Positano trip planner

A travel guide to the chic Amalfi Coast town of Positano

Postcard Positano
Postcard Positano. (Want this view? It's from the terrace of the Hotel California, from €130 a night.)
This is the Amalfi Coast town that's on all the postcards and guidebook covers, a jumble of white and pastel houses stacked vertiginously up the hillsides and strung with flowering vines.

Postiano: An original Jet Set playground

Trendy Positano is a fishing village–turned–tony resort whose fine beaches continue to serve the Jet Set as a place to relax and be seen.

Everyone from Picasso and Stravinsky to John Steinbeck, Liz Taylor, and Sir Laurence Olivier have vacationed here, and director Franco Zeffirelli is among the many notables to keep a summer villa in town.

Li Galli islands off the coast of Positano
Li Galli islands.
Rudolf Nureyev even bought the Li Galli islets you'll see offshore on your way into town (once thought to be the home of Homer's Sirens).

Positano's popularity among trend setters has meant it's seen several fashions introduced to the world, including the bikini (in 1959).

And Positano remains fashionable. As I was updating this section in 2015, the internet was awash with papparazzi pics of a bikini-clad Gwyneth Paltrow vacationing in Positano with her new beau.

Positano: A vertical town

Paul Klee once described Positano as "the only town in the world conceived on a vertical, rather than a horizontal axis."

This is a town of steep outdoor staircases rather than roads, which may be why so many visitors stick to the hotels and restaurants right at the beach level.

It's a little-known fact, however, that the Positanesi themselves often complain of leg cramps when they travel to other towns—their muscles aren't used to walking on flat surfaces.

Positano is really two villages: "Downtown" Positano is the part that's on every postcard of the Amalfi Coast, a tumble of colorful cube houses and hotels rising up the steep hill above main Spiaggia Grande beach; Fornillo is Positano's quieter fishing village, a stack of white houses along a steep valley above a pebble beach that lies just around the headland to the west (there's a path).

Is Postiano too pricey?

The prices in Positano are as steep as the terrain, with wallet-straining rates on everything from pizza and hotels to the colorful summery clothing sold in the boutiques at Positano's center.

But with a bit of creative financing you can still sample of the indulgent good life in Positano on a budget.

What to see in Positano

The dome of Positano's church of Santa Maria Assunta
The dome of Positano's church of Santa Maria Assunta.
Once you've seen the baroque majolica-tiled dome atop the 13th-century church of Santa Maria Assunta (tel. +39-089-875-480) you've pretty much finished with the historical sights of Positano.

But the real sightseeing here is wandering the twisting alleyways near the port, window shopping at the boutiques, and sipping aperitifs at the beachside bars while glancing around for celebrities.

Then there are the joys of the sea: the beaches (» more) and boat excursions(» more).

Also, being still something of a Jet Set getaway, Positano is home to the coast's best nightlife scene (what there is of it): two discotheques in sea caverns. » more

Tips & links


Azienda Autonoma di Soggiorno e Turismo Comune di Positano
Via Regina Giovanna 13, Positano
tel. +39-089-875-067

How long does Positano take?

Planning your day:There's nothing to see in Positano other than its pretty ol' self, and nothing to do but hang out and just 'be' in Positano, hoping to catch sight of a celebrity. In other word, unless you're staying the night here, you needn't really get off the bus—though you could hop off, stroll around to snap a few photographs, and catch the next one an hour or two later.

Positano has two main bus stops

For most of the downtown hotels, get off at the second bus stop, "Sponda," at the center of town. The exception (at least among those listed on this site) is the Hotel Casa Albertina, for which it's better to get off at the first stop. If your hotel is in the Fornillo neighborhood, get off at the first stop and wait at the stop for the Positano minibus (ask "per Fornillo?" as you board to make sure it's the right bus—and to signal the driver that you're a tourist and he'll need to tell you when to get off).

Tours to Positano

Book a tour: Consider booking a tour from Rome or Naples with our partners at Viator.com:

     • Private Tour: Sorrento, Positano, Amalfi and Ravello Day Trip from Naples
     • Pompeii and Amalfi Coast Small Group Day Trip from Rome

Amalfi Coast tours
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