The Amalfi Coast and Mt. Vesuvius are some of the most memorable sites you’ll see in Italy. Amalfi is famous for its colorful towns and hidden coves that attract millions of worldwide visitors a year. People that love to hike are rewarded with spectacular sea views on Mt. Vesuvius. Today’s post is about why these 2 incredible sites should be on your next itinerary to Italy.

We spent 2 weeks exploring several areas of Italy in 2016 and wanted to check off the Amalfi Coast and Mt. Vesuvius from our bucket list. We chose Sorrento as our base since it’s centrally located.

The main highways were great and even fun to drive from Florence to Sorrento, but became a nightmare once we got into town. The streets of Sorrento are one big hodgepodge of cars, scooters, and pedestrians that share unmarked roads. I’ve never seen hubby Mike so stressed out driving before. Trust me, you don’t want the headache.

I had this fantasy to drive along the Amalfi Coast with the top down, swerving along the scenic winding roads and the wind blowing in my face. After driving through Sorrento which nearly gave us a heart attack, we decided to take a boat tour along the mountainous coast instead.

Day 1: Amalfi Coast Boat Tour

We took a tour called the “Amalfi Coast Boat Experience: from Sorrento to Positano, Li Galli, Rotonda and Castelletto,” by Capitano Ago Boat Excursions.

The motor boat can comfortably accommodate up to 14 people. The tour came with a Skipper to show us around the coast that day. He was a riot and full of energy. The drinks and snacks that included sandwiches were also nice to supplement the day.

If you’re looking to town hop up and down the Amalfi Coast, taking a boat tour is perfect. The boat makes a stop at each town on the itinerary where we could have leisure time to explore on our own. Everyone meets back at designated time. The boat also stops at a couple of scenic spots to just swim.

Our small group boat on the Amalfi Coast Tour
Our small group tour
Our lively Skipper

The Famous Amalfi Coastline

The Amalfi Coastline is about a 31 mile stretch of famous coastline along the Sorrentine Peninsula. We enjoyed the beautiful vistas and relaxed in the sun. We were amazed by the fishing villages and the incredible architecture built directly into the rocks.

We were able to stop by a few towns to have our leisure time and shop eat, or explore on our own. Positano, Li Galli, Rotando, and Castelletto were all beautiful by land and sea. When we return, we’d love to actually stay in Positano next time. It’s very posh with spectacular views.

The Amalfi Coast also has nooks and private coves locals and knowing travelers love to escape to.

Many coastal towns in Amalfi
You can shop, eat, or explore at each town the boat docks
I believe this was Positano
Beautiful private coves off Amalfi Coast
Imagine living in this house! The views from there are WoW!
Happy as a clam

The Emerald Grotto

During our day trip, the group members had an option to see the Emerald Grotto or sometimes referred to as the Green Grotto. In Italian, it’s called ThevGrotta dello Smeraldo. This is not the same or to be confused with the Blue Grotto in Capri.

We visited the Blue Grotto a couple days beforehand and it was a completely different experience. If you are able to catch the Blue Grotto, you won’t feel like you missed out by not going to the Emerald Grotto. If you have to pick between the two, hands down the Blue Grotto is the more authentic and unique experience.

Insider Info: The Emerald Grotto in Amalfi is not to be confused with The Blue Grotto in Capri. They are 2 very different sea caves. The Blue Grotto can be much more difficult to see due to its small size and entry point. The Emerald Grotto is large and easily accessible, but is staged for tourists rather than an all natural setting like The Blue Grotto. Read more about our unique Blue Grotto experience here.

Travoodie Queen

The Emerald Grotto is located at Conca dei Marini off the Amalfi Coast. It’s a sea cave that’s made to feel like some kind of temple. Although naturally beautiful, the artificial artifacts staged by the site operators made it feel more like a tourist trap.

  • PRICE: 5 euro per person, pay at entrance
  • HOURS: 9:30am to 4pm daily but can change without noticed
Entrance to Emerald Grotto in Amalfi
Preparing to go on the little boat
Boating around the emerald cave
Natural sea cave
Staged items in the Emerald Grotto

Swimming in the Tyrrhenian Sea

The Amalfi Coast lies on the Tyrrhenian Sea and we loved swimming in its deep blue waters. The water is a dark hue due to the volcanic ashes that lies underneath. In the Summer time, the temperature is perfect for water sports and we stopped at a couple of places to swim.

Friendships

After spending an 8 hour day with a small group, it’s hard to not make friends! We met a wonderful English family of 4 from Peterborough, England. We still keep in touch and have seen them in Florida since this trip in Italy.

What makes this day so perfect and memorable were the bonds we made. Everyone had a great time and we looked out for each other throughout the day. We were so glad we took this tour by boat instead of by car. I’m convinced it was much more relaxing too.

Day 2: Mt. Vesuvius

  • TOUR NAME: Mt Vesuvius 4×4 Tour from Sorrento Including Hike, Lunch and Wine Tasting (currently unavailable)
  • TOUR TYPE: Small Group Tour
  • PRICE: $86 per person in 2016 when we went
  • CHECK-IN POINT: Sorrento Italy
  • TOUR DURATION: 6 Hours
  • NOTE: This Tour is unfortunately no longer available by the tour excellent company we had, Acampora Travel. Check for other operators and lowest price guarantee here.

Now that we’re relaxed from our boat tour, we were ready to rough it on Mt. Vesuvius located in Naples, Italy. This volcano is famous for several things that we found fascinating during our hiking tour.

The number one reason why people flock to hike Mt. Vesuvius is to see its famous crater!

Check out the massive crater in our video!

Fascinating Facts About Mt. Vesuvius

  1. Mt. Vesuvius is not just 1 but made of 2 active volcanos.
  2. It destroyed Pompeii in 79 AD and has erupted about 3 dozen times more since then.
  3. The last eruption was in 1944 and lasted 2 weeks. It destroyed almost 80 planes and had 26 deaths, but 12,000 Solerno citizens were displaced.
  4. The volcano is believed to be 17, 000 years old and can still erupt again today.
  5. It buried the Roman cities Pompeii and Herculaneum. The ash and pumice covering the victims helped to preserve their last moments of fear on their faces and clothes on their bodies.
  6. Mt. Vesuvius is the only active volcano on the European mainland and is considered highly dangerous due to volcanic activity.

Hiking Vesuvius

To get to the starting point of the hike, you need to get to the trail entrance that ends at the summit where you can see the famous crater. Our tour took us there by a 4×4 because the terrain is rugged and steep. The 4×4 was rather comfortable and a Mercedes, which is a common brand in Europe.

On our way to the Vesuvius Hiking Trail
Arrived to the Vesuvius Hiking Trail

The hiking trail is about 2 miles long and can take abut 30-40 minutes to hike depending on your pace. It is a moderate trail and can get very hot in the Summer time. You’ll want to plan accordingly if you have health concerns or bad knees. More people complained about the hike down because it was worse on their knees.

The trail has beautiful views of the sea, cities, and natural surroundings. The walk goes by rather quickly because of all the stimuli that kept us entertained. Once in awhile, a nice breeze would hit us and it felt like pockets of AC.

Beautiful trail vistas on the way to the Summit
Ocean and city views
The huge crater! We made it to the summit
Crater close-up
It was a hot Summer day but a great day for hiking history
Views at the Summit

Lunch and Wine Tasting

After our hike, we went to a charming vineyard for lunch and a wine tasting. We do not drink alcohol, so they gave us juice instead. The lunch was pretty basic. Pasta, salad, and tiramisu with some bread and olive oil to start.

What I enjoyed was hearing about the vineyard and how they care for the grapes to make wine. Everywhere we visited in Italy, the farmers used organic techniques for their produce.

Restaurant and vineyard for lunch in Naples
Organic grapes for wine
Italian vineyard in Naples
Exhausted from the heat and the hike

Final Tips

We hope you can see why we loved these 2 days of adventure off the Sorrentine coast of Italy. It was a wonderful contrast of land and sea. We hope these tips and insights will help you build your next fabulous itinerary to the Amalfi Coast!

Sorrento makes a fantastic central location to the Naples, Amalfi, and even the Capri islands. For the perfect day itinerary in Capri, be sure to check out our post:

The Perfect 1 Day Adventure in Capri, Italy. Featuring the Blue Grotto and Monte Solaro

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You may have the Universe if I may have Italy.

-Giuseppi Verdi

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