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17 Best Things to Do in Positano, Italy

17 Best Things to Do in Positano, Italy

Positano is a town on the southern Italian coast that’s been attracting visitors for hundreds of years. With its colorful buildings, wild beaches, and breathtaking views, it’s not hard to see why John Steinbeck wrote, “Positano bites deep. It is a dream place that isn’t quite real when you are there and becomes beckoningly real after you have gone.”

Positano is a place of wonderful scenery and small streets that wind down from the top of a mountain into the sea. It’s also known for its lively nightlife, exceptional fine dining opportunities, and fantastic beaches. Most of all, this is a major destination along the Amalfi Coast that makes for both a great place to stop or stay along the famous route.

Naples is the nearest airport to Positano and is also home to a high-speed rail station with quick connections to Rome. Tourist season is during the summer when the beautiful coast becomes busy with beachgoers and people on day trips to the many historic and scenic places nearby.

The spring and fall shoulder seasons are excellent times to visit Positano, too, while winter reveals a peaceful quiet along the coast that few tourists experience. We stayed at the Hotel Villa Gabrisa, which had excellent ocean views. Read our full review for the full experience.

When you plan a trip to this magnificent gem on the Amalfi Coast, you’re in for the experience of a lifetime. Use our first-hand travel advice below to learn more about the top Positano attractions, accommodations, and tips.

TL;DR

  • Most significant landmark – The many amazing views of the Amalfi Coast
  • Free activity – Lounging and swimming at Positano Beach
  • Activity for kids – Boat tours of the coast, islands, and caves like Emerald Grotto
  • Activity for adults – Having an Aperol Spritz on a beach chair at Arienzo Beach Club
  • Place to eat – Da Vincenzo Positano 1958
  • Nightlife – Music On The Rocks
  • Place to stayHotel Palazzo Murat

Things to Do in Positano, Italy

1. Visit the Church of Santa Maria Assunta

Aerial View of Santa Maria Assunta, Positano, Italy
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Address: P.za Flavio Gioia, 84017 Positano SA, Italy

Let’s start with La Chiesa di Santa Maria Assunta, or The Church of Santa Maria Assunta, an essential feature of Positano’s cultural, pastoral, and architectural landscape. Note that Positano is a town with almost no flat land; its buildings are nearly on top of one another along the cliff’s edge.

This church’s domed roof, with its intricate pattern of yellow, green, and blue majolica tiles, makes for a striking icon among them, flashing against the blue sky and the Mediterranean Sea.

The church is one of Positano’s most visible and photographed landmarks, right in the heart of the town – just a few steps from Marina Grande Beach.

It has stood in the center of Positano for hundreds of years, being a constant source of inspiration for painters, poets, and other artists since its construction. One of its prized treasures is a 13th-century Byzantine icon of the Virgin Mary.

Today, painters sell their works on the beach and along the romantic staircase leading down to Santa Maria Assunta, many of which reflect this lovely Positano church.

You’ll also find plenty of souvenir shops in this central area. This makes central Positano a great place to stay – the Hotel Palazzo Murat is a highly-rated luxury hotel steps from the church, with an especially popular infinity pool.

See Related: Most Beautiful Fairy Tale Towns

2. Spiaggia Grande Beach

Spiaggia Positano (Positano Beach)
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Next up is Positano’s main beach and its most famous: Spiaggia Grande. On maps and around town, you’ll also hear people refer to it as Positano Beach or Positano Spiaggia. You’ll find it right before Santa Maria Assunta, separating the city center from the sea.

There are beach clubs where you can rent a sun lounger for the day or open areas where you can lay a towel down on the dark sand. Paddleboard, kayak, and pedal boat rentals are readily available at the water’s edge. The Mediterranean is infinitely refreshing on a hot summer day and is the most convenient place in town to enjoy.

But even if you’re not looking to get wet or lounge on the sand, there’s still a reason to come here. The view of the town and the cliffs that envelop it is truly magnificent from here, especially as you get closer to the water. Don’t miss a chance to photograph or gaze at the landscape behind this lovely beach.

See Related: Vacation Dresses for Summer & Beach Trips

3. Arienzo Beach Club

Arienzo Beach from up the hill with its famous beach club below
Kristina Drozd / Shutterstock

Address: Via Arienzo, 16, 84017 Positano SA, Italy

While we’re on the subject, beach people will surely want to hear about the one that enjoys the sun the longest in Positano: Arienzo Beach and its famous beach club.

Located just east of the village center, Arienzo Beach is one of the most cherished sights on the Amalfi Coast. Part of its allure is its remoteness – to get there. You must descend 300 (breathtakingly beautiful) steps or hop on a free boat shuttle from the Positano main pier. As you can imagine, either method of arrival is super scenic.

Once there, the Arienzo Beach Club is the place to grab a lounge chair and relax for the day with an Aperol Spritz. They also serve a tasty food menu of Italian delights. This is yet another place to catch the magnificent views the Amalfi Coast is famous for, with cliffs and perched villages in the distance.

See Related: Beach Vacation Ideas

4. Dance the Night Away at Music on the Rocks

Cave-like interior of Music on the Rocks nightclub in Positano
Music on the Rocks / musicontherocks.it

Address: Località Grotte Dell’incanto, 51, 84017, Positano SA, Italy

While Positano is a relaxing paradise by day, it can be lively and exciting by night if you know where to go. The best place for nightlife here is undoubtedly Music on the Rocks, a club at the eastern end of Positano Beach.

From dinner time to the wee hours of the morning, Music on the Rocks is partying, with a DJ mixing international and local hits and a steady stream of cocktails available. The coolest part of this club is that it is literally on (or in) the rocks – the space is like a cave carved into the cliffside, an appropriate venue for the Amalfi Coast.

If you aren’t a partier, don’t let the presence of this nightclub discourage you – Positano is largely a quiet village in the evening, and the location of Music on the Rocks isn’t bad for the rest of the town. If you like the idea of an adult beverage but don’t need to stay up all night around many people, consider an Amalfi Coast wine-tasting tour instead.

5. Enjoy Ridiculously Tasty Italian Food

The elegant atmosphere and view from La Sponda Restaurant at Hotel Le Sirunese in Positano
Hotel Le Sirunese / sirunese.it

Positano is celebrated for its seafood dishes and an abundance of local ingredients such as arugula, figs, cheese, artichokes, hazelnuts, and olive oil, all combining to give the food a distinctive flavor that has made it famous worldwide among gastronomes.

The only thing better than a beach vacation is a beach vacation with great food, and the only thing that could make that better is if it’s Italian food – and Positano has that in spades. This town is famous for its restaurants within walking distance of the beach, some making for spectacular sunset views at dinner time.

If you’re looking to dine with a view, there’s no shortage of tables. There’s the romantic La Sponda in the Hotel le Sirenuse, with its stunning environment and high-end pasta dishes to enjoy while overlooking the cliffside and sea. Nearby is Ristorante Adamo ed Eva Positano, a more casual restaurant with excellent local pasta and seafood dishes, plus outdoor dining with that million-dollar view.

Don’t miss an opportunity to try one of the best restaurants in town, even if it doesn’t have a cliffside view. Few places can match the experience of dining at Da Vincenzo Positano 1958 when it comes to wine and dining in Positano.

Casual yet upscale, this local icon has been making gnocchi, pasta, pizza, and more for decades using seafood caught just down the road and burrata made by local farms. Make a reservation to ensure you get a table.

See Related: Best Tours in Italy

6. Take a Cooking Class

Homemade gnocchi with wine at a cooking class in Positano
Positano Cooking class gnocchi e tiramisù / Viator

Let’s stay on the subject of exceptional Italian food – it’s not easy to get out of your head once you’ve had it. So why not learn what makes it so great and take it home? Positano and the surrounding places are great for an Italian cooking class.

This Positano culinary experience includes a local market tour where you will learn how to pick the best ingredients, a cooking lesson to see how three dishes are prepared, and then dinner with your host to enjoy your creations. Others specialize in specific delicacies such as mozzarella and tagliatelle or gnocchi and tiramisu – that last one’s my personal choice.

Experiences like these contain more than your average tour as you get to take home a unique ability, plus you can mingle with a typical local who loves good food casually. Seek out those that emphasize regional specialty ingredients, like Amalfi Coast lemons.

See Related: Weird, Bizarre Foods from Around the World

7. Franco Senesi Fine Art

Paintings and sculptures at Franco Senesi Fine Art in Positano
Franco Senesi Fine Art / Facebook

Address: Via dei Mulini, 16, 84017 Positano SA, Italy

You’ll find several art galleries scattered around Positano’s center. Given the sheer beauty of the place, it makes sense that artists would want to display their work here. One of the most popular in town is Franco Senesi Fine Art, a gallery and garden in the village center.

Several rooms and outdoor exhibition spaces showcase Italian artists’ paintings, sculptures, and other art pieces. Most pieces are modern and range in theme from dreamy interpretations of the colorful local scenery to abstract rock and metal sculptures. It’s a fantastic variety and a great capture of Italian talent.

Art lovers will be glad to spend a short time during their stay wandering around the different rooms and gardens, while those who fall in love with a piece are welcome to buy it and take it home. The staff there can arrange packing and shipping, too.

See Related: Incredible Reasons to Visit Italy This Year

8. Go Back in Time at the MAR Positano Villa Romana Museum

The underground villa with its art at MAR Villa Romana Positano
MAR Villa Romana Positano / marpositano.it

Address: P.za Flavio Gioia, 7, 84017 Positano SA, Italy

One of the top things for history fanatics to do in Positano is to visit the MAR Positano Villa Romana Museum. It’s conveniently located steps from Santa Maria Assunta in the village center and contains a wonderful collection of artifacts and stories from the past.

Well, I should say that it’s the entrance that’s located right next to the church – the ancient Roman villa that houses the museum sits underneath it.

Archaeologists located this preserved piece of the past buried when Mount Vesuvius erupted over 2,000 years ago. Today, it houses items found inside and others that educate visitors about life in that era, the eruption, art, and more.

I truly believe this is a must-do in town, as it doesn’t take long, and the history you’ll learn is incredible. To take it a step further, a guided tour of Positano that includes the museum plus more reveals even more.

See Related: Best Car Museums in Italy

9. Hike the Amalfi Coast Trails

Montepertuso il Buco, Italy
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

There are several ways to see the Amalfi Coast, each with its advantages: from the water, road, or above. The latter is necessary for outdoor adventure lovers, as scenic trails cross the mountains above the seaside villages.

In the direction of the Sorrento Coast to the northwest, Le Tese di Positano is a trail based on the oldest road connecting the communities separated by the mountains.

This former mule trail served as the only road for farmers and merchants until the first half of the 19th Century. Today, it’s a challenging adventure for physically fit people who want to see this spectacular place from the above forests.

There’s also Montepertuso il Buco (hole in the rock), a strange-looking mountain with a natural hole held in it. Photographers love this spot high above Positano in the village of Montepertuso. Guided hikes are available to this iconic spot.

Perhaps the most famous hike here is the Path of the Gods or the Sentiero degli Dei. This trail connects Nocelle, a tiny hamlet next to Montepertuso, with Agerola and other villages of the Amalfi Coast.

Take in all the scenery of this spectacular trek with the expertise of a local guide, pointing out terraced vineyards, the best viewpoints, and what life would have been like back when this was the main method of transportation around the Amalfi Coast.

See Related: Things to Do in Ravello, Italy

10. Take a Boat Tour

Group of friends pouring wine on a boat off the Amalfi Coast
Amalfi Coast: Boat and Snorkeling Tour / GetYourGuide

That brings us to another fantastic way to enjoy the Amalfi Coast – by sea. The dramatic cliffs, picturesque villages on the seaside, and azure waters are arguably even more photogenic from a boat, and you can explore underwater and coastal treasures that you otherwise couldn’t find.

You can’t go wrong with a full-day sightseeing cruise of the Amalfi Coast. Setting off with your friendly and knowledgeable captain from Positano, you’ll sail past the village of Praiano, the famous Fiordo di Furore (more on that below), the iconic village of Amalfi, and even waterfalls.

You’ll also have the chance to enter the Emerald Grotto, a surreal sea cave with stalactites and emerald-green water on which a rowboat can take you.

There are tons of other, more specific boat tours, too. Many include focuses on the best snorkeling spots and beaches that can only be reached by boat, like this one on an iconic Amalfitan Gozzo boat. Others are sunset cruises, providing an unobstructed waterfront view of that magnificent evening.

See Related: Best River Cruises in Europe

11. Explore the Villages of the Amalfi Coast

Praiano, Italy Coastline
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Well, let’s finish off the methods of exploring the Amalfi Coast with the remaining one – on the land. The first time I went, everyone told me not to drive the Amalfi Coast, as it’s not as beautiful as it is by sea or from above. But having done it, I most definitely disagree, and I highly recommend traveling the coast by car, guided tour, or bus.

The part of the road west of Positano is shorter but contains a few magnificent spots to stop for a photo of the coast ahead of you. Moving east from Positano, there are more villages, beginning with Praiano and Conca dei Marini, both undoubtedly worth a photo stop at the minimum.

Next is the namesake of the coast, Amalfi town, with its spectacular natural setting beneath towering cliffs. Definitely stop here to meander through old piazzas to get a sense of local life and view the city’s beautiful cathedrals and abbeys.

Photographers will be pleased with the combination of winding alleyways, colorful houses, and sun-filled squares. This is a place to relax, enjoy the view, and order a limoncello or gelato.

After Amalfi, you’ll come to Maiori and Minori, each with incredible scenery and tasty eateries. Continue to Salerno to see the whole coast and more tiny seaside villages. If you don’t want to drive it yourself or worry about catching local buses, take a guided sightseeing tour from Positano or even a tour by bicycle.

See Related: Italy vs. Greece

12. Visit the Island of Capri

Aerial View of the Island of Capri
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

One of the best Positano things to do is get away from it – crossing the sea to a tiny island off the coast called Capri. This can be done by ferry, on a boat tour, or by arranging for a private boat tour.

Capri is a treasure of southern Italy, and it’s famous for various reasons. The island features stunning natural beauty, delectable cuisine, and high-end shopping.

It’s also a location to see and be seen, which is why so many celebrities dock their yachts in Marina Grande. The magnificent coastline is dotted with majestic mansions, and the flashy Italian island has long been a haven for jet setters.

Boat tours are a popular method to experience the natural beauty of Capri. Some popular sights include the Blue Grotto, Green Grotto, the Punta Carena Lighthouse, and the Faraglioni di Capri rocks tower offshore out of the sea.

There are a ton of boats selling circle-island tours around the main port and Marina Grande Beach, but from my experience, paying just a bit extra for a private cruise is very much worth it.

Don’t forget to explore what’s on land, too. Capri and Anacapri’s twisting alleyways are packed with boutique shops, historical sights, and restaurants.

You can also ride the chairlift to Mount Solaro or stroll to the Natural Arch if you like to get outside and find the perfect sight. If you need to spend a night or two on this spectacular island, the Villa Marina Capri Hotel & Spa is among the best.

See Related: Things to Do in Genoa, Italy

13. Furore Di Fiordo

View of the bridge and beach at Furore di Fiordo near Positano
Simone Padovani / Shutterstock

Back to the mainland, another Amalfi Coast icon you won’t want to miss is the Furore Di Fiordo. Just beneath the roadway connecting Amalfi and Positano, Furore Di Fiordo is tucked away in a secluded coast corner. You’ll need to drive or take a bus from Positano, but this magnificent and one-of-a-kind beach is worth it.

You’ve probably seen this beach on Instagram while doing Amalfi Coast research – it’s a long, narrow cove between cliffs with a sandy beach in the back. An arched bridge crosses it towards the sea. It’s absolutely stunning and highly photogenic.

The beach is accessible by descending cliffside steps from the highway into the swimming area. The beach is relatively small, making for a more intimate beach day experience, and the views from your beach towel are unparalleled.

Visitors can swim in clear blue waters during the warmer months or hike around, enjoying unusual granite formations year-round. Visit early in the morning in May or September for the best chance at having it as your private beach.

14. Fornillo Beach

Sunset from Fornillo Beach in Positano
Christopher Moswitzer / Shutterstock

Let’s fit in another beach while we’re at it and one closer to Positano. Fornillo Beach is just a short walk from Positano’s main center, just west of Positano Beach.

The trek to Fornillo Beach is along a wonderfully picturesque coastal path that is well worth the effort. It sits below Fornillo, a much quieter neighborhood in Positano, providing an off-the-beaten-path experience without requiring a long journey.

This beach is far less busy and feels more authentically Mediterranean. The sea is incredibly beautiful. There are beach clubs where you can rent towels and chairs, numerous eateries, clean bathrooms, and a great environment.

Hotel Pupetto is a great mid-range accommodation option that sits directly on the beach for those who want their toes in the water at every opportunity.

See Related: Best Beach Blankets

15. Shop for Beautiful Footwear at Safari – The Positano Sandals

A pair of sandals from Safari The Positano Sandals on the beach in Positano
Safari The Positano Sandals / Facebook

Address: Via della Tartana, 2, 84017 Positano SA, Italy

To enjoy all of these beaches, you’re going to need a good pair of flip-flops. Make a quick stop at Safari – The Positano Sandals’ small shop on the staircase near Santa Maria Assunta to get something right.

You’ll get something truly just right, too – they make custom sandals and footwear at this little boutique. Using an assortment of leather and colors, you can design your footwear with the advice of the shoemaking experts there. It doesn’t cost as much as you imagine, and the comfort and long-lasting quality are exceptional.

There is also an assortment of already-made sandals, and you may spot something you like on the wall ready for you. You can also pick up water shoes for the rockier beaches of the Amalfi Coast here.

See Related: Incredible Bucket List Ideas

16. Day Tour to Pompeii and Mount Vesuvius

People walking through the ancient ruins of Pompeii in Southern Italy
Woodrow Matthews / ViaTravelers

There are many day trip opportunities around this part of southern Italy. Still, my top recommendation outside of the Amalfi Coast would be to the ancient city of Pompeii and to the volcano that destroyed it. You’ve certainly heard the story or learned about the Neopolitan village buried by volcanic ash in a flash, preserving its society to be found by us thousands of years later.

It’s an easy place to visit from Positano, just an hour’s drive away. Various guided tours are happy to pick you up from the Amalfi Coast, take you there, and provide expert insight.

This day trip includes Pompeii, Vesuvius, lunch, and wine tasting all in one – potentially checking off several boxes on your Italy to-do list.

You could also easily separate these two attractions into two separate day trips. We only spent an afternoon in Pompeii, and I left feeling like I could have spent three days wandering around. It’s a huge amount of fascinating history to absorb, and every corner presents a new photo opportunity.

17. Laurito Beach, La Porta Beach, and Fiumicello Beach

Fiumicello Beach near Maratea, accessible from Positano
auralaura / Shutterstock

Finally, we’ll leave you with a few more of the area’s pristine beaches because we all know you can’t get enough of them. If you’re looking for a more exclusive beach than the crowded shores of Positano, Laurito, La Porta, and Fiumicello are a few excellent options.

Set against the coastline’s rugged cliffs, the hidden gem of Laurito is a small beach tucked into a cove just below the neighborhood of the same name. There are two restaurants on the beach offering food, drinks, and chairs, as well as transportation from the main pier in Positano.

There’s no other way to reach Laurito Beach. It’s tiny and exclusive, so be sure to arrive early to get a spot, and you won’t be disappointed with the peace and views here.

La Porta Beach is another one only accessible by boat but has a long and broad expanse of sand that allows for plenty of room for beachgoers to spread out. You’ll also find boat shuttles from the Positano marina here, but there are no sunbeds, so bring your towels and beach equipment to make this spot more pleasant.

If you’re looking for minimal crowds, Fiumicello is a gorgeous option located relatively far from Positano, offering plenty of room. Again, you’ll need to arrive by boat – it’s a 3-hour ride, which combines your beach day with a coastal cruise. Once there, though, you’ll certainly be one of the only visitors to enjoy its stretch of sand at the entrance of a gorge.

See Related: Best Beaches in France

FAQs

How do you get to Positano?

Positano and the rest of the Amalfi Coast are somewhat remote, being on a section of coastline surrounded by steep hills, making it alluring. Most visitors start their journey in the city of Naples. Renting a car from there and driving takes about 90 minutes; taking a train to the village of Sorrento and then a bus to Positano adds an hour to that.

Are there activities in Positano for children?

There are plenty of fun things for families visiting Positano to do. Playing in the sea at Spiaggia Grande Beach or taking a boat trip further out is popular for vacationers of all ages.

Kids especially find it cool to take a boat tour into the Emerald Grotto. Finally, a day trip to Pompeii and Mount Vesuvius is interesting for children old enough to understand and appreciate fascinating history.

What are the best things to see in Positano, Italy, during the winter?

If your Positano trip falls during the colder months, there is still plenty to do and see – and you’ll have the advantage of visiting alongside a fraction of the tourists during the summer. Positano attractions such as the Church of Santa Maria Assunta, the MAR Positano Villa Romana museum, and the Franco Sensei Fine Art Gallery will still be explored. As for the Amalfi Coast’s panoramic views, excellent food, and adventurous hikes, they are spectacular any day of the year.

Why is Positano called Positano?

Legend has it that freedmen Posidii founded the town of Positano during Claudian times. Allegedly, a ship carrying an icon was guided by some unseen force, and they heard a voice say “pose, pose” to indicate where they should dock – this became known as “Pose” or “Positano.”

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