Positano, Italy: An Insider’s Guide

April 27, 2020

If you’re interested in a day trip to Positano, you can spend a few idyllic hours eating lunch and browsing the boutiques on our Pompeii tour from Rome. For more guides, tips, travel hacks, and best-of lists, check out our Italian Travel Blog

One of the most picturesque towns on the Amalfi coast, Positano, Italy often is billed as the “Jewel of the Amalfi Coast.” Thanks to its setting on the Italian seaside, its precariously-perched pastel houses, and its church’s gleaming dome, Positano has charmed visitors for decades.

Unsurprisingly, Positano is one of our favorite summer (or anytime) destinations in Italy. Want to make the most of your stay? Here’s our insider’s guide for what to see and do in Positano! (And for more tips on the Amalfi coast, don’t miss our posts on how to get to the Amalfi Coast and how to get THE MOST out of the Amalfi coast!).

Positano’s VIP beach: Spiaggia Grande

Spiaggia Grande, a beach on the Amalfi coast

Spiaggia Grande… beach, and heart of Positano’s social life!

You won’t find white, sandy beaches in Positano. IF that’s what you’re looking for, read our post on the best beaches in Italy. Positano has grey, pebbly sand, but that’s okay – with its beautiful, crystal-clear water and its spectacular setting, you won’t be paying attention to exactly what kind of sand you’re sitting on.

The largest, and longest stretch is Spiaggia Grande—the place to see and be seen! Lined with restaurants, bars, and even a disco (“Music on the Rocks”), Spiaggia Grande is the heart of the Positano’s social life. Popular with tourists and locals alike, this beach is also where you can take in the entire view of the town… and it’s breathtaking!

Insider’s tip: In general, beaches in Positano are run by private establishments offering sun loungers, umbrellas and facilities for a fee. On Spiaggia Grande, there is a section of beach—closer to where the ferries dock—that is free, so you can just lay down your beach towel.

Off-the-beaten-path beaches in Positano 

Fornillo Beach: A more tranquil spot

Fornillo Beach: A more tranquil beach in Positano

For those seeking more laid-back, tranquil beaches than the VIP scene at Spiaggia Grande, you’ve got other beach options in Positano. Fornillo beach, one of our favorite beaches in Italy, is a mere 10-minute walk along Via dei Positanesi d’America, the route that connects Fornillo and the main town. There is also a free boat shuttle to the beach from Positano’s main pier.

Insider’s tip: This also is the beach to come to if you want the benefits of a private beach (like an umbrella), but would like to save some soldi: While the private beach on Spiaggia Grande charges  €12.50 per person for the day, at Fornillo, it’s €7. And, at Fornillo, the establishments serve up some reasonably-priced and delicious dishes for lunch.

Want to go further afield? Getting to the beach of Arienzo, situated 450 steps from the main road to the beach, can seem daunting. But there’s also a boat that can take you there from the pier in town! Another popular beach is Laurito, which also offers boat shuttles and is home to the famed restaurant Da Adolfo.

Shopping in Positano: the best clothing boutiques

Shopping in Positano, Amalfi coast

Positano fashion: beach wear meets glamor!

Love shopping? Then you’ll love Positano! While it’s not quite like shopping in Milan, the town proudly boasts its own thriving fashion industry. Positano fashion (moda Positano) is probably the most glamorous beachwear in the world. With its beginnings in the early 1900s and hugely popular since the 1960’s, Positano fashion is characterized by handcrafted clothes using light materials such as linen and adorned with macramé lace. Stroll through the streets (at times more like stairs) and you’ll find no shortage of boutiques showcasing Positano fashion.

Insider’s tip: For a dizzying selection of casual wear, drop by Antica Sartoria (there’s one location in Piazza Mulini, and another along the main beach). Looking for something more elegant? Pepito’s (at Via Pasitea 39) has you covered.

Shoe shopping in Positano

Handmade Positano sandals

Handmade sandals in Positano

The best Positano souvenirs for women? Handmade, leather sandals. Because they’re made on the spot, they can be designed as you desire (simple straps? Glittering gems? The choice is yours!). And you get to actually watch how these skillful artisans create a pair of sandals… uniquely for you.

Insider’s tip: Stores selling handmade sandals are dotted all over town. Two of our favorites: the family-owned La Botteguccia on Via Regina Giovanna 19, and the small, discreet Safari on Via della Tartana 2. Average cost of sandals: about €60.

And don’t forget your Amalfi coast ceramics…

Ceramic shopping in Positano Italy

Traditional Amalfi coast ceramics

From tabletops to tableware to tiles, these hand-painted ceramics, available in a gorgeous assortment of designs and colors, are made following centuries-old traditions. Most have their origins in Vietri sul Mare, another lovely Amalfi coast town. But many are sold right here in Positano.

Insider’s tip: Ceramica Assunta on Via C. Colombo 97 boasts a huge selection of ceramics decorated with lemons, animals and intricate designs, making for the perfect souvenirs (or gifts!).

Eating sweet treats in Positano

So you’ve hit the beach… and done some shopping. What else is there to do in Positano? Eat, of course!

The Amalfi coast is world-famous for its lemon groves, which bear gigantic lemons (some are the size of cantaloupes!). Have a sweet tooth? Don’t forget to try the delizia al limone, a treat made with a shot (or two) of limoncello, a famous local liqueur that you can learn all about in our blog post on limoncello. Made of sponge cake and drenched with lemon cream, delizia al limone is perfect for breakfast, tea… or, of course dessert. The best place to get a bite of this delight is at La Zagara (Via dei Mulini 8/10), a pastry shop with a drool-worthy window display.

Delizia al limone in Positano Italy

Delizia al limone: a must-try in Positano

Then there’s torta caprese. We’ve mentioned that it’s one of the top things to try on Capri. Paired with a cappuccino, it’s the perfect way to start a day!

Positano Italy food

Delicious breakfast options in Positano

Looking for more breakfast options? Buca di Bacco bar on Spiaggia Grande offers a variety of pastries from the fluffy brioche to the flaky shell-shaped sfogliatelle. And you really can’t go wrong as everything is delicious.

Insider’s tip: To save money have breakfast at the bar, rather than sitting at a table, where you’ll get charged twice as much. For more tips like this, check out our blog post on how not to get ripped off eating in Italy.

Head to the towns above Positano

Positano is wonderful. But the towns above Positano—especially Montepertuso and Nocelle—are also hidden gems, and well worth exploring!

With only a handful of tourists around, these sleepy villages give you an authentic feel for everyday life on the Amalfi coast. In Montepertuso, you’ll see children playing soccer and residents sitting outdoors, while it’s eerily serene in Nocelle, a starting point for those hiking the Sentiero degli Dei (Path of the Gods). Even if you don’t plan on hiking the path, Nocelle still merits a visit for its striking views alone. For more on the Sentiero degli Dei and other paths, check out our post on the best hiking in Italy!

Sweeping panoramic views from Nocelle

Sweeping panoramic views from Nocelle, just outside of Positano

Insider’s tip: To get to Montepertuso and Nocelle, you don’t need your own car; just take the bus from Positano’s Piazza dei Mulini. The bus schedule is displayed there, but to plan ahead, you can get one from the Tourist Office on Via del Saracino 4. Tickets also can be purchased in advance from these vendors. Alternatively, you can buy the tickets from the bus driver—it’ll cost more, but we’re talking 30 or 50 cents extra.


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