So you’re planning a trip to Italy’s Amalfi Coast with the kids in tow? Here’s a recap of our ten day family vacation in Sorrento, Amalfi, and Rome!
Things started off a bit rocky with our departure from the United States. We intended to fly from Tampa to Atlanta and then on to Rome on the first day of our trip. But our initial flight was delayed by nearly five hours!
So after spending most of the day at the airport, we were rescheduled on new flights for the following day. I guess you can say that we spent the first day of our trip drinking champagne in the Delta lounge at Tampa airport, and then heading home to sleep in our own beds. Lol.
Ok, rough start. But the following morning we headed out again on an early morning flight. And we were on our way to Rome!
Given the length of the flight – about ten hours total – we splurged for Delta One business class and it was really worth every penny. Everyone arrived with a full belly and a full night of sleep, so we were ready to hit the ground running when we arrived!
Getting from Rome to Sorrento
Upon arrival in Rome, we were picked up by a car service (which we had prearranged through Amalfi Coast Transfers) and transferred to our hotel in Sorrento. The drive was about three hours, and went very smoothly.
Another option would be to take a train from Rome to Naples, and then transfer to Sorrento via ferry or another train. But that is a lot to deal with when just arriving in a new country, so having a car waiting was a lot less stressful.
We arrived at our hotel, Imperial Hotel Tramontano around 2pm. And since we were supposed to have checked in the night before, the room was ready!
The hotel was truly a class act. Very good service, beautiful property, and the waterfront view from the room was just amazing! We enjoyed a little time at the hotel pool before checking out the city. (You can read my full review of the hotel here, or check rates here.)
After freshening up, we headed out to enjoy dinner at O’Parruchianno, a very popular restaurant set inside of a gorgeous lemon grove.
To be honest, the food here is pretty average compared to some of the tasty treats on offer in Italy, but the setting is just so perfect that it’s worth dining here once if you pass through Sorrento. Be sure to make a reservation.
And by the time we finished up our dinner, we were ready for bed thanks to that six hour time difference.
To our surprise, we were treated to some beautiful fireworks right outside of our hotel balcony on the waterfront. Fun way to end our first night in Italy!
A Day Trip to Capri
For our first full day on the Sorrentine Coast (which is not the same as the Amalfi Coast!), we headed over to Capri, which is a small island roughly 16 kilometers from Sorrento.
We took the ferry to Capri, which was a painless 20 minute ride. I do recommend booking your ferry tickets in advance during the busy summer months! The lines can get long and popular times do sell out.
We had pre-booked a private boat tour of the island with Capri Precious (you can check out their reviews and tours here).
So upon arrival on the island, we met our boat captain at the dock to head out. The tour was about three hours and I am convinced it is the absolute best way to see the island.
We took a leisurely cruise along the coastline, stopping to see a few historic places and inspect the interesting rock formations. We even got to take a peek inside of a cave!
Next we got to check out the famous Faraglioni rocks, which are three massive rock formations jutting from the sea, and are one of the most iconic sights in Capri. We were told it’s good luck to kiss as you pass under the rocks!
And then we stopped for a while in a more protected cove and spent time just swimming and snorkeling in the aqua blue waters!
A couple things to know about Capri boat trips. One of the main highlights here is a cave called the Blue Grotto, and most of the group tours include a stop here. We opted to NOT stop there on our private trip for a couple reasons.
Mostly – it’s a tourist trap. The way the grotto works is that your boat pulls up and gets in a queue for access. You wait in line, sometimes for an hour or more, and then transfer into a small row boat to be taken into the grotto. The visit inside the cave is just a few minutes, and the cost is around 15 Euro per person, plus an extortionate tip for the guide.
I personally didn’t want to spend 2+ hours of my 3 hour boat trip doing this one thing, and I am very sure that we made the right decision. If you are on the fence – I suggest you read the Blue Grotto reviews and see what you think.
As others were waiting in that Blue Grotto queue, we were drinking Prosecco and Limoncello and swimming in the ocean! ;)
Following the boat ride, we had a small bit of time left before our ferry ride back to Sorrento, so we took a taxi to the main Capri town and had lunch, which was actually one of the best lunches of our trip (here is a link to the restaurant if you want to find it for yourself!).
Plus we got to ride in one of the island’s unique convertible taxis to get there! (My son had been eyeing them up since we arrived on the island that morning.)
Then we decided to be adventurous and take the funicular back down to the marina. The marina is at sea level (obviously) and the town of Capri is elevated above it on a cliff. So the funicular runs up and down between them.
This was neat, but not really a highlight. Although it is much cheaper than a taxi, so it’s worth using for that reason regardless.
We took the ferry back to Sorrento and then headed to our hotel pool for a couple hours before dinner.
Our final dinner in Sorrento was a lovely meal at Piennola Land Food (here it is on the map), named because they pride themselves on using local ingredients from the surrounding land. This was all delicious, and way better than our meal the previous night!
Pompeii, Amalfi Town, and The Lemon Experience
We had originally planned on touring Pompeii on our first day in Sorrento. But since we missed the first day due to flight delays, we had to squeeze in a visit before transferring to Amalfi. And I’m so glad we did!
Pompeii has been on my bucket list for many years, and I don’t know when or if we will get a chance to visit this part of Italy again, so I’m very glad we could make it work.
We had planned on a car transfer to Amalfi, so we had the driver pick us up in Sorrento and bring us to Pompeii in the morning. The driver waited for us while we did a two hour tour covering the highlights of the ancient city of Pompeii.
The biggest surprise here for me was the sheer scale – Pompeii is huge! It’s truly an entire city and you could easily spend a full day here and get completely lost in the ruins.
I am really glad we decided to hire a guide because he was able to quickly shepherd us through the most important sites to make the most of our limited time.
It was really neat to walk through the original streets and see the remains of the buildings and infrastructure. And incredibly sad to see the fossilized remains of both people and animals that perished in the eruption.
On the way out, we stopped for some quick souvenir shopping at the vendor stalls.
If you’ve ever wanted to own a winged phallus – I guess this is your place. We opted for a Roma soccer ball for the kid though. ;)
After the tour, we met our driver and headed down to the town of Amalfi. We chose to stay in Amalfi rather than the more popular town of Positano for a slightly more relaxed experience.
I’m glad for that choice, because I felt that even Amalfi was pretty chaotic! (If you need help choosing which town to stay in for your own trip, check out my guide to the Amalfi Coast towns here.)
We checked into our hotel, Luna Convento, which is built in the remains of an old convent. It was another really spectacular place with an incredible waterfront pool. You could even jump right into the sea from the cliffs there!
In the afternoon, we grabbed some pizzas (the best pizzas we found were at Silver Moon) and enjoyed taking in the sights along the beach and waterfront. Everything is just so colorful!
Then we headed up to the nearby lemon farm for a tour. We had a chance to walk through their lemon groves, learn about the farming process, and taste some limoncello and other products.
Overall, this was interesting and enjoyable, but not a highlight of the trip. We did a private tour, but I would recommend sticking to the group tour in this case.
We lounged at the hotel pool some more before getting ready for dinner – and the view there is really unbeatable. Then we headed into town. The town is pure chaos.
It’s mostly just one large town square, which is filled with people, and cars trying to drive through those people. Lol. Not my fave.
We did not make a dinner reservation and ended up eating at a very touristy place right on the main square. The food was what you would expect it to be – solidly mediocre.
Lesson learned – you need to make dinner reservations in Amalfi. It can be a little tricky to actually do that, as most of the restaurants do not do online booking and many staff only speak Italian – so just ask your hotel for help if you need it!
Hiking Path of the Gods
We decided to kick off our next day in Amalfi by hiking the Path of the Gods, or Sentiero degli Dei in Italian.
This is one of the most famous hiking trails in the world, and it lived up to its name with some truly stunning views of the Amalfi coastline and deep blue sea.
Our hotel helped us arrange a taxi to pick us up at the trailhead and pick us up again from the end.
You can also take a bus from the town of Amalfi, but it doesn’t start running until late in the morning. We wanted to get an early start!
Since we were hiking with our eight year old, we chose the shorter version of this trail, which is 3.6 miles starting in Bomerano and ending in Nocelle. (Here is a map of the hike on Alltrails.)
In hindsight, the trail was not that challenging and we could have easily continued on to Positano, making it a 5.6 mile hike.
This was super fun and I consider it a must-do item on your Amalfi Coast vacation!
A Cooking Class at Amalfi Heaven Gardens
After working up an appetite with our morning hike, we spent more time at that fantastic pool at Luna Convento, and then headed out for a cooking class!
Because it wouldn’t really be a trip to Italy without a cooking class, right?
We did a group cooking class and dinner at Amalfi Heaven Gardens, and this was easily the best Italian meal we had on the trip. The tour started with a walk through their gardens, and we even got to pick some of the ingredients right from the plants!
Then we all gathered around their outdoor kitchen, which had a spectacular view of the water.
Everyone was assigned dishes to help prepare, including my son, and there was plenty of wine flowing while we worked.
And then we sat down to dine on our creations! The highlight was the fresh gnocchi, but I also loved the panzanella salad (which I have since learned to make myself). Yum!
Our group had 12 people and was a mix of ages. My son was the old child, but it was a very family friendly atmosphere. In fact, the host’s son joined us for a while as well. I would totally recommend this class to anyone staying in the area!
An Amalfi Coast Boat Tour
For our next day’s adventure, we headed out on a boat tour of the Amalfi Coast. We booked a small group tour via Get Your Guide and were really happy with the experience.
It ended up being a group of just nine people, and there was more than enough space for everyone to fit comfortably on the boat. It was all families, so it was a good vibe, with my eight year old being the youngest kid.
This was one of my favorite days of the whole Amalfi Coast vacation! We spent four hours cruising the coastline and stopping at two beautiful spots to swim and snorkel.
At the first stop, we were able to snorkel into a small cave. And at the second stop, we were able to swim up to a beach where you could jump from the cliffs into the sea. My son totally loved this!
After the boat tour, we opted to go hang at the pool again for a couple hours. It really is such a great spot with a perfect view of the boats cruising through the channel.
We even got a look at Jeff Bezos’s yacht! Yes, for real. So cool.
We learned our lesson from the previous night, and made a dinner reservation for a place just a bit outside of the main square, La Ristorante La Piazzetta. The food here was much better – especially the lemon pasta!
And we scored some gelato afterwards too. Have I mentioned the gelato yet? We sure ate a lot of it.
Visiting a Positano Beach Club
For our final day on the Amalfi Coast, we decided to visit one of the many famous beach clubs in Positano!
You really can’t visit the Amalfi Coast and not do a beach club day. It’s kind of their jam.
Here’s one thing you should know though – there is no sand on these “beaches”. All of the beaches on the Amalfi Coast are made entirely of rocks.
The view however is very beautiful, and the vibe is fun. We reserved a spot at La Scogliera Beach Club, one of the nicer places on the main beach in Positano.
I admit my expectations were relatively low here. I’m a bit of a beach snob, being from Florida. We live just a few minutes from Clearwater Beach after all. But I was very pleasantly surprised!
We had a beautiful spot right on the water with lots of space to spread out. There was even a small dining table for ordering lunch.
Our server was great and the drinks were ice cold. What more could you really ask for?
It was on the expensive side for a day at the beach. But it was a nicer experience than the more crowded, less expensive clubs along the same beachfront.
I think it was worth the cost for a single day, but if I were planning to hit the beach clubs every day of my vacation, we would choose something less pricey.
We took the ferry back and forth to Positano, and it was pretty easy. Again, I recommend using FerryHopper to prebook your tickets if you have a specific time you want to arrive and return.
Salerno to Rome by Frecciarossa Train
The next day, it was time to head back to Rome for a couple nights before flying home to the USA. We took the train this time, as it was a faster ride than driving by car.
The train was a little more stressful than the ferries, but we figured it out and made it to Rome by lunch time.
Honestly, if I had it to do over, I would probably just book a driver back to Rome. I’m not convinced we saved much time when you factor in the drive from Amalfi to Salerno, and the time waiting for the train. But my husband and son really wanted to ride a train.
After some obligatory pizza and checking into our room at I Moschettieri Guest House, we headed out for a private Colosseum tour with LivTours.
Now on our previous trip to Rome we had hoped to see the Colosseum but ran out of time, so it was on our must-do list this time around.
We were lucky enough to score tickets to the underground area which has limited access. And it was so worth it – definitely the highlight of the tour! (This is the exact tour we booked.)
We really enjoyed seeing the innerworkings of the old gladiator battles including the elevators that took the fighters and animals up to the arena and some exhibits of armor that they wore!
After walking around town a bit, we opted for dinner at Hamasei. Yes, a Japanese restaurant in Rome. We were just sort of Italian food-ed out at this point.
And don’t get mad at this – but this was the best food we had in Italy! Seriously amazing fresh sushi and the best eggplant I’ve ever eaten.
Gelato Class and a Rome Golf Cart Tour
For our final day in Italy, we kicked things off with breakfast in Piazza Navona. Yes, it is full of tourists. And yes, you should go anyway because it’s a very pretty (and slightly less crowded) area of the city.
Then we moved on to a gelato making class at Verde Pistachio. This was definitely worthwhile! We had a chance to make our very own gelato and then taste any/all the flavors in their shop.
It’s a very small group class – just two families in our case – so the kids got to be involved in the demonstration.
In the afternoon, we had a tasty lunch in one of the piazzas before heading out on a private golf cart tour. We organized this through LivTours (same company as the Colosseum tour) and it was another winner.
Our tour guide was Luca – who said to name him in my review as “Luca with a K”, which makes no sense since his nametag read “Luca” – but this is for you. He did a really great job!
He had so much knowledge of the city and took us basically everywhere. From the Colosseum to Trastevere to the Borghese Gardens – we covered so much ground!
I was honestly unsure if we would enjoy this tour, but it was one of my son’s favorite activities of the whole trip.
And after some more delicious gelato and packing our bags for the morning, the sun set on our family vacation to Italy!
Flying Rome to USA
In the morning, we were picked up by a driver and taken to the airport. I do recommend organizing a car service to the airport ahead of time.
It can sometimes be a long wait when ordering a taxi on demand in Rome, especially in busy months or in early/late hours. Ask your hotel to arrange this.
We arrived about three hours before our flight, which was a comfortable amount of time. And our return flights were much less eventful (in a good way) than the ones getting to Italy!
So was it worth it?
Yes, for me it’s a resounding yes. The Amalfi Coast has been on my bucket list for many years, and I’m really glad we had a chance to check it off as a family. The highlights for us were the two boat trips in Capri and Amalfi, touring Pompeii, the underground area at the Colosseum, and (surprisingly) the golf cart ride in Rome!