One of Italy’s ‘must-see’ cities, Amalfi is a fabulous fusion of stunning architecture, scintillating scenery, beautiful beaches, and rich, artistic heritage. Since 1997, the city has enjoyed its status as a World Heritage UNESCO Site in recognition of its beauty and its historical importance, which many or may not have something to do with it being the alleged birthplace of cannelloni!
With such a varied backdrop to take a break in, you’ll find plenty of things to do in Amalfi, whether you’re a foodie, history buff, thrill-seeker, travelling with your better half, or here with the family. Take a road trip along the famous Amalfi Drive along the coast, sail into a grotto lit by a magical green or blue glow, or get back to nature with a hike through the Valle delle Ferriere, best known for its waterfalls. You could even walk in the footsteps of some of history’s greats; from the ancient Greeks and Romans at Paestum to Virginia Woolf and Richard Wagner at the Villa Rufolo! In Amalfi, things to do are in plentiful supply!
Family Days Out
If you’re travelling with children, you’re going to need to pull some entertainment out of the hat at some point during your holiday! Luckily, you’ll find at least a day’s worth on your doorstep, as there’s a great range of things to do in Amalfi. If you’re hoping to let the little ones play on the beach, you’ll find that there are four within walking distance of the town. Beaches in Amalfi tend to be made up of rocks and pebbles, rather than sand, so make your life more comfortable by hiring a sunbed.
However, if you’d rather find things to do in Amalfi, you’ll find the cobbled streets and sunny squares are home to some interesting shops and fantastic restaurants.
The ruined, medieval watchtower of Tolle dello Ziro is atmospheric and fascinating, and ideal for families to explore. Similarly, the crumbling Greek temples and ragged remains of the Roma amphitheatre, houses, and buildings at Paestum are inspiring and ideal for younger visitors.
If you’d like something with a more serene feel to it, head to the Villa Communale, in Salerno. This is the town’s famous botanic gardens. Filled with plants, fountains and statues, this lovely park is popular with families on long summer evenings. It’s also renowned for its Christmas lights, which add festive cheer from November to January.
Exploring the Coast
Amalfi’s coast is an attraction in itself and you could easily spend your entire holiday in a hire-boat, uncovering its secrets. However, if you’d like to get to know the area from land, take the family on the famous Amalfi Drive. One of the most popular things to do in Amalfi, it’s merely a matter of following the Amalfi Coast Road – which is far more exciting than it first sounds! Well known for its twists, turns and incredible views, this is one of those examples of the journey being as much a part of the experience as the destination. So if you decide to hire a car you’re in for a drive like no other! With the steep cliffs dotted with lemon groves, luxury villas and pretty towns, the scenery is spectacular.
There are some great places to visit all along the coast. Up in the hills above Amalfi itself, you’ll find the town of Ravello, whose Villa Rufolo has been a popular retreat for composers and writers. If you’re looking for more of those beautiful views, don’t miss Sant’Agata, which overlooks both the Bay of Naples and the Bay of Salerno.
For a completely authentic taste of the ‘real’ Amalfi Coast, make sure you visit Cetara (which still has a working fishing fleet), charming Minori (where you can see the ruins of a Roman villa and its thermal baths) and Positano, whose colourful sugar cube houses will look great in your photos. Driving isn’t the only way to get around, so check out the ferry timetables if you’d like to see the view from the water.
Finding your Sea Legs
If you and your family do decide to hit the ocean, a visit to the Island of Capri is one of the best things to do Amalfi has to offer. The ferry trip takes less than an hour and will introduce you to an island riddled with celebrity hideaways and packed with high-end shops. You could spend all day pottering around Capri town, just make sure you’ve got plenty of euros handy as this isn’t a place for budget travellers! Soak up the chic atmosphere as you explore the maze of tiny pedestrianised streets, enjoy the peace of the Certosa di San Giacomo monastery, and take a walk out to the Punta Tragera viewpoint.
Alternatively, catch a bus to Anacapri, which is quieter and a little easier on the pocket! Laze the day away at a beach club, or take in the view from the top of Mount Solaro. It’s a good climb if you like hiking, or a chairlift ride if you’d rather save your legs. However you decide to get there, on a clear day you can see Mount Vesuvius from the summit.
While you’re enjoying Capri, be sure to set aside some time for a visit to the Emerald and Blue Grottos. It’ll mean another boat trip, but the reward is well worth it! You’ll find the Emerald Grotto part-way to Positano, and it has the added bonus that you can get to it by a lift from the road as well as by boat. Inside, the water is a spectacular green, and you can see the dramatic stalactites and stalagmites that have formed over centuries.
The Blue Grotto is better known. Its blue waters make the cave roof glow, especially in the early afternoon when the light is strongest.
If you like the idea of seeing more of the Amalfi Coast by boat, it’s a fantastic way to explore. Take a trip between Amalfi and the quiet little village of Praiano, for example, and you’ll be treated to some incredible views. Sights include more sea caves, hidden coves and beaches, medieval watchtowers and the Marina di Furore, the only fjord in Italy. With so many things to do in Amalfi, you’re bound to come back for a second visit so you can pack everything in!