Photo of Positano

Visit Positano

Positano is a stunningly situated town at the western end of the scenic Amalfi Coast and just south of Sorrento. Dating from the middle ages, the original role of Positano as a quiet fishing village struggling to make a living from the sea has been completely transformed by the impact of tourism.

John Steinbeck wrote of the charms of Positano in 1953 and it became a popular haunt of artists and writers and has been firmly established on the tourist map since the 1970s.

Explore Positano

Italy This Way review: Positano is one of our favourite towns in Italy. Don't miss it! Positano is breathtaking from a distance as you approach along the coastal road and see its colourful houses covering the hillside above the sparkling sea. It is equally charming as you explore its narrow streets and chic shops.

The first thing you will notice as you explore Positano - apart from the great natural beauty - is the steepness. The town has been crowded onto a very steep slope that leads to the sea.

If nothing else you will build up a good appetite exploring up and down the hill with endless steep staircases and streets!

View across Positano with flowers

The town has long been established as one of the top destinations on the Italian coast and has a reputation for attracting the jet-set crowd. There are many expensive restaurants, shops and boutiques that cater to the wealthier crowd here, with shops selling clothes, shoes and local handicrafts something of local speciality.

We found restaurant prices in Positano to be higher than in Sorrento, a few kilometres away and Positano is considered to be the most expensive town on the Amalfi coast - but don't let that deter you from visiting, it is the price to pay for visiting such a beautiful village!

The steep streets are lined with colourfully painted houses are as pretty as any to be found along the coast, albeit with rather too many tourists taking pictures if you visit in high season!

Positano's main street begins at the high road at the top of the town and you can wander down to the beach. At the top of the street is the little yellow church of the Rosary and as you walk downhill from here you will pass an abundance of craft shops and artists galleries.

Before you descend to the town, you should be aware that the village is divided by a valley, with houses up both sides of the valley. There are lovely views from both sides of the valley, and you can follow the main road above Positano in both directions to reach the best views - probably easier than descending to the sea and climbing back up again lots of times...

 
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About halfway down the hill, the sublime Hotel Palazzo Murat is housed in a 12th century Benedictine monastery. Take a look in its courtyard where you can have a drink and enjoy great views over the Church of Santa Maria Assunta.

The lower part of the town was abandoned in the 15th century to escape from the pirate raids that were a menace in the area but when these ended locals returned to the lower slopes and in the 1700s many of the beautiful mansions in this part of town were built.

The Church of Santa Maria Assunta, in the lower part of town was renovated in Baroque style and its dome beautifully covered in glazed majolica tiles. Inside it contains a painting of the Black Madonna. This is thought to have been brought to the church by monks from Constantinople in the 12th century.

Local legend though has it that it was on board a pirate ship and when a storm threatened to sink the ship the stolen painting spoke to the pirates saying "Posa, posa", or 'lay me down'. The pirates were allowed to safely land and converted to Christianity. The place where they landed was called "Posa-tano".

The church is on a small square surrounded by fishermen's houses many of which are now restaurants. Near to here are the steps to the beach.

Beach and town on steep hillside

Note that Positano is also very pretty when seen at night from one of the raised positions, so be prepared to climb the steep steps one more time after dark!

Positano beaches

The main beach in Positano is always busy in the summer and packed with umbrellas, loungers and also fishing vessels coming in and out.

The beach is quite small, and very busy, and there are lots of boats moored near the beach, so it is not the most relaxing beach in the world, but there are not many beaches on the Amalfi coast to choose from, which explains why it is so popular.

Walk along the sand to the eastern end of the beach and turn around to see one of the best views of Positano from sea level.

You can walk from here to Fornilla beach, 'spiaggia del fornilla' which is a bit more laid back and has a number of popular beach bars which are popular places to head for on a night. It is to the west of Positano, a ten minute walk along a coastal path that leaves from the end of the main beach.

Both beaches have both free areas and paid areas although the free areas are quite small and quickly get crowded in summer.

Even if you aren't planning to spend time on the beach be sure to follow the lovely coastal walk around the headland between the two beaches for more chances to admire the impressive scenery.

Main beach in Positano

Attractions nearby

Walk the 'Path of the Gods' from Nocelle (above Positano) to Agerola. This section of the walk is 6.5 kilometers and is very beautiful. The walk follows a ridge along a cliff-top and the views are spectacular. If you walk from Positano to Nocelle to begin this adds around 1500 steps on a steep staircase.

Of course the whole of the Amalfi Coast attracts many visitors and is exceptionally beautiful - it really is as lovely as its reputation suggests! The resort of Sorrento is also a bustling and popular place to use as a base.

Positano is also used as a common departure point for ferries to the island of Capri, just off the coast and one of the most scenic islands to be found anywhere on the Mediterranean.

It is also easy to get by boat to Ischia and to Grotta dello Smeraldo cave.

You can find more local travel ideas in and the Campania guide.

See also: 

Photos of Positano

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Map of Positano and places to visit

 
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Positano places to visit

Praiano

Praiano

Praiano is a beautiful little town on the Amalfi coast next to its more famous neighbour Positano.

Praiano guide
Sorrento

Sorrento

Sorrento is a popular resort and base for exploring the Amalfi coast

Sorrento guide
Sorrento basilica

Sorrento basilica

The basilica of Sant'Antonino in Sorrento is a 11th century basilica with a baroque style nave and romanesque facade

Sorrento basilica guide
Sorrento cloister San Francesco

Sorrento cloister San Francesco

The cloister of San Francesco in Sorrento is a charming cloister, built in the 14th century and now often used for weddings

Sorrento cloister San Francesco guide
Sorrento cathedral

Sorrento cathedral

Sorrento cathedral is a charming neo-gothic and baroque church, in the heart of Sorrento old town

Sorrento cathedral guide
Amalfi

Amalfi

Amalfi is one of the principal scenic villages in the heart of the Amalfi Coast

Amalfi guide

...or see all our recommended places to visit in Campania

 
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