1. The best time to go to the Amalfi Coast is between May and early September
Lots of people ask me about going in Oct or during the winter and it’s important to know that the Amalfi Coast is a seasonal place. In the winter many of the hotels and restaurants close. The weather plays an important factor in your experience here so make sure you go between May and early September. Try to avoid August though as this is the time when all of Europe goes on vacation and the coast is bursting with people.
2. Do not book Capri in advance (at least if you are traveling in May or after August)
Unless you are going to the Amalfi Coast when the weather is perfect, booking a hotel on Capri can be risky. Why? If the weather is bad then the boats cannot travel and you will be stuck with a bill for a nice hotel room with no way of getting there.
3. Do not expect to see the blue grotto on Capri
Expectations can be a dangerous thing! The blue grotto for those that don’t know is one of the main attractions on Capri. People line up to take a small boat inside the grotto to see it, but unfortunately if the tide is high and seas are rough it closes, leaving many tourists disappointed. The day we went the hole into the grotto was unfortunately closed, but if you have the chance do it!
4. Do not expect things to be on time
As Faith constantly told us, and examples that we saw, “nothing is ever easy in Italy”. In Italy, time slows down and what is important normally, is not a priority there. One thing to keep in mind is that if something is on a schedule it is almost never on time. I don’t even know what the point of the bus schedule is here and it means waiting around until it arrives, which could be five minutes or twenty.
Keep this phrase in mind and don’t expect for things to work like they to in the U.S. and other parts of the world.
5. Make sure you see the coast by boat
Most people go to the Amalfi Coast by car or coach and they are missing out on the best part. It’s a completely different perspective (and much better) if you can see it from the water. If you don’t want to hire a boat then take a water taxi. You’ll get an incredible view of all the villages and the landscape.
6. The wharf at Capri is not Capri
Many people make the huge mistake of thinking once they have arrived Marina Grande on Capri that this is it. This is a huge mistake. Where you want to go is Capri Town which is accessed by a cable car from the wharf. It takes about 10 minutes and you’ll end up in a beautiful piazza with designer name stores and an incredible scene. The views too are amazing.
7. Do not go to Mt. Vesuvius if it is raining
This may sound like a no brainer, but being the determined tourists we were we took a shot as the day happened to be raining. Here’s a piece of advice – If the mountain is covered in clouds you won’t actually see anything and it will actually be like being in a cloud. Save it for a sunny day.
8. Do not rent a car
It is unnecessary, it is expensive, there is no parking and the coast road is very stressful. This is nothing like the coastal roads we are used to in places like California. Basically it is one lane that snakes around the cliffs. Don’t make your trip stressful by renting a car. Public transport is inexpensive and so easy. You can also use water taxis or private boats to get around which can be arranged through the hotel or a local company.
9. Try all the local specialties and don’t feel guilty
Make sure you try limoncello, fish, pastas, pizzas, gelato! These do not taste like what you’d get in America. Everything is amazing. I’d recommend getting a variety of appetizers so you can taste many things. The food in Italy IS like what everyone says and every meal is delicious!
A few things to remember: Italians eat dinner late so do not show up at the restaurant before 8pm. Don’t feel guilty about having gelato as an afternoon snack, everyone there seems to do this. I was told that you’re not supposed to order a cappuccino after 12pm, as Italians only order espressos in the afternoon and evenings. I broke this rule so many times, but of course the restaurants are used to tourists and their weird requests.
10. Grazie, Prego, Buon Giorno…
Make sure you learn a few Italian words and phrases before you go. Depending on where you go you may come across Italians that don’t speak english, and all Italians appreciate you trying to speak a few words. Make sure you know at least the basics: Buon Giorno, Buonasera, grazie, per favore, prego, salute, molto bene, ciao, arrivaderci….!