Best time to visit
When is the best time to visit the Amalfi Coast? I’m biased…I am totally in love with the Amalfi Coast and so would visit here anytime. One of my favourite times though is actually in the middle of winter. It has this wild beauty about it then, with its dramatic seas and skyline, which I somehow find rejuvenating.
The truly authentic Amalfi Coast emerges too: not the one putting on a show for the hordes of tourists that invade it at other times of the year.
There are however, several factors which you might take into consideration when planning your trip here.
- the weather
- the tourist season
- the events and festivals
- the activities you are hoping to experience
If we are talking weather, then the best times to visit the Amalfi Coast are either mid Spring to early Summer (April to June) or early Autumn (mid September to mid October). At these times, temperatures are mostly comfortable: typically in the low to mid 20's.
Winters on the Amalfi Coast are comparatively mild. I would liken them to winters in Melbourne, Australia (just as changeable too!) with max temperatures hovering around the 13 – 17°C mark. It can get cold though and it may even snow although this is fairly uncommon.
The seas along the coastline during Winter, take on a life of their own. Huge waves pound the shore making it quite dangerous for the unwary visitor. So wild…but so beautiful.
Don’t forget your umbrella! It does rain…sometimes for days on end (enough to cause mudslides and blockages along the coastal road) …so be prepared for a few days indoors and make the most of any sunny breaks. Beautiful, crisp, sunny mornings are perfect for enjoying a warm espresso at the local bar. Sit outside in the sun and practice your Italian with some of the locals…they love a chat!
Springtime is beautiful. Like a big bear coming out of hibernation, the Amalfi Coast begins to stir. In the mountains, purple crocus with their bright yellow stamens, line the ancient pathways. The golden orbs of the formosa light up overcast skies and the sounds of renovations fill the air as the locals begin to prepare for the coming ‘season’.
Temperatures begin to rise and you can expect some quite balmy days. Don’t forget your sunscreen! Days are becoming longer, making it perfect for outdoor activities like hiking and walking along the beach.
You will still get some inclement weather so be prepared. It actually becomes more like Melbourne’s weather with four seasons in one day! Pack clothing that can be layered.
Summers are hot on the Amalfi Coast with temperatures climbing into the 30’s. There is little rain and so not much relief. Those stairs which you skipped up and down during the cooler months? They become tortuous and a challenge to climb. You will totally understand why the locals shut up shop and go home for the afternoon. I figure – do as the locals do and plan all your activities for the morning, late afternoon or evening.
The days are long and the water warm – perfect for swimming or sailing. Don’t forget to reserve your sunbed at the beach!
I don’t find the heat to be humid – especially compared to that of Aussie summers. That might be a personal experience though. Humidity later in the season, does increase the likelihood of thunderstorms, especially in the afternoons . Of course….sunscreen, sunnies and a hat are essential!
Autumn on the Amalfi Coast is a bit of a mixed bag, bringing cooler temperatures and an increase in rainfall. It also brings beautiful colour to the woods. Beech trees become clothed in glorious shades of orange and gold, heralding the change of season. It’s harvest time too!
There are plenty of sunny days and the water is still warm enough for swimming in early October but by the end of the month, sea temperatures have dropped considerably.
November is the wettest month of the year but it is by no means cold with temperatures still in the high teens. December is cooler but has a little less rain – just don’t expect a white Christmas!
The tourist season
The tourist season has a huge bearing on the type of experience you will have on your visit to the Amalfi Coast.
High season for the Amalfi Coasts occurs in June, July and August, coinciding with the hottest months of the year. At this time the entire Coast is over run with hordes of visitors from all walks of life. The beaches are packed and the roads are quite often at a standstill. Shops are busy and restaurants full. Queues are long, especially for attractions such as Pompeii. Even the waters off the coastline are popular: filled with amazing luxury yachts owned by the rich and famous.
Everything is open at this time of year – restaurants, cafes, tours, ferries etc but if you are planning to visit at this time, make sure that you book everything, well before you arrive. This is particularly important for accommodation, restaurants and guided tours. as these are often booked out months in advance. Don’t forget to book your sunbed too…these are immensely popular!
The Amalfi Coast relies heavily on tourism to support its local economy. With only a short window of time in which to capitalise on this, you will of course expect to pay a premium for most things at this time of year. Accommodation on the Coast can be especially expensive, as can some restaurants. Not everything is expensive: the local grocery store and ‘mercato’ are great options for fresh food (and alcohol) if you are on a budget.
The vibe during this time is fantastic. Most people (including the very busy locals) are in high spirits – in a definite summer holiday groove. It’s intoxicating!
The shoulder season as you would expect occurs either side of the high season i.e. April – May and September – October.
In the Spring, the crowds are only just starting to filter in, whilst in Autumn, most of the crowds have returned home. If crowds are not your thing, then this is definitely a time you should consider. You will of course still get quite a few day trippers visiting the Coast on weekends.
You will find that most things are open although some services may be limited – they are either just winding up or just winding down. The atmosphere here at that time is a little like that too – an air of excitement and anticipation in the Spring. A definite air of winding down in the Autumn.
You are unlikely to get any ‘bargains’ when it comes to accommodation – (prices tend to start going up in April) but prices are generally cheaper than in July and August. Prices may not start coming down again until November.
The low season occurs from November to March.
There is a totally different vibe to the Coast at this time. It’s quiet and it’s peaceful. Most of the restaurants, cafes and shops are closed – the owners all having a well earned break after a hectic season and the crowds have gone. Many of the hotels and accommodation places are closed at this time as are many of the tours and activities.
The ferry service does not operate over the low season either. Apart from a lack of patronage to justify running a service, the seas are just too rough. It’s a shame because the ferry is a fantastic way to get around the Amalfi Coast. You will of course, not be able to hire a boat or do any of the water based activities for the same reason.
It is the perfect time to pick up a bargain in terms of accommodation though. Many of the smaller establishments are happy to have some source of income over the off season and so their rates are priced accordingly. You may also be able to find cheaper flights into Italy too.
If you want to experience life on the Amalfi Coast in a truly authentic way, then this is the time to come. Visit the markets, sip espresso in the local bar, take part in some of the local traditions and chat with the locals. Life here is good for the soul.
Festivals & Events
Italians love to celebrate. From Italian religious traditions to honouring the country's beginnings, it is all about celebrating life with family and friends. Life on the Amalfi Coast is no different, with an event calendar full of fabulous festivals and fun things to do.
Fancy a bit of fun and frivolity? Colour and confetti? Dancing in the streets? A ten day party? Then get yourself here for Carnevale. Carnevale is a Mardi Gras like festival that runs for ten days before Lent (February - April) so the timing will vary from year to year. In 2020 it will run from the 15th to 25th of February. Maiori with their 'Gran Carnevale di Maiori' is the centre for Carnevale celebrations on the Amalfi Coast. Born from a rivalry with neighbouring Minori in 1971, the festival has grown into an eagerly awaited event each year. Highlights of the event are the colourful parades, with their elaborate themed floats and dance groups. Throw in live music, masks, a rainstorm of confetti, traditional games, jokes and satire and you are in for fun times. I love these types of events as a traveller. For a short period of time you are able to completely immerse yourself into the traditions and the spirit or essence of the town. Don't just be a spectator...get involved. Sing...dance...you will soon become 'family'.
Ravello "Wagner" Festival
The Ravello Festival is an annual festival of music and the arts. One of the oldest and renowned music festivals in Italy, it takes place in Ravello, the "City of Music" from late April to early October. Originating in the 1930's, as a tribute to Wagner, the festival today still pays homage to his works.
The festival runs for approximately three to four months over six main venues. The most renowned of these is the spectacular, cliff side, open air venue 'Belvedere di Villa Rufulo'.
Over the years the festival has hosted some of the most prestigious names in the world of music and art, both nationally and internationally.
Apart from the music program (jazz, orchestra, chamber), the festival today also includes exhibitions of art and photography, dance performances and various discussion groups.
Luci d'Artista: Salerno Christmas lights
If you love Christmas and the joy and sense of wonder that beautiful sparkly lights seem to impart, then November to January is a great time to visit the Amalfi Coast. Each year the city of Salerno plays host to a magnificent themed, festive light display. The streets, parks and piazzas throughout the city are magically transformed with colourful and fantastical light installations by well known artists of light. Four main themes are carried throughout. In 2019/20 the themes will be floral decorations/the zoo/lemons and the ceramics of Vietri/Chandeliers of the King. The lighting of the main tree for the festivities takes place on December 1st. As you would imagine, this is a very special moment and a much anticipated event each year. A 55m ferris wheel equipped with 36 cabins will allow visitors to view the spectacular view of the city lights from above. The renowned Christmas market with its Santa's' Village, local delicacies, Christmas treats and street food takes place along the waterfront. This year, the lights are switched on, on November 15, 2019 and switched off again on January 19, 2020.
Activities & things to see
What type of holiday are you expecting on the Amalfi Coast? Are you going to be spending most of your time on the beach or the water? Perhaps you are a history buff and you want to visit all the amazing historical sites across the region. Maybe you are thinking of getting married here. Amazing!!! Maybe you want to do it all...I know I do!
Best time for beach & water activities
The best time to visit is May through to mid October. At this time, the sea temperatures are warm, perfect for swimming.
There are unlikely to be too many storms or rough seas during this period either, making it ideal for sailing or boating.
Be aware that the afternoons in July and August can be very hot, so take this into consideration when planning your daily activities.
As discussed above, most of the water based tours and activities are not operational during the off season.
Best time to visit historical sites
Historical sites can be visited at all times of the year. I would however avoid them during the peak season in July and August. Not only are the queues long (especially in Pompeii) but it's hot!!! Having said that....MAR Positano is climatically controlled...maybe a welcome spot to cool off on a hot Summer's day?
Winter is actually a great time to visit sites such as MAR Positano. Because there are no crowds, it is quite likely you will end up getting a private tour of the site, as I did last winter. If you are really into your history, this is fantastic... and a great opportunity. You have the undivided attention of the guide and you get to ask all the questions and take all the photos you want. This also applies to churches and other historical monuments. You may find that you are the only visitor there. That's perfect! There will always be someone there knowledgeable in the history of the site. They are proud of their history and will be more than happy to give you all the information you want....even old photos if you are lucky!
Best time to visit the gardens
As I have already mentioned, Springtime on the Amalfi Coast is just beautiful. It is also the most amazing time to visit some of the beautiful gardens on the Amalfi Coast. The weather is perfect, the gardens are fresh, flowers are in bloom everywhere and the air is filled with the most intoxicating scents. OMG...how good is the scent of wisteria? The gardens in summer are beautiful too. A riot of brightly coloured bougainvillea, in all shades of red, orange and pink adorn pergolas and structures everywhere. Sun loving daisies and marigolds line dusty paths. Pots overflow with crimson geraniums. It is hot though, even if the trees do provide welcome patches of shade. The gardens of Villa Cimbrone and Villa Rufolo (the two most renowned gardens on the Amalfi coast) are open all year round and are worth visiting no matter what time of the year you are here. Did I mention the views? Spectacular!