A first-timer's guide to Atrani

Atrani on Italy’s Amalfi Coast is attracting new interest as a filming location in the Netflix series Ripley.

And it’s easy to see why. The pocket-sized town is considered one of the most beautiful in Italy.

Once a power to rival its mighty neighbor Amalfi, today Atrani, a UNESCO World Heritage site, takes home the award for smallest municipality in Italy. This enchanting beach town nestled between two mountains is perhaps the one town on the Amalfi Coast that has stayed most true to its original medieval structure. You can still walk through the original alleyways, courtyards, archways and the recognizable scalinatelle (little stairways) that make Atrani look like a Neapolitan nativity scene come to life.

Like all villages on the Amalfi Coast, Atrani has long been a tourist destination due to the natural beauty of its location and landscape. Now, tourist interest in the town is rising even more because of the Netflix series Ripley, starring Andrew Scott, set in Atrani. 

Explore more of the Amalfi Coast with our guide to the region’s best experiences

A summer's day in a small seaside town built into the side of a cliff
Avoid visiting in the summer months when Atrani gets overwhelmed with tourists © Balate Dorin / Shutterstock

When should I go to Atrani?

Because of its location and mild weather, the perfect time to visit Atrani is in late spring/early summer (April to June) or late summer/early fall (September to October). The tourist season usually soft-launches around Easter and explodes in mid-July. To engage in more sustainable tourism, try to avoid visiting in August, when Atrani is undoubtedly busiest and most crowded. 

During the summer months, the Amalfi Coast welcomes hundreds of thousands of visitors; this tourist gold rush benefits the local economy, but it’s important to also note the negative impact that overtourism has had. Some towns, including Atrani, have become physically and economically inaccessible at times because of how crowded they are, with prices skyrocketing due to all establishments being filled to the brink. That’s not even counting the irreparable damages to the environment and to the marine ecosystem. 

Atrani has mostly stayed out of mainstream attention for a very simple reason: it’s blessed by its size. With 0.2 sq km (0.07 sq miles) surface, the town has no space to physically house too many tourists. At any rate, it is advisable to travel to Atrani in low season. 

How much time should I spend in Atrani?

Most tourists make Atrani a half-day stop on their Amalfi Coast trip. If you are staying elsewhere on the Amalfi Coast, take advantage of how close Atrani is to Amalfi and pop in for a quick visit after you’ve been to Amalfi. You’ll notice the different vibe right away: after spending a day in Amalfi, Atrani is the perfect place to escape the chaos while still enjoying the same otherworldly natural beauty of the coast. 

You could walk every inch of Atrani in half a day, if you wanted to. How long to stay largely depends on your resources and what activities you want to pursue here. If you want to immerse yourself, relax and truly appreciate the town and what it has to offer, you should spend at least a night in Atrani.

A car winds up a narrow road between tightly packed buildings
There is little parking in Atrani and there are traffic restrictions © Cinar Yilancioglu / Getty Images

How to get in and around Atrani?

Atrani is so close to Amalfi that you can reach Atrani from Amalfi on foot in less than 15 minutes. By car or bus, it takes only a couple of minutes with no traffic. If taking the public bus SITA during high season, be prepared to queue before you can climb aboard, and don’t expect a seat as buses are often very crowded. Tickets (€1.30) must be purchased before climbing on board; the main stop in Amalfi has a ticket machine and various physical stores that sell tickets nearby. 

There are no train stations close to Atrani, but there are white cabs that can take you to and from towns on the Amalfi Coast. A tip: always ask for an estimate of the fare before you climb aboard a cab, as the amount might be more than you expect. 

Be careful if you’re driving privately, as Atrani has little parking space and traffic is heavily limited. Everywhere on the Amalfi Coast, non residents’ cars can only circulate on alternate days based on license plate numbers, so look into this further if you’re thinking of renting a car to visit Atrani. Through the town hall-sponsored KCity app, you can check if there’s space to park. Car parking usually costs €3 per hour in summer. 

If you only intend to visit Atrani for a few hours, another way of reaching it is by walking a scenic path from Ravello, that starts by the church of Santa Maria del Gradillo. Trek for an hour and a half among fragrant lemon trees, ancient stairways, and breathtaking views, until you pass Atrani’s cemetery and the church of San Michele Fuori Le Mura (“outside the walls”) and finally arrive in the main square Piazzetta Umberto I.

Exploring more of the Amalfi Coast? Here’s our guide to getting around

A white church building tucked in among narrow alleyways of a small town
Wander Atrani’s alleyways and see churches that have stood for nearly a thousand years © Sean Pavone / Getty Images

Top things to do in Atrani

Everything there is to see in Atrani can be reached on foot. It’s impossible to get lost in such a cozy town, so travel without a map and let Atrani surprise you. Walking around, you can still find traces of its ancient and glorious origins in its architecture. You’ll stumble upon churches that have stood here for almost a thousand years, like the beautiful Santa Maria Maddalena, San Salvatore de Birecto and Santa Maria Penitente. 

A classic activity, especially for families, is to spend the morning at the seaside and take a dip in the Tyrrhenian Sea. Atrani’s sandy beach is small – only 130m (426ft) long – and you must reserve and pay for your spot in advance. On average, two chairs and an umbrella cost €30, and can be occupied by a max of 5 people, of which at least 2 must be children. Pets are not allowed on the beach, except for service dogs. 

Don’t underestimate the beauty of Atrani’s beach at night. Come dusk, you might see lampare, fishers’ boats, sailing into the night – with their tiny lamps illuminating the darkness, they create an image out of a painting or a fairy tale.

In the morning, if you are not able to get a spot on the beach but you still want to bathe in Atrani’s crystalline waters, you could consider either renting a boat or joining a tour to visit the enchanted hidden corner that the coast has to offer from the sea.

A unique thing to do in Atrani is to prepare their signature dish (sarchiapone) with the locals. Every year on July 22, Atranesi eat sarchiapone to celebrate their Patron Saint. The basis of the dish is a lean, elongated, green variety of pumpkin typical of the hills of the Amalfi Coast. The green pumpkin is carved out of its flesh, which is cooked with onion and minced meat, which will later stuff the sarchiapone before it goes in the oven, along with a filling of ricotta, mozzarella, salami, hard-boiled egg, parmesan, ham… the ingredients can vary, depending on what each Atranese family likes in their sarchiapone. If you don’t happen to be in Atrani on July 22, you can surely ask a local establishment for a private cooking class to make sarchiapone

No matter when you go in Atrani, one of your meals should be in a restaurant by the beach – like Le Palme or Savò – and you should order a typical seafood dish like scialatielli ai frutti di mare; you’ll be able to see, taste and smell the sea that’s right in front of you.

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