Sorrento is a coastal town in Italy’s southwestern region facing the Bay of Naples. The town is built right to the very edges of dramatic cliffs with sheer drops to the ocean. At the base of the cliffs there are several marinas and small beaches. The historic centre of Sorrento is a network of narrow cobbled streets lined with many small shops, restaurants, and ice cream shops (gelataria!)
We chose to stay in Sorrento because it is a beautiful old town and centrally located to other towns and attractions that we wanted to see on day trips.
Where to stay
We stayed at Divina House when we went. Piazza Francesco Saverio Gargiulo, 15, 80067 Sorrento NA, Italy. The location was perfect.
If you don’t feel up to hundreds of stairs to get up and down to the port, you can use the sneaky lift that is across the park from Divina House. You have to pay €1 for each journey in the lift, but when you see the stairs to the port, you will appreciate the value! See excerpt from google maps here:
Where to eat
Piazzetta Marinella, 12, 80065 Sant’Agnello NA, Italy
The view from this terrace at sunset is beautiful. It is about a half hour walk from Divina House to Le Terazza, along a fairly flat roadway. We drank cocktails on the terrace and watched the sun setting over the Sorrentine Peninsula to the left, and overlooking the Bay of Naples and Mt Vesuvius.
Another popular place to eat is Fauno Bar on Piazza Tasso. This bar is a bit more lively and noisy but the food is nice, and they have vegetarian options on the menu here.
If you walk away from the Piazzo Tasso and into the quieter alleys of the historic centre you can find many restaurants where you can buy fabulous food, like this plate of antipasto I found in a little lane near the accommodation.
Sorrento is renowned for its limoncello – an alcoholic liqueur made from lemons to a traditional recipe. While we were there we tried the limoncello and also meloncello – which is made from rockmelons. That was amazing!
Day trips from Sorrento
Since I was a child, I have been fascinated by the tragic story of Pompeii. I can’t remember a time that I haven’t wanted to travel to Italy and see the ruined city. When it came the day for our trip to Pompeii I woke up to the sound of rain gently falling on the balcony outside my bedroom. “Sigh”. It’s only rain, after all. So off we went on the half hour train trip to Pompeii. We got off at the Pompeii Scavi – Villa Dei Misteri stop for access to the archaeological site.
Pompeii was destroyed in the violent eruption of Mt Vesuvius in AD79. The volcano rained pumice and ash over Pompeii until the city was buried under a layer of debris 6-7 meters deep. The event was sudden and cataclysmic, denying any chance of escape for the residents of the city. The people were entombed where they fell and perfectly preserved for centuries – protected from the effects of both weather and vandalism. The excavation of the city has removed the debris so that we can once again walk the streets of this ancient place.
As I was walking in the forum I looked up and saw the remains of Vesuvius looming in the distance. You can see how much of the mountain blew away in the eruption by following the line of the lower slopes to a meeting point above the crater. I was amazed that anything could be left standing, let alone for me to see it nearly 2000 years later.
Walking around the city took us most of the day, because it is quite large. Allow yourself at least 3-4 hours to walk around and see the city. Along the way you will find houses with beautiful mosaic tiled courtyards, and cobbled stone streets with ruts from chariot wheels.
Pick up the audio tour device because it will tell you the stories of the city and bring it to life for you.
Check this Train Timetable for the Naples to Sorrento line train times.
The town of Herculano was also destroyed in AD79 by pyroclastic flows from the Mt Vesuvius eruption. Because it was buried quickly in the intensely hot ash, the organic material in the town was carbonised. As a result, it is much better preserved than nearby Pompeii. The excavation uncovered a town with two storey buildings, wooden roofs and doors, and much of the original colours in the remaining frescos.
Herculano is about an hour from Sorrento on the train, and you get off at Erculano Scavi station. From there it is about an 8 minute walk straight down Via IV Novembre to the archaeological site.
Allow yourself at least two hours to walk around the site and see the well preserved town. Check this Train Timetable for the Naples to Sorrento line train times. The cost of the train trip was about €3
Starting from the port, you can catch a ferry over to the island of Capri for the day, and will cost around €45 for a return journey. Capri is a beautiful island and a popular resort for artists, writers, and celebrities.
On the coast you will find the blue grotto, the faraglioni rocks and the marinas. Getting up to the main piazza in Capri is made easy by the funicular. From the piazza you can walk to the bus stop and catch a bus over to Anacapri. This is the easy way to get to the top of the Phoenician Steps for a breathtaking view back over Capri and the Bay of Naples. (or you can just climb the 921 steps up from Capri)
Here is some useful information about getting around on Capri.
Starting from Sorrento, you can catch the bus around to Positano. Sit on the right side of the bus so you can have a view of the stunning Amalfi coastline as you are driving along.
Positano is a beautiful town that clings precariously to the sides of steep mountains that plunge towards the coastline. The buildings are built almost on top of each other as they rise away from the small beach front. After about half an hour, the bus will drop you at the top of the mountain. Then you walk towards the beach, winding your way through the narrow streets holding the buildings apart. You will pass many shops on your journey, each selling unique items from art work, to clothes, to souvenirs.
Once you get to the beach look around for a nice waterfront restaurant to enjoy some lunch in and soak up the ambiance. Rather than climbing that hill again, take the ferry back around to Sorrento, and fork out another €1 to use the lift up to the town. That makes for an easy and relaxing day!
Here is the timetable and information for the SITA bus route Sorrento – Positano – Amalfi
Amalfi and Ravello
Another bus / ferry combination can be done for the day trip to Amalfi and Ravello. This journey takes about an hour and a half. Once you arrive in Amalfi you can walk to the next bus stop which is for the local bus up to Ravello. We found that nobody queued for this bus, but rather, there was a swarm as soon as the bus doors opened and it was first in – first seated basis. Needless to say, we ended up standing for our circuitous drive up the hill to Ravello. Ravello is an old town with narrow streets, which cars don’t fit in, so the cars stay out of the main town. We had a leisurely lunch in one of the restaurants that surround the piazza. After lunch we walked through the gardens of Villa Cimbrone and stood on the terrace of infinity, admiring the view.
To get home, you catch the bus back down that road to Amalfi, and you can catch the ferry back to Sorrento again. Grab a gelato of your favourite flavour to enjoy while you wait for the ferry to arrive at the port. If you’re feeling guilty about the calories, you can always walk up the stairs at Sorrento instead of catching the lift!
When to go
We traveled to Sorrento in October, and you can see from the photos, the weather was absolutely perfect. We only had one rainy day (on my trip to Pompeii). The water was still warm enough to swim in, but there were no baking hot days. It was very comfortable.
When will you go to Sorrento?
Blog: Just Me And A Boarding Pass