What’s great about the transportation on the Amalfi Coast is that many of the major towns are connected by ferries, but you often need to be in a car to get to hotels and other destinations. Not everyone is prepared to drive themselves on the winding coastal roads, which gives rise to a whole industry of usurious-priced car services. However, you can easily get between Napoli, Sorrento, Capri, Salerno, Positano, Amalfi, and Ischia relatively affordably by boat — and admire the stunning scenery while you’re at it. There are some things to note to make your experience a little smoother when planning your ferry trip.
First of all, you’ll need to check the ferry schedules well in advance of finalizing your itinerary. Depending on the time of year, there may be only one ferry a day in the off-season or one every half hour in the busy season. Ferries usually run from April to October, with the Amalfi – Positano – Sorrento line starting in mid-May. They are also weather dependent, so if the sea is too rough they may cancel the ferries.
Once you know the time and company you want to use, you’ll need to stand in line and purchase your ferry tickets or sometimes you buy them online and pick up the tickets at the port. Typically they take credit or debit cards, so you shouldn’t need cash for this. You can usually ask your hotel if they can reserve ferry tickets for you, but they can’t always buy them for you ahead of time.
Ferries don’t run between Napoli and the Amalfi Coast towns on the peninsula like Positano and Amalfi. You’ll either need to take a car or create a schedule where you go to an island like Capri or Ischia and then to one of these towns on the mainland. We often do this and then return to Napoli by car.
You will need to pay per piece of large luggage you bring on board. It’s usually a fee of 2€ per large luggage piece. Sometimes you may need cash for this, but the last few times we’ve purchased our tickets we’ve been able to add it to our ticket prices. They give you a ticket and a tag that you’ll affix to your luggage handle. When you get on the boat, you need to leave your bag in a hold area with other luggage. This is normal.
Don’t freak out if the ferry hasn’t arrived yet and it’s scheduled to leave in five minutes. Ferries in the Amalfi Coast are notoriously late. It’s easy to identify when it’s time to board the ferry and confirm you’re boarding the correct one as they have signs indicating their destinations and you’ll be with the crowd of people who are all waiting for the same ferry. Ferries can often be 10-15 minutes late on average, so you may want to include a buffer of time for this in your schedule if you’re booking something time-sensitive.
Once you’re on the ferry, they often sell beer, water, and snacks. If you’re lucky, they’ll have a couple of guys walking around selling limoncello spritzes made on demand. But you’ll probably need cash for this if you want to sip one on your ride. You can also always bring your own snacks and drinks as well. The bars on board theoretically accept credit cards but the card terminals often don’t work on the open sea.
Finally, some boats have open top decks and others are fully enclosed. Many ferries between Capri and Napoli will be indoor only. Just plan where you want to be once you see the options given in case you want to take photos or have the salty air blowing in your face. Enjoy the ride and your time at the destination, whichever beautiful town on the Amalfi Coast that may be.