With this article featuring Positano as our first destination, we’re launching a new series called “Weekend escape to…” showcasing our favorite vacations spots in practical 48-hour guides.
Quick getaways are my favorite. You get a true sense of place, grasp the best highlights the destination has to offer, and discover new adventures without breaking the bank. But planning a weekend can be daunting if you’re unfamiliar with the language and don’t truly rely on user review websites. Here’s where our weekend guides come in handy. Compiled by aficionados who know each destination like the back of their hand, our “Weekend escape to…” 48-hour guides provide failsafe insight, great tips and original suggestions.
Here’s how to plan a perfect weekend escape to Positano…
A few words on the best time to travel to Positano
May, June, September and most of October are the perfect time to visit Positano. July and August are dreadfully hot, the cliffs scorched in the summer heat hardly cool down at night and mosquitoes are in for the plasma banquet. The high temps also make the sky often hazy, but not in early spring and late summer/autumn, when the air is crisp and colors brighter. During this time of year, there are less crowds visiting the Amalfi Coast, this means better enjoyment of beach-lounging without the sardine effect, less lines in restaurants, and locals are more relaxed and welcoming. The low season is also best for deals, since hotels, restaurants, services and shops apply lower prices in this time of year. Less people also means less boat traffic and waves, which translates into a less polluted sea and better swimming!
5:00 p.m. – Hit the steps
Check into your hotel, drop the luggage in the room and go straight for a walk. If you’re lodging high up in the vertical village, consider staying out for aperitivo and dinner instead of coming back to the room after your stroll, since the the climb back up a million steps may be discouraging. In that case, bring a light sweater with you for evening breezes later on.
My favorite Positano activity is getting lost in the maze of steps carved in the side of the mountain village – a narrow (and often steep) staircase that winds around town, at times intersecting with the one main road, called la scalinatella. Despite having vacationed here since I was a little girl, there are still corners of Positano that I have yet to discover myself. Don’t forget to bring your camera!
7:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. – Aperitivo and dinner
Sometimes on travel days, all I want for dinner is a pizza or a light meal. The best place for that in Positano is Le Tre Sorelle – the three sisters! The menu features Napoletana-style pizza, salads, fresh seafood carpaccios and bruschetta. Outdoor seating directly on the beach, perfect pies baked in a wood-fired oven and charming staff complete the setting. Average cost per person, without wine €25.
10:30 p.m. – Romance under the stars
If you’re in Positano with your love, do take that person on a romantic (and digestive) post-meal walk along the Sentiero degli Innamorati, the lovers’ walkway, that connects the main wharf to the next cove over, Fornillo. Kissing in the moonlight mandatory.
8:30 a.m. – Double breakfast and shopping
Run down to your hotel dining room just in time to catch breakfast. Usually this means a generous buffet spread of homemade cakes and pastries, fruit salad, cured meats and cheese, freshly baked bread, juices, foamy cappuccinos, and jam made from the orchard goods. At this point, sated and energized, you can now walk half way down the village to enjoy your second breakfast at La Zagara, which is a delightful café/pastry shop built on a terraced deck in a lemon tree grove, high above the beach. A second espresso coffee and a sweet pastry is how we do breakfast in Italy, and you need to adopt local customs to fully blend in. Average cost for coffee and a pastry €5.
9:30 a.m. – Sandals, bikinis and pottery
Another Positano must is buying custom sandals. Have expert cobbler Gennaro take your foot measurments, and watch him make beautiful leather sandals in a matter of minutes in his minuscule shop Safari, located in a narrow alley just above the main piazza’s staircase with the two bronze lions. Basic sandal styles start at €45.
More shopping? I buy my classic Positano “pezze” – colored bandanna fabrics crafted into shirts, dresses, drawstring shorts and bikins – at La Tartana, or at the more trendy Antica Sartoria. I also score beautiful Vietri ceramics at Ceramica Positano.
10:30 a.m. – All aboard, to Laurito!
Amble down to the main quay and catch the shuttle boat marked with a large red fish cut-out nailed to the mast. This will ferry you gratis to Laurito beach, only a leisurely 5-minute sail south along the coast. Here you will spend the day at Da Adolfo. This small lido and restaurant located on a patch of pebbles in a secluded cove is where the locals go to escape the more crowded beaches of Positano, and where you can spend a fantastic day of beach-lounging, swimming and eating wholesome, freshly caught fish and other superb food. It’s a good idea to book a table, since the small deck that houses the restaurant has limited seating. Throw on a sarong, forget your flipflops and prepare for an informal feet-in-the-sand feast. I always order the mussel soup, the spaghetti with summer pesto (here made from basil, sweet green peppers, garlic, almonds, Parmigiano and olive oil) and the totani e patate – flying squid that’s slow cooked with tomato and potatoes and plenty of soffritto for complete sweetness. The restaurant is famous for two more specials which I never skip: white house wine served in jugs with sliced peaches in it, and fiordilatte mozzarella grilled on a charred lemon leaf. Average price per person for a full meal with wine €50.
Spend the rest of the afternoon napping on the beach then catch the shuttle boat back to Positano that runs from 4 p.m. to sundown.
7:30 p.m. – Prepare to say, ‘yes’
After a quick shower, head down to sea level to enjoy cocktails on the restaurant’s rooftop terrace before heading down to your corner table at Buca di Bacco, a gorgeous restaurant overlooking the marina. The backdrop to your dinner will be the illuminated village on one side, and the moon reflecting a silver streak on the calm sea, on the other. Order anything the fiendly staff reccommends that day, and be sure to say hi to charming chef Andrea Ruggiero, who mans the efficient and creative kitchen brigade of the popular Positano hotel restaurant. His paccheri with angler fish, provolone del Monaco cheese, walnuts and arugula are nothing short of perfect, as the roasted San Pietro fish with new potatoes and caramelized onions. Leave room for dessert! Average price per person with a glass of wine €70.
Midnight – Party all night
If you like dancing you can always finish off the night into the wee hours by popping into Music on the Rocks, a dance club carved into the rocky cliff, overlooking the sea. Entrance €30, drinks excluded.
9:00 a.m. – Morning laps
After your morning breakfast routine, check out and leave your packed bags at the hotel’s reception, headed down to the main beach for a quick morning swim. You can do this either at L’Incanto, Positano’s main stabilimento – a lido that rents out sun beds, deck chairs, umbrellas either on the shore or on the scogliera (rocky terrace) and that provides changing rooms and showers for a daily fee – or at the spiaggia libera, informal free beach, where you can throw down your towel anywhere.
10:30 a.m. – Surf or turf
Be ready, towel and sunscreen in hand ready to board the San Giovanni, which departs from the main pier for a day trip boat excursion along the Amalfi Coast. This is a fishing boat fitted with sundecks and coolers filled with beers and chilled wine. The captain decides the day’s route and you’re off for the day, exploring secluded coves and swimming under waterfalls. Lunch is included and is usually enjoyed in small little restaurants in secret coves, accessible only by boat, eating fresh catch of the day, fresh fruit and homemade limoncello.
If boating is not your thing, you can decide to hike along the Path of the Gods. The narrow footpath along a gentle downhill trek of 7.8km, connects the town of Agerola to the stunning village of Nocelle, and breathtaking is the correct term to define the views one can enjoy from up here. If you don’t want to pack a picnic, a great place for a lunch stop at the end of the path, still high in the mountains, is restaurant La Terra in the town of Montepertuso. The cuisine is wholesome and more than local: the young owners pull all the produce from the property’s own orchards and gardens. And they provide clients with a minivan shuttle service back to their respective hotels! Average cost for lunch, without wine €35.
5:00 p.m. – Twilight departure
Return to Positano in the afternoon, retrieve your bags at the hotel reception and either grab a quick snack in town before leaving, or hop directly on a chauffeured limo back to Naples or Salerno.
Music on the Rocks
Without Reservations a novel by Alice Steinbach
John Steinbeck’s article for Harper’s Bazaar published in May 1953, through acute observation and poetic language, lends a brilliant description of the town.
Contact us for more info on custom food itineraries, limo service, boat or hiking excursions, day trips and other bespoke activities in and around Positano.
Eleonora Baldwin is a TV host, freelance food and travel writer, and culinary connoisseur based in Rome, Italy. Her writing appears in several food and travel publications. Her shows “ABCheese” and “Uazz’america” are broadcast on Italian food network Gambero Rosso Channel. Her podcast “iCheese” is recorded live on the Radio Food Live network.