Discover the Authentic Amalfi Coast
Writing, photography & tales from daily life on Italy’s Amalfi Coast, through the eyes of Laura Thayer, an American writer, blogger, photographer and art historian.
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Planning a trip to Amalfi this summer and looking forward to some beach time soaking up the sun? It’s definitely a must during your stay on the Amalfi Coast. But did you know you had a choice for where to go to the beach in Amalfi? While it’s not very large, there are several beaches you can choose from right in Amalfi. I’ll introduce them to you all and you can pick which one to visit while you’re here. Warning: You might have to visit them all to pick your favorite!
This is Amalfi’s main beach and you’ll spot it easily during the summer months with its rows of brightly colored beach umbrellas and sun beds. The beach is right in front of the center of the town across from Piazza Duomo. Every time the umbrellas change color it means you’re at another stabilimento balneare, or area where you can rent a sun bed, umbrella, usually take a shower and change and often have access to snacks, drinks or full meals. You’ll find many different options for where to settle in for the day along Marina Grande beach.
For a more local (although locals definitely use the sun beds and umbrellas, too) and budget experience, head to opposite ends of the beach where you’ll see people have just thrown down beach towels or set up their own camps with umbrellas. Especially at the far end of the beach in the photo above is the most popular spiaggia libera, or a free beach, in Amalfi.
Insider Tip: Most of the beaches on the Amalfi Coast are rocky and this is definitely the case in Amalfi. Think large pebbles. If you’re just planning a quick trip to the beach or spend most of the time in the water then the spiaggia libera is a great choice for you. If you’re looking for a relaxing day at the beach, I’d highly recommend renting a sunbed since the rocks are not very comfortable.
Lido delle Sirene
If the Marina Grande beach might feel a little too crowded for your taste, then walk along the harbor to the other end of Amalfi where you’ll find the Lido delle Sirene (Mermaid Beach) just beyond the confine of the port. It’s not a long walk, just about 10 minutes leisurely pace. Here you won’t find a spiaggia libera, but you will find an excellent beach service with shower, plenty of changing rooms and a restaurant overlooking the beach. Enjoy sandwiches on the beach or take a break from the sun and enjoy the views from inside the restaurant. Many locals, especially if they live elsewhere and come back to Amalfi for a period in the summer, reserve a sunbed for every day at this beach.
As you walked along the harbor from Marina Grande beach to the Lido delle Sirene, you might have spotted a small beach area covered with towels and surrounded by docked boats. This beach is usually just referred to as the porto, or port, and is a very popular spiaggia libera with locals. It’s especially a top choice for families with young kids since the swimming area is shallow and the sea is calm. Although it can get a bit rowdy with kids playing during the summer!
This little beach is tucked beside the restaurant La Marinella and they offer a small beach area and deck with sunbeds and snacks and drinks in the bar nearby. The water here tends to be remarkable clear and sparkly, which is oh so tempting when you walk by above. It’s another popular spot with families, especially with very young children, since there’s plenty of shade below the deck, the water is calm and the swimming area small. While it might not be the top choice for your holiday beach day, it’s fun to stop and peek down as you’re strolling by. Generations of Amalfitani have taken their first dip in the Mediterranean at this beach.
Bonus … Santa Croce
I know I said this was a guide to the beaches in Amalfi, but just take a look at that photo. Can you blame me for wanting to squeeze in one of my favorite beaches on the Amalfi Coast? This is the Santa Croce beach, which while technically located in Amalfi is only reachable by a short boat ride. (They’re used to be access via steps from the road high above, but those met an unfortunate end one stormy winter a number of years ago…)
There are two options for reaching Santa Croce beach from Amalfi. One is to pay a small fee and take one of the boats that departs from where all the ferries depart in Amalfi. They are smaller boats and have a ramp that can be lowered down in the front, which is how you get off at Santa Croce. You can see one in this blog post from last summer about Santa Croce. As soon as you step off the boat you’ll see why this beach is so very special. The water here is just magical!
The other option is to arrive at Santa Croce by the boat service connected to one of the two restaurants at Santa Croce. My favorite way to reach Santa Croce is to take the small boat run by the Ristorante Da Teresa. When you arrive there’s a small pier that leads to their beach area (with the bright orange umbrellas) surrounding the restaurant. You can rent sun beds and umbrellas and either eat a feast on the beach (they make amazing panini and fried calamari or my favorite – a mix of grilled veggies) or dine at the restaurant. Excellent food! And don’t forget the carafe of local white wine with peaches. We often get that for lunch down on the beach and they’ll give you skewers to spear out the big chunks of peaches. Yep, that’s heaven right there!
With this guide you’re now set to hit the beach in Amalfi. If you have more than one day, I recommend visiting different beaches since they all have their own vibe and experience. Even the water can be remarkably different from one beach to the next. Most of all, enjoy your time al mare in Amalfi!
Standing in the center of town and looking up at the Duomo, or Cathedral of St. Andrew, is an experience you simply have to have in Amalfi. Sure, it can be a bit crowded during the busy season. But, look, did you see that view? Going to Amalfi and not standing in Piazza Duomo is like going to Venice and not seeing Piazza San Marco or somehow missing the Colosseum in Rome. I personally love the people watching in the center of Amalfi, and if I have some extra time I’ll grab a spot on that grand staircase and admire the scene. The next thing you want to do, however, is get lost.
Amalfi is wonderful place to wander and explore. Pack a comfortable pair of walking shoes and start climbing! You could head in any direction from the main Piazza into the maze of stairways and narrow passages and find something unique. I’m going to take you along on a walk I took recently that lead up above Amalfi to a gorgeous panorama overlooking the Duomo from the other side. Come along!
I started at the base of the steps of the Duomo and followed the small side staircase up to the left. Here’s my technique for wandering in Amalfi: If you want to explore, just keep heading up. If you’re worried about getting back to the main Piazza Duomo or shopping street, just head down and you’ll get there. My husband always tells visitors that they’ll end up on CNN breaking news if they actually manage to get lost in Amalfi. And please forget the map. You might miss pretty windows and little moments of daily life if you’re busy trying to follow a map.
Just keep going up and soon you’ll start catching a glimpse overlooking Amalfi. It’s quiet when you get up higher since most tourists don’t know about this side of Amalfi or don’t take the time to get lost. Yes, there are a lot of steps, but there are also stunning views that not only make the climb worthwhile but are also great for stopping and resting.
Now that’s a view of the Cathedral of Amalfi that not everyone sees! Did you recognize it? This was the view I was after on my walk since it had been ages since I had seen the Cathedral from above. I had this view to myself until a few locals huffed and puffed by with their daily shopping. Not a place to live up so high if you tend to be forgetful and have to run to store all the time!
I caught my breath from the climb by stopping to admire the little figs growing and the brilliant green of their tiny leaves. There was no hurry, just me and click of the camera shutter as I fiddled around with settings and took in the view.
Although I was trying to get to an even higher spot in Amalfi, I must have taken a different turn, because soon the steps were going down again.
Along the way I passed the most incredible garden. I peeked over a gate and saw a terrace of earth tilled in rows and little onions growing. But what made it so special was the panoramic view of Amalfi. Not a bad backdrop for a bit of gardening you could say.
I love how nothing is the same in Amalfi. Every doorway, every entrance, every corner is different. It feels old and lovingly personalized at the same time. This curved hand railing with decorative cut out motifs caught my eye. I could imagine running my hand along its smooth surface on the way home.
The ornate bell tower of the Duomo kept popping up in different places, which was so much fun to discover. Sometimes I’d see it perfectly framed through an arched passageway or turn a corner and find just the top of it peeking over another building. I wondered just how many views there might be of the bell tower in Amalfi.
Amalfi can still stop in my tracks so easily. Walking down a staircase with knees just a bit wobbly, I stopped and glanced up. What I saw was the sun sparkling on the sea until Capo di Conca – like it was right there in front of me within reach.
Did you recognize that cross? Scroll back up and look closely at the first photo. At the very top of the facade of the Cathedral there’s a cross. This is the same cross but from behind! I ended up back in the main piazza and took a good look up at the facade of the Cathedral again. I love how a change of perspective changes the way you see.
The next time you’re in Amalfi, I encourage you to spend some time getting lost. Even if you’re not up to many steps, you’ll find some interesting passageways and tiny piazzas to discover. The journey of wandering among the steps of Amalfi to find them is just the beginning of the fun!
When I started sharing photos last summer on Instagram, little did I know I had joined such a wonderful community where I would make new friends and connect with Amalfi Coast lovers from around the world. Along the way Instagram became my favorite social media channel for sharing beautiful little doses of the Amalfi Coast throughout the year. Naturally, some of Instagram users I enjoy following the most are also devoted to the Amalfi Coast. From luxury hotels to fellow expats, these are the Instagrammers to follow for Amalfi Coast travel inspiration and daydreaming – wherever you may be!
Villa Tre Ville
The most beautiful spot on the Amalfi Coast been found. No need to look any further. Have you heard of the Villa Tre Ville? Once the private villa of acclaimed Italian film director and producer Franco Zeffirelli, the villa boasts an exclusive setting with postcard perfect views of Positano and the most remarkable décor and setting. It’s the place for a romantic Amalfi Coast getaway. If you can’t get there soon, then head over to @villatreville to settle in for a good dream. Just save me a spot on that sofa!
An unforgettable view of the Mediterranean #VillaCimbrone #Ravello #AmalfiCoast #Italy A photo posted by Ravello (@ravello) on
If your Amalfi Coast crush is the mountain village of Ravello, then let me introduce you to the @ravello Instagram feed. (You’re welcome.) The daily doses of Ravello beauty will brighten any day and give you plenty of travel inspiration for your next Amalfi Coast trip.
Quiet #inspiration #exclusivecruises #positano #paradise A photo posted by Valeria Exclusive Cruises (@exclusivecruises) on
It’s easy to imagine sailing off into the Amalfi Coast sunset following the @exclusivecruises Instagram feed as they share photos of their private boat tours and charters. While the dreamy photos make me wish I spent more time out boating, what I particularly enjoy is the mix of photos, great dining spots and lifestyle experiences on the Amalfi Coast.
By night, La Sponda (Michelin Star Restaurant) is lit by four hundred candles that create an unforgettable atmosphere… Share your favourite memories at Le Sirenuse by using our new hashtag: #LeSirenuseStories. #AmalfiCoast #Positano #Love #TravelItaly #Honeymoon #LuxuryTravel #SeaView #Proposals A photo posted by Le Sirenuse (@lesirenuse) on
I would expect nothing less than spectacular from the luxury hotel Le Sirenuse in Positano, and their Instagram account @lesirenuse constantly has me dreaming of Positano. I love seeing the photos they share from guests and reading the comments from previous guests and travelers counting down the days until their arrival at Le Sirenuse. They’ve built a great community!
Nicki in Positano
For a glimpse of daily life in Positano, follow @nickiposi to see beautiful views from Nicki’s walks high up in the mountains, kayaking on the sea with the ever so cute Holly and Positano charm throughout the year.
“Hands down the most amazing infinity pool with the most breathtaking views I’ve ever seen” #BelmondPostcards by Twittter user @TravellerAgent A photo posted by Belmond Hotel Caruso (@hotelcaruso) on
Zipping back down the coast to Ravello, follow @hotelcaruso to escape to a dreamy world of luxury Ravello-style. That infinity pool. Oh that infinity pool. There’s so much more, but that infinity pool is enough to stop my Instagram feed scrolling to a grinding halt every single time.
Instagram Amalfi Coast Community
present I G S U N S E T | 7 APRIL 2015 P H O T O | @inspirexplorer F R O M | @ig_amalficoast A D M I N | @nonmirestakepiangere F E A U T U R E D T A G | #ig_amalficoast M A I L | email@example.com S O C I A L | Facebook • Twitter M E M B E R S | @igworldclub_officialaccount C O U N T R Y R E Q U I R E D | If you want to join us and open an igworldclub account of your country or city, please write us or go to www.igworldclub.it F O L L O W S U S | @igworldclub @ig_amalficoast O T H E R S T A G | #igworldclub #dayshots #photooftheday #fotodelgiorno #southitaly #suditalia #campania #paesaggisalernitani #amalficoast #costieraamalfitana #sunset #tramonto L O C A T I O N | #Positano
One of the best spots for daily does of Amalfi Coast beauty in your Instagram feed is to follow @ig_amalficoast. They share images all along the Amalfi Coast from users around the world, and I look forward to seeing what they’ll share every day. If you’re fond of a particular village, you’ll find Instagram communities for most of them, including ig_atrani, ig_ravello and ig_positano. (Yay … bonus Amalfi Coast Instagrammers to follow!)
Bell’Avventura in Positano
Don’t you just want to join Rosa Bella at that table and chat about life in Positano as the wisteria petals flutter to the ground? Follow her on Instagram at @bellavventura for beautiful moments of daily life from one of the prettiest terraces in Positano.
La Selva, Positano
Yoga retreats alla Selva di Positano, Amalfy Coast, Italy. Corsi di yoga aperti a tutti ogni giovedì e sabato, lezioni private. Per info contattateci al n. 3487239692 oppure scriveteci una mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.associazionelaselva.it #yoga #yogaeveryday #yogaretreats #organicfarm #organicfood #roomoverlookingthesea #stagetekoverlookingthesea #beaches #sea #sun #italianwine #bookyouryogaretreat #bookyourholiday #culturalactivities For more info write us: email@example.com Visit our website: firstname.lastname@example.org
High in the mountains above Positano with an enviable view, La Selva shares everything good about life that I love: fresh food, yoga and the Amalfi Coast. Follow them @la_selva_positano to share the goodness.
A photo posted by Laura Thayer (@ciaoamalfi) on
To wrap up this Amalfi Coast Instagram love letter, I’d like to invite you to join me on Instagram to discover the authentic Amalfi Coast throughout the year. You can find me @ciaoamalfi. See you on Instagram!
Recently I’ve had the chance to go through the first six years of photos that I took on the Amalfi Coast, which are on an external hard drive and no longer conveniently on my laptop just a few clicks away. While it was a quick search through file after file for specific photos I had in mind for an exciting project I’ve been working on, I had to stop a few times when I cam across moments I had forgotten.
Then I found this photo. It was taken from a bus coming around the corner into Amalfi one sunny February day in 2007. It was the first time I saw Amalfi. There it was. It’s the very first photo I took of Amalfi.
A person’s life purpose is nothing more than to rediscover, through the detours of art, or love, or passionate work, those one or two images in the presence of which his heart first opened.
– Albert Camus
And just then my heart cracked open.
Spring has arrived and Easter is just a week away, which means it’s time for the ferry service to begin along the Amalfi Coast. The company Travelmar runs the ferry boats that connect Salerno with Amalfi and Positano, and service begins on April 1st, 2015. Getting around the Amalfi Coast by ferry is not only more convenient but also a great way to see the beauty of the coastline from the sea. No matter how many times I’ve made the trip up and down the coast, I still get out my camera and take photos. It’s just too beautiful to resist!
If you’re staying in Amalfi and would like to see Positano or the other way around, it’s just a 30 minute ferry ride between the two villages. All of the boats have an open seating area on the upper level, which is great for taking photos. Just be sure to bring a hat and your sunscreen as the summer sunshine doesn’t feel as warm as it is with the nice sea breeze. A little tip for taking photos: From Amalfi to Positano you’ll want to sit on the right side of the boat to be on the side closest to the land and the left side from Positano to Amalfi.
Besides avoiding the eternal issue of where to park the car or scooter, taking the ferry also means you arrive right in the heart of Positano. Once you step off the boat you’re just steps from the beach and the shops and restaurants are moments away. When the ferries arrive in Positano they turn shortly before the dock and back in. So if you’re sitting on the top level you’ll get a great 360 view as the boat turns! Do keep in mind, however, that since the dock in Positano is open to the sea that for safety the ferries are not able to stop here if the sea is rough. While it rarely happens during the summer, it can happen more often during the shoulder season. This is less of an issue in Amalfi, Salerno and Sorrento where there are ports.
Travelmar has launched a free app that includes their schedule (linked to the website) and the ability to book tickets on a smartphone or tablet and pay with Paypal.
Infants ride free on the ferries and there are reduced fares for children under the age of 10. Don’t forget that if you’re traveling with luggage on the ferry you will have to pay extra, usually about €1.50 per suitcase.
Visit the Travelmar website to find out all the details, see the latest schedules and book your tickets online in advance. I hope you’ll have a chance to take the ferry on the Amalfi Coast this year!