Taking a road trip along one of Italy’s most exciting roads is certainly on quite a few bucket lists: The Amalfitana, officially called Strada Statale 163 Amalfitana (SS 163), winds along the Amalfi Coast. It stretches from Sorrento past such famous places as Positano, Minori, Amalfi and Maiori. Only 50 kilometers long, this short route is a real adventure and is absolute breathtaking in so many ways! With a few tips, however, a road trip along the Amalfi Coast with your own car or a rental car will be an unforgettable experience!
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Preparing your road trip along the Amalfi Coast
The Amalfi coast is an amazing experience and you should definitely plan one or more nights in the area! But be aware that the Amalfi coast is one of the most expensive vacation spots in Italy and especially in summer, a lot of places book out quickly! It’s highly recommended to book early to get the best options
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Amalfitana: Italy’s most beautiful road
The Amalfitana is always on the list when it comes to beautiful car routes in Italy. This is no surprise, since it is an absolute masterpiece of modern road construction. The fact it has been even built at all is stunning: At the Amalfi Coast, massive rocks plunge almost vertically into the sea and sometimes tunnels had to be carved into the rock for the highway.
Driving the Amalfi Coast is truly spectacular: For fifty kilometers there is almost not one straight stretch! It’s a challenging drive, but absolutely worth it!
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Driving the Amalfi Coast: How dangerous is it?
I haven’t had my own car for at least ten years, because you don’t necessarily need one in my home town Berlin. I have never been an enthusiastic driver either. Nevertheless, I still drive from time to time, and I have no problem finding my way around quickly in rental cars or other people’s cars. Being afraid of driving is also unknown to me, nevertheless I was a bit uneasy before our road trip on the Amalfitana.
To be honest, I didn’t expect to feel so dizzy after the first kilometers on the road. The altitude and the curves were probably too much for me! But I soon found some helpful tips to cope with the nausea and I’ll be sharing them here with you.
Helpful tips for your road trip along the Amalfi Coast (Goodbye car sickness!)
- Avoid high season! The Amalfi Coast is one of the most popular vacation regions in Italy. In summer, it gets really crowded! That just causes extra stress and it’s less fun to drive.
- Choose the right direction: A drive is only truly fun from Sorrento towards Salento. That way you’ll always have the sea on the right side and can enjoy the phenomenal view. In addition, I myself find it much more pleasant to drive close to the steep coastline instead of close to the rugged cliffs.
- Use the parking bays: There are always small parking bays along the Amalfitana, where you can stop briefly for photos or a short break. Stop as soon as you see a free spot. There is not always a free parking space, so it’s a question of good luck. Waiting on the side of the road is not an option, because of the narrow lane and the other traffic.
- Hydrate and eat lemon candy: At the end of the first day, after a few kilometers on the Amalfitana, I was actually nauseous and dizzy, although I’m not that sensitive. The many curves are really tough! Perhaps the change in altitude was also a factor. How good, however, that the Amalfi Coast is known for its particularly aromatic lemons and the Amalfitana is peppered with small stalls from local vendors. On the roadside, you can buy lemons and all kinds of products like lemon candies. Just scratch the peel of a lemon and smelled it, or enjoy a lemon candy, and your queasy stomach will be calmed: Lemons are an old household remedy against travel sickness! It really does work! Drinking a lot helps against the change in altitude.
- Ride behind a SITA bus! SITA buses are the public buses that run along the Amalfitana, and I found it very convenient to drive right behind them. For one thing, the bus drivers know the Amalfitana like the back of their hands and know how tight the next turn will be, and for another, it’s easy to follow their speed: If the bus can do it, so could we with our rented Fiat Cinquecento.
- Get out of the way of pushy drivers: The parking bays are also an excellent way to let pushy drivers pass by! Do not get upset, on the Amalfitana you will need all your concentration to drive.
- Keep your distance: Especially behind a bus! If suddenly in the curve or a tunnel another bus is approaching, it can be a tight situation. This kind of problem is easily solved on the Amalfitana, the bus then simply backs up a few or quite a few meters – and it comes in handy if you haven’t stopped directly behind it.
Rental car or drive your own?
Be careful if you are driving with larger cars. With a camper, caravan, RV or larger vehicle, you will have a hard time on the Amalfi Coast. Caravans for example are only allowed to drive along the Amalfitana from midnight to 6.30h in the morning, and even then I imagine it’s not easy.
How to choose the right rental car at the Amalfi Coast
With the rental car I would pay attention in any case to a full coverage insurance without any deductibles! Accidents don’t necessarily happen all the time (we haven’t encountered any). But due to the narrow streets, even in towns like Positano, and the difficult parking situation everywhere, your car can easily get scratches. Judging by the condition of the rental cars at our rental, a renowned car rental company with good cars usually, it happens a lot!
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It’s better to spend a little more, before you end up with a large bill later! We have picked up the car after we finished our stay in Naples. Some rental companies have offices near the main station in the city. We picked up our car there and then headed straight to the Amalfi Coast from there. Do not rent a car for your stay in Naples! The traffic is messy, and most companies will require you to leave your car only in guarded parking lots due to the risk of theft. You’ll get around by public transport, Uber, cab etc. anyway and you’ll save yourself a lot of headache!
Too scared? Here are some alternatives for a trip along the Amalfi Coast without a car!
If you find it too tricky to drive along the Amalfitana by yourself: Join a tour! Especially if you don’t have much time – e.g. during a short stay in Naples – you can still see something of the beautiful Amalfi Coast without worrying about the drive!
From Naples to Salerno: More tips for the Amalfi Coast
On the Amalfi Coast, but also in the surrounding area, you will find many great places for a stopover or a short stay. Here you will find inspiration for a trip to the Amalfi Coast with tips from Naples to Salerno:
Do I need to buy tickets for toll booths ahead of time? Or can I pay toll booth when I get there?
As far as I remember there were only toll booth at the bigger interstate highways. Anyway, we paid when passing by, no need to buy anything in advance.
If you are not experienced driving narrow, twisting nerve racking roads – do NOT attempt this journey. Hire a professional!
Youll then be able to enjoy the phenomenal beauty along the way.
Hi Shawn, hiring a private driver definitely is an option when visiting the Amalfi Coast. It’s an adventurous road, however I thought it’s manageable. I only drive on vacation, but I like it and I’m always thinking, as long as so many other people are driving along a specific route, I can do it, too :) For the Amalfi Coast, my advice is just to stay calm and not to think much about the steep cliffs beside the road :)
If not renting a car in Naples after a few days stay there, where would you recommend to rent or pick up the car when driving to Amalfi?
Hi Lydia, we actually rented a car in Naples. There are a few companies with offices near the main station. We took the car there and headed from there straight outside the city towards Pompeji and the Amalfi Coast. The traffic inside the city is a bit chaotic, but that was okay. It just doesn’t make sense to pick it up right at the airport if you want to spend a few days in Naples, too. Car theft and burglary is a serious issue there, and the insurance by the rental company wouldn’t cover this if you park the car in public, non-monitored areas inside the city. This is why I recommend renting a car only after visiting Naples, but renting it there is no problem :) I’ll go through the text again, maybe I expressed myself wrong. Anyway, have fun at the Amalfi Coast, you’ll love it! All the best, Tatiana
Hi Tatiana and thank you for the quick response!
Then I understand, I might have misunderstood the text but now I get what you mean. We will look into renting the car when heading out from Naples, thanks for a great blog and post, helped us a lot! Kind regards, Lydia
glad I could help, it’s been a pleasure! <3
Enjoy your trip,