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, it appears the curves and bends in the road stretch on into infinity. This is the Amalfi Coast, a seemingly endless stretch of coast boasting some of the most beautiful beaches and towns in the world. This stretch of coastline is so revered for its beauty that it has 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. I guarantee you won’t be disappointed!
There are a multitude of beautiful places to stop along the Amalfi Coast, but the real jewel of this region is the picture-perfect village 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. It is one of the most popular places to visit in Italy, yet the Italian charm and untouched natural beauty you’ll find here make Positano feel like anything but just another over-hyped tourist destination. We loved Positano so much that visiting for 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 one we’ve already been, that’s saying a lot.
Positano can be reached by car, bus, or boat. I can’t speak for traveling by boat, but if you’re coming via the coastal road, you’ll have about 40 minutes (if you leave from Sorrento) to watch the scenery around you transform and feel your anticipation grow to epic proportions. The journey to Positano is not just a way to get from A to B, but an important part of the Amalfi experience as a whole.
We chose to have the bus take us to Positano 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. And when the bus let us off at the top of the cliff in Positano, we were left staring face-to-face at the scene that had convinced us to come here in the first place. Those colorful houses stacked on top of each other so tightly that the cliff itself is no longer visible, the gentle waves lapping at the picturesque beaches below – there’s no denying Positano is a special place.
We spent our first day in Positano enjoying what we came to the Amalfi Coast for – ultimate relaxation. We set up in the shade of our umbrellas 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 enough (which tends to happen when you only leave your spot to either cool down in the water or find watermelon from a vendor), so we decided to come back again the next day.
This time we spent a lot more of the day wandering through the equally picturesque streets of Positano, 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 Positano enclave. It was a fabulous day that I enjoyed maybe even more than our first.
Positano isn’t a town full of things to do, necessarily. There is the main beach, of course, plus another nearby beach, Fornillo. As with every other tourist destination, there is also plenty of food and shopping. But besides the Path of the Gods, a hike which should technically end in Positano, the only other way to fill your time is by walking around and simply looking at everything in this unique Italian town. I truly enjoy places like this – it means I never have to feel guilty for taking it easy. :)
Unless you are staying in Positano overnight, you’re considered a day visitor and will be leaving via 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 in Positano as long as you possibly can, certainly at least until just after sunset. We took the very last bus out of Positano on our first day here and were able to witness the most incredible sunset, enjoy dinner at a restaurant overlooking the sea, and walk through a much less crowded version of Positano than we did during the day. I was really glad we had the opportunity to see this more peaceful side of Positano, too!
We had two full days here and I still didn’t feel like it was enough. I’m not saying I could live in a place this small, although having scenery such as this as a permanent fixture in my life does make it tempting, but Positano is definitely the sort of place that helps me understand why people continue to return to the same place over and over again. I feel like John Steinbeck said it best in an article which prompted a surge of tourism to Positano 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.
For more practical information about Positano (what to do, where to eat, etc), check out my guide How To Spend 5 Days On Italy’s Amalfi Coast.
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