There’s a reason why people are willing to spend 10-20 hours scrunched into a plane seat just to get to a distant location, and that reason is waking up in a place like Positano. Italy is already at the top of most people’s favorite country lists, but Positano just takes it to another level. This medieval town was built almost vertically! Colorful little houses are stacked on top of each other like boxes climbing up the steep picturesque mountain. It makes for a spectacular view from pretty much any angle, but especially from the sea. Postcards were probably invented because of this place!
Now, I probably don’t need to convince you to put Positano on your list but I can help you plan a trip there. Especially if you, like me, are not the best long-term planner and decide to go to an insanely popular place like this one in the middle of high season with little prep and no advance booking… Hi!
Start Planning Early…
Oh wait, everyone already told you that but you didn’t, so now what?
I decided to visit Positano in July and it was already June. When people told me I’d be better off booking for next year, I didn’t believe it. But reality quickly started to hit me once I began my search for accommodation. Really, everything was booked out in Positano 100%. It makes sense when you think about it. There are only about 3 months of summer in Europe, everyone wants to go here and you can probably count all the houses in this town just by looking at the picture above! So I had to get crafty.
I quickly found out that not too far from Positano is a little town called Praiano. You can easily find accommodation there even in high season and it even has some advantages over Positano:
- Praiano quiet as there are fewer tourists
- It’s much less expensive than Positano
- It is not as commercialized and you can get a better taste of local life in a small Italian town
- The view of Positano is breathtaking! Especially at sunset when the sun rays break through the mountains and hit the sea
- You can take a pubic bus to Positano for about €2 and it only takes a few minutes
That was enough for me to book our stay at Le Sirene in Praiano and start planning the rest of our trip.
But First… Rome
The nearest airport to Positano is Naples. But if you have the time and want to visit Rome as well, it actually makes more sense financially. Getting from Rome to Poistano is easy. Just fly into Rome and take a train to Naples (about €12). It is usually cheaper than flying into Naples directly. And you get to see Rome!
I did this trip before I was able to score sponsored trips through Instagram as my account was still small. So we booked a charming Airbnb in Rome just around the corner from the Trevi Fountain. At the time I didn’t think it was that important to stay in the center of Rome. But we later realized it was the best decision we made. Just look at the view right outside our window:
Fontana Di Trevi
One of the things people might not realize about the Trevi fountain is that those pictures you see on the internet with no people around are not reality. There are a million other people there at all times, scrambling for a little space around you just to toss that good-luck coin into the fountain. So how did I manage to get a shot like the one below then? The answer to this question is always the same – you have to get there early in the morning!
Truth is, no matter how ambitious people are, everyone hates getting up early on their vacation. Typically if you get somewhere by 8 or even 9am you have a good chance of beating the crowds. The Trevi fountain is a different story – you’ll need to be here around 7am. That’s not only because of the crowds, but also because of the cleaning crew. Between 8-9am three times a week the fountain is closed for cleaning, or coin collection, aka cha-ching!
Did I mention that tourists toss in about $25,000 worth of coins into the fountain PER WEEK?
The cleaning process itself is actually pretty fun to watch too. They use a giant vacuum to suction out all the coins from the bottom of the fountain. But as I said, we were lucky to be staying just around the corner and get there early. It is truly a masterpiece and I am so glad we got to enjoy it all by ourselves, even just for a few minutes.
Since we only got a day in Rome, we didn’t get to see much else other than the historic central part of the city. From the Trevi fountain it’s a fairly quick and beautiful 20 minute walk through the city ruins straight to the Coliseum. Those are the two things you should not miss if you are in Rome for the first time.
Next Stop – Positano! I Mean.. Praiano!
Getting from Rome to Positano
The train ride to Naples from Rome was pretty easy, we took the express so it was only about an hour. We paid about €90 for a taxi but there are cheaper shared shuttle options too. The ride was both incredibly beautiful and terrifying at times as the roads curve between the cliffs and near the sea in hair-rising turns. We were amazed by our driver’s ability to predict exactly which turn the next giant bus full of tourists will pop out of and stop just in time to let it pass safely. I would not recommend renting a car and trying to drive here as the local drivers know these roads better than you. They are also happy to take you to the best spots to stop and take a picture.
We did not know what to expect from Praiano. We had never heard of it before and really wanted to be in Positano. But the magic of this place is undeniable. We stayed at a small hotel called Le Sirene where everyone felt like family. The view from the hotel terrace is incredible as is the view from any spot in this little town. Just like in Positano, there are no cars or proper roads other than the one big road that goes along the coast, only narrow walkways between the houses – just wide enough for a donkey. There is a small “beach” underneath the village. You can get to it by going down about 400 steps on a concrete staircase.
If you’ve ever been to the Amalfi coast you know why I put “beach” in quotes. The beaches here usually consist of a flat block of concrete poured onto the rocks with just a steep staircase leading back up to civilization. There’s not a lot of sand so it’s technically not a beach. But it definitely has that “European summer” charm about it. You sit there watching romantic couples miraculously balance on these rocks smooching each other while dozens of kids are jumping off cliffs around us with seemingly no supervision. Plus walking up the stairs back to the hotel is a nice workout!
After spending our first day in the Amalfi coast getting to know Praiano and its little beach area, we were ready to head to Positano. The bus that runs between the two towns comes by pretty often and it takes just a few minutes. Right as we got off at the Positano stop we were greeted by this stunning view of the entire town.
This is something I didn’t get tired of – it looked just as stunning every time we got off at the bus stop. It makes sense why this place is so popular and booked out year after year. I’ll admit I’m also a little partial to old little towns with no cars in them. There’s something special about walking around a place like that. It teleports you to a different corner of reality in a way. Living in a big city where that constant background noise of a million cars buzzing around is a given, a place like Positano feels a little stuck back in time, a more romantic, simple, quiet time. Although the main streets of Positano are buzzing with people at all times, you have a good chance of finding that quiet by just veering off the big road and exploring on your own.
We spent the next couple days exploring Positano and just relaxing by the beach. I would also highly recommend renting a private boat ride for an hour or two at the Positano marina. That view from the sea in is just unforgettable.
One curious fact about Positano is that at some point it lost more than half its population as people emigrated, mostly to the United States. Ironically, today thousands of Americans pay a lot to visit this place and have to race each other to book a room. But don’t worry even if you miss the race altogether. Praiano still might have a spot for you and offer you the same if not a better experience.
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