My best friend and I spent 7 days in the Summer travelling from Naples up the coast, visiting Herculaneum, Pompeii and climbing Vesuvius on the way, up to Sorrento and Capri, then on to Amalfi, Positano and Ravello. The views were just amazing, and below I talk through the places we visited.
We flew in and out of Naples. On arrival at Naples, we headed to the main train station to catch the Circumvesuvio train – a train which goes from Naples to Sorrento and includes stops at Pompeii and Herculaneum. We stayed in Sorrento for 4 nights, using the train to visit those places, as well as a boat day trip to Capri. We then picked up our car and drove from Sorrento to Amalfi, visiting the picturesque towns on route.
A warning – the driving is not for the faint hearted! I didn’t drive but my best friend is the best driver ever. Even with her driving, we managed to get a parking ticket which then took half a day to go to a post office and pay as you can’t pay online! You can visit these towns on bus tours, but honestly the buses on the roads are scary and I felt much safer in a car we controlled ourselves. Motorcyclists will just overtake on blind bends on a cliff face, and locals do drive really fast, and there is too much traffic on the road – but it was worth the stress!
Here are my favourite places from the road trip:
Literally one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen. Ever. But my gosh there are a LOT of steps. We walked all the way down from the road to the beach (and back up again), stopping for lunch and spent about 5 hours here. Most of that was probably spent climbing steps….
TWO. Pompeii and Herculaneum
In AD79, Mount Vesuvius erupted in one of the deadliest European volcano eruptions ever. Around 1,500 bodies have been found so far in Pompeii and Herculaneum – Roman cities destroyed by the eruption and preserved by ash. The sites are still being excavated, and get bigger all the time. I visited Pompeii as a child, and enjoyed retracing my steps back through the city. We chose to do a tour as the site was very busy when we visited, and wanted to make sure we saw the main points of interest. Herculaneum is much smaller, and was easy to walk around without a guide. I actually preferred Herculaneum as a lot of the paintings were better preserved and there weren’t as many people!
Ravello was beautiful. We drove out to it, parked easily in an underground carpark and it was pretty quiet. We spent a morning there visiting the 13th-century, Moorish-style Villa Rufolo which has amazing views from its terraced gardens. We also walked around the town, discovering the many beautiful ceramic shops (Pascal was our favourite by far), before having lunch and heading on to our next stop.
We visited Capri on a boat tour from Sorrento. We were picked up from our hotel on a bus and taken to the boat stop, where we boarded a speed boat to the island. We laid out on the boat and sunbathed as we raced through the water! We even went through the ‘love arch’ which is fabled to bring you good luck with your significant other if you kiss them whilst under it.
Capri itself is split in to two parts – Capri and Anacapri – with Anacapri being the ‘old’ town and home to the Villa San Michele with epic views reachable only by chairlift, and Capri being the area with the marina, restaurants and more shops. Both were beautiful. You can see why this is a playground of the rich and famous!
FOUR. Mount Vesuvius
One of the most dangerous volcanoes in the world, which scientists say is due another eruption. So, is it safe to climb? Well….I guess nothing is ever completely safe, BUT before a volcano like this has any activity, there are warning signs. Technology these days means you’re going to be able to predict an eruption before it happens, so you can be safe in the knowledge it’s not going to erupt while you’re half way up it.
The climb is hard but doable – it just gets pretty steep in parts. And the views over the bay of Naples are stunning. Not that we could really see them, as it was cloudy so no photos do it justice. At the top you can look inside the crater which is pretty cool. We got to and from the site by bus from Pompeii and did both in one day.
Sorrento is where we based ourselves for our first few nights, and we really liked it there. Yes, it’s touristy, but that means it has nice restaurants (we particularly loved Inn Bufalito which we returned to twice as the food was so good!) and great gelato. We spent a day in Sorrento itself wondering around the markets, lots of lemon stalls, and the harbour area – and really enjoyed it.
We didn’t love Naples, but it was still a lovely city to stroll around. We only spent a day there, but in that time visited the Royal Palace, Castel Nuovo and Ovo Castle, as well as eating lots of pizza and drinking good wine.
Amalfi is pretty, no doubt about it. But there are SO many people and it’s REALLY touristy. We visited in the middle of summer so it was just too busy. We couldn’t eat anywhere really nice as we hadn’t pre-booked so ended up with sandwiches on the harbour front. Still nice, but given everything else we’d seen on this holiday, it was the bottom of the list. The church there is stunning though.
Thanks for reading! Do you have any questions about this road trip? Are you thinking of doing the same, or already been and had different experiences? Let me know in the comments below!