If you’re anything like me, there are certain things that come to mind when you’re planning a trip to Italy – food, wine, museums – and outdoor activities usually aren’t one of them. But if you’re planning to spend some time on the Amalfi Coast, you should definitely bring a pair of hiking shoes and a sense of adventure. There’s plenty to see and do beyond the beaches – here are 6 ways to explore:
1. Hike an active volcano
Mount Vesuvius is one of the most famous volcanoes in the world, so this hike isn’t just active, it’s historic too. It’s mostly known for destroying (and preserving) the ancient city of Pompeii, but the volcano itself is a pretty incredible sight. Walking to the crater takes as little as 30 minutes, depending on your starting point, and you’ll get incredible views of the Bay of Naples along the way.
2. Explore historic Pompeii
Once you’ve hiked Vesuvius for a bird’s eye view of Naples, head back down to earth and explore Pompeii. Walking into the city feels like stepping into a completely different world – not even the ancient sites in Rome could make me feel the way I did when I ran my hands along the chariot grooves in Pompeii’s streets. It’s a good idea to take a guided tour here, since there’s so much history beyond what you’re able to experience on your own.
3. Make pasta or gelato like a true Italian
Okay, this isn’t exactly hiking a mountain, but it is a type of active travel – and a great reward after a big afternoon outside. There are several cooking schools on the Amalfi Coast, and all of them offer you the chance to hand-make authentic Italian dishes. One of my favourite memories from my time in Italy is overlooking the colourful houses along the coast, while sipping a glass of Prosecco and enjoying the (somewhat misshapen) ravioli I’d just made.
I also saw a gelato-making demo, where I learned just how many different types of lemons there are – you’ll want to eat as many of these as you can while you visit the Amalfi Coast – and the correct amount of rum to use in an adult gelato (hint: it’s a lot less than you’d think).
4. Visit the island of Capri
The island of Capri is just west of the Amalfi Coast and is home to the awesome Blue Grotto, a bright-blue sea cave tucked along the shore. You’ll need to stand in line for a rowboat – steered by a local guide – so you can ride the waves through the grotto’s small opening, but it’s well worth the wait. The island is also a great place for an afternoon stroll through Instagram-worthy island scenery. Just remember that dining on Capri can be pricey. Treat yourself as part of the experience, or make other plans in advance to avoid getting hangry and spoiling a great day.
5. Go for a swim (or snorkel)
When you’re on the Amalfi Coast you’ve got to, well… explore the coast. But that doesn’t mean you have to be a beach bum. Snorkelling and scuba diving are great ways to see the area’s countless caverns. Or, if it’s within your budget, rent a boat and spend the day swimming in the Mediterranean sea. Just keep an eye out for the jellyfish… I speak from experience!
6. Trek the Path of the Gods
Stretching from the edge of Positano to the sleepy mountain town of Agerola, the Path of the Gods is one of the most-trekked in Italy. Walking along these mountain trails is more sweat-inducing than climbing Mount Vesuvius, but with the reward is views of deep-blue ocean, sailboats and colourful villas perched on limestone cliffs. The path tends to get quite busy throughout the day, so head off in the early morning if you’re seeking solitude.
What to pack for the Amalfi Coast
You don’t need technical gear for exploring this part of Italy. As long as you’ve got these basics packed, you’re good to go.
- A sturdy pair of hiking shoes. Many of the local treks, like Path of the Gods and Valle delle Ferriere, have some steep passes and you’ll appreciate the grip.
- Comfortable walking shoes to explore the island of Capri and other towns.
- Sunscreen is a necessity for trips that involve the beach, especially the Amalfi Coast. There’s precious little shade on the coastal hiking paths in the area.
- Always stash a bathing suit in your daypack, no matter what you have planned for the day. You never know when you’ll find a secret lagoon along the coastline.
- Layers, including a windbreaker, to keep warm while you’re by the water.
Tip: Leave room in your suitcase for things you can bring home from local shops and markets, many of which are only open on certain days of the week. The ones on the Amalfi Coast tend to pop up on Wednesdays, but it’s best to do some research before you go.