This article may contain compensated links. See our full disclosure here
Heading to the south of Italy? There are plenty of things to do in Sorrento. This lovely coastal city close to Naples has many charms of its own as well as being the perfect base for exploring the surrounding area. If you’re dreaming of cobbled streets, coastal views and dining in lemon groves you’ll find all that and more in our our huge guide to what to do in Sorrento.
Soak up the la dolce vita atmosphere
Sorrento is a city for relaxing and enjoying the best of southern Italian hospitality. There’s no need to rush in Sorrento. Simply stroll, wander and enjoy la dolce vita (the sweet life).
Views of the Bay of Naples
You first point of call should be Villa Comunale. This lovely park with manicured gardens and floral displays is known for stunning views over the Bay of Naples with Mount Vesuvius looming in the background. On a clear day it’s also possible to see the islands of Ischia and Procida in the distance. Visit at sunset to enjoy one of the most romantic vistas in Sorrento. From the park you can also walk or take the lift down to the port known as Marina Piccola.
Relax in Piazza Tasso
Piazza Tasso is Sorrento’s main square and the place to go for aperitivo and people watching. The piazza commemorates Torquato Tasso, a prolific 16th century poet born in the city. Ask for an outside table at Bar Fauno for the best views of the goings on in the square. An Aperol spritz is a great choice in summer but we can also vouch for the decadent hot chocolate.
Stroll the laneways
Just steps from Piazza Tasso you’ll find Via San Cesareo, known to the locals as the vicoletti or laneways. This characterful area is where the locals shop for fruit and vegetables. You’ll also find boutiques selling locally made goods and of course limoncello. In the evening the laneways come alive with locals and visitors enjoying an evening stroll or night out at one of the many cafes and restaurants.
While it’s easy enough to explore on your own, if you take a short walking tour of the city highlights you’ll learn all about the history and culture of this fascinating town.
Visit Marina Grande for seaside charm
It’s an easy fifteen minute walk down to the fishing village of Marina Grande from Villa Communale. Sorrento’s fishing port has a charming village atmosphere with colorful boats and restaurants overlooking the sea. Go in the morning to see the catch of the day unloaded by the local fishermen. Or make a plan for lunch or dinner to try tasty dishes straight from the sea.
You can choose from plates piled high with grilled or fried calamari at rustic Trattoria da Emilia or enjoy a more refined dining experience at Ristorante Bagni Delfino. But either way, the fish is delicious and the atmosphere is magical with stunning views out over the Bay of Naples.
Enjoy the tastes of Sorrento
Thanks to abundant local produce and an inbuilt passion for food and wine, Sorrento is simply a great place to eat. The city’s proximity to Naples means you can easily find a delicious pizza if that’s what you crave.
Of course, fresh fish is always on the menu. As mentioned above, Marina Grande is the place to for local seafood with a village atmosphere but you’ll also find excellent restaurants in the old town and at the established hotels of Sorrento. Make sure to try the local wine too.
Wines from Campania are not as celebrated as some of their northern counterparts but you’ll find they pair perfectly with the dishes of the region. Ask the sommelier to help you choose wine for your meal and you’ll be seeking out a Falanghina or Biancolella throughout your stay.
Favorite places to eat in Sorrento
- Da Franco – Corso Italia, 265 – mouthwatering pizza by the meter
- La Lanterna – Via S. Cesareo, 23 – local favorite in a charming setting
- Basilico Italia – Corso Italia, 219 – updated classics and simply delicious
- Gelateria Primavera – Corso Italia, 142 – VIP favourite for ice cream & cakes. Our readers recommend Delize di Limone
- Raki Gelato – Via San Cesareo, 4 – locals tell us this is the pinnacle of gelato in Sorrento
- Terrazza Bosquet (Excelsior Vittoria Hotel) – Piazza Torquato Tasso, 34 – come for the unbeatable views and stay for elegant plates at this Michelin starred fine dining establishment
- Il Buco – 2ª Rampa Marina Piccola, 5 (Piazza S.Antonino) – order the tasting menu and let the chef feed you
Take a food tour
If you want to experience Sorrentine food culture with some friendly experts to guide you, then make sure you join a Gourmet Girls food tour. Hosts Lee and Vanessa have lived in Sorrento for over 50 years (combined!) and will make sure you taste the most delicious local dishes and wine. By the time your food tour is over you’ll have made some new friends, and a handy list of top notch eateries to dine at.
Dine in a lemon grove
Sorrento is known for its citrus fruits and abundance of lemons. As you wander through the town, keep your eye out for small lemon groves and trees hidden among the buildings. Locals continue to cultivate the fruit as part of their culture and of course to make Sorrento’s most famous export – limoncello liqueur.
One of our favorite things to do is take a break from the sun and enjoy a gelato in the lemon grove at I Giardini di Cataldo. They make amazing limoncello and delicious lemon jam too.
But for the ultimate and most elegant lemon grove dining experience, look no further than O Parrucchiano La Favourita. This historic restaurant has been serving classic dishes within their lemon garden since 1868. They even claim to have invented canneloni!
Sorrento cooking classes
We think a great souvenir to take home from your vacation is a new school. And when you learn to cook dishes local to Sorrento a trip there is only a bite away. These cooking classes in Sorrento are lots of fun:
- Local cooking class – 11:00am or 18:00pm start – learn to make a pasta dish and dessert over a glass or two of wine with Chef Tony from Quanto Basta cooking school – available on GetYourGuide here
- Pizza making class – of course as you are so close to the home of pizza in Naples, you should learn to make pizza. This lunchtime activity is fun for the whole family and includes pick up from your accommodation in Sorrento, your own apron and eating your very own pizza > class details
- Gelato making class – learn how to make your very own scoops of gelato at one of Sorrento’s most famous gelaterias > more info
Take a day trip to Capri, the Amalfi Coast or Pompeii
Of course many people use Sorrento as a base to explore the Amalfi and Sorrentine Coasts and to access the ruins of Pompeii. The city is perfectly situated for a day trip to Positano, boat rides down the the Amalfi Coast and across to the islands of Capri and Ischia as well as discovering historic Naples close by.
You can use the local Circumsvesuviana train to reach Pompeii and Naples and the ferries to visit Capri, the Amalfi Coast and Ischia. From May to October ferries run regularly up and down the coast. Take the local SITA bus to towns along the Amalfi Coast if you’re visiting out of season or you suffer from sea sickness.
Top day tours from Sorrento
Should you be short on time or simply prefer a private guide led experience, we recommend these tours departing from Sorrento.
- Boat tour to Capri – enjoy stunning views of the island of Capri from a small speed boat that takes you around the island before stopping at Marina Grande allowing you a few hours to explore. You’ll see grottoes, ancient coves and bridges and zoom through the Faraglioni rock formation. This activity is one of our favorite things to do ever! If you pick one day trip from Sorrento, we would choose Capri > tour details
- Amalfi Coast boat tour – enjoy one of the most stunning coastlines in the world from your luxury vessel. Making stops in Positano and Amalfi with plenty of time for photo opportunities, shopping and lunch, this full day trip is one for the memory books > more info
- Pompeii tour from Sorrento – travel in airconditioned comfort to the ancient city of Pompeii where your guide will lead you through the ruins of this fascinating site destroyed by Vesuvius in 79AD > tour information and departure times
Go shopping in the old town
Sorrento is a shopping paradise. Head to Via San Cesareo and the surrounding laneways and browse the boutiques. You’ll find artisan made ceramics and inlaid wooden items called intarsia plus colorful local fashions known as Moda Positano. We love the stunning handmade sandals at Sandali Siniscalchi (Via S. Cesareo, 83) and of course it is easy to stock up on your limoncello.
There is also a local market that runs all year round at Monday Piano di Sorrento on Mondays and in Sorrento on Tuesdays where you can pick up household and linen items.
Relax by the water
Sorrento is not known for wide sandy beaches as the Sorrentine coastline is rocky. But you can enjoy swimming in the beautiful Bay of Naples waters and lounging in the sun at one of the popular beach clubs or bathing platforms. A short walk from the old town and Piazza Tasso you’ll find beach clubs at Marina Piccola. Here you can rent a beach chair starting from around €12. The umbrella will cost extra.
We like the natural pool and seafood dishes at Bagni Salvatore but you can’t go past historic Marameo Beach with its retro changing boxes and elegant pier bar and restaurant. Skip the food here though and have a cocktail instead.
Local beach trips
Where else but Italy can you swim in the shadows of Ancient Roman ruins? At Bagni della Regina Giovanna there is a small free beach and a protected bay with clear sparkling waters. To get there take the local bus to Capo di Sorrento about a 10 minute ride and walk down. Note – the path is quite steep so may not be suitable for those with mobility issues.
Should you have a little more time, take the local SITA bus to Marina Cantone/Nerano. Here you’ll find a gorgeous bay overlooking the Tyrrhenian Sea where you can eat lunch on the waterfront and soak up the amazing views. The bus takes you through little villages with olive groves and lemon trees and see the grapes growing for the local wines. It only costs a few euro takes about 45 minutes.
Hotels with pools
Should you be visiting in summer and your accommodation does not have a pool, you can visit these hotels and enjoy the facilities for a fee.
- Hotel Carlton International Sorrento
- Grand Hotel Flora – note, often closed to external visitors in August
Outdoor and adventure activities on the coast
While Sorrento is a great place to relax and enjoy the scenery, you can also enjoy some outdoor fun and adventure.
Walking and hiking
There are many hiking trails in the area. Once donkey routes, these stone paths wind from village to village through lemon and olive groves and offer beautiful scenes of the Campania countryside. A popular short route takes you from Sorrento’s Piazza Tasso to Massa Lubrense where you can catch the bus back to Sorrento. The one way journey takes around 90 minutes.
Should you wish to travel further afield the famous Path of the Gods trail near Positano is one of the world’s classic hikes and can be easily managed from Sorrento.
Looking for more hikes and walking routes near Sorrento? This handy guide details 72 walking segments in and around Sorrento, Amalfi and Capri.
Get out on the Bay of Naples where there is no better way to appreciate the beauty of the local landscape. If you’re in need of a break from sightseeing you could join a kayak tour of the Sorrento coastline that takes you around Punta Campanella – a protected marine wildlife area. On the tour you’ll hear from a marine biologist, and duck into sea caves. There’s time for snorkelling in the clear sea waters > tour information
Or, if you want an adrenaline rush, enjoy the thrill of a parasailing adventure above the sparkling blue sea. Departing from Marina Grande you’ll have 90 minutes out on the water including at least 10 minutes gliding above the sea enjoying spectacular views of the coast. Definitely a fun activity for teenagers and the young at heart > more details
Discover the local history and culture
Sorrento was first settled by the Ancient Greeks at least 400 years BC. The city later became a resort for Romans who built summer villas there to enjoy the sea and the bountiful produce of the surrounding countryside, much as we do today. While you’re in Sorrento, make some time to enrich your visit by uncovering some of the city’s unique culture.
Take a stroll around town and discover these local landmarks:
- The Cloisters of San Francesco next to Villa Comunale Park are a must see in Sorrento and feature a beautiful 14th century garden beside the church that often hosts weddings. You can see art exhibitions in summer but don’t miss the stunning views of the Bay of Naples year round.
- Vallone dei Mulini – this 13th century flour mill nestled in a ravine can be seen from Via Fuorimura behind Piazza Tasso
- From Via Fuorimura stroll along the Via degli Aranci (The Orange Road) lined with orange trees until you reach Porta di Parsano, the old city gate where you can see remnants of the Antica Mura di Sorrento (old walls of Sorrento)
Museums, galleries and music
- Correale Museum – lovely collection of local artifacts including Sorrento woodwork known as intarsia, paintings and statues by Neapolitan artists all in the lush setting of a beautiful villa surrounded by lemon groves
- Armida Theater – Corso Italia, 219 – hosts summer art exhibitions and a musical presentation of southern Italian heritage with dancing and songs > ticket info
- Villa Fiorentino – Corso Italia, 53 – 1930s villa with delightful gardens and children’s play area with concerts and art exhibitions in summer
- Basilica of San Antonino – dedicated to San Antonino the patron Saint of Sorrento, the church is home to the saint’s remains and other relics, Ancient Roman artifacts and a collection of impressive art pieces created by local artists over the centuries. Visitors can also visit a small museum and the crypt where hundreds of silver medallions are displayed
- Duomo di Sorrento – the city’s cathedral on Corso Italia has a rather plain neo-Gothic exterior that hides a quite marvellous and unexpected Baroque interior.
Arriving in Sorrento
Whether you’re arriving by plane or by train into Naples, a private transfer is the easiest way to get to Sorrento with luggage and a minimum of fuss. You can book online with Welcome Pickups. You can also take the local Circumsvesuviana train but most travelers report this is not easy to do with luggage.
Where to stay in Sorrento
There are so many things to do in Sorrento and the surrounding area that staying at least a few nights is advised for any itinerary that includes the south of Italy. Below we’re hand picked the best hotels in Sorrento or if you prefer an apartment or villa browse our favorite AirBnB properties in Sorrento
- Luxury – Bellevue Syrene– all rooms at this gorgeous 5 star hotel have balconies with views over the Bay of Naples. Sunset drinks on the terrace may be the most memorable of your time in Italy > hotel details
- Midrange – Hotel Antiche Mura – right in the heart of town on Piazza Tasso, this small hotel has a great location and lovely pool set among lush gardens > more info
- Budget – Hotel Mignon Meublè – beautiful details and a delicious breakfast features of this boutique hotel close to the Cathedral > hotel details
We hope you now know what to see in Sorrento. There are many good reasons why this city is so popular. Just make sure you build enough time into your Italy itinerary to cover those sights and activities than mean the most to you.