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Getting around the Amalfi Coast early November - drive or take a bus?

Hi everyone,
We will be visiting the Amalfi Coast this November after a few days in Rome. (November 2nd -6th) We have rented an Airbnb for 5 nights in Sorrento as we have heard most things stay open then.
Our big question is how to get around to the various other towns since the ferries are not running that time of year. (Except for to Carpi, of course).
Would it be advisable to rent a car during this time of year? Or would you take a bus?
My husband and I have done so in other countries and survived! (We're from the US and handled driving in Australia and the UK even on the "other" side of the road) Our concern is not so much the driving, but whether we will be able to park when we get to our destinations. (Positano, Revello, Amalfi....)
The other couple we are traveling with think we should take busses between the towns. But I am not thrilled about this. I am concerned we will spend a lot of time waiting for busses and be beholden to the set schedules. I know they are nervous about the driving so we have said we don't mind doing all of it and letting them be the passengers.
I also feel like we may miss a lot without the "freedom".
Does anyone have experience traveling the Amalfi Coast this time of year? If so, what were your experiences like?
Would it be better to rent a car or take a bus? (I don't think hiring a private driver is an option for us as I have heard it is VERY expensive)
Thank you in advance!

Posted by
2764 posts

It's not an automatic no like it would be in spring, summer, or early fall, but there are still things to consider:
1) cost--I would do an actual comparison vs a driver. Rentals are high this year and you will want full coverage in case you ding a side mirror or worse. Parking is also expensive, but you can find garages with a Google maps search and scope out in advance.
2) enjoyment--the driver has to watch the road and for buses, scooters, etc. I don't think it would be much actual fun in those circumstances, but your passengers may enjoy it. Also, there were driving limits put in place this year because of the volume of traffic, and I am not sure when those end.
SO, basically I would play it by ear. You can scope out all of your options in advance (including a tourist bus versus the public bus) and decide when you get there if it is worth a try, based on conditions on the ground (I can see an early November weekend with spectacular weather having ample traffic). You also might consider it for going up in the hills and not necessarily for the tiny coastal villages.

Posted by
3 posts

The other post was primarily focused on driving in Naples which we would NOT be doing.
I appreciate the feedback.

I am hoping maybe someone could share the reality of the bus if a car is so horrible.
For instance, are they crowded? I have read that they can be quite crowded and sometimes you have to wait around for the next one. Maybe this is NOT the case in November?
I think that because we are only visiting for a few days I am concerned that our time there could be limited if we have to wait for public transportation.

Posted by
2764 posts

Agree, you don't need to be sidetracked by concern about Naples.
Part of the time limitation is that you are staying in Sorrento, and no matter what time of year, the Amalfi Coast is not as close as it appears because of the terrain, but that's a reasonable tradeoff at that time of year. I think it is a reasonable expectation that the bus will not be crowded in November like it is in summer.
You might inquire on Trip Advisor as well--I know there are several regulars there who have been in the area in the off-season. I still think the answer is a qualified "maybe" because this is a weird year. I'd be reluctant to even go for free right now because of the crowds. I would be willing to try taking a car into the hills in November for sure, but I can't say I would have any interest in parking in any of these truly tiny places--that will consume time too.
Your host in Sorrento will hopefully be a valuable source of on the ground info, so def try them as you get closer!

Posted by
1 posts

A private driver is the best option, but really very expensive. I would use buses, their schedule is quite acceptable.

Posted by
1002 posts

I’ve been to the Amalfi Coast six times and have done all three options that you state. I agree with valadelphia on all points. I am going back to the Amalfi Coast in October and I chose to not to rent a car this time. I am budgeting several hundred dollars for taxies and a private driver because it’s worth the peace of mind for me. That said, we were there last July before everyone started traveling again (at least Americans) and it was a breeze to drive on the AC!

One last note to take into consideration- there is a new rule in effect this year on the AC. I believe it’s every other day only odd numbered license plates are allowed to drive. I can’t remember the exact order of the days and when which plates are allowed, but I would certainly consider this also prior to renting a car.

Posted by
295 posts

The buses run frequently even in the off season because a lot of locals ride including school children. I have also driven on the “wrong” side of the road in New Zealand and Ireland, but I would never want to drive on the Amalfi coast. Never ever.

Posted by
15045 posts

If you want a car, you are better off staying in Salerno, which by the way has more to offer than Sorrento (read on . . . ). Salerno is on the Amalfi Coast, so within a very few minutes you are on the scenic road. From Sorrento, there's quite a stretch inland to get to the coast road.

Getting there from Rome. To Sorrento, take the fast train to Naples, then the local metro (Circumvesuviana/Campania Express) 1 to 1.5 hours to Sorrento, or arrange a private transfer from Naples. Or rent a car in Rome and drive. To Salerno, take the fast train to Salerno (there are frequent direct trains, take about 2 hours). Rent a car in Salerno. Or just use buses.

Staying there. Where's your B&B in Sorrento? Does it have parking? Is it near enough to the center to walk to restaurants? It's hard to drive in the center and harder still to find parking. Sunset's just before 5 pm so you'll probably want to be back just before or after dark (which may also put you in rush hour traffic). The metro/train station is about a 10 minute uphill walk from the center. In Salerno I stayed at a terrific B&B on the edge of the historic center. They had a parking arrangement with a garage about 5 minutes' away. It was also walking distance (level ground) to the train/bus station, the large sandy beach and the lovely seaside promenade. I rented the car in Salerno.

What's there. Sorrento has always been a resort, so no sights, but a couple of nice churches. I was there in February and all the shops and restaurants were open. The main advantages are the ferry to Capri and the metro to Herculaneum and Pompeii. Salerno has a well-preserved medieval center with a few interesting sights. It has lots of good restaurants. You can day trip to Paestum (and with a car, you can stop at a buffalo farm for fresh mozzarello and great gelato.

The buses: SITA runs the buses. There are 3 lines. Salerno-Amalfi, Amalfi-Ravello, and Sorrento-Amalfi. You can download the schedules on their website. I have the ones for winter 2016-17, that kicked in on Nov. 2. At best, there are buses once an hour, fewer on Sundays. Many people take the bus up to Ravello and then walk down. I tried to drive to Ravello and chickened out about half-way and had a heck of a time turning around. It's a very narrow 2-way road without shoulders. I kept wondering what I'd do if I met a bus.

I wrote about my adventures with a car here. My guess is that traffic would be similar in November.

Posted by
177 posts

We also did the Mondo tours and loved it. There were only 8 of us in a Mercedes van. Very personalized and easy. I remember watching some of the tight turns our guide/driver negotiated and was glad we could just look out the window and enjoy without worrying about the hassle and stress.

Posted by
41 posts

I would not rent a car for the area from Sorrento, Amalfi, Pompeii, etc. The roads are crazy and the public transport is good. The train from Naples is runs frequently (although often not according to schedule) and easily gets you around that coast including Pompeii. The Amalfi is all about seeing the coast and walking around the towns. If you are driving, you have to watch the roads and other cars on a very narrow twisty road and then find parking to go down to see the towns. The public bus, which I used from Sorrento, was fine and gave you time to see everything. An organized tour or a private driver would also work fine, but I preferred to use by money for a tour guide to Capri and use public transport for the Amalfi.