In 2019, when visiting my partner who was attending graduate school in Belgium, we planned for a trip to Italy for a long weekend. The core part of the trip was to see the Amalfi Coast for 3 days and the last day in Pompeii and Naples. Now, the Amalfi Coast was actually my pick. And being the budget-conscious traveler I am, even I was surprised at myself for choosing to go to the Amalfi Coast.
My idea of the Amalfi Coast, before I decided to research it, was that it was a place only wealthy people could afford to go. After researching and looking into more making a trip possible, I quickly realized that it was possible to go there in a affordable way. After actually going, I now know that it is a destination that can be seen and enjoyed without spending thousands of dollars. But social media and TV made it seem like this grandiose coast full of tall cliffs and colorful rustic towns was indeed a place for only those who can afford luxury.
Maybe it was the cliffs, or the ocean, or my positive short trips to Venice and Florence in the past, that made me want to go back to Italy again. My partner had never been to Italy, so I thought it would be fun. Oh, this was also for my 25th birthday, so I thought, might as well!
Our budget was one of a solid middle class couple’s. We had no interest in spending anywhere in the €100+ for a night of accommodation, and were not looking to splurge, besides maybe a bit for food. The round trip flight between Brussels to Naples was €150 per person. Accommodation was less than €50 a night for the both of us, and the food we had on the trip was never more than €20 per person. All together, it was a reasonable priced trip*.
*Reasonable when you’re in Europe already, since I am not accounting for the cost of an international flight.
Where we stayed: Bomerano
We stayed in a small town called Bomerano, which was located in between the mountains of the more famous coastal towns that tourists flock to. When looking up housing in the entire Amalfi coast area, the prices in the more famous towns like Positano and Amalfi were expensive. Those are the towns where you can probably stay at fancy hotels and get fantastic classic “Amalfi Coast” views, and where Instagram influencers in dresses pose for their photos.
Well, we were not looking for a trip like that. We wanted an affordable place to stay that was in reach of the more popular towns, but not actually pay the prices of those towns. I saw the prices were lower in this area (in the 50USD range). We found a bed and breakfast named Valle Degli Dei, located in Bomerano high up in the hills, and it looked perfect for us! (Sadly, looking up this B&B in 2021 shows that it is permanently closed 🙁 Likely due to the impacts COVID-19 pandemic had on tourism…).
One really great thing about this B&B is that they arranged transportation to pick us up from the airport all the way in Naples. That’s like a 1+ hour drive! Not to mention driving through all the windy roads in the mountains, though that is just part of their everyday life.
The B&B had a nice view over Bomerano and we could see a glimpse of the sea in the distance. The room had all the basic amenities — double bed, bathroom with a hot shower and a flushing toilet, Wifi, and a small balcony. And they provided a nice buffet-style breakfast in the morning. Honestly, what else do you need?
After we settled in the B&B and left to explore, did it quickly dawn on us how high up in the hills we were. It was a full hike to get to town to find food…which also meant it was a full hike back up. I was pretty stoked for this adventure life, including a 40+ minute walk to town, but not sure if my body agreed.
We were only there for 2 nights/3 days, so it wasn’t something we had to do too often. The hikes up and down were actually really nice! We walked through lots of green, people’s backyards and small farms, passed by tiny kittens. Some paths had stone stairs, others were just trails. When we neared town, we walked past colorful houses through narrow alleyways.
One huge benefit of staying in Bomerano is that it’s one of the trailheads for the Path of Gods hiking trail that ends in Positano. Lucky for us, we didn’t have to take any transportation to get to Bomerano to start the hike. We could just go to the city center from our B&B and start the hike.
A fun memory – one of the nights we stayed at the B&B, there were fireworks in Bomerano. We could see them clearly from our patio. We had no idea what was going on and it was already really late. Googling the significance of the date in Italy did not bring any results in English. These small unexpected moments in travel where you don’t really know why something is happening but are glad to be experiencing it, are moments I appreciate.
How we got around
We got around by the bus and ferry system. We only rode the ferry once, from Positano to Amalfi. But to get back to Bomerano, which was in the Agerola region, we had to take the bus.
The Sita busses run on specific schedules around the Amalfi coast regions. There are designated bus stops in each town to get dropped off or wait for the bus. We only took it a few times, but my main memory of it was that the views were very cool! That is, if you’re not afraid of being in a big, tall bus driving on windy narrow roads on the edge of cliffs.
Renting a car would have been pricey in this region, but another good reason to not rent a car is the traffic would have been tough to navigate. Sometimes, smaller cars have to compete for space with the big Sita busses on the roads, and it seemed treacherous at times! Well, at least we were glad to not be driving there, but I’m sure a car would bring a lot more flexibility.
What we did in the Amalfi Coast
It was a short trip, so we didn’t have much planned! Our priorities were to see some of the main sights, enjoy nature, and most importantly, get to eat some good food!
Dinner & ice cream in Amalfi
On the day we arrived, it was already mid-afternoon. We decided to head over to the town of Amalfi by bus for dinner. We hiked down from the B&B to the city center (the marker I remember to indicate I was in the city center was the church in the town square).
We were able to catch a bus over to Amalfi. The ride was windy and I can see how some people would get carsick riding the bus on these roads.
By the time we got to Amalfi, the sun was setting, so we stayed near the harbor and got some photos of the fantastic sunset photos. From my experience, the best sunsets happen amidst a partially cloudy sky, which was what this day had.
We had a nice dinner of pasta in a restaurant in Amalfi town, then grabbed some gelato before we headed back for the evening.
Hiked Path of Gods hiking trail
It was already on my list to hike the Path of Gods (Sentiero degli Dei) trail, but it was extra convenient we were living in Bomerano, which is where a trailhead is located. We started the trail late morning, since we had wanted to have a slower morning at the B&B and enjoy the breakfast provided.
After breakfast, we went down to the city center to search for the trailhead.
The hike is considered easy/mild, with not much intensive ascending or descending until actually nearing Positano which is when most of the stairs pop up (though it was mostly downhill for us).
I thoroughly enjoyed this hike because since it was relaxing. For most of the hike, you get an expansive view of the Mediterranean and the cliff-side. You get to see some of the towns built into the cliff-side, and eventually, see Positano far away (which gradually gets closer).
My favorite parts of the hike were the views (of course), but also we get to walk through a small town (Nocelle, I believe) at some point, so you also pass by some cute buildings and cafes. We also saw quite a few cats lazing out in the sun on the way.
Afternoon in Positano: Lunch, walks, took a dip in the Mediterranean Sea
When we reached the end of the Path of Gods trail (which involved a lot of downhill stair walking), we ended up on the “highway” (really just the road leading into town). We walked on the side of the road until we entered the town, and honestly our first priority was to get lunch.
We settled for a restaurant on the side of the road as well, sat outside and got a nice view of one side of Positano. We enjoyed some pastas under the sun. It was all nice…Except, the fact that cars and people were constantly passing by. Our tables were literally next to the road and sidewalk, so the crowds were pretty close as they passed by. I didn’t mind it so much though.
The price of the food was pretty standard (speaking as an American tourist). I don’t remember the exact cost of those pastas, but it was not outrageously expensive. I believe it was around 20 euro per dish, which is not terrible for an expensive tourist Italian hard-to-reach town.
After lunch, we wandered through Positano. It was soooo crowded with tourists and travelers that I was feeling drained just by everything that was happening (I tend to get that way in crowds). There were all kind of buildings and restaurants but I didn’t have much mental energy to observe closely.
The roads we walked on had a lot of vendors selling paintings and decorations including art of Positano, Amalfi Coast, and lemons.
We passed by the harbor and saw a lot of people relaxing on the beach. We decided to rest their for a bit and I decided to take a dip in the water! It wasn’t the prettiest ocean, given that we were…literally right the harbor and ships. But, hey it’s the Mediterranean. I was already dressed in clothes for swimming so I jumped right in.
A few others were also swimming and floating in the water, so I felt comforted I wasn’t alone in choosing to swim in the not-so-aesthetic ocean. The temperature was just perfect and I floated in there while my partner waited ashore.
After a very long float in the Mediterranean, it was time to head back. The best path back to Bomerano was to catch a ferry to Amalfi, then a bus back to Bomerano.
The ferry ride itself was nothing spectacular. There were a lot of seats and it was very much the water bus we expected it to be. The ride was short, less than 15 minutes. Once in Amalfi, we squeezed in a quick gelato before catching a bus back to Bomerano.
Birthday-ish dinner & Pizza in Bomerano
Our last night in the Amalfi coast was the night before my 25th birthday! We’ve been eating pasta for every meal, so we opted for pizza this morning. Our B&B host had recommended a pizza restaurant in the Bomerano town center, because the restaurant is owned by their relatives.
We ordered a pizza for each of us and enjoyed it in this cozy restaurant in Bomerano. The pizzas were more affordable than the pastas we had in Amalfi and Positano. I believe around 12-15 Euro per pizza per person. It was delicious and a great way to end an eventful day.
After pizza, we hiked back up to our B&B to attempt to have a restful night before we headed to Pompeii and Naples the next day.
A short and nice budget-friendly trip to the Amalfi Coast wrapped up
We had an eventful weekend trip in the Amalfi Coast that was relatively budget-friendly. We did not have to splurge to live in the popular (hence, expensive) towns, but we were still able to experience them.
I personally really liked staying in a low-key town that was not crowded with tourists, and be able to make it to the bigger towns when we wanted. It felt nice to get a break from the big crowds of people and overpriced…everything.
I would surely go back to the Amalfi Coast someday because there are so many more towns that we did not get to experience this trip. If I do return, I’d like to take another attempt at planning a budget-friendly trip that also involved staying in other smaller towns. Since, now I know, it IS do-able.