Things to do in Sorrento, Italy

things to do in sorrento

Just saying the names of Sorrento, Capri and Amalfi Coast conjures up images of the warm Italian sun, steep seaside cliffs, and the blue, inviting waters of the Mediterranean. The beautiful Sorrentine Peninsula of Italy has inspired artists, poets and travellers for centuries, and with good reason.

The countryside, houses, and topography of southern Italy are a stark contrast to the more industrial north of the country. The south is more arid and the air lemon-scented; the landscape becomes hilly and steep towards the Mediterranean coastline, with houses and towns perched on cliffs. The local cuisine is fresh and delicious. Food is locally sourced from the land and sea.

It feels like you’ve discovered a little bit of paradise. And you have. Our stay in this gorgeous part of Italy was not nearly long enough. But we packed memorable experiences from our multi-generational adventure that will last a lifetime.

things to do in sorrento

Exploring Sorrento, Capri and the Amalfi Coast

The town of Sorrento is a great place to base yourself for discovering the islands of Capri, Ischia and the Amalfi Coast. But don’t miss enjoying the lemon-scented charms of Sorrento itself. The town is very pedestrian-oriented, with narrow streets and a compact town centre. You can get anywhere quickly by walking.

Dreaming of a long weekend in Capri and the Amalfi Coast conjures up images of a warm Italian sun, steep cliffs, and the blue waters of the Mediterranean. Travel tips for Sorrento, Capri, and the Amalfi Coast, Italy.
Discovering the narrow streets of Sorrento

Things to do in Sorrento

There are many places to stay in Sorrento that encourage multi-day visits. The shopping in Sorrento is excellent. Stroll down the lively Corso Italia and the central Piazza Tasso and pop into the charming boutiques. You’ll find shops specializing in leather goods, jewelry, ceramics and limoncello – a specialty liqueur of the region.

There are several limoncello stores offering samples of this delicious lemon-infused digestif. A bottle of this pale liquid gold makes for a memorable souvenir. The city is also very popular with British tourists visiting Sorrento. Don’t be surprised when you will hear English spoken throughout the town.

Sorrento’s Cloister of San Francesco (Chiostro di San Francesco) is an oasis of tranquility that’s just steps away from the historic town’s central piazza, Sant’Antonino. The cloister is made up of a seventh-century monastery and a late-medieval church, both dedicated to St Francis of Assisi. It’s an impressive showpiece of various architectural styles from pre-Roman through Arabic to medieval.

From Sorrento, you can travel by train north to Rome, Naples or Pompeii and Herculaneum, or by bus south to the towns along the Amalfi Coast. Even if you have rented a car to get to Sorrento (and we admire your courage), we would highly recommend visiting the Amalfi Coast by bus. You can purchase bus tickets at the train station in Sorrento, not far from the main square.

Dreams of a long weekend in Capri and the Amalfi Coast conjures up images of a warm Italian sun, steep cliffs, and the blue waters of the Mediterranean. Travel tips for Sorrento, Capri, and the Amalfi Coast, Italy.
Discovering the stunning Amalfi coastline by bus
Booking.com

Amalfi Coast

Planning a day trip from Sorrento to the towns and fishing villages along the incredible Amalfi Coast is a must do. The winding coastal road is bordered by steep cliffs on one side, and the azure blue waters of the Mediterranean on the other. It is one of the most spectacular drives in the world, but you won’t see a thing if you’re driving.

The easy solution? Book a coach trip on a bus driven by a professional local driver. Sitting up high in a comfortable coach seat, you’ll be able to enjoy the the views, follow the narrow curving road, and take some photos and videos while you’re at it.

It’s a breathtaking journey, and makes for a great day tour, depending on how many stops you take along the way and how long you stay in the picturesque hillside towns. This classic stretch of road gives you a tempting taste of what a full on southern Italy road trip would be like.

Dreaming of a long weekend in Capri and the Amalfi Coast conjures up images of a warm Italian sun, steep cliffs, and the blue waters of the Mediterranean. Travel tips for Sorrento, Capri, and the Amalfi Coast, Italy.
A stop to enjoy the picturesque town of Amalfi

Town of Amalfi

On our all-too-brief visit, we enjoyed a wonderful stop in the town of Amalfi, complete with gelato, espressos, and sips of locally-made limoncello. One of the town’s particular specialities is hand-made paper, often scented with lemons and oranges grown on the hills above the town. This handmade stationary makes for a perfect gift for friends and family back home.

Scented lemon groves are everywhere along the Amalfi Coast. From those lemons are produced fantastic products to enjoy and take home, including; candied lemon, chocolate-covered lemon and orange peel, and of course, limoncello.

Limoncello is a strong lemon-based liqueur that is famous in the region. Many shops that sell limoncello offer tasting samples of their wares, and may even produce the limoncello in-house. It’s worth the purchase of a bottle to pack in your suitcase, as limoncello tends to be quite expensive back home.

Dreams of a long weekend in Capri and the Amalfi Coast conjures up images of a warm Italian sun, steep cliffs, and the blue waters of the Mediterranean. Travel tips for Sorrento, Capri, and the Amalfi Coast, Italy.
A small walking path leads to stunning viewpoints on Capri

Capri

The small island of Capri has been a favorite destination for Roman emperors, celebrities and just plain regular folk for centuries. From Sorrento, book passage on one of the fast hydrofoil ferries that leave nearly every hour to Capri. It’s a short 30 minute trip through the Bay of Naples, with views of Mount Vesuvius as you speed along the water.

One of the Island’s major attractions is the famous Blue Grotto or La Grotta Azzurra, which is accessible via hired boat tours. But the shopping on Capri is pretty swish too. It’s fun to window shop the many high-end designer shops, stroll along the narrow streets, and enjoy gorgeous views of the Bay of Naples. We also discovered the best blood-orange granita drink from a vendor in the Marina Grande, the main port of Capri. The granita was cool and refreshing on a hot day, which it will likely be on the island, even in spring or fall.

things to do on capri

What to do on Capri

Upon docking, if you wish to visit the famous Blue Grotto, you can hire a boat to take you there straight away. The Grotto is a very popular attraction. You’ll need some time to travel there and wait your turn to enter the Grotto in a smaller craft.  If you have more than a full day planned on Capri, enjoy a visit. If you only have a few hours on the Island, save it for a return trip.

From the harbour, you can walk, or take the more popular funicular up the steep hill to get to the main square of Capri. From here you can stroll the narrow, car-free streets, people watch, and window-shop at the designer stores.

We chose to do a small hike through the quiet residential areas off the main square. The regular viewpoints along the way showcase spectacular views of the Island and Amalfi Coast. Another great destination (more accessible by bus) is Villa Jovis, the ancient roman villa built by Emperor Tiberius in the first century B.C.

There are many restaurants to enjoy on Capri. You cannot go wrong by sitting down to a fabulous meal of antipasti, pizza, and pasta at the Da Gemma. It’s been a local institution since the 19th century. We enjoyed a memorable birthday meal overlooking Capri and the Bay of Naples. Le sigh.

Dreams of a long weekend in Capri and the Amalfi Coast conjures up images of a warm Italian sun, steep cliffs, and the blue waters of the Mediterranean. Travel tips for Sorrento, Capri, and the Amalfi Coast, Italy.
Enjoying lunch with a view at Da Gemma Restaurant

The Bottom Line

The beauty of Sorrento, Capri and the Amalfi Coast is quite simply, magnificent. The people are friendly and they like children (just as in most of Italy), the food and weather are wonderful, and the views unforgettable. Alla prossima!

PIN FOR LATER

Sorrento, Capri and the Amalfi Coast are bucket list-worthy destinations in Italy. How to enjoy a visit down the Amalfi Coast of Italy. #italy #amalficoast #sorrento #capri

Disclosure: This post contains Amazon affiliate links. Thanks for your support.

Photo credits: S. Laroye; Shutterstock

Have you visited Italy’s beautiful Amalfi coast? Share your comments below.

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45 thoughts on “Things to do in Sorrento, Italy”

  1. Travel blogs are a wonderful source for ideas & advice of planning a trip. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Kelsey Caulfield

    Hi Claudia!

    I really enjoyed reading your blog post. I was wondering if you know anything about taking the ferry from Naples to Sorrento instead of a train? Our biggest fear is waiting too long to purchase ferry/train/bus tickets and then end up stranded. Are these things you need to purchase in advance or can you just buy them when you get there at the station/port? We are planning on being there in mid July. We were going to take a ferry from Naples to Sorrento. Then do a Sorrento to Capri trip the same day. We are a bit claustrophobic so going into the Blue Grotto doesn’t look like something we’d like to do. The following day we were planning on taking a boat/ferry from Sorrento to the Almafi Coast. My only concern is that I am traveling with two 69 year olds and I’m afraid walking up a ton of steep stairs might not be their cup of tea. So maybe a train or bus might be a better idea? I’d really love your thoughts on the matter, Thank you!

    1. Hi Kelsey, Thanks for your comment. We drove from Naples to Sorento due a sudden rail strike, so I’m sorry that I don’t have info on taking the ferry in lieu of the train or car. We would have ended up stranded in Naples due to that strike, if we hadn’t taken a chance on a quasi-legal taxi service for our party of six! It all worked out but it was a bit hairy. The train tickets from Naples are purchased at that train station, not in advance, from the very local Circumvesuviana train service. Doing Sorrento to Capri in a day is highly doable. But doing both the Naples ferry to Sorrento and then the ferry to Capri in one day would be a bit much, in my opinion. Whatever you decide, purchase the hydrofoil ferry tickets to Capri in Sorrento on the morning of your intended trip and board the ferry. Go early to make the most of your day on gorgeous Capri – it’s outstanding. You can fun on the island without visiting the Blue Grotto – enjoy the town, take some walks up to viewpoints, eat granita and enjoy a fine meal. The roadways are very narrow and walking is really the best way to get around. I would Google other forms of assisted transport should you need it for your older travelling colleagues. 🙂 Buon viaggio!

  3. Shannon fisher

    Hi!!! My boyfriend and I will be flying into Rome sept 23rd 2019 for 2 days, then a wedding in bologna for 3 days. We want to make it a total of a 2 week vacation. I have never been outside the US!! What other spots in Italy would you say are a must for us to visit and for what durations??

    1. That’s very exciting Shannon! This is going to be an amazing trip for you. I would highly recommend spending a minimum of three days in Rome, then added to your time in Bologna, it leaves you just about a week or seven days for either Florence, Milan or Venice. Or a combination of the three, though I wouldn’t recommend all of them in one week. I think it would be too rushed. You could easily divide your time between Venice and Florence, and if you have extra, perhaps Siena, which is beautiful and not far from Florence. Will you be driving or taking the train? Send more details and I can provide further information for you. Cheers!

  4. Oh be still my heart! We just returned from a trip to Italy which started with 2 days in Sorrento…our hotel is in the top right corner of the top pic of your post. Grand Excelsior Vittoria. Oh my word….magnificent is a great adjective, but doesn’t even do it justice. Unfortunately it rained our entire time there….as well as the rest of our vacation (booo!) but Sorrento was still phenomenal. Already planning our next trip with your tips in the post that I pinned. Grazie!

    1. How fantastic Miriam! I’m so glad to hear that you enjoyed such a wonderful time in Sorrento! It’s incredibly beautiful, isn’t it? 😉 You must return again, this time with my tips in hand (thank you!) and during a warm, sunny spell. Happy travels!

  5. Hi Claudia,

    I wanted to know how many days should happen in capri and sorrento to take advantage of the stay, in the month of May for honeymoon.

    Thank you,

    My best greetings!

  6. Hi Claudia, thanks for a lovely article.

    So I’m planning on taking my girlfriend to the amalfi coast around mid October for 4 days for her birthday. We fly in to Naples and I as planning on taking a train straight to sorrento to be based there and do she day trips. That’s how most people see, to do it – I’m not sure if there’s a better way? I’d like to visit Capri and spend the night. I also love trekking ambit I want to make the best logistical decisions on the movements for the 4 days. What do you recommend. Doing a bus ride on Amy if the day trips see,pm pretty fun for us to do together but what are the main must see. I also do not want to be stuck in places too busy with over crowding. Just some suggestions will be nice please thank you

    1. Hi Devonte, Sounds like an exciting trip! You can take the train from Naples to Sorrento, or hire a car to drive you there too. Either will work well. A night over in Capri is a great idea, and there are lots of walking trails to take on the island. A bus ride along the Amalfi Coast is a must do. Maybe if you have time even spend the night in Amalfi or another little coastal town that you like. They are all different (some fancy, expensive or more rustic), so do some research and choose the coastal town that you think suits your travel style the best. I hope you have time to stay and visit Sorrento and its limoncello places (if you like that) – it’s a lovely little town. October should be a great time to visit – not too busy with tourists, nor too hot as it was this summer. Buon viaggio!

  7. Hi Claudia
    We are going to be in southern Italy from Oct 14 thru Oct 21. Flying into Rome.
    We are planning for 7 days in the Amalfi coast and 2 days in Rome (we have been to Rome before just visiting a couple sites that we missed).
    We want to do Pompeii for sure, what do recommend on the following
    How to get from Rome to Amalfi? Rent car, train
    Where to base Sorrento or Positano.
    Is Sicily worth going to or not enough time
    Thanks

    1. Hi Louis, That sounds like an exciting trip!! Seven days in the Amalfi Coast area will be amazing. Yes, you must visit Pompeii for ate least one day. When we travelled from Rome to Amalfi, we took the train and then hired a van to drive us to Sorrento when the trains suddenly went on strike in Naples – ‘sciopero’. These can happen at any time so FYI. We based ourselves in Sorrento and loved it there – wonderful little town with lots of Limoncello spots and a super base for exploring the region. We toured the coast by bus with a local driver who knows the windy and steep roads. Highly recommend! Personally, I don’t think you have enough time for Sicily – there’s so much to see and discover there on its own – but I leave it up to you. 🙂 Happy travels!

  8. J Mulholland

    Hi there, can you suggest a place to stay in Sorrento? We are traveling there this summer and I’m having a hard time deciding.

    1. It’s a tough one for Sorrento. We stayed in a timeshare when we visited, which I admit may not helpful to your needs. I would scour Booking.com to get the best hotels and rates for your visit. That’s the resource I use myself to find good hotels in Europe. Sorry I can’t be of more help!

  9. can you get local limoncello in any narrow ally or are there some narrow allies that are more picturesque that I should spend my *too short* time in?

    1. There are so many places to taste and purchase limoncello! If you’re planning to visit Amalfi, they have some very picturesque shops there as well.

  10. Hello Dear Traveling Mom!

    I am looking for some guidance on our upcoming stay in Capri in May
    We will be in Capri for only on night and want to know with side of the
    Island is a better choice, Marina Grande or Marine Piccolla? We want
    to see the main attractions of the Island which I think are the Grotto, a
    boat ride, walking, beach and a special dinner. Should we stay at a
    hotel or Airnb accomadations since it’s only for 1 night? Any suggestions
    would be greatly appreciated
    Thank you,
    Veronica

    1. Hi Veronica! Thanks for your inquiry about Capri. A couple of accommodation options for you. Check out La Scalinatella or Casa Morgano. La Scalinatella doesn’t allow kids, but I’m not sure whether you’re traveling with children? Either way, hotels on Capri will come at a price, so perhaps Air BnB may be a cheaper option for you. We stayed in Sorrento and visited Capri for the day, which worked out very nicely as well. Buon viaggio!

  11. Reading you page has us so excited about our upcoming trip to Europe in August! We are flying in and out of Hungary but will make a trip to Italy for a week. Can you recommend a place to stay in Sorrento and on Capri? Any other recommendations or tips are appreciated! We are traveling with a then 3 yr old and 10 month old.thank you again!

  12. I was in Italy in June-July of 2015 with my family. We flew into Rome for 4 days, and drove to Praiano where we stayed for 10 days. From Praiano we did day trips to Capri (visited all the grottoes, marinas, gardens..etc), Naples (not super impressed), Ravello (beautiful little town), as well as a few others before driving back to Rome. Highly recommend staying in Praiano in a villa near the beach. It was nice sightseeing, but taking a few days off on the beach definitely made the vacation more relaxing. Thinking of going to Milan (where we have already been), as well as the Ligurian coast with my family next year. Do you have any recommendations?

    1. Hi Amy, Sounds like you had an incredible trip to Rome and the Amalfi Coast area! Beach time is always a good idea to break up busy days of sight-seeing. 😉 Unfortunately, I haven’t visited Milan or the Ligurian properly since I was a child. It’s changed a lot since then!

  13. I recently did a tour of the Almafi, Sorrento, and Capri ( went in Blue Grotto). The scene from Ravello was AMAZING! Pictures does it no justice, simply Perfection! I’m already planning a trip back to Sorrento as my base very soon!

    1. I’m delighted other that you enjoyed your trip to the Amalfi coast! I totally agree that Sorrento is the perfect base from which to explore this magnificent part of Italy. I can smell the limoncello now… 🙂

  14. We’re in Rome for 3 days in mid October & are trying to decide on the best guuded day trip by taking a fast train to Naples from Rome…which is better for a return day trip back to Rome via Naples….Capri by ferry or Amalfi by car? Thanks

    1. Hi Una, I would take the fast train from Rome to Naples. Provided there are no strikes of course when you go. We experienced a strike and had to negotiate with a cab to get from Naples to Sorrento! You can take the ferry to Capri from Naples or Sorrento. The Amalfi coast via car ride is stunning, but the driver won’t see much of the amazing coastline as he/she will have to keep all eyes on the road. A local bus is perfect so everyone can enjoy the ride. If I had to choose only one, I would take the ferry to Capri. It is just so idyllic. But it’s a very difficult choice to make! Buon viaggio!

  15. Thanks for your post Claudia! What beautiful photos. It seems that your family had a lovely stay in the Amalfi Coast. Like you, my home base was Sorrento during my time there. I loved how compact the town was and how easy it was to get around. Visiting Positano and Capri were my 2 favorite day trips. I wish I had been able to spend more time in both. I had no idea about the paper production in Amalfi! Just thought they had lemons there haha. Hope I can return again soon! http://www.jadescapades.com/a-drive-up-the-amalfi-coast/

    1. Thanks very much for your comments, Jade. I long to return to the Amalfi Coast for a much longer stay, and a extended limoncello tour! 😉

  16. We stayed on the Amalfi Coast in April this year at a place called Conca Dei Marini about half way between Amalfi and Positano. It has to be the most beautiful part of Italy. We had a room with balcony and view was stunning, where the horizon and the sea blend in to one in the late afternoon sun. Next time we’re I would like to drive the coast road.

      1. Hi Jenny, Let me know what specific questions you may have for your trip, and I’d be happy to help. Cheers!

  17. We were in Positano and Capri around this time last year and looking at your pictures just brings back those special memories. We spent 3 days in Positano and 5 in Capri. If you get to go back, I’d highly recommend staying overnight on Capri as it is so different after the day trippers leave. And a slightly longer hike out to the Natural Arch is so spectacular.

    1. I will definitely stay overnight in Capri next time. One day is not nearly enough to enjoy the many lovely sites and walks on the Island. Thanks for the tips, Tamara!

    2. Wow absolutely a stunning place. I’ve been to Sorrento, definitely will revisit again one day. The most beautiful serene place I’ve seen. I just fell in love with it. I’m from South Africa. I will definitely make it s point to visit Capri & The Amalfi Coast next time around. Thank you for such a detailed description & tips really appreciate it.

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Claudia

Claudia

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I’m Claudia, an adventurous mom who loves to explore the world and travel with my family. This site shares modern-mom-tested family travel sanity tips, destination advice, and inspiration to stay ever curious and create lifelong travel memories.

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