One single photo of Positano was enough to add the place to our bucket list for 2018. We arrived there in April, and since we’ve been back, I was looking forward to getting the time to write this post. Because indeed, this place is incredibly beautiful. We loved it so much, so I want to share our Amalfi Coast experience and give details about the things to do and see in Positano on a budget.
Where and how
The downside of the Amalfi area is the Riviera price tag. The Amalfi Coast is a posh and exclusive destination. And Positano is the most touristic and the most expensive place on the Coast. Absolutely everything costs a small fortune and unfortunately none of us is rich nor famous. Obviously, the accommodation costs have not even come close to our budget, so a stay in Positano was not an option for us.
The good part about Positano is its accessibility. The town can be reached by car, bus or boat. So, I improvised choosing Sorrento as a base for our stay. To give you a brief idea of the costs, the rate for one night in Positano (for a basic Airbnb studio rent, not a 5 * hotel) would have been higher than the cost of all 5 nights at the Sorrento hotel. We took from Sorrento different means of transportation to reach different areas of the Amalfi Coast. The bus was the cheapest and it was also the most convenient way to travel from Sorrento to Positano. Under normal traffic, it should take no longer than 40 minutes to get there.
We were early birds (with a lot of effort as this is not natural to us) and took a morning bus. I suggest you do the same. This way, you would make the most of your time in Positano. Plus, the buses aren’t running often, if I remember well, one per hour. Keep in mind there are lots of tourists and you may not catch a seat in the planned bus, which means you’ll have to wait for the next one. Additionally, the earlier you get, the longer you can enjoy the beach and the narrow streets before getting busy at noon.
The coastal road
The Sorrento-Positano coastal road is not only a way to move between these two towns, but also an important part of the Amalfi experience. The trip offers epic scenery with mountains that come out of the sea, chic little cottages and many, many tunnels and tight curves. You will just love it, unless you have motion or height sickness.
As I mentioned previously, we arrived to Positano in April, hoping to catch the area more relaxed and with few visitors. For off season, the whole Amalfi Coast seemed super crowded. The parking places were full and the cars were decorating the roadside for miles before entering any of the Amalfi towns. It’s hard to imagine the chaos during the peak season.
We chose to get off the bus, on the hill, at the entrance to Positano and not in the center. From here we had one of the best views: we could see the whole town, including the houses on the neighboring slope and the beaches at the base. In fact, this perfect panorama was the one that convinced us to visit the area. Colored houses, crammed one over the other, the mountain above them and the mild waves below make Positano a special place. This is one of the most romantic places I have ever been to. Seeing all these, it is hard to believe that this luxury destination was once a poor fishing village.
There is only one narrow road that goes down to the village below and you will most likely want to stop every few dozen meters to take a photo because everything is picture perfect in Positano. Been there, done that.
During one of our photo shooting sessions a brighter breeze flew my map into the sea (yes, I use maps in hard copy format … and sometimes shit happens: either a breeze, a quick rain shower or the beginning of Alzheimer and then I forget the map somewhere). Missing the map, we had to ask an old Italian for directions to get to the beach. He showed us a shortcut that is being used by the locals and claimed this would get us quicker to the Positano beach. We were sold and left the classic road behind.
We walked on narrow alleys and descended lots of stairs. Despite the physical effort, the path was amazing. We walked on cobbled alleys, among the stone houses, on two tiny bridges and through a narrow tunnel. I think that’s why we liked Positano so much. We had the chance to explore some bits of the authentic Dolce-Vita style. There were no tourists, just the two of us, nice vibes and this million-dollar view.
The shortcut took us to the rush tourist area, full of restaurants and chic boutiques. It’s weird, how fast the atmosphere changed. We had practically seen two different worlds 10 minutes apart from each other. I avoided the shops knowing that I could not afford too many stuff and headed right to the beach, where a few hours of laziness followed. There are not so many things to do in Positano. It is more of a place where people can disconnect, enjoying the beauty of the area, without feeling guilty for taking it easy.
The beaches of Positano, both Spiaggia Grande, in the center of the town, and Il Fornillo, a smaller beach, are not very comfortable. Tested. They are made of pebbles instead of sand. Forget about fashion and use the beach shoes wisely. At Spiaggia Grande, deck chairs can be rented costing 15 EUR/day. As a tip, if you want to avoid the crowds, go to Il Fornillo. It’s a chill place and you’ll see mostly locals. Plus, the renting prices for deck charis are lower. We chose to remain at Spaiggia Grande and have a picnic on the beach, taking advantage of the sea breeze and the good weather.
The Path of Gods
If you are super active and climbing hundreds of steps in Positano is not enough for you, you can hike a trail called the Path of Gods. We said pass (although we heard that the view from the pick is incredible). We preferred to save our energy and explore another piece of the Amalfi Coast – Fiordo di Furore.
Fiordo di Furore
Fiordo di Furore is a charming and intimate beach that has rocky mountains as a backdrop. It is located under a 30-meter-high arch bridge. The width of the fjord is only 25 meters, but it is quite deep. The area is always cool because the sun only lights it during the early hours of the afternoon. It is not possible to reach the fjord by car because there is no space to park nearby and the road is very narrow. But the beach can be reached by bus even if the area does not have its own bus station.
Fiordo di Furore is situated near an old fishermen village, Furore, which nowadays is a museum. Despite its small size, this village benefits not only from one but from two beaches: Furore Beach and Fiordo di Furore, which obviously are not the same and are at some distance one from each other.
This is a super important detail, whether you use the GPS or tell the bus driver where to stop. A small language barrier and the word “beach” used during our conversation with the bus driver resulted in us being dropped off in the middle of nowhere, at Furore Beach. Indeed, there was a beach, but not the right one and obviously there was no fjord. We were alone on the coast, in the middle of the road.
Mihai calls our travel failures “post mortem decisions” and this was one of them. In this instance, we were supposed to wait more than an hour in the middle of the road just to get on the next bus (if we were lucky enough to make it stop there). This was not an option.
After some failed hitchhiker attempts (perhaps we are not the most presentable people), we decided to walk on the coastal road. At first scary, we can say this was one of the coolest experiences that we have tried so far. The view, the sea, the mountain and the road were all fun.
20 minutes later we were on the bridge admiring Fiordo di Furore. This cool place is not known to tourists, so it was completely empty. We had the beach just for us, but first we had to go down some more stairs to reach it. The pictures that we have taken speak by themselves, certainly the whole adventure of getting there was worth it.
The sunset in Positano
In the evening we returned to Positano because catching a sunset there was a must. The town is picture perfect anytime during the day. That sums it up for Positano and Fiordo di Furore. If you read this post because you are undecided about this destination, I can only say it’s a great place. Even though it’s popular for couples, Positano and Fiordo di Furore are very well suited for a weekend escape with friends or a family holiday.
Tips and Tricks
- SITA buses are linking the cities of the Amalfi Coast. You can purchase 1 day or 3 days passes and you can use them as a hop on-off method in the area. When planning, keep in mind the buses do not follow the schedule. Never ever.
- Positano has a ton of stairs and steep slopes. People do not write enough about it. If you have a stroller, high heels or heavy luggage, get ready
- Make the most of your photos when getting down to Positano beach. The return climb is hardcore.
- To save an important part of your budget, consider a picnic on the beach in Positano. This is both romantic and economic. 2 in 1.
- Remember that Fiordo di Furore and Furore Beach are two different things.
- Make sure you do not stay too long in Positano in the evening. The last bus to Sorrento might be super crowded and the driver might not stop to pick you up.
Until next time,