Synonymous with lemon groves and the dolce vita lifestyle, Sorrento is known for its languid vibe and glorious food scene. The best things to do in Sorrento, Italy encompass historic attractions, cultural points of interest, and lapping up the natural beauty of the area.
Sorrento is located on the Sorrentine Peninsula in the Campania region of Southern Italy. It overlooks the Gulf of Naples (also called the Bay of Naples). Read on for advice on getting to the beach resort and the lowdown on the top Sorrento attractions in and around town.
How to get to Sorrento
Naples International Airport (NAP) is the closest option for flying into Sorrento. It’s located 30 miles from the beach town.
Frequent trains connect Napoli P. Garibaldi with Sorrento, with the journey taking around 1 hour. You can check fares and schedules online with Omio or purchase tickets in person at the railway station. Services are operated by Circumvesuviana and Campania Express.
If you are feeling adventurous and you don’t have too many heavy bags with you, you can also take the ferry from Naples to Sorrento. The Naples ferry terminal is a short distance from the main Naples train station and you will arrive right at the main port in Sorrento.
It is one of the best ways to see the Bay of Naples and on a clear day, the stunning Mount Vesuvius. You can pre-book your ferry ticket with Ferry Hopper here.
If you have heavy luggage, you will likely just want to get yourself a car whether you drive yourself or get a driver to take you. You could rent a vehicle through Rentalcars.com or book a transfer with a service like this one through Get Your Guide.
How to get around Sorrento
Sorrento itself is very walkable so you can get around on foot. Many Sorrento activities are located out of town and require a day trip. You can expect to get around using a mix of train, bus, boat, and bike during your stay. This guide will explain the options.
Bear in mind that Sorrento is spread over a series of steep hills. Some accommodation is tricky to get to and requires a lot of steps. If you have mobility issues or are traveling with small children you should pay attention to the location of your chosen hotel.
In addition to the bus network which is pretty regular between the port and old town, there is also an elevator that can take you up and down between the two areas.
Located right in front of Marameo Beach Club is the elevator that can take you up to the old town without worrying about the hill at all. It costs €1 each way and during the summer months runs until midnight.
Best time to visit Sorrento
Sorrento is extremely popular and the city fills up during the peak months of July and August. Travel to Sorrento during the shoulder season of May, June, and September to benefit from quieter conditions and gorgeous weather conditions.
Also, you’ll find that the classic things to do in Sorrento, Italy are more pleasant when the weather is a few degrees cooler. Temperatures rarely drop below 50 degrees (10 degrees Celsius) – even in winter.
10 Best Things to do in Sorrento, Italy
So exactly what to do in Sorrento? Read on for a suggestion of attractions and activities in one of the best Italian beach towns!
1. Old Town
Find your feet in Sorrento with a stroll around the Old Town. This area marks the touristic and commercial heart of the city and is a great place to start your food journey.
Pick up a scoop of gelato from Gelateria David and start your exploration at Piazza Tasso.
This large square is lined with buildings the color of sunshine and buzzes with street vendors, the tinkling of coffee cups, and motorcycles. There are dozens of al fresco cafes where you can acclimatize to the resort town and soak up the atmosphere.
Over the course of your stay, wander around the surrounding churches such as Basilica Sant’Antonino and grassy parks like Parco di Villa Fiorentino.
Eating your way around Old Town’s restaurants is one of the top things to do in Sorrento, Italy. Enjoy the Little Things Bistro comes highly recommended in terms of quality, value, and service.
Try their gnocchi alla Sorrentina and take note of their gorgeous pottery handmade by the owner’s sister (the espresso cups are the cutest!).
2. Marina Grande
Marina Grande is a laid-back neighborhood on the coastline with a fishing village vibe. It’s quieter than Old Town and the main harbor area and one of the best places to visit in Sorrento when you get a craving to eat fresh seafood.
Oh, and you get a knockout view of Vesuvius across the water while you’re at it!
Family-owned O’ Puledrone dishes up their daily haul with, more often than not, a shot of complimentary limoncello. For a hands-on experience, you can book a fishing trip with them and then dine on your catch.
It’s worth visiting Marina Grande during the day and at night to get a feel for how the atmosphere changes. But do also swing by Marina Piccola, near the main harbor, for a different perspective.
3. Villa Comunale di Sorrento
Villa Comunale di Sorrento is the pride and joy of the seaside resort.
This is a public park consisting of terraces and manicured lawns that overlook the Gulf of Naples. You’ll get an eyeful of Mount Vesuvius, simmering across the bay, and an aerial view of the beach clubs that occupy the piers of Sorrento’s coastline.
As with Marina Grande, we highly recommend visiting Villa Comunale di Sorrento at different times during the day. This way you can note how the light and energy shifts. Strolling through the park is one of the popular things to do in Sorrento, Italy, at sunset.
4. Limoncello Tasting and Lemon Grove Tour
Sorrento is legendary for its lemon groves that produce its signature limoncello.
This tangy liquor is available throughout the city in novelty bottles with the option to buy pure limoncello or the crema de limoncello. The former has an alcohol content that exceeds 30% while the softer cream version is around 17%.
As well as filling your suitcase with bottles to take home, one of the coolest Sorrento activities is to visit a lemon grove. These offer respite from the blazing heat and mean you can sample a glass of homemade limoncello!
There are several tour businesses in town but we recommended starting with Enjoy Bike Sorrento. Their Backroads & Limoncello Experience: E-Bike Tour includes bike and helmet rental and is a great way to learn about the local lemon and olive scene!
If you’re not fussed about a tour, you can expect to get your share of limoncello in the town’s many boutiques and restaurants.
5. Gulf of Naples
One thing that you will not encounter in Sorrento is a sandy beach. So what to do in Sorrento when the temperatures soar? As the city is built on a sequence of sheer cliffs, the closest that you will get to swim in the gulf is usually at the beach clubs.
The likes of Bagni Salvatore and the Marameo Beach Club are two convenient options. These are situated on the piers beneath Villa Comunale di Sorrento. However, general admission generally starts at €15 per person for a sunbed and once you add food and service, your bill can easily add up.
But it’s the perfect place to enjoy the Italian art of il dolce far niente, the art of doing nothing. Sit in the sunshine, swim in the sea, and cool down with a cold limoncello spritz.
Puolo Beach (Spiaggia di Puolo) is one handy option for travelers on a budget. This small bay is a short drive out of town and is free to visit. Take a towel and arrive early to grab a sunbathing spot. Otherwise, you can also rent loungers if you prefer.
Swimming conditions are pleasant and the beach is made up of fine stones and gravel rather than large pebbles.
6. Museo Correale di Terranova
Sorrento isn’t exclusively about the outdoors, it also has a lovely offering of museums and art galleries.
The Museo Correale di Terranova occupies the handsome 18th-century Villa alla Rota. This was once the summer residence of the Correale family.
Now, the museum showcases archaeological findings from the region as well as art, sculpture, porcelain, and beyond. It also houses a vast library with tomes covering botany, medicine, and classical works in Italian and English.
The collection is spread over four floors and you can digest what you see with a wander around the garden. Do also visit the Belvedere Terrace for panoramic seascapes.
You can purchase tickets online or on-site at the museum.
7. Isle of Capri
Capri is an island located in the Tyrrhenian Sea off the Sorrento Peninsula. It’s extremely luxurious – with jaw-dropping villas, yachts, and upscale restaurants enticing the rich and famous to holiday here.
But, if you’re spending a couple of days in town, a day trip to Capri is one of the best things to do in Sorrento, Italy. You can visit this easily as an independent outing using the ferry service.
Frequent ferries depart from Marina Piccola and take around 30 minutes to reach the island. You can buy tickets at the harbor. Once on Capri, you can explore the island on foot and check out the cliffside viewpoints. The Giardini di Augusto is a beautiful botanic garden that strikes a contrast with the spirited main square.
Capri is known for its sea caves and grottos, such as the Blue Grotto, and you can join a boat tour to visit these. There’s no need to arrange a spot in advance – you can buy tickets on Capri.
Otherwise, you could always consider book a day trip from Sorrento to Capri that includes a tour around the grottos. If you’re traveling in a group or looking to splash out, you can even rent private sailboats for the day.
8. Mount Vesuvius
The catastrophic eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79AD buried the nearby cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum. Although it remains active, as the volcano hasn’t erupted since 1944, it is deemed safe to visit. You can take a shuttle bus so far up the mountain and then hike to the summit.
Catch a train from Sorrento to Ercolano Scavi and then buy a shuttle bus ticket from the Vesuvio Express office outside the station. This will drop you at the Parcheggio Vesuvio from where you will hike approximately 30 minutes up to the crater edge.
It’s not too demanding but the terrain is somewhat loose and slippery. Hiking poles are handy if you happen to have them while sunscreen and water are essential.
Do try to avoid hiking up Vesuvius during the hottest part of the day.
The views are outstanding and the experience of peering down into the depths of the cone is unparalleled. This is one of the most unforgettable Sorrento activities for adventurous types!
An important tip for food-minded travelers: Naples is one of the best cities in Italy for eating. If you do plan an outing to hike the volcano, allow time to sink your teeth into a Neapolitan pizza afterward!
9. Pompeii and Herculaneum
Pompeii and Herculaneum (Ercolano) are archaeological sites that contain the preserved remains of two towns destroyed by the 79AD eruption. Visiting at least one of these zones is one of the best things to do in Sorrento, Italy. Depending on your level of interest, you can either visit both or just one.
Pompei is significantly larger and requires a longer visit. You’ll see such residences as the House of the Tragic Poet, the House of the Vettii, and the Villa of the Mysteries. However, the less-visited Herculaneum is better preserved with two-story residences still standing to this day intact.
It makes sense to visit Pompeii, Herculaneum, and Vesuvius as a combined day trip from Sorrento. You can technically squeeze all three into one day but it does require an early start and absolutely no time to dawdle.
On the other hand, you can choose to skip the volcano or visit only one of the archaeological sites.
This will allow a more agreeable pace but you will need to research which of the two sites most appeals to you. Pompeii is better known but both sites have pros and cons. Although really, both have far more pros than cons!
But, whatever you do, make sure you start with Vesuvius before the weather gets too hot. You could then take the bus to Pompeii and spend the late morning/early afternoon exploring the streets and buildings before wrapping up with a few hours at Herculaneum.
If you prefer, there are various tours that cover different configurations of these three sights. Arrange your tour on the ground with providers in Sorrento or browse options with Get Your Guide.
10. Amalfi Coast
As Sorrento is the gateway to the Amalfi Coast, you should definitely consider venturing further down this picturesque strip of coastline. Small seaside towns with pastel-colored buildings are carved into the cliff face.
Due to its proximity to town (and its beauty, of course!) Positano is one of the most popular places to visit in Sorrento.
You can spend a day here roaming the cafes, churches, and boutiques in town. There is a beach where you can paddle, gasp at the scenery, and rent kayaks.
Le Tese di Positano is a hiking trail that, although steep, pays off with its summit views once you reach the Chiesa Santa Maria del Castello.
Buses operated by SITA link Sorrento with these smaller towns and depart throughout the day from outside the train station. Tickets are a couple of euros and you can buy them on the bus.
An alternative way to explore the Amalfi Coast is by hiking the Path of the Gods (II Sentiero Degli Dei). This 5-mile (8 km) clifftop trail is moderately challenging and requires a decent level of fitness and proper hiking footwear.
Start the hike in Bomerano (easily accessible by bus) and conclude in Nocello. This saves you from an arduous climb if you hike the other way! Anticipate 3-5 hours for this hike.
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