With its pastel facades, vertiginous hillsides and indigo waters, Positano is the Amalfi Coast’s quintessential village. Here are the top hikes, road trips, beaches and shops in Positano.
The view of Positano from the sea – sun-bleached houses stacked haphazardly against the hillside, with gravity-defying grace – is perhaps one of the most enduring scenes on the Amalfi Coast. Bougainvillea-clad alleyways lead steeply downward towards the sea, past old-fashioned bars and chi-chi boutiques selling the best in Positano hippy-chic fashion. The beach itself is pebbled rather than sandy, but that doesn’t deter the millions of tourists who come here every year for a taste of the quintessential Amalfi Coast. We’ve put together the best things to do in Positano, Italy.
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Escape the crowds and make the best of the marvellous views along the coast and out to the island of Capri, on this famous hike (known as Il Sentiero degli Dei, or “path of the gods”) from Bomerano to Nocelle. Originally an ancient mule route, the pathway conjures mythical images of gods and sirens along its 6.5km (4mi) stretch. The landscape is diverse, from tiered agricultural hills to curious caves and precipitous clifftops, plunging down to the beach far below and lapped by a shimmering sea.
Persuade your travel buddy to drive on this particular road trip, so you can fully appreciate the spectacular scenes along this 48km (30mi) stretch of narrow, cliff-hugging coastal road, from Sorrento to Amalfi. The road traces the Salerno Gulf’s southern shore with breathtaking views out over the sparkling Tyrrhenian Sea. Named a Unesco World Heritage site in 1997 for its incomparable landscape, there’s never a bad time to embark on this journey, with glorious year-round Mediterranean sun almost guaranteed.
Think of Positano and you’ll picture Spiaggia Grande, a 300m (1,000ft) parasol-strewn beach at the foot of the village’s colourful terraces. From here, you can hire kayaks or take a boat trip to other beaches and admire the Amalfi Coast from afar. Book a sunbed and parasol from the bath house, or sunbathe for free on the central section of beach where you can lay down your towel. Enjoy a seafood lunch at one of the many restaurants lining the beachfront and return in the evening for a different kind of Positano vibe.
After Spiaggia Grande, Fornillo is the second-largest beach in Positano. Although not strictly within the village itself, it’s only a 15-minute walk along a pretty coastal path to reach this less touristy stretch of beach. You’ll still find beach clubs, lines of parasols and sunbeds, restaurants and boating activities – but there’s a more relaxed atmosphere for the sun worshippers who make it here. Don’t miss the Fish Festival that closes the summer season with a seafood celebration.
This dramatic beach-front nightclub could more accurately be called Music in the Rocks, due to being carved out of the rocks that fringe the eastern point of the Spiaggia Grande. Join the dolled-up crowd who flock here for the region’s top DJs, which have been banging out party tunes here since 1972. Considered one of the best clubs on the coast, you can expect high prices, but for the view across the sea and a unique “party in a cave” experience, it’s worth a visit.
Take a table at Saraceno d’Oro early on in your trip – that way you’ll have time for a second visit, which you’ll inevitably be ready for the minute you leave. Simplicity is often the best choice in Italy because the basic, sun-ripened and artisan ingredients are just so damn good. You can’t go wrong here, with an antipasto of prosciutto ham and mozzarella cheese, followed by a pizza, and lemon cake to finish – the limoncello is usually on the house. Unfussy and top-quality local ingredients, with a warm, friendly atmosphere, make this a popular spot. Book ahead for a table on the terrace.
Pretty blue parasols dot the rocky edged beach at La Fontelina, beneath the watchful eye of Capri’s three iconic Faraglioni rock stacks. The restaurant has been here since 1949, but it wasn’t until the ’60s that Capri became an essential part of the Hollywood elite’s Grand Tour, with the likes of Brigitte Bardot and Sophia Loren stopping by for dinner. The beach club came later, and its unique location in this enchanting cove makes for a fabulous day trip from Positano.
These delicate, bejewelled sandals have been handmade in Positano for three generations, and are very much moda Positano (Positano fashion). Using only the finest leather and a shimmering array of brilliant crystal gems, Nana Positano offers a world-class product to every customer. Choose your own gems to be set in the sandal of your choice, for a truly unique souvenir. You can even have your initials put in the soles of your new dancing shoes.
No matter where you are in Positano, you’ll be able to see the colourful mosaic tiled dome atop the village’s iconic church. Originally a 10th-century Benedictine Abbey, the Archbishop of Amalfi rededicated the church to the Virgin Mary when a Byzantine icon of her was brought to the abbey in the 12th century, and she became the patron saint. The icon can still be seen today, above the altar.
Take the 50-minute drive north from Positano to Castellammare di Stabia train station in Piazza Unita’ d’Italia. From there, you can take a cable car up Monte Faito. The ride itself offers spectacular panoramic views around the region. When you reach the top, you can indulge in a spot of forest bathing amid cool mountain air, and if you pack a picnic, you can easily spend a day here, enjoying a break from the summer heat. At only €8 (£7) for a return journey, it’s one of the cheaper attractions the area has to offer.
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