Positano is often referred to as the Crown Jewel of the Italian Amalfi Coast and for good reason.
The pastel shades of the terraced dwellings clinging precariously to the rugged cliff side of Italy’s southern coast are instantly recognizable by many, becoming synonymous with the luxury of travel in the Mediterranean and a top European bucket list destination.
As a jet-setters destination, there are so many different things to do in Positano regardless of the hour! Explore the Amalfi Coast by day, experience the buzzing nightlife by night.
With a unique balance of historical landmarks, culture, and creative modernization, Positano has much to offer to all walks of life.
Things to do in Positano: The Ultimate Guide
Step back in time at the Museo Archeologico Romano
Positano’s luxurious reputation and appeal as a leisure area dates back centuries and there is no better place to understand just how much history exists here than to visit the Museo Archeologico Romano. Housed in an ancient Roman luxury villa from around the 1st century BC, the museum is today home to numerous artifacts and displays about the history of the Roman settlements that were the first to grace the unique limestone cliffs that make Positano so popular today.
With artifacts spanning the last two millennia and tour guides ready and able to add local context and understanding, you will leave this museum with a deeper appreciation and understanding of the city, making this an integral part of any list of things to do in Positano.
Relax at one of the many pristine beaches
If you are traveling in this area of the Amalfi Coast, it’s almost guaranteed that visiting the beach is on the top of your itinerary and relaxing on the beach is undoubtedly one of the most popular of things to do in Positano. Unlike other areas around the Mediterranean, the beaches in Positano are unique in that many of them do not have sandy shores but instead are covered in small pebbles.
Despite this fact, the city takes its luxury experiences very seriously and every beach in the area offers all sorts of amenities that will appeal to any of the beach-goers. Spiaggia Grande Beach, often referred to as Positano Beach, is the main beach of the city not only for its size and central location but also because it provides a stunning view of the entire city above.
The beach tends to get very busy and crowded, particularly during peak tourist season, but there are private areas that can be reserved through the restaurants and hotels nearby.
If the crowds of a popular tourist beach aren’t what you had in mind for your luxury Italian coast adventure, there are other options within the city that might be more appealing. Arienzo Beach is a daunting 300 steps down, but for this reason is often much quieter than Positano Beach while still promising the same amenities and luxury experiences.
One of the most popular things to do in Positano is to rent a sunbed and umbrella on a private section of the beach. Sip one of the famous limoncello beverages found all over Positano before making a dinner reservation at one of the nearby restaurants.
If you are lucky, you can find one that offers a quick ferry back to the piers to hopefully avoid just a few of those 300 steps it took to get there.
Another must on any list of things to do in Positano is to explore the spectacular and unique geography of this cliff side city and there is no better way to do so that to take the short ten minute walk from Positano Beach to the smaller and more intimate Fornillo Beach.
Though it still draws crowds during peak summer months, it is more secluded and the walk from the main beach to this location takes you along the shore against the edge of the impressive cliffs that make the city so remarkable. Like many of the beaches in Positano, it has public and private sections where you can rent beds and umbrellas to enjoy your time admiring the crystal clear waters of the Mediterranean.
Another additional perk is that if you rent one of these popular amenities from the beach clubs here, they will often offer a free boat ride back to the main beach when you are done soaking up the sun.
Zip along the coast on a Vespa
If you would rather experience the coastline with less walking involved, another one of the most popular things to do in Positano is to rent one of the famous Vespas for a self-guided tour of the coastline as well as the narrow switchback streets and alleys that climb the terraced heights of the city.
It’s almost impossible to navigate the roads by car if you aren’t familiar with the area and a number of them are almost too small to get a car through anyway. Given that there are also usually large numbers of giant tour buses also trying to navigate the same roads, it is far easier to zip in and out on a smaller and more agile Vespa or scooter.
If you aren’t comfortable with exploring on your own, there are a vast number of companies that provide private tour guides who will drive you around on the back of the Vespa, all while showing you the hidden gems and lesser known places that can be found in and around the city of Positano.
Explore the Mediterranean by boat
Located on the crystal clear waters of the Mediterranean Sea, renting a boat tour is another must on any list of things to do in Positano. There are many options available, no matter your price point, and the experience (and views) are well worth any price.
For a taste of the luxury life that Positano is so well known for, you can rent a yacht to explore the coastal towns that are clustered around the outskirts of Positano. If your budget is not quite plush enough for a private yacht, there are many other rentals available that still give a taste of the luxe life without hitting the wallet too hard.
Most boats cap their passengers at modest numbers, ensuring that you won’t feel crowded or find the experience any less enjoyable than if you were to spend more on a private party boat or yacht. From out on the water, the view of Positano in all its pastel colored hues is second to none. Plan your trip just right and you will be granted the breathtaking sight of seeing the stunning cliff side city lit by the golden rays of the sun setting over the Mediterranean Sea.
Stroll the picturesque streets of Positano
Positano is filled with so many narrow and winding streets that switchback up the side of the rock cliff side and one of the best ways to truly explore them is to hit the ground running, or strolling for a more relaxed pace. Many of the roads are so narrow that they are impassable by car and they can often be quite busy, especially during peak tourist season.
One way to beat the crowds and the summer heat is to explore at night. The terraced levels of the city are lit by golden lights, giving the area a warm and inviting feel. Many of the tourists and travelers have usually returned to their rooms or cruise ships, leaving the streets much less congested and allowing you to explore at a more relaxed pace.
Stop and grab dinner at one of the restaurants or even sign up for a cooking class, one of the most popular things to do in Positano. What better place to learn to make Italian specialties than in this magical Italian city?
Experience fine Italian cuisine
When considering things to do Positano, consider this: everyone needs to eat, right? While in Positano, seeking sustenance will be a true delight! Eggplant Parmesan, seafood risotto, caprese salad with mozzarella are just a few traditional dishes you are likely to encounter in town and you should not miss when looking for things to do in Amalfi Coast.
Chez Black is a nautical-themed beachfront restaurant well known for its linguine alle vongole. They serve other delicious seafood dishes such as spaghetti with sea urchins and fish soup. Another popular restaurant in Positano is L’Olivo.
Showcasing local fish, L’Olivo serves up dishes like raw red shrimp with asparagus and cuttlefish-ink ravioli. It is the only restaurant in Positano to have earned Michelin stars! These restaurants are just the tip of the iceberg for what Positano has to offer in the way of good eats. When in doubt, just ask the locals for recommendations and you certainly will not be led astray.
Get a taste for local culture at the many art galleries in Positano
Positano, especially the central area of the city, is filled with numerous small art galleries tucked in among the small shops and cafes, providing an opportunity to see all different genres of art and sculpture within a small area. Positano has always attracted artists due to its striking and beautiful coastline.
Every day you will see at least a handful of artists patiently waiting for just the right lighting as they look out over the setting and painstakingly render it on the canvases and paper they work on. These pieces usually end up in one of the local galleries and make a perfect souvenir to take home from your trip to this remarkable place.
Ceramics and handmade crafts are another popular addition to the galleries found in and around the city. Venture out in search of a one of a kind treasure to bring home as a reminder of all the unique things to do in Positano as well as the beautiful views so characteristic of this remarkable area of Italy.
Shop til you drop in Positano
Italy is renowned the world over for all of its quality goods and designer brands and there is no shortage of these items in the city, making shopping one of the most popular things to do in Positano.
Small boutiques and high-end shops line the windy and narrow streets, each one offering unique wares sure to please even the most picky of shoppers. If you are looking for what to wear in Italy in summer, consult that guide before packing or shop on your trip, just bring an extra suitcase.. or two.
Italian leather is by far some of the most luxurious around the world, in particular, and you will be sure to find hundreds of options available for your souvenir and gift buying needs. From handbags to hats, belts and boots, the boutiques are a great place to find something special to remind you of your time in this Italian paradise.
If for some reason you still can’t find something perfect, there are a large number of boutique shops who offer the option of buying custom made sandals. You simply choose your style, select your leather and color and the skilled craftsmen will take your measurements and in a day (or less) you will be the proud owner of a custom pair of sandals perfectly fit to you and ready to wear as you stroll the streets and beaches around Positano.
While shopping along the streets of Positano, be sure to check out the fresh food markets and sample the famous limoncello that is so popular within the area. If you are lucky, you will find the famous Sorrento lemons that are used to make this incredibly popular aperitif.
Sorrento lemons are unique among all the varieties of lemon that are found in the world for not only their slightly sweeter citrus taste but also their size. Most Sorrento lemons are the size of your head! Grab a bottle of the famous liquor to enjoy while watching the sun set for a taste of the Italian ‘dolce vita’ or check out this Italian drinks guide for other tasty beverages!
Marvel at the beauty of the Church of Santa Maria
One of the most well-known and beautiful of sites in Positano is the Chiesa di Santa Maria Assunta, or the Church of Santa Maria. Centrally located within the city but still within easy walking distance to the beach, this historic structure is easily recognizable by its large dome covered in Moorish-style majolica tiles.
Inside you will find breathtaking artifacts and art pieces from all centuries of this church’s lengthy history, the most notable of artifacts being an icon of the Virgin Mary that dates back to the 13th century Byzantine era.
This landmark is often used as a frame of reference when giving directions within the switch-back narrow streets of this cliffside city, so it makes perfect sense that it should be one of the first things to do in Positano.
Live like the locals after hiking to Montepertuso
Perched above Positano is the quiet village of Montepertuso. The location is easily recognizable by a giant hole in Gambera mountain, and until a few years ago, was only accessible by a 1500 step staircase.
It is said that Montepertuso was the location of the eternal fight between the Virgin Mary (good) and the Devil (evil). Good ultimately won and so the hole in the mountain is often regarded as a sign of the Virgin Mary’s presence.
The hike from Positano to Montepertuso takes roughly one hour and offers a stunning view of Positano as well as access to some lovely restaurants. Walking trails can be found all around Montepertuso making this hike one of the more adventurous things to do in Positano!
Hike the Path of the Gods
The Il Sentiero degli Dei, or Path of the Gods, is one of the best things to do in Positano to truly immerse yourself in the unique and breathtaking scenery of the Amalfi Coast. The hike is moderately easy, though occasionally rocky, and takes a little over two hours.
But the views it provides make the effort well worth it. From sweeping panoramic views of the Mediterranean to the city of Positano in the distance as well as every stunning setting that lies between, you will find yourself standing in awe many times during the trek!
Prior to starting the hike, be sure to grab a bagged lunch from one of the little hamlets or villages surrounding Positano to get a truly immersive experience of this area of Italy!
Escape the Mediterranean sun in one of Positano’s many underground grottos
Stalagmites and stalactites, oh my! If you are looking for more mysterious and awe-inspiring attractions, the grotto tours are one of the most exciting things to do in Positano. Scattered along the Amalfi coast, these underground wonderlands offer picturesque views that seem almost unreal.
Among the many grottos found in Positano, some of the most popular ones are Grotta dello Smeraldo and Grotta La Porta. If you need a break from the heat of the midday sun, a visit to the cool underground realm of Positano’s spectacular grottos will be sure to not only cool you off but also give you a glimpse into the lesser known aspects of this cliffside Italian city.
Grotta dello Smeraldo, which translates to “Emerald Grotto”, earns its name from the brilliant green light that floods the interior of the caves. Naturally formed, this grotto is partially filled with sea water and its existence was unknown for a long time due to the fact it has no natural openings above the waterline.
Visitors access the grotto via elevator which takes them underground where boats await the eager explorers. Located just inside the harbor, Grotta La Porta is an ancient cave that tells a story of its inhabitants dating back to Paleolothic era! Inside this cave, carved stones and prehistoric human remains have been found giving archaeologists insight into how the people of the time lived.
Whether you are looking to admire the beauty of these naturally formed caves or immerse yourself in the deep history of Positano, there are ample tours available to suit your desires!
Embrace the up and coming nightlife of Positano
When the hush of night falls over the village of Positano, one particular cave comes alive to the sound of pop and techno music. Carved into a rocky outcrop is Music on the Rocks—a nightclub and restaurant that is quite literally made of rock!
During daylight hours, Music on the Rocks is a beach club that offers a place to relax and enjoy the sun but at night, party-goers are drawn to the club’s rhythmic bass that pulses through town like a heartbeat. The nightclub consists of two levels with the Terrace restaurant upstairs, decked out in luxurious white canopies and drapes.
The lower level is made up of the dance floor surrounded by natural rock walls and alcoves for sitting. As one of Europe’s leading dance clubs, it is not uncommon for a celebrity to wander through Music on the Rocks. Justin Timberlake, Lenny Kravitz, Mariah Carey, and Queen Latifah are just a handful of names that have visited this world renowned club.
Another popular nightclub not too far from Positano is the Africana which opened in 1962. Located in Praiano, this club was formed inside of a natural cave close to sea level.
Also often frequented by celebrities, this club is worth a visit when planning night-time things to do in Positano! After spending the day relaxing in the heat of the Mediterranean sun or swimming in the warm waters, dancing with the crowds in the mysterious seclusion of an underground club is sure to add some excitement to an already fun-filled adventure!
Whether you’re single or coupled, the nightlife of this Italian paradise will be sure to make memories that last a lifetime.
Positano is often called the Crown Jewel of the Amalfi Coast and with so many breathtaking sights and interesting adventures, it’s no wonder! There are innumerable things to do in Positano that can’t be found elsewhere in the area, making it a top destination for travelers from around the world. From designer shopping experiences to Italian cooking classes, Positano is a rich cultural land and a breathtaking Mediterranean paradise that leaves lasting memories for all who visit the terraced city streets of this pastel cliffside city.
Be sure to add this destination to your bucket list and add these things to do in Positano to your itinerary.
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