I’m just going to come right out and say it – traveling to the Amalfi Coast was the trip of a lifetime, and by far the best trip I have ever taken. It was the perfect mix of relaxation, adventure, food, and culture. The Italian culture is warm and welcoming, which directly reflects on all things hospitality, food, and personality. This is Italy, so obviously the food was never-had-a-bad-meal good. It’s beautiful every turn you take, and yes, the views from the cliffs on the Amalfi Coast are just as gorgeous as they are terrifying (like everyone says!) My absolute main take away from my time on Italy’s Southern coast was the simple fact that I felt at home. Welcome. And, most importantly, safe. So, with that said, lets dive into it! Why we chose the Amalfi Coast as our big trip of the year, how we got there, where we eat (what anyone cares about anyways!), where we stayed, and what we did..
La Dolce Vita…
It was between Italy and Greece. I wanted Greece and my boyfriend wanted to visit the Amalfi Coast. Even though the Amalfi Coast has been gaining serious attraction lately with tourists from all over the world, I surprisingly never looked into it as much as I had researched Greece and other European beach destinations. Of course, when I took the time to research, I was sold. Hello! If you’ve met me, you know I live off Italian food and a beach is always calling my name. In the beginning of planning, we were actually going to do six days on the Amalfi Coast, and five days in Greece, but ever since my passion with travel has blossomed, I’ve learned the importance of not rushing things and truly taking the time to get to know my surroundings and enjoy the place I’m in at the moment. No one wants to rush through days on vacation in order to fit it all in. There’s always next time! Greece 2019 anyone?!
Our trip was perfect in every single way, minus the 14 hour travel duration that quickly turned into 25 hours (!). More on that soon when I post my guide on what to do when you’re on the verge of an airport breakdown. We’ve ALL been there – not pretty. Delays and missed connections aside, we flew SFO to Paris CDG Airport on Air France, then connected from there onto Naples, Italy. From Naples, our driver that our Airbnb host reserved for us drove us to the coast. It took about an hour and fifteen minutes to arrive. We arrived late at night, so our drive was shorter thanks to no traffic. I’ve heard that this drive mid-day can take well over two hours. The second quickest option is flying into Rome direct, then driving the three and a half hour drive to the coast. Or, taking a train from Rome-Naples. We didn’t do this since you can’t fly direct into Rome from SFO, and we didn’t want to fly Norwegian Airlines to Rome from Oakland – I’ve heard countless horror stories about this airline, basically the Southwest of European airlines. Although, Air France wasn’t much better. Since we wanted to fly home direct, I booked this trip as a multi-city itinerary. You never want to book two one-way tickets to Europe, unless you’re flying Norwegian as you will most likely pay the price of a round-trip ticket for a one-way ticket. We flew from Naples to Paris a few days before heading back to the US, and enjoyed two days eating our way through Paris before hopping on our non-stop flight home. After the ordeal getting to Naples, I was so grateful we planned it this way. Plus, you can never have too much Paris. Pro tip: If you’re flying economy on Air France, pay the $70 extra per way to reserve a bulkhead, or exit row seat. We flew exit row and had about 2 yards of leg room and our seats thankfully reclined. Also, remember, if you have the Priority Pass from one of your credit cards, the Air France lounge in SFO is a PP lounge. Take advantage of the unlimited champagne and macaroons before your flight! *Economy luxury* haha.
Why We Chose Praiano Over Positano
Since we went to the Amalfi Coast during high season (May-September), we were shocked when looking at places to stay in Positano. I’m talking $800-$1000/night for 4 star hotels. Once the shock wore off (and the panic that we’d already booked our flights!), I started researching other areas besides Positano. I’d also found that Positano had become increasingly touristy and insanely busy. I quickly found the little slice of heaven that is Praiano. Praiano is a quaint town located right between Positano and Amalfi. You can easy grab a water taxi from Praiano’s beach and be in Positano in less than 10 minutes (30 euro), take the public bus which takes around 25 minutes (2 euro), or a taxi (35 euro). Most hotels also offer free shuttles. Praiano is the quiet, yet charming escape from Positano. Choosing to stay here was the best decision of our trip and the best stop on our trip, too. The little town full of locals (home to less than 1,000 residents), is built into the hills like Positano, with the same incredible water and cliff views, hiking trails, family run restaurants, and the most friendly locals. Praiano is like the Tulum to Playa del Carmen – quirky, not yet overrun, hip, and filled with hidden gems.
Where We Stayed in Praiano
After browsing Airbnb and reading countless travel articles, I came across a B&B run by two sisters on a Travel & Leisure guest post. I checked out the linked website, then came across the same B&B run by the sisters on Airbnb a few days later. I was hesitant to book an Airbnb in Italy, but the price was over half of a hotel, it was huge, the pictures were incredibly intriguing, and the host had over 40 excellent, five star reviews. After booking, I chatted multiple times with one of the sisters (Hi Adele!!), and she basically acted as a personal concierge for us, making all of our dinner, beach, and transportation reservations. Guys – this Airbnb may be THE BEST Airbnb in the world. It was so clean, spacious, and I felt very safe. We felt like locals every morning when walking over to the local market to grab fresh espresso beans and local organic fruit. Our host even brought over fresh tomatoes from her garden one day, and a bottle of crisp prosecco. Some mornings we spent running the steps to the beach as our AM work out, or hiking the paths at the tip top of the town. Others we’d visit the local café and eat gelato with the locals, or pop down to the beach for a happy hour cocktail. A few of the night’s we’d take the bus to Positano, as it was super easy and fool proof since it stopped right outside our Airbnb door. I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves… I’m so excited to return to this special place with family and friends. (First time using Airbnb? Use my code: alexist2881 for $40 off!)
Praiano Eats & Drinks:
La Moressa: This restaurant looked over our Airbnb, with an incredible view from the terrace. This place is known by the locals as the best pizza in Praiano, and it did not disappoint. They also serve breakfast and have fresh fruit and vegetable smoothies in the morning (much needed after the carb party everyday.)
Kasai: Located on a quiet street, this understated restaurant packs a huge punch in the pasta and wine department. Their pesto was the best of the trip, and the service was fantastic.
Il Pirata: Built into the rocks along the water. A must-go for both food and atmosphere. We spent my birthday night here and it was unforgettable.
Africana Famous Club: A club built into the rocks right next to Il Pirata. We went at amateur hour, around 11pm, and it was quiet, but a fun place to grab a night cap.
Bar Del Sole: Where the locals hang! We loved grabbing late night pistachio gelato and an espresso here each night.
Marino Tutto per Tutti (no website): Located right next to the Airbnb we stayed at, this is the most convenient place to grab local fruit and fresh espresso beans for a light breakfast on the patio.
Positano Eats & Drinks:
Next2: This all white restaurant is a high-end eatery, about a 20 minute walk up the hill from the main square. This was a splurge night for us, but well worth it. I had a 48 euro homemade truffle pasta that pretty much changed my life forever.
Hotel Piccolo Sant’Andrea Luxury Suite Hotel: A beautiful 5-star hotel built into the cliffs between Positano and Praiano. Gorgeous place to sip afternoon drinks on their outdoor patio lounge. They also have a world-class spa.
Franco’s Bar: Owned by one of the nicest luxury hotels in Positano, Le Sirenuse, Franco’s is the hotel’s sister bar, geared toward the younger crowed when compared to the hotel oyster bar. Franco’s is hip and has stunning views. This place is definitely “sceney”, and does not take reservations. The line was down the road the first time we tried to go, so when we were passing by on the way back from the beach one day right before they opened, it was the perfect time to grab a post-beach spritz.
Hotel Palazzo Murat: We stumbled upon this hidden gem on our first full day, and visited a second time after. The drinks are handcrafted and look like works of art, and they bring so many complementary aperitif’s, you’ll be worried they thought you ordered all that food!
What We Did
Beach clubs are the THING on the Amalfi Coast. You must make reservations beforehand, and most clubs will pick you up either at your hotel, or via boat shuttle at the main Positano pier. Don’t think Vegas when you think beach club here. In Italy, these are private beaches where you can rent chairs for the day, have lunch, soak in the salty Mediterranean with your travel companion, and get cocktails delivered straight to your beach chair. I mean, my ideal place if we’re being honest. We went to many of the main, popular ones, and I made reservations via email a few weeks prior.
Bagni d’Arienzo Beach Club: Came here on my birthday, and it was our favorite beach club we went to on the trip. The drink service on the beach was fast and attentive, and the lunch service stayed on track with reservation time. After finishing off a bottle of Whispering Angel and devouring lemon ravioli, I was the happiest 25 year old on the planet!
Treville Beach Club: Our Airbnb host actually drove us to this secret oasis, and by drove, I mean dropped us off at the top of a hill that took about 20 minutes to walk down (and up!), Amalfi Coast cliffs are no joke. This beach club is next to the famous Da Adolfo beach club that everyone and their mother talks about. Da Adolfo also never answers their phone (only way you can make a reservation) so I gave up on that place long before our trip. Anyways, Treville was beyond luxury when compared to their neighbor. Our lunch was outstanding and fresh, and the complementary Aperol Spritz’s delivered to our beach chairs were a nice touch. This club has been recently renovated and renamed, so it may not come up on all of the “popular” lists, but it sure should!
One Fire Beach: Located in Praiano, One Fire sent us a boat at the Praiano marina and brought us to the club (about a 5 minute ride.) This club is definitely the most lively of the three, with a watermelon smashing party each day, and fun music in the afternoons. Mornings here are quiet and relaxing. The mozzarella is a must order and could feed a family of 10! They also offer 20 euro chair massages some days, which of course I took advantage of. Ahhh.
Our last day in Praiano was spent in Ravello!