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10 Things to Do in Sorrento, Italy

Traveling has always been one of my passions. I love the joy of experiencing new cultures and the excitement of exploring our amazing world.

Mt Vesuvius and the Bay of Naples from the hills above Sorrento

Mt Vesuvius and the Bay of Naples from the hills above Sorrento

Just across the Bay from Naples lies the Sorrentine Peninsula, perhaps the most stunning stretch of coastline anywhere in the world. With its beautiful location on the north coast of the peninsula, the small community of Sorrento is perfectly situated looking out over the Bay of Naples, Mount Vesuvius, and the Isle of Capri. It is hard to imagine a more perfect setting than this.

Famous for its lemons and limoncello, Sorrento has much to offer its visitors and makes for a great base from which to explore the region. While there is certainly much more to do and see than I have listed here, this makes for a great start to experiencing this wonderful region of Italy.

Cathedral of Sorrento (Duomo)

With its beautiful clock tower, the Cathedral of Sorrento is easily recognizable and is centrally located on the Corso Italia, the main thoroughfare in the heart of Sorrento. The interior of the Duomo, as it is known, is in sharp contrast to the simple exterior of the church and treats visitors to some wonderful frescoes and a dramatic altar with a crucifixion above it. We were lucky enough to attend a mass in this beautiful cathedral and it is certainly worth a visit.

Interior of the Cathedral of Sorrento

Interior of the Cathedral of Sorrento

Old Sorrento

The old section of Sorrento is a wonderful place to get lost in its narrow streets and alleyways. Here you’ll discover colorful shops and quaint trattorias and the true essence of Sorrento.

Spend a few hours wandering this section of town and you’ll know why Sorrento is such a popular destination. The old town center is home to numerous historical buildings including the Basilica of Sant’Antonino and the complex of San Francesco, which includes the church, cloister, and a convent.

The narrow alleyways of old Sorrento

The narrow alleyways of old Sorrento

Colorful Sorrento

Colorful Sorrento

Piazza Tasso

Looking for a spot to just chill and relax for a bit? Grab a table at one of the café’s here on the Piazza Tasso and watch the coming and goings of Sorrento.

Piazza Tasso is undoubtedly the hub of activity in Sorrento and a great location to find a seat and get off your feet for a spell. The piazza is surrounded by shops, cafes, fruit stands and horse-drawn carriages waiting to take visitors on a leisurely tour of Sorrento. It all makes for a non-stop symphony of colorful activity.

Piazza Tasso - the heart of Sorrento

Piazza Tasso - the heart of Sorrento

You may have the universe if I may have Italy

— Giuseppe Verdi

Pompeii with Mt Vesuvius in the background

Pompeii with Mt Vesuvius in the background

Day Trip to Pompeii or Herculeneum

Hop on the circumvesuvian train and in a quick thirty minutes or so you’ll be on the doorstep to Pompeii or Herculaneum. Spending some time at either of these archaeological sites is a must for any trip to the Sorrento area.

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The famous ancient city of Pompeii is constantly unearthing new finds and it is fascinating to walk among the ruins of what was once a thriving community. Great views of Mount Vesuvius make one realize just how close to the mountain this community was and why there was no escaping its fury.

Pompeii

Pompeii

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The beautiful turquoise waters of Capri

The beautiful turquoise waters of Capri

Day Trip to Capri

One of the highlights of our trip to the Sorrentine Peninsula was a day trip out to the Isle of Capri. Catch the ferry from Marina Piccola and in no time you’ll be cruising into the port of Capri.

For something a little different book a private boat tour of the island. We did this right upon arriving in Capri and got to see all the grotto's that most visitors will miss out on. I know everyone wants to see the famous Blue Grotto but it’s expensive and very time consuming. Instead we opted for a private boat tour of the island and got to go into all of the other grotto's and even swim into some of them. This was definitely a highlight and an unforgettable experience.

If you plan your day out in advance you can take a boat tour in the morning and then spend the afternoon strolling through the communities of Anacapri and Capri. Or take the chair lift to the top of Monte Solaro for a stunning 360 degree view of the island.

The marina on Capri

The marina on Capri

Head to the Amalfi Coast

If there is one thing that you must do when visiting Sorrento it’s head to the Amalfi Coast. Sorrento makes for a great base from which to do this and the SITA buses run throughout the day from Sorrento to Amalfi.

For a different approach hop on the ferry and get a unique look at Positano as you approach from the sea. The communities of Positano, Amalfi and Ravello are all beautiful and worthy of a visit. If time permits visiting only one then by all means make it Positano. This stunning seaside community is built right into the side of the mountain and offers a dramatic landscape.

The main attraction, however, is the famous Amalfi Drive which offers up some of the most amazing coastal scenery in the world. If you’re feeling adventurous rent a car for a day and take a spin on this twisting, cliff hugging drive.

Beautiful Positano

Beautiful Positano

Church of San Francesco

Find the Church and Cloister of San Francesco and admire its arches and architecture, which date back to the fourteenth century. A Convent and the Cloister are nearby and both were also dedicated to Saint Francis. Occasionally there are classical concerts held at the cloister in the evening during August and September if you happen to be lucky enough to be visiting when one is scheduled.

Church of San Francesco

Church of San Francesco

Shop

Shopping in Sorrento can be a fun and enjoyable way to spend an afternoon. Visitors will find a wide variety of small shops offering everything from leather goods and ceramics to jewelry, locally grown fruits and vegetables, and anything lemon.

Good shopping opportunities can be found all along the Corso Italia which is the main roadway through town. To find the quaint mom and pop shops head off of the Corso Italia to the backstreets of Sorrento. Whether you are looking for something particular or just browsing it’s a great way to discover the heart of Sorrento and get a flavor for this small community.

Shopping

Shopping

Marina Grande - Marina Piccola

Take a walk down to the Marina Grande and Marina Piccola for a different perspective on Sorrento. The easy walk down the cliff will be not so easy on the return trip but it’s worth the effort. Marina Piccola is the main port of Sorrento and where the ferries to and from Capri, Naples and Amalfi dock. Marina Grande is the old, former port of Sorrento that is now a quaint fishing village with excellent seafood restaurants and rustic homes and shops.

If you are planning a ferry trip to Capri or the Amalfi Coast while visiting Sorrento you may want to get your tickets early and familiarize yourself with the marina so you know where you are going when the time comes. While down here grab a bite to eat at one of the local eateries or watch the fisherman bringing in their catch of the day.

Marina Piccola with Mt Vesuvius across the Bay

Marina Piccola with Mt Vesuvius across the Bay

Hop-on Hop-off Bus

Hop-on hop-off bus tours are becoming quite popular across Italy and for good reason. They offer a great opportunity to see the city at your own pace. As advertized, you can hop off at anytime and hop back on when you are good and ready.

In Sorrento the buses traverse a route that takes about an hour and forty-five minutes and they leave each of the seven stops every hour or so. The buses are open-top double-decker buses and usually have a running commentary of the sites as you travel around the city. Tickets cost about $15, which makes for an economical way to see Sorrento and learn about its culture and history.

Sorrento Hop-on Hop-off Bus

Sorrento Hop-on Hop-off Bus

Hopefully you enjoyed this brief glimpse of Sorrento. Visitors can easily spend a full week just in this area in order to see all of the major sites that it has to offer. If your time is limited then pick and choose what interests you the most but a trip down the Amalfi Coast should not be missed. The scenery here is certainly one of the main attractions and something that you will not soon forget.

Ciao for now.

The night view from our hotel in the hills above Sorrento.

The night view from our hotel in the hills above Sorrento.

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Questions & Answers

Question: What’s the weather like in Sorrento, Italy in October?

Answer: The weather can still be very nice in October with high temperatures reaching the mid 70s Fahrenheit. Certainly things cool off as the month progresses but we have had very nice weather in mid to late October on previous trips.

Question: I am heading to Sorrento in a few weeks, and I liked your suggestion of a boat trip to explore Capri. Can you suggest a vendor?

Answer: Yes, we used Capri Whales di Wendy and enjoyed every minute of our tour around the island. We explored grottos that most visitors don’t even know exist. Wendy, the owner, is very accommodating and was easy to work with. Look them up online.

Question: We are visiting Sorrento at the end of April for 10 days & will certainly take the details for the boat trip to Capri with us. Could you give me an idea of the cost of this trip & should we book in advance?

Answer: For the ferry trip out to Capri, the cost will depend on whether you take the hi-speed hydrofoil or the regular ferry. I believe the cost each way is about 16 euro for the regular and about 20 for the hi-speed. I would definitely book this at least a day or two in advance as the ferries only hold so many people and can sell out although in April you will probably be okay. We purchased our ferry tickets the day before and didn't have a problem. The issue with buying them months in advance is you will want the day you go to Capri to be nice weather wise so you probably don't want to commit too far in advance.

I wasn't sure if your question was in regard to the trip out to Capri, or the boat ride around Capri once we got there so I'll address both. As for the boat ride around Capri we did book that well in advance. These small tour companies only have so many boats so we did book this ahead. Now, the problem becomes what if you don't know which particular day you want to do this and what if the weather is not good on that day and you want to go on a different day? That's where working with Wendy's Capri Whales was so easy. She told us that when we got to Sorrento and decided on a day that was good weather-wise to just call her and she would take care of us. Super easy. But, if this is something you are thinking of doing certainly try to have them hold a spot for you when you are there and she will work with you.

Question: How do you get from Naples to Sorrento, Italy?

Answer: You have a number of options. You can take the train, bus or ferry. You can even hire a driver to take you to Sorrento as it’s not very far. If the weather is nice I would opt for the ferry. The views from the water of the coast and Mount Vesuvius are amazing.

Question: I'm planning to travel to the Amalfi coast at the end of April. I have some questions:

1. How is the weather?

2. Where is the best place to sleep if I go to all the places mentioned besides Pompeii?

3. Should I rent a car for the whole week?

4. Do you have good hotels to recommend?

Answer: By the end of April, the weather is starting to warm up. The average daily high temperature is about 70 degrees. Of course, it’s always up to the weather gods so check before you leave. We have used Sorrento as a base when visiting the Amalfi Coast. It’s a very convenient location with buses that run up and down the coast. Also, Sorrento is an excellent location for catching the ferry to Capri if that interests you. We like the Il Nido Hotel located in the hills above Sorrento. There are great views of the bay, and they have a shuttle to and from the center of Sorrento. As far as the car, it depends on your desire to drive the Amalfi Coast. We drove to Sorrento and parked the car at the hotel for the week, then never used it. Between the hotel shuttle and the local buses, we were fine. It saved us the trouble of driving and trying to find parking. Good luck, it’s a beautiful area.

Question: What's the weather like in Sorrento in April?

Answer: It can be nice, with temperatures in the 70s during the day and 50s at night. Of course, you never know what to expect with the weather and early spring can be unpredictable. One advantage of visiting this time of year is that the flowers begin to bloom. Also, the crowds are much less than during the summer months when it can get very hot along the Amalfi Coast.

Question: What is the weather like in September in Sorrento, Italy?

Answer: September is considered one of the best times to visit Sorrento as the weather is very comfortable. You can expect daytime highs in the 80s with temperatures dipping to the 60s at night. Of course the weather is always something that can be unpredictable, but generally speaking, the month of September is a very good time to visit Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast area.

Question: What is the weather like in Sorrento, Italy in mid-September?

Answer: September is very nice in Sorrento. Day-time highs average about 80 degrees Fahrenheit while low temperatures at night average in the 60s. Certainly, the weather changes from early September to later in the month, but overall the heat of summer dissipates as the month progresses. September is not the driest month, but certainly better than October through February. Personally, I think it's a great time to visit, especially from mid-September on.

Question: My wife and I are going to Sorrento in October. Looking for train transportation. Any suggestions?

Answer: It depends where you are coming from. You can certainly get to Sorrento by train from virtually anywhere in Italy. If coming from Rome you would have to take the train to Naples first, and then from Naples to Sorrento. It takes about an hour or so, depending on which train go to from Naples to Sorrento and the line is called the Circumvesuviana. From Sorrento many visitors take the train to Pompeii for the day to see the ruins so this is also possible.

From Sorrento if you wish to visit the Amalfi Coast there is no train service to these towns so the best way to get there would be by bus, car, or to hire a driver. Trenitalia is the national train service in Italy and if you visit their website you can find schedules for all routes that they service.

Question: I am going to Naples, Can I bring luggage on the ferry to Sorrento to stay for a few days? If not, how do I proceed?

Answer: Yes, you can bring luggage on the ferry. Just make sure you purchase a ticket to bring your luggage with you, usually 2 euro per bag.

Question: What is the weather like in Sorrento in January?

Answer: It's cool. January is the coldest month of the year in Sorrento with daily highs in the mid-50s, and lows getting down to the 30's at night. It's not the wettest month of the year, but it still averages about 14 days with precipitation during the month. As with any area, you can get great days during January, and you can get downright awful days, it's all a matter of luck. But, overall, compared to areas in northern Italy where they get a lot of snow it' really not that bad.

Question: I use a powered wheelchair. In Italy, are the boats, buses and trains wheelchair accessible?

Answer: I believe that most of the public transportation options in Sorrento are wheelchair accessible. I know the boats and ferries are. The trains should not be a problem also. The buses could present an issue, some seemed to be accessible, but the buses do get very crowded. Sorrento itself seemed to me to be very wheelchair accessible. Check with your hotel to see exactly where they are located and if they provide a wheelchair accessible shuttle to various parts of Sorrento.

Question: We will arrive at Sorrento at 12:30 pm on May 4th, and leave early on May 6th. We can do a full day to Capri or go to Positani, Amalfi, Ravello. We would try to do half a day visit on one of those two as well. Which one would you recommend doing for a full day and which one for half a day?

Answer: They will both be difficult to do with a half day. For the trip out to Capri, you have to figure about 25 minutes each way for the hi-speed ferry. If you want to see both Capri and Anacapri that will take some time, plus transportation out to Anacapri and back. The Mount Solaro chairlift is worth doing also, which again will take some time. You will be very rushed to do Capri justice in just a half day.

For the Amalfi Coast, the same applies. If you are taking the bus from Sorrento to Positano that leg alone will take almost an hour. Add in time spent in Positano and then bus time to Amalfi, and then on to Ravello and I don’t think it’s possible in just a half day. You might consider just going to Positano and exploring there for a few hours. If you are driving yourself, perhaps you can save some transportation time.

I think I would spend the entire day on Capri. It is such a beautiful island with so much to see. The Gardens of Augustus, the Mount Solaro chairlift, Capri, Anacapri, beautiful hikes, the grottoes, etc. Why make the effort to go out there to spend just a few hours? For the half day, I would get to Positano, explore, and if you have time move on to Amalfi. If not, you have at least seen Positano and a scenic stretch of the coast.

Question: We are arriving in Sorrento on a cruise ship for the day and want to see the Amalfi Coast - what would you recommend? I’m reluctant to choose the ferry as we may have had enough water. What would be best for going to Naples or Capri for the day? Would 1/2 a day be enough to appreciate Sorrento?

Answer: Yes, a half-day would be enough to get a feel and appreciation for Sorrento. However, if you want to include seeing the Amalfi Coast time may be an issue. The best way to see the Amalfi Coast is either by taking the SITA bus or to hire a driver to take you. For the purposes of saving time, I would think hiring a driver would be the most efficient manner to do this. If you do decide to do the Amalfi Coast plan ahead how far you want to go. The first stop will be Positano, and you could easily spend all day just there. The further you go towards Amalfi and Ravello the longer the trip back to Sorrento will be.

Capri would also make for a nice day, but again time will be an issue. Naples, this would be my last option for spending the day. If you head to Capri make sure you buy your return ferry ticket before leaving so you don’t miss your ship's departure. Capri is beautiful, but again you could easily spend all day there.

I would plan either the Amalfi Coast or Capri and do this as soon as you arrive. If you have time when you return then spend some time in Sorrento, this way you are not worrying about traffic or a late ferry and you’ll already be back in Sorrento.

Question: What is the weather like in Sorrento in March?

Answer: March is a transition month from winter to spring. High temperatures can reach the low to mid 60s especially as the month progresses, but expect nights to be cool There is always a chance of rain as March is a fairly wet month, but certainly there will also be sunny days. Bring plenty of layers and plan on changeable weather.

Question: What is the weather like in Sorrento during the end of February ?

Answer: Checking the long range forecast for Sorrento the weather looks good through the end of February. You can expect daytime temperatures to reach the upper 50's to low 60's with partly cloudy to sunny days. Of course, the weather can certainly change, but at the moment that is the forecast. It is always possible to get a few showers here or there but overall the weather looks okay for the end of February.

Question: What options are there for getting from Sorrento to Salerno, Italy?

Answer: You have a number of options. You can do a one-way auto rental and drive the Amalfi Coast. You can take a train, although I believe you would have to go from Sorrento to Naples and then Naples to Salerno. Another option would be the Sita bus, but you will have to change buses I believe in Amalfi. During the peak seasons these buses can be very crowded so perhaps not a great option. You can also get there via the ferry system, which I would definitely consider. Again, you will have to change boats in either Positano or Amalfi, but this would be a way to get a unique view of the coastline. I suppose you could always hire a driver, but this might be on the expensive side compared to the other options.

Many options. Guess it depends if you just want to get from point A to point B in the quickest way or see the coastline in perhaps a unique way.

© 2012 Bill De Giulio

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