Topping the rocky cliffs close to the end of its peninsula, 25km south of Pompeii, the last town of significance on the southern side of the bay, Sorrento is solely and unashamedly a resort, its inspired location and mild climate drawing foreigners from all over Europe for close on two hundred years.
The best travel tips for visiting Sorrento
Nestled along the stunning Amalfi Coast of Italy, Sorrento beckons as a charming and captivating destination that embodies the essence of Mediterranean allure. From its breathtaking panoramic views of the azure sea to its vibrant streets lined with citrus trees, Sorrento exudes a timeless elegance that captivates every traveller.
Ibsen wrote part of Peer Gynt in Sorrento, Wagner and Nietzsche had a well-publicised row here, and Maxim Gorky lived for over a decade in the town. With its rich history, delectable cuisine, and warm hospitality, this coastal gem offers an enchanting blend of relaxation and exploration.
Whether you're drawn to its picturesque landscapes, its proximity to renowned attractions like Pompeii and Capri, or simply the sheer joy of savoring local limoncello under the sun, Sorrento promises an unforgettable experience that lingers in your heart long after you've left its shores.
Nowadays it’s strictly package-tour territory, but not too much the worse for it, with little of the brashness of its Spanish and Greek equivalents but all their vigour, a bright, lively place that retains its southern Italian roots.
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Top attractions and things to do in Sorrento
From the shady gardens of the Villa Comunale to the lovely Piazza Tasso, these are the best things to do on Sorrento.
#1 Stroll through the gardens of Villa Comunale
It’s worth strolling down from the Piazza Tasso to linger in the shady gardens of the Villa Comunale, whose terrace has lovely views out to sea. Off to the right, you can also peek into the small thirteenth-century cloister of the church of San Francesco just outside, planted with vines and bright bougainvillea – a peaceful escape from the bustle of the rest of Sorrento.
#2 Check out the gaudy interior of Sorrento’s Cattedrale
Skirting the northern edge of the old town, Sorrento’s busiest artery is Corso Italia, which is pedestrianised after 7.30pm on summer evenings for the lively passeggiata (only on Sat from mid-Oct to May).
A little way down on the left, Sorrento’s Cattedrale has been much rebuilt, and the real challenge of its gaudy interior is how to tell the fake marble from the real. The bishop’s throne, on the main aisle, is certainly authentic, dating from the late sixteenth century, as are the inlaid wood scenes on the main doors and choir stalls, which add a genuine Sorrentine touch.
Take a look also at the large presepe just inside the main doors, and the chapel in the left aisle, which is dedicated to San Giuseppe Moscati – a Neapolitan doctor who died in 1927 and is venerated in Naples’ Gesù church.
#3 Visit Museo Bottega della Tarsialignea
The Museo Bottega della Tarsialignea, housed in an ancient mansion in the artisanal quarter of the old town, is a shrine to Sorrento’s craft speciality of inlaid woodwork – cheap and pretty awful examples of which you see all over town.
Don’t let the tourist tat put you off having a look around this museum: the ground floor here has some clever and stylish examples of contemporary intarsio work (it’s for sale, but not at all cheap), while upstairs displays the work of Sorrento’s late nineteenth century intarsio greats.
#4 See some local art at Museo Correale di Terranova
On the western edge of town, the local Museo Correale di Terranova, housed in the airy former palace of a family of local counts, displays examples of intarsio and various Roman finds. Upstairs is a collection of badly lit paintings by local artists, best of which by far is the late eighteenth-century roulette game, Il Biri Bisso, painted on wood by one Francesco Celebrano.
#5 Wander to Piazza Tasso
It’s nice to wander through the streets that feed into the central square, Piazza Tasso, built astride the gorge that runs through the centre of town and named after the wayward sixteenth-century Italian poet whose statue stands in the far corner.
Running west of here is the backbone to Sorrento’s small grid of old-town streets, Corso Italia, pedestrianised for the lively evening passeggiata and lined with restaurants, gelaterie and shops selling souvenirs and limoncello.
Best areas to stay in Sorrento
Discover the best areas to stay in Sorrento, where stunning coastal views, vibrant streets, and easy access to the Amalfi Coast await.
Located just a short distance from Sorrento's centre, Sant'Agnello provides a quieter atmosphere while still offering easy access to the town's attractions. The area is characterized by beautiful villas, many of which can be rented.
Staying in the heart of the historic centre puts you within walking distance of main attractions, such as Piazza Tasso, the Cathedral, and Marina Grande. Most of the hotels here are geared towards package tourism. Book way in advance in summer.
Browse accommodation options to stay in Sorrento.
Best restaurants and bars in Sorrento
From the restaurant-packed historic centre to the stylish fine-dining eateries around Villa Comunale di Sorrento, here’s where to eat in the city. The heart of the town is filled with restaurants, trattorias, bars and pizzerias. Piazza Tasso and its surrounding streets are lined with dining options, offering both traditional Neapolitan dishes and international cuisine.
Marina Grande is renowned for its seafood restaurants, where you can savour the catch of the day while gazing out over the picturesque harbour. This lively street has a mixture of cafes, gelaterias, and restaurants offering a range of culinary delights. Whether you're seeking a quick snack or a fine dining experience, Corso Italia has plenty to offer.
Some of Sorrento's finest restaurants are located along the coastline, offering breathtaking sea views while you dine. The hotel restaurants here are excellent too.
How to get around Sorrento
You can walk pretty much everywhere in Sorrento but it does have other transport options to get around as well.
There are several useful (orange) bus routes around the town and surrounding area:
- Line B links the train station to Marine Piccola, via Piazza Tasso, while line D runs between the Marina Grande and Piazza Tasso.
- Line A departs from Via degli Aranci (behind the train station) to Capo di Sorrento, and is handy for Désirée and Santa Fortunata – which are also linked by blue SITA buses running between the train station and Sant’agata.
By mini-train tours
Take one of the 30min mini-train tours that leave every 35 min from Piazza Tasso.
How many days do you need in Sorrento?
To fully explore Sorrento and its surrounding attractions, most travellers will dedicate 3 to 4 days to the region.
Within 3 days, you can explore the highlights of Sorrento, such as the historic centre, Marina Grande, and take a boat trip to Capri. You'll have time to savour the local cuisine, relax on the beautiful Italian beaches, and immerse yourself in the town's hustle and bustle.
If you have 4 days, you can delve deeper into the region by taking day trips to nearby attractions along the stunning Amalfi Coast or to the ancient ruins of Pompeii.
Best time to visit Sorrento
Spring is a wonderful time to visit Sorrento as the weather starts to warm up, and the landscape comes alive with blooming flowers and lush greenery. The temperatures are mild, often warm, making it ideal for exploring the city and nearby attractions.
You can enjoy leisurely walks along the coastal promenade, visit historical sites such as the ancient Roman ruins of Pompeii and Herculaneum, and take boat trips to the nearby islands of Capri, Ischia, and Procida without the summer crowds.
Find out more about the best time to visit Italy.
How to get to Sorrento
The nearest airport to Sorrento is Naples International Airport, around 52km away. Sorrento’s train station lies about 300m east of the main Piazza Tasso just off the busy Corso Italia.
The bus station – for buses to the Amalfi Coast and the airport – is just in front of the train station. Tickets on SITA buses to the Amalfi Coast are available from tabacchi and can’t be bought onboard.
Ferries linking Capri, Ischia, Positano and Naples arrive and leave from Marina Piccola.
Plan your trip to Sorrento with our guide to Italy.