So, you’re curious about the top things to do in Positano, Italy?
Prepare to say “ciao” to marvelous pastel boutique buildings, smiling locals, a touristy European endeavor and relaxing beaches all tightly wrapped into the small-but-abundant town that is Positano. Whether you’re a do-all see-all explorer or a wishful wanderlust who is seeking a total vacation, Positano has what you need and desire. Here are the 10 top things to do and see in Positano, Italy.
1. Walk through the quaint city streets of Positano.
Every corner of Positano is worthy of being on the cover of “Travel and Leisure.” Upon entry into Positano, you’re line of sight is flooded with warm-colored buildings, shops, and boutique hotels. Simply walking through these winding, hilly streets is easily one of the most fun and simple things to do in Positano, Italy.
Plus, this activity is free.
2. Shop at the local boutiques and souvenir shops.
While you’re walking through the city, indulge in all of the locally owned clothing and souvenir shops. Nothing screams “a trip to the Amalfi Coast” like a new lemon-patterned sundress or polo.
Or, maybe lemon patterns and light beach linens aren’t your style? You can also find delicious lemon flavored candies (my favorite being the lemon white chocolate bars), t-shirts, fresh fruits, magnets and trendy Italian fedoras.
3. Try an authentic limoncello (or other lemon treat).
If you haven’t already noticed, the lemons of Positano and the Amalfi Coast are legendary. The city’s warm coastal climate makes for perfect lemon groves and an endless array of lemon treats.
Limoncello is one such well-known treat — a dessert drink (alcoholic) that is typically enjoyed either before or after a meal. It is usually served as a shot, but, trust me, it is much more enjoyable than a shot of anything you’ll find elsewhere.
Beware of the mini souvenir limoncello bottles that are sold in the shops, though. They may be cute, but they taste like hand sanitizer. Spend the couple euros extra for a real limoncello from a quality bar or restaurant instead.
4. Sunbathe at Spiaggia Grande. (Things To Do In Positano.)
Spiaggia Grande is the main beach in Positano. It’s also the beach with the view you probably think of every time you hear of the Amalfi Coast.
Just as the city view at Spiaggia Grande is legendary, so are the Gatorade blue waves, famous beachside restaurants and plentiful sunshine that accompany it.
What media does not tell you about Spiaggia Grande, however, is that the vast majority of the beach is privately owned. All of the photos you see of the colorful blue chairs, striped umbrellas and beach-served food are operated by beach club resorts, meaning you have to pay a pretty penny to be there.
You can expect to pay 25E per person per day for a non-front-row chair/umbrella (front row costs 30E), which was definitely worth it for one relaxing beach day. Otherwise, there is a tiny strip of chair-less beach that is free to the public on the marina end of the beach. If you opt for the free public beach, plan to arrive by 10:00 a.m. to get a good spot.
(Pro tip: if you’re looking for the iconic orange and teal umbrellas and chairs in Positano, you won’t find them that Spiaggia Grande. That particular Positano aesthetic is at Arienzo Beach Club, a private beach club only accessible by boat taxi. 65E will get you the most basic club package and includes a basic last-row chair, food, the water taxi and more.)
5. Spend the afternoon at Fornillo Beach.
Fornillo Beach is the second most popular beach in Positano. Serving scenic views of the city watch tower and teal toe-dipping waves, Fornillo Beach is a great place to spend an afternoon if you’re looking for things to do in Positano.
I will say that Spiaggia Grande is the most popular beach for a reason, though. Even though Fornillo Beach does offer a unique view of Positano, you will not find the iconic Positano views (the houses and shops built on the hills) here. If you’re looking for the iconic Positano views, go to Spiaggia Grande.
6. Take a group boat tour to Amalfi town. (Things To Do In Positano.)
Positano, while located on the Amalfi Coast, is an whopping 50 minute boat ride to the actual town of Amalfi. (Yes, boat ride. No traffic, no tiny Italian roads, no pedestrians, and it still takes nearly an hour to get there.)
Luckily, many boating options to Amalfi are available from Positano. When you’re at Spiaggia Grande, you will see several tents where you can either rent a boat, go on a private boat tour or join a group tour. I highly recommend Blue Star boat rentals, a family-owned and operated company. The owners are ridiculously nice, and the prices are very reasonable.
At only about 70E per person for a day-long group boat tour, you get almost an entire day on a really nice boat, to swim off the boat into the clear turquoise Mediterranean, and, moreover, you get roundtrip transportation to an afternoon in Amalfi town.
If you’re looking for a cheaper mode of transportation, there are also daily ferries available. You can buy ferry tickets at the neighboring tents for between 20-30E. Although I considered taking the ferry as a more affordable option, I’m very glad I chose the fun boat tour in hindsight. The small group tour was totally a trip highlight.
7. Take a day trip to Capri.
While I sadly wasn’t able to visit Capri during my past trip to the Amalfi Coast, it is certainly on my list of top things to do in Positano during our next trip. The only reason I didn’t this time around was because the boat tours to Capri were fully booked!
(Pro trip: book boat tours and ferry tickets at least one day prior to your preferred boating date. The ticket tents open at 8:00 a.m. if you would like to be the first one there.)
The Blue Star group tours to Capri will be my preferred mode of transportation when I visit, and it will likely cost a similar amount to the Amalfi boat tour. But, like Amalfi, cheaper ferry tickets are also available from Positano, too.
8. Splurge on a drink from Franco’s. (Things To Do In Positano.)
Franco’s Bar is the most envied seasonal luxury bar on the Amalfi Coast. Attached to Le Sirenuse, one of Positano’s most upscale hotels, Franco’s boasts an immaculate sunset view of Positano. Furthermore, as you watch the sun set from arguably the most iconic viewpoint of the town, your taste buds will be praising the scrumptious drinks Franco’s has to offer. I personally recommend the non-alcoholic “Positano Tropicana.”
I suggest arriving to the bar front between 5:30 and 6:00 p.m. (17:30-18:00) because the sun sets early on the Amalfi Coast, and there will be a line to enter.
Also, I must warn you about the hefty prices here. There is a 20E per person spending minimum, and all of the cocktails (and mocktails) cost at least 20E each. I’m certainly glad we went once for the experience, but I would probably not go back on my own budget-friendly dime.
9. Indulge in lots of fresh seafood and seafood pasta.
In addition to lemons, the Amalfi Coast is famous for its mouth-watering fresh seafood dishes. The seafood you will eat in Positano is caught the same morning — you can even watch (and smell) the fisherman bring in their daily harvests at the Spiaggia Grande marina every morning.
The 4 best restaurants in Positano for seafood and seafood pasta are:
- Ristorante Bruno (get the shrimp in lemon sauce, you can thank me later).
- Da Vincenzo (Michelin ranked restaurant loved by the locals).
- Buca di Bacco (the pasta scampi, per favore).
- Chez Black (located on the beach and decorated like a ship at sea, making it a tourist hotspot).
Not a fan of seafood? Try the tenderloin for two from Covo dei Saraceni.
10. Rent a vintage car and have a photoshoot.
Imagine this: it’s a comfortably sunny afternoon, partly cloudy and the sea is glittering. You’re sitting in the backseat of a red vintage Fiat with the ragtop down so the breeze can feather through your hair as you coast on the winding cliffside. Pedestrians “oo” and “ah” as you pass, and you can’t help but flash a Jay Gatsby smolder in return.
Sounds pretty on-par for the best things to do in Positano, doesn’t it?
Hiring a vintage classic car for two hours to take photos will definitely be an Amalfi Coast vacation highlight. You can even hire a driver (our driver’s name was Paolo, naturally), so you don’t have to think twice about driving stick-shift through the hilly streets.
I suggest hiring through Positano Vintage Dream. It costs about 170E to cover the car rental, friendly driver and gas for two hours — very reasonable in my opinion. Highly recommend!