Positano, in the heart of Italy’s ultra-famous Amalfi Coast, draws tourists from all over the world. Its popularity has also not gone unnoticed among the world’s rich and famous, and as a result, Positano may feel like an unattainable destination for travelers on a budget. But that’s not the case at all.
With a picturesque setting matched by few places on earth, Positano’s embarrassment of natural riches means it’s easy to tour the town and surroundings on foot. From relaxing sunset strolls to blood-pumping hikes, getting outside is both fun and free.
In addition to Positano’s outdoorsy activities, visitors can attend festivals, find cheap(er) accommodation, window shop, or relax on the beach to keep costs down. The natural beauty is around you pretty much wherever you go, which is the area’s main draw, so you don’t have to splash out on fancy dinners and private boat rides to make the most of your time.
We’ll outline the best free activities here and let you know when to spend a little to maximize your getaway. One thing you shouldn’t worry about is what to do with excess bags or beach gear because Bounce offers affordable and flexible Positano luggage storage, with locations spread all over the Amalfi Coast.
Yes, it’s obvious, but one of the best ways to appreciate this little slice of heaven is to spend a relaxing day on one of Positano’s two main beaches – Spiaggia Grande and Fornillo Beach. Spiaggia Grande is the more popular of the two and is free to use as long as you don’t need to rent a sun lounger or umbrella. Swim, snorkel, and sit back and take in the impressive view of the water and the cliffs lined with beautiful houses.
Spiaggia Grande is right in the village, so it’s not hard to get to. Fornillo Beach, on the other hand, is about a 15-minute walk from town. The upside is that you travel along a lovely coastal pathway to get here. Fornillo still has the chair rentals and restaurants, but it’s away from the major crowds and feels a lot more serene.
If you plan to spend an entire day on any one of the beaches in Positano, renting a comfortable lounger and an umbrella for a break from the sun may be worth it. The prices are better at Fornillo, and this comfort will cost around €30 per person. Alternatively, Spiaggia Grande charges extra for the convenience and view. Securing a spot in the first row can set you back as much as €70 per person. It’s not ideal for those on a modest budget.
Explore the Church of Santa Maria Assunta
Taking wall-worthy photos is a piece of cake in Positano. Chances are, your images will contain the intricate dome of the Church of Santa Maria Assunta, so why not explore its interior as well? And luckily, because churches don’t charge admission in Italy (as a general rule), entry is free.
Rising above the other buildings, the church’s bell tower (an addition made in the 18th century) watches over the piazza, but the tiled dome is a true highlight. The building’s facade is relatively simple, but that doesn’t stop many couples from getting married here. Inside, there are five arches, two aisles, and a nave to explore, and while it won’t take a long time, this is pretty much the only landmark or monument in Positano worth visiting.
Don your hiking boots
Once you’ve seen the Church of Santa Maria Assunta, there isn’t much else to see in terms of cultural or historical sites in town. So it’s time to get out and explore the scenery.
The town is a maze of narrow alleys and staircases that wind their way through the colorful buildings. As you ascend, be prepared for jaw-dropping vistas of the azure sea, the picturesque town, and the rugged coastline. Cliffside pathways are everywhere here, so you can easily pick one and see what you find.
If you prefer to have a plan, consider hiking the Path of the Gods from Agerola to Positano or vice versa. It’s not hard, but the nearly eight-kilometer path should take about three hours to complete.
Dining is one of the most expensive activities in Positano if you want it to be. But on the flip side, there are things you can do to keep your food budget reasonable. Italy, and especially nearby Naples, is known for an abundance of affordable street food, from arancini to pizza to cannoli. Opt out of a fancy meal at a local seaside restaurant and eat while you wander around. Or, just grab some food and head to a bench overlooking Spiaggia Grande (ideally at sunset), and you can have the same view for substantially less.
Surprisingly, Positano doesn’t have a weekly market where you can pick up cheap ingredients. But if you’ve rented accommodation with a kitchen, many small stores sell fresh produce, meat, and cheese cheaper than the supermarket. Plus, you’ll be shopping like a local, which is always nice.
Attend a free event
Despite its small size, Positano offers a few worthwhile events during the year. There are religious festivals in June, July, and August, but the best one to attend is the Zeppola Festival in December. The event celebrates the Christmas season and has everything from great food to live music to games for the kids.
Zeppole, which the festival is named for, are ball-shaped fritters typically topped with sugar and filled with other things. There are countless versions to try, and the locals compete to earn the title of “Best Zeppola.”
With a destination like Positano that’s celebrated for its natural beauty, you don’t miss much when you have to stick to a lower budget. You can still hit the beach, visit the church, sample tasty food, and hike the scenic trails. And while there are expensive boutiques in the village, why not do some window shopping instead? Save your cash for a beach chair rental and a cooling cup of gelato.