Europe

Exploring Picture-Perfect Positano on Italy’s Amalfi Coast

Winding roads curve around rocky cliffs jutting out into the sea, entire towns clinging precariously to their sides. The sea sparkles below in the sunshine, and through the hazy light ahead, the curves and bends in the road appear to stretch on into infinity.

This is the Amalfi Coast, a stretch of Italy’s southern coast boasting some of the most beautiful beaches and towns in the world. This area is so highly revered for its beauty that it’s even been given the honor of joining the world’s elite as a UNESCO world heritage site. I cannot stress this enough – if you ever have the chance to drive the Amalfi Coast, do it. You won’t be disappointed.

There are a multitude of scenic places to stop along the Amalfi Coast, but the real jewel of this region is the picture-perfect town of Positano. If I hadn’t seen it for myself, I probably wouldn’t even be convinced a place like this could still exist today.

Positano is one of the most popular places to visit in Italy, yet the Italian charm and untouched natural beauty you’ll find here make it feel like anything but just another over-hyped tourist destination. We loved it so much that visiting for just one day wasn’t enough and we used our only free day on our holiday to return again.

For people who almost always prefer to see a new place rather than return to somewhere we’ve already been, that’s saying a lot.

Read More: The Best Five Day Amalfi Coast Itinerary + Travel Tips

Cliffside view when driving the Amalfi Coast from Sorrento to Positano

Gazing out at the view of Positano from the top of the cliff

The beach in Positano from above at Hotel Covo dei Saraceni

Colorful houses stacked on the side of a cliff in Positano

People relaxing on the beach in Positano on the Amalfi Coast

Clear waters in Positano with boats in the background

People playing on the beach in Positano along the Amalfi Coast

Getting to Positano

Positano can be reached by car, bus, or ferry from several towns along the coast, as well as from Sorrento over on the Bay of Naples.

If you’re driving to Positano on the coastal road from Sorrento, you’ll have about 40 minutes to watch the scenery around you unfold and feel your anticipation grow to epic proportions before you arrive. This is definitely a case where the journey isn’t just a way to get from point A to B, but an important part of the experience as a whole.

We took the SITA bus to Positano from Sorrento and, thankfully, managed to get a seat on the coastal side of the bus so we had one heck of a view for nearly the whole journey.

When the bus let us off at the top of the cliff, we were left staring face-to-face at the scene that had convinced us to come here in the first place. Colorful houses stacked on top of each other so tightly that the cliff itself is no longer visible, gentle waves lapping at the picturesque beaches below – there’s no denying this is a special place.

Read More: Staying in the Charming Town of Sorrento in Italy

Relaxing on the beach in Positano, Italy

Relaxing on the beach in Positano, Italy

Orange umbrellas lined up on the beach in Positano

A man washing off after a day on the beach

Artist painting on the beach in Positano

Attractive lobby inside Hotel Covo dei Saraceni in Positano

Exploring the town of Positano on the Amalfi Coast

Cliffside houses in Positano through the leaves

Things to Do in Positano

We spent our first day in Positano enjoying what we came to the Amalfi Coast for – ultimate relaxation. We set up underneath the shade of our umbrellas on the Spiaggia Grande and spent the whole day alternating between enjoying the outstanding views from the comfort of our sun loungers and swimming in the surprisingly clear waters off the coast.

It was a much-needed restful day, but I left feeling like I hadn’t explored Positano well enough (which tends to happen when you only leave your spot to cool down in the water or find watermelon), so we decided to come back again the next day.

This time, we spent a lot more of the day wandering around the picturesque streets of the town, stopping every few feet to photograph wisteria, crumbling stucco on colorful shopfronts, and I even got brave and ducked into a few of the more upscale accommodations in Positano to photograph their views over our little beach enclave. It was a fabulous day that I ended up enjoying even more than our first.

Positano isn’t a town full of things to do, necessarily, but there are quite a few things to see. There is the Spiaggia Grande, the town’s main beach, plus another nearby beach, Fornillo Beach, which is also worth checking out. The path between them is easy to walk and scenic by its own right.

As with every other tourist destination along the Amalfi Coast, there are plenty of restaurants and shops to drop into. For a meal with a view, check out Paradise Lounge Bar. It’s got a very laidback atmosphere and the food is delicious and reasonably priced.

Besides the Path of the Gods, a hike which should technically end in Positano, the only other way I suggest filling your time is by walking around and photographing everything in this unique Italian town.

Some favorite spots for photos are the view from the lobby balcony at Le Sirenuse Hotel and the view from the pool area at Hotel Covo dei Saraceni (the latter you’ll need to ask for permission at reception first), the main shopping areas along Via Cristoforo Colombo and Piazza dei Mulini, and, of course, if you’re up for the hike, the view from the top of the cliff is a must-see.

Positano is definitely the sort of place where the top things to do are simply to relax and explore aimlessly, which means you’ll never have to feel guilty for taking it easy if that’s what you came here to do.

Read More: Pompeii Guide: 14 Things to See in Pompeii + Tips for Visiting

Cliffside houses lit up at sunset in Positano

Softly lit street in Positano at sunset

Empty beach in Positano at evening

How Long to Stay in Positano

Unless you are staying in Positano overnight, you’re considered a day visitor and will have to leave by boat or bus at some point to return to where you started the day.

While it does mean taking rather crowded transportation back, I recommend sticking around as late as you possibly can, certainly at least until just after sunset. We took the very last bus out on our first day and were able to witness an incredible sunset, enjoy dinner at a restaurant overlooking the sea, and walk through a much less crowded version of town than we did earlier in the day. I was really grateful for the opportunity to see this more peaceful side of Positano.

We spent two days in Positano and I still didn’t feel like it was enough. I’m not saying I could live in a town this small, although having scenery such as this as a permanent fixture in my life does make it tempting, but this is definitely the sort of place that helps me understand why people continue to return to the same place over and over again.

I believe John Steinbeck said it best in an article which prompted a surge of tourism to the area in the 1950’s that hasn’t abated since: Positano bites deep. It is a dream place that isn’t quite real when you are there and becomes beckoningly real after you have gone.

I wholeheartedly agree, and can’t wait to return someday.

Read More: Atrani Beach: A Quiet Spot on the Amalfi Coast in Italy

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There are many beautiful places to stop along the Amalfi Coast, but the real jewel of this region is the picture-perfect town of Positano. Find out more about exploring Positano here! There are many beautiful places to stop along the Amalfi Coast, but the real jewel of this region is the picture-perfect town of Positano. Find out more about exploring Positano here!

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7 Comments

  • Reply
    Sirli
    May 13, 2018 at 12:57 AM

    Hi! Which lens you used and what you recommend?
    Whit best, Sirli

  • Reply
    April @ aprileveryday
    June 6, 2017 at 2:19 PM

    I’ve seen so much of Positano popping up the past couple years and it looks so amazing. I’m so annoyed with myself because on a cruise a few years back, we had the option to go on a tour and visit Positano for the morning, before heading to Pompeii. Well, we chose to visit a farmhouse instead because at that point, I had never heard of Positano, and I seriously regretted that decision afterwards hahah! I’ll make it there one day!

    Your photos are absolutely stunning and it looks like you had the best time there!

    • Reply
      Sarah Shumate
      June 7, 2017 at 11:41 PM

      I’ve got quite a few regrets like that, too! But to be fair, just a morning in Positano never would have been enough, anyway. Now you’ve definitely got a reason to go back and really spend some time there! :)

  • Reply
    Alyson Tart
    June 6, 2017 at 4:02 AM

    I’m sold – on my list of places to visit now!

  • Reply
    Ashley | Domestic Fashionista
    June 5, 2017 at 5:49 AM

    Absolutely Beautiful! What a dreamy place!

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