View of Ischia Ponte from the terrace of castello aragonese

Two weeks in Southern Italy – Amalfi Coast, Capri, Naples and Ischia

After several trips to Italy, it was finally time to visit the Amalfi Coast and surrounding islands. While I knew that it would be pretty spectacular scenery, it didn’t stop me from being temporarily speechless upon arrival in Salerno!  

We spent three days admiring the beautiful vistas of the Amalfi Coast from our base in Praiano. Just starting to settle in, we moved onto the just-as-spectacular island of Capri. After close to a week of gorgeous ocean views and quaint, small towns, we had a cultural shock of epic proportions in Naples. The city, which is usually busy, seemed to be bursting at the seams on the Saturday night we arrived. I’m sure it didn’t help that it was a long weekend! After a couple days in the hectic city, including an afternoon in the ancient ruins of Pompeii, it was onto four days of relaxing on the island of Ischia. Relaxing was at an all time high during a visit to its famous thermal hot springs.

I found this itinerary gave a good mix of coastal views and island living, with a sprinkle of city and history mixed in. Would I have added more days to any of the towns? Heck yes! But I wouldn’t have wanted any less in any of the places we visit.

Positano on the Amalfi Coast
Positano from along the Path of the Gods

So how did we split up our time over two weeks?

With two weeks to cover a fairly large area, but wanting to stay at least two nights in most places, we had to be strategic with the itinerary.

The list has links to my blog posts for more information on each location:

  • Day 1 – I flew into Rome from Australia, and stayed the night in Rome. A jet lagged early morning meant wandering the city at 6am before the crowds (highly recommended!!)
  • Day 2 – Mom arrived from Canada into Rome. We took a fast train from Rome to Salerno, then a ferry to Amalfi and then bus to Praiano. Praiano was our base for three nights (post)
  • Day 3 – A day trip to Amalfi by bus
  • Day 4 – A day trip to Positano walking the Path of the Gods, returning to Praiano by bus
  • Days 5/6 – Ferry from Positano to Capri in the morning, the mini bus to Anacapri town, which was our base for two nights
  • Days 7 – A ferry from Capri to Sorrento, spending a half day in Sorrento then train to Naples
  • Day 8 – Visited Pompei and the Archeological Museum, while staying in Naples
  • Days 9/10 – A ferry from Naples to Ischia, with two nights in Forio on the west coast of the island
  • Days 11/12 – Bus from Forio to Ischia Ponte, staying in Ischia Ponte for two nights (post for all four days in Ischia)
  • Day 13 – Ferry from Ischia to Naples, then a fast train to Rome, staying in Rome
  • Day 14 – Fly home 
Pompeii Street visited as part of a trip to the Amalfi Coast
Using the cross walk in the middle of Pompeii

My requirements for the itinerary

In developing this itinerary, I kept the following ideas in mind:

  • I wanted a relatively slow start to the trip, after quite a long travel day including my mom’s overnight flight from Canada. Leaving Rome right away, we travelled to the Amalfi Coast and then made our way back up to Rome over the two weeks.
  • I didn’t want to have less than three nights on the Amalfi Coast. For me, it was the minimum amount of time needed for the two day trips: One full day visiting Amalfi and Atrani and another full day for the Path of the Gods and Positano. 
  • I thought two nights in Capri was a minimum amount of time to allow for a full non-travel day to really see the island. And after doing so, I would recommend no less than two nights for the island. We were able to see quite a bit, we saw Capri town before the day trippers arrived, and overall only felt semi-rushed! (Three nights would have been perfect).
  • After five nights between the Amalfi Coast and Capri, I though staying in Sorrento would be overkill but still wanted to see the town. So I opted for a four hour ‘layover’ between our arrival by ferry and the Campania Express train to Naples.
  • Two nights in Naples was my minimum to allow for a full day to see the museum and visiting Pompeii. This also gave us two nights to try the pizza!
  • Ischia’s a fairly large island so four nights seemed like a minimal amount of time to see both sides of the island. This also gave us a full day allocated to lounging in the hot springs outside of Forio.
  • Flying out of Rome meant a night in Rome at the end of the trip. This allowed for a short visit to Travestere for dinner. 

Transportation options

Trains

I used Trenitalia and Italo for the high speed trains between Rome and Salerno and also Naples to Rome. I find the trains themselves are better similar, so I choose based on the schedules and the price. When it comes to booking, I tend to book as soon as my itinerary is set to book the cheapest tickets. Don’t bother using intermediary sites that likely charge an extra booking fee. Both companies have easy to use websites.

Buses

Packed bus in Capri near the Amalfi Coast
The buses in Capri can be a bit squishy!

The public buses along the Amalfi Coast are run by SitaBus. There is also a local bus between Positano and Praiano. While you can try to find the most up to date bus schedule, I found the buses didn’t tend to run on time so planning too much in advance isn’t helpful. Ask your accommodation provider for a schedule. If you need a bus before you check in, find the bus stop, stand in the line (it’s likely to be long) and wait for a bus to arrive. Tickets can be purchased at a tabacco shop or at a travel agency.

Ferries

Again I wouldn’t get too caught up in planning ferries ahead of time. I tend to visit the ferry kiosks near the ferry terminal and speak to someone directly, purchasing tickets for the ferry the day before. This makes sure you’re working with up to date schedules and don’t have to worry about a long queue before the ferry. If you want an idea of the times of the ferries, check out these two sites, but purchase tickets when you arrive in Italy:

Have you visited the Amalfi Coast and surround region? What did you think? Naples, is it a yes or a big resounding no? 🙂

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