We are travelling from Rome to Sorrento by Train and would like to use Sorrento as a base for day trips to Amalfi, Pompei and may be Capri. What is the best way to plan for a day trip to Amlfi? By bus, to Positano, and then to Amalfi? Is there a public bus route? Or should we join a local bus tour?
This all depends on how extensive of a tour of the Amalfi coast you are interested in. If you want to see everything possible and go off the beaten path then I recommend a private driver. I did these same day trips a couple of times and did them both by bus and by private car and driver, there is no comparison. If your interested in the car and driver send me a private email and I will give you the name of the person we use whenever we are in Sorrento.
There are public buses that do the route. We took bus from Sorrento to Positano, then took ferry to Amalfi (you have to see the cities from the ocean) and then the bus back to Sorrento. Capri is by ferry as the bus drivers don't like holding their breath under water.
The bus drivers are amazing! Imagine a curved road around the hills dropping off towards the sea with just enough room for one lane in each direction. Add motorcyclists passing everywhere between the vehicles then add in cars parked on the side half in your lane. You can't believe these guys squeezing through. Great driving skills.
pretty much did what the other Mike did (great minds think alike?) Seriously, the ferry is worth taking between towns at least once to see the dramatic coast from the water. However don't take it from Sorrento to Positano or Amalfi without checking first to make sure it is a fast boat; the route goes out around the horn of the peninsula, so takes a LOT longer than the stretch between Positano and Amalfi.
May I suggest the following:
Day 1 - Capri - full day taking the hydrofoil from sorrento takes 30 minutes. (Tickets are purchased separately and in Capri there is a ticket for Capri transportation only).
Day 2 - Amalfi City and Ravello. Take the SITA Bus that will drive along the Coast and you can have the feeling of being on the famous Amalfi Drive. To reach Ravello (I highly reccomend) you will take a bus to Amalfi and a bus to Ravello. when you return you can take the boat to Positano from amalfi (takes 30-40 min max) and visit Positano. Then take the bus again back to Sorrento.
Day 3 - Pompeii and Herculaneum. Visit both ruin sites, you can use the regional train to get there.
There is a ticket that is valid for 3 days that you buy called 3 T and offers ilimited use of the Regional Bus in Sorrento, SITa buses to the Amalfi Coast, Circumvesuviana Regional trains (to Pompeii and Herculaneum) and depending on the season, you may use for the regular ferries..
between Positano and amalfi. (Not hydrofoil to Capri and transportation there). This ticket costs 20 Euros per person.
You can also take a private driver to the Amalfi Coast - it depends on the budget and style of your trip.
anything you choose, I am sure the others will agree that the Costiera Amalfitana is spectacular !
Thanks for much for a very detailed and thoughtful response. This is very useful as we are planning like a local spending holidays in Sorrento.
I really appreciate all your inputs!