Making Memories on the Amalfi Coast: Drive to Discover Italy!
There are few places more romantic or more beautiful than Italy’s storied Amalfi Coast, and if you’re looking for a driving itinerary with iconic sweeping views and unparalleled beaches, then this Amalfi Coast drive is the only itinerary you need to consider.
Costiera Amalfitana in Italian, the Amalfi coastline traces the southern shore of Salerno Gulf, bordering the Tyrrhenian Sea in southern Italy. This popular destination was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site as a cultural landscape in 1997, and is famous for sweeping, panoramic sea views (which are amazing to take in by car from the region’s beautiful highways and coastal routes). There’s really not a bad time of year to drive the Amalfi Coastline, as the province of Salerno enjoys fine Mediterranean weather year-round.
In this round-trip Amalfi driving itinerary, you’ll take in some of the most memorable destinations this iconic Italian region has to offer, soaking in the culture of this famed region and making memories you’ll never forget.
Looking for other things to do in Italy? Check out our other Drive to Discover guides where we explore the best road trips in Italy including a Road Trip through Tuscany for Food & Wine Lovers, a guide to UNESCO sites surrounding Venice and the Ultimate Road Trip Escape itinerary.
Upon arrival in Italy, pick up your rental car at Rome Fiumicino Airport and drive Northeast to the Eternal City where you can (and should) spend a day or more visiting some of the iconic landmarks. Tops on our list are the Colosseum, the Roman Forum, the Piazza Navona (ideal for a mid-day visit as it’s lined with gelaterias and restaurants to fuel up for an afternoon of exploring), the Vatican, the Spanish Steps, and Trevi Fountain.
Of course, there are many more iconic landmarks worth touring in the city of Rome, so feel free to extend your itinerary at the beginning or end of your trip to spend additional time in this beautiful Italian city.
Next stop: 34 minutes
After you depart Rome, you can kick-off your trip with a quick half-hour drive to Ostia Antica, the first stop on your Amalfi driving itinerary. History buffs will love this stop, as it’s the location of the harbor city of Ancient Rome. Located near Ostia, at the mouth of the River Tiber, Ostia was Rome’s bustling seaport, but due to buildup at the river’s mouth, Ostia now sits 2 miles from the ocean! Ostia Antica is a historic tourist destination which offers well-preserved ancient buildings, frescoes, and stunning mosaics. We recommend you make time to walk the Theatre here. Pack a picnic lunch if you like and enjoy some fresh bread, cheese, and wine from the stone seats, imagining what it must have been like to take in a show in Ancient Roman times.
Next stop: 2 hours & 36 minutes
The city of Napoli (as the locals know it), is the capital city of the beautiful Italian region of Campania. After Rome and Milan, the city of Naples is the third-largest city in Italy, and it offers visitors the fine dining, art, culture, and nightlife that you’d expect in a thriving coastal city.
History buffs will love the deep roots of Naples – it is known as one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. We recommend that one area you should explore during your stop in Naples is the historic city center … it’s the largest in Europe and the art, architecture, and artifacts found here encompass twenty-seven full centuries of history. It’s listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and it’s a beautiful, romantic, and unforgettable place to explore. Walk the ruins of Pompeii, and tour the Palace of Caserta, before making reservations at an open-air restaurant with live music (the city of Naples was the birthplace of the mandolin and the romantic guitar, after all!).
Next stop: 1 hour & 7 minutes
If natural beauty is at the top of your bucket list, Sorrento and the surrounding scenic byways will not disappoint. This Italian gem overlooks the Bay of Naples, and the Sorrentine Peninsula offers drivers stunning views of Naples, Mount Vesuvius, and the storied Isle of Capri. If you’re looking for a bucket-list, memorable drive, “The Amalfi Drive” is a scenic narrow road which connects Sorrento and Amalfi, weaving along high cliffs overlooking the Tyrrhenian Sea. Dine in Sorrento, and drive this iconic road (at least once!).
Next stop: 36 minutes
From Sorrento, hop into your Italy car rental and zip to the village and commune of Positano on the Amalfi Coast. If you’ve seen beautiful photos of coastal Italy, chances are that you’ve already seen Positano. Gorgeous villas cascade down coastal hills into the placid waters lapping at the beach of Positano. We recommend dining here and lingering until after dark when the town lights up and the lights reflect beautifully in the ocean’s water.
Next stop: 1 hour & 19 minutes
Next on your driving tour of the Amalfi Coast is the gorgeous city of Salerno – the capital of Salerno Province, and a stunning city nestled on the Gulf of Salerno and overlooking the Tyrrhenian Sea.
If it’s your first time visiting Salerno, a helpful tip is that there are three distinct sections of the city … this allows you to pick your favorite “era” or to tour all three and understand the evolution of this historic harbor town. The medieval sector offers some of the oldest architecture in the city (we recommend spending time exploring here), but the 19th-century sector is also worth exploring. The post-war area is densely populated, but it’s mostly apartment blocks, so you may want to skip it.
If you only have time to visit one or two points of interest we recommend the Lungomare Trieste (the seafront promenade), which is a great place to stretch your legs and enjoy views which rival the French Riviera. Another great destination in Salerno is the Castello di Arechi, an imposing castle located at 984 feet elevation overlooking the city. If you want a stunning place for a photo, the Castello di Arechi is the place: it offers visitors truly one-of-a-kind, sweeping views of the city flanked by the Gulf of Salerno.
Next stop: 2 hours & 35 minutes
After spending a day or more in Salerno, it’s time to make the drive north to Tivoli … the last stop on your Amalfi Coast Driving tour before heading to the Airport to return home. While it isn’t a quintessential Amalfi destination, the town of Tivoli in central Italy hugs the curves of the Aniene River in the Sabine hills. This is a gorgeous area of Lazio, Italy, north-east of Rome, and pausing here on the final day of your trip is an excellent way to capture authentic Italy, in your memory to carry with you for the rest of your life.
Famous villas worth visiting in Tivoli include Villa d’ Este (pictured above) and Villa Adriana (both Unesco World Heritage sites), and Villa Gregoriana. We also recommend visiting Tivoli Cathedral, the Temple of Tiburtine Sibyl, and the little waterfall which sits under the Ponte Gregoriano. Every inch of Tivoli offers visitors excellent backdrops for photos and the feeling that you’ve stepped back in time to enjoy a simpler, better way of life. It’s amazing here.
Next stop: 49 minutes
Conclude Your Amalfi Coast Driving Tour at FCO Airport
Finally, drop your Rome car rental off at the airport before catching your return flight. While exploring the sites of Italy’s most famous cities is an excellent and popular way to tour Italy, we think that the best way to make memories in Italy is to discover it by car. Driving the Amalfi Coast itinerary we’ve suggested here will offer you an excellent balance of historic sites, natural vistas, and the opportunity to enjoy romantic seaside meals with the best ocean views in the world.
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So what are you waiting for? Contact Auto Europe today to get a quote on a budget-friendly or luxury Italian rental car for an Italian road trip you’ll never forget!
Making Memories on the Amalfi Coast with Auto Europe
If you’d like other things to do in Italy, check out our Road Trips in Italy, and if you’d like to see how much you can save on your next trip by bundling discounted airfare with your hotel reservation and car rental, give our travel specialists a call toll-free at 1-888-223-5555. We look forward to helping you plan the ultimate trip to France, or wherever your travels take you.