Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast of Italy have a very dear place in my heart. Perhaps predictably, the love affair began with Under the Tuscan Sun, and grew deeper each time I visited Sorrento and the vicinity. I loved it so much, I even got married there! Well, after missing it for 5 years, I finally returned to one of my favourite places in the world to celebrate my 5-year wedding anniversary this summer.
If you’ve never been to the Amalfi Coast, I highly recommend Sorrento as your home base in the area. All other must-see towns are very accessible from Sorrento by boat, bus, or car, and compared to Positano and Capri, there are a lot more affordable options for lodging. Yes, Sorrento is definitely touristy, and gets quite busy in the summer, but for me, the crowds don’t detract from its charm and beauty.
Getting to Sorrento is fairly simple. The closest airport is located in Naples, from where you can either take the ferry or the local Circumvesuviana train. When travelling from Rome, we usually catch a train from Termini station to Naples (just over an hour), and then grab a Circumvesuviana train to Sorrento (under an hour). I recommend taking the Campania Express train instead of the local commuter one – the former is air-conditioned and has very few stops (though it’s slightly more expensive), while the latter does not have air-conditioning and can have some sketchy characters on board (try to stay close to other tourists and hold on to your bags).
Where to Stay:
On this visit, we stayed at Casa Evelina Airbnb, and I can’t recommend it highly enough. It was super affordable, with modern, stylish, well-appointed rooms, and located just steps away from Piazza Tasso, and minutes away from the Circumvesuviana train station (and breakfast was included too!). In the past, I’ve stayed at Palazzo Januzzi, and Maison Tofani – both are quite nice, but definitely pricier than Airbnb (use this link to sign up and get $50 off your first Airbnb booking). If you’d like to splurge on a fancy hotel with a view, the Bellevue Syrene is a lovely place, and is definitely on my list of hotels to check out on my future visits.
Where to Eat:
Trattoria Da Emilia is my personal go-to and I’ve eaten there many times over the years. The small seaside restaurant has been a Sorrento mainstay since 1947 and serves simple, but delicious dishes like Spaghetti with Clams (my fave!!!) and Caprese Salad at the picturesque Marina Grande. The service is quick, the location is perfect, and the entire menu is super affordable. For a fancier meal, head to Grand Hotel La Favorita’s rooftop restaurant, where both the views and the food are excellent. If it’s on the menu, try the handmade Eggplant Scialatielli – I am still dreaming about it. On this trip we also had a meal at the Michelin-starred Il Buco, not our favourite meal in town, but still quite good (my lobster risotto was delicious, while le bf’s pumpkin soup was just so-so). Whatever you do, don’t eat at the Piazza Tasso restaurants, these places are ok for a drink and some people-watching, but the food will most likely disappoint.
What to Do:
Apart from visiting the nearby towns and Pompeii (just a couple of Circumvesuviana stops away), Sorrento’s beaches are perfect for an afternoon of relaxation. Since you’ll have to pay for a lounger and an umbrella, get there early and stay for a while. Leonelli Beach is my favourite, with a nice sandy beach, and decent food (I especially like their fresh strawberries with lemon juice and sugar!). There’s a small stretch of free beach nearby, but it gets really crowded.
Shopping in Sorrento is pretty good, there’s lots of great souvenirs to bring home – from limoncello and lemon chocolates to spices and ceramics to custom-made sandals. Shop around to find the best deals and avoid buying the “Made in China” souvenirs – there’s plenty of local artisans to support instead. If you’re smitten with Sorrentine cuisine, you can take a cooking lesson at the Quanto Basta Cooking School. The school was located near our Airbnb and was always packed with people, and the atmosphere looked really fun. Since we had a cooking class booked in Cinque Terre, we didn’t end up taking a class in Sorrento, but will definitely do it next time we’re in town. In the evenings the main street gets closed down to car traffic, and you can stroll along Corso Italia alongside locals and tourists, eating gelato, and enjoying the weather. It’s the best!
One thing to note, there’s plenty of stairs, hills, and slippery cobblestones in Sorrento, so make sure to bring comfy flats and get ready to do some legwork. If you find yourself near the beach and dreading the trek up to town, there’s a public elevator you can take instead of walking. There’s a nominal fee to use the elevator, but it may be worth it if you’re really tired or in a hurry.
If you’ve never been to Sorrento, I can’t recommend it highly enough, even if for a day or two. As touristy as it is, Sorrento is a charming town with breathtaking views, great food, and an unbeatable Amalfi Coast location. Have you ever been to Sorrento? Share your thoughts in the comments.
More photos after the jump!