Travel Guide to Sorrento Italy – Tips for Planning a Dream Vacation in Southern Italy
Nestled on a dramatic mountain range with sweeping views of the Bay of Naples and Mount Vesuvius lies a picturesque town called Sorrento, Italy. This charming spot is home to various resorts, Michelin-star-rated restaurants, boutiques, marinas, and eateries. While most people talk about Positano and Capri (which are nearby), Sorrento offers unparalleled coastal views, a variety of activities, places to explore, and more.
So, if you’d love to indulge your senses in a quintessential Southern Italian dream, read on to learn why you’ll enjoy visiting Sorrento. Plus, discover tips on where to go and what to do there.
A Brief History of Sorrento, Italy
As explained by Brittanica.com, “Sorrento… lies on a peninsula separating the Bay of Naples, which it faces, from the Gulf of Salerno, south-southeast of Naples. The peninsula’s backbone is formed by the Lattari Mountains, which culminate in Mount Sant’Angelo (4,734 feet [1,443 m]). The town was probably of Greek origin and the ancient Surrentum, a Roman resort. The seat of an autonomous duchy in the 7th century, Sorrento became part of the Norman kingdom of Sicily in 1137. The poet Torquato Tasso was born there in 1544. Notable landmarks in the town include the frequently rebuilt cathedral, the 14th-century cloister of St. Francis of Assisi, and the Correale di Terranova Museum, containing an important collection of Campanian decorative art, medieval sculpture, paintings, and classical remains. Long popular as a resort for its climate and scenic location, Sorrento is also noted for wine, olive oil, and citrus fruit.”
How To Get To Sorrento, Italy
Traveling to Sorrento is relatively easy, even if you’re visiting from the USA.
Expect to fly into the Naples Airport, then take a 1-hour ferry or car ride (I recommend using D&D Travelling Sorrento, which offers private luxury cars with knowledgable local drivers that pick you up directly at the airport) to Sorrento. Along the way, you’ll see spectacular coastal views and even drive by world-famous destinations including Mount Vesuvius and Pompeii. Unless you’re experienced driving in Italy, I do not recommend renting a car, as their driving style is like “organized chaos” to say the least. So, driving with a local is a much safer (and relaxing) way to go.
Since we were traveling from California, we flew 11-hrs from SFO to Paris, and then took a connecting 2-hr flight to Naples, which was relatively easy.
Exploring Sorrento, Italy
Getting around Sorrento is also very easy, as it’s mostly flat (although there are some steeper areas as you head up the mountain). So, it’s very easy to walk through town or grab a quick taxi from your hotel. The town square, which is known as Piazza Tasso, is a wonderful area to walk around and explore. It’s also a bustling scene for restaurants, bars, gelato shops, and boutique shopping.
You can also head down to the Marina Grande (which is an old fisherman’s port), to enjoy lunch at one of the fresh fish restaurants or catch a boat to a nearby destination. While it’s easier to explore on foot than in other areas (such as the hilly and narrow streets of Positano), I recommend comfortable walking shoes, such as flat sandals or wedges.
The busiest months to visit Sorrento are from June-August (which is also the hottest weather), so it’s wise to come during May or September, as these are less crowded, cooler months. In addition to this, prices drop a bit during these periods.
What to do in Sorrento, Italy
To be honest, Sorrento far surpassed my expectations. While I’ve heard so many positive reviews of nearby destinations such as Positano and Capri, in truth – I didn’t expect much from Sorrento. However, the moment we arrived, I was pleasantly surprised by how stunningly beautiful the entire area was.
Everywhere I looked there were magnificent views, beautiful hotels, exceptional restaurants (ranging from casual eateries to gourmet fine dining establishments), and charming shops and boutiques. There were also a number of fresh produce stands, limoncello and gelato shops, and even artisans (such as Arte Artigiana Sorrento, featured below) designing exquisite hand-crafted leather and crystal-encrusted sandals (for only $140 per pair!).
Places to Visit in Sorrento, Italy
To start with, when visiting Sorrento, you must head down to Piazza Tasso, which essentially is the historic downtown area. Here you’ll find cobblestone-paved streets surrounded by colorful European buildings, and block-after-block of restaurants, bars, apparel & accessory boutiques, home decor shops, and more.
You’ll also see museums, churches, public gardens, and other beautiful landmarks that you can visit, such as Villa Fiorentino (pictured below). Here you’ll find a lush garden to stroll through as well as art exhibits that make for a delightful afternoon excursion.
Another thing to mention is the fact that many of the hotels and restaurants in Sorrento offer dining al fresco and several have unsurpassed ocean views, which become even more dramatic at sunset since the entire Sorrentine Peninsula twinkles at night after the fiery sun sets over the Bay of Naples. So, if you’re planning on booking a relaxing or romantic place to eat, I definitely recommend opting for a restaurant (such as Terraza Bosquet at Grand Hotel Excelsior Vittoria) that offers an exceptional atmosphere with ocean views. You won’t be disappointed!
Exploring The Amalfi Coast from Sorrento
If you want to explore nearby towns along the Amalfi Coast (such as Positano, Amalfi, Ravello, Maiori, etc.), you can either take public transportation (such as a bus), hop on a ferry (which is a great budget-friendly option) or a private boat, or book a private car. Most of these popular towns are about 45-90 minutes away, so they’re perfect for day-trip excursions. I recommend starting early in the morning to allow ample time for travel to and from each location, and to give yourself enough time to explore the town(s) you decide to visit. You can also book a full-day tour via a private tour company, which will take you along the Amalfi Coast to each of these towns.
To learn more about Sorrento, Positano, Capri, and The Amalfi Coast, check out my Instagram story highlights from my recent trip to this breathtaking area. Stay tuned and follow along, as I’ll be sharing more must-read travel tips and recommendations for places to stay, play, wine, and dine in these areas over the next weeks.
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