120 Hours in the Amalfi Coast – What to See, Eat & Do

Italy

In the blazing heat of the Italian summer, the entrance to the Amalfi Coast is a sight for sore eyes. Houses and terraced vineyards sit atop undulating precipices against the bluest ocean. The ride on the coastline is beguiling in the picture-perfect scenes that surprise at every twist and turn. In the evening, the coast glows like a placid dream. Along the Italian Riviera, the towns light up to form a trail of stars. Elsewhere, glasses of limoncello clink.

Many have claimed the romance of the Amalfi Coast, and few would contradict that assertion. It is a place where the sweltering sun rays melt into a sultry warmth for sunbathers lounging on the golden sand. Where boats wait in front of summer villas, ready to whisk day trippers away. Where every dinner is preceded by an endless flow of aperitivi. In every season, in every decade, the Amalfi Coast still stuns the well-travelled. 

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POSITANO

Positano sparkles like a jewel on the coast, with ornate buildings climbing down a cliff that falls sharply into the ocean. A trip here will cost in parking, but the jaw-dropping views it affords are not to be missed. These views are best enjoyed from the balconies of Le Sirenuse.

Once a summer house of four Neapolitan siblings, the hotel is now the vacation home of the upper echelon. The rooms are designed with an eclectic mix of Italian antiques, mosaic-patterned cushions and cream-coloured linens. Doubles start at €470. Also on the premises of Le Sirenuse is the ultra-chic Franco’s Bar, where Negronis are paired with sunset panoramas.

But of course, the celebrated Il San Pietro di Positano will never be forgotten as the 19th century villa hang gracefully off a cliff edge. At the foot of the hotel is the guest-only beach club. Tangerine sunbeds and umbrellas gather on a cove accompanied by a bar. Private charters on a yacht and cocktail masterclasses are also available. Doubles start at €442. For another sun kissed view, Residence Villa Yiara is an adults-only hotel with bougainvillea-clad rooms. Doubles start at €230.

From Positano, a five minute boat ride brings you to Da Adolfo. This beach shack hidden from footpaths does grilled local fish, mussel soup and mozzarella on lemon leaves. Saraceno d’Oro is also a crowd-pleaser for being friendly on the wallet, and for the vongole and seafood pasta. The best finisher to a meal there will have to be the limoncello shots. 

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RAVELLO

Unlike the glitz of Positano, Ravello enchants with a sonata. It is little wonder that Ravello is the stage for the Ravello Festival of music at the Villa Rufolo, a 13th century villa with a well-manicured garden of climbing figs, hydrangeas and umbrella pines. Ravello’s villas and gardens are like the museums of Florence, and the Villa Cimbrone Hotel and its garden the masterpiece. Owned by the Vuilleumier family, the estate is a favourite of the literary set. The hotel is furnished with frescoed halls leading into 19 bedrooms and an outdoor tea room. Doubles start at €300. On the same grounds is the English garden. It can be hard to leave once you set foot on the path rambling along the rose gardens, the shaded walkways dripping with wisterias, and the unrivalled view from the terrace leading out to the ocean that knows no end.

You will most certainly pass by Villa Maria towards the town square from Villa Cimbrone. The hotel breathes old-fashioned Italian style. Small, family owned, marble staircase, and mahogany furnitures that look centuries old. The hotel only has one restaurant and that is the only restaurant to be. The menu is made up of produce from the garden sprawled below the outdoor dining area, overlooking the valley.

Back in the square, the most talked-about restaurant is Mimi Pizzeria. You get the classic margherita or prosciutto crudo di parma, and contemporaries like the Mimi – San Marzano tomatoes, anchovies, garlic burrata and lemon zest. The outdoor dining area is perfect for having a slice under a vine-covered canopy. 

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CONCA DEI MARINI

The biggest draw to Conca dei Marini is the Grotta dello Smeraldo. Visiting this Emerald Cave is uncomplicated – a staircase, an elevator and a boat tour. A less than 5 minutes car ride away is Fiordo di Furore, an inlet that narrows into a fishing village. In the late afternoons, the beach there is a sanctuary for some unobstructed swimming. For food, Le Bontà del Capo is best known for its lemon and ricotta ravioli. Ask for the outdoor area seating that juts out into the ocean for the best views. 

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PRAIANO

Praiano has always been the one for affordable stays within reach of Positano, but really there is more than meets the eye. There is the view. The buildings seem to be etched vertically into the cliffs, and staying at Calanteluna will make you feel like you are at the edge of the coast. This small bed and breakfast has a casual beat to it. The occasional homemade lemon cake and lemon juice in the afternoons. The after-dinner laughter and cheer resonating from the floor below. Doubles start at €90. Then there is the food without the crowds – La Strada for the seafood risotto, or Kasai for quiet dinners by the sea. 

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72 Hours in Thoddoo – What to See, Eat & Do

Asia

The balmy air in Thoddoo is perfumed by the sweet scent of ripe papayas. Flying foxes flit in and out of palm tree fronds interspersed with rambling wild bushes. Clusters of coral reefs fringe the island as the sun scatters diamonds on the ocean blues. Below the surface, life abounds in infinite forms. Hawksbill turtles glide past bluestripe snappers, narrowly missing the moray eels nestled amidst the corals. The brimming reefs bring a flurry of psychedelic colours as reef fish scamper for their share of grub.

No one would have heard of Thoddoo a mere 10 years ago as it sits unnoticed among the resort islands. Everything is new and untouched. Today, travellers would take the two hours speedboat ride for a slice of this self-effacing local island, giving it a new breath of life. 

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THE SIGHTS

The island is cosily small – a mere two kilometres at its longest length. No traffic, paved roads or grand swimming pools. Stripped of modernity, the island is the epitome of the simple life where lying on a hammock or taking a 30 minutes amble is a mundane thrill.

Sunbathe at Thoddoo’s bikini beach, where clear-as-glass water washes against a milky stretch of sand. The house reef encircling the beach will keep you occupied for hours. Turtles frequent the western edge of the house reef for breakfast. To venture out of the island, boat trips will take you to sandbanks for snorkelling in reefs free from settlements.

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ROOMS

The minuscule size of the island means it does not house a string of big time hotels, but what bed & breakfasts it has are warm and intimate. Holiday Cottage Maldives is a row of cottages set on the island. Dinners are rich with local fish and lobsters on the grill. Doubles start at US$80.

The airy rooms at Coco Villa are just ten minutes from the bikini beach. Your arrival will be sweetened by fresh coconuts and papaya jelly. The chef does an eclectic breakfast menu – shredded pancakes are dipped in chocolate sauce with a side of devilled eggs, waffles topped with breaded cutlet, and tuna masuni with roshi. Doubles start at US$100.

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48 Hours in Milos – What to See, Eat & Do

Greece

Blindingly white dwellings dotted with blue accents lay burnished under the intense sun. There is a jaunty air about this laid-back island – sailboats bobbed along to the lull of the gentle wind, skippers lay languid on the edge of the hull and Miloans breeze through their daily grind as they chug shot glassfuls of raki by the sea. Everything is chill here, a world away from her Cyclades sister of Mykonos where party-hopping rules the scene. 

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THE BEACHES

Scout the island for beaches that glide and twist into otherworldly shapes. Sarakiniko Beach is a marvel with its ashen rock shore that dips into azure waters, resembling a prodigious moonscape. 

Swim in a pothole and stumble into caves at Papafragas Beach. If the swim makes you hungry, take a five minutes drive to Kivotos ton Gefseon and snack on chocolate pies, pizza bread and cakes. 

Head to Firopotamos near Plaka, the capital of Milos. The beach may be nothing to brag about, but its ancient ruins there are worth making a trip to. 

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THE SIGHTS

The best views of Milos are seen from the ocean. Hop onto Captain Elias’s sailboat and explore the island’s outer rim, fringed by metamorphic beaches formed over centuries of volcano activity. The all-day boat trip skims through open caves and olden-day pirates’ lairs while you feast on homemade Greek salads, grilled octopus, dolmades, and ouzo.

Don’t miss a pit stop at Klima, a string of syrmata embellished with vivid hues. The village can be accessed via boat or car. Be warned – you will need to brave through a long flight of stairs if you take the car route.

THE FOOD

The island is crawling with sea view restaurants. O Hamos and Medusa are all-time favourites for Miloan food such as lamb baked in cheese, yogurt with sweets and grilled octopus. For more on what to eat here, check out the eating guide

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ROOMS

Eiriana Luxury Suites is all powder white and turquoise blue with all the bells and whistles of a lavish roost. The pool is for views of the island and lounging around in the mornings with breakfast on the deckchair. The honeymoon suite has a jacuzzi with views of the nearby town area. Doubles start at €160. 

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