When we recently visited Italy for a friend’s wedding we decided to base ourselves in Sorrento and it was such a great launch pad to so many other amazing places to visit. We decided to spend just over a day around Sorrento and then go further afield. But when I was looking online for things to do in Sorrento most of the articles were about where you could go from there and not much about the small Italian city itself so I thought I would share what we got up to.
How to get to Sorrento
We used Aer Lingus to fly from Dublin to Naples and then from Naples we got a bus to Sorrento. A few points on the transport from Naples to get to Sorrento – there are many options online on different websites of booking private buses and cars but I really don’t think that you need to. We priced so many different options and looked at where they stopped etc. and the ended up choosing the Curreri Viaggi bus. It only costs €10 each way from the Airport and was perfectly satisfactory. It leaves from just outside the airport door and drops you to the main bus station in Sorrento and is very regular and took about 1-1.30hrs (depending on traffic).
Where to stay in Sorrento
We decided to go cheap and cheerful with regards our stay and stayed in a villa up in the hills of Sorrento. We knew that we were not going to be at the hotel that much while we were there so it made sense to us to stay at a cheaper hotel and then spend our money while we were out and about. I had also heard amazing things about the views of the entire city of Sorrento from the hills so was looking forward to staying up there.
We stayed at Villa Giovanna and it was super clean and the staff were very helpful. Our room was large and spacey with amazing air conditioning. They came in and made up the room, changed the towels etc. every day that we were there and clearly take pride in the good upkeep of the rooms. Although we were told by reception that the WiFi was best around reception we had no issues and were streaming TV old school Dharma and Greg in the evenings 🙂
The breakfast was lovely with various breads, cereals, yoguarts, meats an the like to choose from. We always left full and it kept us going until lunch! They also own a restaurant called ‘La Tavola Di Lucullo’ which they will shuttle you to and from – it was tasty and we enjoyed it when we went there. They also offered a free shuttle service into the main street of Sorrento which was so handy! The hotel itself is small but well maintained and there is a small pool on site as well which was lovely to jump into to cool down in the 30 degree weather 🙂
Our friends stayed in the Hilton, Sorrento and they loved it. We visited them there and it certainly lives up to the Hilton image of being plush. It was out of the price range that we wanted to spend but they said it was worth every penny.
Travelling within Sorrento
I have to mention the cost of travelling within Sorrento as it was a real bug bear of mine when we visited and slightly took away from the experience. The hotel that we stayed in had an amazing free shuttle service which we took full advantage of when the times suited us but when they didn’t we had to get a taxi. And this is where I had issue – our hotel was perhaps a 5-6 minute drive up the hills from the end of the main street and yet our taxi was consistently over €30. It was so expensive and I had heard about this but honestly was just shocked when we seen the meter just rising and rising. We had a fantastic taxi driver Lorenzo who was very reliable but I wish we had of looked at the local bus options.
I would advise you to be very careful if you decide to walk up any of the local roads. The cars and scooters drive very fast and some of the turns that they took had my heart in my mouth! Also, a sidenote be careful when you are crossing the street – the scooters seem to appear our of nowhere and it can feel a little dangerous.
Where to eat in Sorrento
Overall we found the food quite good – we had plenty of pasta and pizza and I just love wood fired pizzas! The average cost of pizza was around €9 and paninis were also quite reasonable. After that the prices do just go up but I didn’t find it over expensive.
The Aurora Restaurant is in Piazza Tasso, the main square of Sorrento. It does the BEST wood fired pizzas that we found and they were simply delicious. They have more staff than I seen anywhere else and their customer service was just fantastic. It wasn’t over-bearing so they seem to have found that balance which so many places struggle with. The restaurant is constantly busy but don’t be concerned if it looks wedged they have quite a large area inside as well (though we loved eating outside!).
Ristorante ‘O Parrucchiano La Favorita
This restaurant is situated on the main street in Sorrento just down from the main cathedral and is just magical. We sat under lemon trees with the stars visible through the branches. The entire feeling in the restaurant is that it is many old greenhouses all togeather and that the lemon trees have grown between them to create a stunning roof top backdrop to very tasty food. We were there for a wedding reception and the staff were wonderful and attentive to us. The menu is quite extensive and very tasty. It is certainly unlike anywhere else that I have eaten. And although we didn’t see any lemons falling I have been told that it does happen!
La Villa Sorrento Ristobar
Okay technically we didn’t eat here but we did have drinks there a few times. This cafe/bar is located along the along the cliff front and gives you panoramic views of Gulf of Naples, Sorrento Coast, Mount Vesuvius and the island of Capri. Both during the day and at night the views are just spectacular and again this is somewhere that there are plenty of staff so we were never waiting long for drinks. They also leave out super tasty little bowls of snacks for you so you can nibble away while taking in the astounding ocean views. It was relaxing and you are not rushed to finish your drinks even through they could easily fill the seats over and over again. As much as I don’t like to be negative – I have to say that the toilet facilities really let this place down.
What to do in Sorrento
We spent just over a day exploring the actual town of Sorrento and we got around to quite a few places which I wanted to share. The city is actually lovely just to wander around and all of the Italians that we met were just so friendly and helpful. Here are some of the thigns that ou can do while in Sorrento;
Sorrento St Francesco Cloister
This is where our friends got married and WOW it is just beautiful. When I pictured a destination wedding this is more than I ever imagined and it was just felt so steeped in history as well. It dates back to the 8th century and the whole area is has draping vines and a beautiful tree in the center as well. It was serene and they had a white carpet going up the ‘aisle’ and there was a two piece live band softly playing in the corner. There is absolutely nothing but positive love for this magical place – it was the most picturesque place to hold a wedding ceremony and just around the corner is a stunning view over the bay.
Sitting out by the ocean front
We didn’t find any massive beaches while we were there which I suppose makes sense since it is a huge cliff face. But there are areas down by the water and some public/private that you can rent deck chairs and sit water side by the day. There are plenty of people swimming in the ocean but as always be careful when you are by the water. When we were looking it was about €16 for one deck chair for a day.
And what we wished we had known on day one… there is a lift to take you up and down between town and the beach & harbour area. It only costs €1 and we found it super handy. The entry on the beach/harbour is located just to the west of the public beach, in among the private beaches and the entry up above is in the city park. Between May and September I believe that the lift runs from 7.30am till midnight (more details here).
Along the main street Corso Italia in Sorrento is a Roman Catholic cathedral dedicated to Saints Philip and James. It is beautiful and while we were there they also had a photo exhibition dedicated to Mother Theresa called ‘The Light of God’. It was just so peaceful to walk around this historic church while looking at an amazing photography exhibit. The ceiling of the building is certainly one of its key features – it is fully painted by made by Francesco Francareccio and is just beautiful. The clock tower of the church is worth seeing.
Explore the streets on foot
This was my favourite thing to do – we spent hours exploring the many inter-linked narrow side streets of Sorrento. They are packed full of markets, stalls, stores and gelato stands and we loved it. The shops were selling everything from lemons to leather goods to marquetry pieces. We brought a few bits and pieces while we were there but didn’t go too crazy (I spent much more in Eco Capri!). Remember to look up as you walk around as the architecture is beautiful.
The main square is the Piazza Tasso and all of the streets from there were just fantastic to explore. But do be careful of the scooters! We found even on any streets that were pedestrianized that there were still scooters everywhere. The Italian charm of Sorrento will really indulge your senses and leave you with some amazing memories for years to come.
You cannot walk far in Sorrento without seeing somewhere advertising Limoncello! It is an Italian lemon liqueur and they are very proud of it. It was a little strong for my tastes but I am glad that we tried it. I think if we had of had more than just hand luggage with us we would have bought a bottle to bring home with us. On a sidenote surprisingly chillis are super popular as well!!
Overall, we loved Sorrento and found it very easy to get around and the locals were very friendly. They did like when we tried with our poor attempt of please and thank you in Italian and I personally think that when you go somewhere you should at least try to say these. The weather when we were there was around the 29-31 degree mark so we made sure to stop for gelato quite often. Not that you ever need a reason for gelato!
Sorrento is a fantastic base to go visit other places but just don’t forget about exploring the town itself as well 🙂