Looking for the top things to do in Sorrento?
Sorrento may just be one of the perfect spots to stay in the area. You get easy access to ferries that take you to Naples, Capri, and the Amalfi Coast. And it’s a great place to visit the ruins of Pompeii and Herculaneum as there’s easy access from the commuter train.
The Amalfi Coast is a top draw to the area. Sorrento has a large number of hotels and accommodations that are open year-round, making it a great place to stay in the off-season.
But Sorrento is an amazing place to visit in its own right! Whether you’re spending a few days exploring or using it as a home base, take some time to wander this city. There are a lot of fun things to do!
Let the song of the sirens bring you here—they were known in Greek mythology for luring sailors onto the rocks with their songs. There’s a lot to lure you to Sorrento now, with its fun, casual atmosphere, great food, and incredible views.
Here are some of the top things to do in Sorrento, with some great reasons to explore the area.
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9 Top Things to Do in Sorrento
Sorrento is not only a great place to visit other local areas, but it’s a fun city to visit on its own as well. It’s a popular vacation spot for Italians and Europeans. There are a lot of interesting things to do in Sorrento.
Somehow, time in Sorrento seems to stand still, and yet, it flies at the same time. You’ll feel like no time has passed when you’re just wandering, to be surprised when hours have actually flown.
It’s just one of those magical places to visit. So, though you may plan to see Sorrento due to its proximity to other places, plan to take some time to enjoy this seaside city.
1. Explore Piazza Tasso
The heart of the city is Sorrento’s main square, Piazza Tasso. It was named after a 16th-century poet, Torquato Tasso, who was born in Sorrento.
Wander around the square or take a break at Bar Fauno for an Aperol Spritz and some people-watching. If you get an outside table, it’s a great spot to watch the world go by.
2. Soak in the Rays on the Beaches in Sorrento Italy
What would the craggy coast of this area be without its spectacular ocean spots?
Sorrento doesn’t have much for traditional public beaches. However, you can go to beach clubs with privately-owned piers for swimming and sunbathing. In the good weather, you’ll find umbrellas lining the piers, and you can purchase a sunbed with an umbrella.
Head to Marina Piccola if you’re interested. Or, go down the steps from Villa Comunale Park. There is also a lift you can take as well.
3. Visit a Lemon Farm
Sorrento is known worldwide for its lemons, so what better thing is there to do when in Sorrento than visiting a lemon farm?
Wander the tree-lined fields and enjoy an olive oil and limoncello tasting. There are several farms to choose from, and no place better to purchase lemon products for souvenirs to extend your trip once you’re home!
4. Shop Your Heart Out
You could spend days wandering the narrow and winding streets of Sorrento. They are lined with shops and restaurants filled with tantalizing aromas.
It’s a great area to pick up a souvenir or two. You can find local lemon products, leather goods, and more.
The historic center of Sorrento is a maze of medieval alleyways that meander around the cliffside. Take the time to wander and take in this historic area to see what it offers.
It’s fun just to toss your map aside and wander around. In some areas, maps aren’t overly useful, anyway! You’ll find ancient aristocratic homes, churches, and lots of hidden beauty.
5. Dine at the Marina
There are two harbors in Sorrento, Marina Grande, and Marina Piccola. Though Marina Grande is actually the smaller of the two, it’s the best spot for tourists.
It’s a fairly steep walk to get down to the harbor, but it’s a lovely view as you walk down. When you arrive, you’ll see the piers where fishermen unload their boats to supply the restaurants lining the harbor.
Dine at any of the restaurants and look over the water. It’s a lovely area to explore and enjoy the fresh catch from the sea.
Other Top Things to Do in Sorrento
If you carve out some time to dedicate to exploring Sorrento, and I recommend you do, here are some other amazing things to do in the area.
- Visit the Cloister of San Francesco—This monastery was dedicated to St. Francis, and it’s a gorgeous place to visit. It was originally built in the 8th century, and a gorgeous vine-covered cloister was added in the 13th century.
- See Villa Pollio Felice—This ruined Roman Villa dates back to the first century BC. It’s located at the point of Capo di Sorrento. A popular thing to do is to go swimming in the natural pool and enjoy the gorgeous surroundings.
- Admire the Correale di Terranova Museum—Feel like you’re walking through time visiting an aristocratic home. You’ll find a painting collection from the 17th and 18th centuries, European porcelains, Murano glass, and so much more. Don’t miss the gorgeous gardens.
- Head to the Valley of the Mills—An unusual place to visit in Sorrento is the Valle dei Mulini, stone mills built in the 13th century to grind wheat. They are located at the bottom of a natural valley, but they were abandoned in the 1940s.
Best Hotels in Sorrento
If you’re looking for the best places to stay in Sorrento, there are a lot of options! It’s a really great spot to stay in and perfect for day trips to the surrounding area.
Sorrento is also great during the off-season (November through the early spring), as many hotels and restaurants stay open year-round.
We stayed at two hotels as we booked late and the one we chose wasn’t available for all of the dates we needed. Both were great options, and I’d recommend Palazzo Tasso. Unfortunately, it looks like one may no longer be open.
Palazzo Tasso is right on one of the main roads, so it was a bit noisy, but nothing beat opening our window to look out on the city. It’s a small boutique hotel that was recently renovated.
It is pretty basic and small, but the nice touches make this one worthwhile. I was there on my birthday and came back to my room that night to find this (below). I hadn’t mentioned my birthday, and this was incredibly thoughtful!
Here are a few other options where you can book an amazing room in Sorrento:
Budget—Unconventional Sorrento Coast: This small-budget stay has free Wi-Fi and free breakfast. The rooms have many basic amenities like coffeemakers and small fridges. You can get an upgraded room if you want a balcony with views of the water or if you need a pull-out sofa.
Mid-range—Grand Hotel Aminta: This retro hotel is great for those who want to stay at a place with all the amenities they need on-site. They offer a heated pool, a bar, and a restaurant on the property. They also have a free shuttle to get to downtown Sorrento every day.
Luxury—Grand Hotel Ambasciatori: Stay here for some 5-star luxury while in Sorrento. They have everything from bars to 5 different restaurants on-site. They also have a beach club, a spa, and a fitness center. It’s also only about a 10-minute walk to downtown Sorrento.
Best Restaurants in Sorrento
Sorrento has some incredible restaurants. You’ll find a wide variety of fresh seafood, incredible fresh vegetables, and some incredible pizza places here.
If you want seafood, head straight to Marina Grande. This area is still a working harbor, so you’ll see fishing boats lining the harbor after they come in with their catch.
You really can’t go wrong with any of the restaurants, as the catch is as fresh as can be! Trattoria da Emilia is very good, and Da Giniello is a great bar that’s very popular. Ristorante Porta Marina was also very good.
We also ate at Stoviglie, and wow! Their pasta with clam sauce, almonds, and cream was amazing. And we had a special with pasta, shrimp ragout, and pistachios with a red sauce that was incredible too!
Here are some other great options for meals in Sorrento.
- Bagni Delfino: Come here for amazing seafood and a great view of the water. Seafood is the main menu item, as well as a long list of white wines to complement it. The restaurant is small, with only a few tables, so it has a nice cozy feeling.
- Il Leone Rosso: For enormous portions for a fair price, come here! It’s one of the most popular places for locals and residents. They have every pasta dish you could imagine, and they also do specials of the day, including soups and salads. They’re also well known for their desserts which are made fresh daily.
- Il Buco: This restaurant has a modern atmosphere with chic decorations. It’s very different from the other restaurants in the area. They require a reservation, so make sure to call ahead!
- La Lanterna: This place is on a little side street tucked away from the crowds. The most popular item on the menu is oysters. They are fresh, and you can order them raw or baked. Make sure you also order an ice-cold limoncello if you’re visiting in the warmer months!
Cafes in Sorrento
Visiting a cafe or two while in Sorrento is a must. They are the best places to grab a coffee, light snacks, and pastries. Many places have outdoor seating making them fantastic places to people-watch.
Here are the best cafes in Sorrento:
- La Dolce Sorrento: This is the place to come if you want coffee and dessert. They have a great selection of small cakes as well as other pastries. Of course, they have all your favorite coffee choices as well.
- Bar Vittoria: This cafe has a small sitting area, but most people order their coffee from the espresso bar and drink on the go. You can feel like a true local by ordering quickly from the bar, but don’t feel intimidated. There are often many people standing and ordering at the same time.
- IL Fauno Bar: This cafe serves breakfast as well as coffee and cakes. They have outdoor seating right on the main square. It does get pretty busy, though, so try not to come during common mealtimes, as you might get stuck waiting a long time.
- Nonna Emilia: This is one of the best cafes on Marina Grande, with an excellent view. It’s also just a few minutes walk from the main square.
Best Pizza in Sorrento
Don’t miss the pizza in Sorrento. They are usually cooked in the Neapolitan style and prepared in large brick ovens. The pizzas are round with a thin crust and cooked in a very hot oven.
You’ll see the crust is blackened in some areas, and the crust is puffed up, but the center of the pizza is very thin. Try ‘nduja for a local favorite. It’s a spicy and spreadable pork sausage from Southern Italy.
One of the most popular pizza places is Frankie’s Bar Pizzeria. It’s a very small place, so expect a wait, but it’s so good!
Il Leone Rosso Ristorante Pizzeria, Ristorante Pizzeria Da Gigino, and Pizzeria da Franco are all very popular. We tried pizza at Ristorante Donna Sofia, and it was incredible! We were looking for a later dinner with no wait, and it was well worth it.
When to Visit Sorrento
The high season in Sorrento and the nearby areas is from Easter through October. It gets very crowded during this time, especially from May through September.
While the Amalfi Coast and the island of Capri get much less tourism in the winter, Sorrento is popular year-round. If you visit this area during the off-season, Sorrento is a great spot to find hotels and restaurants, where you may be more limited in areas like the Amalfi Coast.
We visited in early November. It was cool and rained some; however, we found plenty of hotel options and restaurants in Sorrento. It was actually a holiday when we visited, and Sorrento is a popular long weekend spot for Italians.
How to Get to Sorrento
You have a number of options for getting to Sorrento. The closest airport is in Naples. There is a bus, Curreri Viaggi, that departs from the Naples Capodichino airport and goes to Sorrento in around an hour.
You can also fly into Rome, and there’s a high-speed train that goes to the Naples Train Station, Napoli Centrale. Head downstairs in the station to the Circumvesuviana train, a commuter train that runs from Naples to Sorrento for under 4 EUR a ride. There are stops for the ruins of Herculaneum and Pompeii on the way.
You can also take a bus from Rome to Sorrento. Though the Circumvesuviana train is convenient, you don’t reserve a seat, and it can get quite crowded.
The Marozzi bus from Rome takes a few hours. However, you can reserve a seat and have space for storing your luggage. It leaves from the Roma Tiburtina train station once daily.
You also have the option of renting a car and driving, though I don’t recommend it. Parking can be quite challenging in Sorrento, and it can get expensive as well.
How to Get Around Sorrento
You can easily walk anywhere you want to go around the center of Sorrento. It’s a great idea to explore it by foot to wander the narrow and winding streets in this part of the city.
You can also easily walk to Marina Piccola and Marina Grande, though there is a city bus you can take as well. Buses run around every 20 minutes during the day, and they are inexpensive. However, you do need to purchase tickets in advance at tobacco shops (tabaccaio) or at the Circumvesuviana train station.
How Much Time to Spend in Sorrento
There are a lot of things to do in Sorrento, and it’s worth a few days to explore. Many people choose to stay there in the off-season, as I did, to use it for visiting other places in the area.
It’s a great idea to stay in Sorrento in the off-season as many places close in the Amalfi Coast and in Capri. As a result, we only had a little time in Sorrento, and we were sorry we didn’t plan for more.
You can get around easily to make the most of the time you have and even if it’s only a day. It’s a great way to get a taste of the area and learn more about what you want to see for a future trip.
Best Day Trips from Sorrento
Sorrento is perfectly poised for day trips in the region. Some of the most popular include the Isle of Capri, the Amalfi Coast, and the ruins of Pompeii and Herculaneum.
You can also easily get to Naples to see the Naples National Archaeological Museum, which houses a collection of artifacts removed from Pompeii and Herculaneum. If you want to learn more about how the people who once lived there lived, it’s a great place to go!
Visiting Capri from Sorrento
Head to Marina Piccola, the second and larger harbor, to catch a ferry boat to Capri. You can catch ferries to Naples and the Amalfi Coast from here as well.
The Isle of Capri is just a short ferry ride and is worth the trip. It’s a stunning small island with upscale shopping, craggy coastlines, historic and ancient buildings, and striking caves and grottoes.
Capri is known for the Blue Grotto, though don’t miss the Green Grotto and White Grotto if you have the time. Another popular thing to do is to take a boat ride around the island to see the Natural Arch, Faraglioni rock formation, and the Arch of Love. There’s also a picturesque lighthouse at Punta Carena.
The Garden of Augustus is a small but stunning park, and you can look down to see the striking and steep switchbacks of Via Krupp, leading to Marina Piccola.
For the best views, ride the chairlift to Monte Solaro. Wander around the maze of streets in Anacapri, and visit the exquisite churches and Villa San Michele.
If you’re interested in Roman history, Villa Jovis is an interesting place to go. It was once owned by Roman empowers Tiberius and Caligula. It’s mostly ruins now, but offers some incredible views.
Seeing the Amalfi Coast
Sorrento is a perfect place to plan a visit to the Amalfi Coast. You can easily make a day trip, and there are plenty of options for transportation, depending on your budget. You can get there by bus, ferry, or car, though parking is quite challenging. There are also day tours that you can take.
You could easily spend days touring this strikingly beautiful and dramatic stretch of coastline. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and once you see it, there’s no doubt why!
There are 13 municipalities on the Amalfi Coast. If you’re limited on time, the top spots to visit are Positano, Amalfi, and Ravelo.
From Salento (if you drive), Positano is the first you’ll see. It’s a great idea to have a driver as the views are absolutely incredible. And those who drive through this area regularly know the best spots to stop at to take it in.
The colorful homes seem to cling to the cliffs, and the road meanders through this vibrant town filled with boutiques, historic buildings, restaurants, and shops.
Amalfi is much smaller but worth seeing. The highlight of this town is the Duomo di Amalfi, and it’s incredible! You can see great views of the area from the steps.
Ravelo is a small and charming town. It dates back to Roman times and grew prosperous during the middle ages. You can tour some beautiful villas where the wealthy once lived, like Villa Rufolo and Villa Cimbrone.
Enjoy an espresso in the town square and soak in the sleep pace of this town.
Exploring Pompeii and Herculaneum
Both of these thriving cities were destroyed during the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD. Pompeii was a commercial center and quite large, whereas Herculaneum was a smaller city on the coast where the wealthy lived.
The way these two cities were destroyed was very different. So, where Pompeii is impressive for its massive size and large public buildings like the baths and the amphitheater, Herculaneum was much better preserved.
In Herculaneum, you can see two and even three-story buildings with their frescoes, mosaics, and even petrified wood in the doorways. Herculaneum was better preserved as it was found later.
It also lies under the city of Ercolano, so only a small part was excavated. What has been unearthed is mostly private homes, unlike Pompeii.
If you want a great walk through the past, visit both! They are both incredible in different ways and worth a couple of days to visit. Don’t miss getting a guided tour where you can learn more about the history of these two incredible areas.
Visiting the Naples Archaeological Museum
Visiting Pompeii and Herculaneum is amazing. They are UNESCO World Heritage sites and truly a bucket-list trip. But if you really want to see what it was like to live there, don’t skip the National Archaeological Museum in Naples.
Both Pompeii and Herculaneum have small onsite museums, but most of the treasures removed from these sites are located in this incredible museum. You can see mosaics, bottles, tools, paintings, and other artifacts removed from the sites.
The Naples National Archaeological Museum, locally known as Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli (MANN), should be a must-see in Naples. Don’t miss the Villa of the Papyri, carbonized from Herculaneum.
There’s also the incredible Farnese Collection of marble statues, including the Farnese Hercules, The Farnese Bull, the Farnese Atlas, and so many more.
When you visit, it’s worth taking some time to explore the city. Check out the Duomo di Napoli, Spaccanapoli historic neighborhood, Gallerie Borbonica, and Piazza Dante, named for poet Dante Alighieri.
Don’t miss out on the food in Naples. If you can go to one place only, get traditional Neapolitan pizza at Gino y Toto Sorbillo. And when you’re walking around Spaccanapoli, get some local pastries to fuel your walk!
Don’t Miss the Best Things to Do in Sorrento
Whether you’re visiting Sorrento to see this city or using it as a home base, make sure you plan for some time to explore. There are a lot of fun things to see and do in this area.
Get lost wandering the narrow, cobblestone streets. Try limoncello, shop, eat, and just enjoy!
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