Sorrento sits on the cliffs above Italy’s Bay of Naples, surrounded by lemon groves. With a setting like that and a cobblestone old town, it’s no wonder it’s been given World Heritage Site status. It’s seriously well-connected, too, with the Amalfi Coast, Capri and Pompeii within day tripping distance. There’s a lot to squeeze in, so we’ve put together this guide to Sorrento with the lowdown on where to go, when and what to do.
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Sorrento oozes old-school Italian charm. For sights in the city itself, you can visit the Basilica of Sant’Antonino, the vine-covered Cloister of San Francesco and the remaining old city walls. Plus, there are the two harbours, where fishing boats bob beside no-nonsense tavernas. And, if you want to head further afield, Pompeii and Herculaneum are within easy reach.
With a coastal postcode and historic restaurants, dining out in Sorrento is a tasty affair. Feast under a canopy of lemon trees at O’Parrucchiano. The first cannelloni was served at this Sorrentine institution, which opened in 1868. Another traditional eat is Gnocchi alla Sorrentino – a simple, but delicious dish made with tomato sauce, mozzarella and basil. For afters, swing by David’s Gelateria and pick from 30 ice-cream flavours, including Prosecco, ricotta and lemon, of course.
Tiered vineyards, fragrant lemon groves, clifftop views – settings don’t get more scenic than Sorrento. On a clear day, you can see mighty Vesuvius across its bay. Then there are the even-more-adorable Amalfi Coast towns just around the peninsula. If you only have time to visit a few, make sure to pit stop in Positano for its smart shops and restaurants, and Ravello for its romantic gardens.
Best time to visit Sorrento?
You’ll find Sorrento just below Naples in southern Italy’s Campania region. Its Mediterranean climate means temperatures sizzle in the mid-30s in July and August. If you like things a little cooler, the best time to visit Sorrento is late Spring or early Autumn. May and September bring fewer crowds and perfect-for-strolling temperatures of 20-25°C.
Top things to do in Sorrento
Turn down the pace in Marina Grande
When the hustle and bustle of Piazza Tasso gets too much, retreat to Marina Grande. This former fishing village, to the west of Sorrento, has a laidback vibe. Its waterfront is backed by pastel-painted houses and family-run trattorias. It’s the kind of place where you can tuck into the catch of the day on a checked tablecloth.
Soak up the scenery along the Amalfi Coast
When it comes to planning your Sorrento itinerary, a visit to the Amalfi Coast is a must. Hire a car and wind your way around the hairpin bends, or hop on an organised tour – we’d recommend the latter, so you can really admire the views. Picture-perfect towns – like Positano, Ravello and Amalfi – cling to the cliffsides alongside vineyards and lemon groves.
Take your pick of lidos
Sorrento doesn’t do beaches as such. But there are still plenty of places to take a dip. Its cliff-backed waterfront’s lined with beach clubs, which come in the form of wooden bathing platforms. You’ll have to pay for entry or a drink, but then you can make the most of loungers, restaurants and ladders into the gin-clear waters.
Pop to Pompeii for the day
The train will whisk you from Sorrento to Pompeii in 20 minutes. The ancient Roman city was buried in ash when Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79 AD. Houses, temples, baths and even citizens were frozen in time and still remain in remarkable condition. Just remember to slather on the sun cream, as you won’t find much shade.
Join the A-listers in Capri
It’s just a 20-minute ferry ride from Sorrento to Capri. Once you arrive, you can window shop along Via Camerelle’s designer boutiques, or take the chairlift up to the island’s summit for wraparound views of the bay.
- A beautiful cove, 45 minutes’ walk from Sorrento… everyone and their mother must be splashing about in its electric-blue waters, right? Wrong. Bagni della Regina Giovanna manages to fly under the radar of most tourists. But it’s worth a visit – not just for a dip, but also to see the Roman villa ruins.
- Just behind Sorrento’s main square, Piazza Tasso, you can peer down to the foliage-covered ruins of ancient wheat mills. It’s called Vallone dei Mulini as they’re located in a deep gorge, created by a volcanic eruption over 35,000 years ago.
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