Photo of Sorrento

Visit Sorrento

The large town of Sorrento is a very popular destination with both Italian and overseas visitors, who visit because of the attractions of the town as well as its impressive location near to the Amalfi coast, and it is a lively regional centre and resort.

It is located on the western coast of Italy, south of Naples on the Sorrento peninsula and in the shadow of Mount Vesuvius.

Explore Sorrento

Italy This Way review: Sorrento is an interesting and lively town with an attractive historic centre that has been an established tourist destination for almost 200 years, and it is a very pleasant place to stroll around, to relax and to explore.

Although tourism is the key industry here, Sorrento has not been spoiled by the number of visitors and remains a very pleasant base for your travels in the region, and it is significantly cheaper to stay and eat here than, for example, along the Amalfi Coast to the south.

the main square in Sorrento town centre

Start your visit in the central square, Piazza Tasso, that overlooks the deep gorge that divides the town and acts as a hub for your wanderings through the surrounding streets here in the old part of Sorrento.

Part of the town centre is pedestrianised and the town's position on a clifftop ensures you will often come across attractive views out to sea.

The principal road from Piazza Tasso is Corso Italia, towards the west. This road is pedestrianised with numerous shops and is the centre of activity in the town. You will also find plenty of restaurants along and near this street.

Follow any of the narrow streets towards the north from Corso Italia and you enter the heart of the old town, which is along Via Fuoro and the many narrow alleys in the area. You will also find a good choice of restaurants in this part of Sorrento and the narrow streets have retained their original charm.

Historic monuments in Sorrento

In the centre of Sorrento, Sorrento cathedral on the Corso Italia was built in the 14th century, although most of what we see today is a 16th century rebuild following an invasion by the Turks in 1538 that destroyed the earlier structure.

Pass between the marble columns of the attractive facade of the cathedral to enjoy the interior decoration, including the beautifully painted ceiling above the transept (painted in the 17th century), the paintings inside the dome (early 20th century) and also the ornate decorative features above the nave (early 18th century).

The cloister of Saint Francis is one of the loveliest buildings in Sorrento especially when all the lovely purple bougainvillea are in flower. As well as the cloister there is a church and convent and in the convent are some wooden statues from the 14th century.

Another important religious monument in the town is the basilica of Sorrento, with its origins in the 11th century.

If you walk about 100 metres north from Piazza Tasso you can see a deep valley called the Vallone dei Mulini, with the ruins of a watermill at the bottom of the valley. It is quite evocative, and a very short walk so worth the effort, although you cannot access the valley to explore further.

 
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Leisure and culture in Sorrento

Early evening in Sorrento is a particularly pleasant time to join in the national Italian pastime - an evening strolll. After ambling around the old town finish your wanderings at Villa Comunale perhaps, with a terrace where you can enjoy the lovely views out to sea.

More great views can be found in the gardens at Palazzo Correale (which also contains a small local museum) and from the small Chiesa di San Francesco next to the Villa Communale.

Sorrento is famous for its marquetry and you can visit the Museo Bottega della Tarsia Lignea to learn all about it and see some beautiful examples. The museum is housed in an 18th century palace with some beautiful frescoes.

Another museum is the George Vallet Archaeological museum with artefacts found on the Sorrentine Peninsula. Particular highlights include the remains of a villa at Capo di Massa and a large marble statue of a woman from the Imperial era. The museum is free to visit.

The Museo Correale di Terranova, housed in an 18th century villa has an interesting collection of paintings and ceramics and some excellent marquetry pieces. Its gardens and views over the coast is a highlight.

Sorrento restaurants

We do not usually review restaurants because they can change very quickly, but the restaurant here is a tourist attraction as well...

While in Sorrento we recommend you visit the O'Parrucchiano La Favorita restaurant at 71, Corso Italia, one of the most remarkable restaurants we have seen. The entrance is quite unassuming, but inside, the restaurant opens into a very large space with tables and chairs that then continues into a lovely - and extensive - garden setting which includes many lemon trees. You are able to enter to look around the gardens even if you are not eating here.

Sorrento beaches

Note that because of its clifftop position Sorrento does not have easy access to local beaches, and while you might be just as happy with a nice view to Mount Vesuvius instead, your children might be less convinced...

There are a couple of very small beaches in the town such as at Marina Grande, but you are likely to prefer to head a little way out of Sorrento itself if you are planning to spend the day at the beach.

One local alternative is the beach a couple of kilometres west of Sorrento (follow Via Capo) around the ruins of an ancient Roman villa, the villa of Polli Felice. A little further round the cape is the small fishing village of Marina Puolo which is a charming village and has a beach.

rather small beaches in Sorrento

Places to visit near Sorrento

Much of the appeal of Sorrento as a travel destination arises from the number of interesting and scenic highlights that are in close proximity to the town. These include:

  • The scenic highlights of the Amalfi coast
  • The island of Capri, with Ischia and Procida only a little further - ferries are available from Sorrento to all these islands
  • Mount Vesuvius and Pompeii
  • The Temple at Paestum
  • Naples - a down to earth town and not really a 'tourist attraction' but worth visiting anyway (accessible by ferry from Sorrento if you don't have a car)

Note that if you are here without a car it is possible to get ferries to most of the popular highlights nearby such as Capri, Ischia, Positano and Amalfi from the marina in Sorrento. The clifftop position of Sorrento probably gives you a clue that there are quite a lot of steps between the marina and the town centre!

There are also several pretty little villages closer to hand, and which are very pleasant to explore such as Vico Equense, Massa Lubrense and Sant'Agata. The walk to the abbey of Il Deserto south of Sorrento from Sant'Agata has also been recommended to us (but not until after we had returned home!)

You can find more local travel ideas in the Campania guide.

See also: 

Photos of Sorrento

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Map of Sorrento and places to visit

 
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Sorrento places to visit

Sorrento basilica

Sorrento basilica

The basilica of Sant'Antonino in Sorrento is a 11th century basilica with a baroque style nave and romanesque facade

Sorrento basilica guide
Sorrento cathedral

Sorrento cathedral

Sorrento cathedral is a charming neo-gothic and baroque church, in the heart of Sorrento old town

Sorrento cathedral guide
Sorrento cloister San Francesco

Sorrento cloister San Francesco

The cloister of San Francesco in Sorrento is a charming cloister, built in the 14th century and now often used for weddings

Sorrento cloister San Francesco guide
Marina Grande and Sorrento beaches

Marina Grande and Sorrento beaches

The coast of Sorrento, with the port of Marina Grande and several small beaches is interesting to explore

Marina Grande and Sorrento beaches guide
Positano

Positano

Positano is a very scenic (and very steep!) village at the west of the Amalfi coast

Positano guide
Praiano

Praiano

Praiano is a beautiful little town on the Amalfi coast next to its more famous neighbour Positano.

Praiano guide

...or see all our recommended places to visit in Campania

 
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