If I could sum up Positano in one word, I’d say romantic. A destination with beautiful views, delicious food, plenty of wine and perfect weather (at least in September) is all captured in this one little spot. Positano is a place where you can walk the narrow lanes, grab a few desserts, and select a little spot to enjoy what the region has to offer.Booking a trip on an island with winding roads can seem confusing. Even upon research, I wish there were certain things that had been easily found when planning the trip so, I thought I’d share my tips on getting the best of your own visit to the Amalfi Coast.
First, Amalfi Coast mostly consists of only one main road and one lane of traffic going on both directions. The main road will pass through all towns, so you won’t have to worry about getting lost until you actually reach the area you’re supposed to be in. Once we got on the road, we headed straight for Positano and the road took us right to the very front of our hotel. In comparing size, Positano in Amalfi Coast is like Oia within Santorini – there isn’t a ton to see, but there are lots of places to get a view, wine and dine.
Hotels & Accommodations
Positano is a vertical town. If you’re not planning on staying near the bottom, be prepared to hike up stairs, or commute twice that time. Our B&B was located at the very top of Positano, and it took 10 minutes to climb up. We are both athletic and love to work out, so we didn’t mind that at all. Every morning and night, I could walk out on my deck and get an incredible view of all the homes and establishments jutting out from the cliffs, and see the ocean to the right. The wifi was almost non existent in our rooms, so it really felt like a get away. If you want to be right in the centre with perfect views, Le Sirenuse and the hotels surrounding that area are great options. Staying there can be quite pricey, so if you’re on a budget you can check the typical hotel sites, like Agoda, Booking.com. From time to time, I prefer to search for B&Bs, so Bed and Breakfast is a great alternative option for finding those cute mom and pop run places that are affordable with equally spectacular views or locations. AirBNB and HomeAway are great options, but there are very limited listings in the area.
There are so many restaurants with a view, and few without one. If you want to score a seat closest to the cliff at an establishment, walk by and make a reservation for the evening. If you arrive without one, you may get seated, but unlikely at a table closest to the side of the balcony with an unobstructed view. In high season, call or go a day early to book your reservation. Below are few of my favourite dining options in Positano:
- La Guaranccino – The restaurant has view of the water and some housing on the cliffs. It only seats about 15-20, and the food is really nice. Their specialities are seafood, so we both ended up with seafood dishes and they were delicious.
- La Zagara is a cute litte spot with a regular menu, but you’ll most likely notice the windows filled with dessert. Inside, you’ll find seating and tables with these pretty tiles. You will not get a sweeping view of the cliffs or water, but the food and charm make up for that.
- Franco’s bar is a great place to have drinks before the sunsets. It has a very hip vibe, beautiful decor and best of all, an incredible view. It only opens in the evening, but because it’s nice and small and it seats fill up really quickly. If you want a seat, get there as it opens so you can watch the sunset. You get a beautiful view of the homes lodged into the cliff and of the ocean.
- Covo dei Saraceni is a Michelin Star mentioned restaurant with a 5 star rating. You’ll get great food, an amazing view and excellent service.
- Da Viscento always has a line of people waiting. It’s a popular fine dining restaurant, and if you’re lucky enough to be seated outside, you’ll get a stellar view. Call ahead to make a reservation.
- The Brasserie is a place I’d recommend for gelato. I mean, come on guys, it’s me. A list would not be complete if I did not include a form of ice cream here for you. It’s located right in front of the port where you’d take the boat to Capri or Amalfi. This is also where we got the lemon sorbet that this region is known for.
Limoncello is the regions most popular alcoholic beverage. If you’re looking at bringing some home, pick it up at the airport, as the prices are actually cheaper there. I grabbed a premium bottle of Serrafini that’s run by a family business made with all natural ingredients at the airport. I paid a little extra for a pretty bottle. Tom said it was the best one he’s had, and was only about 12 Euros for 750ml. If you have a beautiful view and want to drink white overlooking the cliffs, I was told the more yellow they are, the more artificial ingredients there are, so ask a local for a nice smooth, homemade or natural one.
You absolutely cannot miss the ferry dock here because the stretch of beach for Positano isn’t actually very big and every road leading to the bottom actually goesgoes straight to the beach and dock where ferries take you to Capri (in high season), Amalfi and Sorrento, so don’t worry about that too much. My visit was in September, but in August, you may want to consider booking online, since all the Europeans are on vacation at this time. Otherwise, you can pick up tickets the day of, or a day in advanced at one of the 3 or 4 stands right there at the dock. You can check OK Ferry for pricing in advanced here.
Getting to Positano
Car – Tom and I rented a car from Rome and drove all the way through the entire Amalfi Coast before leaving. If you drive, the toll route saves you 1.5 hours and is only about 18 to 25 Euros each way, depending on whether you make stops along the way. I read about how scary it is to drive in the Amalfi Coast, but we have driven around Europe before and thought this was pretty easy. The worst driving is within cities with more than one lane of traffic. There is no order, lanes practically don’t exist, there is little yielding – you need to be aggressive to force your way in – and locals don’t really obey the stop signs. It’s just the way they all drive. Highway straight to the Amalfi Coast is a breeze in comparison to city driving in Italy. If you drive, do not leave anything visible or valuable in the car. I was warned by locals of theft. For those of you who plan to drive, make sure you have parking available at your hotel, as there are very few spots to come by. Some places include it in the cost of the hotel and require advanced reservations for the parking spot. Others charge a small fee of 10-20 Euros per day.
Bus – The bus system is actually very good, but everything is walking distance within each town. We climbed the stairs to the top of Positano where we were staying every day and worked up a sweat, but buses come every half hour if you need to take it. There’s a schedule at every stop. You can take the Sita bus to another city. The buses are colours for different routes and the bus schedules are also color coordinated, so it’s very straightforward if you decide to take it.
Motorbikes & Cabs – cabs can be seen driving around and you can rent bikes when you arrive. There are a few shops the cliff. There’s only one main route so you’ll either walk or drive by one.
Day Trips & Activities
Pompeii – If you plan on heading to Pompeii, most people recommend car hires and this can cost upwards of 200 Euros for the day. You can take public transit, but you will certainly be spending a few hours on the bus that day, so be prepared for that. Tom and I drove through and stopped into Pompeii before we went to Positano. Street parking is available at an hourly rate, but we parked in a lot that is monitored by a local for about 5 Euros for the day. You may choose to get a guide, but we decided not to and found it easy to navigate. There’s only one tiny cafe far into Pompeii, I don’t recall there being bathrooms and large bags are not allowed at entry, so plan accordingly. More info on the link provided here.
Path of Gods Amalfi Coast is also known for have the most incredible views, and many of them you’ll find along the Path of Gods. It’s very scenic path that runs through a few towns and ends in Positano. It can take hours to hike through, but is worth walking along for a short period of time if hiking isn’t really something you love. Bring lunch, water and good shoes. Be prepared to climb up a bunch of steps along the way. A rough idea of of where it runs, available here. Walking tours and further info available here.
I hope you enjoyed this post and it assist you with your planning. If you have been and have your own tips, please feel free to leave them in the comments below. I always love hearing from you.
Photo credit to my one and only, Rise Again BJJ.