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Photo of Sorrento

Visit Sorrento

The large town of Sorrento is a very popular destination with both Italian and overseas visitors attracted by 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: There is little in the way of major sights to discover in Sorrento itself, apart from Sorrento Cathedral but the resort has been established for a very long time, almost 200 years, and as a result it is a very pleasant place to stroll around, to relax and to explore.

Although tourism is the key industry here it 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.

Sorrento cathedral on the Corso Italia in the centre of town 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.

 
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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 Peninsular. 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.

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

Click any picture to start the gallery

  • beaches
  • centre
  • centre1
  • centre2
  • centre3
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  • centre6
  • cloister
  • cloister1
  • restaurant
  • view-from-harbour
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  • villa

Map of Sorrento and places to visit

 
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Sorrento places to visit

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
Capri

Capri

Capri is a spectacular island in the Bay of Naples with beautiful cliffs and coastal scenery

Capri guide
Villa Poppaea

Villa Poppaea

The Villa Poppaea is a sumptuous Roman Villa that was buried in the volcanic eruption that covered Pompeii and Herculaneum.

Villa Poppaea guide
Pompeii

Pompeii

Pompeii was a bustling Ancient Roman trade town, completely submerged when Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79 AD

Pompeii guide
Amalfi

Amalfi

Amalfi is one of the principal scenic villages in the heart of the Amalfi Coast

Amalfi guide

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

 
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