Don’t think you can complete a relaxing, Rome to Amalfi Coast day trip and return in one day? Well you can – by train, automobile and boat.
We were visiting Rome but wanted to see some of the other must see places in Italy, without the hassle of changing hotels. So we reviewed day trips from Rome, Italy and found a fantastic Rome to Amalfi Coast day trip with a bit of a twist! You can go by high speed train and then travel along the coast by boat to see the coastal towns of the Amalfi coast from the water.
Why an Amalfi Coast Itinerary Should be Part of Your Trip to Italy
The Amalfi Coast is one of Italy’s top destinations. With stunning sparkling, blue water, sandy beaches and quaint hillside towns it is just beautiful.
But the reality is, as one of Italy’s top destinations, the Amalfi Coast can be busy with large crowds and lots of tourists. The Amalfi Coast drive is world famous, but on our visit, the Amalfi traffic is more the reality, and we weren’t there at a peak time. (Rumor has it they are going to close the drive to tourists to relieve congestion!)
The Amalfi Coast drive passes through many, small and not so small towns, where speeds are slow. And in between the towns, driving the Amalfi Coast is slow because of the sheer volume of traffic, including lots of large buses. The road is congested as buses and cars pull over to take photos of the coastline.
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Parking in and around the Amalfi Coast towns is limited. In Positano, large buses and cars are prohibited from entering – you have to park at the top and walk down. (And back up to get back to the car or bus.)
Enter the perfect solution, rather than sitting in traffic on a large bus and viewing the coastline from a window, on Walks of Rome’s Amalfi Coast by Boat tour, you can hop from town to town by boat. Avoiding the traffic, congestion, parking issues and getting some breathtaking views from the water and more time to explore the towns of Positano and Amalfi.
You experience a totally different perspective of the quaint, Amalfi Coast towns. Looking up from the water and viewing the road hugging to those cliffs is a view you can’t get from the road.
So where is the Amalfi Coast? And how far is the Amalfi Coast from Rome? Amalfi is 170 miles (275km) south west of Rome, or about three and half hours driving.
Highlights of the Rome to Amalfi Coast Day Trip
Italy’s High-Speed Trains Make a Rome to Amalfi Coast Day Trip Feasible
In only 1 hour 7 minutes you can travel from Rome to Naples on a high-speed train, a distance of 132 miles (212km). If you have never experienced travel on a high-speed train, then here is your chance.
With an 7:30 departure from Rome’s central train station, we arrive in Naples, make a quick transfer to a waiting shuttle bus, and were on our way before 9 am.
Mount Vesuvius is visible as you leave Naples on the start of the drive from Naples to Positano. The drive is a bit slow and congested as you near Sorrento, but you can enjoy the stunning views of the rugged cliffs and small towns built into hillsides. And the stunning blue water is an easy distraction!
The towns were originally built on the cliff tops for defensive purposes. Pirates and other invaders along the coastline were a real threat and villagers could defend their homes and villages from the clifftops.
Positano on the Amalfi Coast
As we were in a small group, our van was able to make a quick stop for photos at Sorrento. We then traveled to Positano and were dropped further down in the center of town. The large buses can’t drive into this are. With your map, complete with shopping and eating suggestions you explore on your own for 3 hours enjoying the pottery and clothing shops, and fabulous restaurants, bars and cafes where you can soak up the atmosphere and enjoy a leisurely lunch.
Known for its arts and craft, Positano has some beautiful ceramics. Resort wear is also a common item to buy here. So leave a bit of time to browse and some room in your suitcase!
Our guide, Marta, told us all the best places to eat and what dishes to try. Positano has three rather famous desserts – rum baba, sfogliatelle and delizia al limone. Of course we had to try them all! The sfogliatelle at La Zagara is not to be missed! Unbelievable! The pastry and cream just melts in your mouth!
Viewing the Amalfi Coast by Boat
From Positano we boarded a boat to travel to the town of Amalfi. The boat dock in Positano is at the bottom of the town near the beach, saving you a walk back up the hill to the bus.
From the water, the cliff-hugging mansions with the walkways down to the sparkling Amalfi coast waters are like something out of a movie set. The Amalfi Coast road is visible from the water- the engineering excellence of building between these towns is impressive, with the tunnels and curves! It’s a great perspective on a UNESCO World Heritage highlight. (And you can see the traffic you are missing.)
Limoncello and Amalfi
Upon arrival in Amalfi, it’s time for our limoncello tour. Limoncello, an Italian digestive made from the skin or rinds or lemons, and is traditionally from this area. The lemon farms are almost vertical on these rugged hilltops. So to see the farm and learn how it is made, we climb up the hillside and through the farm.
The farms have been here for hundred of years. Stairs and ladders wind through the farm. The harvest is by hand and men carry the large sacks of lemons up/down stairs in large sacks. This is the way it has always been done. The farm is too steep for machines to assist. (And having climbed through this farm, it is amazing they farm at all on these hillsides!)
Today many for these farms are struggling as labor costs rise. Limoncello on the Amalfi coast is a traditional product still made by hand. You find many shops in Amalfi and Positano selling Limoncello and other lemon products.
After the visit to the farm and a taste of Limoncello, you have some free time to explore Amalfi.
The 9th Century Roman Catholic Cathedral of St. Andrew, or the Duomo, dominates the main square in Amalfi. The Cathedral contains relics of St. Andrew, the patron saint of Amalfi. From the Cloister you enter the Basilica of the Crucifix. Dating to 596 AD this was the original church on the site until the cathedral was built.
The architecture shows Moorish influences in the Cloister of Paradise, a beautiful palm garden surrounded by 120 arched marble columns. This cloister was a cemetery for the nobles of Amalfi. There is a small admission fee to enter the cathedral.
Salerno and Returning to Rome
Then it’s back to the boat and onto Salerno. The scenery is more rugged here with less houses but still stunning.The leisurely boat ride is a nice end to the day. Upon docking in Salerno, there is time to grab a quick drink. Then you board your high-speed train back to Rome, stopping only in Naples. Departing Salerno at 6pm, arriving at Roma Termeni at 8pm, just in time for dinner!
And, in case you hadn’t quite had enough Amalfi Coast hospitality, the wonderful Marta provided some tasty olives, just made buffalo mozzarella (it tastes even better when it is freshly made!) and a local wine as an aperitivo on the train. A perfect end to a great day.
Touring the Amalfi Coast as a Day Trip
So yes, the Amalfi Coast is everything it is cracked up to be. And it is totally feasible to undertake a Rome to Amalfi Coast Day trip. As evidence of that, one of our fellow travelers was a 95-year-old from the US. She, like the rest of us, had a ball!
Our Amalfi Coast day trip from Rome was with Walks of Italy. It was well organized and the guide, Marta was great. They also offer a tour which combines Pompei and driving the Amalfi Coast if you prefer. We had plenty of free time to explore Positano and Amalfi, and the limoncello farm visit was a highlight. You can book tours directly on the the Walks of Italy website.
Want some more information about traveling in Italy? Or how about a itinerary for a day in Venice? A one day itinerary, featuring all the iconic highlights of Venice. We also have lots of other Italian travel content, including some great Italian recipes.
We were guests of Walks of Italy, as always all our opinions are our own.