My darling hubby and I took a 10-day vacation to Italy for our honeymoon, where we spent most of our time relaxing and soaking up the sun on the renowned Amalfi Coast. You only need to look at one photo of the dramatic cliffs and the brilliant colors scattered along the coast to fall in love with this small piece of Italian heaven.
The Amalfi Coast is located on the southern edge of the Sorrentine Peninsula in Italy. Dotted with a string of picturesque towns, you can’t help but marvel at the colorful buildings clinging to the cliffs overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. (How do they not fall into the ocean?) It is hands down one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been.
Despite the area being called the “Amalfi Coast,” Positano is perhaps the most well known town on the Amalfi Coast, and is really the hub of activity. While we both adored Positano, Michael and I chose to stay in the often overlooked, neighboring town of Praiano. In this post, I’ll share just a few of the reasons why we would recommend Praiano to any traveler.
Why We Chose Praiano As Our Base
I’m just going to come right out and say it. Budget was definitely one of the largest factors in our decision to stay in Praiano. The Amalfi Coast in general can be pretty spendy, especially when it comes to accommodations in Positano. Whether you’re looking at hotels or villas, the cost staying in Positano was significantly higher than in Praiano. Since we were staying for an entire week, we knew we wanted to rent a villa where we could cook some of our own delicious Italian meals and prepare picnics for the beach. We were able to snag a beautiful villa in Praiano (with sweeping views of the sea and an enormous patio from which to enjoy them) for only around €140 per night.
By it’s nature, the Amalfi Coast is not necessarily the easiest destination to get around from town to town. (Remember those giant cliffs I mentioned earlier?) The roads are narrow and extremely winding, and would be even enough to make even the most proficient of drivers gripping the wheel. For those reasons, we knew that renting a car would be out of the question for us. This meant we would be navigating the bus system to get around the coast.
Even though we stayed in Praiano, we spent quite a bit of time in Positano shopping, eating, drinking and lounging under the famous orange umbrellas. Praiano offers two bus options for transportation to and from Positano, which also played a significant role in our choice of staying in Praiano.
- The first option is the SITA bus system, which runs from town to town along the coast. These buses are fairly reliable, but can get crowded in the peak tourist season. If you are traveling via the SITA bus, you must purchase your tickets prior to boarding the bus.
- The second option is the local Praiano bus route. This bus route runs internally throughout Praiano, and will also make a few stops in the city of Positano. My husband and I took this bus the most often, and found it be less crowded and a little simpler to navigate than the SITA system. If you are taking the local bus, you can purchase tickets in advance or on the bus when you board.
On both bus routes, it only took about 10-30 minutes (depending on traffic and stops) to travel between Praiano and Positano.
3. Less Tourists
As you can imagine, being the main hub of activity on the Amalfi Coast, Positano can get very crowded with tourists. Even though you will never escape tourists (yourselves included) while traveling on the Amalfi Coast, it is very possible to escape the crowds. Praiano definitely offers that escape and more. Full disclosure: other towns may be a bit more lively and offer more restaurants, bars and attractions than Praiano. But what Praiano lacks in shopping and activity, it more than makes up for in tranquility and leisure.
The town is the definition of peaceful and relaxing. My husband and I spent our evenings on our terrace, listening to the waves lap against the beach in this serene little town. You can sit back, relax, enjoy a glass of prosecco and truly live la dolce vita in Praiano.
4. Il Pirata
It’s not every day you have the opportunity to dine in one of “The World’s Most Amazing Restaurants with a View” as noted by Travel + Leisure. But if you stay in Praiano, you could literally dine at Il Pirata every day. Trust me, we loved it so much we visited 3 times, and it was still not enough. It will never be enough.
Il Pirata offers mouthwatering food with drool-worthy views. Not to mention, the service was top notch. I emailed ahead of time to make a reservation for dinner at sunset, and Dalila returned my email in record speed, and she was more than accommodating and helpful.
After our first dinner, we were hooked and returned twice for lunch. We strolled up from the beach, sat overlooking the sparkling water and sipped glasses upon glasses of rosé. Il Pirata sincerely embodies the spirit of a true Italian lunch. My husband may have set the record at Il Pirata for the most calamari ordered by one person. It was incredible. But then again, everything was.
5. The Beaches
Before we dive into the beaches of Praiano, I think it’s important to give a fair warning about the beaches on the Amalfi Coast. You will not find long stretches of soft, glittering sand along this coast. Due to the rugged coastline, most beaches are small and pretty rocky. (The Spiaggia Grande with the orange umbrellas in Positano is the exception to this rule.) However, this does not make them any less beautiful or enjoyable. The scenery is simply stunning.
Praiano has two beach areas, and they are known for catching some of the longest hours of sunlight on the coast. (Again, with the giant cliffs. :)) We personally spent most of our beach time at the Marina di Praia in Praiano because it was the closest to our villa, and conveniently close to Il Pirata. The beach was uncrowded, nice for swimming and did offer sun loungers with umbrellas. However, as with almost all of the beaches on the coast, the chairs do come at a price. You will also find a few hotels and restaurants in this area, where you can take a quick Italian coffee before diving into the sea.
Gavitella is the other beach area in Praiano, and is known for it’s beautiful views of the stacked buildings in Positano. Go for sunset, enjoy a glass of prosecco and fall even more in love with all the Amalfi Coast has to offer.