Amalfi Coast is one of the most sought-after and beautiful places in Italy. When it comes to staying in Amalfi, the majority of people and guides have one recommendation: Sorrento.
It is true that Sorrento looks beautiful. It’s also convenient, especially when it comes to the 5 must see sights on the Amalfi Coast. It’s also very touristy…and expensive.
The good news is: The good news? We have found an alternative to Sorento. It is cheaper, more convenient, less touristy and has more things to see.
What is the alternative?
Salerno. Here’s why.
There are eight reasons why Salerno is better than Sorrento for any Amalfi Coast trip:
1. Salerno, unlike Sorrento and other Amalfi Coast towns, is on the main train line to Rome.
This means that you won’t have to change trains in Naples or elsewhere. It’s also faster. It takes just 2 hours to get from Rome and Salerno. The slowest train takes 3 hours 30 minutes. You will need to travel from Rome, Italy to Sorrento. The fastest train takes 1 hour 10 minutes. Slowest is 2 hours 45. After that, take the Circumvesuviana to Naples, which takes around 1 hour.
And that’s it. You can travel to Salerno quicker by switching trains. This is in comparison to Sorrento. If you compare the cheapest trains, it’s possible to pay about EUR10 less and reach Salerno in 30-40 minutes more.
The Circumvesuviana doesn’t connect to other towns along the Amalfi Coast. If you want to stay in Amalfi Town you would need to take the Circumvesuviana from Sorrento and then change to a bus.
2. Salerno is a great place to get to Amalfi Coast towns.
It is actually the Amalfi Coast bus ride that begins in Sorrento. It ends in Salerno. It doesn’t mean it’s any harder to reach Positano or Amalfi Town via Salerno than from Sorrento. In many ways it is better. Everyone stays in Sorrento and not Salerno (yet). You’re traveling in the opposite direction to everyone else, and the buses are more crowded. (What’s that? What do you know about Positano’s history? You don’t know Positano ?
The only people who were on the bus when we went from Salerno to Amalfi Town in the morning were the locals shopping. Even better, we were able to get front-of the-bus seats. You’ve probably been on an Amalfi bus and seen how uncomfortable it is to be without a seat.
One caveat. You can’t take the line all that far to Sorrento, but you can! You’ll miss the spectacular scenery as you head inland, between the northern, Bay of Naples coastline and the southern, Amalfi coast. Instead, you have more views of the stunning coastline. You can also see and stop in some towns between Amalfi Town and Salerno that are not listed in the guidebooks, but which look just as beautiful as their tourist counterparts to the west.
Read more: Get the Best Out of the Amalfi Coast
3. Other cool spots are also easily accessible from Salerno. This one.
Paestum is an ancient Greek city that was founded in 7th century B.C. It has some of the most beautiful ancient Greek ruins anywhere in the world. It is a gem of Italian archeology that not many tourists know about . However, it should be included on every itinerary to Italy . The Temple of Hera is a temple built in 550 B.C. It was built 500 years before many buildings at Pompeii.
Paestum is difficult to reach from the Amalfi Coast. It takes at least one change of transport to get from Sorrento to Paestum. (Here’s an example of a traveler trying to figure out how to get from Sorrento to Paestum.
Salerno: It’s painless. The direct buses get you there in approximately 50 minutes.
4. It is also very easy to reach Pompeii.
The Circumvesuviana makes it easy to reach Pompeii via Sorrento. You can also travel to Pompeii by train from Salerno. You can reach Pompeii town’s train station in 20 minutes. It is a short walk to the entrance of Pompeii’s excavations.
5. Ferries depart also from Salerno. Capri is not included in the ferry schedule.
Capri is one the most popular day trips in Italy. Salerno offers many options for boat trips. You can enjoy a unique view of the coast by taking a ferry to Amalfi. It takes just over an hour to get to Positano by ferry from Salerno; 35 minutes to get to Amalfi Town.
From Salerno, you can also take a boat to Capri. But, this is the main benefit of staying in Sorrento: It’s much closer to Capri. It takes only 20 minutes to get from Sorrento by boat. Capri-bound boats are more frequent. The fastest boat from Salerno takes 1 hour, 10 mins; the normal ferry takes 2 hours.
You could also go to Paestum (see #3), or Salerno’s beach (#6).
6. Salerno’s beach, which is centrally located, is huge.
Sorrento’s beaches are not well-known because it is perched on a cliff. The nearest beach is small and very crowded. The next closest beach is about a 15-minute drive from the center. You can only reach the most beautiful beaches by bus.
The beaches in Salerno are however much larger. Although they don’t make our list of Italy’s best beaches, they are much more accessible. You can walk from your hotel to the historic center just a few steps away. They are also close to Salerno’s industrial port. But, hey, it’s still a lot more interesting than the Sorrento cruise shops.
7. Salerno is more affordable than Sorrento.
Salerno is, after all, our little secret. It’s not secret at all, but it has far fewer tourists and attracts fewer people = lower prices. Everything. You can have dinner, coffee or just about anything. For EUR85 per night, we were able to get a beautiful triple in a charming bed & breakfast in the historic centre. Breakfast included. It was the peak season, and it was the most expensive.
8. We believe Salerno is one of the most fascinating towns along the Amalfi Coast.
There is a caveat to this: Don’t expect every shop selling limoncello or postcards. Salerno is a true local town. It is difficult to find postcards (but there are plenty of limoncello!). Here are a few things that you might be able to see instead.
- It is one of the most well-preserved historic centers on the peninsula. It is characterized by winding medieval streets. Although Sorento technically has a “centro istorico,” we doubt you would have known that unless you were shown! ).
- A castle, Castello di Arechi, dating back to the 6th century.
- There are many museums: the Museo Diocesano has works of art that range from medieval illuminated manuscripts to 17-century paintings by Caravaggio’s followers; there is the Pinacoteca Regionale, which features paintings by Andrea Sabatini, who worked with Raphael at the Vatican; and the Provincial Archaeological Museum, which is currently closed for renovations, contains finds such as a 6th century B.C. The crown of gold and silver.
- All the other benefits that come with a town that isn’t tourism-based like people-watching that allows you to take in the locals rather than guidebook-clutching tourists and restaurants that cater more to local tastes than the “real” Italian food they serve.