The Amalfi Coast is famous for many fantastic things, but getting around this iconic part of the world can be tricky. The roads are narrow and winding, parking is expensive and hard to come by, you could be waiting hours for buses to finally come around, and in peak season everything is heightened 100% as the number of tourists grow. Once you have created your Amalfi Coast itinerary (see my Amalfi Coast guide to help with this), it’s time to book your transport and work out the logistics of getting around!
I have driven down the coast twice, once as a passenger and once as the driver. On the previous trip, I decided to ask local people I met what they thought wa the best way to get around. I gathered some tips and suggestions, and decided to write a post to help those who are trying to make the decision. What I have found is that there is no definitive ‘best way’ to travel down the coast, it depends on factors like your budget, the length of your trip, how structured you like your plans to be, and your anxiety levels around driving. Each transport option has its own pros and cons!
In this post I’m going to run you through these pros and cons to help you make a balanced and personal choice on which is best for your trip. At the end, I’m going to give my two cents as a budget conscious traveller, who loves driving, hates parallel parking, and likes to have flexibility with her plans. If that sounds like you, then scoot on down and read my recommendations.
Find Your Hotel On The Amalfi Coast
Travelling Along the Amalfi Coast by Car
The Costiera Amalfitana (SS163) is 60 kilometres of weaving roads, which start at Sorrento and end at Vietri sul Mare. It’s an ambitious and exhilarating ride, but one you should be prepped for!
My original vision for our Amalfi trip was driving along coast, sweeping mountains on our left, emerald blue water on our right, our windows open, a great playlist playing, pulling over whenever we spotted a great sight and taking in the views. We could stop when we wanted, and we could pick and choose the towns we wanted to stay in based on what we were feeling on the day.
And while we did get all of this by renting a car, we found that there were also a few financial and logistical issues that came with driving along the coast.
Pros of hiring a car
- More freedom! You can get around whenever you like, without having to wake up or sightsee on bus schedules.
- You can plan the trip easier as you’re in control of your timelines. Driving estimates are more accurate than bus schedules, so you can stick to a schedule easier.
- You can bring more stuff with you, as you just stick it in the boot.
- You can stop at all the pretty viewpoints along the way.
- You can get to places early or late, when the crowds aren’t there.
- It’s an iconic road, and it’s a bucket list experience to drive along it.
- You can create your perfect Italian playlist for the drive, that will forever remind you of the trip 🙂
Cons of hiring a car
- It is far more expensive than public transport – between rental, insurance and petrol.
- Parking is approx €5/7 per hour or €20 per day, which adds to an already expensive nightly cost of staying on the coast (although some hotels do free parking).
- Parking is difficult to find, especially in the high season when there are many more cars on the road.
- The traffic here is famously aggressive, and nervous drivers might find that the stress of driving can affect their enjoyment of the trip.
- You need to be confident in your driving. Big, public buses drive along the coast, and the roads are super narrow. If a bus comes your way, you often have to reverse along the windy roads with a bunch of other drivers to give then space to pass.
- You most likely will need to parallel park at some point, with a queue of cars watching.
Logistics and tips for renting a car:
- Renting a car in this part of the world is fairly straightforward – but pricing and availability varies wildly depending on the time of year you are taking your trip.
- If you plan to visit the Amalfi in June / July / August, definitely book in advance and shop around. We found that earlier in spring and from September it became much easier to get a reasonably priced car.
- You have to be at least 21 to rent a car in Italy. Some companies will rent to you if you are over 18, so long as you have held your licence for a year. You will usually pay a surcharge if you are under 25.
- If you don’t have a European driving licence, then you will have to obtain an international drivers licence (IDP) to rent a car. You get this from your home country. The car rental company may not ask for this when you rent the car, but you may get fined if you are stopped by the police and don’t have one.
- You will need a credit card to rent a car, a debit card won’t suffice for most rental companies.
- Minor scrapes and dings are very common on the Amalfi, and repair prices are quite high. I recommend getting excess waiver and also travel insurance (Safety Wing is a great option).
- You can be waiting an hour or so in a queue to pick up your car, so factor this into your timelines.
- When renting a car, rent the smallest one you can find. We tend to always rent a Fiat 500 – it’s small enough to zip around the coast and park easily.
- If you can get a bright colour, it’s much easier to spot your car amongst a sea of others at a car park.
- Keep your distance behind cars, as they often need to brake suddenly due to oncoming buses or larger vans.
- Don’t let yourself get stressed out by other people’s impatience. Some people driving on these roads do so daily, and so they can get frustrated with tourists (and kind of rude). If you end up with an impatient driver behind you, pull into a parking bay and let them overtake you – then continue with your trip on a comfortable speed.
- Naples Airport website has the list of car rental companies at the airport – which are also based around the city and the coast. They also offer price comparison links to find the best price on your dates.
- We have rented cars from Maggiore and Avis
Travelling Along the Amalfi Coast by Scooter
Travelling by scooter can be a really enjoyable way to see the Amalfi coast. It’s a lesser chosen option, but has plenty of benefits. This is probably best for travellers that don’t want to change hotels each night, but want to explore the coast. You can easily visit all major towns, as well as the smaller little spots along the way.
It is possible to rent a scooter with a regular drivers license, details are below – along with somethings to consider!
Pros of travelling by scooter
- Renting a scooter is cheaper than renting a car, and you will save on gas.
- It will be easier to find parking – and cheaper (it’s often free).
- Scooters get dropped off and picked up at your accommodation, so the logistics of renting are easier.
- Driving on the narrow streets is easier and less stressful than in a car – you can zip around slow cars easier.
- You have freedom of movement (just like if you had a car).
- You can stop easily every time you see a place that catch your interest or a beautiful sight. If you drive, you can’t just pull over as the roads are so narrow, you have to wait for an allocated spot to pull over.
- You will easily reach the most isolated destinations and beaches.
- You would get excellent photos.
Cons of travelling by scooter
- Packing and luggage is the biggest consideration with a scooter. It will limit your options on either what to pack, or where to stay:
- To stop and sleep in different towns, you would need a bike per person for a couple, and to pack relatively light (a small backpack each).
- If you’re not a light packer, you could get a bus or private taxi (details below) to your preferred town, and get the bike dropped here. The companies listed below will drop and pickup the scooter to your chosen point.
- The roads are sketchy, so it can be a little nerve wracking driving a scooter and weaving in between the busy traffic. Safety is probably the biggest concern when driving a scooter on these roads. Definitely get travel insurance if you choose this option (I recommend Safety Wing)
- Uphill drives, like to Ravello, would definitely be trickier – especially with 2 people and baggage.
Logistics of hiring a scooter (rentals and parking)
- License requirements (these depend on the type of bike you rent!):
– Scooters up to 50cc: You can rent this with a regular European or International driving licence. Minimum age: 18.
– Scooters from 51cc to 125cc: You need an A1/B license or international equivalent. Minimum age: 18.
– Scooters above 125cc: You need an A2/A(3) license or international equivalent. Minimum age: 18.
- Helmets are mandatory (make sure they give you a good one, if they don’t insist they replace it).
- A deposit is often required (around €200 per bike, sometimes cash)
- Sorrento Scooter Rental – offers online booking, free 24 hour cancellation, and free parking for your entire rental period. 125cc scooters only and the price includes 2 helmets.
- Amalfi Scooter Rentals – offers 50cc bikes as well as 125cc, which come with 2 helmets and a padlock. You can enquire online (not book directly), they will deliver the bike to you, and parking isn’t included but rates are reasonable.
- Positano.com – offers both 50cc and 125cc bikes. Only offers 1 helmet, with a €5 per day charge for a second, there’s a €200 deposit. Offers free pickup and return to major towns, and 24 hour roadside assistance. You can book directly online.
- You can book into a private Vespa tour along the coast, which you do with an expert driver.
Travelling Along the Amalfi Coast by Public Transport
This is an extremely popular way to get around the Amalfi coast. It’s cheap, it’s convenient, and it removes the stress of battling the narrow, winding roads. The bus service along this route is actually quite impressive, considering the tiny towns, sheer drops and narrow roads. Taking public transport is definitely the best way for budget travellers to get around.
Taking the bus is a no-brainer for most tourists, but does take a little planning if you want the trip to be seamless.
Pros of taking public transport
- It’s cheap! Prices are between €1.30 and €6 for a bus. You don’t have to pay for parking or fuel, which knocks off a lot of the cost. You also don’t need to pay for insurance excess.
- You don’t have to worry about driving on the busy roads and can take it easy.
- You can enjoy the views if you get a window seat.
- You have the opportunity to get chatting to and meet new people on the buses.
- The buses are nice, and the bus stops are in convenient places. So it’s pretty easy to plan your route along the coast.
- Some of the sights on the Amalfi coast don’t have car parking nearby, so you have to park far away and walk along the busy road to get to them. However most of these have bus stops right outside, which make them easier to visit by public transport.
- You can indulge in a lunchtime lemon spritz since you’re not driving!
Cons of taking public transport
- You will have to carry your cases or backpacks around more, as you move between hotels. This can mean up and down a lot of steps to get to the main streets where the bus stops are.
- You cannot book a seat on a specific bus, just a ticket for the journey you want to take. This means that you are not guaranteed a spot should a bus come along. In busy seasons, you may need to wait for a few buses to come along before you can get on one. You are also likely to have to stand, which can be tricky on the winding roads.
- It’s slower to get around. Obviously buses are slower than cars anyway, but a lot of the time will be spent getting cars to reverse so that the bus can get through. This means that you will spend more of your trip travelling. If you bring a good book it will be fine, but don’t plan any aggressive timelines for your trip.
- Since you are not guaranteed a seat on a bus, and trips can take longer than expected, your schedule can be unreliable. If you are a planner, or you have a short trip and want to pack a lot in, then you might find that you miss some things due to full or slow buses.
- You can’t buy your tickets until you get there, which adds an element of uncertainty to the trip.
Logistics of taking public transport (timetables etc)
- You cannot buy your tickets online or on the bus. You buy them from anywhere that has the SITA SUD logo (tabaccherie, newspapers stands, bars, caffés, shops). These usually tend to be pretty close to the bus stops, so if you’re searching for tickets then head to the nearest bus stop. This is the official list of places that sell tickets.
- There is no bus from Naples along the Amalfi coast. You would get a boat, train, or taxi from Naples to Sorrento, and then get the bus from here to the many towns along the coast. Here is a link that outlines your options for getting from Naples to Sorrento – with booking links.
- You buy your ticket for a specific route, but not a specific time. So you’ll buy your ticket, and then turn up and try to get on the bus you want. In low or medium season, your chances of getting on a bus are high (especially as they do allow people to stand). In high season, you can end up waiting for a few buses before you can get on one.
- There are different types of tickets you can buy:
- Corsa Singola: This is valid for one ride on one carrier in one direction. You buy a separate ticket for each leg of your journey. If you are travelling between two towns and there is a bus change on the way, you have to buy a ticket from point A to point B, and a second ticket from point B to point C. For example, to get from from Salerno to Ravello, you must stop in Amalfi town. This means that you need to buy a Corsa Singola for each leg – and you can stop off in Amalfi for a little while along the way.
- Orario: You buy this ticket type for your entire itinerary. So you can buy an Orario from Salerno to Ravello, but you need to get on the next connecting bus when you arrive in Amalfi. So with this ticket, you can’t stop and spend time in town during a bus change.
- COSTIERASITA 24 hours: You can buy these tickets if you are planning multiple stops in one day. These are €10 (for stops in major towns) and €12 (for stops in major and smaller towns) and allow unlimited rides for 24 hours.
- The first bus leaves Sorrento at 6:30am and arrives in Amalfi at 8am.
- The last bus leaves Sorrento at 8:30pm and arrives in Amalfi after 10pm. After 10pm, you will need to get a taxi.
- Bus drivers announce the stops, so you know when to get off.
- There is a luggage compartment where you can put your suitcases and backpacks. You must also put strollers in here, they can’t be taken on board.
Bus Company & Timetables
- The bus company which runs the routes down the Amalfi coast is called SITA Bus – click that link for timetables and routes. It’s not a great website, but it has helpful information.
- Positano.com has a great timetable you can use to plan your trip.
My thoughts on which is best
I have travelled down the Amalfi coast twice by car, once as a passenger and the second time as a driver. Here are my thoughts as someone who like to wing it when they travel, likes to have a little freedom in their movements, and has been known to cry during stressful drives:
- I really enjoyed driving down the coast, and for me it was definitely the best option. I was definitely nervous in the days leading up to the trip, especially when I was the driver. However, I really enjoyed it and would 100% drive if we went back again. I wouldn’t opt to go to the coast in July or August however.
- I would consider riding a scooter, if I was staying put in one place – but I wouldn’t do it on a multi-day, multi-stop trip. I would do it if I was stopping in one place for a few days and wanted to zip around and see some sights.
- If you’re on a budget, I would recommend to get the bus and take the hit on the unreliable travel timings. It’s so expensive on the Amalfi, adding gas, parking, insurance etc to this can really hammer a budget. Spend your money on Spritz instead.
- It was definitely more fun being the passenger than the driver. I could enjoy the views, take photos, spot places to stop etc. If you are going as a group or couple, I would recommend having more than one person insured on the car to give the main driver break.
- Parking is what stresses most people out, but there are ways to make this less of an issue.
- It’s not hard to find Airbnbs or hotels which have free parking, this saves you at least €20 per day. Add this filter to your booking, and make sure you check ‘free parking’ and not just ‘parking’.
- Hire a small car, it’s so much easier to park and get around the roads. A Fiat 500 is perfect.
I hope you found this helpful, and that it helps you to book your trip along the Amalfi coast! If you have any questions, just drop them below. And if you want to share any personal insights or anecdotes from your Amalfi trip, leave them below!