Sorrento trip planner

A travel guide to the resort town of Sorrento , gateway to the Amalfi Coast

Tourist information:
Via L. de Maio 35 (inside the Circolo dei Forestieri club, just down from Piazza S. Antonio)
tel. +39-081-807-4033

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] tour
Private Tour: Sorrento, Positano, Amalfi and Ravello Day Trip from Naples Sorrento Map
View larger map

Sorrento guide
Planning FAQ
Sorrento 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

Sorrento blog
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 FAQ

Related pages


Intrepid Travel Generic 468x90


This article was written by Reid Bramblett and was last updated in January 2011. All information was accurate at the time.

about | contact | faq


Copyright © 2008–2013 by Reid Bramblett. Author: Reid Bramblett