.
Another nice, one-hour walk is the ‘Sentiero dei Limoni’ or Path of Lemons, which takes hikers from Maiori to Minori passing through the village of Torre. In spring and summer, hikers can see and smell the lemons growing along this route. The Amalfi Coast is famous for lemons, and especially for the sweet, fruit-filled liqueur, ‘Limencello.’
We hope that you get to hike, swim, and relish in the beauty of the Amalfi Coast. Please let us at Roman Candle Tours know if you uncover other ways to save money or stay on budget while you are there!