If you are wondering about what things to do in Sorrento then I have some great ideas for you. Sorrento was founded by the Greeks in 600 BC and was an important trading town in medieval times. It is the gateway to the Amalfi Coast and is officially on the Sorrentine Peninsular. This is a charming town with a touch of class that sprawls leisurely along the cliffs, overlooking the ocean, and offers views of Naples and Mt. Vesuvius in the distance.
Passeggiata is a wonderful Italian tradition. It’s all about unwinding at the end of the day and taking a stroll. It is time to see and be seen and meet up with friends between 5 and 7 pm. The best views in Sorrento are along the Corso Italia or along the narrow, cobbled Via San Cesareo. Rick Steves has a short video of the Passeggiata in Sorrento that is worth watching for a better idea of what it’s all about.
2. People watch on the Piazza Tasso
Built in 1866 the main square is the perfect spot for people-watching and admiring the beautiful baroque architecture that surrounds it. The square is filled with pavement cafés, shops, restaurants and horse-drawn carriages.
3. Ride the tourist train
You can go for a ride on a small, white tourist train that takes you through the town and down to Marina Piccola. This is an ideal thing to do in Sorrento for families and the kids will love the ride while you admire the scenery. It is about a 30 min trip. You can catch the train from Piazza Lauro, opposite the train station.
4 Visit Chiostro di San Francesco
While the church is not particularly ornate there are some beautiful frescoes. In the 14th century, the Franciscan friars turned the original building into a church. It was rebuilt in 1926. The doors still date back to the 1500s.
The courtyard adjoining the church is filled with trees and creepers. The cloisters are still in use today as a monk’s residence and when we were there we were lucky enough to hear the monks chanting. It was a haunting experience and one that I will remember for many years to come. It is also a popular venue for a wedding in Sorrento.
5. Sip a Limoncello or two
Sorrento is the home of lemons. There are trees wherever you look and they were all laden with fruit when we were there. Naturally, the shops are all full of Limoncello in bottles of all shapes and sizes.
Limoncello is a liqueur; the flavour and colour are derived from the infusion of the skins with alcohol. You will find limoncello throughout the Amalfi Coast as well. It is best-served ice cold in a chilled aperitif glass. There is even a specific type of lemon known as Sorrento lemons, which are enormous!
There are so many stories about the origins of limoncello. Each town has its own tale to tell. Some tell of fishermen drinking it in the morning to fight off the cold. Others believe that the monks created it, but whatever you believe be sure to try it at least once.
I Giardini di Cataldo is a producer right in the middle of town. You can wander through their beautiful lemon grove and garden and then see the limoncello being made. You could also try their lemon granita which is very refreshing. The shop sells a variety of delicious lemon-related products as well for you to take back home and enjoy. You can also find arancello which is made from oranges.
6. Explore the old town of Sorrento
Thecentro storico (historic centre) is as pretty as a picture postcard. There are narrow cobbled roads, most of which have been pedestrianized, filled with trattorias, bars and shops. You really can’t get lost so take the time to explore.
Book: Sorrento: Guided Walking Tour – a 2-hour tour with a local showing you the town
7. Shop for souvenirs
There are wonderful artisanal shops scattered all over. Sorrento is also known for beautiful leather, lace and inlaid wooden items. These are unique to Sorrento and make great souvenirs. If you like handbags, as I do, you will be in heaven. Don’t forget all the lemon-related gifts either.
8. Visit Marina Grande
Whatever you do, don’t miss a visit to the port of Marina Grande. This has to be my number one choice of things to do in Sorrento. There is a lift to the marina but we walked. Towards the bottom of the hill, we discovered a workshop where a small, colourful wooden fishing boat was lovingly being restored by hand. It was like a window to the past and we watched impressed at the painstaking effort going into the restoration.
The Marina is an ancient harbour and was the home of pirates in days gone by. It is not pristine, but this adds to its charm. Fishermen are out and about tending to their boats or fixing their nets and the banter can be heard going back and forth. It is still a working village so the catch of the day is straight from the boats to your plate.
If you stroll along the Via Mariana Grande be on the lookout for the restaurant we found. We had a leisurely lunch, at the water’s edge, at Ristorante di Leva Sorelle (The Five Sisters) which we choose at random while we soaked up the atmosphere. It is nothing fancy, but the meal was sublime. The spaghetti vongole was one of the best that I have ever eaten. The plump juicy clams, the sun-blushed tomatoes and al dente spaghetti are a marriage made in heaven. Afterwards, we saw a sign saying “Friends of Jamie Oliver” which I don’t doubt for a second.
9. Visit a beach club
Most people who go to Sorrento don’t go to make use of its beaches. You won’t find your typically sandy beaches here. They are more volcanic in nature and are black.
However, if you do want to soak up the sun while in Sorrento, Italy, then it is best to visit a beach club. There are many to choose from, and they all offer a great experience. Most clubs have sun loungers and parasols for guests to use, as well as showers and changing rooms. Some clubs also have restaurants and bars, so you can enjoy a meal or drink while taking in the stunning views. TryMarina Piccolaand rent a lounger and umbrella.
10. Swim at a secret spot in Sorrento
There is a stunning natural pool at the base of the cliffs at Bagni Regina Giovanna which is worth the journey and one of the best things to do in Sorrento if you like the water. The public beach is located right on the coast and offers incredible views of the Tyrrhenian Sea. It can be quite crowded in peak season. You can reach it by bus (route A) or it’s about a 3 km walk. It is also a perfect spot to watch the sunset.
11. Have a night at the Opera E Lirica
From April to October, the Correale Museum becomes home to musicians who perform selections from Italian Operas. Experiencing a concert in this beautiful villa is one of the unique things to do in Sorrento. If you love opera be sure to check out the schedule.
12. See the abandoned Valley of the Mills
One of the most popular tourist destinations in Sorrento is the Il Vallone dei Mulino, which translates to Valley of the Mills. You can find it just behind Piazza Tasso. Head to Viale Enrico Caruso and look down into the deep mountain gorge that was created by a volcanic eruption 35 000 years ago. The buildings have been abandoned since 1940.
The valley was named after the ancient wheat mills that were found there. Today, you can still see the jungle-covered ruins of one of the mills.
13. Hike the Path of the Gods – theSentiero degli De
If you love the outdoors the Path of the Gods will blow you away and takes hikers on a picturesque journey from the Amalfi Coast near Positano to Piano di Sorrento. This hike offers some of the most beautiful views in all of Italy.The trail starts at Bagni di Tiberio and winds its way up to Piano di Sorrento. The hike takes about two hours, but it’s well worth it. Be sure to bring plenty of water and snacks, as there is nowhere to get supplies along the way.
14. Visit the brewery in Sorrento
Sorrento might be about all things lemon and they also have a brewery that uses the local ingredients. It was started in 2009 and producesinteresting beers such as Sorrento IGP lemon, Sorrento orange or walnut. Birrificio Sorrento is more than happy to welcome visitors for a tour and a tasting of their beers.
What to eat in Sorrento
I love Italian food. In this part of the world, there is an elegant simplicity to the dishes. The food of Campania features seafood, olive oil, herbs and the freshest vegetables. Don’t forget that Naples, which is about 50 km away, is the home of pizza. You can taste the sunshine in the food. I particularly loved the heirloom tomatoes all over town.
Have you thought about taking a class to learn to make pizza? It’s such a fun activity and that way you can impress your friends when you get back home and the kids will love to join in as well.
Book: Sorrento: Pizza Making Class – learn to make authentic Neopolitan pizza
15. Enjoy Sorrento’s local dish
Gnocchi alla Sorrentina is a popular dish in the region of Sorrento. The dish is potato dumplings tossed in a tomato sauce with mozzarella cheese and basil. It is often served as a first course, but can also be eaten as a main course.
There are many variations of Gnocchi alla Sorrentina, but the most traditional version uses fresh mozzarella cheese. The sauce can vary slightly from place to place, but most versions include tomatoes, olive oil, and garlic.
If you’re visiting Sorrento, be sure to try this delicious dish! There are many restaurants that serve it, but Trattoria da Emilia down at the port is one of the best.
16. Eat authentic artisanal gelato
Of course, you simply have to have gelato. I recently did a course at the Carpigiani Gelato University and learnt how to make gelato. I also discovered how to tell the difference between a good and a bad one, but the gelato at Gelateria Primavera is fabulous. They have at least 80 flavours to choose from on any given day.
17. Go on a sunset cruise
What could be more romantic than to go on a sunset cruise? Admire the beautiful Sorrento Coast and toast your partner with a glass of fizz. You can even have a swim and admire the ruins of a Roman villa.
Book: Sunset boat experience
18. Try your hand a Parasailing
What a thrill to be above the Bay of Naples admiring the stunning scenery below. You can book a solo, tandem or triple parasail flight so it is a perfect activity for friends to enjoy together. You will also get to stop for a swim on the trip after your 10-12 minutes of flight time, your instructor will carefully bring you back down to the boat.
19. Visit Capri on a day trip from Sorrento
One of the best day trips from Sorrento is a visit to the island of Capri. The island is just a short ferry ride away, and there are plenty of things to see and do there.
Start your day by taking a walk along the Via Krupp, which offers stunning views of the coast. Then head to Anacapri, where you can visit the Villa San Michele or take a cable car up to Mount Solaro for incredible panoramic views.
In the afternoon, explore the beautiful town of Capri, and don’t miss a visit to the Blue Grotto. If you still have time, spend some time relaxing on one of the island’s lovely beaches.
If you prefer to go on an organised tour you can hop on a boat that will give you the best of both worlds. You will have 4 hours to explore Capri at your own pace. You can also go snorkelling at 2 different coves and if you would like to see the Blue Grotto it can be arranged as well.
20. Visit Pompeii
Pompeii is a popular tourist destination for visitors on day trips from Sorrento. The ancient Roman city was destroyed by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD and has been preserved as an archaeological excavation site since then. You can explore the ruins of Pompeii, which include a forum, temples, and public baths. There is also a small museum on site that showcases artefacts found at Pompeii.
I prefer to get away from the crowds so I visited the lesser-known site of Herculaneum which is more compact and in a better state of preservation.
Book: Pompeii: Archeological Site Entry Ticket OR Full-Day Pompeii and Mount Vesuvius Tour and Mount Vesuvius Tour Book: Ercolano: Herculaneum Priority Entrance Ticket OR Herculaneum: Guided Walking Tour
21. Visit the Amalfi Coast
You to explore a number of places while staying in Sorrento in the surrounding region with ease. Naples is not far away and neither is the beautiful Amalfi coast.
I recommend a day trip to Positano from Sorrento. This tour takes you to the towns of Positano, Ravello and Amalfi, which means that you get to enjoy some of the most breathtaking scenery in the world. Trust me, it is honestly spectacular, but less so when you are concentrating on driving along VERY narrow roads. There is also an option to visit these towns by boat if you prefer.
What to do in Sorrento in the rain
It’s no fun wandering around in the rain and getting wet, so here are a few ideas to keep dry.
22. Correale Museum di Terranova
The Correale Museum is an archaeological museum and art gallery right in the centre of Sorrento. The displays of art, furniture and china are spread out across 24 rooms in the villa. Don’t miss the view from the beautiful garden that overlooks the Bay of Naples. It’s an interesting place to visit even when it’s not raining!
23. Have a cooking lesson
I love cooking on rainy days so why not make the most of the bad weather and take a cooking class? I recently took a fabulous cooking class learned to make gnocchi in Florence. This has now become a favourite supper. It’s such a good feeling to learn something that you will get to use regularly and be reminded Italy each time you prepare the meal. There’s a great class below that you can book.
24. Visit the market
Market day is on a Tuesday in Sorrento in Via San Renato. It opens at 08h00 and closes at 14h00. Visiting a market is always on my agenda wherever I go. It’s a great way to see what’s seasonal and delicious and mingle with the locals as well. This market also sells clothes and household items.
When is the best time to visit Sorrento?
The best time to visit is in spring (late March to mid-June) when the smell of citrus blossom fills the air and the days are long, sunny and mild. We were there in April and the weather was perfect. The peak season is Easter to October, but Sorrento is an all-year-round destination.
Sorrento Holiday tips
- The beach is quite rocky so take a thick towel or mat if you plan to spend any time on the beach. It is also a good idea to wear water shoes. If you prefer you can rather stay on the piers that line the coast.
- If you are on a budget then avoid the smart hotels that line the cliff face. These tend to be far more expensive than looking a little bit out of town.
We had such fun visiting Sorrento, Italy. It is a mixture of old and new that blends together seamlessly. Even if you just have a day don’t miss a visit to Sorrento. It has so much to offer.
WHERE TO STAY IN SORRENTO
The Parco dei Principi is on the top of a cliff with stunning views. They also have a swimming pool, gym and a private beach. This means that you can get away from the crowds.
Located about 10 minutes away from the centre of town. Some of the rooms have balconies with breathtaking views across the bay. It is a 1-minute walk to the beach.
Situated in the middle of the town you can’t go wrong if you book here. The rooms are spacious and modern. They are all airconditioned and soundproofed and offer everything you will need to make your stay comfortable
More to read
- Positano: The best hotels in Positano, Italy to take your breath away
- Positano: 18 Memorable things to do in Positano, Italy
- Naples: 15 Of Best Things to Do in Naples, Italy
- Herculaneum: Guide To Visiting Herculaneum : Pompeii’s Little Sister
- Amalfi: Don’t miss these beautiful places on the Amalfi Coast
- Food: How to find the best gelato in Italy
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