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Ultimate Guide to Positano, Italy

Ultimate Guide to Positano, Italy

What is Positano known for? Positano is a cliffside village located on the Amalfi Coast to the South of Italy. Upon first glance, Positano almost resembles a giant pyramid, with traditional and colorful buildings and boutique hotels built on every level.

Positano was originally a wealthy market port that played host to medieval deals in fish trade and other resources. Thanks to its beauty and wealth, it has also been a resort destination since the time of the Roman Empire. Positano grew hugely popular amongst vacationers in the 1950s and has been somewhat of a tourist hub ever since!

Positano Italy

Positano is a popular destination in Italy for couples looking for a romantic getaway, but also for families stopping through for a day trip. If you would like to spend a few days there (and you should!), here is all the detail you need to plan a relaxing vacation.

How to Get to Positano?

Navigating your way to Positano can be a bit of an adventure, especially if it’s your first visit. The closest airport to Positano is Naples Airport (Napoli in Italian). However, there’s no train to Positano, so you need to either rent a car, take a private transfer, connect a number of busses, or jump on a ferry (summer season only).

It’s not always the easiest or most convenient but I have written a whole post on the topic to give you all the step-by-step details. 

If you’re flying into Rome (FCO), be aware that the journey from Rome to the Amalfi Coast will take a minimum of 4 hours from the time you land, and that’s assuming that you make all the connections.

How to Get to Positano

Is Positano Expensive?

As it has risen from a sleepy fishing village to a popular holiday spot, Positano has had to improve its tourism industry exponentially.

That said, Positano has become very expensive, but most tourists admit that it’s worth the price if you want to fully immerse in it. 

Things to Know About Positano

One thing to note about Positano is that it’s built on a steep slope and so, inevitably, a large number of steps are involved in getting around. For those who feel daunted by the idea of trekking up all those stairs, I recommend catching the bus to the top of town and then wandering back down again at your own pace – perhaps stopping en route for a gelato or an Aperol Spritz.

That said, while I managed to visit Positano with a baby in a stroller, I would say it’s probably not a good place for those with mobility issues. You can find routes that don’t require more than 20 steps, but you do need to be able to go uphill and downhill.

Where to Stay in Positano

As soon as you know the dates of your trip, you must book accommodation! During the summer months, the best hotels book up a year in advance despite the hefty price tag. Yes, really.

While you can save up on staying somewhere else, you’ve got to stay in Positano for at least one night to experience the incredible ocean views and aromas of olive trees, oranges, and lemons all growing in perfectly straight lines, it’s quite the spectacle.

Hotel Marincanto

Marincanto is one of the most photographed spots in town, as they host many weddings on their terrace. I highly enjoyed my stay there, and unlike the majority of hotels that are located on the other side of town, I had a view overlooking the photogenic Positano at sunset.

Marincanto is also one of the few hotels that can be accessed without having to climb any stairs. Plus, they offer parking on the property, a pool, and access to a private beach area (which many don’t know about). 

Hotel Poseidon

You cannot go wrong by staying here. The pool at Hotel Poseidon is simply amazing and while pricy, the buffet is one of the best in town. Poseidon also has a big private pool and a fantastic terrace restaurant for dinner. 

The only downside for families is that they don’t allow kids, but this makes it even better for those looking for an adults-only retreat!

Hotel Miramare

This is a gorgeous spot in a fantastic location with an unparalleled elegance fit for royalty. The breakfast room even has an intricate flower ceiling that will make your morning even more memorable.

If you’re looking for the best of the best, make sure to book a room with an infinity bathtub and shower.  

Things to Do in Positano

So, what is there to do in Positano, besides marvel at the architecture that appears to have been carved directly into the hills and cliffside? There’s plenty of choice so let’s have a look!

1. Try Lemon Sorbet in a Lemon

Where can you get a lemon sorbet served in a real lemon was the most common question I got from my followers on Instagram, as it’s not as common as you may think.

There are actually only two spots (as far as I know) that do it and they run out of them by early afternoon.

Where to get lemon sorbet in lemon in Positano?

  • Covo dei Saraceni – Easy to locate spot as it’s right on the beach and next to ferries.
  • La Zagara – Off the main tourist street, but with a quiet terrace on the back
Woman eating a lemon sorbet in Positano

2. Eat Delicious Food

Of course, the cuisine you have to try in Positano will always focus on the big two – traditional Italian, and seafood. You can often get a huge variety of seafood platters but also plenty of dishes that combine the two like seafood pastas and even pizzas.

Positano is home to a plethora of restaurants and there is something for every budget available, from little cafes to smart restaurants. The general rule to follow is that the closer you get to the seafront, the more expensive the restaurants will be unless there’s a gorgeous view involved.

For those on a budget, I suggest sticking to the center of town, with an after-dinner wander down to the coast to watch the sunset.

It’s also important to plan ahead, reservations are pretty much mandatory for any dinner spot in Positano, even off-season. For some of my favourite spots, check out the section on where to eat in Positano below!

3. Sunbathe on a Positano Beach

The shoreline of Positano is home to some of the most iconic beaches in Italy. These picture-perfect beaches are lined with bars and cafes, plus they have water-based activities available for all ages.

You simply cannot leave the town without spending at least one day soaking up the fun and sun of Positano Beach.

The day-bed price on the beach starts from about €12.50 but can cost up to €40 per person, so keep this in mind if you’re on a budget. Also due to Positano’s location, the sun stays on the beach until about 3-4 PM so don’t leave it too late.

4. Go Clubbing in a Cave

The beach is also where you will find Music on the Rocks – the only nightclub in Positano, which was carved out of the rock face itself.

It’s an amazing place to spend an evening. Enjoying delicious cocktails combined with music and the sound of the waves crashing around you is an experience like no other!

5. Visit the Church of Santa Maria

The church of Santa Maria is the most photographed and recognizable structure in Positano, but most people skip visiting the inside.

Chiesa di Santa Maria Assunta is free to enter and it’s worth your time. This storied church features a Byzantine icon of the Black Madonna and Child & was once part of a monastery.

In addition, the Museo Archeologico Romano (M.A.R.) Positano offers 30-minute guided tours of two medieval crypts under the church. It’s a beautiful retreat from the busy modern-day Positano and truly puts history into perspective as you see the ruins of a Roman Villa from the 1st Century A.C.

6. Take a Boat Trip

Positano is an awesome place to rent a boat for the day, whether with a boat captain included or not. You can sail around the coast, sunbathe, and get the best view of Positano.

We did a private boat rental as we had baby Dylan with us and wanted more flexibility to take photos. You can easily book it through your hotel or online, but pre-booking AT LEAST days in advance is essential. Pre-book self-drive boat here and arranged tour here.

If you are traveling with babies/kids, make sure to ask about life jackets! We were told that we’d be provided a baby lifejacket, but when we paid and got on board they said they didn’t actually have them (it’s not compulsory by law in Italy, like it is in the US). If you’re traveling with a baby you might want to bring your own lifejacket like this one.

Family renting a boat in Positano with a baby

7. Hike the Path of Gods

As a traditional cliffside town, there are of course the expected beaches and cliffs that draw nature lovers from far and wide.

Whether you’re an avid hiker or not, you should take a walk along the cliff and look back on Positano to fully appreciate the beauty of the fruit trees, the variety of colored buildings, and the sparkling blue of the sea below.

For more enthusiastic hikers there’s the Path of Gods route (Sentiero degli Dei in Italian). The hike is moderate difficulty and it takes 3 hours one way, then you can return by bus or walk back. More detailed instructions are described in this article.

8. Shop in Positano

For those less inclined to explore the natural wonders of Positano, the retail offerings cause fashionistas and celebrities alike to flock to the town throughout the year. Smart boutiques line the narrow maze of streets, joined by wisteria-draped hotels and cute little restaurants.

No matter your taste, anyone can spend a happy afternoon exploring, getting wonderfully lost and perhaps even picking up a few treats like lemon ceramics or handmade clothes.

Shoping in Positano

9. Hunt for Movie Locations

Positano is featured in a number of popular films including Under the Tuscan Sun and Only You. Movie fans will love simply wandering the streets where their favorite characters once tread, and can even become a part of the action when the annual Pulcinella Awards are presented for excellence in animation.

Meanwhile, those who are more inclined towards the musical side of things will love learning about the cafes that Mick Jagger and Keith Richards frequented during a holiday to Positano, and visiting the home of Shawn Phillips who composed most of his work from the town of Positano.

10. Take a Day Trip to Capri or Pompeii

Positano is also a great base to stay if you want to enjoy some of the more widespread activities available around the Amalfi coast. You can easily do a day trip to Capri or Pompeii, both I would certainly recommend.

Pompeii is home to the famous city ruins that were covered in ash from the eruption of Mount Vesuvius centuries ago. You can even visit the mountain itself to marvel at the crater left behind by the eruption.

You may also decide to visit Capri for a day trip if you’re short on time, but I highly recommend staying for at least a night. There are boat shuttles to Capri leaving every hour (every half an hour during high season), so you can easily visit the island in your own time.

Day Trip to Capri

11. Take a Wine Tour

Positano is surrounded on all sides by some of Italy’s finest vineyards, growing the grapes for red, white and rose wines that visitors can enjoy as part of a variety of wine tours available.

Most of these tours take you to a collection of different vineyards, offering an insight into how wine is produced in the area – and promoting the community spirit that unites all of these vineyards as one.

12. Visit a Lemon Farm

Enter the paradise of the lemon tree, where the Sfusato Amalfitano (Amalfi variety of lemons) is born and begins its journey to conquer the palates of the whole world.

Here you will discover all of the production phases from the cultivation of lemons in the gardens to the production of all the delicacies.

If you’re a fan of Limoncello you should visit one of the lemon farms and see its production. Plus, you’ll be able to buy directly from producers for competitive prices

13. Take a Cooking Class

Unfortunately, it sometimes rains on the Amalfi Coast making most of the outdoor activities in Positano rather unpleasant. So what can you do in Positano when it rains? Simple answer is: eat and immerse yourself in the art of cooking.

So if the forecast isn’t looking on your side or you’re simply looking for something a little different to do, sign up for a cooking class, which can be done whenever – even in the rain. Learn the art of mixing, cooking and baking – to prepare dishes which were made by Amalfi grandmothers. Book here.

lemons Amalfi

14. Go Scuba Diving

Diving isn’t something that most people think of when they plan their trip to Positano. It’s not known as a dive destination, so what can you see there underwater?

Well, it’s not uncommon to find shards of pottery and other antique Italian relics! Plus of course, you can dive in all the cool grottos that you can see from above and experience the perfectly emerald water from a different angle. 

15. Rent a Historic Car

The Fiat 500 is a little jewel of a car with a popular place in Italian history. While coming from Poland, this isn’t the biggest attraction to me (we used to have this car for many years), if you’ve never taken a trip in an old car, zooming around in it on the Amalfi Coast is like a scene from a movie! 

If you’re willing to self-drive, Hertz is now renting them locally but you can also rent them at Hotel Poseidon. There are also many organized tours you can do that would allow you to taste Limoncello on the way. 

16. Rent a Scooter

If you’re not quite confident enough to drive Positano’s tiny streets in a car, renting a scooter is another classic Italian experience that you can’t miss!

Scooters are much smaller than cars, so you can pull over anywhere you want, as often as you want. There are many cute lemon stalls on the road that you can visit, and it’s easier to park in places like Ravello. If you’re not comfortable driving on your own, you could take a Vespa tour instead

17. Discover the Grottos

Green grotto, White grotto, and Emerald grotto – the Amalfi Coast isn’t short on grottos to explore.

You need an organized tour to enter the grottos of the Amalfi Coast as no self-drive boats are allowed in. You can pre-book a tour online.

18. Play with Stray Cats

Cats lovers will be happy as there’s a large stray cat population in Positano. Cats roam free and they’re friendly and cuddly as locals feed them. Some even give high fives…

cats in Positano

19. Visit Ravello

While you could stay in Ravello for the night, what I highly recommend if you don’t have time is to do a half-day tour to visit Villa Rufolo, a 13th-century villa with beautiful cascading gardens and exquisite views. If lucky you can even meet my buddy the black cat.

Ravello is the best place to buy ceramics so I highly recommend you visit, even if it’s just for an afternoon!

If you have a car just drive there independently, otherwise you can take a local bus (very crowded though!), or take an organized tour.

Where to Eat in Positano

As I promised earlier, here is a list of my favorite restaurants in Positano that I highly recommend.

Kid Friendly Restaurants:

  • Chez Black – Beachfront restaurant that is amazing despite being touristy.  
  • Saracena d’Ovo – Casual family-run Italian restaurant with great pizza. 
  • Lo Guarracino – If you want to get off the tourist track, head here but book in advance.
  • Ristorante Da Adolfo – A unique place on a private beach that can only be reached by their own boat. The boat departs and returns about every 10 minutes from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm.

Kids Unfriendly but Fantastic:

  • Il Tridente – Restaurant belonging to Hotel Poseidon with delicious food and a unique dining terrace. 
  • La Sponda – Good cocktail spot and restaurant for dinner, located at La Sireneuse – the most Instagrammed hotel in town. 
  • Franco’s – It’s one of the most Instagrammable cocktail bars in town, but it comes with a hefty “London price” – about 18 EUR for a drink. The line is usually very long even before it opens, so be on time.
Where to Eat in Positano?

Positano is one of those destinations that everyone has on their bucket list, and if you’re lucky enough to go, I cannot recommend exploring enough.

While there are certainly plenty of activities to keep you occupied within the town itself, it’s only by venturing outside the boundaries that one can appreciate the sheer spectacle of Positano – with its terracotta houses, sparkling waters and endless olive groves and vineyards.

Amy Haines

Thursday 30th of September 2021

Hi Anna. We have a family wedding of 11 in June in Positano, Italy. Once we leave the Amalfi Coast and head to Rome, we will use trains and have no transportation issues. I do not know what to do about getting around Sorrento/Positano though. Should we rent a van/cars from Naples airport or train station upon arrival? I know that parking is difficult in Positano. Our airbnb is between Sorrento and Positano. Would it be easier to book car services for our travel during these 4 days? Thank you for any insight you can give me about the best way to move around this area. Amy


Wednesday 11th of November 2020

Hey Anna,

I see you crossed out Hotel Marincanto. Do you no longer recommend? Thanks!

Anna Karsten

Wednesday 11th of November 2020

I do, but it wasn't open due to covid (not all hotels reopened). It's closed right now as well since that region of Italy is back on lockdown.


Thursday 29th of August 2019

Hi Anna,

I am traveling to Italy/Amalfi Coast here soon and noticed the first hotel we booked in Vico Equense is not in a very convenient location (25 min from Sorrento). Seems as though we'll be spending a lot of extra $ of taxi fares to and from the train stations. I am wondering if you think it's a good idea to rent a car to get to and from my hotel in Vico Equense to Sorrento? Or would you recommend a scooter?

Thanks for the useful information!


Sunday 1st of September 2019

I'd find out if there's a shuttle service from a hotel. It might seem like a cheaper idea to get a car, but parking fees on the Amalfi Coast are ridiculous (ex. 40 EUR in Positano is a min. charge), plus finding a spot is a challenge. Scooter would be a better idea in your case for sure!


Friday 22nd of February 2019

Hi Anna, thanks so much for posting this insightful article full of great advice. My husband and I are planning a trip to Italy in July (peak season) with our two little boys (6yo and 3yo). We are flying into Rome and spending 3 nights there and then heading to Naples/Pompeii/aAmalfi Coast. We're planning to use public transit while in Rome and I was planning to head down to the Southern parts of Italy by train but after reading your article I'm now thinking perhaps renting a car when leaving Rome would be better, especially traveling with two little kids? But then driving along Amalfi Coast really makes me nervous as well! Any advice on what would be a better bet for us? After Amalfi Coast we're heading over to Milan then Southern France to Bercelona (final destination). Thank you!


Friday 22nd of February 2019

In terms of driving around Amalfi it really depends on how adventurous of a driver you are. Many people opt for the option with a private driver, but truth to be told - many people don't want to drive abroad at all ;-) I wouldn't be afraid of train there are always many kids on Italian trains, often way younger than yours and it's not an issue (in fact, they don't have to pay for tickets until they're 15 years old). That said, it's really up to you if you feel more comfortable having a car with you, but then parking can get expensive.

For the last leg from Amalfi to Milan I'd take a domestic flight. It's cheaper and no point of sitting on a train for so long :)

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