One of the prettiest places we visited on our trip to the Amalfi Coast was the town of Amalfi itself. Situated at the base of Monte Cerreto, Amalfi features some of the most dramatic scenery you can find along the coast. Much more rugged-looking than other popular destinations in the area, I took one look at Amalfi during our trip-planning and knew we had to add it to our itinerary. Little did I know, I’d fall in love with nearby Atrani Beach even more.
The Town of Amalfi
After a very scenic and somewhat harrowing bus ride from Sorrento to Amalfi which took some fairly tight turns along the cliffs, we were let off in the Marina Grande. I knew from research beforehand that the town of Amalfi was much larger than its neighbors along the coast, but I wasn’t quite prepared for just how busy it would be. I mean, there were people everywhere.
Crowds aren’t really my thing, so I just sort of stood in one place and tried to take it all in at first. The Marina Grande is located directly beside the Spiaggia Grande, and behind them both, separated by the main road, are loads of shops and restaurants and everything else you’d find in a town of this size. Rising up above it all was the mountainous scenery I had been looking forward to seeing for months.
Adjusting to the pace of the town, we walked along the main road looking for an open spot somewhere on the beach. (Tip: Arrive before mid-day during peak season if you want a sun lounger. Otherwise, you won’t find one.)
After questioning what felt like a dozen vendors renting sun loungers with no success, we accepted that we weren’t going to be able to relax on the beach that day and were headed to check out the town instead when we noticed signs pointing towards another beach a few minutes away. Looking around at the chaos around us, it was an easy decision. To Atrani Beach, we headed.
We were pleasantly surprised to discover Atrani Beach was even more beautiful than Amalfi’s Spiaggia Grande. I felt like we’d hit the jackpot. Peace and quiet – check. Loads of open sun loungers – check. Gorgeous scenery in every direction – check. We were sold.
We plopped down on a pair of sun loungers with no one else around us, and I could immediately feel all the irritation of the morning and the stress of arriving in Amalfi just melt away. While the vibe of the Spiaggia Grande had been loud and lively, attracting the folks on holiday who were there to party, the vibe of Atrani was nothing but pure relaxation.
Most of the people on Atrani Beach with us were couples and young families, all seemingly interested in having the same sort of quiet, private day on the beach that we were. It was, by far, the most peaceful beach day we spent on the Amalfi Coast, including the days we were in Positano. We loved Atrani.
The only thing we had to contend with was the weather. We had experienced such great weather in Italy on our trip so far, but while we were in Atrani, we could tell that things were changing. After an hour or two on the beach, thick, heavy clouds began moving quickly overhead and every now and then we’d feel some sprinkles hit our skin.
With umbrellas to protect us from the rain and the weather still plenty warm to lay out, we decided to stick around and see if it would pass. It didn’t, but the worst of the storms didn’t hit until we were already back in Sorrento that night, so I was glad we didn’t cut our already very short beach day even shorter!
How to get to Atrani from Amalfi: From the Marina Grande, take the main road walking east (left if you’re facing the sea). It’s a busy road, but if you stay to the side you’ll be fine. It’s about a 10-minute walk from the Spiaggia Grande to Atrani Beach. There may be signs, but if not, just look for the Church of Santa Maria Magdalena stretching out from the cliff – it’s gorgeous and hard to miss.
Things to Do in Atrani and Amalfi
So, besides beaches, what else is there to do in Atrani and Amalfi? Thankfully, a little bit more than what you’ll find in some of the other towns along the coast.
Amalfi is the main city on the coast and has quite a bit of history, museums, and ancient churches to check out, not to mention plenty of shopping and restaurant choices. Top things to see would be the Amalfi Cathedral (Duomo di Amalfi) and the Cloister of Paradise (Chiostro del Paradiso), as well as the old paper mill which now houses the Museum of Handmade Paper.
Atrani is actually the smallest town along the coast, but it still has several churches to visit (Santa Maria Magdalena is the pretty one on the beach) and the added bonus of being one of the few coastal towns whose traditional character has been kept intact despite the surge in tourism. If you’re looking for a charming, Italian seaside town to wander through, this is it.
As for where to eat, I highly recommend Le Arcate on Atrani Beach. You can dine in their restaurant, but they also provide take-away if you want to enjoy your meal seaside. Their food is incredible and very reasonably priced. My favorite part, though, was watching the chefs in action through the open window.
If you’re feeling active, there are several hikes and nature trails around Amalfi that offer spectacular views of the scenery along the coast. Hiking to Valle die Mulini and Valle delle Ferriere are two popular choices, although you will need to hire a local guide from one of the hotels in Amalfi (or get prior authorization) if you want access to the nature reserve on the latter hike.
However, if exercise is the last thing you want to do on holiday, a walk out to the end of the pier at the Marina Grande will also provide some fantastic, panoramic views of this section of the coast.
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