Travel

Europe's Dreamiest Getaway Is Even Better in the Fall

Unreal views with half the crowds.

Marco Bottigelli/Moment/Getty Images
Marco Bottigelli/Moment/Getty Images
Marco Bottigelli/Moment/Getty Images

You’ve probably seen it on a post and wondered where it is: the colorful homes tumbling down the hills to glowing blue waters. Amalfi may be synonymous with vacay paradise, but it’s Positano that’s the crown jewel of the Amalfi Coast-and you don’t even need to speak Italian to visit.

It’s true that some people book reservations a year in advance (learned that lesson the hard way), and you’ll quickly see why. Words like stunning and breathtaking seem feeble against the reality of these views. Plus with the freshest seafood around, you’ll want to jump on making reservations too. Keep in mind, though, that September and October are much less crowded, in case you’re not the elbowing type.

Bring all the outfits and the looks-plus comfortable shoes. Though don’t worry about carrying that heavy luggage. In Positano, you’ll find porter companies where they’ll pick up your suitcase and climb the stairs for you. Here’s everything to do for a bellísimo time in Italy’s Positano.

Marianna Sulic/Moment/Getty Images
Marianna Sulic/Moment/Getty Images
Marianna Sulic/Moment/Getty Images

Spend your day at a beach club

Europe is known for its beautiful lido swimming pools, but the private beaches in Positano will make you rethink what top-tier means. Most of the beach clubs offer boat shuttle transportation from the main pier “La Banchina” to your destination in less than five minutes. Once you arrive, you’ll notice the energy shift to a dreamy, secluded beach with stunning views where you can spend all day eating and drinking Aperol Spritz.

There are five main beach clubs to choose from: La Scogliera Positano, Pupetto Beach Club, Treville Beach Club, Da Adolfo, and a favourite, Arienzo Beach Club.

Photo by Kisai Ponce
Photo by Kisai Ponce
Photo by Kisai Ponce

Enjoy a sunset aperitivo

The aperitivo or apéritif (pre-meal drink) is an Italian ritual that you simply must follow and enjoy to the fullest in Positano. No, it’s not happy hour, it’s tradition. Take advantage of the beautiful views and be sure to make a reservation so you can saluti!

Aldo’s Cocktail Bar and Seafood Grill at Le Sirenuse Hotel has the best view, and it’s a fantastic place to sit and enjoy a sunset aperitivo as if you were in a movie. Ocean Bar is located just a few steps from the sea on Marina Grande and offers live music with its cocktails. At Il Tridente Restaurant and Cocktail Bar, drinks are expensive, but totally worth it once you taste them. Faro Bar has a mind-blowing view-if you’re lucky, you’ll catch a full moon and cry like this writer did. And finally, don’t miss Franco’s Bar, a contemporary al fresco bar with old-fashioned, quality-first drinks and one of the best views in town. Franco’s Bar is a popular spot even for locals and reservations are not permitted, as it’s first-come, first-served.

Le Sirenuse
Le Sirenuse
Le Sirenuse

Stay at or at least visit Hotel Le Sirenuse

Le Sirenuse is an iconic family-owned hotel and one of the world’s most luxurious resorts. During a regular day here, you’ll probably see the Sersales themselves, the family behind the famed hotel, greeting every guest; Antonio Sersale might even join you for an espresso. The family also owns La Sponda Restaurant, Franco’s Bar, Aldo’s Cocktail Bar and Seafood Grill, and Emporio Sirenuse, a small boutique with handmade products. Some people (ahem, me) have even vowed to spend their retirement at this gem on the Amalfi Coast.

MUSIC ON THE ROCKS
MUSIC ON THE ROCKS
MUSIC ON THE ROCKS

Dance the night away in a cave

Aside from the stunning views, Positano is known for having the best nightlife scene. Music on the Rocks is a club in a cave. Don’t worry, it doesn’t have bats, just people and their shadows dancing. Make sure not to show up before 1 am, or you’ll be the only one there.

Airbnb
Airbnb
Airbnb

Book a boat tour

You cannot visit Positano without spending at least one day on a boat tour or sailing. There are multiple options to choose from when looking for a tour online or on the main pier “La Banchina.” If you want to take advantage of the Amalfi Coast, we highly recommend booking an all-day tour to Capri and taking a swim in the Mediterranean waters for a life-changing cleanse.

Airbnb
Airbnb
Airbnb

Be a tourist

Positano is the best place to feel comfortable as a tourist and learn from locals. Positano is small, but has lots of activities and experiences that will make your trip an unforgettable one. Try learning how to make limoncello, a wine tasting tour, cooking pasta, or snorkelling in the Mediterranean sea.

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Kisai Ponce is the Director of Audience Development at Thrillist. You can follow her on Twitter or see her cats and what Housewives she’s watching on Instagram.

Travel

Ditch your Phone for ‘Dome Life’ in this Pastoral Paradise Outside Port Macquarie 

A responsible, sustainable travel choice for escaping big city life for a few days.

nature domes port macquarie
Photo: Nature Domes

The urge to get as far away as possible from the incessant noise and pressures of ‘big city life’ has witnessed increasingly more of us turn to off-grid adventures for our holidays: Booking.com polled travellers at the start of 2023 and 55% of us wanted to spend our holidays ‘off-grid’.  Achieving total disconnection from the unyielding demands of our digitised lives via some kind of off-grid nature time—soft or adventurous—is positioned not only as a holiday but, indeed, a necessity for our mental health. 

Tom’s Creek Nature Domes, an accommodation collection of geodesic domes dotted across a lush rural property in Greater Port Macquarie (a few hours’ drive from Sydney, NSW), offers a travel experience that is truly ‘off-grid’. In the figurative ‘wellness travel’ sense of the word, and literally, they run on their own independent power supply—bolstered by solar—and rely not on the town grid. 

Ten minutes before you arrive at the gates for a stay at Tom’s Creek Nature Domes, your phone goes into ‘SOS ONLY’. Apple Maps gives up, and you’re pushed out of your comfort zone, driving down unsealed roads in the dark, dodging dozens of dozing cows. Then, you must ditch your car altogether and hoist yourself into an open-air, all-terrain 4WD with gargantuan wheels. It’s great fun being driven through muddy gullies in this buggy; you feel like Laura Dern and Jeff Goldblum in Jurassic Park.  As your buggy pulls in front of your personal Nature Dome, it’s not far off that “Welcome…to Jurassic Park” jaw-dropping moment—your futuristic-looking home is completely engulfed by thriving native bushland; beyond the outdoor campfire lie expansive hills and valleys of green farmland, dotted with sheep and trees. You’re almost waiting to see a roaming brachiosaurus glide past, munching on a towering gum tree…instead, a few inquisitive llamas trot past your Dome to check out their new visitor. 

To fully capture the awe of inhabiting a geodesic dome for a few days, a little history of these futuristic-looking spherical structures helps. Consisting of interlocking triangular skeletal struts supported by (often transparent) light walls, geodesic domes were developed in the 20th century by American engineer and architect R. Buckminster Fuller, and were used for arenas. Smaller incarnations have evolved into a ‘future-proof’ form of modern housing: domes are able to withstand harsh elements due to the stability provided by the durable materials of their construction and their large surface area to volume ratio (which helps minimize wind impact and prevents the structure from collapsing). As housing, they’re also hugely energy efficient – their curved shape helps to conserve heat and reduce energy costs, making them less susceptible to temperature changes outside. The ample light let in by their panels further reduces the need for artificial power. 

Due to their low environmental impact, they’re an ideal sustainable travel choice. Of course, Tom’s Creek Nature Domes’ owner-operators, Cardia and Lee Forsyth, know all this, which is why they have set up their one-of-a-kind Nature Domes experience for the modern traveller. It’s also no surprise to learn that owner Lee is an electrical engineer—experienced in renewable energy—and that he designed the whole set-up. As well as the off-grid power supply, rainwater tanks are used, and the outdoor hot tub is heated by a wood fire—your campfire heats up your tub water via a large metal coil. Like most places in regional Australia, the nights get cold – but rather than blast a heater, the Domes provide you with hot water bottles, warm blankets, lush robes and heavy curtains to ward off the chill.

nature domes port macquarie
Photo: Nature Domes

You’ll need to be self-sufficient during your stay at the Domes, bringing your own food. Support local businesses and stock up in the town of Wauchope on your drive-in (and grab some pastries and coffee at Baked Culture while you’re at it). There’s a stovetop, fridge (stocked as per a mini bar), BBQs, lanterns and mozzie coils, and you can even order DIY S’More packs for fireside fun. The interiors of the Domes have a cosy, stylish fit-out, with a modern bathroom (and a proper flushing toilet—none of that drop bush toilet stuff). As there’s no mobile reception, pack a good book or make the most of treasures that lie waiting to be discovered at every turn: a bed chest full of board games, a cupboard crammed with retro DVDs, a stargazing telescope (the skies are ablaze come night time). Many of these activities are ideal for couples, but there’s plenty on offer for solo travellers, such as yoga mats, locally-made face masks and bath bombs for hot tub soaks. 

It’s these thoughtful human touches that reinforce the benefit of making a responsible travel choice by booking local and giving your money to a tourism operator in the Greater Port Macquarie Region, such as Tom’s Creek Nature Domes. The owners are still working on the property following the setbacks of COVID-19, and flooding in the region —a new series of Domes designed with families and groups in mind is under construction, along with an open-air, barn-style dining hall and garden stage. Once ready, the venue will be ideal for wedding celebrations, with wedding parties able to book out the property. They’ve already got one couple—who honeymooned at the Domes—ready and waiting. Just need to train up the llamas for ring-bearer duties! 

An abundance of favourite moments come to mind from my two-night stay at Tom’s Creek: sipping champagne and gourmet picnicking at the top of a hill on a giant swing under a tree, with a bird’s eye view of the entire property (the ‘Mountain Top picnic’ is a must-do activity add on during your stay), lying on a deckchair at night wrapped in a blanket gazing up at starry constellations and eating hot melted marshmallows, to revelling in the joys of travellers before me, scrawled on notes in a jar of wishes left by the telescope (you’re encouraged to write your own to add to the jar). But I’ll leave you with a gratitude journal entry I made while staying there. I will preface this by saying that I don’t actually keep a gratitude journal, but Tom’s Creek Nature Domes is just the kind of place that makes you want to start one. And so, waking up on my second morning at Tom’s —lacking any 4G bars to facilitate my bad habit of a morning Instagram scroll—I finally opened up a notebook and made my first journal entry:

‘I am grateful to wake up after a deep sleep and breathe in the biggest breaths of this clean air, purified by nature and scented with eucalyptus and rain. I am grateful for this steaming hot coffee brewed on a fire. I feel accomplished at having made myself. I am grateful for the skittish sheep that made me laugh as I enjoyed a long nature walk at dawn and the animated billy goats and friendly llamas overlooking my shoulder as I write this: agreeable company for any solo traveller. I’m grateful for total peace, absolute stillness.” 

Off-grid holiday status: unlocked.

Where: Tom’s Creek Nature Domes, Port Macquarie, 2001 Toms Creek Rd
Price: $450 per night, book at the Natura Domes website.

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