15 key differences – Positano or Amalfi? (best and worst of both)
These are the two main towns on the Amalfi Coast, but which one is a better place to stay?
I find it difficult to say if Positano or Amalfi is best for you because this really depends on what sort of trip you plan to take.
It is true that each town has its own unique attractions, but there are also aspects of each that would make one or the other stand out right away.
Here is a detailed comparison of Positano vs Amalfi that can help you decide which destination is right for you.
But let’s dig into it
Positano or Amalfi – in a nutshell
Both towns are special to me, although in slightly different ways.
Here below is a comparative table for a quick overview of the differences. But keep reading for more information.
You can click on the subject for more details.
|Subject of discussion||Positano||Amalfi||My favourite||Why|
|Families||Steep, better beach, more challenging for toddlers||Flatter, easier to navigate; good shopping||Amalfi||More suitable for families with small children, and easier to get around|
|Couples||Romantic, picturesque, amazing views||Laid-back, historical, unique attractions||Positano||The captivating beauty and romantic atmosphere create a memorable experience|
|Honeymoon||Charming, luxurious, idyllic backdrop||Rich history, lively atmosphere, scenic tours||Positano||Enchanting atmosphere, luxurious accommodations, and picturesque views|
|Beaches||Large, sandy beach||Small, pebbly beaches||Positano||Positano offers a more comfortable beach experience|
|4-5 days Itinerary||Historical Centre,|
Church of Santa Maria Assunta and more
Shopping and more
|Positano||A great destination itself and easy to get around from there. I personally suggest staying in both as planned below|
|Where to stay||La Nunziata(1BR) or|
or Hotel Amalfi
|–||Positano has more spectacular and luxurious stays.|
|Architecture||Colourful cliffside houses, Santa Maria Assunta||Byzantine, Arab, and Norman influences, Cathedral||Amalfi||Rich architectural history, diverse influences, and stunning Cathedral|
|Nature (walks and views)||Path of the Gods, stunning cliffside views||Ferriere Valley, dramatic gorge||Tie||Both offer breathtaking natural beauty and outdoor exploration opportunities|
|Affordability||Upscale, luxury accommodations, pricey dining||More budget-friendly for accommodations & dining||Amalfi||More accessible for travellers on a budget|
|Size||Compact, picturesque, steep stairways||Small, charming, central Piazza del Duomo||Tie||Both are small, allowing visitors to easily explore|
|Festivals & Cultural Events||Positano Dance Award|
Amalfi Musical Festival
|Amalfi||Diverse and vibrant cultural events; Amalfi Regatta is internationally recognized|
|Public Transportation||Limited connections, difficult access||Better connections, hub bus station||Amalfi||Easier access and more convenient for travellers relying on public transport|
|Nightlife||Music on the Rocks; Buca di Bacco||Sea Waves Bar; Amalfi Terminal||Positano||More happening at night, although not overly wild|
|Restaurants and Food||Amazing views: Mirage, Li Galli||Sensi, Pizza Express||Tie||Unbeatable views in Positano, but both offer excellent dining options|
|Cafes||Great views, higher prices, Posides Cafe||Good options, slightly cheaper, Dejavu Cafe||Tie||Positano has unbeatable views, but Amalfi offers a slightly more affordable experience|
Here below I expand on a few quick points which I will explain better after this section.
- Amalfi or Positano for families: Amalfi works better for families with small kids. The town is rather flat which works very well if you have a pram with you. It’s easier to navigate around and with more shops to spend the day and night roaming around. There is also a beach which is ok for sunbathing, however, it is a pebble one. Positano may work better with bigger kids that do not mind a bit of “hiking” through the small lanes with the reward of a nicer view and a sandy beach, but limited shopping. Read more on a family trip
- Positano or Amalfi for beaches: Positano is the easy winner here. It has a nicer wide and long sandy beach, partially public and partially private, where you can rent sun beds (expensive, as you can expect). If you are travelling with the pram, I suggest booking your accommodation as close as possible to the beach. Walking with the pram in Positano is a real challenge. The Amalfi beach is much smaller and all private. There is a small public section close to the harbour, but it’s so tiny. Read more below on the beaches
- Positano Vs Amalfi for couples: Positano is more romantic, and you will have more of a town feel with plenty of small lanes and hidden alleys. The restaurants and hotels with views of the small bay are so picturesque.
- What is better for history and attractions: in this case, Amalfi has more to show. The Duomo is outstanding and so impressive with those wide steep stairs. Then the St Andrew Fountain, the Chiostro del Paradiso, the Maritime Museum in the old armoury and the art museum “Dalla Carta alla Cartolina“. Positano is more about the picturesque view and the unique setup.
- Amalfi or Positano for restaurants and food: There are great restaurants in both towns. I will add a few suggestions below. It’s really a hard call. I probably love more the atmosphere and view you get from a few restaurants and bars in Positano. Read more on restaurants in both towns
- Amalfi or Positano for cafes: Another hard call. You can find great cafes in both destinations. Just keep in mind that in Italy cafes charge a small fee (regulated by law) if you have your coffee or cappuccino at the bar, however, when you seat at a table, they can charge as much as they like as this includes the service. Read more below for my favourite cafes.
- Amalfi or Positano for nightlife: both towns are not famous in the world for their nightlife. In saying that Positano has better options of bars open till late and the famous Music on the Rocks disco club located on a spectacular cliff edge. Read more about the nightlife
Positano or Amalfi for families
Amalfi is pretty flat, and it develops around the main street, the pedestrian Via Lorenzo D’Amalfi, which starts from the main pier.
The heart of Amalfi is Duomo Square, just 20 metres from the coastal road.
Keep walking from there for probably the best shopping on the Amalfi Coast, besides a few cafes and restaurants.
And if you have active kids, you can always turn right or left in any small lane to explore the maze of alleys and never-ending stairs.
For the day, you have the beach option, although not the best on the Amalfi Coast, a pebble one, mostly private.
Positano has not that much shopping and it’s pretty steep. Expect lots of stairs, which is fine for grown-ups, but it could be tiring for the little ones.
On the positive side, the beach is so much better, sandy, wide and long, with a public and a private part.
If travelling with a pram, I highly suggest staying close to the beach.
There are a couple of easy walks along the coast. It’s pretty flat once down. Easier to get around.
Amalfi is, in my opinion, a better option when travelling with family, especially with small kids and/or you have a pram with you.
Positano or Amalfi for Couples
Positano is a dreamy destination for couples seeking a romantic getaway.
I remember walking through the vibrant cliffside houses and narrow streets, feeling the enchanting atmosphere, especially with the night lights.
The sunset strolls along the beach are truly magical, and boat tours to explore the stunning coastline provide an unforgettable experience.
Not to mention the amazing dinners I had with the stunning view that you really can’t forget.
The town’s picturesque setting also makes for beautiful photographs, capturing memories that will last a lifetime.
In contrast, Amalfi is more of a laid-back destination, definitely less pretentious than Positano, but also without stunning views and picturesque sceneries.
In saying that. the town boasts a rich history, beautiful architecture, and an inviting beach.
As a couple, you can explore the charming historic centre, indulge in delicious Italian cuisine at local eateries, and take scenic drives along the coast.
In addition, the town’s ancient paper mills offer a unique insight into Amalfi’s cultural heritage.
The winner is Positano because its captivating beauty and romantic ambience create the perfect setting for a memorable couples’ getaway.
Amalfi Vs Positano Honeymoon
Positano is a perfect romantic destination for honeymooners who are looking for a picturesque and charming atmosphere.
The town’s cascading, colourful houses and stunning views of the Tyrrhenian Sea create an idyllic backdrop for a romantic escape.
Couples can stroll through the narrow streets, visit the quaint shops, and dine in intimate restaurants.
Positano also offers several luxurious hotels and resorts, many of which have breathtaking views and offer romantic packages.
Amalfi is another lovely option for honeymooners, as it boasts a rich history, beautiful architecture, and a lively atmosphere. But, to be honest, it is difficult to compete with Positano.
The town’s main attraction is the stunning Amalfi Cathedral, a must-visit for couples who appreciate history and architecture.
Amalfi also offers romantic boat tours along the coast, allowing couples to take in the dramatic cliffs and turquoise waters.
There are several charming hotels and restaurants in Amalfi that cater to honeymooners, offering romantic settings and high-quality service.
The winner is Positano because of its enchanting atmosphere, luxurious accommodations, and picturesque views, making it the ideal honeymoon destination.
Positano or Amalfi for beaches
The main beach of Positano is wide and long, besides being a sandy one (not thin sand, though).
True, it is much harder to get to the beach. You need to walk down the entire town to get to it, but you will have amazing views the all way through.
You have a third of it open to the public and 2 thirds managed by a few bars, where you can rent sun beds and umbrellas (it doesn’t come cheap).
There is also a second beach reachable by a walk starting on the right side of town that will take you first to a little cove and then to Fornillo Beach.
This beach is not sandy, however much less crowded and less expensive if you decide to rent a sun bed.
The walk to Fornillo Beach is spectacular, however, it can be challenging and steep at a few points.
The Amalfi beach is not as impressive, a pebble one, small and private, which means you can’t stay there unless you rent a sun bed.
Access to it, however, is just meters from the parking area and the town centre.
There is also a tiny public pebble beach next to the marina that can be used for sunbathing, although it can be very busy and not the best, between boats
Positano is the winner here. The main beach is wide and long with a public area too. The view of the Town is so stunning. Unbeatable.
4 to 5-Day Itinerary: Positano Vs Amalfi
An itinerary of 4-5 days in Positano could include wandering through the picturesque streets, visiting the iconic Church of Santa Maria Assunta, and taking a boat tour to explore the famous grottoes along the coast.
Adventurous couples can also try their hand at kayaking or paddleboarding in crystal-clear waters.
Of course, Positano is very well connected by ferry and bus to all the major destinations on the coast and not only.
You could in fact also plan an easy day trip to the marvellous Capri, another great place to stay for romantic couples, by the way.
In Amalfi, a 4 to 5-day itinerary might involve visiting the awe-inspiring Amalfi Cathedral, exploring the historic centre with its lovely shops and cafes, and hiking through the lush Ferriere Valley.
A day trip to the nearby town of Ravello and its breathtaking gardens is also highly recommended.
The town offers opportunities to learn about its rich history, including visits to the ancient paper mills and the fascinating Museum of Handmade Paper.
For those interested in local cuisine, Amalfi provides cooking classes where visitors can learn to create delicious Italian dishes.
The best place to stay in Amalfi for 4-5 days is the Historical Centre, close to the bus station and the harbour
You can also think to visit both, dividing your itinerary of 5 days on the Amalfi Coast between the two towns. Here is a table with the itinerary summary
|1. Wander around Positano|
2. Visit the main beach
3. Walk to Fornillo Beach or Arienzo Beach
|Lunch: Posides Cafe|
|1. Organised tour to Pompeii and Vesuvius||–|
|1. Path of the Gods trekking tour||–|
|1. Explore Amalfi town|
2. Walk up to Torre dello Ziro (optional)
3. Visit Atrani Beach or Castiglione Beach
|Lunch: Dejavu Cafe (Amalfi) |
or Lido di Ravello (Castiglione Beach)
|1. Ferriere Valley walk|
2. Visit Duoglio Beach
|Lunch: Duoglio Beach|
|1. Ferry to Cetara|
2. Book beach sunbeds
3. Explore the old town
Just a quick tip here. The best places to stay in Positano for sunsets are on the eastern side of town
The winner is Positano because its diverse range of activities and sights makes it perfect for a memorable 4 to 5-day experience.
Where to stay in Amalfi and Positano
There are many options in both towns.
My important tip is to avoid booking in the proximity of restaurants and bars if you are planning for a quiet early sleep.
It can be quite noisy in a few streets, especially close to the famous Music on the Rocks, in Positano.
I wrote a full guide about the best places to stay in Positano and I included Amalfi in the best towns to stay on the Amalfi Coast, where I highlight also a bunch of hotels that are absolutely outstanding in quality and price.
Read more about the Amalfi Coast and Positano
In short, my suggested accommodations
- Airbnb in Positano: La Nunziata (1BR amazing value for money), Caravella Positano Apartments (with private beach)
- Hotels in Positano: Alcione Residence (value for money), Torre Trasita (in a tower, one of the most unique accommodations in Positano), Hotel Poseidon (mid-range, with pool and view), Moro Di Positano (budget with parking, but rarely available)
- Hotels in Amalfi: Hotel Amalfi (great location and awesome breakfast included)
- Airbnb in Amalfi: Appartamento Paradiso (amazing views), Antica Residenza Amalfitana (2BR, lovely terrace) and Casa della Luna (3BR, big family or group)
Positano and Amalfi Architecture
Positano is famous for its colourful, cliffside houses that seem to cascade down the hillside towards the sea.
The town’s architecture is heavily influenced by its history as a maritime republic and a popular destination for artists and writers, back in the day.
The narrow, winding streets are filled with charming buildings showcasing traditional Italian design, including features like decorative iron balconies, shuttered windows, and stone archways.
A must-visit place in Positano, that you should add to your bucket list, is the Church of Santa Maria Assunta with its majolica-tiled dome.
Amalfi‘s architecture reflects its storied past as a powerful maritime republic.
The town is filled with historical buildings that showcase a mix of Byzantine, Arab, and Norman influences.
The Amalfi Cathedral, with its stunning Arab-Norman Romanesque façade and intricate bronze doors, is a prime example of this diverse architectural heritage.
I suggest getting lost in the maze of narrow streets and lanes, between beautiful medieval buildings and steep stairways taking you to amazing viewpoints.
Amalfi’s architecture exudes a sense of history and tradition that transports visitors back in time.
The winner is Amalfi because its rich architectural history, diverse influences, and stunning Cathedral make it a captivating destination for those interested in art and history.
Amalfi and Positano Nature (walks and views)
Positano’s dramatic cliffside location offers stunning views of the Tyrrhenian Sea and the surrounding mountains.
The town is a fantastic base for exploring the natural beauty of the Amalfi Coast.
One popular walk is the Path of the Gods (Sentiero degli Dei), a spectacular hiking trail that winds along the cliffs and offers panoramic views of the coastline.
You can start the walk from the eastern side entrance in Agerola and follow the path almost to Positano.
Il Chiosco del sentiero degli dei, close to Positano, is the best bar/cafe for a panino and a drink with a view (very affordable prices).
Another possibility is to take the path to Le Tese di Positano for the amazing view
The beach in Positano is another excellent spot to relax and take in the breathtaking scenery.
Amalfi also boasts beautiful natural landscapes and ample opportunities for outdoor activities.
The town is nestled in a dramatic gorge, with lush hills and terraced gardens rising on either side.
Hiking enthusiasts can explore the Ferriere Valley, a protected natural reserve that features ancient ruins, waterfalls, and an abundance of flora and fauna.
Other great walks are to Ziro Tower and the Veliero viewpoint.
Amalfi’s coastal location also allows for swimming and relaxing on its beach, with stunning views of the sea and surrounding cliffs.
It is a tie because both Positano and Amalfi offer a wealth of natural beauty and opportunities for outdoor exploration. It ultimately depends on personal preferences and interests in determining which town would be the best fit for a nature-filled experience.
Positano and Amalfi on a Budget (affordability)
Positano is known for its upscale ambience and luxury accommodations, which often come with a hefty price tag. There are still some good value accommodations though.
However, if you are really on a budget I suggest considering another town. There are great places to stay on the Amalfi Coast on a budget.
Dining out in Positano can be pricey too. To save money, eat at local pizzerias and cafes, today offering lunch too.
Amalfi, while still a popular tourist destination, tends to be more budget-friendly than Positano.
The best value comes from the serviced apartments, however, there are a few hotels offering rooms at a good price, especially if visiting off-season.
Eating out in Amalfi is also more affordable, with numerous cafes, pizzerias, and trattorias offering delicious and reasonably priced meals.
Amalfi’s attractions, such as the cathedral and the Paper Mill Museum, usually have affordable entrance fees or are free to visit.
The winner is Amalfi due to its wider range of budget-friendly accommodations, dining options, and attractions, making it more accessible for travellers on a budget.
How big are Positano and Amalfi
Positano is a small, picturesque town nestled in the cliffs along the Amalfi Coast.
The town itself is very compact, and it’s all very compact. However, remember that Positano is perched on two hills, which means that walking 200 metres means quite often going up or down several steps.
It must be said that, while the narrow streets and steep stairways can be challenging, they add to the charm and unique atmosphere of Positano.
Amalfi is very similar in size, you can easily walk around. The shopping and restaurant area is mostly nearby the central Piazza del Duomo.
While Amalfi’s streets are not as steep as Positano’s, there are still some inclines and steps to navigate.
It is a tie as both towns are small and charming, allowing visitors to easily explore and immerse themselves in the local atmosphere.
Positano or Amalfi for Festivals & Cultural Events
Positano hosts several cultural events throughout the year, such as the Positano Premia la Danza (Positano Dance Award) and the Festa del Pesce (Fish Festival) both in August.
These events showcase local talent and traditions, offering visitors an authentic taste of Positano’s culture.
Additionally, the town’s picturesque setting provides a beautiful backdrop for these celebrations.
Amalfi is also known for its rich cultural heritage and vibrant festivals.
If you are planning a trip for example in June, make a point to visit the town during the Amalfi Regatta, a historic boat race.
On June 27th the town has also another big festival for Sant’Andrea, the town’s patron.
And finally, I should mention also the Amalfi Musical Festival that runs for the entire summer with many concerts.
The winner is Amalfi because of its diverse and vibrant cultural events that cater to a wide range of interests, giving visitors a unique insight into the town’s rich heritage. The Amalfi Regatta is a well known international event
Positano Vs Amalfi for by Public Transportation
Reaching Positano by public transportation is not as easy.
You need to change at least 2 or more means of transportation. You either take the train to Sorrento and the bus to Positano or the bus to Amalfi and then a second bus to Positano.
It sounds complicated and in some respects it is.
And while the bus ride offers stunning views of the coastline, it can be crowded during peak seasons, and winding roads can be daunting for some travellers.
Ferries are a more comfortable option but may not operate during rough sea conditions or off-season months.
Amalfi is more easily accessible by public transportation. The town hosts the hub bus station for the Amalfi Coast, with regular connections to nearby towns like Sorrento, Salerno, and Ravello.
The buses are usually more frequent and less crowded than those serving Positano.
Amalfi is also connected by ferry services to destinations such as Positano, Salerno, and Capri, offering a more relaxed and scenic mode of transport.
The winner is Amalfi due to its better public transportation connections and easier access, making it a more convenient destination for travellers relying on public transport.
Amalfi or Positano for nightlife
Positano is famous for its Music on the Rocks, the disco club at the south end of the beach.
Set on the cliff, with a spectacular view of the bay, it is a place to remember for a long time.
Drinks are exorbitantly expensive, but you pay for the location and not for the drink itself.
Be aware that disco clubs in Italy become alive around midnight, if not later.
An iconic bar for a few drinks is Buca di Bacco.
In Amalfi, you should go to the Sea Waves Bar for a sunset drink, or maybe two, one of the best spots in town
Amalfi Terminal is another nice place for a drink and a bite.
And that is pretty much all the nightlife of Amalfi (not super exciting)
Positano is the winner here. There is so much more happening at night, although do not expect anything crazy
More information about the Amalfi Coast
- Where to stay on the Amalfi Coast [best towns with or without a car]
- Best itineraries of the Amalfi Coast for 3, 4, 5, 7 or 10 days (with maps and daily plans)
- 33 great experiences to have on the Amalfi Coast, including a few hidden gems
- The Ultimate Guide to the Amalfi Coast – All you need to know with plenty of tips
- Best area to stay in Positano (with a great view and on a budget)
- Best neighbourhoods to stay in Sorrento
- Getting to and around the Amalfi Coast without car and by car [what works best]
Amalfi or Positano for restaurants and food
The view you can have from a few restaurants in Positano is really unbeatable. And that is the biggest difference between the two towns.
Here are a few suggested restaurants for both towns.
In Positano, you should check out the Mirage Restaurant for both the amazing view and the lovely food. It is, however, up on top of the town.
Li Galli for a pretentious night with an amazing view and Lo Guarracino off the beaten path and again gorgeous view.
In Amalfi, for fine dining book at the Sensi Restaurant, one of the most famous on the Amalfi coast.
For a quick takeaway pizza, check out Pizza Express and Il Mulino is a great off-the-beaten-path alternative.
It is a tie. There is no winner for better food overall. The view from a few restaurants in Positano is truly unbeatable, however, you pay a markup price for that.
Amalfi or Positano for cafes
Do you want to seat for a coffee? Be prepared to pay 3 or even 5 times what you would pay standing at the bar.
You pay for the location, of course, and not the coffee itself.
Nowadays, cafes are also good places for lunch. They usually offer a limited, but tasty, choice of food as well.
In Positano, prices tend to go up based on the location and the view.
A good finding, also for lunch, is Posides Cafe. On a hot summer day, their Caprese Salad is unbeatable.
In Amalfi, you can check out the Dejavu Cafe
It’s a tie. Positano is slightly more expensive when it comes down to food and service at the table. However, once again the view from a few cafes is unbeatable.
Positano Vs Amalfi Frequently Asked Questions
Is parking easier in Amalfi or Positano?
Short answer: it’s not easy and it’s expensive in both towns. In Amalfi, there are two main parking, the first one, right in the centre and next to the beach (the more expensive one, 5Euro/hour) and the other at the breakwater, slightly cheaper. In Positano, most of the garages are private, which means you leave the key and they park it for you. Full car insurance is a must as you never know who is parking the car. Mandara Parking usually does a good reliable job.
How easy is it to move between Amalfi and Positano?
It is very easy. Yes, you can either decide to take the SITA SUB bus (Amalfi is at the centre of the network) or the ferry, the more romantic option (see this website for the timetable).
Is it cheaper to stay in Positano or Amalfi?
Positano is the most expensive place to stay on the Amalfi Coast. It’s beautiful, so characteristic, charming and picturesque, however, it comes at a higher price. Amalfi is cheaper, but not cheap. If you are on a budget check out my guide to where to stay on the Amalfi Coast for more options.
How is shopping in Amalfi and Positano?
Amalfi is unbeatable for shopping. You will find a nice pedestrian street starting from the harbour, with a variety of shops of all kinds, always busy. Such a lovely place for a walk.
Overall, Is Amalfi or Positano nicer?
The only thing I know is that it’s a hard choice. I like the charming part of Positano, however, the flat shopping area of Amalfi is unbeatable. You can always stay in Positano and visit Amalfi on a ferry trip along the coast for a day trip.
Amalfi vs Positano vs Sorrento
things become even more complicated. Sorrento is another lovely destination with its own vibe, however, it’s not really on the Amalfi Coast. It’s a great base to visit the Amalfi Coast and Naples at the same time, besides the Island of Capri, of course. But Positano and Amalfi offer more if you really want to spend time on the Amalfi Coast.
5 thoughts on “15 key differences – Positano or Amalfi? (best and worst of both)”
Awesome information…thanking you
Thank you for your info. We don’t need a pram, but at 73 years old, we decided on staying in Amalfi because you said that Amalfi is flatter. The steps in Positano would be a problem.
Thank you so much for the summary.It has really helped us plan our vaccation!
Great comparative!! Thanks