Take a ferry to Sorrento, a resort with great tourist infrastructure, an ideal place as a springboard to explore famous cities like Naples, Amalfi and Capri!
Sorrento is a coastal city in the southwestern Italy overlooking the Bay of Naples on the Sorrentine Peninsula at the south-eastern terminus of the Circumvesuviana rail line, within easy access from Naples and Pompeii and view on Vesuvius.It is a quite small resort but very popular and is widely known for its sun-soaked huge lemons from which Limoncello a famous liquor is produced,small ceramics, lacework and marquetry shops. Sorrento, like other nearby areas, has also become world famous through cinematic films, one of which is "Scandal in Sorrento," an Italian romantic comedy and from many tunes like the classic song “Torna a Surriento” which describes the emotions that this place inspires to the visitor!
Going back in history the Roman name for Sorrento was Surrentum and even through the Imperial period Surrentum remained largely Greek.Founded by the Phoenicians (VII century B.C.), Sorrento was first a Greek and then a Roman colony. According to the historics,Sorrento was founded by Liparus, son of Ausonus, who was king of the Ausoni and the son of Ulysses and Circe. In the pre-Roman age, Sorrento was influenced by the Greek civilization: this can be seen in its plant and in the presence of the Athenaion, a great sanctuary, also, according to the legend, founded by Ulysses and originally devoted to the cult of the Sirens, hence Sorrento's name. It was subsequently dominated by the Goths, the Longobards and the Byzantines until it was transformed into the Duchy in the ninth century before being conquered by the Normans in 1133.To defend themselves against the attacks of the Turkish soldiers in the mid sixteenth century, the city built defences following an ancient Roman circuit.
Thanks to its mild climate, In imperial times, it became the privileged residence of the Roman nobility, as evidenced by the numerous villas along the coast, one of those Villa Pollio Felice nowadays better known as “I bagni della Regina Giovanna” (“Queen Joan’s baths”), the remains of which can still be seen today. In 1799, Sorrento became part of the Neapolitan Republic, but even then, began to take on the character of a popular holiday resort which still characterises Sorrento today.
Sorrento is also famous for being the birthplace of Torquato Tasso (1544 – 1595), the great sixteenth century poet and Sorrento’s lively central piazza with his statue is dedicated to him.Piazza Tasso, sits at the heart of the town that makes it a popular meeting spot and the central point where several roads meet and millions of tourists pass by. Once night approaches, Piazza Tasso transforms into a lovely place for an evening stroll or 'passeggiata' for a coffee with nice city views and of the sea beyond.
Nestled on the cliffs the historic center (Centro storico),famous for its panoramic views ,is bustling and a major hub for shops,restaurants and bars, recently pedestrianized with Corso Italia being the main thoroughfare.In the side streets there are narrow passages flanked by traditional green-shuttered buildings and a number of souvenir and antiques shops, fashion boutiques, and trattorias.In one of these narrow alleys the visitor will find the monumental churches of the city such as the Cathedral, the Church of San Francesco, a 14th-century church with a serene cloister and the Basilica of Sant'Antonino, the historic medieval buildings and the remains of the ancient defensive walls that once protected the city from attack.Finally it is worth admiring the spectacular sunset from the scenic overlook at the public Villa Comunale park.
From the glamorous time of the Grand Tour, Sorrento has been one of the most popular destinations in southern Italy with the narrow road along the high cliffs above the Tyrrhenian Sea, Amalfi Drive, connecting it with other beautiful towns on the Amalfi Coast!
So plan your journey by ferry to Sorrento in advance and enjoy great food, meet friendly locals, and browse the city's history and many spectacular stores.
Ferries from Sorrento
Ferries from Sorrento offer the traveler the opportunity to visit many famous locations nearby. A wide range of ferries, hydrofoils and jet boats depart frequently from Sorrento to Capri, Ischia, Naples, Procida, Positano, Amalfi and Salerno. By far the busiest and most popular route is between Sorrento and Capri, where in the peak period there is a departure every 30-45 minutes.
More specifically the connections are:
- Sorrento to Capri: many daily departures all year round. In the summer period the departures are more frequent and departing about every 30 minutes and the crossing lasts about 25 minutes
- Sorrento to Ischia: operating regularly with daily crossings and the journey duration is around 1 hr, depending on the ferry if it is a hydrofoil or a regular ferry
- Sorrento to Naples: there are daily departures with different operators and the crossing lasts from 35 to 45 min depending on the ferry and the operator
- Sorrento to Amalfi: many crossings during the week and the sailing duration is around 1 hr and 20 min
- Sorrento to Positano: many crossings which increase in peak time with the journey duration of 40 min
- Sorrento to Procida: there are few crossings on a weekly basis with journey duration around 45 min
- Sorrento to Salerno: few crossings during the week with the journey duration lasts 2 hrs and 10 mins
It is advisable to book ferry and hydrofoil tickets in advance for the above routes especially during the months of July and August and on holiday weekends, in order to avoid any queues and ensure the best seat on the ferry to enjoy the most spectacular views.Also, be sure to arrive much earlier at each terminal before the ferry departs, especially for passengers with vehicles.
In Sorrento, the two most recognizable places in the city are the Big Port (Marina Grande) and the Small Port (Marina Piccola). However, in fact Marina Piccola (the small port) is the larger one and it is where all ships arriving in Sorrento anchor, while from there also depart ferries to many popular destinations such as Capri, Naples, the Amalfi Coast and the islands of Ischia and Procida. Marina Piccola is under the Villa Comunale, next to the Marina Grande. Along the harbor is a plethora of restaurants overlooking the sea and a wonderful beach with many organized beach bars. Marina Grande , on the other hand, featured as the most frequent photo when searching for information about Sorrento, which despite its tourist traffic maintains its rustic charm and identity. In the harbor area the visitor can find public buses, taxis, an elevator, or walk about 100 steps to Piazza Tasso to explore downtown!
Port of Sorrento to Sorrento Center
The access from the port of Sorrento to the center of Sorrento is easy as the areas around Marina Piccola and Marina Grande are under the downtown and can be done either on foot, by public bus, taxi or elevator.For those more fit the option to explore the city on foot is ideal! The promenade has a sidewalk feel, lined with seafood restaurants with terraces overlooking the sea, and the walk to Marina Grande with its quaint fishermen's houses and traditional taverns is very picturesque. Wandering through the narrow alleys around Via San Cesareo and walking towards the commercial Corso Italia, the main pedestrian street that crosses the center is also a special experience.
Transportation in and around Sorrento
The transportation used in and around Sorrento is adequate.The center of Sorrento is quite small, with narrow (primarily because of people parking illegally on the side) curvy streets and extremely uphill.Visitors can use a bus, rent a car, a scooter, which seems to be the best choice, or hire a taxi which is more reliable and comfortable as the streets are windy and twisty. For those who have their own vehicle the main disadvantage of Sorrento is the presence of few underground garages with numerous cars often lined up waiting to get in, especially during high season and traffic can be a nightmare together with the lawless way of locals driving.
The public buses of Sorrento serve the city center and the surrounding areas. The public bus is the most convenient way to get up the hillside to the center.Cooperativa Tasso and EAV buses run between the center and the port and tickets can be purchased directly on the bus.On the other hand Sita buses link Sorrento to Positano, Amalfi, and the other towns along the Amalfi Coast.
More analytically, the buses used in and around Sorrento:
- Cooperativa Tasso Mini Buses: are the white buses that connect the towns of the Sorrento Peninsula, which runs from Meta to Sorrento Porto and is a convenient way to take the ferry to Capri. Tickets can be purchased on board. For more information, please visit Cooperativa Tasso Sorrento
- EAV Buses: are red and orange, and quite small and run between the center and the port.Buses stop at Piazza Lauro, Piazza Sant'Antonino, the train station, Sant'Agnello, and to Piano di Sorrento. Tickets can be purchased directly on the bus. For more information, please visit Eav Buses
- SITA Buses: On the other hand, Sita buses connect Sorrento to Positano, Amalfi, and the other towns of the Amalfi Coast giving tourists the opportunity to enjoy beautiful views of the coast along the way. The Sita bus terminal is located at the Circumvesuviana station in Sorrento.For more information please visit Sorrento Sita Buses
Keep in mind that buses going to and from Sorrento are usually relatively punctual and run every 20 minutes but can be off schedule due to heavy traffic.
Taxis in Sorrento can be one of the easiest ways to get from one point to another, but they are usually the most expensive.There are two main cab stations in town, one at the Sorrento train station and the other at Piazza Tasso.The pricing varies greatly depending on the distance.We recommend negotiating a price in advance with the taxi driver.
For more information please visit Sorrento Taxis.
This option is about the connection from the port to the city center. At the Villa Comunale in Sorrento, there is an elevator that will take you up to the beach club area, a short walk from the port.
Renting a Scooter
Those who have experience in driving a motorcycle, we suggest renting a scooter which is very popular in these places as there will be no traffic and parking problems, and it gives the possibility to reach the most beautiful beaches and explore the whole Amalfi Coast.
Vacations in Sorrento
Vacations in Sorrento are an ideal option for relaxation! A true jewel of the Amalfi Coast, a city known for its splendid scenery and range of beautiful buildings and promenades. This historic seaside town has nothing to envy to the nearby popular resorts with its picturesque alleys with countless tourist stores, beautiful squares, important attractions, museums, cathedrals, beautiful harbors and stunning views of the Gulf of Naples, Vesuvius and Capri! It's worth noting that its proximity to Naples also makes it an ideal destination for a long weekend getaway. It's also a great place to base yourself if you want to explore the surrounding regions, and there are a variety of great day trips from Sorrento that you can choose from.
In addition, in Sorrento, there is a wide range of hotels with better tourism infrastructure than in nearby places. Vacationers can enjoy different types of vacations here depending on what they're looking for, from an elegant five-star honeymoon on a rooftop terrace with stunning sea views to a family vacation in a hotel with a pool. In fact, Lucio Dalla in one of these luxury hotels inspired "Caruso" (Ti voglio bene) on his veranda, a tribute to tenor Enrico Caruso. We will also refer to the traditional taverns with delicious food with local recipes, but also to the famous fish and seafood restaurants. Finally for swimming the beaches with organized beach clubs are offered for true relaxation! So pack your suitcases and head to Sorrento, one of Italy's top tourist attractions and one of the most beautiful coastlines in the whole of Europe!
The Best Things to Do in Sorrento
Wondering what are the best things to do in Sorrento? Find below a list of places and attractions worth visiting in Sorrento:
- Marina Grande, the small port and the original fishing village in Sorrento,but immense for the charm it maintains
- Marina Piccola, is Sorrento's picturesque main port and hub for any sea travel.In the port area there is a number of beach clubs, restaurants while the center of Sorrento is just a short walk away
- Cloister of San Francisco (Chiostro di San Francisco), dedicated to St. Francis dates back to the early eighth century.From its terrace you will enjoy a unique view of the Gulf of Naples
- Bagni Della Regina Giovanna (Baths of Queen Giovanna), at Capo di Sorrento are the ruins of a Roman villa, Villa Pollio Felice, dating from the 1st century BC and one of the things to do in Sorrento is to swim in the beautiful natural pool below it. Swimming here is an unforgettable experience
- Cathedral of Sorrento (Santi Filippo e Giacomo Cathedral), from the 14th century with façade reconstructed in 1924. It was built over time in different styles, with doors of the 11th century from Constantinople
- Park of Villa Comunale, a small-charming park, with exotic vegetation, beautiful seasonal flowers and large trees but mainly the wonderful panoramic view of the Gulf of Naples and Vesuvius and according to the locals with the most beautiful sunset
- Museum Correale (Museo Correale di Terranova), the museum began with collections of fine art from the many houses of the Correale family in Naples. There are 17th and 18th-century paintings, and collections of European porcelain, bohemian and Murano glass, reliefs from the Augustan period, furniture and Neapolitan works. The villa gardens are beautiful and are also open for visiting
- Museum of Wooden Inlay (Museo Bottega della Tarsia Lignea), detailed wood paneling is an art with a long history in Sorrento and you will see examples in its churches (especially the cathedral) and shops across the city. In this 18th-century patrician mansion there are wooden furniture inserts, boxes and icons created by Sorrento marketers
- Archaeological Museum(Pierita Sorrento), in the neoclassical Villa Fiorentino, located in its gardens, the Archaeological Museum presents finds unearthed in Massa
- Lubrense, a small town southwest of Sorrento, and elsewhere on the Sorrentine Peninsula
- City Walls, a part of the original Greek walls at the gate of Marina Grande and below Porta Parsano Nuova
- Piazza Tasso, central place in Sorrento, named after the Italian poet Torquato Tasso, it is the heart of Sorrento and the starting point of everything
- Basilica of Sant'Antonino, the 9th-century church, dedicated to the patron saint of Sorrento Sant'Antonino - Saint Anthony Abbot, evolved into an 11th-century church. Today, you can find Roman columns and other pieces recycled from earlier buildings
- Vallone dei Mulini (Valley of the Mills), is a historic valley in Sorrento and it is considered one of the most enchanting views of the Sorrento Peninsula and known for its variety and unique plants
- Sorrento funicular (1883-1886), remnants of the defunct inclined railway descending from Hotel Vittoria
- Via San Cesareo, Sorrento's main shopping street,the counters of tourist shops with any kind of souvenirs, and the characteristic smell of lemons, for which the area is famous will leave you an unforgettable memory
Beaches in Sorrento
Indeed, there are several beaches in Sorrento and since it is located on top of a cliff, its beaches are rocky shores but it is really worth taking a dip in its waters. What is advisable is to spend a day in one of the many beach clubs of the Sorrento Peninsula, some of which are absolutely not to be missed, whether you are with your family, or with a group of friends or as a couple, regardless if you like the sand or the pebbles, you will fully enjoy the sun and the sea with bathing establishments, with sunbeds, deck chairs and umbrellas, and the possibility of eating seafood or a sandwich and drinking a glass of wine at sunset. All the beaches along the Sorrento Peninsula are sunny until dusk.
The best beaches in Sorrento are:
- Marina Piccola Beach, is located very close to the historical center of Sorrento and offers a free beach area, where the sand is pebbly and the water is crystal clear and clean
- Marina Grande Beach, underneath Sorrento’s limestone cliffs is a small, rocky, volcanic sand beach. There are also plenty of bars and restaurants for a drink, a snack, or a meal
- Bagni della Regina Giovanna, the coast here is rocky, and it's not easy to dive into the water, but the landscape is untouched and the views are magnificent.It is reachable on foot and there is no beach just rocks and for this reason is dangerous for children
- Leonelli's Beach, is one of four beach clubs in Marina Piccola and the visitor has the choice of taking a sunbed or a deck-chair.There is a restaurant that provides a variety of snacks and main meals with fish
- Stabilimento Balneare Bagni Salvatore, is located along the beach club area of Marina Piccola, with its distinctive green and yellow stripes and occupies the position on the far left of the bay
- Marina di Puolo, it is family friendly beach with clean water and has beach clubs
- Seiano Beach, there is a stretch of wide sand and pebble beach that is free to the public known as “Le Calcare”, but it is often very crowded. It is also suitable for children and family-friendly
- Lido Marinella – Meta di Sorrento, is located 6 km from Sorrento with sand and pebbles and ideal for children as there is a playground on the beach with entertainers, changing rooms, showers and near there is a restaurant with seafood
- Leranto Beach, a natural and protected bay, can be found at the tip of the Sorrento Peninsula, near the scenic village of Nerano
- Nerano Beach, is a bay located on the south side of the Sorrento Peninsula, which can be accessed via foot, and is a large pebble beach, with crystal clear waters. There are sunbeds and umbrellas for hire and a number of restaurants nearby, where you can try the local specialities
Hotels in Sorrento
Although it is a relatively small town, there is an interesting range of Hotels in Sorrento, some of them luxury, boutique hotels and B&Bs with breathtaking views of the bay, private beaches, outdoor pools and great breakfast. Most hotels located on the outskirts of town offer free shuttle service to major attractions.
We recommend a few charming hotels in Sorrento, with easy access to major attractions and beautiful views of the bay:
- Grand Hotel Excelsior Vittoria (Luxury)
- Bellevue Syrene (Luxury)
- Maison La Minervetta (Luxury)
- Palazzo Marziale
- Grand Hotel La Favorita (Luxury)
- Villa Oriana Relais (B&B)
- Palazzo Jannuzzi Relais (Budget)
- Palazzo Tasso Hotel (Budget)
- Hotel Nice (Budget Hotel)
- Magi House Relais (Budget)
- Maison Tofani (Family Friendly)
- Best Western Hotel La Solara Sorrento (Family Friendly)
- Antiche Mura Hotel (Mid - Range)
- Boutique Hotel Helios
Day trips from Sorrento
There are many day trips from Sorrento such as the cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum. Sorrento is a good base for day trips across the Bay of Naples but also to popular destinations like the cosmopolitan Capri.
Some tips for day trips from Sorrento are: