The tiny Amalfi Coast town of Ravello is romantic, charming, and incredibly beautiful, and it definitely deserves to be included in your itinerary for southern Italy. Read on to discover the best things to do in Ravello in one day!
Ravello is not actually located on the Amalfi Coast road (the strada statale 163 Amalfitana). Instead, it is perched way up on the mountaintop a few miles from Amalfi town, requiring a bit of a detour if you are doing the Amalfi Coast drive.
That’s actually good, because Ravello isn’t as crowded as the popular Amalfi Coast towns of Positano or Amalfi, and therefore makes for a much more enjoyable visit.
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Ravello’s mountaintop location away from the main road does mean a bit of extra effort to get here, especially if you are not driving. But once you get to Ravello, you’ll agree that it is worth that extra effort, and then some!
Perfect for a day trip from Positano or Amalfi Town or even Sorrento, Ravello is also a place where you can spend two or three days having a relaxing vacation in super scenic surroundings.
ONE DAY IN RAVELLO: WHAT TO SEE AND DO
Ravello is small, and there are just a few sights that you should not miss while you are here.
The villas of Ravello are justly famous, with poets and musicians waxing lyrical about the beautiful views and gardens, and the town itself, nestled amidst emerald green hilltops, is very picturesque.
But Ravello is more a state of mind. In this tiny town, you’ll find yourself breathing deeper, slowing down, and feeling nicely relaxed, for a taste of la dolce vita that you have to seek with some fervor in incredibly popular Italy these days.
So, let’s dive in and discover the best things to do in Ravello in one day!
Tour the gardens of the Villa Cimbrone…
An 11th century villa that was substantially renovated in the early 1900s, Villa Cimbrone is the perfect place to begin your exploration of Ravello.
Located on the cliff edge, the villa offers insanely beautiful views over the water and of the coastline.
The Villa Cimbrone is today a hotel (and not open for public tours). But you can tour the lovely gardens, walk through the beautiful cloister, and visit the crypt.
The main walkway through the garden, with its pergola, is a serene stroll any time of year, but it is drop dead gorgeous in the late spring or early summer when the wisteria is in bloom.
The rose garden is lovely if you catch it in bloom, and you must not miss the Tea Room, with its beautiful sculptures.
As you walk through the garden, keep your eye out for the statues and other lovely architectural elements. You’ll see a copy of the statue of David by Donatello. The original is in the Bargello Museum in Florence.
The cloister and crypt were remodeled by Lord Grimthorpe, the Englishman who renovated the villa in the 1900s.
…And enjoy the views from the Terrazza dell’Infinito
While the gardens of Villa Cimbrone are beautiful, the best part of your visit will likely be the Infinity Terrace (also called the Belvedere).
From the terrace, you get jaw-dropping views of the Mediterranean Sea 1,200 feet below.
The railing at the edge of the balcony is punctuated by stone columns holding marble busts.
If you visit on a clear day, the vivid blue of the water against an equally blue sky, with the marble busts in the foreground, makes for postcard worthy photos.
There is a fee to enter the Villa Cimbrone gardens and terrace, 10 euros at the time of writing.
The gardens and the terrace are usually open from 9 a.m. until sunset, but call or e-mail ahead to make sure there are no special closures on the day you plan to visit.
On a longer stay, you’ll want to dine at Il Flauto di Pan, the wonderful restaurant here.
Wander through the Villa Rufolo and gardens…
Ravello is a town blessed with not one but two beautiful villas by the water’s edge.
After your explorations of Villa Cimbrone, head to Villa Rufolo for another enchanting stroll!
Built in the 13th century, in its heyday the Villa Rufulo was one of the largest villas on the Amalfi Coast.
Over time, however, the villa fell into ruin. In the 19th century, it was bought by Sir Francis Neville Reid, a botanist from Scotland, who renovated what was left of the villa and brought its gardens back to life.
Don’t miss the beautiful Moorish-style cloister next to the larger tower. The pergola is beautiful when it is in bloom, but even bare, it makes for great photos.
The bedding plants add tons of color, and the elegantly decayed architectural elements make the perfect foil to the plantings.
…And snap some postcard photos of the coast
The terraces of the Villa Rufolo are ideal for snapping those beautiful picture postcard photos of the Amalfi Coast. You can see down the coast towards Minori and Maiori, two pretty towns along the Amalfi Coast, plus the mountains in the background.
This view was one of the most beautiful we saw in Italy!
From the Villa Rufolo, you’ll also be able to take the famous Ravello photo of the twin towers of the Chiesa dell’Annunziata with the single pine tree looming over them.
It’s one of the most popular photo spots on the Amalfi Coast.
Villa Rufolo is open daily from 9 a.m. until 7 p.m., but call or e-mail before your visit to make sure there are no special closures planned for the day you will visit.
At the time of writing, general admission to Villa Rufolo is 7 euros per adult.
Have lunch with a view at Salvatore Ravello
Just a short walk from the Piazza Duomo, by the SITA bus stop, is the Salvatore Ravello 1958 restaurant.
If you want a relaxed sit down lunch with the most amazing views over the water, be at the restaurant when they open for lunch, so you can ask for a table with a view.
The food, and the wine, are delicious. My husband had a lobster dish, and I had pasta, and we both loved our meals. And the bread (and olive oil mousse) that was served to start was toothsome, just perfect.
If you enjoy pizza, the Pizzeria Vittoria, just off the Piazza Duomo, is rated highly, with lots of topping options. They serve other dishes as well.
Visit the Chiesa dell’Annunziata
If you are feeling energetic, you can walk down the steps to find find the church with the famous twin towers. It’s close to 100 steps down, so note that for the walk back up!
The Chiesa dell’Annunziata has some lovely frescoes inside, and beautiful views over the coast and the Mediterranean Sea. It also boasts amazing acoustics, and is a venue for concerts in the summer.
Step into the Duomo di Ravello
Ravello’s cathedral was built in the 11th century, but it has been renovated many times since.
It has a simple white facade, and faces out onto Ravello’s main square, the Piazza Duomo (also sometimes called the Piazza Vescovado).
The bell tower, added in the 13th century, has Moorish elements.
Inside, the pulpit is supported by six intricately decorated columns. The columns run up to the ceiling from the backs of statues of lions, for a very unique look.
The bronze door, which dates back to the 12th century, is gorgeous, as are the mosaics inside. The bronze door is one of just a few left in Italy. Look for the mosaics of Jonah and the Whale!
Wander the streets of Ravello
Ravello is so small that it doesn’t take very long to walk all the little streets.
You’ll pass backyards wafting the scent of citrus if you visit during bloom time, and you may even come across a lemon grove or two, or a little fig orchard.
Amalfi Coast lemons are famous: the sfusato amalfitano variety grown in the area is large, fragrant, and sweet, and the source of limoncello, the regional liqueur.
Step inside the Chiesa di Santa Maria a Gradillo
The charming baroque church of Santa Maria a Gradillo is worth visiting if you enjoy history and architecture.
Originally an 11th century church, it was rebuilt in the Baroque style in the 17th century. It has been restored more recently in the middle of the 20th century.
A popular venue for weddings, the church has a cylindrical bell tower.
Look through the transparent floor under the triumphal arch of the middle nave for the remnants of the church over which this church was built.
Santa Maria a Gradillo is located a short walk from the main square along Via Roma.
Hang out in the Piazza Vescovado
Piazza Vescovado, the main square in Ravello, is quaint and charming, and the perfect place to sit for a bit after wandering the town. Snag an outside table at one of the cafes, get a drink, and relax.
The piazza is a great place to people watch, or just savor the atmosphere and your beautiful surroundings.
Sitting out here in the late afternoon sun, enjoying the beautiful weather on the day we visited, is one of my favorite memories of the Amalfi Coast.
Shop for ceramics
Athough it’s the town of Vietri sul Mare that’s considered the top spot for ceramics on the Amalfi Coast, you’ll find several nice ceramics stores in Ravello, in the main square and the streets leading off it.
From wall art to tabletops and tableware to pots, you’ll find small and large hand-painted ceramics here.
We popped into Pascal Ceramiche d’Arte, considered one of the top ceramics producers in Ravello, and were blown away by the beautiful pieces in the shop.
The shop is right next to the Tourist Information office. All of their pieces are hand-made, many of them customized based on your order.
And most shops here will ship, if you want to get larger items.
You can also buy limoncello to take home, or local wine to enjoy at your accommodation.
Enjoy the Ravello music festival!
If you visit during Ravello’s music season, generally from April until November, you can attend performing arts concerts, primarily music, at one of two venues in town. It’s an experience you shouldn’t miss!
Ravello’s music festival is one of the oldest in Italy, and so prestigious that Ravello is known as the “City of Music.”
Born of the association between Villa Rufolo and Richard Wagner, the Ravello Music Festival has drawn many famous performers from across the world.
Wagner’s visit here is said to have inspired the composition of a part of his final opera, Parsifal.
The concerts, organized by the Fondazione Ravello, are held on the terrace of Villa Rufolo overlooking the water. It’s a magical setting! You have to reserve seats in advance.
Another organization, the Ravello Concert Society, organizes concerts in the Annunziata Historic Building, and other local churches host concerts as well.
These concerts generally do not require advance booking, and you can inquire at the Tourist Information office to see if there is one you can attend during your visit.
Stop by the Oscar Niemeyer Auditorium
Ravello also has a modern music auditorium: the Oscar Niemeyer Auditorium, which also serves as a venue for summer concerts. The performances feature acclaimed musicians and dance troupes from around the world.
The auditorium also acts as the town’s art center, featuring art and sculpture exhibitions from time to time.
The gleaming white modernistic building is worth a visit. Even better, attend a performance here if you visit during the festival season!
Hiking down from Ravello to Minori or Atrani
If you are fit, you may want to consider walking down the steep steps from Ravello to Minori or Atrani. Of course you can also walk up, but it’s even more challenging going up the steps.
The paths offer beautiful views of the coastal cliffs, gardens, and the lovely sea below.
The path from Ravello to Minori is accessed via a short tunnel located by the gardens of the Villa Cimbrone, or from the road below the new auditorium. The path is well-signposted, and has about 1,500 steep steps.
You can also walk down to Atrani. This walk has about 1,700 steps and features just as lovely views. From Atrani, you can stroll along the ocean to Amalfi.
The steps may be overgrown and not in the best of shape, so wear comfortable closed-toed shoes with good grip, and bring drinking water. Avoid mid day if you visit in the summer.
Getting to Ravello
If you have a car, you can drive to Ravello. If you are driving from the coastal road up to Ravello, be aware that part of the road is narrow, and one way only, with traffic controlled by a light. Give yourself lots of time.
Driving distances to Ravello
Sorrento to Ravello via the Amalfi Coast Road: 23.61 miles
Salerno to Ravello via the Amalfi Coast Road: 17.96 miles
From Amalfi Town to Ravello: 4.16 miles
From Naples to Ravello: 34.36 miles
Ravello is a pedestrian only zone, so you will have to park in a parking lot outside the town, and then walk into town. Parking fees are not cheap, but it’s cheaper to get a day rate rather than pay by the hour.
If you arrive early in the morning, you are more likely to find a parking spot without issues, especially in season.
If you are looking to rent a car for your Italy trip, consider Discover Cars! They scour multiple providers to get the best price for you, including brands like Hertz, Enterprise, Alamo, Budget, and Sixt.
By SITA BUS and Local Bus/Taxi
You can travel by SITA bus from Sorrento or Salerno to Amalfi Town, and then either take the local bus or a taxi up to Ravello. You will find the bus stop for the local bus just a few yards from the SITA bus stop.
From Naples, take the SITA bus to Minori, and then the SITA bus to Amalfi Town for the local bus to Ravello. You can also take a taxi up to Ravello from Minori. You can hike up as well, but it’s about 1,500 steps uphill.
Buy SITA bus tickets at tabacchi stores or newsstands. Buy your tickets before you get on the bus.
The local buses from Amalfi to Ravello and back run about hourly through the day, but they have a limited capacity and can get crowded during the day. Go early in the day, especially in season, to avoid the crowds.
On the way back, if you like walking, and steps aren’t an issue, consider taking the steps down from Ravello to Atrani, and then walk along the coast to Amalfi Town (or to Minori).
It is a beautiful walk, past olive and fig groves, little vineyards, and pretty homes. You will get fabulous views over the water and the coast.
By Ferry and Local Bus/taxi
From Sorrento, Salerno, or Naples, take the ferry (in season) to Amalfi Town. From Amalfi Town, take the local bus, or a taxi, to Ravello and back.
Especially in season, when the Amalfi Coast road gets super crowded, the ferry is much quicker. Plus, you’ll get to see the Amalfi Coast from the water!
By Guided Tour
You can visit Ravello as part of a small group guided tour to the Amalfi Coast. You won’t get as much time in Ravello compared to visiting it exclusively for the day, but you can still get a great taste of Ravello on a tour!
Consider this highly rated small group tour from Sorrento that takes you to Positano, Amalfi, and Ravello. The group is limited to just eight people for a more personalized experience.
Or splurge on this private tour that will give you a little more control over your itinerary.
You can also visit the Amalfi Coast (Positano, Amalfi, and Ravello) on a guided tour from Naples.
Spending more than one day in Ravello
While you can see everything there is to see in Ravello in one day, it’s also a place to have a relaxing vacation for more than just one day, with excellent accommodation and dining options.
If you are looking for a wonderful place to spend part of your honeymoon or other special occasion, romantic Ravello fits the bill perfectly: you can even book a splurge stay in the Villa Cimbrone!
Hotel Villa Fraulo is located close to the main square in Ravello. Rooms are spacious, offering views of the water, and feature elegant furnishings with all the modern conveniences. Breakfast is served on a terrace overlooking the sea.
Read reviews on TripAdvisor | Book a stay here
The best time to visit Ravello
The Amalfi Coast is one of Italy’s most popular destinations, and it can get uncomfortably crowded (and super expensive) during the high season, which generally runs from June until August.
Consider visiting in the spring or fall, in the shoulder season months of April-May or September-October, when you’ll likely have decent enough weather but fewer crowds.
So there you have it: my suggestions for the best things to do in Ravello if you plan to visit for the day. Have you visited this charming Amalfi Coast town? Comment below to share your thoughts!
If you haven’t yet visited Ravello, I hope I have inspired you to add it to your itinerary for your next visit to Italy!
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