Positano is considered one of the most beautiful, if not the most beautiful, towns on Italy’s vaunted Amalfi Coast. But is a victim of its own success?
I’d say yes. It isn’t worth the hype and is a bit of Disney-fied tourist trap. I’d only recommend visiting in the offseason or if you don’t mind massive crowds.
Positano became popular as a tourist destination in the 1950s and 1960s. It was fashionable and sought-after destination for artists, writers, and celebrities.
It was during this time that the town’s unique charm, breathtaking scenery, and Mediterranean atmosphere captured the imagination of the international jet set and glitterati.
Famous figures like John Steinbeck, the fashion designer Emilio Pucci, and Elizabeth Taylor contributed to Positano’s reputation as a chic and glamorous spot.
Soon, regular tourists followed their lead and Positano became Instagram popular.
As a result, now the pretty town is sadly overrun with tourists and cruise ships.
On a visit today, you may be dazzled by Positano’s beauty. But, if you look beyond the hype, you’ll find the following issues to deal with.
During the summer months, especially in July and August, Positano can get extremely crowded with tourists.
This can lead to packed beaches, crowded streets, and busy restaurants.
Seemingly everyone there is speaking English. That is not what I think of as an “authentic” Italian experience.
If you try to walk, you will shuffle along cobbled streets that were never designed for mass tourism. It’s literally a snail’s pace. You’re shoulder to shoulder with other tourists.
And this phenomenon isn’t just limited to the summer months. I visited in early May.
It was so crowded, I couldn’t wait to hit the road and visit another Amalfi town, thinking where’s the charm?
Prices for accommodations, dining, and souvenirs in Positano can be outrageous compared to other parts of Italy.
The town is known for its luxury hotels (with dated interiors), Michelin restaurants, boutique shops.
For example, at Positano’s marquis hotel, Le Sirenuse, prices are higher than $4,000 a night anytime but winter. And those beach chairs and umbrellas? You have to pony up for them too.
Many of the restaurants seem “Americanized” with menus in English and American-friendly dishes. I’ve had much better food elsewhere. And you can expect to pay 15 euros for a simple panini to go.
If you plan to visit Positano despite this, just brace yourself for sky high prices and be prepared to budget accordingly.
About the only thing to do in Posiano, aside from hitting the beach, is to shop. You’ll find a seemingly unending series of boutiques lining the streets that sell souvenirs, art, ceramics, and clothing.
Some travelers may find this commercial aspect appealing. But I did not particularly.
There are plenty of places to buy beautiful ceramics in Italy without breaking the bank. Or fighting another tourist to inspect a pretty piece.
A Bit Shabby
Positano is definitely pretty. But, close up, it doesn’t exactly look like it does in photos. The colorful terrace homes have become a bit shabby and in need of a paint job.
A Hassle To Get To
Positano isn’t easy to get to. The transportation infrastructure is undeveloped. And the roads in Amalfi are narrow and not made for heavy traffic.
You can’t drive into the city and parking lots cost a fortune. Traffic is insane.
There are no direct trains or buses from Naples. You can take a Circumvesuviana train from Napoli Central to Sorrento. From Sorrento, you can transfer to a SITA bus to reach Positano or take a ferry (which is sheer chaos).
There are regional buses that run along the Amalfi Coast, connecting Positano to other towns. But they can be crowded and schedules may not always align with your plans.
So Should You Visit Positano?
Only if you don’t mind tourist-fly hotspots and the downsides of visiting a place suffering from mass tourism.
Positano is an undoubtedly beautiful place with stunning vistas. But (and to me it’s a big but), it can get crowded, pricey, and it seems like Americans have moved in.
Its immense popularity means you’ll encounter jam-packed streets, high prices, and a bustling atmosphere that may not appeal to everyone.
I’ve been to other crowded places in Italy of course. Once of my favorite cities, Florence, can get extremely crowded.
But I didn’t have the same adverse reaction there that I did in Positano. Maybe it’s because Positano is essentially a small village. When you fill it up, it’s near bursting.
Still, travel experiences can be highly subjective and everyone’s travel agenda is different. What one person finds charming and enchanting, another may find overwhelming or overrated.
If Positano doesn’t sound like your cup of tea, there are quieter spots along the Amalfi Coast and throughout Italy to explore. For example, much of Umbria, Puglia, and Sicily are vastly less crowded.
I’m glad I visited Positano. I wanted to see it once to see what all the fuss was about and check it off my bucket list. But I won’t be back.
You may enjoy these other Amalfi Coast travel guides:
- One week in Rome and Amalfi Coast itinerary
- 5 days in the Amalfi Coast itinerary
- One week in the Amalfi Coast itinerary
- 2 days in Ravello itinerary
- 2 days in Capri itinerary
- Capri day trip itinerary
- One day in Amalfi Town itinerary
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