My Complete Guide to the Best of Positano, Italy
One of the last stops on our summer abroad, Positano was even more enchanting than we expected - it feels almost imaginary. It's hard to find any particular spot in town that doesn't have a pretty view of colorful houses stacked up the cliffside, down to the tiled dome of Santa Maria Assunta and the sea below. All this beauty does come with a price: Positano is not exactly a budget destination, and you'll climb at least a hundred stairs each day - but it's more than worth the trouble to reach a spot like our wonderful vacation rental, Casa Gabi.
You'll likely reach Positano after several hours of travel, so settle in as you unpack, open the windows for a breeze, and begin to take in the views. After a nap or shower (or both), change into something light and head out to wander the winding roads through town. You'll find shops of almost every kind, from pricey boutiques to local sandal makers. Between the art galleries, linen shops, clothing stores, and gelato stands, you're sure to find something you like. Make your way down to the beach and walk down to the water before you choose a spot for dinner. After you eat, stroll around a bit more as you get to know the city and enjoy it sans day-trippers.
The rest of your days in Positano will look something like this: Start the day with breakfast on the terrace. Make your way to the beach, or catch the ferry for a day trip to Capri or Ravello. Settle in to your day's adventure until late in the afternoon, then head back to your room to get ready for dinner. Spend aperitivo hour anywhere with a view before you walk to your dinner reservation. Stay out among the twinkling lights as long as you like, then finally turn in for the evening. Repeat until you can't quite remember what you used to do all day when you were so busy.
Climbing Positano's steep streets and endless stairs is probably all the exercise you need - trust me, you'll be sore. But if you're looking for more, head up to Sentiero degli Dei (Path of the Gods) which runs along a mountain ridge high above the city. Starting in the town of Agerola, the three-hour hike ends in Nocelle, just above Positano, and of course the views are spectacular. But wouldn't you rather swim than hike?
THE BEST beaches
Skip the busy Spiaggia Grande and walk to tucked-away Spiaggia Fornillo. There are also plenty of private beach clubs that will pick you up at the pier in the morning, and bring you back in the afternoon - make a reservation at the popular Da Adolfo, Bagni d’Arienzo, or Remmese Beach Club. The cost of a lounger for the day will be higher than at Spiaggia Fornillo, but you'll find far less people, wonderful amenities, and a beautiful boat ride to and from the beach. Wherever you're beaching for the day, alternate lounging in the sun with an aperol spritz and swimming along the coastline in search of quiet coves.
THE BEST drinks
Franco's Bar was an easy favorite. The view is incredible, the space is stunning, and the atmosphere is poshly buzzy. Of course you'll find all this reflected in the price of drinks, but skip the cheapest options like the (less-than-delicious) spritzes for a glass of wine or a (fantastic) French 75. Arrive a bit early for a better spot, and don't be afraid to table hop towards the front when something opens up!
If Franco's isn't exactly your scene, you'll find an almost identical view from the Champagne & Oyster Bar, also at Le Sirenuse. A little further afield, Hotel Il San Pietro di Positano has its own wonderful coastal view to enjoy over an aperitivo.
THE BEST restaurants
You should eat outside whenever you can in Positano, but make an exception for Casa e Bottega. In a market that's mostly pasta and cocktails, this pretty restaurant serves refreshingly healthy breakfast and lunch - it was so delicious, we ate here two days in a row. They also have a collection of marine-inspired homewares that might have you wishing for a bigger suitcase.
Walking through the center of town, the windows of pastries at La Zagara are sure to catch your eye. Head inside and order a couple to go, or make your way back to the garden for brunch, lunch, or dinner with live music in the evenings. A sandwich to go from Capricci is a perfect picnic lunch, and there are plenty of gelato shops throughout town for an afternoon sweet.
There's no reason to not have dinner with a view every night you're in Positano. For a meal down by the beach, book a rooftop table at Buca di Bacco. A bit further up the hill, take in the views from a streetside table at Restaurant Bruno or from the terrace at the locally-loved Da Vincenzo. High above Positano at La Tagliata, enjoy a wonderful family-style meal and an even better view of the sea and the city below.
A dinner at Le Sirenuse's Michelin-starred La Sponda is nothing short of magical. You'll need to book a table months in advance, but it's well worth the wait. On the terrace, you're surrounded by lemon trees, hundreds of candles, and musicians playing Italian love songs. Every course of the tasting menu is delicious, and the service and attention to detail are unparalleled. If there's a wedding in town, you just might be lucky enough to see fireworks over the colourful houses of Positano, and hear the whole town applaud as they fade away.