Tiny towns nestled among the cliffs of the Amalfi Coast are tourist hot spots over the summer months. Positano and Amalfi are consistent favourites for their gelato coloured houses, picturesque laneways, seafood restaurants, boutique stores and umbrella lined beaches. Lemon trees prosper in the streets and influence the region’s cuisine. Limoncello liquor, citrus perfumes and soaps are the perfect mementos to take home.
Positano could easily be described as the jewel of the Amalfi Coast and makes for the perfect base to explore the area thanks to the abundance of places to eat and stay, as well as its proximity to the island of Capri. The romantic feel of this magical place captivates visitors with slow-paced summer days. Eat fresh seafood, dink limoncello, plunge into the cool Mediterranean, and bask in the overall Italian way of living la dolce vita.
Here is the best way to spend a week on the Amalfi Coast.
Make your way to Positano via Napoli or Sorrento. Although you may be dreaming of cruising the coastal road in a classic Fiat 500 or a red Vespa with the wind in your hair, it’s time to reconsider. This is definitely a place to leave the driving to the experts. Many accidents occur here each year with impossibly narrow roads, hairpin turns, blind corners, and sheer drops from the cliff’s edge into the sea below making it a nerve-wracking journey even for the most confident driver. Aside from that, it’s also virtually impossible to find parking and the traffic in summer is congested at the best of times. Consider public transport or a private transfer service to avoid any stress on what should be a relaxing journey. Some hotels even offer a pickup service from Sorrento.
Check in to one of Positano’s beautiful hotels or Airbnbs and take in the postcard views of the pastel coloured town that cascades to the sea. Spend the afternoon familiarising yourself with the cobbled streets, make your way in and out of the countless boutique stores. Enjoy a candlelit dinner in town with those irresistible views and soak it all in.
It’s time to make a splash on Positano’s umbrella lined Main Beach Marina Grande. Paddle boards can be rented here which gives a unique view of the town from the water. If you can’t pull yourself away from the beach for lunch, take a front row seat at Ristorante Le Tre Sorelle where colourful amalfitana ceramic plates are piled with mouth-watering pastas, gnocchi alla Sorrentina, insalata Caprese and fresh seafood.
Alternatively, visit the most beautiful Delicatessen you may ever come across at Via Dei Mulini 5-11, and pack a picnic of crunchy ciabatta, freshly sliced prosciutto, marinated eggplant, olives, creamy mozzarella di buffala and more. They will even put your favourite ingredients together on a panino for you.
Cool down in the afternoon with an icy lemonade or granita, a specialty of the Amalfi Coast sold at bars and street carts made with local lemons. As the southern sun beats down at 30+ degrees Celsius during summer, it should be a daily staple. Watch the sun go down with an Aperol Spritz in hand before dinner in town.
Take the small orange bus to the town of Amalfi where you can wander the streets, enjoy a gelato, visit the beautiful medieval roman catholic church that sits in the main square Piazza Duomo. Just a 25-minute walk from here is Agricola Fore Porta. An agriturismo or farm stay property just outside Amalfi that welcomes outside guests to enjoy a farm to table, home cooked style lunch as well as the opportunity to do cooking lessons. Enquire in advance to secure a table.
If you’re feeling the need to get moving on-foot after the obligatory consumption of copious amounts of gelato, the hike to the clifftop town of Ravello is the perfect afternoon activity. Wait until you’re out of the midday sun to start the journey. Access the path to Ravello via the nearby town of Atrani, just a short drive from Positano in the small local bus. Atrani is a beautiful cove, less touristy than the more recognised Positano and Amalfi. The steep ascent up to Ravello offers stunning views of the coast. When you finally make it to the top, discover tranquil, immaculately groomed gardens, expansive piazzas and boutique stores selling artisan ceramics and other local products.
Relax and enjoy an espresso before making the return journey. If there’s no amount of caffeine that can summon the energy for the return trip, there is a bus service that runs regularly to Atrani and neighbouring towns from Ravello. At this point you’ve earned yourself an early dinner at Atrani’s A ‘ Paranza. This is a local’s favourite tucked away in a quiet alley of the town. Book ahead as their traditional seafood dishes are in high demand.
Alternatively, another steep walk can be tackled via the Sentiero Degli Dei or Path of the Gods, from Praiano to Nocelle. If you need more of an incentive than the name itself to climb the hundreds of stairs to the top, then plan to have lunch at Ristorante Santa Croce for a memorable home style meal with beautiful coastal views.
Arrange a day trip to the glamorous island of Capri. You are likely to find any number of celebrities from Rihanna to the Kardashian family frequenting the island on their annual summer holiday in luxury hotels or staying on their super yachts. For us regular folk it’s the perfect day trip and you can make your way there by both private boat or ferry. A private boat gives you the opportunity to stop for leisurely swims, cruise at your own pace, enjoy a picnic lunch on board and avoid the crowds. It also enables you to circle around the island for views that the ferry can’t access.
Paddle into the famous blue and green grottos along the way which get their names from the glowing emerald colour of their clear waters and pass the famed Faraglioni rock formations with its alluring archway.
Drop anchor on the island and wander the cobbled streets, window shopping at the myriad of Italian designer stores from Gucci to Dolce & Gabanna. Make your way to one of the picturesque lidi or beach bars such as the famous La Fontalina (book ahead as spaces are limited to keep exclusivity) on the rocky shores where you can pull up a sun bed, order a cold drink, soak up the sun, and snooze under a blue and white striped umbrella. Does life get any better? For a more casual option Bagni Tiberio Capri is said to be the first beach establishment on the island and has a rustic restaurant perched right on the water’s edge.
If you prefer to have lunch in town splurge with a dining experience under a canopy of lemon trees at Da Paolino. A dream-like experience complete with tagliolini al limone. You may end up devouring your pasta seated next to Leonardo Di Caprio who is said to have been a guest here.
Enjoy the cruise back to Positano for the evening.
Visit one of the cobblers in Positano such as Artigianato Rallo to have custom made Italian leather sandals nailed together in front of your eyes, or for the gentleman, soft leather loafers that have been crafted here for generations.
For a change of scenery from the main beach, spend the morning at Fornillo beach, located just a short stroll around the corner. It’s a little more secluded with a couple of beach bars or lidi serving food and drinks.
After working up an appetite after a leisurely swim, take the small boat operated by Da Adolfo restaurant to their private beach where you can dine on the sand with their signature dish, the best mozzarella and lemon leaves found on the coast. This is a fun filled lunch experience with light-hearted entertainment from the friendly staff and an atmosphere unlike any other restaurant on the Amalfi Coast. This is a memorable day out for both couples and groups.
The Amalfi Coast is famous for Spaghetti alla Nerano. This seemingly simply dish of pasta coated in zucchini is made slightly differently in every restaurant as every chef claims to have the ‘best’ formula for the dish. The recipe originated on the cove of Nerano at Maria Grazia restaurant where fisherman used to drop anchor after a hard day at sea and enjoy this dish for lunch. The original recipe has been passed down through the generations with love and is still being cooked at this same restaurant today. They run a private boat to and from the restaurant and Positano. Book in advance or you will find yourself waiting in line half the day before you get the chance to twirl that spaghetti around your fork. Spend the afternoon on the beach at Nerano before venturing back.
When the sun sets, the only way to celebrate the last night in Positano would have to be at the only club or discoteca in town- Music on the Rocks. Set into the face of a cliff, inside an actual cave, this is no ordinary dance floor. Check the website for DJs and events during the summer months.