Pastel-colored towns perched on the sides of cliffs. Terraced groves where lemons are grown to be turned into limoncello. And the ever-present glimpse of deep blue sea.
This is the Amalfi Coast.
The Amalfi Coast is famous in Italy – arguably just as famous as the “must-visit” cities like Rome and Venice and Florence.
But when you're planning your first trip to Italy, you'll quickly realize that you can't possibly fit it all in. There's too much to see, and the country is really just too large to cover every part of it (or even just the famous parts!) in a short trip.
So this is where day trips can come in handy.
Plan your trip around visiting your top must-see spots like the Colosseum and the canals of Venice, and then set aside a couple day trips to get small tastes of regions you might want to come back and visit next time.
You can take a day trip to Tuscany from Florence, or a day trip to Bologna from Venice. And from Rome? From Rome, you can totally take a day trip to the Amalfi Coast.
(Want to skip to the good part? This is the tour I'm talking about in this post, and I think it's 100% worth it if you're short on time but still want to visit the Amalfi Coast!)
Why take an Amalfi Coast day trip?
In a perfect world, you'd have enough time to really savor the Amalfi Coast. In a perfect world, you'd have days to divide up between seaside towns like Sorrento and Positano and Amalfi.
But travel isn't perfect, and sometimes a small taste of something is better than nothing at all.
On my recent trip to Italy, I didn't have those extra days to dedicate to the Amalfi Coast. In fact, I only had one extra day to fill in Rome before heading off on my next adventure.
I'd already toured the Colosseum, been to the Vatican Museums, thrown my coins into the Trevi Fountain, and eaten basically all the food in Rome – in fact, it was my third visit to Rome, and I was looking for something new to try.
So I decided to book a boat-hopping Amalfi Coast day trip with Walks of Italy.
I've taken several tours with Walks in different cities all around the world, and have always been extremely impressed by them. They focus on small groups, hire local guides, and get you access to places and experiences you won't find featured on any other tours.
This Amalfi Coast day trip was no exception; in fact, it was one of my favorite Walks tours I've ever taken! (Check it out for yourself here.)
Note: I was a guest of Walks of Italy on this tour, but as always all opinions are 100% my own.
Boat-Hopping on the Amalfi Coast
The Amalfi Coast is an extremely popular part of Italy – both with tourists and Italians. It also only stretches a little over 30 miles (50 kilometers). Add to this narrow and twisting 2-lane roads, and you can imagine how busy and traffic-filled this part of Italy can get in the high season.
I personally would never want to drive these roads myself (let alone have to deal with finding parking – eek!), which is where traveling by boat comes in!
The morning started fairly early when I met my guide and the rest of my group at Rome's Termini train station. We grabbed some coffees and leisurely boarded a fast train headed south.
When I first did this tour, that first train was to Naples, from which we boarded a small bus to drive to Positano. Since then, though, the tour has been amended to allow even more time to soak in the epic coastal views; now, you travel directly from Rome to Salerno, and get right on your first ferry!
Ferry to Amalfi
A ferry serves the main towns along the Amalfi Coast, and this is how you'll get around today. From Salerno, you'll first travel to the town of Amalfi itself, which is a breathtaking cliffside town that oozes Italian charm.
You don't have to stress about ferry times or tickets, because your guide will take care of all of that for you. (And ours also gave us tips on the best side of the ferry to sit on for the best views; from Salerno to Amalfi, sit on the right-hand side!)
The 35-minute ride to Amalfi Town is extremely beautiful; prepare to goggle over the towering coastal cliffs that this part of Italy is so well-known for.
Exploring Amalfi town
When we arrived in Amalfi, there was an optional visit to a lemon farm included in the tour. We all opted to do this, even though it meant climbing 250 steep steps up into a local lemon grove.
Once at the top, though, we all agreed it was worth it. The farm had a shady terrace for us to sit at and enjoy the views along with tastes of lemons, lemon cake, and of course limoncello.
After the tastings, we had free time in Amalfi.
The town is small and was pretty crowded even in October, but I still had time to do a little souvenir shopping, visit the Amalfi Cathedral, and grab a lemon sorbet before meeting my group back at the ferry terminal for the next stop.
Your guide will likely give you a brief overview of each town you visit, but your free time is your own to spend as you'd like! I appreciated this flexibility with the tour; no need to stick with the group the whole time.
Ferry to Positano
We met back up at the ferry terminal early enough to be some of the first people on the boat to Positano (which meant we could claim seats with the best views for the 25-minute ride!).
This ride is even more beautiful, as you first watch Amalfi Town shrink out of sight, and then watch the colorful cliff-perched buildings of Positano come into view.
In Positano, you'll have more free time to do basically whatever you want.
I first walked along the beach for some photos, stopping to dip my toes in the sea. The public beach was still busy in October, but the town itself didn't feel too crowded at this time of year.
If you want to swim or rent a beach lounger, come prepared with your swimsuit under your clothes – and note that this is a pebble beach and not a sandy one!
Next I headed up into town in search of a shop where I could get some custom sandals made. Positano is known for its leather sandals, and several shops can make you custom ones on the spot!
I ended up going to Artigianato Rallo, which was all the way at the top of the road (Positano is built on a cliff, so there's basically a “top” and “bottom” of town). The shop has been passed down through several generations of shoemakers, and the custom sandal experience there was top-notch.
I picked out my style and leather colors, and then the shoe wizard (my choice of noun) measured the straps to fit my feet and made them right in front of me. Definitely one of my favorite Italy souvenirs.
Because I can be pretty indecisive when shopping (and because there were a few people in front of me), I spent about an hour getting sandals made. This meant I didn't have time to do a whole lot more before meeting my group back down by the beach – but I didn't mind.
Ferry to Salerno and back to Rome
From Positano, you'll catch a 70-minute ferry back to Salerno, which will allow you to see all the coastal views again in the late afternoon (sit on the left side this time for the best views!).
Once in Salerno, we headed straight for the train station to catch a high-speed train back to Rome. This ride took about 2 hours, but our guide provided us with some snacks and wine to help pass the time.
You'll end up back in Rome after 9 p.m. It's a long day, but I'm still so impressed by how smoothly everything ran, and how much we were able to see!
I would love to return to this part of Italy on a future trip, but seeing what I did in a day was at least a great start.
Is it worth taking an Amalfi Coast day tour?
In a case like mine where you have limited time but still want to see this iconic part of Italy, then I do think it's worth it to take a day trip to the Amalfi Coast.
You can see a surprising amount in just one day, including both Positano and Amalfi.
This particular tour with Walks of Italy is an excellent option because it includes enough organization to keep you on track, but also builds in a nice amount of free time. Plus, there are SO many photo opportunities! I would definitely recommend this option to anyone looking for an Amalfi Coast day trip from Rome.
Book the same tour I did here: Boat-Hopping On The Amalfi Coast: Day Trip from Rome
This was how I spent my last day in Italy, and I can't think of a better way to have ended the trip.
Did you know you could take a day trip to the Amalfi Coast? Would you?
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Food is not included, but you have free time in both Amalfi and Positano; I grabbed lunch at a local spot! (And then we were back in Rome in time for a late dinner.)