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So you’ve booked a trip to Positano. Lucky you! Everyone is insanely jealous. This picturesque seaside town on the Amalfi Coast needs no introduction – colorful buildings cling to cliff edges, azure blue sea laps at the shoreline and the sun beams down on majolica tiled roofs. But, once you get there, what are the best things to do in Positano?
Thanks to its fame, you might think Positano is a fairly big town, however it is actually small and compact. If you’re visiting on a day trip then you’ll be able to get a tantalizing taste of this coastal beauty. But linger a little longer and you will uncover so much more.
Read on to discover Positano’s attractions.
What's in this article
- Get your bearings
- Sun, sand and sea
- Water sports
- Hikes, walking and views for miles
- Positano shopping paradise
- Best places to eat in Positano
- Things to do at night in Positano
- If you can bear to leave – day trips from Positano
- Getting to Positano
- Where to stay in Positano
- Arriverdeci Positano!
- Your Italian adventure
Get your bearings
Wander the streets of Positano and get lost in the labyrinth of small paths and laneways that snake their way down the cliffs toward the shoreline. Admire the cascading wisteria and bougainevillea that drape over buildings and drop purple petals underfoot. I believe that it’s the gardens and natural beauty contrasted with the simple but colorful architecture that makes this town so alluring.
Don’t forget to look up (and down) and notice the majolica tiled rooftops. The iconic Byzantine dome of Santa Maria Assunta is a landmark you can see all over town.
It’s easy to lose yourself in this pretty town, wandering wherever your heart leads you. Just be aware that these streets are cobbled and very steep and there are many stairways. So this town is not ideal for very high heeled shoes (unless you have excellent stiletto wearing skills) or those with mobility issues. If that’s the case, don’t despair. There are plenty of fun activities to do close to the shore.
Sun, sand and sea
Positano’s best beaches
No doubt you’ll want to spend some time at the beach. Spiaggia Grande is the main beach where the ferries and boat tours arrive and depart. It’s a stony beach dominated by the stripey beach club umbrellas and has the spectacular Positano scene behind it. There is a patch of spiaggia libera or free beach but you know, when in Positano.. go for the beach club if budget allows. Expect to pay €25 for a chair.
If you’re looking for something a little more secluded, head to lovely Fornillo beach, just a short, 10 minute scenic walk along the coast from Spiaggia Grande. Here you’ll find a more relaxed vibe, cheaper beach chairs and a restaurant for that all-important vino by the sea.
A slightly longer and much more steep walk east – plus 300 steps! – brings you to Arienzo beach. This lovely small beach captures the most sun of any along this stretch of the Amalfi Coast. There is a patch of free beach and a beach club. If you’re not keen on making the trek and want to enjoy the beach club you can catch a shuttle boat from Positano. Free transfer boats depart regularly from morning to late afternoon. Beach club bookings recommended – read reviews on TripAdvisor
Beloved by locals, Laurito beach is small and craggy and therefore doesn’t attract the crowds of the main beaches in Positano. Here Da Adolfo, a family run restaurant and beach club, have gained almost iconic status for their hospitality. Renowned for its rustic charm, you reach Da Adolfo via a 30 minute boat shuttle from Positano. Just look for the boat with the red fish! Bookings essential read reviews on TripAdvisor
Looking to really soak up the ritzy Positano atmosphere? Head to Treville beach club where everything is retro glamorous just as you imagine Positano to be. At €40 a chair, it is not budget friendly but it’s the price you pay for attentive service and exclusivity. After all this was once the home of Oscar winning director Franco Zeffirelli. There is an hourly shuttle there from Positano. Bookings are essential – read reviews on TripAdvisor
Tip – if you want to spend your day working on your tan, rise early. The sun disappears behind the hills by the early afternoon on this part of the coast. Except at Arienzo beach where the rays shine on until around 18:00.
Positano boat rental and tours
Go and explore this magical coastline by boat. You wont regret it.
Rent a boat or take a tour from Positano and take a trip out to the islands of Li Galli. Also known as Le Sireneuse, this small archipelago of three islands is said to be the home of the enchanting Sirens. According to Greek legend, they lured seamen to their death with their beautiful voices.
The islands are privately owned – once by Russian dancer Rudolf Nureyev – but you can wander the grounds of the largest island Isola Lunga and gaze out to Capri glistening in the distance.
There are other smaller beaches and coves to be discovered along the coast near Positano that you can only reach by boat. Contact Blue Star Positano for prices.
If you’re the type of person who likes to stay active on vacation, want to break up your sightseeing and beach lazing or are traveling with teens, then Positano has some great options
At Kayak in Positano on Spiaggia Grande you can rent kayaks by the hour or join one of their daily excursions and kayak tours along the coast. During July and August you can even join a moonlight kayak tour.
If you like to snorkel, head to Fornillo beach or the islands of Li Galli. The main points of interest are interesting rock formations and underwater caves.
Hikes, walking and views for miles
Path of the Gods | Sentiero degli Dei
One of the most celebrated hiking paths in the world starts in the mountain village of Bomerano di Agerola and winds its way down to Nocelle just above Positano. Known as Sentiero degli Dei or the Path of the Gods, this hike takes in panoramic views of the Amalfi Coast passing along mule trails and ancient hamlets. According to legend this is the path the Greek gods took to rescue Ulysses from Sirens on the Li Galli islands.
On a clear day, at certain vantage points, you can see Li Galli and beautiful Capri in the distance and the rooftops of Positano glistening in the sun. Once you reach Nocelle, a further 1,600 steps takes you to Arienzo Beach where you can gaze back up at the cliffs you just walked down.
The Path of the Gods hike is around 7 kilometers long and takes around 3-4 hours. Due to the steep and rocky pathways, this hike is not recommended for those who experience vertigo or small children.
You can reach the start of the path by local bus or you can organize a transfer when you arrive in Positano. If you’d like to join a tour that includes transport and a knowledgeable local Enviromental Hiking Guide (AIGAE) with 10 years experience and passion for the Amalfi Coast region click here for details.
The gentle stroll – Positano to Fornillo beach
If you’re visiting Positano for the day or don’t have time for the epic Path of the Gods hike, why not take a gentle stroll from Positano harbor to Fornillo beach.
Follow Via Positanesi D’America along the cliff and past Torre Trasita, one of two 16th century fortifications that helped protect the town. You can actually stay in the tower and wake up to the most incredible views – take a sneak peek inside here.
Monte Tre Calli
More experienced hikers should try the Monte Tre Calli path that starts in Bomerano. This medium difficulty hike (as rated by Club Alpino Italiano) is more strenuous that the Path of the Gods and involves a steep ascent. When you reach the top, it’s all worth it for the 360 degree view of the stunning Amalfi Coast.
The hike is approximately 2.5 kilometers and takes around two and a half hours – more information
Positano shopping paradise
Positano is definitely a place to shop. It’s hard not to be tempted by the gorgeous boutiques and galleries that line its cobbled streets. The best part about shopping here is that you can find artisan quality pieces that will last as well as remind you of your trip to Positano.
Look for handmade leather goods, ceramics and linen wear as well as jewelry and paintings. You can find items to suit most budgets but if you want to splurge, this is the place to do it. Positano is high on casual glamor and you’ll want to fit right in.
- Sandals – handmade leather sandals were the favorite Positano souvenir of Jackie Onassis. I say if they are good enough for Jackie O they are worth having. You can choose from a large selection of plain or bejeweled sandals at little stores all over town but we like La Botteguccia (Via Regina Giovanna 19) and Safari (Via della Tartana 2). You can even design your own!
- Ceramics – everywhere you go along the Amalfi Coast you’ll notice colorful ceramic pieces for sale. The local red clay mixed with limestone is the perfect medium for this craft. In the boutiques of Positano you’ll find traditional pieces with botanical motifs and bright hues, as well as modern hand painted interpretations. Browse the selection at family run Ceramica Casola (Via Laurito, 49) – they will ship your purchases home for you.
- Linen – want just the right floaty white linen dress to take you from beach to bar? You will find it in Positano. The town even has its own signature style known as La Moda Positano (Positano fashion). The creations at La Bottega di Brunella are the epitome of this floaty, casual style. There are several stores throughout Positano.
- Fragrance – one of my favorite souvenirs from our last visit to this beautiful region is my Fiori di Capri perfume from local house Carthusia. You can visit their beautiful store in Positano and find just the right scent to bring memories of your vacation flooding back – Carthusia – Via della Tartana SNC
- Handmade soap – if you prefer the fresh clean smell of natural soap you can find artisan crafted bars made from local natural ingredients like lemon, rosemary and olive oil at Sapori e Profumi di Positano (Via dei Mulini, 6). They also stock hand and body creams and scented candles.
- Limoncello – bring the sunshine taste and memories of Positano flooding back with a bottle of two of limoncello. At Valentì Positano (Via G. Marconi, 142) you can try an array of limoncello products that can be shipped back to your home country
Granted not many people visit Positano to check out the churches or discover the town’s past but that’s actually a shame. Romans built sumptuous villas in Positano many centuries ago, and the remains of one of them is right under one of the town’s iconic landmarks.
Santa Maria Assunta
You can’t miss the majolica tiled roof of Santa Maria Assunta from wherever you are in Positano. You’ll pass it often as you make your way down to Spaggia Grande too. Many people pass by its piazzetta without taking much note but it’s worth a closer look.
The church was restored in the 18th century on foundations dating to the 10th century and is the center of religious and community life in Positano. Inside you can admire the white and gold neo-classical interior and precious Byzantine icon representing the Virgin Mary and child
Museo Archeologico Romano
Visit the remains of a Roman villa beneath the crypt of Chiesa di Santa Maria Assunta. This archaeological site has wonderful paintings and frescoes preserved by volcanic ash after the explosion of Vesuvius. Recently opened to the public, you can see the paintings up close on a short guided tour that also takes you through the medieval crypts – more info
There is nothing more exciting than celebrating Italian style. If you are in town in August and September you are in for a big treat. Make sure to book mark these two events.
August 15 – Re-enactment of the Landing of the Saracens – a celebration of feasting and fun celebrating a famous battle that took place off the coast in 1558. As this coincides with Ferragosto, Italy’s main summer holiday, expect a big party.
Last Sunday in September – if you’re in town do not miss the Festa del Pesce (fish festival) full of feasting, fun and fireworks on Fornillo beach
Best places to eat in Positano
One of life’s pleasures is eating amazing Italian food and what better place to do that with than the spectacular views only found in Positano. From Michelin starred dining to casual beach side shacks, you’ll find it all there. Make sure to try the local seafood specialties. They are catch of the day fresh and best served with a delicious caprese salad.
La Sponda at Le Sireneuse
Elegant La Sponda brings you fine dining with breathtaking vistas and an atmosphere that is nothing short of magical. Contemporary Italian cuisine is the order of the day with seafood carpaccio and local cod a highlight. In the evenings the restaurant is lit by over 400 candles and musicians serenade the dining room. An unforgettable experience, La Sponda is the place to go for celebrations of every kind – read reviews on TripAdvisor
Le Sireneuse has several bars and restaurants where you can enjoy the views in a more casual atmosphere.
Via San Sebastiano 2, Positano
+39 089 875066
At Donna Rosa experience traditional Italian cooking brought to you by three generations of the same family. Beloved by Jamie Oliver and Ina Garten the highlights of this restaurant above Positano are the handmade gnocchi and melt-in-the-mouth tiramisu. The restaurant is a little out of town but there is a bus stop out the front or they can organize transport for you should you need it – read reviews on TripAdvisor
Via Montepertuso 97/99, Positano
+39 089 811806
Specialising in local seafood, La Cambusa has an enviable position overlooking Spiaggia Grande. This is a great spot for lunch if you are visiting on a day trip as you’ll see all the action on the shorefront as you enjoy your meal. Try the spaghetti vongole and fritto misto. You won’t be disappointed – read more reviews on TripAdvisor
Piazza A. Vespucci, Positano
+39 089 812051
Feasting on the freshest local produce at La Tagliata should be high on your Positano to do list. Their €45 fixed price menu features eggplant parmigiana, different types of pasta, bruschetta and a charcoal-grilled meat platter. It’s all served with local wine and limoncello to finish.
Go hungry – the food just keeps coming. The restaurant has a rustic feel and its position on a clifftop a few kilometers from Positano means the views are incredible. They provide a shuttle into and out of town – read reviews on TripAdvisor
Via Monsignor Vito Talamo, Positano
+39 089 875872
The Brasserie at Covo dei Saraceni
The best pizza in town is at Covo dei Saraceni. Wood fired with the freshest sauce and toppings, pizzas start at €10 so it’s a great spot for a casual lunch. Try the Diavola pizza with spicy salami or the classic Margherita. You can’t go wrong. For dessert, they serve lemon sorbet inside a giant lemon! – read reviews on TripAdvisor
Viale Regina Giovanna 5, Positano
+39 089 875400
Snacks, cakes and gelato!
- Bar Pasticceria la Zagara – garden bar with cakes, coffee and cocktails! – Piazza dei Mulini, 10
- Gelateria Buca di Bacco – best gelato in Positano – try dark chocolate – Via Rampa Teglia, 4
- Collina – the place to go for sfogliatelle, cannoli and lemon sorbet – Via Cristoforo Colombo, 1/3
- Da Adolfo – casual lunch on Laurito beach – delicious spaghetti vongole – Via Laurito, 40
Things to do at night in Positano
If Positano won your heart in the day time, the sparkling lights of the town at night are sure to melt it even further. When the day trippers leave on the final ferries and buses, the town takes on a languid, relaxed atmosphere. Visitors and locals dress for the evening and enjoy the gorgeous views as the sun sets.
The passagiata or early evening stroll is delightful in Positano. The town’s colored buildings soak up the fading light and there is a faint scent of jasmine on sea breezes. Dress to impress and stroll the cobbled streets and beach front. The stores are open until at least 8pm and sometimes as late as 10pm in summer. So you might like to save your shopping until then.
Aperitivo with a view
There is possibly nothing as romantic as watching the sun set in Positano over a pre dinner aperitif. Dusk falls around 7.30pm in summer so make your reservations at this time to catch the final rays of the day. You’ll want to head to the best terraces and rooftop bars in town. Here are some favorites:
- Franco’s bar at Le Sireneuse – cool bar at the iconic hotel with incredible views and cocktails to match
- Bar Buca di Bacco – casual bar with stools outside facing the beach
- Champagne and Oyster bar at Le Sireneuse – a magical place lit with candles after dark
- Hotel Il San Pietro Hotel – the ritziest outdoor terrace bar on the coast never disappoints. It’s a little way out of town but they have a free shuttle that will pick you up in town and bring you back
If you’re in Positano for your honeymoon or celebrating a special occasion, we recommend booking a private sunset cruise. Watch the lights of the town sparkle from your traditional wooden boat as you sip champagne. Make a toast and vow to return to Positano as soon as you can. This experience is definitely a splurge but it is one that will remain in your memory forever – click for details on Viator
Dance til dawn in a cave nightclub
If you like to party then Positano has one of the coolest nightclubs on the planet. Built into a cave, Music on the Rocks has been entertaining party people for over 40 years. The club opens at 11pm and it’s best to dress to impress. Be aware that there is a steep cover charge of €40 – read reviews on TripAdvisor
If you can bear to leave – day trips from Positano
Will you use Positano as a base to explore the Amalfi Coast? Sure why not, if you can drag yourself away In the high season – between May and October – you can visit many places along the coast by ferry. The cooler months are great for exploring by car. At this time the area is not congested and you can reach charming small towns and villages.
Our trip to Capri was a highlight of our time on the Amalfi Coast. There’s something so magical about this small island in the Tyrrhenian Sea that you, like many others for centuries, can’t but help fall in love with. The best thing to do is take a boat tour around the island, stopping to admire its famous grottoes and the Faraglioni rock formations.
Once you’re on the island have a long leisurely lunch with million dollar views or wander
How to get there:
- on your own using the ferries – book your tickets here (recommended in summer)
- rent a boat and skipper for a private tour for up to 12 people – you’ll be talking about this luxe adventure for years to come. Duck in and out of coves and explore the areas you want to at leisure, plus time for swimming and exploring Capri – more details
- join a small group tour from Positano to Capri – this tour takes you from Positano around the island, stopping at many picturesque spots along the way. You’ll have time on Capri to explore at your leisure – click here for more info
Amalfi Coast cruise
If you want to see the coast from the water (and you really must), then join a cruise that takes you up and down the coast stopping at charming towns, hidden coves and inlets. If you are part of a larger group then take a private boat cruise from Positano.
Your captain will stop whenever you choose for sightseeing, swimming and more. Choose from a number of different vessels to suit your party size and budget. Soaking up the fresh sea breezes while you gaze at the heritage-listed shorefront is must do on the Amalfi Coast – click for quote
One of the major towns along the coastline, Amalfi is flatter and not as spectacular as Positano but it is worth visiting. This pretty town is known for its beautifully ornate Cattedrale di Sant’Andrea, interesting paper museum and the spectacular coastal walk to pretty Atrani village.
We particularly like wandering through the passageways connecting various parts of the town and enjoying sweet treats at Pasticceria Andrea Pansa in Piazza Duomo. Pay the extra for a table outside and enjoy the cute piazza with its lovely fountain. There are also several beach clubs at both Amalfi and Atrani should you like to swim.
Ferries depart from Positano to Amalfi regularly between May and October or you can take the local SITA bus.
Perched high above the coast about 20 minutes drive from Amalfi, Ravello is the place for some of the most iconic views of the coastline. Visit the town’s historic villas for panoramic views to Maiori and beyond.
Villa Rufolo dates to the 13th century and its Italianate gardens and terraces have grand views of the coastline. Now a museum, the villa is open to the public and hosts concerts and recitals throughout the year.
The Terrace of Infinity (Terrazza dell’Infinito) at Villa Cimbrone is the place to go for even more breathtaking views. Make a booking at Michelin-starred restaurant, Il Flauto di Pan for lunch and soak up the atmosphere. It’s one of those moments you’ll remember forever.
You can take the local SITA bus to Ravello from Positano or take a private transfer – ask your hotel to organize this for you.
The explosion of Mount Vesuvius in 79AD was felt as far as Positano but if you haven’t seen the preserved city of Pompeii. One of the world’s great archaeological wonders, Pompeii is a city frozen in time and constantly revealing new secrets of her Ancient Roman past.
The easiest way to get there is to join a Pompeii tour from Positano. On this full-day outing you will transfer in air-conditioned coach to the site for a guided tour. Then you visit Vesuvius itself to gaze down on the destroyed city before returning in time for a late afternoon swim in Positano. If you can’t spare a full day, this express tour to Pompeii is worth considering – available Tuesday and Saturdays in high season.
It’s a one hour drive from Positano to Pompeii. You leave the Amalfi Drive at San Pietro and follow an inland route away from the Sorrentine Peninsula. Private secure parking is available outside the main entrance at Pompeii Scavi.
You can also catch the local bus to Sorrento and change to the train. You’ll need the Pompeii Scavi stop on the Circumvesuviana line. This method will take an hour and a half each way.
Once you are there we recommend joining a guided tour with an archaeologist. You can explore on your own or with an audioguide but the site is huge and not well marked with information boards. A guide will be able to take you to the most interesting areas and tell you the background and stories of this most fascinating city. Booking in advance is recommended.
Getting to Positano
If you’re staying in Positano you’ll most likely need to transfer from Naples. The best way to do this is by private transfer as the public transportation options have multiple legs and are slow.
We use Suntransfers because they have a longstanding reputation throughout Europe, you can book quickly and easily online, and there is 24/7 customer support. You can organize a transfer from Napoli Centrale train station, the airport or cruise port depending on where you are arriving from. If you have a large group they have several vehicle sizes to choose from > click here to price your transfer
Making a stop at Pompeii en route to Positano is a great way to save time if you want to see the ancient site. If you use a service like this one you can make a scheduled stop at Pompeii and tour the site while your driver keeps your luggage secure. Then it is a relaxing onward journey to Positano.
Sorrento to Positano day trip
Should you be visiting Positano on a day trip from Sorrento you have a couple of options. The best one for you depends on the season and your travel style.
In summer and the peak season between May and October, it is best to arrive by boat as there is only one road along the coast and it gets very busy. Sometimes it takes up to 2 hours to travel the short journey between the towns.
During the winter and off-season we prefer to drive. At this time the roads are clear and you can stop off at many of the picturesque towns and look outs along the way.
You can also take the local bus or a guided tour. Here are all your options
- Ferry – departures, speed and cost depend on the type of vessel and company. The fastest trip is around 40 minutes with first departure is at 08:30am from Sorrento – browse ferry schedules
- Small group boat tour – relax on board as your captain navigates down the Amalfi Coast, past gorgeous beaches and rocky coves towards Positano. There is time to explore the town before hopping back on board to continue to Amalfi. If you have just one day in Sorrento to see the Amalfi Coast, I would choose this activity – click here for prices
- Private transfer – if you get seasick or prefer to travel by car, hire a driver for the day and take a tour that stops in Positano as well as Ravello for those breathtaking views. This is also a good option during the winter months when you can’t travel by sea – click for details
- Bus – catch the local SITA bus from Sorrento train station. There are departures every half hour or so and the cost is €10 for a full day pass. You must purchase your tickets at a tabbacherie (cigarette stand) before boarding the bus. The journey takes around 50 minutes – longer in traffic
- Car rental – if you are visiting outside the main season a car is useful for stops along the way. There are a couple of car rental places in Sorrento. We search for deals and book our cars on Rentalcars.com
Where to stay in Positano
Of course, views like this are made for luxury hotels. You won’t find much in the way of budget accommodation in Positano but that’s to be expected. Here are our favorite hotels in Positano.
Stay at Le Sireneuse if you crave luxury and those incredible views. Perfect for a honeymoon or milestone birthday celebration, this luxury hotel is known for its traditional yet elegant rooms, impeccable service and Michelin starred restaurant La Sponda.
You’ll be able to enjoy the sunset from several bars and the hotel terrace which enjoys some of the most dreamy views in the world.
The hotel also has a pool, wellness center and champagne bar. > click here for Le Sireneuse reviews and prices
The views from the terrace and pool at Hotel Poseidon are simply gorgeous. This family run hotel has large rooms and traditional decor. Choose a superior class room if you want a private terrace to relax on. You can enjoy your breakfast there too!
Boasting a pool and an outdoor dining terrace, the hotel is a perfect haven close to all the action of the town – > click here for more information
Hotel Palazzo Murat
If you’re craving tranquility and beauty away from the crowds, Hotel Palazzo Murat is a haven close to the center of Positano. Set in a beautiful garden bursting with lemon trees, the 18th century building was once the summer residence of the King of Naples.
Decoration is simple and elegant and the deluxe rooms have romantic four poster beds. The hotel has a pool and restaurant and is a short walk to the beach and ferry terminal.
This hotel has a large car park (rare in Positano) for those wanting to tour the Amalfi Coast – > click here for details and prices
Stay close to the beach at Villa Rosa, one of the best budget hotels in Positano. Known for its great service including 24 hour front desk, a concierge, and room service, this hotel is popular so book early to avoid disappointment.
The hotel has a charming sun terrace and most rooms have a sea view or terrace so you can catch those stunning sunsets – > click for more informationClick to browse all accommodation & hotels in Positano on Booking.com
Sooner or later you’re going to have to say goodbye to Positano. But, here’s the thing, it’s one of those places you just know you’ll return to one day. And that time I have no doubt that you’ll plan to stay a little longer so you can check off all the amazing things you can experience in this most charming coastal town.
So what’s on your list of top things to do in Positano?
Your Italian adventure
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