The Ultimate Guide to Positano
By Haylee Thorson
Colossal cliffs, bright-colored buildings, sapphire seas…Positano is heaven on Earth.
Situated along Italy’s ethereal Amalfi Coast, this vibrant village is one of the most popular travel destinations in the country and for good reason. Whether you’re a lover of food and drink, art and culture, or photography and fashion, this scenic town is guaranteed to have something for you. While travel probably isn’t the first thing on your mind given the current COVID-19 situation, I hope this article will inspire you to get out there and see the world as soon as it’s safe to do so. There are so many wonders just waiting to be experienced by us and this extraordinary city is just one of them. As someone lucky enough to see Positano with my own eyes, I wholeheartedly believe everyone should try to travel here at some point in their lives. And if you do, here is a comprehensive guide to help you out!
Things to Do
Have a Beach Day
As a coastal town, there is certainly no shortage of spectacular beaches in Positano. However, there are a few things you should note if you decide to spend the day at one of them. If you’re looking for more of a high-end beach experience, head to Marina Grande Beach and rent a lounge chair for the day. Keep in mind that you’ll need to get there early to secure a spot!
If you’d rather spend the day at a beach that’s a little more secluded (and free of charge), then head over to Fornillo Beach. About a 10-minute walk from Marina Grande, this beach is tucked away in one of the most scenic areas of Positano. Not only is Fornillo Beach breathtaking, but it’s nestled right next to several lively restaurants that are perfect for grabbing a quick bite.
Book a Boat Tour
If you happen to be in Positano for more than a few days, then you must book a boat tour. Whether you’re wanting to venture to a nearby island like Capri or dying to see the Amalfi Coast from the water, this is the way to go.
When it comes to booking a boat tour in Positano, you have several options. If you’re in a large group, you might consider hiring a private guide to escort you to the locations of your choosing. However, if you’re only with a few people or simply wanting to save money, your best bet would be to book a small group tour.
*Companies like Blue Star Boat Tours offer a wide variety of experiences, including everything from private boat tours and small group tours to sunset tours and Capri tours.
Explore, Explore, Explore!
Some of the best memories I’ve made while traveling has happened because I abandoned all of my structured plans and chose to wander around instead. While hitting major tourist spots is a huge part of visiting any new city, I think there’s something to be said about the simplicity of doing your own thing. Positano has something new to offer around every corner, so if you see something that intrigues you—pursue it! I discovered one of the most beautiful views I had ever seen when I decided to turn down a narrow alleyway instead of following the main path. Rather than following a strict itinerary, make an effort to take in all of the sights, smells, and sounds around you. There is so much beauty in this city, so don’t let it pass you by!
Things to Eat
Spaghetti alle Vongole
No trip to Positano is complete without a heaping portion of “spaghetti with clams.” Cities in the Campania region—think Naples, Positano, Sorrento, etc.—are renowned for this popular dish due to their proximity to the Tyrrhenian Sea. Spaghetti alle vongole is typically made with sweet baby clams from the Tyrrhenian, white wine, olive oil, red chili flakes, and parsley. While simple, the sheer quality of each ingredient will leave you speechless.
*Head to Da Vincenzo if you’re searching for some of the best spaghetti alle vongole in all of Positano.
Scialatielli ai Frutti di Mare
If you’re a lover of all things seafood and pasta, this one’s for you. “Scialatielli with seafood” is pretty much the holy grail of pasta dishes in this region and for good reason. With thick handmade noodles, freshly caught seafood, and a delicious broth of white wine, garlic, and olive oil, this explosion of flavors is something you will never forget. After you’ve eaten, don’t forget to sop up the savory sauce with a flaky piece of ciabatta.
*Check out Ristorante Da Costantino for the most delicious Scialatielli ai Frutti di Mare in the city (and try a slice of their lemon cake while you’re at it!).
Delizia al Limone
With some of the best lemons in the world coming from the Amalfi Coast, you absolutely must try at least one lemon-flavored dessert while you’re here! Delizia al Limone is a delectable dome-shaped sponge cake coated in a limoncello frosting and filled with zesty lemon custard. Despite having originated in Sorrento, you can find this tangy treat practically anywhere in the Campania region.
*La Zagara is said to have some of the tastiest delizia al limone in all of Positano, so be sure to swing by!
Things to Note
Bring Your Walking Shoes
Every day is leg day when you’re in Positano. With this enchanting city existing quite literally on the side of a cliff, it should come as no surprise that you’ll be doing some serious walking while you’re here. With that being said, it is so important to wear comfortable shoes if you’re planning on exploring the city on foot. While I was tempted to sport platform sandals with my dresses, I’m so glad I opted for sneakers instead. If you’re dying to get a pic in a pair of uncomfortable shoes, I recommend packing them in your bag and changing into them whenever you want to snap a full-body photo. Or save yourself the trouble by investing in a versatile pair of sneakers that will complement any outfit!
The Bus is Your Bestie
Comfy shoes and water breaks not enough to make the cliffs of Positano bearable? Don’t worry. In the city, multiple buses will take you wherever you need to go. The bus is especially helpful if you are staying at a hotel or an Airbnb towards the top of Positano because the incline can become pretty intense on foot. Not only is this a convenient way to save yourself time and energy, but it’s also incredibly inexpensive. A bus ticket for one adult is less than two euro and believe me—it’s worth every cent! While there are also taxis available at your convenience, the bus is hands down the way to go if you’re wanting to save yourself some money.
Do NOT Rent a Car
I repeat, do not rent a car! Unless you are highly skilled at operating motor vehicles, you will not want to drive in this area of Italy. Not only are the roads extremely narrow and twisty, but a lot of them are situated directly on the face of a cliff. To make matters worse, Southern Italians tend to disregard the rules of the road, which can lead to an accident if you aren’t used to that kind of driving. Parking is also very tough to find in Positano, so if you’re not a master parallel parker, you’ll be driving around for hours trying to find a spot. Save yourself the peace of mind by sticking to public transportation and avoiding the rental car route if possible. I promise you that you’ll thank me!
Even though travel restrictions are tough right now, I hope this guide gave you something to look forward to. Travel is such an important part of the human experience and we mustn’t stop dreaming about it. If you ever happen to find yourself in this spectacular city one day, I hope my tips will make your memories just a little bit sweeter!
Haylee Thorson is an editorial writer who specializes in beauty, culture, and travel. Follow her on Instagram @hayleethorson.