Monday 24th – Friday 28th July 2017
Sorrento is a beautiful city steeped in history, offering the classic Mediterranean summer holiday vibe but not at the expensive of losing its Italian character and charm. Filled with delightful restaurants and high end fashion shops, the town itself is actually perched atop a tall cliff-side providing picturesque views across the whole of the bay of Naples. Sorrento is celebrated for being a colourful dwelling, the city of orange and lemon groves and in mythology is known as the land of the mermaids. How magical 🙂
Sorrento can offer something to accommodate everyone’s needs and wants, making it a very easy holiday destination choice if travelling with people that have different tastes. It would be easy to stay solely in the Sorrento vicinity itself, which is a pleasant town for pottering around its pedestrian lanes, little tourist boutiques, par-taking in limoncello & wine tastings or soaking in the holiday spirit in one of the endless restaurants lining the town streets. I don’t know about you, but I could easily spend my days here; people-watching in Piazza Tasso, relaxing by the pool, sipping on a delicious aperitif cocktail or two as the sun sets before enduldging in a tasty dinner beside the lively marina. Perfecto!
However, let’s not forget Sorrento is also well placed as the ideal base for exploring the unmissable Amalfi Coast, made famous by the stars of the Hollywood era looking for an elite escape. Naples, Mount Vesuvius volcano and the uniquely preserved ruins of Pompeii and Herculaneum are accessible to the west, whilst the villages of the Amalfi Coast are to the east (Amalfi, Ravello, Positano). Day trips to the upmarket islands of Capri and Ischia are also very popular (although I would recommend staying on Capri for a few nights, as you would never touch the surface of what it has to offer in a mere day!).
I must admit; if like me you are a massive foodie, you have found a dream come true. Home to some of the staples of Italian cuisine including pizza (originally from Naples) and pasta (from Gragnano, near Pompeii), the area boasts a warm, Mediterranean climate so it is ideal for growing fresh fruit and vegetables – hence why the wine and tomato sauce is so scrumptious in this part of the world.
I was surprised to not get bored of pizza or pasta having eaten it every day for two weeks. Sometimes twice a day. It was simply delicious everywhere we went. My boyfriend and I did not have a bad meal anywhere except one! The ingredients are fresh and delicious, and it really is the best pizza I’ve ever tasted. Tomatoes have a whole new meaning to me now. If I have returned with anything following this holiday, it is knowing how rubbish food tastes in the UK compared to Italy. So thank-you for the food education Italy! And the wine. The wine is so so good. Mmmm.
Things to do:
- Enjoy people watching and wandering; exploring all the old streets, take in the views and look out for all the lemon and olive groves the Amalfi is so famous for!
- Visit the Amalfi coast villages – Positano and Amalfi are easily accessible by boat
- Rent a scooter and drive along the Amalfi – be sure to spend a day in Ravello for amazing views from Villa Cimbrone and Villa Rufolo!
- Tourists line the railings in the Villa Comunale park to enjoy grand views towards Vesuvius, Naples and Ischia and watch fiery sunsets behind the headland.
- Take a day trip to Capri or Ischia island
- Make sure to pay a visit to the Vista Sky Bar for drinks one night during your stay in Sorrento for panoramic views over the Bay of Naples. This rooftop lounge is a must do!
- Take a trip around Sorrento on the Sorrento Train Tour bus! Lasting around half an hour, it takes you through the old part of town, the Harbor, the city center and stopping at the panoramic terraces overlooking the sea.
Getting around Sorrento: Sorrento is a town best explored on foot; everything worth seeing is within walking distance of the town. Think of Sorrento as having 2 tiers to the town– the 1st layer is where you will find Marina Piccola, the beaches, ferry port, main coach/bus stop and taxi rank. The second tier is stationed on the cliff tops, where you will find the old town center offering gorgeous panoramic views of the city below and sea from its vast height.
Sorrento Lift: Two elevators connect the old town to the port of Marina Piccola (ferry’s/boats) and the beach. To get between the two levels there is a lift built into the cliffs, which will save you needing to climb up and down the steep slopes or needing to use a taxi – which are very expensive and best avoided unless you really have to use one! Tickets cost 1.80 euro return.
Tip – To get around Sorrento use the Sorrento city lift and your two feet. A taxi from the ferry port to the town center cost me 25 euros for a 7 minute trip. Ridiculous!
Visiting outside Sorrento:
The train offers easy access to Pompeii and Herculaneum from Sorrento town center.
The CircumVesuviana train runs from Naples round the bay to Sorrento (and has links to inland towns such as Sarno and Baiano), is a key route for tourist and commercial passengers. It is a cheap and regular service, stopping at many of the most visited sites in the bay including Vesuvius, Pompeii and Herculaneum, though the trains are ageing and many have been covered in graffiti for years, with no signs of being renovated or replaced. Despite this, it remains a popular form of transport for locals and tourists alike.
Car/Scooter hire: It is easy to hire a car or scooter for a day or few to explore the Amalfi, there are a few car hire agencies around a 10-20 minute walk from Sorrento old town including Enterprise and B-rent. Make sure to book well in advance in summer – the earlier the better before prices soar and availability becomes limited. It is also essential to get the extra insurance here! Italian drivers are hazardous and you will be very lucky not to get some sort of scratch or knock. Please please make sure you take out the extra insurance to reduce any excess in the very likely event of accidents or damages to the car.
Boat hire: Feel like spending a day on the water? You can rent a boat or boat with a driver for the day to explore the coast or head over to Capri! It can be expensive though, so going with a small group is usually a good idea.
Getting to Sorrento:
Air: The closest airport to Sorrento and the Amalfi coast is Naples.
Ferry or Train: From Naples airport, it is very easy to get to Sorrento. Jump on the shuttle bus outside the airport called the ‘Alibus’ to either Sorrento Train Station or the Ferry Port – both boat and train offer a direct service to Sorrento town.
Coach: If you don’t fancy getting the bus into Naples town to get on the train or ferry, there is a coach service from outside the airport to Sorrento town, however these may not be as frequent. In summer there is roughly one an hour. Check times with the airport help-desk on your way out to see when the next coach departs 🙂
Private transfer: private transfers from the airport to Sorrento can cost anything from 70 euros upwards for a one-way trip.
I was not sure what to expect from Sorrento. I felt a little dubious as we arrived into the Sorrento harbor on the boat, having fallen in love with Capri island wholeheartedly. My partner and I had five nights booked to spend here, with one day committed for the Worrow wedding, and I wondered if we would get bored. I really did not need to worry, there was plenty to do and I was happy to spend the time enjoying a day at the pool (in another hotel nearby), the beach, a visit to Pompeii, exploring the old town and indulging in the Mediterranean restaurant and cafe culture. Before I knew it five days had passed and we were heading off to explore the Amalfi coast for three days!
Day 1 – As we stepped off the boat in Sorrento port in the hot sweaty heat, I just wanted to get to our accommodation out the sun, shower and relax in an air-coned room! We caved and got a taxi the short distance to the B&B; we didn’t have the patience in the stupid mid-day summer heat to find the lift up the mountain and walk the rest of the way with 2 heavy suitcases like we did in Capri. It would have been much less expensive in hindsight, as we later realised the lift was not far at all from the B&B.
Our B&B in Sorrento was called Green House Sorrento. After being greeted by the B&B owner, we were shown to a nice room with a terrace. I booked this place because it had good customer reviews on booking.com, was a mere minute walk to the town center’s heart and the price was very reasonable for the time of year. For 5 nights in peak summer season, we paid around £450 for 5 nights here for a double room which is a bargain. The only downside was the B&B did not have a pool, but we made up for that by visiting another hotel to use their pool one day and another day at the beach, so it was fine.
That night we wandered around the town and I was surprised how much I liked it. The market, shops and nightlife thrived, restaurants were full of live music and the town had a good vibe. Jamie and I decided to go for dinner at Di Gignos after a quick look on TripAdvisor – and I am so glad we did!
TIP – Make sure you give Di Gignos a try for dinner. This lovely restaurant is located in the town center just off the main plaza. The food was delicious! We ended up coming back for dinner here 3 times during our 5 night stay, which says ALOT. The food is delicious, service was great, and it was one of the cheaper places to eat in Sorrento. Another Tip is to order a litre (10 euro) or half litre (7 euro) of the house red or white wine – it is so much cheaper than ordering a bottle (which starts at 25euro) and tasted lovely. Highly recommend!
Day 2 – Beach day
The beaches are a little different in Sorrento to what one would normally expect. The ‘beach’ consists of raised platforms above the sea lined with sun loungers and stairs down to the sea which are available to hire. I really enjoyed our day here and would recommend it if you are looking for a chill out day in the heat! 🙂
Day 3 – Pompeii
Today we got the train to Pompeii. At the station we paid the extra for a 2 hour tour of Pompeii, which I highly recommend doing. It would be hard to know what you are looking at without someone explaining the details to you as you walk through the historic site! It was very easy to get the train to Pompeii, and as soon as we walked out the station we saw the tours office upstairs on the left which is the meeting point. You pay for entrance to the site on-top of this tour, however as you are in a group tour your guide will be able to skip the line and you will get in much faster. The train+ 2 hour tour guide + entrance fee came to 30 euro per person, which I thought was a pretty good deal.
TIP – Pay the extra for the 2 hour tour guide. He was brilliant, answered any questions the group had and was very knowledgeable. Highly worth it!
TIP – If visiting Pompeii in summer season (July-September) be-warned it is very very hot. Take and drink plenty of water and eat a good meal beforehand as there are no restaurants on the site, however there are plenty just outside for when you leave. Unfortunately re-admittance is not allowed, so once you leave the site you won’t be able to re-enter without buying another ticket.
Day 4 – The Worrow Wedding!
Today we wandered down to the Marina for lunch before returning to get ready for the Worrow Wedding! The ceremony started at 4:30pm and after the bride and groom were whisked away for a photo shoot around Sorrento, the guests were taken by mini bus to the reception venue; which just so happened to be on the rooftop of Hotel Mediterraneo Sorrento, where Vista Sky bar offers panoramic views across the bay of Naples. An absolutely stunning venue for a wedding!
The reception lasted from 7:30 – 1am. It was unquestionably beautiful, and a big thank-you goes to Danielle and Liam for inviting me to their gorgeous day 🙂
TIP – Visit the Vista Sky Bar for drinks one night during your stay in Sorrento. Make sure to call and reserve as it is only open to the public certain nights of the week; reserve a spot and make sure you get there before sunset – it really is a place to visit and enjoy the breathtaking views when in Sorrento! 🙂
Day 5 – Pool day!
Today post wedding we visited Sorrento Comfort hotel Gardenia for the day, where Jamie’s father and Uncle were staying for four nights for the wedding. The staff were very friendly and did not mind us visiting and using the pool and sunbeds for the day which was so sweet of them. In hindsight I wish we had have stayed here, however it was a bit further away from the main town center, (approx 20min walk) although this would not have been a problem for us.
Day 6 – Depart for Positano
At 10am we picked up our hire car from B-rent, around a 15-20 minute walk along the main road from Sorrento Town. Returning to the hotel we checked out and headed for our first stop along the Amalfi Coast – Positano!
I really liked Sorrento and would highly recommend a visit here as a good base to visit the Amalfi Coast from! I will definitely be returning to this beautiful part of the Mediterranean one day.
Next stop – Positano!