The Amalfi Coast is a dream. One stunning, sun-drenched town after another sandwiched between lemon-grove-covered mountains and the bright turquoise Tyrrhenian sea. But it’s typically a dream that comes with a high price tag, and without a little planning, it can quickly turn into a nightmare for a budget traveler. Here are a few tips for keeping the spending to a minimum while living that glamourous Amalfi Coast lifestyle.
Stay In Salerno
Salerno, a lively port city on the Southern edge of the Amalfi coast, might not be as picturesque or as glamorous as it’s northern neighbors, but it more than makes up for it with it’s local charm and affordability. The winding streets of the historic old quarter are full of boutiques and family-run trattorias and the long, water-front promenade is packed with strolling locals every evening for sunset. It works perfectly as a base to explore the other towns on the coast, made easy by taking the popular SITA bus line. And most importantly, Airbnbs and hotel rooms are available for a fraction of the price that you would pay to stay in Positano. Important caveat: if you only have one or two nights to spend on the Amalfi coast, OR you are visiting during the busiest months (July, August), it is probably worth the extra cost to stay in one of the central towns so you can avoid time spent sitting in summer traffic.
Use The SITA Bus
Relying on a packed bus to get around the many towns of Amalfi might seem unappealing at first, but once you take that first ride, you will be thanking your lucky stars that you didn’t attempt it in a rental car. The one winding road connecting all of the towns is narrow and full of hairpin turns, with stone walls on one side and steep drop-offs on the other. In many places the road isn’t actually wide enough to accommodate two vehicles, so there is a lot of backing up and careful maneuvering. Buses will pass by each other with just 2 or 3 inches of space to spare, no exaggeration. Plus, even if you successfully navigate the drive between towns, there's only about 10 parking spaces in the towns themselves. So, although it might be overly-crowded and slow, bus is the way to go. If you plan on seeing a couple towns in one day, it is worth it to get the unlimited 24-hour pass for €10 which lets you hop on and off to your hearts content.
Visit The Other Towns
There is no doubt that the vistas in Postitano are stunning, and the lively Amalfi main street is fun, but don’t miss out on visiting the other adorable towns nearby. Praiano, Atrani, Minori, Pontone, and Cetara are all incredibly picturesque and have significantly fewer tour-groups traipsing through. If you wander the side-streets you can often find little pockets of solitude where you can take in the scenery without the press of a crowd. Also, the beaches in these towns tend to be a little less crazy and it’s easier to find a patch of sand where you don’t have to shell out €20 for an umbrella and chair.
Get Food To Go
Accommodation on the Amalfi Coast can certainly be pricey, but the real budget killer is dining out. Even the most casual trattoria in Positano will set you back close to €30 for an appetizer, main, and a drink. Do that twice a day, and add in a croissant, expresso, gelato, and happy-hour cocktail, and you are looking at a very expensive day. Other than ordering less or splitting dishes, the best way to save money on food is to stick to take-away. Ordering pizza at a sit-down restaurant will cost you twice as much as getting one from one of the many take-out joints. You can take your pizza and a few €1 beers and enjoy them on the beach while the sun sets. Beats sitting in an overpriced tourist restaurant any day of the week. Pizza, panini, and fried fish are all easy to find at affordable stalls in any of the towns. Or for a slightly classier meal, stop into a deli and pick up a selection of salumi and cheese and pair it with a nice bottle of Italian wine (which can be found for a mere €3-6 in grocery stores).
Take A Hike
A strenuous stroll in the hills above Amalfi is a great way to escape the crowds while working off all that pizza and pasta. The most famous trail is the Path of the Gods, a moderate 8km trail with stunning views that connects Agerola and Positano. For something more challenging, take the steep 5.6 km trail up to Il Santuario dell'Avvocata, a monastery perched high on a mountaintop. Our personal favorite hike, however, is the Amalfi-Pontone-Ravello-Atrani loop via the Valley of the Mills (full post coming next week!). It's a great combination of shady, river-side trails, picturesque ruins, incredible views, and plenty of places to stop for snacks along the way!