I am sure you have seen aesthetically pleasing photographs of Positano everywhere on social media – the many-hued houses, the lemon trees, the ceramics and the picturesque view of the deep blue Mediterranean Sea from the balcony, beautiful restaurants’ terraces overlooking the view, women wandering around the streets in linen dresses and lounging at the beach in bikinis. It is no wonder why Positano is a dream vacation to many. For a long while, it was mine.
It is said that Positano was named after Poseidon, god of the Sea and its history goes all the way back to 6000 B.C where evidence of the first inhabitants can be traced to the La Porta caves. Greek vessels began to visit the town around 500 B.C and by 100 B.C, wealthy ancient Romans had built their own stunning villas and established a foothold in this beautiful coastal town. However, in 79 A.D, the notorious eruption of Mount Vesuvius that obliterated and buried nearby towns like Pompei and Herculaneum in stones and ashes, decimated thousands of people and left many existing villas and buildings in Positano in ruins as well.
During the Middle Ages, Positano was an important port town but in 1268, it was raided by Pisan forces and consequently, it needed to strengthen its defence by constructing the town in a way to ensure that it could only be accessed via steep roads; as well as imposing walls and a collection of watchtowers to look out over the surrounding region. Which explains why you could see the rest of the town from many angles above. 100 years after the pillaging by Pisans, a tsunami in 1343 completely flattened the town and took away tens of thousands of lives. Today, Positano is one of the most visited places in Italy.
Positano is a home to tiny, winding roads that run all the way down to the sea and are lined with abundance of restaurants, shops and boutique hotels. Positano is one of many towns in the Amalfi coast and yet, it is the most visited and therefore, most expensive compared to its other siblings. Besides Positano, other towns like Sorrento, Praiano, Amalfi, Ravello are one of the most frequented places in Amalfi. Because of its short distances between one another, you can always pick a place as your base and get a ferry or take the local bus or do it like everyone else, rent a scooter to its neighbouring towns.
However, aside from being beautiful, here are things you should consider when planning your visit to Positano.
1# Getting to Positano can be a bit of nuisance and expensive.
Unfortunately, there is no train that goes directly to Positano. If you are from Rome, you will have to take a train to Naples (About an hour journey). From Naples, you could either choose to board the ferry, which will bring you to Capri. You will have to get on another ferry to Positano. Although it is time consuming, it is one of the cheapest ways for you to get to Positano. However, if you choose to arrive by ferry, you will be arriving at the dock where the main beach is and it will be quite a climb to get to your accommodation. I am not even being dramatic here. There will be hundred stairs up the coast awaiting you and your luggage (or death). Of course, you can hire a porter at the dock for a price and possibly a risk.
Otherwise, from Naples, you can board the Circumvesuviana train, a local train that goes straight to Sorrento (About an hour journey) and once you reach Sorrento, you can either take a local bus called the SITA bus or a shorter ferry ride to Positano. During the peak seasons, do expect for some delay if you choose to take the bus. It can be convenient when it is during low seasons I reckon but from my experience, although it stops every fifteen-twenty minutes, a few buses had to skip us because of the summer crowd. Perhaps, there aren’t nearly enough buses to accommodate the demand and sometimes, the lines are often a few blocks long and you’ll have people waiting for hours under the scorching summer heat.
We didn’t opt for this option on our first day because we had quite a number of bags with us and truthfully, I did not want to risk our safety by going on the Circumvesuviana train after reading so many horrifying reviews about pickpockets. If you are careful and vigilant and a light traveller and possess some good martial art skills, perhaps, this is a good option for you.
This is the best option so far. You can rent a car in Naples and drive to Positano whilst relishing every bit of the beautiful view of the coast with your lover next to you (or your mother). Perhaps, with the top down! It is truly something I wanted to do but driving in Italy is a suicide mission. I thought Asian drivers are insane but wow, Italians. And the roads are incredibly narrow with big buses trying to manoeuvre at every sharp turn. And aside from that, it is unquestionably difficult to find parking spots because of the narrow roads and even if you can find some, it is downright expensive. Most of them opt for scooters instead but either way, I don’t think I can ever muster the guts to drive in Italy, ever.
By Taxi or hiring a driver
This was what we had opted for. We had hired a driver from daytrip and I would totally recommend anyone this if you have some cash to spare, and if you are opting for a more relaxed journey. It was about an hour and a half journey to Positano from Naples and we enjoyed it very much and this was the fastest and easiest option to get to Positano. The driver waited for us at the train station while holding a card with my name written on it. You do not have to pay in advance, just book it and you’ll pay once you have reached the destination.
It costs us 100 Euro for a one-way trip but it was worth it. On our way back from Positano to Naples, we managed to visit Pompeii through this company for only 120 Euro.
- Taxi from Naples to Positano – ++ 200 Euro
- Train from Naples to Salerno – 10-15 Euro/person
- Taxi from Salerno to Positano – 120-150 Euro
- Ferry from Salerno to Amalfi – 10-15 Euro/person
- Ferry from Amalfi to Positano – 8 Euro/person
- Taxi from Amalfi to Positano – 50-70 Euro
2# Stairs, stairs, and more stairs
Because it is a cliff-side town and because of its history, it is famous for its steep stairs and I would definitely not recommend going here if you are unfit. This may not be an issue but you’ll dread it once you have just finished your dinner at the beach and the thought of climbing a hundred stairs to get back up is already enough to get your knees trembling. And for this, I do not recommend Positano for families with young children or older people for that matter. It is unfortunately not disabled-friendly, considering the side walks too are almost non-existent.
3# Positano is super expensive.
Because it is a bit isolated and like many other touristy places, it is unsurprising that the restaurants and shops are not too generous with their prices. It is almost impossible to find places to eat for less than 15 euro per person and if you do, it is most likely for a slice of pizza or wine. Secondly, the pricing for taxis –between 40 to 100 euro between the towns in Amalfi coast is a bit steep if you ask me. However, please be aware of the men dressed in suits standing next to a van. You can read all about my experience in Positano here.
When you are at the beach, which is small compared to many other beaches I have gone to, you would be surprised to know that a small portion of it is meant for the public and the rest is for paying customers. It is ludicrous if you ask me. Each umbrella and each sun chair cost between 20-25 euro for you to rent. And should you want to take a shower at the beach, you will be charged a modest 2 euro. At the small public beach area, you can bring your own towel and umbrella without having to pay for anything but during the summer, there is not even a butt-sized space for you.
You will fall in love with the linen dresses they sell in Positano and the cute lemon dresses that I had gotten so much compliments for. But mostly, I fell in love with its ceramics and they were beyond stunning. However, the price tag is not for the weak heart. The dresses cost at least 100 euro each but if you have the money, go wild girl.
4# Accommodations are expensive too
Accommodations in Positano aren’t cheap and that is for sure. Perhaps, you could pay a visit during off-shoulder seasons. For certain travellers who are travelling in budget, they would prefer staying in Sorrento and make it as a base. Sorrento is a bigger city than Positano and you will be able to find cheap eats there too.
We had stayed in Villa Verde, a bed and breakfast, for a night because the airbnb we wanted to stay in wasn’t available on that date. It was a nice villa up in the hill with the nicest view of Positano for about 100 euro per night. The balcony is worth the price. You would get all the necessities you need like bed, hot shower and maybe a croissant for breakfast. It is definitely for non-fussy travellers.
For the next few nights, we had stayed in our Airbnb located in the other side of the town, which is so close to the famous Le Sirenuse — the aesthetic hotel that hosted celebrities like Kylie Jenner.
Don’t get me wrong, this post is not to say that Positano is horrible or i am trying to paint a bad picture. I loved my time there and if I were the given the opportunity to go there again, I would say yes within a heartbeat. But these are the things that the beautiful photographs do not tell you and i hope this post could benefit you some day.