I think we all have that one happy place that we dream of when we are having a tough day. Something that creates an image of paradise in your mind. For me, that place is Positano, Italy. There’s no summer like an Italian summer spent swimming in the ocean, eating amazing seafood pastas, drinking wine and, of course, finishing it off with some creamy gelato! I can’t think of a better place to be for this!
The one thing that I really admire about the Italians is that it’s all aboutliving the good life, full of pleasure and sensory indulgence. I first came to Positano five years ago and since then I’ve been back every year. It has such a special place in my heart. On this trip, when I thought my dreamy expectations of Positano couldn’t be beaten, I found myself falling even more deeply in love with this picture-perfect bohemian beach town.
So while my knowledge of the place isn’t a scratch on that of come of the locals who have lived here for decades, here are some of my tips and favourite things that I love doing in Positano!
Each year we fly into Naples and hire a car, then plug in GPS destinations. I partner with Avis on a lot of travel, and a shuttle will pick you up free of charge from Naples Airport arrivals and take you to the front door of the rental office, which is only a few hundred metres away. Avis has a great range of Audis, Alfas, Mercedes and little Fiat Cinquecentos if your luggage permits. It’s open from 7:30am-11:30pm – click here for more and to see which cars are available.
The Amafi coast drive is not for the faint hearted. But if you think you can do it, it’s one of the most breathtaking drives you can possibly do! Just make sure you take on full insurance on your rental car! The roads are quite narrow so if you can go for a smaller car, it will help when you’re faced with a tourist bus trying to pass you on a narrow stretch! We always get a bigger car because of all of our (haha, my…) luggage, and Scott is a confident driver.
If you’re not used to driving on the other side of the road (in the UK & Australia we drive on the left) and you’re not too confident behind the wheel, that’s ok – a driver will take you to Positano for around €100 each way. Make sure at the time of booking you make it clear that you’ll want to stop for photos & some granita on the coast road, at least twice! You don’t want a grumpy driver getting in the way of a perfect coastal photo. You might like to check out the forums on this by clicking here.
The drive to Positano is magical. It’s one of my favourite drives. The anticipation builds as you wind your way down the coast and begin to see glimpses of the yachts lying off the beach of Positano. And I don’t think I’ve ever arrived when the sky is not a perfect pale blue. It’s magical.
You can also get to Positano by ferry from Naples, Capri, Amalfi or Sorrento. Have a look here or let your hotel organise it for you.
Where to Stay:
Every year I always go back to the same hotel, Palazzo Murat. I don’t work or partner with any hotels in Positano. Firstly because in peak seasons the best hotels are full anyway – they don’t need the publicity and even media rates are hard to come by, and secondly I don’t want the pressure of having to perform any blogger duties while I’m relaxing in Positano… although it’s impossible not to with such scenery ; )
The hotel is set among beautiful gardens and a pool that sits in the heart of Positano. Positano is all about steep hills and lots of stairs, this hotel uses a car park that’s right at the base of the road into Positano – it literally makes for the shortest possible walk to the hotel. So no stairs from the car park to the hotel!! That in itself is a blessing!
The hotel has such beautiful grounds and it’s like an oasis right in the middle of the town. It’s quite rare for a hotel in Positano to have pool and this hotel has a stunning pool with the most beautiful backdrop of the northern face of Positano’s hillside of pastel homes. The price of the hotel is not cheap. For a room with a view you’ll pay around €400 per night, and you’ll never see special offers. It’s often booked out by March for the coming summer.
There are heaps of alternatives around – if you’re absolutely loaded you can stay in the nearby Le Sirenuse (it’s a little bit more elevated, we just use their bar for cocktails and photos) or if you’re travelling on a lower budget it just means you’re likely to be getting a little more exercise. But that’s absolutely fine – you can take a day pack and just spend six hours on a day bed on the beach. No need to trek back to the hotel too often. Also holiday rentals are getting better in Italy – check out the usual sites for these.
Positano is full of tourists during the day and can get very busy, especially in July & August. If you have the luxury of staying in Positano (many tourists just come for day tours), you can get up early and really feel like you get the whole of Positano to yourself early – same thing at night when the big tours leave. I would recommend an early morning swim! You feel like you’re the only person in Positano. You can really appreciate this place a little more when it’s quiet.
Where to eat
La Zagara: Hands down best chocolate eclairs (ever). Over the past few years, the eclairs have gotten progressively smaller but that’s ok, you just buy two!! But make sure you get down early because they get sold out early. Also there’s a little supermarket opposite to stack up on sparkling water & wine etc. for your balcony sessions.
Lemon Granita: I love Lemon Granita and probably end up eating 2-3 of these a day! My fave is a home made one with a small stand in Mulini Square, just where the bottom of the winding road meets the pedestrian-only area. You will see the Nonno selling this or otherwise his granddaughters!
Another place I would recommend is on the drive just before you get to Positano – granita from Salvatore! His Granita is amazing! He has many Chihuahuas. Also be careful, Salvatore is a charming opportunist – ensure you ask how much your picks of fruit are going to be before he hands you a peach and asks for €10 in return. Haha. He’s on the coast road just 10 minutes north of Positano, so try and spot him as you’re driving down from Naples. He has quite a big fruit stand and if you can spot the Chihuahuas, you know you’ve got it!
Chez Black: One of the most iconic restaurants in Positano. It’s right on the beach! Absolutely amazing food and staff. If you want to get a table at the front, make sure you book early!! The seafood pasta is TDF. We always overlooked this because we thought it was just some expensive restaurant for the billionaires and celebrities to be seen at when they arrive in their yachts, but not so! The menu is very reasonable, service is very friendly and the wine selection has basic Chiantis etc. starting at €20 per bottle.
La Pergola: Cheap and cheerful, this is a great place to settle down when you first arrive in Positano and do some people watching and absorb the atmosphere. The spaghetti vongole is not bad and there is a little bar attached where you can stand and sip an espresso afterwards – feel like a real Italian!
Lo Guarracino: Amazing spot for lunch just between Positano and Fornillo beach. 10 minute walk from the main beach. Feels like you are eating from a tree house with the most stunning view over the Tyrrhenian Sea.
Franco’s Bar or Le Sirenuse Champagne Bar: These two little bars are right near each other – great views. Perfect for sunset drinks overlooking Positano. Breathtaking. Scott had a few too many martinis at the Champagne Bar last year and we made some new friends on the night!
Wine & Paninis: Just near the north steps of the church as you walk down the hill is a great little wine and panini shop. They’ll make you an excellent panini with fresh Italian ingredients to take to the beach with you. And it has a great vibe – everyone in there seems to love what they are doing.
When you stay at Palazzo Murat, you get a complimentary boat ride up Positano coast! It’ll be on a nice boat will give you a good little introduction to the coastline. You can also get a private boat for around 260 euros for half a day. The hotel can book this for you or just pop down to the pier and book one. If you’re travelling with a group, you can get something a little more kick-ass and split the bill – plenty of options down at the pier.
Day trip to Capri:
I LOVE Capri! It’s such a beautiful island! I do a day trip to Capri on every visit to Positano! You can book an early ferry and the last ferry back so you can spend a whole day there. I would recommend getting your own private to circle Capri at least once and to see the Blue Grotto, if you’re up for the hustle.
I would try to avoid one of those “blue grotto tour group” arrangements, this is where you want to spurge a little and enjoy your own boat. Our boat man obviously had a connection with the Blue Grotto mafia and skipped a long queue, with the help of a rolled up €10 note. So we avoided waiting for ages to try to get in there. But aside from that it’s just nice to have your own boat, you can stop and swim anywhere you like.
If you are not too scared, I would recommend hiring a scooter to explore the island. The view from Anacapri is breathtaking! This year I spent my day at Lido del Faro under an umbrella and swimming off the rocks (they also did outstanding grilled octopus and a Caprese salad with those big pale fleshy tomatoes to die for). A scooter will cost you about €10 an hour and you’ll need to remember your driver’s licence. We hired it from Oasi Motor and they are very trusting and trustworthy, will give you helmets that will actually protect your head etc. Highly recommended.
I could waffle on for pages and pages about Positano. There are many more tips I haven’t remembered here, and please make sure you add your own in the comments section. But this is my happy place, this is somewhere that anyone who appreciates sun, great food, pale blue skies meeting hazy horizons, stunning landscapes and pretty houses etc. will just fall in love with.
P.S. Don’t forget to chat to and buy a little handmade wooden toy from our dear friend Vincenzo on the beach near the steps at Buca de Bacco at night. He’s such a free spirit and will delight you with his love for the world.