Italy’s Amalfi Coast. You’ve likely seen photos of this unbelievably beautiful Italian wonderland in the pages of a travel magazine or heard about it in a Jay-Z song (it’s where he goes when he needs a vacation from the South of France).
This region is home to soaring mountains, clear blue water, fresh and delicious seafood, and an assortment of colorful seaside and mountain villages with luxury and budget accommodation to suit a variety of travelers. But it doesn’t matter if you’re stepping off Jay’s yacht or staying in a no-frills guest house, one of the most memorable things to do on the Amalfi Coast is completely free — hiking The Path of the Gods.
The Path of the Gods runs between Positano and Agerola, and deciding where to start the hike will likely depend on where along the Amalfi Coast you’re staying. In addition to starting in Positano or Agerola, you can also start in Praiano by climbing a thousand or so stairs past the Convent of St. Domenico (this article and this article have more information on the Praiano route). I stayed in Positano, so that’s where I began the hike. If you’re also staying in Positano, another option would be to start at the opposite end in Agerola, then take the path westwards to Positano. Walking the path in this direction (from Agerola or Prainao to Positano) tends to be slightly more downhill then walking in the other direction.
It’s possible to take busses to the path’s starting points, but from the accounts I’ve read in online forums, that can sometimes be difficult (although necessary if you’re not staying nearby and not willing to spend a fortune on a taxi). If you’re up for the adventure and want to take a bus, I’d suggest asking an employee at your hotel or guest house to provide you with the local insight you’ll need to get there via public transportation. Luckily my hotel provided a shuttle to the starting point in the small village of Nocelle, high above Positano, and picked me up in Agerola when I was done.
Splurge: If you’d rather save yourself the time and potential headache of taking the bus, ask if your hotel provides a shuttle or can arrange for a taxi to take you.
However you get there, and whatever it costs you, once you begin walking The Path of the Gods all of your cares will fade away and you’ll realize you’d pay 10x whatever it is you paid to see what you’re seeing. Being on top of these mountains, which until now you’ve only looked up at from the coast and thought, “How the hell does anyone get up there?” is an experience you’ll never forget.
As you walk along the path, with sections of thousand-foot sheer drop offs to the side of you and no railing, you’ll notice that people live up here and this path is part of their daily life. They also farm the land, creating terraces to grow their fruits and vegetables. It feels like one of the most peaceful, unconnected, and natural places to live (and like me, you’ll think about trading in your life for a new one in a little house in these mountains).
Another thing you’ll notice, although perhaps it’s dependent on the season, is that the weather can change quickly (I hiked the path in May). From below you’ve watched the clouds drifting in from the sea and colliding with the cliffs, and now you’re on top of those cliffs and in those clouds. My hike started covered in gray clouds, but about a quarter of the way through they disappeared and sunny blue skies took their place.
If you begin your hike in Positano, once you near signs for Praiano you’ll have the option to head inland through the mountains to Agerola where you can end your hike. You can also follow the signs for Praiano and end your hike there, or turn around and walk back to Positano (Nocelle). The path to Agerola is equally as impressive as the section between Positano and Prianao, although there are less views of the sea. If you decide not to continue all the way to Agerola, at least take the path up and over the hill to get an amazing view of the valley on the other side.
Whichever way you decide to go, make sure to pack water and a lunch. Stopping and sitting along The Path of the Gods is easily one of the best places in the world to enjoy a picnic.
When To Go:
Spring and autumn are the best times to hike The Path of the Gods as there’ll be fewer crowds and slightly cooler temperatures. If you’re visiting in the summer, however, it’s still worth the trip — just be prepared to share the path with more people and go in the morning when temperatures are more enjoyable.
If you’d like a local to guide you through the hike, here are a few providers who offer guided tours of The Path of the Gods (guide, guide, guide). I haven’t personally used any of these guides myself.
Explore The Area:
*This post it not meant to be a definitive guide to hiking The Path of the Gods. Always check for current information and conditions before you hike.