Sorrento trip planner
A travel guide to the resort town of Sorrento , gateway to the Amalfi Coast
Via L. de Maio 35 (inside the Circolo dei Forestieri club, just down from Piazza S. Antonio)
Best Sorrento hotels
★★ Casa Astarita B&B [€€–€€€]
★ Hotel Villa di Sorrento [€€–€€€€]
★ La Tonnarella [€€€–€€€€]
Hotel Mignon [€€]
Hotel del Corso [€€–€€€]
» More hotels in Sorrento [from €42]
» B&Bs in Sorrento [from €44]
» Apartments in Sorrento [from €40]
• Private Tour: Sorrento, Positano, Amalfi and Ravello Day Trip from Naples
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Planning FAQSorrento makes a great base, but a boring destination. Not that there's anything wrong with it. Like most Italian towns, it has a few minor historic sites, good eating, friendly folks, and a charming atmosphere.
It also has some lovely sea views over the wide Bay of Naples curving away and to the North and, closer at hand, the busy Marina Piccola, where ferries and hydrofoils jostle at the pier surrounded by little orange-topped launches scuttling back and forth to the giant cruise ships anchored in the deep waters off the east end of town.
It's just that, if Sorrento weren't in a primo location, no tourist would bother with it. As it is, however, Sorrento is the launching pad for the buses down the Amalfi Coast, just 20 minutes by boat from Capri, and a quick train ride from Pompeii and Naples.
Not that there's anything wrong with Sorrento. It's just that Italy has so many more interesting places and you have such limited time. No one flocks to, oh, say, Táranto in Apulia or Brescia in Lombardy (both fine towns with far more of interest than Sorrento).
The only reason everyone's heard of Sorrento is because it is the region's public transportation node—and an admittedly convenient base—for exploring some of the greatest sights of Southern Italy. Frankly, there's not all that much to see in town. And in summer, English takes over for Italian as the most common tongue, which is a bit depressing.
I've been giving this advice for years, and as such have been accused of having something against Sorrento. I don't. I simply would prefer to stay in Amalfi, Positano, or on Capri rather than stay in Sorrento in order to visit those places.
If, however, you're the home-base type of traveler, Sorrento makes an ideal one.
Sorrento: close to everything you want to see
The Saint & the Sea Monster - Sorrento's home-grown saint battles a sea serpent.
The Dangers of Dinner in Sorrento - Dining in a tourist town.
Sorrento: Equidistant from Everywhere You'd Rather Be - This popular Italian resort offers a great location...and that's about it.
The Road to Sorrento - A train ride through the Campagna heartland.Sorrento is perfectly situated for touring the top sights in the Naples area—at the end of the Circumvesuviana commuter rail line from Naples (which passes Herculaneum, Pompeii, and the Mt. Vesuvius volcano that buried both of these ancient Roman ghost towns), the start of the bus line that services the Amalfi Coast (to Positano, Amalfi, and Ravello), and has a port with frequent ferry service to Capri.
This premier location—more than any particular sights, charm, or other benefit—is why it is such a famous resort town...and has been for more than 2,000 years.
The Greek (or perhaps Etruscan) city of Sorrentum on its bluff at the southern arms of the Bay of Naples was never terribly important in antiquity except as a middle-class resort for the Romans—and that status really hasn't changed for 2,000 years.
Since the 19th century, English and German visitors especially have flocked here on package tours (still the town's chief source of income). Ibsen even found enough inspiration here to finish writing Peer Gynt.
All that said, Sorrento can still be magical in the evening, when you stroll with the lively passeggiata through the streets, watch the sunset over the bay while sipping a drink at the Circolo dei Forestieri club, then spend the night sitting out on your hotel balcony to gaze at the twinkling manmade constellations of Naples' Bay strung out in a sweeping panorama under the dark bulk of omnipresent Vesuvius.
- Planning your time: Like I said, nothing against Sorrento, but there's no particular reason to stick around here except location, location, location. If you're the type who prefers to travel from town to town, spending one or two night in each as you go, then just treat Sorrento as a way-station to switch from train to bus or ferry, but actually sleep in a more interesting locale (an Amalfi Coast town or Capri).
If, however, you are the type who prefers to stay in one home-base for a few days and make day trips to surrounding destinations, Sorrento is pretty perfect, but the amount of time you spend in Sorrento will depend on how much touring of the region you want to do—figure at least a day for the Amalfi Coast, another day for Capri, and a day to hit Pompeii and/or Herculaneum (though you can just as easily hit Pompeii on the train ride down from Naples; just store your luggage at the Pompei train station while you our the site, then continue on to Sorrento, saving yourself a day).
- How to get to Sorrento:
By car, from Naples take route 18 to Castellammare di Stabia, where you transfer over to the SS145 to Sorrento.
- Getting to Sorrento by train: The private commuter Circumvesuviana rail line (www.vesuviana.it) leaves Naples for Sorrento twice an hour; the ride takes roughly an hour. Watch your wallet (both gypsies and harder-to-spot pickpockets work this train, which is as popular with tourists as with local commuting or headed to school). » more
- Getting to Sorrento from the Naples airport: If you're arriving by air, the cheapest (€6) and easiest way to get to Sorrento is to take the Curreri bus service (tel. +39-081-801-5420), which leaves six times daily from 9am to 7pm, makes several stops along the way, and arrives at Sorrento in an hour. You can also take a private car service to Sorrento for about $27.
- Getting to Sorrento by ferry or hydrofoil: There are four ferry companies serving Sorrento and connecting it to Naples and the surrounding region: www.metrodelmare.com, www.caremar.it, www.consorziolmp.it, and www.alilauro.it. Since you probably don't care which company you use (you just want a convenient departure time at the lowest ticket price), check many at once using the aggregator site www.traghetti.com.
- Getting around Sorrento: From the station, city Bus D runs to Piazza Tasso (city center) and Corso Italia (the main drag). Bus A runs from Piazza Tasso out Via Capo (where you'll find lots of hotels). Buses B and C run from Piazza Tasso down to Marina Piccola (ferry dock) and back again. Buses run every 20 minutes.
- Book a tour: Consider booking a tour with our partners:
• Private Tour: Sorrento, Positano, Amalfi and Ravello Day Trip from Naples
• Discover Sorrento and Its Renowned Artisan Products from Amalfi Coast
- Renting a scooter in Sorrento: Since Sorrento makes such a good base, picking up a car or scooter here (rather than fighting the traffic in Naples) can make a lot of sense. The most reputable agencies, roughly in order from cheapest to most expensive, are: Jolly Service & Rent (Corso Italia 3, tel. +39-081-878-2403), Penisola Rent (Corso Italia 257, tel. +39-081-877-4664, www.penisolarent.com), Sorrento rent a scooter (Corso Italia 210 tel. +39-081-878-1386, www.sorrento.it), and Hertz Scooters (Via degli Aranci 9, tel. +39-081-807-1646, www.hertzsorrento.com).
- Festivals: At Easter time, Sorrento throws a solemn, Byzantine religious procession in honor of Good Friday. In July and August, Sorrento hosts both a classical music festival in indoor and outdoor venues across town, and an international film festival that lacks the star quality of Cannes or Venice, but is starting to gain a certain following.
- Sorrento sights, shopping, & swimming
- Sorrento hotels
- Sorrento restaurants
- Amalfi Coast Guide
- Getting around the Amalfi Coast
- Nearby destinations: Positano, Ravello, Amalfi
- Sidetrips: Capri, Pompeii, Naples, Paestum
- Campania guide
This article was written by Reid Bramblett and was last updated in January 2011. All information was accurate at the time.
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