The Amalfi coast with kids: essentials travel tips for families

Amalfi seen from the sea with cloudy sky

Practical guide to planning a perfect trip to the Amalfi coast with kids. Find out the most family-friendly towns on the Amalfi Coast, the best way to get around, and what to expect when visiting la Costiera Amalfitana with kids. Updated July 2020 

The Amalfi Coast is one of the most beautiful places in the whole of Italy and if you are looking into the suitability of this area to a young family, chances are you already know a few things about this gorgeous corner of Italian coastline  

You probably know that the area has stunning high sea cliffs and a winding coastal route.

You have probably heard it is more suited aperitivo sipping than long hours splashing about with armbands.

You may also know that transport can be tricky here, especially if you suffer from fear of heights.

However, you probably also know that the Amalfi Coast is a place of unparalleled beauty and may be wondering how hard it actually is to explore it with kids.

This is where this guide comes in.

Visiting the Amalfi coast with kids in tow is possible and, with the right tips, very enjoyable!

All you need are some practical, sensible tips for visiting and some awareness of what to expect.

I have visited the Amalfi coast several times (the last one in July 2020), and I recommend anyone to go, with some preparatory planning! 

In this guide, I share all my best tips for visiting the Amalfi coast with kids.

Don’t forget to also check out our tips for traveling to Italy with kids here.

Please note: this post contains affiliate links and, should you make a purchase through them, we might make a small commission at no extra cost to you. 

What is the Amalfi coast?

The Amalfi Coast or Costiera Amalfitana, as it is called in Italian, is a 50 km stretch of coast along a rocky promontory in Campania, in the South of Italy.

It takes its name from the town of Amalfi, an important historical town on the promontory with significant naval and trade history, and it is famous for a scenic coastal drive that connects the many small towns and villages of the area.

The route is deemed one of the most scenic in Italy if not in the whole of Europe and indeed packs a punch in terms of natural beauty and charming villages.

Cetara, Amalfi Coast, as seen from the sea with tiled tower bell and mountains in the background

Here, the coast plunges almost vertically into the Mediterranean and the road that meanders along the rocky coastline is framed by the rocks on one side and a drop into the sea on the other. 

The coast is dotted by many villages and small towns, all developed adapting to the challenges of this peculiar landscape and is a major tourist attraction for both Italian and foreign visitors.

Where is the Amalfi Coast? 

The Amalfi Coast is in the region of Campania on a rocky promontory stretching into the Gulf of Salerno, on the Tyrrhenian sea. 

The main getaways towns to visit the area are Salerno and Sorrento, more or less at the two ends of this route, and the closest big city and international airport is Naples.

To give you an idea of distances by car:

  • Salerno – Positano: 1h 40 mins (start of the road to the farthest point)
  • Naples – Sorrento 1h 30 mins
  • Naples – Positano: 1h 40 mins

The towns are connected to each other by the famous coastal route and the transport options include car, bus and ferry (in the good season only).

The distance between each city to the next can be as short as a handful of minutes, but traffic can cause significant delays.

Visiting the Amalfi coast with kids: challenges for families

The main challenges families face in the Amalfi coast have to do with transport, accessibility and child friendly entertainment.

Family friendly transport on the Amalfi coast

Unlike the rest of Italy, the Amalfi coast is not served by the excellent Italian train system.

You can get to Sorrento or Salerno by train no problem, but it is not like Cinque Terre where you can train hop from one place to the other.

This means that for visiting you are limited to road or sea transport (see below for details).

Strollers on the Amalfi coast: a terrible match

The vertical nature of the cliffs makes this area stunning but also very difficult for families with young kids.

Many beautiful towns are vertical (Positano is called the vertical city for a reason), have steep steps and are a nightmare with a stroller and let’s be honest, even with a carrier!

Lugging yourself up and down those stairs and alleyways can be exceptionally tiring: if visiting with kids, picking a reasonably flat home base is paramount.

Our guide to the best strollers for Italy are here:

kid walking in small alley Amalfi Coast

Kids activities on the Amalfi coast

The third challenge is that this is not an area with much ‘for kids’, especially very young ones.

With exceptions, you will find the towns here to have small or no playgrounds and limited green areas and the entertainment is more suited to an older crowd however, we did find some cool things to do with the kids on the Amalfi Coast.

The best things to do on the Amalfi Coast with kids are:

  • Take the ferry and see the coast from the water
  • Take long strolls, gelato in hand
  • Rent a boat (with or without driver) and go swimming or sea cave exploring
  • Meander the small alleys of Amalfi
  • Splash in the small city beaches that dot the coast
  • Taste ‘granita di limone’ (it is sweet, kids will love it!)
  • Walk the wonderful ‘path of lemons’ between the town of Maiori and Minori (no strollers buy excellent for school-age kids)

Need to know: some of the beaches on the Costiera are ‘free’ but access is regulated. In 2020, before accessing the beach you need to register at the local info point and book your slot – to comply with local health measures. This is easy to do but we also noticed a small fee (4 euro for a family) which we were not aware of but was presented as compulsory.

kids walking along the path of the lemons between Minori and Maiori, Amalfi Coast, italy

The Amalfi Coast with toddlers

If visiting the Amalfi Coast with a toddler, I recommend you:

  • Bring a carrier (or a VERY lightweight stroller)
  • Stay in Sorrento, Maiori or Minori
  • Double-check with your accommodation that they are not up a steep alley or road with steps
  • Do not expect huge sandy beaches
  • Move around by ferry

So, should you visit the Costiera Amalfitana with kids?

Yes, absolutely yes!

While the Costiera gives its very best to visitors of school age or up, with the right tips is it possible to fully enjoy it even with toddlers.

It is however paramount to know what type of stay to expect and manage expectations.

Despite the many beaches for instance, these locations may not give you the perfect beach experience with kids and are more suited for a sightseeing type of vacation (or boating!).

Better beaches for kids are in nearby Agropoli, Gaeta or Sperlonga, which has lovely shallow waters and gorgeous sand.

Did you know? I also run a free Facebook group all about visiting Italy with kids: it is packed with tips and info and full of lovely parents sharing their tips and advice. Join us here!

How to get to the Amalfi Coast from Rome or Naples with kids in tow

Reaching the Amalfi Coast from Rome or Naples is reasonably straight forward.

The gateway towns to the area are Sorrento and Salerno.

From Rome, you can take the high speed train to Naples and then change to the local Circumvesuviana commuter train to Sorrento, then local buses/ferry from here.

Also from Rome, you can take the fast train to Salerno and then local buses to your town of choice or, in summer, the ferry.

This option is by far the easiest if you are not staying in Sorrento. The Salerno port is only a couple of minutes from the train station, on foot, and the ferry is well signposted and easy to find.

Tickets are for sale at the ferry itself and can be purchased on the day. Kids up to age 10 included pay a reduced price.

From Naples airport, you need to make your way to the local train station and catch the Circumvesuviana train to Sorrento and then the bus to your town of choice

Getting around Costiera Amalfitana as a family

If getting to the area is easy enough, the same cannot be said about getting around once in the area, especially with children.

As I mentioned, unlike the rest of Italy, the Costiera Amalfitana is not served by trains and this means for this area you rely exclusively on car, bus and ferry.

Each of these options has pros and cons, let’s look at them in details.

Visiting the Amalfi coast by car: pros and cons of driving with kids in this area

The Costiera is a coastal route and as such visiting by car will give you maximum flexibility and the option of adapting your stops and distances covered to the needs of your children.

However, it is a narrow winding road and this means it is unsuitable for kids prone to motion sickness – not only they are likely to feel queasy but there are not easy places to stop and get fresh air so that’s something to consider very carefully.

Also, Costiera Amalfitana gets crazy traffic in the good season (spring and summer) and parking places are limited and have a high price tag.

Personally, I find these two things enough to say that the car is not a good idea to visit the Costiera Amalfitana, unless you are going in the very low season and motion sickness is not an issue.

Costiera Amalfitana by bus: pros and cons

The other way to get onto the coastal road is the bus.

Buses operated by SITA serve the road and they are a good option if you want to see the road without the stress of driving yourself.

Some centers also have smaller buses operating as shuttles between towns at certain times.

However, buses have the same issues as cars and while they solve the problem of parking, they do not solve the problem of traffic or curves. Buses can be a handy solution for families with older kids but can be challenging if traveling with toddlers and strollers.

Please note that in 2020, masks are compulsory to board the buses.

Costiera Amalfitana by boat

My favorite way to visit the Amalfi coast is by boat.

In the good season (late April to end of October) ferries connect many of the coastal towns in the area.

This is a convenient and fun way to get around and one that can work really well with kids.

The boat ride can be fun itself and the views are beautiful: this is my favorite way to visit the Amalfi coast with kids and without!

The local ferries (traghetti, in Italian) connect all the towns and go at regular intervals.

The ones we took all had both an inside and an outdoor seating area. Tickets can be purchased on the day for the specific journey needed (I tried to book them in advance and I was told there was no need) and there are discounts for children under 10, making them convenient for families.

In 2020, wearing masks is compulsory to board the ferry. Since mid-July, this applied both to indoor and outdoor seating areas.

Best base for families on the Amalfi Coast

After all this, I am sure you agree finding a good base for a family trip to the Costiera is paramount.

The most suitable towns for families on the Amalfi Coast are Sorrento, Maiori, Minori and Amalfi itself.

Sorrento: easiest base for families visiting the Amalfi Coast

Ok, to be fully upfront about it, Sorrento is not on the Amalfi coast as such (it is on the other side of the promontory).

However, it is so close to the towns of the costiera and so well connected it is usually considered part of it and it so nice with kids that gets my vote as the best place for families in the Amalfi coast area.

The advantage of Sorrento as a base are:

  • It is beautiful
  • You can reach it by train
  • It can be significantly cheaper than Positano or Amalfi
  • The town is reasonably flat and easy to navigate even with your kids
  • The city is well connected to the rest of the costiera by bus and boat
  • You have the Gourmet Girls food tours, tours managed by the nicest lady which will make you taste of the local delicacies and get you in touch with an authentic side of Italy that more crowded areas in the area make so hard to find!

A great family hotel in Sorrento is the Hilton Sorrento Palace but you can also check for deals in the area using the search box below

Booking.com

Amalfi

Amalfi is another good choice for a family friendly base in Costiera.

The city is beautiful, has an incredible history (it was one of the Italian Maritime Republics) which can be very interesting for adults and school aged kids and has a reasonably accessible seafront promenade that makes it ok even with strollers.

However, Amalfi also has tiny meandering alleys with steps so make sure you choose your accommodation wisely or will have to lug the stroller up its medieval streets!

Things we loved in Amalfi for kids were:

  • The beaches, right beside the port, with nice family-friendly beach clubs
  • The wonderful duomo, with faux-baroque decorations so impressive, even our kids went ‘wow’!
  • The fun fountain with an underwater nativity scene on Amalfi’s main road
  • The meandering alleys so narrow they are reminiscent of a maze (they kids of are, they were built this way to keep enemies at bay!)
  • The paper museum, which can be interesting for older kids.

The only disadvantages about staying in Amalfi are the cost and the crowds: it is very much on the tourist path so prices here are at a premium even in quiet 2020, it was all but empty!

You can find my full guide to the town of Amalfi here.

Booking.com

Top Pick! Maiori and Minori: the best base for families looking for local feel

The town of Maiori and the nearby one of Minori are not as known as glamorous Positano but they can be a nice base for families who want to visit the area and actually my personal favorite (Minori in particular).

Maiori has a nice flat promenade along the seafront, many hotels, shops, a flat main drag and even a nice playground on the promenade.

Minori is smaller and even less touristy than Maiori and absolutely perfect for families who want to have a more local experience on the Costiera.

The beach is tiny but it has both beach clubs and free beach and there are plenty of good priced B&bs and hotels as well as small shops and restaurants for all budgets.

Maiori and Minori are on the ferry line and are connected to each other by a historical path called ‘the path of lemons’ which is family-friendly (but no strollers).

The path crosses the famous lemon groves of this area and rewards its walkers with stunning views over the costiera and the sea.

In Minori, we stayed in a lovely family friendly B&B called ‘Casa Amorino‘ which we highly recommend.

They gave us a king room (big bed + 2 single beds) with bathroom, strong free wifi, air conditioning, private bathroom, desk, minibar and access to the lemon garden: a dream! The location is also perfect, 5 minutes walk away from the port on a car free alley.

Children playground in Maiori, Italy (Amalfi Coast)

Other towns to visit on the Amalfi coast with children

If you are spending several days on the Amalfi coast or have slightly older kids, there are several other towns worth seeing.

Ravello

Ravello is a gorgeous town with amazing views over the sea and some amazing villas that can be fun to discover with kids.

The town center is reasonably flat and while I recommend other towns as a more suitable base, I do recommend to come here as the view and the villas’ landscapes gardens overlooking the Mediterranean are stunning.

Praiano

Praiano is a lovely small village of little more than 2000 souls with gorgeous views over the Mediterranean and no less than 13 churches!

While not unknown to tourism (you have hotels and restaurants here like everywhere else) it has a very different atmosphere from Positano and is a good place for slowing down and enjoying small alleys, hidden stairways and beautiful views.

This is a good place for families with kids who prefer to stay away from the crowds and experience a more local feel.

Furore

Furore is a tiny village mostly known to international tourism thanks to its Instagram friendly fjord.

The nature in Furore is incredible: here the water is crystal clear and the cliffs plunge into the sea creating a vertigo-inducing frame for this stretch of sea that is hard to forget. This is a good place to visit with older kids.

Vietri sul Mare

Vietri sul Mare is a lovely village famous for the production of its incredible pottery, famous for a distinctive and colorful style.

This is a great destination if you want easy access to the Amalfi coast (it is one of the closets towns to Salerno) and if you want to go souvenir shopping.

The colorful pottery Vietri is famous for can be fun for kids to see and the proximity to Salerno make this a nice choice for families.

Positano

I close this list with Positano because while quintessentially children unfriendly, it is one of the most famous towns in the area and you are likely to want to see it!

I cannot blame you: Positano is lovely but if you are visiting Positano with kids, just be ready.

This town is vertical (forget the stroller, bring a carrier and please take it easy) and is much more Instagram friendly than family friendly.

Do include it in your itinerary if you have enough time and energy but don’t make it your main base if visiting the Amalfi coast with kids

So, in summary: how to see the Amalfi coast with kids?

So, in brief, if you want to visit the Amalfi coast with kids I recommend to:

  • Base yourself in Sorrento or Maiori/Minori
  • Visit in spring/summer so you can get around by boat
  • Favor carrier over stroller
  • Be conservative with your sightseeing, only planning one or two stops per day
  • Manage kids expectations about time at the beach and keep in mind that this area is more suited to strong swimmers who can jump off a boat than early learners.

I hope you found my tips for visiting the Amalfi coast as a family handy. Safe travels in Italy!

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