Last Updated on October 26, 2023 by Ingrid & Alex
Not sure which destination is better for you between the Amalfi Coast or Puglia? If you don’t have the time to visit both, I’ll help you decide and plan your vacation.
I’ve visited both on one vacation and to be honest it would be difficult to choose only one. However, that’s not impossible, and you can always have a reason to come back.
While both destinations are incredibly beautiful, they are also different and might target different types of travelers.
But we’ll cover all that in this article.
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Amalfi Coast or Puglia – which one to choose?
HOW TO GET TO THE AMALFI COAST
Located 40 kilometers outside of Naples, getting to the Amalfi Coast is not that difficult no matter if you land at Naples International Airport, or Fiumicino Airport in Rome.
You can always rent a car, pick it up from the airport, and drive your way to the coast, or you can easily get there by public transportation – trains, buses, boats.
While driving on the coastline is not for everyone, you can easily book a private transfer and get there without any worries.
From Naples airport, it will take you roughly 1 hour, depending on where you choose to stay on the coast, and how you get around.
You can get from Rome to Naples by fast train in around 1 hour and make your way to Sorrento, Positano, or other places on the Amalfi Coast by ferry, bus, or car.
HOW TO GET TO PUGLIA
If you are wondering which airport do you fly in for Puglia, the answer is simple: you will find the main airport in the region of Puglia located in Bari.
From there, you can choose your basecamp for the vacation in one of the charming smaller villages such as Alberobello, Martina Franca, or Polignano a Mare. Of course, you can also choose to stay in Bari and travel around by car or train.
Of course, you can also make your way from the Amalfi Coast to Puglia by car, bus, or train, and I have written a comprehensive itinerary here.
How far is Puglia from Rome?
If you want to create an itinerary for Rome and Puglia, that is not impossible. However, it is a bit more challenging than seeing Rome and the Amalfi Coast together. The distance by car between Rome and Bari is roughly 500 kilometers (depending on the itinerary you choose), and depending on the traffic, you can get there in around 5 hours.
By high-speed train, there are a few daily options, that can take you from Roma Termini to Bari Centrale in roughly 4 hours.
I encourage you to buy your fast train ticket ahead of time when you want to save money.
THE AMALFI COAST
As you might expect from one of the most popular destinations in Italy, the Amalfi Coast is served by many means of transportation.
You can travel from Sorrento to Salerno by SITA bus – the public transportation bus option. The ticket is only 2 EUR and you can get on or off anywhere you want to. The only downside to using the bus during the peak season is that it can get really crowded and the timetables aren’t always reliable.
Another option is taking the boat from one town to the other. This is my favorite way of traveling on the Amalfi Coast, but it won’t take you everywhere and it’s also a pricier option.
The last option would be to rent a car and drive yourself from one town to the other. While this will offer you the most flexibility, during the peak season you will find it hard to find a place to park. And when you do, the parking fees are quite pricey.
Another downside when it comes to driving on the Amalfi Coast is the narrow winding roads, suitable for the most experimented drivers.
If however, you choose to rent a car, check out Discover Cars, an aggregator that will help you find the best offer out there, and save you up to 70%.
Unlike the Amalfi Coast, the public transportation options for traveling around Puglia are a bit limited.
When it comes to buses, you won’t find many options, and timetables won’t be very friendly to your schedule.
For us, the best way to travel around Puglia and get to Matera as well as by car. Towns aren’t too far away so you won’t have to spend too much time behind the wheel, but you will have the flexibility to stay wherever you want.
THE BEST PLACE TO STAY ON THE AMALFI COAST
When it comes to accommodation on the Amalfi Coast, there is something for everyone.
Don’t be fooled into thinking the Amalfi Coast is only Positano. Yes, that’s the most popular destination (particularly for Americans), with luxury boutique hotels and breathtaking views, but there are plenty of other places to choose from. In my where to stay in Positano guide, you’ll find plenty of accommodation options for any budget and request.
If you are traveling on a budget, I suggest you check out my comprehensive guide for where to stay on the Amalfi Coast on a budget. There are destinations for families, couples, and even larger groups of friends, in places like Cetara, Vietri, Maiori, or even Sorrento.
You can stay in an authentic Italian apartment, a hilltop villa with an infinity pool, a historical palazzo in the middle of lush gardens, and whatnot.
What is better Amalfi or Positano?
I see this question asked so many times that it needs to be addressed. While both villages are extremely charming, I would choose to stay in Positano for a special occasion, and when I want to splurge, and for all the other vacation types I would choose Amalfi.
Both villages offer great accommodation options, have a small beach, are connected to the rest of the coast by bus or boat, and are great starting points for day trips.
Positano gets extremely busy during the peak season, while Amalfi could be more laid back. Also, budget-wise Amalfi offers more affordable options.
THE BEST PLACE TO STAY IN PUGLIA
Staying in Puglia means having the option to stay by the sea or in one of the authentic houses you can only find in the region: the Trulli.
The white stone houses with the unique architecture have been transformed into guesthouses and even luxury hotels boasting swimming pools and SPA facilities.
Another great option would be to stay in the middle of vineyards in a local Masseria.
Even though you won’t find big resorts and 5* hotels in Puglia, you can really feel the authentic vibes of Southern Italy.
Here are a few beautiful accommodation options in Puglia:
- Stay in a trullo in Alberobello – there are so many options, and the best area is Rione Monti. See the best options here!
- Stay in a trullo with a swimming pool, in the countryside close to Martina Franca or Locorotondo. I Cinque Trulli or Trulli D’Autore are both stunning options.
- Choose to stay in a unique Masseria with a modern interior design, set in between olive trees at Masseria Alchimia.
- Go for an elegant bio resort and SPA in the Puglia countryside – a farm transformed into a heavenly place for nature lovers, set in between fields of aloe vera, pomegranate trees, and vineyards. The resort has indoor and outdoor pools, jacuzzies, and charming terraces, and is the perfect place for a relaxing escape. See more here!
The Amalfi Coast
Saying that the Amalfi Coast is one of the most expensive destinations in Italy would be an understatement. However, that doesn’t mean that you cannot plan a vacation on a budget – I even have a comprehensive guide here.
That being said, depending on the time you have available for your vacation and the month you are visiting, it might prove to be a bit challenging to fit your trip into a budget.
Positano in particular is expensive when it comes to accommodation, restaurants, and even parking and staying at the beach. However, as you move further away from the colorful village, you will find that prices decrease as well.
Puglia is a much more affordable region than the province of Salerno where the Amalfi Coast is located. Everything from food, to wine and accommodation, is cheaper when you know where to look for it.
Of course, Polignano a Mare has a famous restaurant in a grotto where you can expect to pay a lot for a dinner (and don’t forget to book in advance), but that’s the exception, not the norm.
When it comes to expenses in Puglia, you should expect to spend the most part of your budget on accommodation – especially when you want something more luxurious.
BEST PLACES TO VISIT ON THE AMALFI COAST
With countless villages to see, old villas, hikes with breathless panoramic views, historic sites perfect for day trips (such as Herculaneum or Pompei), and lovely islands to sail to, it is impossible to get bored on the Amalfi Coast.
While I never seem to have enough of those Positano views, and I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of that, the Amalfi Coast has much more in store.
From boat day trips to luxurious Capri Island to the intense turquoise of the Blue Grotto, or the stunning views from Villa Rufolo. Schedule day trips to Pompeii or Sorrento and learn about the history of these places.
Plan your vacation with my 7 days Amalfi Coast itinerary and you will have a step-by-step guide filled with activities, places to see, hikes to go on, and restaurants to try.
You can easily spend even 2 weeks on the Amalfi Coast without getting bored.
BEST PLACES TO VISIT IN PUGLIA
Puglia is still a hidden gem and will surprise you with all the activities and things to do here if you are spending a weekend or a longer vacation.
Alberobello with its charming streets and trulli houses shouldn’t be missed, Polignano a Mare is set on the top of cliffs and has a joyful vibe perfect for a vacation. Martina Franca and the white town of Ostuni are both set on the top of hills and will catch your attention as you drive towards them.
Go further south towards the hill of the boot and you’ll be welcomed by beaches with clear blue water, delicious food, and strong local wine.
From Bari or Alberobello you can easily cross the border to the region of Basilicata and go on a day trip to Matera – the unique town built in stone.
All in all, Puglia won’t disappoint and offers so many activities and things to do, on a shoestring budget.
Beach and water sports
THE AMALFI COAST
Sure, you will be on the coastline, by the sea, but the beaches aren’t an important attraction for this area. Of course, that doesn’t mean you won’t get the chance to swim in the sea or spend a day or 2 under the sun.
There are plenty of small beaches along the coast, and almost every village has its own. There are larger strips of beach in Maiori or Vietri sul Mare, but also Positano or Amalfi have their small beaches.
Just don’t expect sand and wild nature, they are all pebble beaches where you can find and rent sunbeds and umbrellas.
It is true that not everywhere around Puglia you’ll find perfect beaches, some are rocky and not very friendly.
However, as you go further to the south in places like Gallipoli, Taranto, or Salento, you’ll discover more sandy beaches perfect for family vacations.
Add also the various caves with natural sinkholes from where you can do some diving, and you’ll understand why Puglia is much better for swimming and beach activities.
Food and restaurants
THE AMALFI COAST
Famous for its lemons, this ingredient couldn’t be missed in all the dishes available on the Amalfi Coast. Taste limoncello at almost every meal, and go for the freshest fish and seafood.
On the Amalfi Coast, you can find plenty of Michelin-star restaurants, luxury places, and authentic ones, all serving fresh food made with local products. Don’t be afraid to go inside some of the most basic-looking places, because that’s where locals go and that’s where food is the best.
Southern cuisine is simple, made with few ingredients, yet extremely delicious. At our hotel in Alberobello, we had one of the most amazing breakfasts, and dinner in the old town was quite as tasty.
Some local dishes to try in Puglia:
- some vegetarian antipasti – grilled, deep-fried, you name it
- lots of fresh fish dishes
- caciocavallo cheese
- hand-made pasta
- taralli pugliesi – some local kind of pretzels
- puccia – a sandwich made of pizza dough, with lots of delicious flavors
Why should you choose the Amalfi Coast?
A vacation on the Amalfi Coast is a once-in-a-lifetime experience anyone should have. No matter if it’s for your birthday or for another special occasion, try to make the best out of your time spent here, no matter how long or short that is.
Amalfi Coast is about luxury and sophistication, in a fairytale-like setting.
Why should you choose Puglia?
Choose to visit Puglia when you have more time to spend in Italy and want to live the authentic Italian life. Even though you can definitely do that in other regions of Italy, by choosing a smaller village in Puglia you will win the lottery.
Go outside of the peak season and it will only be you and a few other tourists exploring the small towns on Italy’s hill.
Have more time? Here is an Amalfi Coast and Puglia itinerary
No matter where you choose to land in Italy – Naples, Rome, or Bari – it will be easy to plan an itinerary.
Land on one side of the peninsula and fly out of the other, so that you won’t waste too much time traveling back and forth.
I have put together a complete itinerary, with more than one option depending on your flight options.