Sorrento: The Complete Guide

Sorrento

Sorrento, beautifully perched on a plateau overlooking the Bay of Naples, has been a favored tourist destination for nearly two centuries. Traditionally, it has been one of the preferred resorts for British visitors to Italy, and in recent decades, it has become Italy’s leading package-holiday spot for English-speaking travelers. This historic seaside town has adeptly embraced tourism, offering a classic Mediterranean summer holiday atmosphere while preserving its authentic Italian character and charm.

One of Sorrento’s main attractions is its ability to cater to a wide range of holiday experiences. Visitors can enjoy rural walks through lemon and olive groves or choose from various excursions by land or sea. With easy access to Pompeii, Herculaneum, and Naples in one direction, and the Amalfi Coast in another, Sorrento provides an excellent base for exploring Roman ruins, quaint seaside resorts, traditional villages, and stunning scenery. Its well-connected infrastructure makes Sorrento a convenient and practical holiday choice.

History of Sorrento

Ancient Origins: Sorrento’s history dates back to ancient times, with its origins rooted in Greek mythology and early human settlements. The name Sorrento is derived from the Latin word “Surrentum,” and legend has it that the town was founded by Liparus, the son of Ausonus and grandson of Ulysses. The area was originally inhabited by the Oscans, a pre-Roman Italic people.

Roman Era: Sorrento became an important Roman colony and a favored resort for the Roman elite. The town’s strategic location and natural beauty made it a desirable place for wealthy Romans to build luxurious villas. Remnants of Roman architecture and artifacts can still be seen in the area, reflecting its significance during this period.

Middle Ages: Following the fall of the Roman Empire, Sorrento experienced various invasions and changes in rule. It was initially part of the Byzantine Empire and later became a duchy under the Lombards. In the 11th century, Sorrento was incorporated into the Norman Kingdom of Sicily. Throughout the Middle Ages, it retained a degree of autonomy and developed as a maritime trading center.

Renaissance and Early Modern Period: During the Renaissance, Sorrento flourished culturally and economically. The town saw the construction of beautiful churches, palaces, and other significant buildings. It became a center of learning and culture, attracting scholars, artists, and nobility. The 16th century, however, brought challenges, including pirate raids, most notably by the infamous pirate Barbarossa.

19th Century to Present: The 19th century marked the beginning of Sorrento’s transformation into a popular tourist destination. The advent of the Grand Tour, a traditional trip around Europe undertaken by upper-class young men, brought many travelers to Sorrento. The town’s picturesque landscapes, mild climate, and cultural heritage made it a favorite stop.

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Sorrento continued to attract writers, artists, and celebrities. The construction of modern infrastructure, including roads and railways, made it more accessible to tourists.

Modern Era: Today, Sorrento is renowned for its stunning views over the Bay of Naples, its charming historic center, and its role as a gateway to the Amalfi Coast. While tourism is the mainstay of its economy, Sorrento has managed to retain its unique character and charm, blending its rich historical past with modern amenities.

The town celebrates its cultural heritage through various festivals and events, including the Festa di Sant’Antonino, honoring its patron saint, and the Sorrento Lemon Festival, showcasing the region’s famous citrus fruits. Sorrento’s history, from its ancient beginnings to its present-day allure, continues to captivate visitors from around the world.

Visiting Sorrento for the first time and wondering what are the top places to see in the city? In this complete guide, I share the best things to do in Sorrento on the first visit. To help you plan your trip, I have also included an interactive map and practical tips for visiting!

This website uses affiliate links which earn a small commission at no additional cost to you.

Powered by GetYourGuide

11 Best places to See in Sorrento

This complete guide to Sorrento not only tells you about the very best sights and tourist attractions for first-time visitors to the city but also provide insights into a few of our personal favorite things to do.

This is a practical guide to visiting the best places to see in Sorrento and is filled with tips and info that should answer all your questions!

Chiesa di Sant'Antonino, Sorrento

Church Of Saint Antonino Sorrento
CC BY-SA 2.0 / Berthold Werner
Saint Antonino arrived in Sorrento in the 6th century, seeking refuge from the Lombard invasions of Italy. Legend has it that one day, a whale swallowed a boy near the beach at Sorrento. Saint Antonino miraculously rescued the boy from the whale, and this, along with other miracles, earned him the status of the patron […]
Location: Basilica di Sant'Antonino, Piazza Sant'Antonino, Sorrento, Metropolitan City of Naples, Italy | Distance: 0.10km
Visiting Chiesa di Sant'Antonino, Sorrento

Piazza Tasso, Sorrento

Sorrento, Piazza Tasso
CC BY-SA 2.0 / Berthold Werner
Torquato Tasso, born in 1544, stands on a granite pedestal in the square named after him, Tasso Square. Regarded as the greatest poet of his era, Tasso died in 1595, just days before he was to be crowned King of Poets by Pope Clement VIII. His statue shares the square with that of Saint Antonino, […]
Location: Piazza Tasso, Sorrento, Metropolitan City of Naples, Italy | Distance: 0.10km
Visiting Piazza Tasso, Sorrento

Valle dei Mulini, Sorrento

Valle Dei Mulini (Sorrento)
CC BY-SA 3.0 / Mentnafunangann
The “Valle dei Mulini,” or “Valley of Mills,” is a verdant enclave of modern ruins nestled at the bottom of a deep crevasse in Sorrento, Italy. This lush valley, once bustling with activity, is now a serene and picturesque site overgrown with exotic vegetation and rare ferns. Some 35,000 years ago, a volcanic eruption in […]
Location: Vallone dei Mulini, Sorrento, Metropolitan City of Naples, Italy | Distance: 0.10km
Visiting Valle dei Mulini, Sorrento

Chiostro di San Francesco, Sorrento

Chiesa Di San Francesco D’Assisi Sorrento
CC BY-SA 3.0 / Mentnafunangann
The Church and Cloister of Saint Francis are located near the public gardens of Sorrento, offering stunning views of the picturesque Gulf of Naples. The church, originally built in the 8th century as an oratory founded by Saint Antonino and dedicated to Saint Martin of Tours, was reconstructed in the Baroque style by the Franciscans […]
Location: Chiostro di San Francesco, Via San Francesco, Sorrento, Metropolitan City of Naples, Italy | Distance: 0.30km
Visiting Chiostro di San Francesco, Sorrento

Cattedrale di Sorrento

Duomo Di Sorrento
CC BY-SA 2.0 / MatthiasKabel
The Sorrento Cathedral, dedicated to the Virgin of the Assumption and the Apostles Philip and James, was consecrated in 1113 and has undergone several significant renovations between 1450 and 1573. Originally showcasing a Baroque style, the cathedral’s facade was redesigned in 1924 to reflect a neo-Gothic style. The church is built on the remnants of […]
Location: Cattedrale di Sorrento, Via Santa Maria della Pietà, Sorrento, Metropolitan City of Naples, Italy | Distance: 0.30km
Visiting Cattedrale di Sorrento

Piazza della Vittoria, Sorrento

Piazza-della-vittoria-sorrento
© 2024 Noamds Travel Guide
Victory Square nestles between Sorrento’s two marinas: Marina Grande (the smaller, more intimate marina) and Marina Piccola (the larger ferry terminal and transport hub). At the heart of the square, a garden shaded by palm trees provides a serene spot for visitors to pause and enjoy the breathtaking views of the bay and the Gulf […]
Location: Piazza della Vittoria, Sorrento, Metropolitan City of Naples, Italy | Distance: 0.50km
Visiting Piazza della Vittoria, Sorrento

Marina Grande, Sorrento

Marina Grande, Sorrento
CC BY-SA 4.0 / Davidhermanns
It’s important not to take the names of Sorrento’s two marinas too literally. Big Marina (Marina Grande) is actually the smaller and more intimate of the two. It’s a charming fishing village with restaurants and a sense of community. On the other hand, Small Marina (Marina Piccola) is much larger and serves as a busy […]
Location: Marina Grande, Sorrento, Via Marina Grande, Sorrento, Metropolitan City of Naples, Italy | Distance: 0.80km
Visiting Marina Grande, Sorrento

Bagni Regina Giovanna

Bagni Regina Giovanna Sorrento
©
At Capo Sorrento, you’ll find the Bagni della Regina Giovanna (Queen Joanna’s Baths), a natural pool with crystal-clear waters set in a wild and romantic environment. Legend has it that Queen Joanna of Naples used to bathe here with her young lovers, enjoying the stunning views. The Bagni della Regina Giovanna is located on the […]
Location: Bagni Regina Giovanna, Traversa Punta Capo, Sorrento, Metropolitan City of Naples, Italy | Distance: 2.20km
Visiting Bagni Regina Giovanna

Hiking the Path of the Gods: Complete Guide & Maps

The Path Of The Gods
CC BY-SA 3.0 / Jack45
Situated atop the sparkling Tyrrhenian Sea, hiking the Path of the Gods is a premier and picturesque adventure along Italy’s Amalfi Coast. This guide provides all the essential planning details and what to anticipate on the trail. The Path of the Gods, or Sentiero degli Dei in Italian, truly lives up to its grand name. […]
Visiting Hiking the Path of the Gods: Complete Guide & Maps

Mount Vesuvius

Mount Vesuvius
Mount Vesuvius, one of just two active volcanoes on the European continent, rises to a height of approximately 1,281 meters. It features a symmetrical central cone and steep wooded slopes. The entirety of Mount Vesuvius National Park is not only picturesque but also productive, peppered with quaint farms and vineyards that cultivate ancient grape varieties […]
Location: Mount Vesuvius, Ottaviano, Metropolitan City of Naples, Italy | Hours: January – February: 9 am – 3 pm. March: 9 am – 4 pm. April, May & June: 9 am – 5 pm. July – August: 9 am – 6 pm. September: 9 am – 5 pm. October: 9 am – 4 pm. November – December: 9 am – 3 pm. | Distance: 22.20km
Visiting Mount Vesuvius

Paestum

Paestum
History buffs will enjoy a visit to the ancient Greek city of Paestum in southern Italy. This archaeological site, one of the most fascinating stops on the Amalfi Coast, features three of the world’s most complete Doric temples, dating back to circa 600 to 450 BCE. The temples include the Basilica of Hera, the Temple […]
Location: Paestum, SA, Italy | Hours: 8:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. | Price: €6 | Distance: 57.90km
Visiting Paestum
Powered by GetYourGuide

Best Time to Visit Sorrento

Spring (April to June): Spring is arguably the best time to visit Sorrento. The weather is pleasant with mild temperatures and blooming flowers, making it perfect for outdoor activities and sightseeing. The crowds are smaller compared to the peak summer months, allowing for a more relaxed experience.

Summer (July to August): Summer is the peak tourist season in Sorrento. The weather is hot and sunny, ideal for beachgoers and those looking to enjoy the vibrant atmosphere. However, it can be quite crowded and more expensive, so it’s advisable to book accommodations and tours well in advance.

Fall (September to October): Fall is another excellent time to visit Sorrento. The weather remains warm, and the sea is still pleasant for swimming. The tourist crowds start to thin out, and prices begin to drop, making it a more peaceful and affordable time to explore.

Winter (November to March): Winter is the off-season in Sorrento. While the weather is cooler and some tourist facilities may close, it’s a good time for those who prefer a quieter, more budget-friendly visit. Winter also offers a unique charm with festive decorations during the holiday season.

Each season offers its own unique charm, but spring and fall are generally considered the best times to visit Sorrento for pleasant weather, fewer crowds, and a more relaxed atmosphere.

Average Temperatures in Sorrento

  • January 14°C 18
  • February 15°C 17
  • March 16°C 14
  • April 19°C 9
  • May 22°C 9
  • June 28°C 5
  • July 30°C 2
  • August 30°C 3
  • September 27°C 13
  • October 23°C 17
  • November 19°C 28
  • December 16°C 17

How to get to Sorrento

By Train: From Naples, take the Circumvesuviana train from Napoli Centrale or Napoli Porta Nolana stations directly to Sorrento. The journey takes about an hour and ten minutes. Alternatively, you can take a high-speed train to Naples and then transfer to the Circumvesuviana line.

By Car: From Naples, drive along the A3 motorway towards Salerno. Exit at Castellammare di Stabia and follow the signs for Sorrento. The scenic drive along the Sorrentine Peninsula offers stunning views.

By Ferry: From Naples, ferries and hydrofoils depart from Molo Beverello and Mergellina ports. The journey by sea takes about 40 minutes and offers beautiful views of the coast.

By Bus: From Naples, the Curreri Viaggi bus service runs from Naples Airport (Capodichino) to Sorrento. The trip takes approximately 1.5 hours. From Rome, Marozzi buses provide direct services from Rome’s Tiburtina station to Sorrento.

By Plane: The nearest airport is Naples International Airport (NAP). From the airport, you can take a bus, train, or ferry to reach Sorrento.

By Private Transfer: From Naples or Rome, private transfer services are available for a more comfortable and direct journey to Sorrento.

Sorrento is well-connected and accessible by various modes of transport, making it a convenient and picturesque destination to visit.

Powered by GetYourGuide