Italy’s Amalfi Coast is one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen in my life and it’s beauty comes with a price. One of the most expensive locations on our trip was also one of my absolute favorites (hence it’s place on my top 5 European cities list). The Amalfi Coast is composed of many small towns but we settled on staying in Positano. Positano is a short bus or boat ride to many other surrounding cities including one that we visited; Capri, home of the blue grotto. Read below for everything you need for a budget-friendly visit on the Amalfi Coast.
How to Get There From Rome
For the sake of our budget, we decided to take a bus from Rome to Positano. Unlike some of our other bus trips, this one was pretty easy. We left from Tiburtina, a large train and bus station in Rome. Be sure to make your way across the street from the actual Tiburtina train station to the Coach terminal.
We bought tickets ahead of time online and stopped by the ticketing office to find out what stall our bus would be at. We got our stall number and found seats on a bench near it. This was relatively early in the morning around 7 AM, which is the only departure time for Positano.
The ride to Positano is around 5 hours with one stop about 2 hours in. This stop is only around 15 minutes. After the rest stop, there are several stops along the way as the bus driver begins dropping people at their destinations. At one point on the ride, there is a stop in Sorrento where Positano passengers switch buses. The Positano bus stop, Chiesa Nuova, was the one closest to our hostel and the main stop for Positano. From this stop, you can take buses around Positano itself or to other nearby towns.
The one-way ticket to Positano cost us about 20-25 euros each which is definitely the cheapest travel option. You can purchase bus tickets from Rome to Positano here.
Where To Stay
Positano is a luxury destination therefore most stays are for those taking luxury vacations, which means high prices. When I began my search for housing I thought we’d have to stay at one of the surrounding smaller towns. But even the smaller towns and less luxurious stays charged outrageous prices. I finally stumbled upon Positano’s only (I think) hostel. Hostels are like hotels with shared bedrooms (about 6 people per room on bunk beds) and bathrooms. This hostel was really our only feasible choice with our budget constraints.
Little did we know we were in for an amazing surprise. This hostel was absolutely amazing and the best hostel we’d been in our whole trip. We stayed in Hostel Brickette, in a shared 6 person room (3 sets of bunk beds). Our room had its own large balcony and its own personal bathroom. On the main floor, there was also a very large balcony with tables and outdoor couch seating. Both balconies had out of this world views of the blue waters of the coast.
In addition to the clean, airy, and beautiful living arrangements we had great hosts. The married owners of the hostel were very welcoming and we could ask for help whenever we needed it. After booking our rooms they sent us a comprehensive guide of what to do in and around Positano. The hostel also had a breakfast restaurant that was very affordable (about 7-12 euros for a full meal). If you end up staying I highly suggest the pancakes. After hours, they had a full-service bar (2 euro shots and 6-8 euro mixed drinks) and they even sold tickets to a popular nightclub. They arranged our transportation to and from the club by bus just for hostel guests. Check this place out if you are visiting Positano on a tight budget or want to make some friends.
What to Eat (and Drink)
Keeping in mind that Positano is a luxury travel destination, the food there was also expensive. Luckily, Andrea and I operated on a strict pizza and gelato diet which saved us tons of money. Even luckier, there was a great restaurant directly across the street from our hostel that sold cheap yet delicious Pizza; C’era una volta. For about 5-10 euros you could get a good-sized personal pizza. I could not begin to tell you about the hospitality that they gave us. They knew us by face by the end of our stay and started making our pizzas in a heart shape from day 1. The staff invited us back to the kitchen to help them cook on more than one occasion. They were awesome.
Each day we ate breakfast at our hostel which, as mentioned above, had great and filling options. Our breakfast typically held us over until past the typical ‘lunchtime’. If we got hungry, we would grab a snack to hold us over before dinner. There was not one day in Positano (we stayed for about 4 days) that we did not eat pizza for dinner. I am not exaggerating.
We had one night that we splurged on drinks. We decided that we would go grab a drink from a bar known to have a great view of Spiaggia Grande (the famous Italian beach side). Franco’s bar was beautiful with gorgeous artisan drinks that came at a very steep price ( around 20 Euros for a cocktail and 10 for a glass of wine). The price of the drinks was quite expensive but the view and vibe of the place convinced me that it was a good splurge considering all the money we saved on food.
What to do
Beach, Beach, Beach
The first suggestion I would make when visiting Positano is to take a trip to the beach, you are on the coast of Italy after all. There are two beaches, Spiaggia Grande, which is the larger, famous one that’s in all the viral pictures and a smaller, quieter one, Fornillo. When we first arrived in Positano, we opted to visit Fornillo beach because it was a bit closer to our hostel. After a day of traveling, we were more inclined to just relax and knew we would want to do more activities and pictures at the big beach.
Fornillo was beautiful and the water was very warm. They had beach chairs for purchase but we decided to lay on our towels on the rocky beach. Warning: both Fornillo and Spiaggia Grande are rocky beaches, so I would suggest bringing sandals you don’t mind getting wet. The beach chairs at Fornillo, if you are interested, are much cheaper than the ones at Spiaggia Grande (maybe 15 euros to rent for a day).
Spiaggia Grande is Positano’s claim to fame, everything is built around it. It is a beautiful beach with a unique mountainside background sprinkled with colorful buildings. Because it is Positano’s shining star, all the bars, restaurants, and stores surrounding and leading up to it are incredibly expensive (if you haven’t noticed that trend yet). Our beach visit consisted of squeezing between other beachgoers and laying out on our towels atop the rocks.
The water was warm and incredibly clear but we both ended up getting some minor jellyfish stings. Spiaggia Grande is filled with jellyfish who have no problem using their tentacles. There were quite a few crying kids who got stung as well. There were big sections of beach chairs and only two small sections for people who decided to sit on the rocks. The chairs were upwards of 40 euros to rent for a day if I remember correctly which was a definite ‘no’ for us.
Hike the Path of the Gods
Path of the Gods or Sentiero Degli Dei is one of the most popular hikes in the Latteri Mountains of the Amalfi coast. Its popularity is a result of its beautiful views of the coast from a God-like height as well as it being an easy trail.
This hike took Andrea and me almost a full day considering the bus ride to it’s start location and the bus from its end. The actual hike took about 3-4 hours but was definitely worth it. For reference, we did take a good amount of breaks including one for “lunch”. We started our day around 10:30 AM and made it back to our hostel around 5:30 or 6:00 PM. So if you do want to do the hike I’d allow about a day so you aren’t in a rush to get back.
How to Get There
There are several ways to get to the beginning of the trail but we decided to take a bus from Positano to Amalfi, then on to Bomerano where it starts. The bus from Positano to Amalfi doesn’t take any more than 30 minutes. Upon our arrival, we learned that the bus to Bomerano didn’t leave for another hour so we walked around Amalfi a bit. The bus to Bomerano is actually a bus to Agerola with a stop in Bomerano so we had to be very vigilant of where we were and when to get off. We followed along on our google maps tracking where we were so we’d know when to get off.
Once getting off the bus stop you will see a few signs to follow in order to get to the trail but they are a bit confusing. Bomerano is a small rural town so there are not a plethora of people to ask. Luckily, we had intricate directions given to us in our welcome packet from our hostel (Hostel Brickette) which I’ve listed below.
Walk from Bomerano bus stop to the start of the Path of the Gods trail:
- When you get off the bus, cross over the road.
- Ahead of you is a side street, which runs between some houses.
- Walk down the side street, until you hit a road – it is about 100m away.
- Crossover the road, to the Piazza/town square.
- Walk to the far right-hand-side of the square.
- Take the side street that runs off the square.
- Walk a few meters and take the first left.
- Once you turn left, follow the footpath downhill, and then up some wooden steps.
- Once you have walked up the wooden steps, you will hit the beginning of the Path of the Gods.
- Turn left and begin following the trail.
There will be signs along this walk to ensure you are on the right track. While on the trail just follow the well-trodden path which will occasionally be marked with red and white markings.
The hike was supposed to be “easy” but I would beg to differ. As a first-time hiker, I was tired, sweaty, and quite challenged. Andrea, who has hiked often thought it wasn’t necessarily an easy trail either. Luckily we stopped at a small shop by our hostel before leaving and picked up meat, cheese, bread, and fruit to eat along the way.
The end of the trail is in Nocelle where you will find signs directing you toward the walk back down to Positano or towards a bus stop that will take you there as well. After a grueling hike, we opted for the bus ride and walked to the bus stop. There you find an icy stand with a nice man letting you know that the bus stop is right next to him in the shade with chairs. The bus ride back was scenic and around 30 minutes. The hike was beautiful and worth every drop of sweat and aching muscle.
Day Trip to Capri
A trip to Capri was high on our list mainly because it was home of the blue grotto. The blue grotto is a cave right above the ocean water where the sun and water create an electric blue hue that makes it appear as if the water is glowing. Although this was the star of our Capri visit, there are also plenty of upscale shops and restaurants there as well.
We bought water taxi tickets to Capri for about 40 euros round trip the night before from Lucibello. The dock is right beside the beach and takes around 30 minutes to make it to Capri. While on the boat you will see gorgeous views of the coast the whole way there. Once we made it we made sure to buy a few bus tickets to make it around, and specifically to get to the blue grotto.
There were packages for purchase for private or shared boats that take you to the grotto and a small tour around the island as well (about 18-20 euros). We opted for a 4-7 euro bus trip there instead although I think the tour is a good deal. We also considered a full tour with Positano Boats that included the trip from Positano. Our hostel offered a discount but tickets were sold out (55 euros for a full day tour with stops to swim in the open sea).
The Blue Grotto (Grotta Azzurra)
Upon making it to the blue grotto we stood in line for about 30 minutes. After our wait, we boarded a shared paddle boat with two other travelers to enter the cave. The boat takes you to a cashier where you buy your tickets for entry at about 15 euros and then you prepare to enter the cave. To enter, everyone lays flat in the boat since there is only a small opening but once inside it is amazing.
After our blue grotto trip, we explored Anacapri which had some of the best views. After walking around for a bit, we made it to an overlook that gave us a beautiful view of Capri. Anacapri is also home to the Casa Rossa or red house which we took a small look in ( a full look/tour would cost us since it is a museum). After our exploration in Anacapri, we went back to the main Capri to look around some more. There, we found the Gardens of Augustus, the botanical garden of the Island. After visiting the gardens we made our way back to Positano.
Night Out – Africana
As I mentioned above, our hostel gave us a deal to arrange for a ride to and from the club as well as entry for around 20 euros. We were told that club Africana was the best club in Positano and we were not disappointed. Although we were not huge fans of the music selection, the club was definitely an experience in its own right. The club was packed with people and had performers (costumed dancers) throughout. It was definitely a luxurious experience for a great price. Luckily, the bar at our hostel had very affordable drinks so we didn’t need to buy any at the club. A local also suggested visiting the Music on the Rocks club but we didn’t have a chance to.
Although we had to keep a tight budget, we had a blast in Positano. I think choosing to stay there instead of the other surrounding cities was a good choice. We were close to everything we wanted to do and paid a decent price.
Planning a trip to the Amalfi coast? Comment below if you need some additional travel advice!