The Amalfi Coast of Italy is arguably one of the most beautiful coastline’s in the world. It’s a beautiful stretch of ocean cliffs where picturesque small towns are connected by a winding road that carves and weaves above the sparkling and yacht-dotted Tyrrhenian Sea.
One of the most popular and well known towns on the Amalfi Coast is Positano. A visit to Positano is like being in a dream. It’s a town that fits naturally into the mountain landscape, with it’s iconic white-washed, colourful architecture tucked into the rock faces. It’s a magical place where the Mediterranean cliffs of Italy meet the sea. When you’re there, you feel like you’re living inside a beautiful Mediterranean painting.
how to get there
Positano was our last stop in Italy, and we came to it by way of Rome. From Rome, we took a high-speed train to Naples, and from Naples, we took the Circumvesuviana commuter train to Sorrento, with a quick stop at the ruins of Pompeii along the way. Once we arrived in Sorrento, there was a bus that took tourists and travellers to the Amalfi Coast, and stopped in all the main communities along the stunning coastline. The bus is called the Sita Amalfi bus, and it costs just a few euros per passenger. The Sita bus stop was a short walk from the train station in Sorrento, and wasn’t difficult to find.
Positano is the first stop along the Amalfi Coast, but be warned… the drive is an adrenaline rush! The highway runs alongside the cliffs – if you look out one way, you see rock face, and the other, a steep drop into the Tyrrhenian Sea. It’s all worth it though as you come upon Positano in the shining sun, you feel like you’ve reached a stunning hidden oasis – a place that looks like pure paradise.
You can also get to Positano via private vehicle transportation from Sorrento or Naples, or you could rent your own vehicle and navigate the winding roads at your own pace. We chose the Sita Amalfi bus because it was affordable, and we didn’t have to worry about directions or driving on our own.
Our visit to Positano started out a little on the scary side. As we rolled into town on the bus, there was no indication that we’d reached our stop, but as the bus slowed to a halt, we suddenly realized that our stop had come, and were told it was the only stop for Positano (now we know that there are actually two stops – one on either side of the town). We rushed to disembark the bus, waved goodbye to our driver, and started to follow a nice gentleman who was kind enough to show us the way into town, when we realized we forgot our camera (with three weeks’ worth of precious pictures on it!) on the shelf above our seat! We discovered this fun fact just in time for my husband, in a panicked state, to hurl himself in front of the bus and stop the driver, as I ran around on the verge of tears wildly waving my arms like a crazy person. I’m sure we were quite a sight. Clearly I am not the person you should call in an emergency! The great news is that we did get our camera, despite the confusion we caused, and continued into Positano on foot. Our time in Positano from then on was all sunshine and red wine. The lesson here is… there is more than one Sita Amalfi bus stop in Positano, and always make sure you have all your belongings with you before disembarking anything anywhere.
where to stay
Positano is not a cheap place to vacation, but if your budget allows, it’s the place you want to splurge. There are many beautiful hotels to choose from in Positano. We chose the Hotel Marincanto. After a lot of research, it seemed like one of the top options, and boasted an infinity pool and a sundeck (which not a lot of other hotels in Positano have!) There were also lemon and lime trees, and beautiful flowers scattered throughout the property!
Our stay was wonderful. Our room overlooked the sea and the town, the buffet breakfasts were lovely, and the pool and sundeck area were invaluable! The Hotel Marincanto also has it’s own private staircase that leads right down to the beach! Since it costs about 12 euros to rent lounge chairs on the beach each day, we spent most of the time at the hotel, sunbathing on the sundeck, and lounging in the pool. There was a small gas station across the road where we stocked up on affordable beer and drinks, which allowed us to feel no guilt when we splurged and ordered multiple cocktails on the sundeck. Our stay at the Hotel Marincanto was delightful, and I highly recommend it to anyone who visits Positano.
what to do
In terms of major attractions, Positano doesn’t really have any. Positano itself is the attraction! The purpose of a visit to Positano is to slow down, relax, eat, drink, and take in the stunning sights. We sunbathed on the sundeck and on the beach, we swam in the hotel pool and in the sea, we strolled up and down the steep staircases and through the streets admiring houses and buildings, and we ate… and drank… a lot! If you prefer to be active, you could rent a boat, or kayak and spend time in the sea. You can also travel from Positano to the island of Capri for the day to explore, or opt to travel further down the Amalfi Coast to towns like Praiano or Amalfi.
what & where to eat
There are lots of restaurants to choose from in Positano. Bursting with fresh seafood, delicious pastas, creamy risottos and fresh limoncello, it’s not hard to find a place in which to enjoy delicious food and wine after a long day of basking in the hot sun. I know… sounds like a rough life doesn’t it?!
We enjoyed dinner our first night at Al Marincanto, the restaurant located inside the hotel we stayed in. Al Marincanto offers traditional amalfitan cuisine with a modern twist, and pays particular attention to the local seafood and organic products cultivated on the hills surrounding Positano. We sat outside on the lemon terrace (yes that’s what they call it!), watched the sun set over the sea, enjoyed the fresh aroma of citrus trees all around us, and listened to a pianist play beautifully and softly throughout our entire dining experience. There are few moments where I remember being as happy as I was that night, sitting across from my husband on the lemon terrace, drinking delicious Italian wine, in Positano.
Another evening, we enjoyed pasta and seafood at Bruno. If you choose this restaurant, make a reservation in advance for a table along the street. You’ll sit against a stone wall with views of the sea. It’s also a great spot for people-watching. Here I enjoyed spaghetti vongole (spaghetti with fresh clams in a white wine sauce) and it was incredible. The pasta was fresh, and the clams were tiny and sweet.
We enjoyed dinner one night up high in the hills of Positano at Da Costantino. It came recommended to us by our hotel, and we braved a very intense shuttle ride up the narrow winding roads to get there. Our driver was just a tad manic, and there were at least a few moments when I looked over at my husband and thought that it might be the end, but it was all worth it for the arancini (breadcrumb-coated, ragu-stuffed, deep fried risotto balls), and grilled mozzarella cheese in lemon leaves – an appetizer as lemony delicious as it sounds. We also enjoyed homemade pizza, pasta, at least one litre of wine, and liquid dessert in the form of limoncello.
Other restaurants that came recommended to us that we didn’t have time to enjoy were Next2, a sleek wine bar serving delicious local dishes, La Sponda at Le Sirenuse, a Michelin-starred restaurant located inside the iconic Le Sirenuse hotel, Le Tre Sorelle, known for it’s scrumptious home-cooked meals and Buca di Bacco, a Positano institution located on the main beach.
travel tips for Positano
- Since a visit to Positano can easily kill a budget, plan a shorter stay so you can still enjoy this beautiful place without breaking the bank. You only need a couple of days to rest and recharge your batteries before you move onto your next destination.
- Some hotels in Positano offer discounts on lounge chair/umbrella rentals on the main beach. Be sure you inquire about this when doing your hotel research or in advance of your arrival.
- In the middle of Positano’s main beach there is a free area where you can throw down a towel and enjoy yourself without paying any rental fees.
- I didn’t know this when we visited, but there is actually more than one beach in Positano! Spiaggia Grande is the main beach, and the beach that most tourists and visitors frequent. Spiaggia Grande is the most accessible, and is famous for it’s bright rows of umbrella’s and lounge chairs. In addition to Spiaggia Grande main beach, there are three other beaches located in Positano; Fornillo beach – a smaller, more secluded beach, Laurito beach – the place where locals escape the noise and crowds of summer, and Arienzo beach – the “300-steps beach,” (that’s the number you’ll be counting down (and back up!) to reach it from the main road.) I recommend checking out all four beaches! Next time we certainly will be!
*All photos & opinions are my own.