When most people think of the Amalfi Coast, the scenes that come to mind are beaches strewn with colorful umbrellas, bougainvilla draped pergolas and pastel hued buildings in the bright sunshine. If you’ve visited the Amalfi Coast from say April through October, that is very likely what you experienced. But what about the winter months? What happens on the Amalfi Coast the rest of the year? I love watching the change of seasons throughout the year, and mountains with a dusting of snow, lonely beaches and quiet winter days are just as much the Amalfi Coast to me as those summer experiences. While you can still plan a beautiful trip exploring the Amalfi Coast off season, you do need to know a few things in advance to have a fun time. Here are five things you need to know to plan a winter trip to the Amalfi Coast!
1. Ferries Don’t Run in the Winter
It’s no secret that my favorite way to get around the Amalfi Coast is by ferry. You get a stunning view of the coastline and avoid the traffic. What’s not to love? However, if you’re planning a winter trip to the Amalfi Coast, the first thing you’ll want to know is that the ferries don’t run off season. The sea is often too rough, especially in Positano, and there just aren’t the crowds to justify the service. While there’s not a precise beginning and ending date for the ferry season, it usually starts running by Easter or a little earlier if it’s a late Easter. The ferries run throughout the spring, summer and fall until the end of October or beginning of November. Weather permitting, the service runs through the beginning of November for All Saints’ Day. If you’re planning a trip right at that shoulder season where you’re unsure if the ferries will be running, it’s best to arrange alternative transportation options before you arrive.
2. Many Places are Closed
While winter on the Amalfi Coast is relatively moderate, the season ends at the beginning of November and doesn’t pick up again until the spring. This means many, if not most, hotels close off season. Some close entirely, some re-open for Christmas & New Year’s and some do stay open. You’ll just want to do a bit of planning in advance to enjoy your time on the Amalfi Coast off season. Many restaurants and shops close as well, but the amount that stay open depends on where you visit. Nearly everything closes in Positano all winter, while if you head over to Amalfi you’ll find the majority of the restaurants and shops open through Epiphany and then many close through February. Yet, if you visit a quiet village like Scala, you won’t find much different off season.
If you’re planning a trip to the Amalfi Coast over the winter, my recommendation would be to stay in Amalfi since it has excellent bus connections and a lovely local feel all winter long. You’ll have the beach to yourself … well you and the seagulls!
3. Except for Christmas & New Year’s – Fun!
So everything I’ve said about the quiet winter days on the Amalfi Coast is what you’ll find – except for Christmas and New Year’s. They’re a wonderful time in Amalfi! Notice, I didn’t say the Amalfi Coast. I said Amalfi. And by that I mean staying in Amalfi over the holidays is a lot of fun. The streets are decorated with lights and the stores are open for holiday shopping. There are concerts all over the area and the fireworks on New Year’s Eve are spectacular. Need something else to make it even sweeter? You can pop into the Pansa pasticceria next to the Duomo and try out their fabulous artisan panettone and special local desserts made only for the holidays. The holiday atmosphere usually lasts through the Epiphany and then gets a little quieter for the rest of January and February as the Amalfitani go on a much deserved holiday time. That’s when you’ll find many hotels restaurants closed even in Amalfi.
4. There’s Not Much to Do Indoors
The winter months on the Amalfi Coast can be rainy, and it’s important to keep in mind that there isn’t a lot to do indoors on the Amalfi Coast. While you will certainly want to visit the Duomo, with its beautiful Cloister of Paradise and museum, along with the Museo della Carta (Paper Museum), that pretty much covers all the indoor sights in Amalfi. (Besides eating more panettone at Pansa…) However, Naples is only about an hour drive away from the Amalfi Coast, so you could plan a rainy day exploring the National Archaeological Museum, the Capodimonte Museum or a number of other outstanding museums and cultural sights.
5. It’s Beautiful – Most of the Time!
Yet, the majority of the winter is beautiful along the Amalfi Coast. And if you get a sunny winter day in Amalfi, there’s really nothing quite like it. The light is different, there’s a quiet atmosphere and it gives you the chance to see daily life on the Amalfi Coast. That daily life is there throughout the year, but it’s just easier to spot during the winter. My favorite thing to do in the winter is walk along the pier and enjoy the view of Amalfi. Maybe we’ll just bump into one another this winter!
Italy Blogging Roundtable
This blog post is part of a monthly series called The Italy Blogging Roundtable. Every month our group of Italy based writers takes on a new theme, and you can read about this month’s topic – Winter – at the links below. We’d love to hear your thoughts and comments. Please share the stores if you’ve enjoyed them!