Positano has long drawn us in, ever since the Romans first established villas here in the 1st century. It’s the centerpiece of the iconic Amalfi Coast. A cliffside town where homes hang on to the ground’s edge, threatening to tumble down into the Mediterranean.
From homes and shops to the water are steep streets. They’re a veritable staircase linking hotels to restaurants, ceramic artisans, and beach clubs. Along the way, camera’s click, immortalizing one of Positano’s infinite amazing views.
Life here is slow, fashionable, and colorful with plenty of things to do in Positano and the Amalfi Coast to keep you active. Beyond the glamour and hearty application of sunblock is a town with links to Mt Vesuvius, ancient crypts, and a deeper story to tell.
Map of Positano
In this post, we'll cover:
14. Grotta di Fornillo
Back in the 17th century, locals began creating small shrines known as Christmas cribs in a spot just out of central Positano. In the lead-up to Christmas, these cribs are filled with religious iconography.
It’s a unique attraction in Positano that’s worth visiting at any time of year. The Grotta di Fornillo remains well-preserved after hundreds of years and in some ways looks like a mini version of Arizona’s Montezuma Castle.
From the location, you’ll enjoy yet another amazing view of Positano. The angle on display showcases how the town is essentially on a terraced hill, each colorful house like a step towards the heavens.
13. Have Dinner with a View
Travel to Positano provides postcard-worthy views around every corner. You won’t get bored with it, nor should you. So why not add some views to your nightly dinner?
Set along the coast, all a restaurant has to do is face the Med to provide spectacular vistas and sunsets. But some stand out more than others. At the top of your list should be Le Sirenuse. Technically a hotel, you’ll have the choice of fine dining at La Sponda or cocktails and seafood at Aldo’s. Both come with an atmosphere that matches the scenery.
Other options include Il Tridente, Li Galli, and the Sky Terrace.
12. Go Kayaking
Yachts and ferries take you far, fast. But the best way to capture the spectacular Amalfi Coast from Positano is by slowing things down. What I’m talking about is a little kayaking action.
From the fringes of Spiaggia Grande, you can get your hands on single and two-person kayaks. With your trusty paddle wading through the Mediterranean Sea, you’ll quickly find yourself feeling small against the backdrop of Positano and the rising coastline.
With each stroke, take in the sights. See how high the cliffs soar with homes and business jutting, seemingly hanging on for dear life. It’s a cheap and fun way to enjoy the town’s best views.
11. Take a Cooking Class
The saying “do as the locals do” extends to the kitchen. So what better way to learn and master authentic Amalfi Coast cuisine than with a cooking class?
There are plenty of options to choose from, allowing you to hone in on the things you love. Better yet, go beyond your culinary comfort zone and choose something you’ve never tried before.
Travelers can sign up for pizza-making classes, with the help of the Positano Pizza Experience. Our favorite, however, is this class that takes you to local markets before you head to the home of your certified chef and learn the tricks of Italian cuisine.
10. Arienzo Beach Club
Just like Spiaggia Grande, Arienzo Beach has a public and private section. It’s the latter that provides all the value. Set at the bottom of 300 steps, you can avoid this steep trek to and from the road by taking the Arienzo Beach Club’s complimentary boat shuttle.
Departing from the Marina Grande, you’ll soon find yourself under a shady umbrella sipping cocktails along the Mediterranean. Prices vary, with higher options providing inclusive beverages and small bites.
Aside from enjoying your own space, you can enjoy the club’s delicious restaurant. But you should definitely make a reservation ahead of time.
9. Go Shopping
With most shops situated close to the beach, you won’t have to go far to enjoy some retail therapy in Positano. From the pebbled alcoves, wander through the narrow maze of streets where you’ll find a full spectrum of goods.
Stores selling long and flowing pastel dresses will help you start dressing like a local. Add on some custom-made leather sandals and you’ll really begin to fit right in.
In addition, ceramic shops mix in with other handmade goods perfect for bringing home something to remember Positano by. You’ll find the bulk of these stores along the main thoroughfare behind Marina Grande.
8. Music on the Rocks
The beach day is over and the sun has fallen, so what now? Well, nightlife in Positano reaches its zenith at Music on the Rocks. Or should I say “in the rocks”?
Positano has plenty of chill bars with amazing views. But to really boogie, Music on the Rocks is the place to go. The club is set within a cave, providing not only a unique nightclub experience but also plenty of revelry among fellow travelers.
Here, the lights are bright and fluoro, the drinks flow, and the doors stay open until 4 am. Just be warned, no one gets there until after midnight.
7. Take the Ferry to Capri
Any restaurant or bar with a view won’t just show the beautiful sea and far horizon. You’ll spot endless yachts dotting the harbor and the whitewash of speedboats cutting through the deep blue. It’ll inspire you to explore further and you can do just that by taking the Ferry to Capri during the summer months.
This popular trip is as scenic as it is relaxing. The journey brings marvelous vistas and the sea breeze flowing through your hair. But the real treat arrives once you’ve touched down on Capri.
Some of the best things to do in Capri include visiting the island’s Blue Grotto. Here you can kayak through a narrow entrance underneath a mountain where blue water shimmers under torchlight.
Other highlights include a ride to the summit of Monte Solaro and shopping in Capri town.
6. Museo Archeologico Romano Positano (MAR)
Positano may have achieved worldwide recognition in the modern era. But there is ample proof the Romans knew the gem they had on their hand’s thousands of years ago. At MAR, otherwise known as the Museo Archeologico Romano Positano, you can explore a villa that dates back to the 1st century.
The museum opened recently, in 2018 and thanks to the archaeological discoveries, you can see what Positano was like long before it became an international tourist haven. Within the aforementioned villa, you can visit the old dining room, where colorful frescoes and the mosaic floor will command your attention.
Amazingly, above the villa is an ancient crypt. This was placed here as the villa was long lost after the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius.
5. Fornillo Beach
A short walk from Positano’s main beach, Spiaggia Grande, is Fornillo Beach. Harboring more of a local’s vibe, you may have a better chance of escaping the crowds right here.
The walk between both beaches is worth skipping other options, with the lovely town and Med views. Without the rush to get a spot, you can take your time and not fight to lay down the beach towel upon arrival.
But don’t be in a rush to kick off the shoes once you’re settled in. The pebbled beach can scorch bare feet under the searing Amalfi sun. After enjoying the views and taking a swim, take your pick of the several waterfront bars and restaurants, perfect for sunset.
4. Visit the other Amalfi Coast Towns
Positano is just one piece (albeit major) of the famous Amalfi Coast. All up the coastline is home to 13 towns, each harboring its own colorful personalities.
Connecting them are winding roads where buses scrape by cars and motorbikes. Their slow battle takes place next to jaw-dropping descents. Rumor has it, car insurance is just not worth the hassle.
Some of the towns worth departing the beloved Positano for include Ravello, Cetara, and Atrani. This is just a small sample size. But all three will bring something special to your travels.
Ravello is for romantics, with never-ending views and historic cobblestone roads. Cetara is for foodies, especially those that love fresh catch and delicious anchovies. Atrani is perfect for those on a budget, yet it has its own history worth reveling in while being Italy’s smallest town.
3. Saint Mary of the Assumption
Enjoying Italian cuisine, soaking up the sunshine, and swimming in the Mediterranean are what make the Positano experience. There are few historic highlights, which means you can’t miss the Church of Saint Mary of the Assumption.
This eye-catching church hails from the 12th century with renovations occurring throughout time. Much of what you see today can be traced back to the 1700s.
From below, it’s an incredible sight. The cream-yellow facade stands above Positano’s cramped, maze-like streets. At one end, a cross is stationed above all, at the other a golden dome.
However, it’s within the Church of Saint Mary of the Assumption that real treasures can be found. Take a guided tour to spot the Byzantine icon of the Virgin Mary, other religious relics, and the church’s medieval crypt.
2. Spiaggia Grande
Beaches aren’t exactly in short supply in Positano and Spiaggia Grande is the best of the lot. Set alongside Marina Grande, the pebbled sand runs from the happening downtown streets all the way to the flowing Med.
Spiaggia Grande is split into two sections, one open to the public and the other a private beach club. The former brings an open space, however, you can expect crowds to quickly form in the latter part of the morning.
This can be a drawback. But early risers can make use of the beach’s proximity to town for morning sustenance, in time to get the best spot at Spiaggia Grande, with the memorable seaside town rising along the nearby cliffs.
1. Walk the Path of the Gods
The Amalfi Coast grows ever more spectacular the higher you are. While you could spend days by the beach sipping colorful cocktails, get your sweat on and walk the Path of the Gods.
Known locally as Il Sentiero Degli Dei, this hike is 7km (4.3 miles) one way. The trail meanders up, following red and white signs from the small town of Bomerano to Nocelle. Across two hours, hikers will be flooded with stunning ocean views of the blue Mediterranean Sea sparkling under the Italian sun.
With plenty of water in hand, continue hiking to higher viewpoints. You’ll revel in the rugged mountains splashed with orange and green that quickly fall away to the water below. One dotted with million-dollar yachts.
Where to Stay in Positano
Positano is the epicenter of the Amalfi Coast and hotels book out far in advance. Be sure to give yourself plenty of time to do so.
The best area to stay is within the lower part of Positano, near both the town’s center and its main beaches. You’ll want to avoid walking up the steep hills repeatedly throughout your trip.
Providing guests with amazing views from their rooms, Hotel Marincanto is a fantastic mid-range option. When not exploring, guests can make use of the terrace for dining and swim in the infinity pool overlooking the sea.
A stone’s throw from the beach, it’s hard to top the budget-friendly Reginella. The boutique hotel offers private balconies overlooking the Med. Guests will only be five minutes from Spiaggia Grande.
How to get There
Getting to Positano and any town along the Amalfi Coast can be tricky. To keep it simple, there are three common departure points, Salerno, Sorrento and Naples.
Taking the bus is the cheapest but longest option. The roads are windy, yet spectacular. For the best views, sit next to a window on the right hand side from Sorrento and on the left side from Salerno.
From May to October you can board a ferry from Naples to Positano, these take under two hours. The quickest option (and most expensive) is private transfer taking you about an hour to get to Positano.
Positano doesn’t have a train station, but you can take the train to a closer city on the Amalfi Coast like Sorrento or Salerno.
Approximate travel times:
- Amalfi – 20 minutes by car, 30 minutes by bus
- Ravello – 30 minutes by car, 1 hour by bus
- Sorrento – 30 minutes by car, 1 hour by bus
- Pompeii – 45 minutes by car, 1 hour 30 minutes by bus
- Naples – 1.5 hours by car, 2 hours by bus or ferry (in summer)
- Capri – 45 minutes by ferry (in summer)
- Rome – 3.5 hours by car, 3.5 hours by bus and train
Best Time to Visit Positano
With its hot weather and inviting warm waters, it is no wonder summer is the most popular time to visit Positano. This makes it the most busiest and expensive period, however, with all its beaches, hotels and streets heaving with people.
June to August sees temperatures average 25 to 28°C (77 to 82°F) with countless fun festivals and holidays also taking place. These include its lively Jazz Festival and the Festival of Santa Maria Assunta. The road along the Amalfi Coast gets super congested, though, with the idyllic Capri also packed.
As May and September are still very warm and sunny but less crowded and cheaper, they’re the best months to visit if you can. The latter still has relatively high water temperatures so you can swim and sunbathe if you fancy. October has even better deals, though the weather does start to get a bit iffy.
During winter, from November to March, Positano is very quiet with most businesses closing until Easter. Temperatures drop to 12 to 16°C (53-61°F) with quite a bit of rain and rough waves pounding the coast. You’re probably best off avoiding this time of year as you won’t get a proper feel for the romantic seaside town.