The Amalfi Coast is one of the most stunning parts of Italy, but also one of the most crowded and expensive. We decided to find out if it’s possible to experience a quieter side of the dramatic coast without spending a fortune.
We had our Amalfi Coast sailing trip to come, so we focused on exploring by foot first. There are many trails carved into the cliffs and we chose the most famous of all—the Sentiero degli Dei or Path of the Gods, along a mountain ridge high above the sea. The main section of the hike is between the small villages of Nocelle and Bomerano but they can be connected by steep staircases to the coastal towns of Praiano and Positano.
San Lazzaro: Our Quiet, Affordable Base on the Amalfi Coast
Accommodation is the biggest challenge for an affordable Amalfi Coast trip so, as usual in Italy, I turned to Airbnb and used the map view to find rooms close to the hiking trail. Praiano and Positano were way too expensive but I was amazed to find a lovely room with private bathroom in the village of San Lazzaro for just £33 ($50). When everything on the coast was well over £100 ($150) it seemed too good to be true. I couldn’t find out much about the village—other than it’s in Agerola, a collection of villages that includes Bomerano where the hike starts—but we find it’s hard to go wrong in Italy.
We made the right decision. San Lazzaro may not be as attractive as the famous towns in the area but it has an understated Italian charm. Instead of souvenir shops and tourist menus, we enjoyed morning cornetti and evening aperitivo with locals. It’s not the place to come for beaches but there are views of the sea far down below and plenty of hikes nearby. Prices are much lower that the popular destinations—at the family-run Trattoria Da Gigino we paid €5 for tasty pasta dishes and even at the fancier Leonardo’s pizzas were €3-4.
San Lazzaro is not the most convenient location for exploring the coast—buses are infrequent and it takes an hour to get down to Amalfi where you can change for other places like Ravello and Positano, but it is only a 15-minute bus ride from the start of the Path of the Gods in Bomerano.
Bomerano is an even better location for the hike and still affordable—B&B A 2 Passi Dagli Dei is only 100m from the start of the hike and the lovely rooms are inexpensive and highly-rated.
Hiking the Path of the Gods
To avoid the crowds and heat we set out early—taking the 6.50am bus from San Lazzaro and having breakfast in a bar in Bomerano’s piazza before setting out on the trail at 7.30am. At first mist obscured the views of the sea but it was still a gorgeous hike past towering limestone mountains, colourful wildflowers, and ancient abandoned stone houses, through forests and meadows of long grasses. Farmers grow vines on terraces carved into the hillside, still using donkeys for transport along the narrow pathways.
Eventually the mist burned away and the deep blue sea revealed itself far below, with views of Positano, its houses clinging to the cliff.
What surprised us most was how peaceful the trail was. It took us 1 hour 45 mins to get to Nocelle and we didn’t see anyone else until the last 15 minutes—all that beauty, all to ourselves! Nocelle is a tiny village and we couldn’t find a bar to have a drink and rest. There are public toilets by the church downhill and on the terrace outside Lemon Point was just opening, a stall selling fresh lemonade from local lemons—just what we needed.
In Nocelle there are signs to continue the trail down steep stairs to Positano, but as we’d have to take two buses from there to get back to San Lazzaro we decided to walk back to Bomerano instead. At 10am the Path of the Gods was much busier and as we were facing into the sun, much hotter. The trail is a mix of up and downhill sections and it felt a little steeper on the way back, but that could have been because we were more tired. We’re glad we did the return journey as we got a different perspective on the trail and saw things we hadn’t noticed before.
Back in Bomerano we would have had to wait 1.5 hours for the bus to San Lazzaro so we decided to walk instead which took us 40 minutes. Then it was time for a big lunch of pasta and wine and a well-deserved siesta.
The Path of the Gods is a beautiful hike and gives you a different perspective on the stunning Amalfi coastline. We discovered that it is possible to escape the crowds and to visit Amalfi on a budget—we spent €95 ($107) a day for two people including a nice ensuite room, bus transport, and three meals out a day. Considering we couldn’t get a hotel room for that in Positano it’s remarkable value.
San Lazzaro is an unusual Amalfi base but it’s convenient for the trail and we loved having a quiet place to retreat to after visiting touristy towns like Amalfi and Ravello. If you love to hike and are on a budget it’s definitely worth considering.
Path of the God Practicalities
- You can start the Path of the Gods hike from Bomerano or Nocelle, or from the coastal towns of Praiano or Positano (but be prepared for lots of stairs).
- Look on Booking.com or Airbnb for accommodation in Bomerano/Agerola (the cheapest option), Praiano, or Positano (the most expensive option).
- There are signs from Bomerano piazza to the start of the trail—here are some detailed visual instructions.
- The trail is easy to follow—just look out for the red and white lines that mark it along the way.
- Allow around four hours to do the route as we did from Bomerano to Nocelle and back (it was 4 miles each way) which includes time for breaks, and perhaps three hours if you go one way from Bomerano to Positano.
- It’s a rocky trail so you need decent shoes—we were fine in hiking sandals.
- Take water. You can refill at a water tap near the beginning where the trail connects with the Praiano stairs, and also in Nocelle and Bomerano.
- We highly recommend getting an early start to avoid the heat and crowds.
- We visited in early June and had sunny days and 30ºC temperatures. Spring and autumn are the best times to hike; I’d avoid August when the Italian population heads to the coast.
- Don’t forget travel insurance! We’ve used True Traveller (UK/EU citizens) for the last six years and highly recommend it. World Nomads is another reliable option that we’ve used in the past and is available worldwide.
San Lazzaro Practicalities
- You can reach San Lazzaro by SITA bus from Naples (in the direction Agerola or Amalfi) which takes about two hours. They aren’t very frequent so check the timetable 5080 here (choose the region Campania in the drop down menu in the top left). In Naples the bus leaves from near the train station outside the Ramada hotel. We couldn’t find anywhere to buy bus tickets as the sign at the bus stop listing bars you could buy them was out of date and we ran out of time. The bus driver let us on anyway!
- To get around the Amalfi Coast area you need to buy SITA bus tickets in advance from bars or small shops.
- We booked Camera Lety on Airbnb but the owner had to change us to a different room at the last minute. It was a lovely clean room with private bathroom and private entrance. If you are trying Airbnb for the first time sign up here for $35 off and read our Airbnb guide.
- Search on Booking.com for hotels and B&Bs in Agerola (the collection of villages that includes San Lazzaro and Bomerano).
San Lazzaro & Path of the Gods Map
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