Positano, Italy is one of those iconic destinations that sits at the top of most travel wish lists. The colourful pastel town tucked into the cliffside of the Mediterranean is the epitome of la dolce vita. While most visitors associate a trip to the Amalfi Coast with the summer, there are still so many amazing things to do in Positano year-round.
This travel guide not only features what to do in Positano in the off-season, but why it can actually be an amazing time to visit the Amalfi Coast. After spending a lovely holiday in Positano in November, I’ve compiled my top tips for how to plan a trip to one of Europe’s most popular destinations…
How to Get to Positano
Nestled on Italy’s famous Amalfi Coast, Positano is located on the Mediterranean side of the Italian boot – south of Rome, and an hour and a half’s drive from Naples.
Arriving by Train
Due to the rugged geography of the coastline, there is not a train station in Positano.
If you’re already in Italy and are traveling from another major city, the easiest way to get to Positano is to take the high-speed train to Napoli Centrale. From Naples, you have a few options:
- Private shuttle – If budget isn’t a concern, private car is by far the easiest way to get to Positano. Ask your hotel to arrange a car service to pick you up from the train station. This trip typically runs around 120 Euros each way.
- Train + Bus – Catch another train from Naples to Sorrento or Salerno, then catch the SITA bus to Positano. For the latest timetables click here.
- Hail a taxi – Like anywhere, you can hire a cab on your own at the train station to take you to Positano, however the fare will be quite steep.
Arriving by Ferry
While taking the ferry from Sorrento is an efficient and scenic way to get to Positano during the high-season, if you’re visiting in the off-season you’ll be out of luck. Due to choppy seas and sometimes unpredictable weather, the ferry route along the Amalfi Coast only runs from April through October.
Arriving by Car
Although driving along the Amalfi Coast in a convertible seems like scene from a James Bond film, it’s not a route that I would recommend. The drive to Positano takes you around nail-biting, hairpin turns – imagine the ocean to your right and a mountain face to your left, all while sharing the road with the notoriously speedy Italian locals. Also upon arrival in Positano, parking is very limited (and pricey).
My advice – skip the rental car, and leave the driving along the Amalfi Coast to the professionals. You won’t want to miss the scenery anyways – regardless of how you arrive to Positano, it is one of the most scenic drives in all of Italy.
Why Visit Positano in the Off Season
While at first glance the appeal of Positano appears to be only sun, sand and summer, the darling town of the Amalfi Coast is also lovely to visit in the off season. The season officially begins in April and runs through the end of October, with June through August experiencing the most visitors.
Avoid the Crowds
An obvious perk of visiting Positano in the off season is to avoid the crowds. Positano is one of the most popular destinations in Italy, so there are some major benefits to visiting during low season. I first visited Positano in July in the heart of the summer holiday rush, so when my husband and I returned in late November we were treated to a completely different experience.
You’ll experience a quiet, more local side to Positano that you won’t otherwise experience in the warmer months. The usual crowds from cruise ships and tour buses are nowhere in sight, and you’ll have the otherwise crowded beach and restaurants almost all to yourself.
Stretch your Budget
Traveling to the Amalfi Coast in the low season is also an amazing way to stretch your travel budget and score some splurge-worthy accommodation without breaking the bank. A big-ticket destination like Positano naturally comes with a corresponding price tag, but by visiting during the off season your money will go much farther than in the summer months.
Enjoy Amazing Weather
While almost every travel website warns that November is Italy’s rainiest month of the year, there are still many sunny days… On our two weeks in Italy in late November, it did not rain once! Typical off season temperatures in Positano hover around 16 to 18 degrees Celsius – compared to the intense heat Italy experiences in the heart of summer, the fall and winter months are a lovely time to visit.
Where to Stay in Positano
While some hotels in Positano close up shop during the low season, you’ll find an excellent value for accommodation if you visit between November and early April. Boutique hotel rooms with rates that normally rival a small mortgage payment can be snagged at a fraction of the price.
The Punta Regina Positano provided the perfect setting to relax and enjoy the beauty of Positano. Their modern, luxuriously adorned rooms, stunning terrace views and uber-accommodating staff made all our stay truly unforgettable. You can check the reviews on TripAdvisor or check the latest rates and book directly on Booking.com.
Where to Eat in Positano
If you visit Positano during the off-season, you will find some restaurants to be closed, but fear not – there are still had plenty of delicious restaurants to choose from. Here are a few I’d recommend…
Il Mediterraneo – This small, family-run restaurant is great any time of year, but we found it to be the perfect dinner spot for our trip to Positano in November. Their fresh pasta, delightful seafood dishes and impeccable service set it apart from many other restaurants down closer to the beach.
Il Fornillo – For amazing Neopolitan-style pizza in a casual atmosphere, head to Il Fornillo.
Chez Black – A Positano institution, this beachfront establishment has entertained the rich and famous since the 1949. Chez Black serves up classics like fresh lobster and spaghetti with sea urchins. During high season you’ll need a reservation, but good news – in the off season you can stroll right in.
What to do in Positano in the Off-Season
Both in high and low seasons, there are so many memorable things to do in Positano. Here are a few ideas that any visitor to Positano should consider:
Wander the Streets of Positano
Take in the ambiance of the town and go on a stroll through the quaint, winding streets of Positano. Positano is perched on a hill – a very steep one at that, so be sure to pack good walking shoes. Start off in the upper area of town, then make your way down through the village towards the water. No map needed – there’s only one main road in Positano, but there are many sidewalks you can turn off to explore. Don’t miss the Church of Santa Maria Assunta, home to the iconic dome that graces the Positano skyline.
Another perk of visiting Positano in the off season is the streets experience much less traffic, particularly from tour buses, making it very enjoyable to walk around and explore.
Hit the Beach
Low season in Positano does not mean you’ll have bad weather, and in fact it’s often the opposite. Take advantage of the sweat-free sunny days, grab a good book and head down to the Marina Grande Beach or the smaller Fornillo Beach.
Be sure to bring a towel or blanket with you down to the beach, as the usual chairs and umbrellas that line the beach for rent are not set up at this time of year.
Hike the Path of the Gods
Burn off some pasta and hike the Sentiero degli Dei, the Path of the Gods. This cliffside trek above Positano stretches between the upper villages of Bomerano and Nocelle and offers jaw-dropping views of the Amalfi Coast.
The four-hour hike is one of the best things to do in Positano, but if you’re visiting Positano in the off season be sure to watch the weather forecast prior to setting out. While the hiking conditions can be great thanks to cooler temperatures, note that it’s not worth the risk to attempt the hike in the rain.
Relax at your Hotel
A holiday spent on the Amalfi Coast is the epitome of R&R, thus one of the best things to do in Positano is to simply relax.
Factor in some time enjoying the amenities of your hotel – lounge by the pool, treat yourself to a massage or just soak in the million-dollar view from your terrace.
Positano is a haven for shoppers, and with many designers from Milan and Rome having locations here as well, it’s the perfect place to pick up that unique souvenir you’ve been looking for. Grab a gelato and browse the shops for world-class linens and lace, handmade sandals and lemon-themed versions of just about everything.
While you’ll find some shops in Positano closed for the off season, we found many to not only be open, but offering great deals. Thanks to the lack of tourists, shop owners are often more willing to negotiate on pricing.
Take a Day Trip
Once you’ve explored the town of Positano in all its glory, venture out to the other amazing areas nearby. Positano is an amazing home-base for exploring the Amalfi Coast due to its central location, making it a great jumping off point for visiting the other iconic villages. Take the SITA bus or hire a driver for the day to take you to one of these amazing spots:
This cliffside village in the clouds is an amazing day trip from Positano. Drop into Trattoria da Cumpa’ Cosimo for a delicious homemade lunch, then head down to the Villa Cimbrone. Wander through the gardens and take in the vertigo-inducing views on the Terrazza dell’Infinito, the Terrace of Infinity.
Pompeii & Herculaneum
Visit the legendary cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum, the ancient Roman cities that were buried in ash following the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD. The sheer scale and preservation of the cities is mind-blowing, and it’s experienced most efficiently through a tour. Hire a guide upon arrival at the site, or pre-book through an operator like this one through through GetYourGuide.
What to do in Positano if it rains:
Let’s be honest – a rainy day in Italy still beats a sunny day in many places! While of course much of the appeal of Positano lies in the scenery, it’s always good to have a backup plan in the event of bad weather. Here are a few ideas for things to do in Positano if it rains:
Take a cooking class
Learn the ins and outs of Italian cooking in an educational setting… The food will taste so good, you’ll forget about the weather.
Go Limoncello Tasting
Learn about the history of the classic Italian lemon liqueur, or better yet take a day trip to Sorrento and visit one of the limoncello factories… Just be sure to hire a driver!
Eat like an Italian
Dine like a local and savour the art of enjoying a long, leisurely meal. Whether it’s lunch or dinner, take each course slowly, learn about the origin of the food and enjoy every last bite. You are on vacation, after all!
Positano, Italy is an incredible destination that can be thoroughly enjoyed at any time of year. I hope that this guide to visiting the Amalfi Coast in the off season has proven helpful, and perhaps even inspired you to book a trip to one of Italy’s top destinations.
Where have you travelled to in the off-season, and how was your experience? Were you grateful for the calm atmosphere, or did you feel like you missed out on the action?
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