Il Sentiero degli dei: The Amalfi Coast's Walk of the Gods

The Walk of the Gods (Il sentiero degli dei in Italian) is a popular half-day hike for trekkers heading to the Amalfi Coast. Despite its popularity, information about the trail can be hard to come by. It took me a few sources to figure out how many miles Peter and I actually hiked between Bomerano and Positano—about 3.5 miles, but even that's a best guess. A comment on a TripAdvisor thread taught me which combination of buses would get us to Bomerano and the trailhead. 

The Walk of the Gods is one of many trails that wind along and through the coastal cliffs of southwestern Italy. They were used for travel between the villages before the Coastal Highway was first built back in 1853. The trailhead is in Bomerano, which is part of Agerola. When you’re reading about the trail online, it can get confusing because some people will reference Bomerano and others will reference Agerola as the town to start from. If you’re taking the bus, just let the driver know you're hiking the trail and would like to get off at Bomerano. It’s highly recommended to walk the trail from Bomerano to Positano for a few reasons: great views, a little more downhill walking than uphill walking, and you won’t start the hike with a grueling hike up about 1500 stairs (though, of course, you could always start from Nocelle and skip the steps).

Trust me, the Walk of the Gods is 100% worth the effort. You’ll be rewarded with amazing views of the Amalfi Coast and get a glimpse into the farms and vineyards that dot its landscape. It’s challenging, but not terribly difficult, and if you’re pooped at the end, you can skip the stairs and grab a bus from the center of Nocelle. 

Many sources say that if you suffer from vertigo this hike isn't for you, but let me tell you, as someone who once had trouble getting around a one story hole in a ruin in India, I never once felt uncomfortable at any point on this hike. The trail is very wide, well-marked, and extremely well maintained. 

We were based in Sorrento for our trip, but from wherever you’re staying along the coast, you should be able to get a bus to Amalfi. The bus system in Italy is cheap and easy to use—so don't be afraid of it! If you’re prone to car sickness, take some Dramamine before you hit the road as the cliffside highway is curvy. I was a little drowsy, but able to enjoy the beautiful scenery and by the time we arrived in Bomerano I was ready to hike our little portion of Il sentiero degli dei. 

Sorrento To Amalfi Via Bus

To get to the trailhead from Sorrento, you’ll need to take two Sita buses. The first leaves from outside the Circumvesuviana train station in Sorrento. Buy your tickets inside the station: when you walk in you’ll see a newspaper stand to your right. They’ll only run you a few Euro. Get there early in order to snag a seat, and sit on the right side of the bus for the best views! 

The bus was full of tourists and a handful of locals when we stepped on. Luckily, there were a few seats remaining in the very back. The driver hadn’t turned the AC on yet and I was sitting between Peter and a large British man. We were both dressed for a blustery March day high up on the cliffs and I immediately peeled off my layers, already sweating from the packed bus. I took a Dramamine.

When we finally set out for Amalfi, I panicked a little because we were passing signs indicating we were heading towards Naples–in the opposite direction of Amalfi. I confirmed with the fellow sitting next to me that we’d not made a grave error, he too was on his way to Amalfi and yes, that is what the bus’ sign indicated when he boarded. The bus route takes a loop around Meta, the little town just north of Sorrento, before circling back and getting on the Coastal Highway bound for Amalfi. Be aware that the same may be true on the way back depending on which bus you catch and traffic can get pretty congested during rush hour in Sorrento. Plan at least an extra hour for your return trip if you’ll be traveling during everyone’s commute home around six or seven. 

The bus ride is beautiful. The driver deftly wheels around the tight, cliffside curves that pass in and out of small tunnels carved through the cliff faces. The Bay of Naples and then the Tyrrhenian Sea sparkle meters below in the midday sun. I sat with my backpack on my lap, filled with water and the bagged lunches we ordered from our hotel. (We stayed at the Grand Hotel Aminta and the bagged lunch gets two thumbs up from us. We ordered two and had plenty of food leftover for our trip the following day.) 

A Brief Stop In Amalfi

At Amalfi, we had a twenty minute wait before the bus to Bomerano. That didn’t leave us a ton of time—enough to use the bathroom (bring some change for the turnstile in the public restroom that’s beneath the small boardwalk) and walk to the end of the jetty. We swapped picture-taking with a group of young Japanese women. It was windy and all of our hair was whipping across our faces. We laughed, checked our images, and flashed each other “OK” signs before returning to shore. Next time I would plan our timing better so we could spend an hour or two in Amalfi beforehand. It would be a great place to grab a picnic lunch to bring with you on your hike. 

We boarded the bus to Bomerano. The trip involves backtracking a little bit towards Sorrento but instead of continuing along the coast, it begins to climb up into the cliffs. I asked the driver how many stops until Bomerano.

“I will tell you when,” he said. 

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Begin In Bomerano

Bomerano is a small town, and the bus drops you off about a block away from the Piazza Paolo Capasso. Luckily, we were able to find it because I’d overheard the woman sitting in front of us tell her neighbor that she was hiking Il sentiero degli dei herself. I flagged her down to confirm which way to go, because at the bus stop there’s no indication of which direction to walk in. From the stop, if you’re facing the street, turn towards your left and you should see the square shortly after. There’s a welcome sign for Agerola and a large bar on the righthand side of the piazza. Walk towards this bar. 

On the building to the left of the bar, you’ll see a green sign that points you towards the trail. Follow these and you’ll be all set. Be careful, though! On the same building, there’s another sign (that’s a little more prominent) that reads, “A 2 passi degli...Dei”, this will lead you to a bed and breakfast called A 2 passi degli...Dei and not the trailhead.

The tourist office in town has trail maps and can help point you in the right direction… if they’re open. It was closed when we were there, but it was March which is still very much the off-season on the Amalfi coast. The trail is extremely well marked and we had no trouble following it without a map. 

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The Walk Of The Gods

The walk itself is simply spectacular. Follow the reddish-orange and white trail markers and you’ll have no trouble staying on track. I had a decent cell signal for the majority of the hike and there were plenty of markers with an emergency phone number written on them should you encounter any problems. This is a hike I definitely plan on doing again. 

You will need to make one decision during your hike, and this is where I wish I had done just a little more research before we embarked. There is a high trail and a low trail. Towards the beginning of the trail, after you pass a stone building (the one in the images below, I'm sitting in its window) the path will begin to incline. You’ll notice that the trail heads either left or right. What we didn’t know at the time was that to the left is the low trial and right is the high trail. We could easily tell that the left trail was still part of the Sentiero degli dei, so we opted for that route. However, if you head right, you’ll end up on the higher trail for even more amazing viewpoints. The lower trail is still wonderful and definitely worth the hike, but know your options going in! I have no regrets about ending up on the lower trail. Now it just gives me yet another reason to return to the Amalfi coast. 

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The Stairs In Nocelle

The towns along the Amalfi Coast are built into the cliffs. Naturally, this means there are a lot of stairs and hills to walk to get around. The Walk of the Gods ends in Nocelle, leaving you with two options:

  1. You can grab a bus from the center of town that will take you into Positano
  2. or you can walk about 1500 steps down to the highway outside of Positano and grab a bus into town from there.

Peter and I opted to walk the stairs down to the highway. This was actually the most intense part of the hike (we were sore for a couple of days because of these stairs!). The stairs are very wide at times, which makes for an uncomfortable walking pattern when you’re a person with short legs like myself. I found it best to make sure I switched which leg was receiving the downwards impact every few minutes to at least even out the strain on my body.

A lot of folks seem to think this portion of the hike isn’t worth it, since you’re not experiencing the same exquisite panoramas of the coastline that the rest of the hike offers. I have to disagree. It was really awesome to end a remote hike by descending through a little neighborhood and for a peek at a quiet, residential section of the coast. And there’s a lot of cacti!

When you hit the highway, there’s a bus stop just a few feet to the right. It’s a little harrowing because you’re really right on the roadside, but we were able to snag a bus back to Sorrento easily. Be aware of your bus’ schedule so you don’t end up standing there for too long.

Il Sentiero degli dei:
Tips & Resources

While the Walk of the Gods is not a technically difficult hike, it is strenuous. You should consult your doctor if long walks and steep inclines and declines are not something you encounter on the regular. In addition to taking your own physical health into consideration, you should also make sure to: 

  • Wear comfortable shoes with traction
  • Bring plenty of water, especially if you’re hiking during the summer
  • If you are hiking in the summer, consider an early morning or a later afternoon hike to avoid the heat of midday
  • Bring snacks, there are a few picnic tables and panoramas that you’ll want to linger over
  • Give yourself plenty of time, the hike can be accomplished in about three hours, but you’re going to want to stop and enjoy the incredible views often

Here are a few handy resources that will make this trip easier:

Please let me know if you have any other questions, I’d be happy to answer them in the comments. Did I leave anything out? Let me know and I’ll update this post with more details to accommodate new hikers!