Love to travel but hate living that tourist life? Ditch the “must see” checklist, and adventure off the beaten path of Italy’s Amalfi Coast. There is plenty to see, do, and—best of all—eat along this famous slice of Mediterannean coastline without falling into a single tourist trap. The most ideal time to visit is between April and June, when the water is warm enough to swim in and flowers cover the landscape, but tourists haven't yet flooded the area (they tend to flock to the area in the late summer, causing prices to spike and crowds to form). For itinerary inspiration, check out these nine favorite non touristy things to do along Italy’s Amalfi Coast.
Enjoy Napoli’s Natural Beauty
Most likely, you will travel through Naples to get to your Amalfi Coast destination. While the center of Naples (or Napoli, as the locals call it) is bustling, there are more serene parks and reserves to enjoy just outside the city. Get a packable daypack ready so you can walk or cycle around Lago D’Averno—a volcanic crater lake that was once considered by Romans to be the entrance to Hades. If the gates to hell seem a little aggressive for a vacation, head just south of Napoli to sun on the rocks at Parco Sommerso di Gaiola, a marine reserve inside Napoli’s bay. Within the city limits, Pontile di Bagnoli, a jetty with a panoramic view of the coast that is frequented by exercising locals, is the perfect place for a quick walk or jog.
Don’t Forget the Pizza!
The pizza in Napoli is not to be missed! To enjoy an authentic Neapolitan slice, look for a pizzeria with a wood-fire oven, full pizzas with soft, soupy centers, and toppings limited to cheese, tomatoes, oregano, and basil. Also look for pizzerias with tourist-only menus…and avoid them at all costs. Be mindful of local theft while enjoying a city slice, though, and keep your valuables in an undercover money belt or a low-profile waist bag.
Jump in the Mediterranean–Preferably From a Boat!
Leave the camera-toting tourists on the shore taking pictures of the coastline while you actually jump into the water! Book a boat excursion for the day—just confirm that it won’t be stopping at the Blue Lagoon (so you won't get stuck in an hour-long line of tourist-filled boats). If your non-tourist trip has a big budget, you can even charter your own boat. However you go, make sure to protect your valuables in waterproof casing for your day on the sea.
Eat Like a Local
Unless you want to dine with other tourists, eat dinner on the Italian schedule. Start your morning with an espresso and a pastry, and do not take it to go! Eat a large lunch around 2:00 p.m., and remember to accompany this main meal of the day with wine. Enjoy a pre-dinner aperitivo (cocktail) at 5:00 p.m. such as an Aperol or Campari spritz. Finally, end your culinary day with a late, light dinner, remembering that the Amalfi Coast is particularly renowned for its seafood. If you spot a menu with more photos than words, you have fallen into a tourist trap (keep walking!).
Learn to Cook
Looking for an educational activity outside a museum? Take a cooking class with Mamma Agata in her private Ravello home that's high on a cliff that's overlooking the coast. Learn how to make pasta, pastries, and more from the famed chef’s own recipes.
Walk the Amalfi Coast
Even when traveling like a local, don’t miss out on the breathtaking views just to avoid a few tourists. Though you might run into your share of the socks-and-sandals set along the way, update your packing list to include walking shoes for the beautiful hikes along the Amalfi Coast. Top picks include Sentiero degli Dei (Footpath of the Gods), Valle dei Mulini (Valley of the Water Mills), and Valle delle Ferriere (Iron Mill Valley).
Set up an Easel in Ravello
The gorgeous town of Ravello is known as “Spirit Homeland,” and for good reason. Artists and musicians such as Richard Wagner, D.H. Lawrence, E.M. Forster, Gore Vidal, and M.C. Escher all found inspirations for their crafts in this countrified setting with seaside landscapes. Take a moment to unleash your own craft in Ravello. Spend an afternoon writing in a café or set up an easel and paint. Even if you don’t create an overnight masterpiece, you will create a deeper connection with the artistic history of Amalfi’s Ravello.
Beach Near Positano
Positano’s Spiaggia Grande is a luxury beach destination loved by locals and tourists alike, but it’s not the only rodeo in town. Fornillo beach is a 10-minute walk from Positano, and is a more serene setting that's farther away from the hordes of tourists. On top of the smaller crowd, Fornillo beach offers umbrella and lounger rentals for a cheaper rate than in Positano.
Perhaps the least touristy town on the Amalfi Coast, Atrani is a quaint fishing village located next to Amalfi. Whether you are admiring the bell tower at the Collegiata di Santa Maria Maddalena—the last remaining piece of Rococo architecture on the Amalfi coast—or enjoying a meal with locals (and fellow savvy travelers) at the Piazza Umberto I, this lovely town will appear to transport you back in time to an Amalfi Coast before it was a top tourist destination.
When you’re looking to visit Europe without the crowds, you can truly find a number of non-touristy things to do even in its most well-known pockets.
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