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Sorrento vs Positano vs Amalfi

Wondering what the differences between Sorrento vs Positano vs Amalfi are? Or if they’re all the same place? Read on to discover which is which, and all the wonderful attractions each has to offer!

The Amalfi Coast is one of the most sought-after holiday destinations in Italy, for both nationals and travelers from all over the world.  

Its picturesque clifftop towns, beautiful caves, and postcard-worthy scenery make it a dream vacation spot where to spend leisurely sunny days. But as famous as the coast has become, it’s still often confused with other locations, like Sorrento or Positano, or thought to be the second name for one of these popular sites. 

So is it Positano or Amalfi Coast? Positano is actually part of the Amalfi Coast, a rather large area that comprises many fishing villages and cliff-perched towns. Amalfi Coast is located on the Sorrentine Peninsula, which is why the question is Sorrento on the Amalfi Coast gets asked so frequently. While Sorrento acts as the gateway to the area, it is not exactly part of it. Nor is Capri, Naples, or Pompeii, although they are all very close by. 

The Amalfi Coast officially starts in Positano and finishes in Vietri Sul Mare (or the other way around), and it’s not to be confused with Amalfi, a charming town situated on the famous coast. 

In this article we’ll delve into the differences between Sorrento vs Positano vs Amalfi, the characteristics that make each of them irresistible, and everything they have to offer should you decide to vacation in one of them. Check it out!


Image of colorful boats on a harbor, with pastel-colored houses in the background and a pier to the left, inserted in a post about Sorrento vs Positano vs Amalfi

Sorrento is the entry point to the Amalfi Coast, located between the coast and the Bay of Naples. It’s a stunning town that offers prime views of the bay and Mount Vesuvius, a charming waterfront full of cafes and shops, and a myriad of lemon groves and trees. 

It’s a great location to start your Amalfi Coast trip from, as the coastal towns are within very easy reach from Sorrento. 


Sorrento is the most affordable town of the three, as it’s not directly situated on the pricier Amalfi Coast. There are more low-cost accommodation options to choose from, making it a great spot to base yourself, and eating out is also more economical than in Positano or Amalfi town.  

Getting to Sorrento

Sorrento is the easiest to get to from both Naples and Rome. 

If you’re coming from Naples, the best way to make the journey is by train, which takes a little over 1 hour and costs as little as 5€ at the time of writing. The Circumvesuviana train departs from Napoli Centrale station every 30 minutes from 6 AM until late at night on a daily basis. 

You could also take the Campania Express train, which costs around 10€ but takes no longer than 45 minutes to arrive. 

There are no direct trains to get to Sorrento from Rome, so you’ll have to switch trains in Naples. The overall journey will take you around 3.5 hours, and the price for the tickets can go from 15€  to 40€ approximately, depending on the company you travel with. 


Sorrento is very easy to walk around. There are also multiple buses that can bring you to places such as Bagni Regina Giovanna and some of the other fantastic attractions in town. It’s also very accessible for families with strollers and wheelchair users. 

Size and Things To Do in Sorrento

Image of Sorrento seen from a viewpoint, with the sea to the left and the rigged coastline and houses on the right.

Sorrento is quite a big town, so there is a larger selection of restaurants, shops, and attractions than in the other two sites. Sorrento nightlife is also pretty lively.  

Some of the most enjoyable things to do in Sorrento include visiting Bagni Regina Giovanna, a spectacular cove very popular for swimming; strolling around the two harbors, Marina Grande and Marina Piccola; and checking out the ruins at Il Vallone dei Mulini. 

You shouldn’t miss a visit to the Cloister of San Francesco, tasting limoncello, and taking some snaps at I Giardini di Cataldo, a very pretty lemon grove. 

Day Trips from Sorrento

Sorrento is a fantastic base for a trip to the Amalfi Coast or excursions in the area, as there are plenty of tours to choose from but it’s also easy to get to places on your own using public transportation.  

From Sorrento, you can easily get to Pompeii and Naples on your own, as well as Positano, Amalfi, and Capri. Personally, I find Sorrento the best place to be based in if you’re planning to go on a few day trips.

Beaches in Sorrento

Sorrento doesn’t really have great beaches. In fact, none of the beaches in this part of Italy are incredible (and I’m saying this as an Italian!) If what you’re looking for in your vacation is white sandy beaches, you should head to other regions of the country, like Puglia or Sicily. 

Amalfi Coast should be visited for the views, the culture, and the food rather than its beaches. That is not to say there aren’t any, or that you won’t enjoy a great day swimming and tanning by the sea, though. Just don’t expect them to be spectacular. 


Image of Positano during sunset, with the cliff-perched houses lit up. Inserted in a post about Sorrento vs Positano vs Amalfi

Positano offers the quintessential instagrammable Amalfi Coast experience, and the greatest views of all. It’s without a doubt the most charming of the three, boasting narrow streets lined with cute cafes, colorful houses perched on the cliff, and stunning viewpoints. 

It’s the westernmost village on the Amalfi Coast, and the most popular one among holidaymakers for its irresistible scenery, top-notch facilities, and pebbled shores by the Tyrrhenian Sea. 


Popular as it is, it might not come as a surprise that Positano is the most expensive of the 3. While you might be able to get reasonably priced accommodation by booking way in advance, a room for two people in a mid-range hotel rarely costs less than $200 a night, which is considerably more what you’d pay in Sorrento. 

Eating out also has a considerable price tag. While there are some cheap eateries for takeaway bites they don’t abound, and you can expect to pay anywhere between $20 to $50 per dish at sit-down restaurants. Even more if you’re dining out at night, or near the Spiaggia Grande. 

Getting to Positano

You can’t get here straight from Naples or Rome unless you book private transportation.

If coming from Naples, you’ll have to take a train plus a bus or ferry. The easiest way is to catch a train to Salerno, which takes from 30 to 45 minutes, and there take the ferry to Positano. Alternatively, you could take a ferry to Sorrento and from there a smaller one to Positano, but this option is more expensive and only available in the summertime. 

If coming from Rome, you can take a train to Naples and then either switch to a train or bus to Salerno, from where you’ll catch the ferry, or take the Circumvesuviana train to Sorrento and then a ferry or bus to Positano from there. 


Image of a beach with turquoise waters, and in the background a cliff with colorful houses perched on it, inserted in a post about Sorrento vs Positano vs Amalfi

Getting around Positano is harder than the other towns. You really don’t want to have a car there, as it’s a nightmare to find parking and you would waste an immense amount of time trying to – not to consider the stress. You’ll need to walk up and down a lot, though, as the streets are hilly and there are a lot of stairs. However, steep staircases mean incredible views!

It’s not recommended for the elderly, people with mobility issues, and families with small children. Stay in Positano if you’re ok with exercising every time you visit an attraction or viewpoint, and you’re after the postcard-like Amalfi Coast scenery. 

Size and Things To Do in Positano

Positano is considerably larger than Amalfi but smaller than Sorrento. It still features a decent number of restaurants and has great shopping opportunities, as there are lots of boutiques lining its streets. Positano nightlife is very good, similar to Sorrento’s and livelier than Amalfi’s. 

Things to do in Positano that you should consider include renting a scooter to zip along the Amalfi Coast, checking out each and every one of the town’s viewpoints, going on a boat tour, shopping, and visiting the iconic Church of Santa Maria Assunta. 

Day Trips from Positano

Going on day trips from Positano is more difficult than doing so from Sorrento. You might have to book tours if you want to visit places like Naples or Pompeii, which makes the trip more costly. Tours to Capri from Positano are also more expensive than if you were departing from Sorrento. 

If your plan is to explore the Sorrentine peninsula and its closeby attractions, Positano might not be the best place to base yourself. 

Beaches in Positano

There are a few nice beaches and beach clubs in Positano where you can work on your tan, go for leisurely swims on the sea, and relax with a drink on a sunbed. In fact, some of the best beaches on the Amalfi Coast are located here.

Spiaggia Grande is undoubtedly the most popular, followed closely by Fornillo Beach. La Porta Beach is smaller but offers equally great views, and it’s less crowded as it’s only accessible by boat. 

As for the best beach clubs in Positano, the list has to include Arienzo Beach Club, which has a first-class service and offers complimentary boat transfers from Positano’s main area; La Scogliera, a smaller and therefore less-crowded option that’s Adults-Only; and Da Adolfo, a seafood restaurant and beach club that also offers free transfers from Marina Grande. 


Image of the town of Amalfi facing the blue sea, inserted in a post about Sorrento vs Positano vs Amalfi

Amalfi is the namesake of the celebrated coast, and a town of its own situated right in the middle. It’s quieter than Positano, and a great choice for those looking to relax and enjoy a slower-paced vacation, without the need for many facilities or entertainment. 

The dramatic scenery the coast is famous for is also present in Amalfi, and besides staggering views the town also offers great cuisine, fantastic viewpoints, interesting architecture, and a historic port. 


Amalfi is more affordable than Positano, being as it’s not as popular, but it’s still more expensive than Sorrento. You can find good mid-range hotels with rooms starting at around $150 a night, and eat for around $20 in budget restaurants or $35 in mid-priced ones. 

Of course, you’ll also find high-end restaurants and hotels with a much larger price tag if you’re willing to spend more. If you’re debating between Amalfi or Sorrento and budget is a factor, then Sorrento wins. 

Getting to Amalfi

Amalfi takes the longest to get to as it’s situated right in the heart of the Amalfi Coast. 

From Naples you should catch the train to Salerno, which will take 30-45 minutes, and then either a bus or ferry to Amalfi. The bus takes a little over an hour, costing less than 5€, and the ferry makes the journey 30 minutes, although it costs twice as much. 

From Rome, your best option is to Accessibility to Amalfi. While taking a train to Salerno is the easiest way, you could alternatively go from Naples to Sorrento, and from there catch a 1.5-hour ferry ride to Amalfi. 


Amalfi is easier to walk around than Positano, with most of its attractions, hotels, and restaurants located in a flat area. It’s therefore friendlier to families, the elderly, and wheelchair users, seeing as there are almost no stairs or cobblestones. 

It is actually considered one of the most accessible towns on the Amalfi Coast. 

Size and Things To Do in Amalfi

Image of the Amalfi church

The smallest of the 3 towns, Amalfi features fewer hotels, restaurants, and shops than the other two. But it’s also the most historical one, so it boasts great architecture, Medieval watchtowers, and which was once the most important port in all of Southern Italy. 

Paying a visit to the Amalfi Duomo, wandering around the harbor, checking out the interesting Paper Museum, meandering in the maze of alleys and hidden passages, and snapping some pictures of the glorious Fountain of St Andrea are some of the main things to do in Amalfi.

That is, of course, after you’ve admired the views of the coastline, and sipped on your aperitivo drink at sunset! 

Day Trips from Amalfi

Going to places like Naples or Pompeii is hard on your own, so you might have to take a tour if you want to embark on day trips from Amalfi. This makes the experience pricier, and since there are not that many tours that depart from the town, your options will also be more limited. 

Amalfi is a great town to spend time in, but not a great base for excursions

Beaches in Amalfi

There are better beaches than in Sorrento, but they’re probably not as nice as the ones in Positano.  

Il Duoglio Spiaggia is Amalfi’s main beach, and the busiest one during high season. It’s relatively large and situated in the center of town, offering facilities that include umbrellas, sunbeds, toilets, and showers.  

Quieter beaches can be found very close to the town of Amalfi, like Porto Beach, which is family-friendly, Duoglio Beach, which can only be accessed by either boat transfer or climbing up a few hundred steep steps, La Marinella, and Lido delle Sirene

Positano vs Sorrento vs Amalfi: Which One is Better?

The three towns present visitors with astounding scenery, facilities, and attractions, and depending on your interests one will suit you better than the other ones. So, where should you stay on the Amalfi Coast, the town of Positano or Amalfi? Or would you be better off basing yourself in Sorrento? 

If you’re looking for a luxury, instagrammable vacation, or you’re on your honeymoon, Positano is the best town to be in. 

If you’re wondering whether Sorrento or Positano as base is better to explore the area, especially if you’re traveling with your family, Sorrento is best. It’s the most accessible, and easy to reach from the main cities. 

For a quieter experience in which you get to relax and disconnect from the bustle of Italy’s major cities, you should stay in Amalfi. 

Budget travelers should definitely choose Sorrento, as it’s much more affordable than the other two both in accommodation and food, as well as in transportation to get there. 

For culture and history lovers, Amalfi is the best town of the three. It was one of the first and most important maritime republics in Italy, and its Medieval architecture, impressive watchtowers, and narrow alleys exude history. 


What is the difference between Positano and Amalfi Coast?

Amalfi Coast is a stretch of coastline situated in the Sorrentine Peninsula which comprises several towns. Positano is one of these towns, and the most popular one, which is why they’re often confused with each other and the confrontation Amalfi Coast vs Positano is often seen. 

Is Sorrento a good base for the Amalfi Coast?

Sorrento is likely the best base for Amalfi Coast, as accommodation there is much more affordable than on the coast itself, and it’s easier to reach from Rome or Naples. It also offers better opportunities to visit other cities in the area with public transportation or tours, and easy access to the Amalfi Coast. If your plan is to explore the area, definitely stay in Sorrento. 

Is Positano nicer than Amalfi?

Amalfi vs Positano: which is the ultimate Amalfi village? Positano, without a doubt. It’s the ultimate instagrammable town, and much more picturesque than Amalfi. In fact, it’s probably the one that first comes to mind when you think of the Amalfi Coast. If you’re traveling for the views, charming streets, and colorful houses, Positano is definitely nicer than Amalfi.  

What is the difference between Amalfi and Positano?

Amalfi or Positano: which is which? They are both towns within the Amalfi Coast, a stretch of land by the Tyrrhenian sea known for its colorful, cliff-perched villages and scenic coastline. Positano is bigger and livelier than Amalfi, and way more picturesque, while Amalfi is a quieter town with cheaper prices and fewer attractions, but much more historical. 

Is the Amalfi Coast the same as Sorrento?

No. The Amalfi Coast is a beautiful area in the Sorrentine peninsula that encompasses several towns, while Sorrento is a town nearby. It’s considered the gate to the Amalfi Coast for its proximity and easy access to it, but it’s not the same as the Amalfi Coast nor is it part of it. 

Should you stay in Sorrento or Positano?

If you want to visit the Amalfi Coast but also explore other cities nearby, like Pompeii or Naples, you should stay in Sorrento, as it’s within easy reach of most Italian cities and very accessible. It’s also more affordable than Positano. If, on the other hand, you don’t have a tight budget and are looking for the quintessential Amalfi Coast experience, Positano is a better option. 

Is Positano or Ravello better? 

Ravello is a beautiful Amalfi Coast town with numerous attractions and scenic views, and while it’s cheaper than Positano, it’s also more difficult to plan day trips from. If you want to get around the coast a bit, Positano is the best option, although if you’re looking for a charming town to stay in, and are on a budget, you might be better off in Ravello.  

Should I stay in Capri or Positano?

Capri and Positano are both gorgeous Italian destinations with a lot to offer. However, you’d be better off based in one or the other depending on your travel plans. Capri is a small, stunning island off the coast of Naples, so it makes exploring other locations very difficult. On the other hand, it’s a great spot to enjoy a tranquil, very scenic vacation. Positano, being on the mainland, offers more opportunities to explore the Amalfi Coast and nearby cities like Naples or Pompeii. 

Is it better to stay in Sorrento or Positano? 

The questions Sorrento or Amalfi Coast, and Positano or Sorrento are very often asked among travelers wondering where to base themselves on the peninsula. And there’s no right answer: it entirely depends on what you’re looking for. If you want a good place from which to embark on day trips, and don’t want to spend much money on accommodation and eating out, Sorrento is a better base.
However, if your budget can afford the higher prices of Positano and you want to stay on the iconic Amalfi Coast, with no interest in exploring much beyond it, Positano has no rival. 

  • Virginia Bello

    Virginia is a writer originally from Montevideo, Uruguay. She left her career as a TV Producer to gain more freedom and never looked back. She's been traveling the world full-time ever since! Virginia has traveled extensively through Latin America, Europe and Asia. You can currently find her gallivanting through Southeast Asia.


Saturday 18th of March 2023

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