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There are so many wonderful things to do in Sorrento, Italy! This small town on the Bay of Naples is one of the most popular places to visit in Southern Italy — and for good reason.
Sorrento is located in the Campania region of Italy, right on the Bay of Naples. It’s a short journey from both the city of Naples and the well-connected Naples Airport. But unlike that large, busy city, Sorrento is a relaxed coastal town with lots of sun-filled spots to discover.
I recently spent an Italy trip split between Naples and Sorrento — and what a lovely contrast it was! A perfect blend of Italy at its most frenetic and Italy at its most romantic.
Many travelers who dream of hiking the Amalfi Coast, exploring Capri’s Blue Grotto, exploring the archaeological sites of Pompeii and Herculaneum, and eating the finest pizza in Naples can experience all that while staying in Sorrento. Sorrento is close to all these places, and is perhaps one of the most strategically located day trip bases in Europe.
In other words, you can travel all over the Bay of Naples — but come home to the same bed overnight. You can unpack only once. It’s like taking a cruise, without all the horrific impact on the local region.
Come take a look — here are the best things to do in Sorrento Italy!
This post was published in September 2023.
Table of Contents
Things to Do in Sorrento, Italy
Explore Sorrento’s Beautiful Streets
As soon as you arrive in Sorrento, you’ll be charmed by the beautiful streets here. It seems like sunshine spills through every alleyway — with boutiques offering traditional Italian leather, vibrant and colorful buildings, fruits and vegetable sellers, and more.
I highly recommend exploring Sorrento on a small group guided tour. This will give you a greater insight into Sorrento and its interesting history. For three hours, your guide will lead you down Corso Italia and through idyllic narrow streets where you get to sample the Sorrento street scene.
Visit Piazza Tasso, marvel at the Sant’Antonio Church and the San Francisco Cloisters, then meander towards the ancient Valley of the Mills. Throughout your journey, you’ll learn about the history of it all and how Sorrento residents have come to celebrate these monuments.
Sorrento’s downtown streets are lined with tourist-oriented businesses and tall cliff-top hotels, making for a fun-filled experience for visitors to Sorrento. You’ll be glad you wore comfortable walking shoes! The tour starts at 50 EUR ($55 USD).
Visit the Amalfi Coast
Let’s not beat around the bush: the Amalfi Coast is very likely the reason why you’re here in Sorrento! This is one of the most visually spectacular places to visit in Italy — and let’s be honest, the world — so it’s worth planning your time wisely.
Visiting the Amalfi Coast is one of the most popular things to do in Sorrento, and there are several ways. You can visit the coast by bus or by boat, and you can visit independently or on a tour.
While there are several towns in this region, town of Positano is an absolute MUST. Just walking around and taking photos or spending time on the beach is worth it here! It’s one of the best places for photography in Italy!
Personally, I highly recommend taking a boat along the Amalfi Coast at least in one direction from Sorrento. The views from the water are so different from what you see on shore.
This Amalfi Coast boat tour from Sorrento visits the towns of Positano and Amalfi, and has a limit of 12 people, making for a fun small group experience.
This Amalfi Coast tour from Sorrento visits the towns of Positano, Amalfi, and Ravello on an air-conditioned bus.
If you want to visit Sorrento independently, I recommend taking the ferry from Sorrento to Positano, then heading onward to Amalfi or other towns at your leisure. BOOK YOUR FERRY AS EARLY AS POSSIBLE if you’re visiting during the summer months, because they can and do sell out.
Buses from Sorrento to the Amalfi Coast are also an option, and they tend to run later and more often than the boats. This is the cheapest way to travel, but keep in mind buses may be standing room only, and the coastline is very twisty — you may want to pop a motion sickness pill.
Capri is the island of so many people’s dreams — but did you know that it’s only 20 minutes from Sorrento? This is why I recommend people time their visit to Capri while staying in Sorrento, rather than doing a day trip from Naples. You’ll save time and money.
Capri has a longstanding reputation as an island for the rich and famous. In the town of Capri, you’ll find Italian’s most sought after brands, like Bulgari, Gucci, and Dolce & Gabbana (along with Chanel, Dior, and Hermes, of course).
But what I love most on Capri is its nature. Hike around the island, take the chairlift up Monte Solaro, and of course, go inside the Blue Grotto! (Keep in mind the Blue Grotto can’t be visited if it’s too windy. Unfortunately it was too windy on my own visit!)
Like the Amalfi Coast, Capri can be visited by tour or independently. If you have your heart set on the Blue Grotto, a tour might be a better option as it all comes bundled together.
This highly rated Capri boat tour from Sorrento includes three hours on the island of Capri, a visit to the Blue Grotto, and a boat ride around the island.
To visit Capri independently, you can take the ferry from Sorrento to Capri, which takes 15-25 minutes depending on the ferry. You can check schedules and book your tickets here. I urge you to book ahead of time in high season. These tickets go FAST.
Visit Ischia and Procida
Want to visit some lesser-known, more local islands than Capri? Head to Ischia (EES-kee-ah) and Procida (PRO-chee-da). These islands are where Neapolitans go to enjoy themselves — they don’t have the luxury element of Capri, but they have lots of beautiful streets, beaches, and fabulous food.
This boat tour from Sorrento includes both Ischia and Procida. You’ll have 3-4 hours in Ischia and 1-2 hours in Procida, plus some swim stops and lots of scenic views.
If you want to visit Ischia or Procida independently by ferry, I recommend choosing one island rather than two.
Which island is better as a day trip from Sorrento? I love them both, but Procida is a lot smaller and more compact. You can easily see most of Procida in a day trip, while I think Ischia is better suited for a multi-day trip.
You can book the ferry from Sorrento to Ischia here (1 hour 10 minutes), and the ferry from Sorrento to Procida here (30-45 minutes). Once again, book as early as you can if you’re visiting during high season.
Eat All the Lemons
Sorrento is all about the lemons — and boy, do they know what to do with them in the kitchen. Sorrento is a great place to deep dive into all the lemon dishes, as lemon groves cover the countryside here.
First of all, pasta al limone. This pasta is so simple — the sauce is made from lemon juice, heavy cream, parmigiano, butter, salt and pepper. It emulsifies into a fabulous concoction served with spaghetti.
Secondly, delizia al limone. You can find this dessert all over Campania (I especially love the version at Grand Caffe Gambrinus, one of my favorite things to do in Naples), and it’s a must. This sponge cake is filled and topped with lemon custard and makes the perfect afternoon indulgence.
Finally, limoncello! It seems like everyone in Sorrento has a grandparent or two making limoncello in their pantry, infusing the liquor with fresh, sweet lemons. You can find limoncello all over town in Sorrento — each brand claims to be the best!
One of the most fun things to do in Sorrento is to go on a farm foodie visit with limoncello tasting, introducing you to many local specialties of the region.
Visit Marina Grande
It’s a long downhill walk from the historic center of Sorrento, and you’ll be greeted with a completely different atmosphere. Marina Grande (not to be confused with the Marina Grande on Capri) is home to high cliffs, a few small beaches, and plenty of beachside restaurants serving local seafood hauled in by fishermen that morning.
Marina Grande makes a great spot for lunch in Sorrento. And you can enjoy views of Mount Vesuvius and Naples in the distance, across the Mediterranean Sea. You’ll get some of the best views of Sorrento here (and I’m sure you’ll have better weather than I had on my gray day!).
Marina Grande is also where the ferries leave to further destinations in the Bay of Naples region.
Don’t miss nearby Marina Piccola, the mini version of its grander sibling, which is also a good spot for photos. There are also some Italian-style beach clubs here, with chairs on platforms on the sea.
Visit the Cloister of San Francesco
Built in a rich baroque style to provide spiritual experiences or simply marvel at its incredible architecture, the 14th-century Cloister of San Francesco can’t be missed as one of Sorrento’s best places to visit. Situated across from Sorrento’s patron saint church and monastery, it makes for an unforgettable visit. There are three main sections of the architectural wonder: the Monastery, the Church, and the Cloister.
The cathedral’s impressive exterior is made from white and gray marble, but what awaits inside will blow your mind. This Roman Catholic cathedral showcases stunning religious artwork, intricate frescos, and even its original wooden choir dating back to the 16th Century – an impressive work of art in itself!
In the summer months, the cloister hosts classical music concerts, providing a distinctive ethereal backdrop to the event. After touring the cloister, don’t forget to stop at Fauno Bar for some delicious artisanal ice cream and local pastries, along with delicious cocktails or wine and admire Sorrento’s breathtaking sunset.
Visit Sorrento’s Museums
Correale Museum of Terranova stands out as Sorrento’s best museum; an intimate yet charming venue located within an old villa that used to be a private mansion. It’s an excellent choice for those with an appreciation of delicate ceramics and beautiful inlaid woodwork. It also contains an impressive array of fine Neapolitan furniture dating from the 16th through 19th centuries.
The Art Museum Museo Bottega della Tarsia Lignea is a unique museum that showcases intricate wood inlay furniture, boxes, and pictures made by Sorrento’s 19th-century marquetry masters. Arranged into various rooms to display the evolution in techniques and decorative motifs used at that time, visitors are provided an overview of how work was completed.
At Sant’Antonio church there’s an ecclesial atmosphere enhanced by medieval paintings and Roman artifacts from antiquity. You may even spot bones attributed to St Antonino saving whales from death in an act that made him famous.
Just up the road is Parci di Villa Fiorentino, where you’ll discover archaeological finds dating from the Greek era, such as scale models of Villa of Pollius Felix and Terracotta Vases discovered in 1971 by Sorrento residents. There is also an amazing marble statue discovered during excavation work!
Visit Pompeii and Herculaneum
In the year 79, the town of Pompeii was leveled by Mount Vesuvius. This eruption wrecked hellfire upon the city, trapping the citizens in its ash. To this day, Pompeii is one of the most immaculately preserved Roman cities, where you can see how life was up until the explosion.
Pompeii is a deeply moving place to visit, where you can see people as they lived their last moments.
This half-day Pompeii tour from Sorrento includes transport by air-conditioned van, a professional guide, and visits to the most popular places in Pompeii, including the Forum, Thermal Baths, Lupunare, and more.
Herculaneum is another prominent site that was destroyed in the same eruption — but this city was buried more deeply in slower-falling ash, so the ruins here are better preserved than Pompeii. You can even experience full houses!
If you’d like to hit up both sites in a single day, this double-header tour of Pompeii and Herculaneum from Sorrento comes highly rated and includes lunch with wine.
Wherever you go, make sure to bring water and sun protection — there isn’t much shade at either site.
Go Kayaking or Paddle Boarding Along the Craggy Coast
The Sorrentine Peninsula is famous for its scenic coastline, so to experience it to its full potential you should kayak or paddleboard the area.
Have a truly unique experience in a natural heart-shaped pool of emerald waters in a kayak amongst the ruins of a Roman villa circa 41-54 AD. The ruins feature frescoes and mosaics that blend perfectly with watery nature. Your kayak adventure begins from Marina Grande where the guides will take you to Punta del Capo – the site of an ancient Roman villa.
Or if paddleboarding it more to your liking, this outing will start with an intro to SUP technique and safety, before heading out along the gorgeous coast of Sorrento to the Baths of Queen Giovanna. Visitors will explore this natural pool for swimming and paddleboarding, with plenty of photo ops. A visit to the outside of Pollio Feclice’s Roman villa is next before a slow return to Marina Grande.
Want something more extreme? Why not parasail over Sorrento’s coast? Glide 300 feet in the air from Sorrento Bay along the island of Capri, Ishchia, and more. No experience is necessary!
Explore Sorrento’s Cuisine
What better way to experience authentic Sorrento than by spending a leisurely few hours sampling the cuisine? I love doing food tours in Italy, and Sorrento is no exception! Take this 5-hour tour and get a true taste of local produce: we’re talking actual Neapolitan pizza, rich mozzarella and provolone cheeses, gnocchi alla sorrentina, and limoncello, for starters.
What’s more, you get to make your own pizza! Tour the Sorrento Peninsula on this food tour, which includes a round-trip transfer from your city center hotel. Sorrento is famous for its olive oil, and one way to learn its secrets is by visiting the Oil Mill of Schiazzano; offering a look into how extra virgin olive oil is made, and tasting sessions. Then you’ll see how fresh Italian mozzarella is made.
Or, savor the Sorrento farm experience with this guided tour including tasting, limoncello, and more pizza making! It’s similar to the above 5-hour food tour, only this one dives into family-run farm life (also known as an agriturismo), which includes coffee and dessert. An agriturismo is the perfect place to learn to cook Italian-style.
Take an Italian Cooking Class
If you enjoy cooking along with sampling local cuisine, this activity could be perfect. Try your hand at creating Sorrentine classics such as Ravioli caprese in a savory tomato sauce, or authentic Italian style pizza as taught by real Italian cooks.
This cooking class will guide you through the steps of how to make a ravioli with meatballs in a savory sauce, or fish with citrus fruits – with fresh local ingredients. Pair your creation with wine or limoncello!
This pasta-centric cooking experience will guide you through how to make fresh, homemade pasta as taught by Italian nonnas! Using local ingredients fresh from the garden, sample pasta can be tortelloni with fresh cherry tomatoes, ravioli with pesto, or spaghetti alla chiattara with cacio e pepe sauce.
Pizza lovers will want to join this class, held at a traditional Sorrento farm. This is another fun agriturismo option that lets you explore the rural side of the Bay of Naples.
Go on an Ebike and Food Tour
There’s nothing quite like going on an easy bike ride traversing down a country path and then stopping along the way to taste the local cuisine. I love ebikes because they make it so much easier to get up hills!
On this enogastronomic bike tour, you’ll begin at Massa Lubrese and bike to Sant’Agata sui due Golfi on an old Sorrento mule track.
Riding through Sorrento citrus groves with the scent of lemon permeating throughout, stop to partake of olive oil, cheese, and limoncello tastings, then get back on your ebike to continue the journey. Explore Sorrento’s back roads and escape from the crowds to experience the history and local culture of rural Sorrento.
Go Wine Tasting in Sorrento
Sorrento is the place to go if you want to sample some of Campania’s famed wines. Become a better wine drinker with this wine tasting tour that will cover the history of the grapes and solis that go into different varieties of Italian wines. Learn to appreciate the various notes of flavor, as guided by a local sommelier.
Here in Sorrento, red and white wines are covered, along with a pairing of small bites such as cheese and cured meats. Learn about the various varietals around the region as you sip and nibble your way through the countryside.
Alternatively, this organic wine tasting and lunch experience includes a tour on the slopes of Vesuvius in an organic family vineyard. Guests are shown the wine and storage cellar and do some wine tasting. But come hungry! Because a full lunch will be served, including dessert.
Take a Sunset Boat Tour Along the Sorrento Coast
Bask in the glory of a small group outing along the enchanting Sorrento Coast. The absolute best time to sail is when the sun is going down, and this is one of the most romantic things to do for couples, or a relaxing evening with friends. Sip a glass of prosecco along with some light bites and watch the major over the Gulf of Naples.
Along the way, Alberto, an experienced local guide shows guests the old fishing village of Marina Grande, as well as Sarecena Tower and the Roman Villa of Pollio Felice. Get ready to take photos aplenty!
This one might be a bit counterintuitive — but you can absolutely visit Naples as a day trip from Sorrento! I absolutely love Naples and it’s one of the places in Italy I will happily visit anytime whatsoever.
Yes, Naples is on the dirty side, and it’s far from the prettiest city in Italy — but the streets are ALIVE and full of JOY and PASSION. Neapolitans are so much fun and have a great sense of humor. And the food is some of the best (and cheapest!) you can find in Italy.
A lot of Sorrento visitors start or end their trip in Naples, and that does make logistical sense. But if you only have time for a day trip, I recommend taking the Campania Express train to Naples and spending the bulk of your time wandering the old town and eating lots of pizza. You can find more information in my Naples guide, linked below.
Read More: 28 Fabulous Things to Do in Naples, Italy
Where to Stay in Sorrento, Italy
One of the advantages of staying in Sorrento rather than the Amalfi Coast or the islands is that you get a lot more for your money here. There is a large variety of accommodation, too, with plenty of options at different price points.
I recommend staying within the city center. Some visitors like to stay down by Marina Grande, but keep in mind that it’s a steep journey down to the coastline, so you’ll constantly be walking uphill and downhill.
I personally don’t think staying by the beach is worth it in Sorrento. Save that for one of Italy’s stronger beach destinations.
Top-Rated Hotels in Sorrento, Italy
I’ve hand-picked a few of the top-rated hotels in Sorrento at different price points, all that are in the best area to stay in town.
- Top-Rated Luxury Hotel in Sorrento Italy: Hotel Antiche Mura is right in the heart of town with spacious rooms with balconies, a lovely swimming pool, and earns rave reviews for their breakfasts.
- Top-Rated Mid-Range Hotel in Sorrento Italy: Hotel Sorrento City is super-central with clean and bright rooms, and a fabulous shaded rooftop terrace.
- Top-Rated Budget Hotel in Sorrento Italy: Ulisse Deluxe Hostel is technically a hostel, yes, but it’s super nice and central. In addition to dorms, they have several private rooms with private bathrooms.
How to Get to Sorrento, Italy
The closest airport to Sorrento is in Naples, Italy, about an hour away. Naples airport is very well connected all over Europe, and even a bit beyond, with tons of budget flight routes. I recommend using Skyscanner to find the cheapest flights.
There are a few easy ways to get to Sorrento from Naples:
You can take a shared shuttle from Naples airport. If you’re arriving and going straight to Sorrento, this is what I recommend. These bus shuttles leave regularly and take you right to the center of Sorrento.
You can book a private shuttle from Naples Airport or anywhere in Naples. This is the more expensive option, but it’s the most convenient by far, and it’s not so bad if you have a group.
If you’re in Naples, you can take the Campania Express train. This is a tourist train down the coast that only takes 50 minutes, and the Campania Express staff at the train station will actually walk you down to make sure you get on the right local train! In my opinion, one of the best ways to get to Sorrento.
Also if you’re in Naples, you can take the boat to Sorrento! The ferry takes between 35 and 45 minutes, and of course is scenic, with unmatched views of Mount Vesuvius. You can check the schedule and book here. I recommend booking in advance if you’re visiting in high season.
Best Time to Visit Sorrento Italy
Before you visit Sorrento, you should figure out what kind of trip you want to have. Do you want a summer trip, with boat trips, swimming in the Tyrrhenian Sea, wearing maxi dresses, and drinking spritzes in the sunshine? Then I recommend you aim for early June, late September, or even early October.
July and August are an extremely busy and expensive time to visit Sorrento — and unfortunately, these days peak season is now spilling into mid-June and mid-September. I recommend avoiding during this time if you can. It’s just way too crowded at this time of year. The ferries, for one, might be booked out.
But if you want a pleasant trip to Sorrento with spring or fall temperatures, April, May, October, and early November are great times to visit. This is a great way to experience popular Bay of Naples destinations with smaller crowds, get lower rates, and enjoy sunshine during the day (though you’ll definitely need a jacket at night). This is an ideal time of year for hiking, too.
Winter is a very quiet time in Sorrento — but it’s still much more happening here than on the Amalfi Coast or in the islands, as Sorrento is a good-sized city where plenty of people live year-round.
How Much Time to Spend in Sorrento
You can enjoy the best of Sorrento town itself in a single day. Where Sorrento excels, however, is its day trip potential. This may be one of the best day-tripping destinations in Italy, if not all of Europe.
So which day trips are best? I think the Amalfi Coast is the top Sorrento day trip you should prioritize. After that, I’d prioritize one of the islands — ideally Capri, as it’s so close — and either Pompeii and/or Herculaneum, or Naples itself.
All in all, that comes out to three to four days. I think that makes a lovely amount of time to be based in Sorrento, either as a standalone trip or as part of a longer Italy trip.
But is it worth it to stay for longer? ABSOLUTELY! There is so much to do in the Bay of Naples that I think an entire week spent based in Sorrento would be well worth your time.
Travel Insurance for Sorrento
And as we wrap up this post — it’s absolutely essential to have travel insurance before traveling to Sorrento, or anywhere in Italy. If you get sick or injured on your trip, if you get robbed, or even if you have to be flown home for more care, travel insurance will protect you from financial ruin. World Nomads is a company I have used for trips to Italy.
Travel insurance will help you in your hour of need if you come down with appendicitis during your time in Sorrento, or trip and break an ankle while climbing the stairs on the Amalfi Coast, and if your flights get canceled, you can get accommodation and new flights paid for.
As always, be sure to read your policy carefully and make sure it’s a fit for you. See what World Nomads covers here.
Is Sorrento Worth It?
Sorrento is an absolutely wonderful place to visit in Italy, brimming with sunshine and the juiciest lemons you’ve ever tasted. But considering all that you can do while based in Sorrento, that makes it a fantastic destination — not to mention excellent value for money.
You won’t regret all the time you spend in the Bay of Naples. I wouldn’t be surprised if this becomes your favorite region in all of Italy — and Sorrento remains the cornerstone to those happy memories.
Enjoy your time in Sorrento! It’s a special place.
Planning a Trip to Italy:
- What NOT to Do in Italy
- Solo Female Travel in Italy: Is it Safe?
- Ultimate Guide to Driving in Italy
- How to Stay at an Agriturismo in Italy
- 30 Stunning Mediterranean Islands To Visit In Your Lifetime
Cool Places in Southern Italy:
- 28 Fabulous Things to Do in Naples, Italy
- Tropea, Italy: A Spectacularly Situated Beach Town
- The Stunning Trulli of Alberobello, Italy
- The Joys and Challenges of Traveling in Sicily
- Where to Go in Eastern Sicily
- 23 Fun Things to Do in Palermo, Sicily
- Complete Guide to the Aeolian Islands, Sicily
- Visiting Sicily in the Winter: Worth it or not?
Cool Places in Northern Italy:
- Three Weeks in Northern Italy: An Itinerary
- Parma, Italy: A Colorful, Artsy, Delicious Town
- Where to Stay in Rome: Best Neighborhoods and Accommodation
- Three Days in the Dolomites: A South Tyrol Getaway
- Best Day Trips from Florence, Italy
- The Immaculate, Bursting Mosaics of Ravenna, Italy
- 25 Best Food Experiences in Emilia-Romagna, Italy
Have you been to Sorrento? What’s your favorite thing to do? Share away!