After a few days of island hopping from Procida to Ischia, it’s time to move on to our ultimate goal – the Amalfi Coast.
I visited Positano once before, on Round the World #4. It was spectacular, but it was also January and everything was closed for the season. I’m excited to return and explore during the summer season. To share this gorgeous part of Italy with my husband Dave.
How to get from Ischia to the Positano
From Ischia, we have two options to get to Positano.
- Ferry back to Naples, train to Sorrento, then a bus or boat to Positano.
- Ferry to Capri, change boats, and then another ferry straight for Positano.
I don’t love Naples but I do love the idea of lunch in Capri, so we book the 10:35am ferry to Capri.
The ferry ride to Capri is a rough 45-minutes across high seas but it’s pleasant enough. We weren’t able to book our onward ferry to Positano from Ischia. So when we get off the boat, we head straight for Capri’s ferry ticket office to evaluate our options.
Capri to Positano
Unfortunately, due to the aforementioned high seas, all boats to Positano are canceled for the day.
However, larger boats depart every 30 minutes for Sorrento. I know from my last visit that we can easily catch the SITA bus from Sorrento directly to Positano. With a new plan, we book a ferry ticket to Sorrento for 1pm and settle into a seaside trattoria for a tasty lunch.
The 30-minute ferry ride to Sorrento is much calmer and features spectacular views along the ride, especially as we arrive in the beautiful port of Sorrento.
It is one of the most beautiful ports in all of Europe with hotels soaring atop the cliffs and sapphire waters in the bay. Conveniently, there is an elevator built into the cliffs to whisk you up top to the city center for just 1 euro.
We take advantage of the elevator ride to the main square. From there, it’s a short walk to the main train station where the SITA bus stop is located.
The SITA Bus to Positano (off-season)
I have pleasant memories of my previous experience with the SITA bus from Sorrento to Positano. It was just 1 euro and ran frequently (even in the off-season). It also doubled as the local school bus. So at certain times of the day it carried cheerful local kids on their way home from school.
Read More: Positively Perfect Positano
The SITA Bus to Positano (in-season)
However, things have changed a bit since my last visit. We find the bus stop easily and buy our tickets, now 8 euro per person. (Either they are more expensive during the summer months or the price has increased considerably in the last 6 years!)
We have 20 minutes until the next bus arrives. As we wait the crowd quickly swells. In fact, I begin to worry we won’t make it onto the bus at all. Despite the fact that there were only 10 people waiting when we bought our tickets.
The tickets are not numbered and when the bus arrives it’s a free for all. We struggle forward as people begin pushing and shoving. Dave takes our luggage to the other side for stowing. I fight the crowd to score us some seats.
Luckily, we happened to be in a good position when the bus came to a stop. Otherwise, we may have been waiting for the next one. Every available seat and standing space quickly fills for the 45-minute drive to Positano.
It’s packed. It’s hot. And it’s the opposite of the pleasant, relaxed experience from my last trip.
We immediately begin to consider other options (like one of the many car services) for our return trip to Sorrento.
Arrival in Positano
Nearly an hour later, we emerge from the sweaty bus at Positano’s main bus stop. Right into the thick of another crowd waiting to board the bus. Generally speaking, crowds are the rule of the day everywhere we look.
Tourists, tour groups and traffic. Welcome to summer on the Amalfi Coast.
It’s not at all reminiscent of the peaceful, coastal village I remember. And I can tell immediately that Dave is wondering why we’ve come here at all. Especially compared to the tourist-free paradise of Procida we left just two days before.
The next challenge is getting to our hotel, which requires a change to another local bus. The SITA bus driver helpfully points out the stop and we cross the street with our bags to wait.
A budget-friendly hotel find in Positano?
Since we are currently traveling in Europe for a month, I tried my level best to stick to a budget. Unfortunately, the Amalfi Coast area is a real budget-buster!
With average rates in Positano nearing $1,000 a night (and the most popular hotels like legendary Le Sirenuse soaring well over that), I got creative.
Enter Le Ghiande B&B…
After diligent research, I discovered the gem of Le Ghiande B&B in Montepertuso, a small town nestled in the mountainside above Positano. It had terrific reviews and a rate of just 90 euro a night. Almost too good to be true.
However, as we board another crowded bus to Montepertuso and begin to climb higher into the hills away from Positano, I start to wonder if we made the right decision. Will the location be too remote for our short stay?
Ten minutes later, we emerge at the stop for Le Ghiande. We’re greeted warmly and shown to our beautiful room with its own private sea-view terrace. Suddenly, I care a bit less about dealing with the bus to and from town. The cool breeze from the terrace and the fresh sea air are worth it.
And for the first time all day, it is quiet. Blissfully, peacefully, quiet.
We settle into our room to regroup, then head back to find our host for some local advice. He gives us the bus schedule and explains that tickets are 1.70 euro each if bought on the bus. Or 1.30 euro if bought in a tabacchi shop in advance.
Map and bus schedule in hand, we catch the next bus into town. Buses run about every 30 minutes and the ride into central Positano takes 20 minutes. We quickly get the hang of the bus system and realize the peace of Montepertuso is actually a nice escape from the crowds.
In fact, for the next two days, every time we emerge from the bus into the busy streets of Positano we know we made the right choice. Don’t get me wrong, Positano is gorgeous. But in the summer months, it is also wall-to-wall with tourists.
Our plan for the rest of the afternoon? Explore the streets of Positano, find some dinner, and decide how t0 get out to see the rest of the coastline tomorrow. With just one full day, I want to make the most of our time by taking a boat tour of the coast.
After our experience on the SITA bus earlier today, the thought of getting back on a bus to Amalfi or Atrani is not appealing. Taking to the water seems like a much better plan.
We make our way down to the beach and visit the boat company stands near the pier.
The Metro del Mare
One option for touring the coast by sea is the Metro del Mare. These public boats connect nearly every town along the Amalfi Coast and Capri. Tickets cost between 9-15 euro depending on the route. Other private companies offer certain routes between towns on a regular schedule for a similar fee.
A romantic splurge…
However, since we saved a fortune on our hotel and our 2nd anniversary is just a few days away, we’re looking for something special. We splurge on a private boat trip with a company called Cassiopea for tomorrow.
Yes, it is a little pricey (380 euro for a 3-hour trip). But it will give us the freedom to visit all the places we want to see in a single afternoon. Bonus: we’ll leave the busy streets of Positano in our wake for the day.
Later, we head back up to town and find a cute restaurant for dinner before hopping on the bus back to Le Ghiande.
That night we sip limoncello on our terrace and marvel at the difference in atmosphere between Montepertuso and Positano. One, full of locals on a quiet mountainside with million-dollar views. The other, full of tourists with million-dollar hotel prices.
No contest, we made the right choice.
Exploring the Amalfi Coast by Sea
The next morning we sleep in and enjoy panoramic sea views over breakfast on Le Ghiande’s expansive terrace. Then we catching the bus into town to meet our boat.
The boat in question is a gorgeous teak-trimmed Italian speedboat straight out of Amalfi Coast central casting. And it’s all ours for the next 3 hours.
Our captain, Antonio, outlines a rough plan for the day. First, a cruise along the coast to the towns of Praiano, Amalfi, Atrani, Minori, and Maiori. With plenty of secluded beaches, grottoes and cliffside fortresses in between.
We can stop in any of the towns to explore or anchor for a swim anywhere we like. Or we can choose to stay on the boat and just see as much of the coastline as possible.
We throw off the lines in Positano and head out to the serenity of the sea.
Over the next few hours, we experience the jaw-dropping beauty of the Amalfi Coast as it is best seen, from the sea. It’s our own slice of private Amalfi Coast paradise.
We cruise along the jagged coastline stopping to peek in blue grottoes. We pass the Marina di Praia, the hidden beach at Furore and countless 5-star hotels. Later, the towns of Amalfi, Atrani, Minori and Maiori.
With a private boat, we are able to see so much more than we could have by land or by public boat. Yes, it was a splurge but it was absolutely worth every penny.
As we begin our ride back toward Positano, Antonio pops the cork on a bottle of prosecco. We lounge on the forward deck sipping wine hand-in-hand. Savoring the views for the entire ride back.
A more romantic 2nd anniversary I cannot imagine.
Back in Positano
We grab a late lunch and spend some time wandering the shops before catching the bus to the hotel.
We also stop in a car service office to book a private car back to Sorrento for tomorrow. At 70 euro, it’s well worth the price to avoid the bus.
A romantic dinner in Montepertuso
After an incredible day, I didn’t think anything could top it for dinner.
But on the bus back to Montepertuso, we run into one of the boat guys we met yesterday while researching boat trips. He lives in Montepertuso and recommended we try La Terra for dinner.
The same restaurant also came highly recommended by the folks at Le Ghiande. So after cleaning up at the hotel we walk over to check it out.
And wow, I’m so glad we did! It was hands-down the best meal of the entire trip.
Just down the road from Le Ghiande, La Terra is an ancient stone farmhouse overlooking the bay of Positano. The views from the dining room are out of this world but the food is even better. A family-run restaurant, they grow much of the food they serve in their own garden.
We both try different salads and pasta dishes and everything we taste is outstanding.
We were lucky to get in without a reservation and are pleasantly surprised by the reasonable prices (unlike in Positano). If you’re not staying in Montepertuso, La Terra is still well worth a trip. They also offer a free shuttle service from your hotel.
We linger over a romantic dinner and then make the short walk back to Le Ghiande. A limoncello nightcap on our incredible terrace is a fitting end to a marvelous day.
Positano to Sorrento
The next morning we sleep in again and enjoy one final breakfast from the terrace. Our driver arrives promptly at 10:00am for the drive to Sorrento and I’m grateful to escape the local buses.
An hour later, we arrive at the lovely Hilton Sorrento Palace. We have one final day to enjoy Sorrento before moving on to central Italy and the Republic of San Marino tomorrow.
Our spacious room at the Hilton features a fabulous terrace overlooking Sorrento and Mount Vesuvius.
Our plan for the rest of the day? Hop on the train to visit the ruins of Pompeii. Then spend the rest of the day exploring Sorrento.
A Day Trip to Pompeii
Situated between Sorrento and Naples, Pompeii is an easy day trip from either city. The walk from the Hilton to the Sorrento train station is a quick 10 minutes. 30 minutes later we step off the train near the entrance to the ruins of Pompeii.
At the turn of the first century A.D., the town of Pompeii was a thriving resort area catering to Rome’s wealthiest citizens. Located just 5 miles from the base of Mount Vesuvius, the town’s paved streets were lined with elegant homes, shops, cafes, and even a 20,000-seat arena.
In August 79 A.D., Mount Vesuvius famously erupted sending a plume of ashes and scorching-hot volcanic gases so high into the air. On the eve of the eruption, nearly 20,000 people lived in or near Pompeii. Many escaped but more than 2,000 people died as millions of tons of volcanic ash buried the city.
Pompeii remained untouched for 2,000 years until a group of explorers uncovered the city in 1748. Incredibly, under all that dust, the city was remarkably well-preserved. Entire buildings intact and skeletons frozen right where they’d fallen.
Today, the excavation of Pompeii continues, captivating archaeologists and tourists, alike. Walking the eerie streets and exploring the site with the imposing facade of Vesuvius in the distance is a fascinating experience.
You could spend days discovering the site. However, with today’s intense summer heat we last about 3 hours and return to the train station for the short ride back to Sorrento.
Last night in Sorrento
Back at the hotel, we change for dinner and walk into town. We wander the cobbled streets of Sorrento and do a little last-minute Amalfi Coast shopping.
Later, we find a quaint seaside café for sunset drinks. And then a terrific, off-the-beaten-path trattoria for dinner.
It’s the perfect way to wrap up our incredible (and extremely affordable) week in the Amalfi Coast!
Tomorrow, we take the train back to Naples to pick up a rental car for the remainder of our Italian adventure. After San Marino, we’ll hit the beaches of Tuscany’s Elba Island and then wrap up our trip in the colorful Italian Riviera.
Read More: Elba Island: Tuscany’s Best Beaches
Next stop, the mountainous microstate of San Marino!