15 Best Beaches on the Amalfi Coast
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The Amalfi Coast is only 40 kilometers from Positano on the west to Vietri sul Mare on the east. That distance, almost all of which is vertical terrain and plunging cliffs, leave little room for long, wide beaches. But that same topography gives the Amalfi some of the most idyllic and scenic – albeit tiny – beaches in all of Italy.
Hidden beneath those soaring cliffs are coves where pebbles have gathered to form secluded beaches, some of which can only be approached by boat, others by steep stairs or narrow paths under the cliffs. You'll find few sand beaches; most are composed of small sea-worn pebbles, which make a rented lounge chair (lettino) more attractive than stretching out on a towel at the free beaches.
These brightly colored loungers with matching umbrellas are owned by private beach clubs (stabilimento balneare), which also have changing tents, showers, and restrooms for the use of guests, who pay anything from 10 euros a day (at the eastern beaches) to 20 at Positano or Amalfi. If you plan on a day at the beach (remember that the sun only hits most of the Amalfi beaches in the morning), these make a lot of sense. But nearly every beach has a free area at one end, where you can drop a towel in any vacant spot to sunbathe and swim without paying.
Ranking the beaches that lie beneath the magnificent cliffs and precipitous towns of the Amalfi Coast is nearly impossible. Ask 10 people who know the coast well, and if you get the same beaches at all, the lists will be in a totally different order. The reason lies in the abundance of riches.
People who love tiny cove beaches can easily name 10 favorites. Those who prefer long stretches of beach will name another 10. Sand or pebbles, what time of day, safety for children, ease of access – all these are considerations. So if you pay more attention to the descriptions than to the ranking, you can be sure to find your perfect place in the sun with this list of the best beaches on the Amalfi Coast.
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1. Marina Grande, Positano
If you want a large sprinkling of Amalfi Coast glam, and maybe to spot a celeb or two behind the sunglasses, splurge for a lounger on the coast's "in" beach. Crowded (don't even think about it in August), often chaotic, and definitely where the action is, Marina Grande (not to be confused with the Marina Grande in the town of Amalfi) is also one of the largest on the coast, at about 300 meters in length.
It is lined by restaurants and a disco, Music on the Rocks, which is as popular with locals as it is with the visiting glitterati. This is a good place to board shuttle boats to some of the less accessible beaches, and there is a free stretch of beach for those who don't need to be in the center of the social scene. Even if you don't choose this for a day of lounging in the sun, do stop for a stroll or lunch for the Amalfi experience and some people watching.
For a smaller, quieter beach in Positano, take the stairs opposite the five-star Il San Pietro di Positano hotel (about a kilometer west of the Marina Grande) to Laurito beach. Part of the beach is free and part a stabilimento; there are a couple of casual restaurants here, as well.
2. Arienzo Beach, Positano
If you don't mind descending the 300 or so steps to get there, Arienzo is one of the few beaches in Positano to have sun in the afternoon, far longer than any other beach in town. The water here is also clearer than that of Marina Grande, so it's better for swimming. There is a free area, and a beach club with a restaurant and sun loungers.
The stone steps, although daunting, offer some stunning views and a chance to see some of the villas and their gardens that cling to this vertiginous coast. For the views on the way down without the arduous climb back to the Amalfi Drive, take a Sita bus from the Marina Grande (the bus will stop at the stairs), then return by one of the boat shuttles.
3. Maiori Beach
There's a lot to like about Maiori's beach. It's the largest on the Amalfi Coast at just under a kilometer long and 40 meters wide, and one of the very few that is sandy. Added to that, the afternoon sun is not blocked by cliffs, and in the summer, shines on its sands into the evening.
Kiosks and cafés line its boardwalk, and along with the rows of loungers to rent, two beach areas are free. You can rent boats to visit the nearby sea caves. With all this, it's no surprise that Maiori is a popular beach, especially with families, but as it is at the eastern end of the Amalfi Coast, it is rarely crowded.
The smaller (about 40 meters long) beach of Salicerchie is reached by a long set of steps, although only about half as many as Arienzo. The water here is deep, exceptionally clear, and an emerald green color. The beach is enclosed by cliffs on either side, and although it is largely occupied by a line of lounge chairs, there is a small free section.
4. Erchie Beach
If you're looking for picturesque with your sea and sand, Erchie is your beach. A kaleidoscope of colored umbrellas and as many colors of small fishing boats paint the 200-meter main beach, which lies at the foot of the pastel fishing village. A few restaurants and gelato stands line the little promenade.
A medieval tower punctuates one end of the beach, and beyond it, bookended by another tower, is Spiaggia di Cauco. Hemmed in by steep cliffs, this beach is only accessible by boat. The two towers, Torre del Tummolo and Torre Cerniola, were built in the 16th century to protect the village from pirates.
5. Gavitella Beach, Praiano
Rewarding the trip down the stairs to Gavitella beach is a stunning land- and seascape encompassing the hillside town of Positano and the islands of Li Galli and Capri. See it at sunset (it's one of the few beaches here where you can enjoy all-day sun), and you'll never forget it. The beach is not large, caught in a cove of only about 30 meters, and composed of pebbles, but the waters are a deep emerald blue.
Extending the beach is a platform (piattaforma) along the base of the cliff, where you can spread a towel to sunbathe and swim if you choose not to rent space from the Cala della Gavitella beach club. If you eat at the beach club (it's quite good) a free shuttle will take you to and from either Marina di Praia or the Marina Grande in Positano, avoiding the long climb.
6. Duoglio and Santa Croce Beaches, Amalfi
One of the more secret beaches is only a kilometer from the town of Amalfi, but it seems worlds away. That's partly due to the 400 steps down the cliffside to get there. Or you can go by boat from Amalfi, which is free if you reserve lunch at one of the two restaurants. Beyond the beach clubs is a large free beach. The 170-meter pebble beach is surprisingly uncrowded, even in the high season.
The water is some of the clearest on the coast, and the beach is popular with water sports enthusiasts, who snorkel in the clear water, as well as windsurf and kayak. From June to September, Amalfi Coast Sea Kayak is based at Duoglio Beach, leading guided kayak tours of the coast.
Just before Duoglio, Santa Croce has a similar idyllic setting in a cove between cliffs and the same almost luminescent turquoise-blue water. But Santa Croce has no access from land, so you'll have to take a ferry from Amalfi operated by one of the two beachside restaurants.
7. Marina Grande, Amalfi
One of the best known and largest on the coast is Amalfi's main beach, in the center of town opposite Piazza Duomo. The town seems to flow down the hill into the beach – and unfortunately, so do people, in great numbers. While it has some of the same worldly air as Positano's, it seems more chaotic and possibly even more crowded. People watching is still fun, but with less chance of spotting a famous face.
The pebble beach is just under 200 meters long and about 40 wide, so there is a lot of room, and beyond the rows of colorful sunbeds, you'll find a free beach at either end. In the summer, be there very early to find a space large enough for your beach towel.
Walking west along the shore, you'll come to a small free beach called Porto, right near the marine promontory, a popular place for families, with shallow, calm water. Just beyond the port, about a 10-minute walk from Marina Grande, is Lido delle Sirene, without a free beach, but a more peaceful atmosphere.
Marina Grande is where you catch boats to smaller hidden cove beaches, as well as excursions to the nearby Grotta dello Smeraldo (Emerald Cave). Sunlight shining through the water makes it appear lit from inside the cave with an emerald-green glow.
8. Marina di Vietri, Vietri sul Mare
One of the rare sandy beaches on the Amalfi Coast, Marina di Vietri is also one of the longer beaches, so although it is not particularly picturesque, it has a lot of other attributes going for it. It is easy to get to, even by train (the town is on the Naples-Salerno line), and it is not enclosed by cliffs, so it gets the afternoon sun longer than others.
The sand makes it a favorite for families, yet for all this, Marina di Vietri is rarely as crowded as the large beaches to the west. This eastern end tends to have fewer tourists, although the town is interesting, with its ceramic domes and pottery shops.
From Marina Grande, catch a boat to some of the other beaches in Vietri sul Mare, some of which can only be reached from the sea. La Baia is even larger, at 400 meters and also gets a long day's sunlight. The usually quiet La Crespella sits under a 16th-century tower overlooking the sea stacks of Due Fratelli.
The prize for most picturesque beach in Vietri sul Mare goes to Marina di Albori, at the foot of a tiny village that's often listed among the most beautiful in Italy. The sun shines on its beach into the late afternoon.
9. Tordigliano Beach, Positano
Despite being one of the Amalfi Coast's biggest beaches, with 350 meters of frontage, Tordigliano has remained much of a secret because of the steep descent, coupled with the fact that the only other access is by hiring a boat to take you there. Either way, the reward is worth the effort.
Although close to Positano, Tordigliano seems a world of its own, surrounded by a steep piney wilderness without a building in sight. With no sign of tourist development besides a small cluster of sunbeds and umbrellas for hire, the beach is in its natural state, and all you can see is the water and the mountains and the forest above. After the busy hubbub of the holiday towns, Tordigliano is a serene place to commune a bit with nature.
10. Fornillo Beach, Positano
Unlike many of the coast's beaches that are set in a tiny cove between rock faces, the long Fornillo Beach is not difficult to reach. Instead of scaling a steep cliff, the path there from Positano's harbor is a charming one along the shore, with the sea on one side and the cliffs on the other.
Although at the height of summer it can be crowded, because of its size it is more serene. Three beach clubs rent chairs and umbrellas, but there is also a free beach at one end. Two stone towers, Torre del Fornillo and Torre Trasita, frame the pebble beach.
11. Marina di Cetara
Beaches don't get much more postcard perfect than Cetara: colorful fishing boats drawn up behind the beach, palms along a promenade, and a town of pastel cottages climbing up the hillside above. Perfecting the scene are a castle at one end of the beach and a church dome covered in bright colored tiles.
Choose one of the lounge chairs or drop a towel on the free sand at the other end — the view is the same, and so is the sand, and the free area is as large as the stabilimento. Fewer tourists find their way to this eastern end of the coast, so you'll share the beach with local families. Because of its position, the sun shines here into the late afternoon, and the water is exceptionally clear.
A pathway from the tower leads along the shore to Lannio beach, with fine sand and crystal blue water, in a cove just outside of town.
A stack of venerable stucco houses hugs the cliff, and below fishing boats line the sand behind the small beach hidden deep inside a fjord. Overhead, a tall arched bridge carries the Amalfi Drive across the fjord's top. The view of the beach from the bridge and the view of the bridge from the beach are equally dramatic.
The tiny beach just inside the mouth of the fjord gets the sun only briefly, hidden as it is in the narrow gap between the cliffs. Reach it by boat or by the stone steps leading down into the fjord from the Amalfi Drive. The steps may be blocked off if there is danger from falling rocks, in which case, you'll have to just admire the beach from the bridge. It is one of the most photographed spots on the coast.
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Places to Visit near the Amalfi Coast: The Amalfi Peninsula includes the beautiful town of Sorrento, on its northern shore. The many good hotels in Sorrento make it a good base for trips to the Island of Capri, which can also be reached by boat from Amalfi.
Where to Find More Beaches: Although the Amalfi Coast has spectacular beaches, you'll find more along the Mediterranean and Adriatic in our page on the top-rated beach destinations in Italy. The fabled Costa Smeralda is just one of the many beautiful resort areas you can find with our page on the best beaches in Sardinia.