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Exploring Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast

Exploring Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast

Exploring Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast

The scent of lemon through the narrow old streets was intense. In Sorrento lemons are everywhere. They dominate the town whatever the time of year, their bright yellow lighting up even the shady alleyways in the old town, an unforgettable smell permeating the air.  The source of the smell?  No it wasn’t real lemons, it was the hundreds of bars of lemon shaped and lemon scented soap on sale throughout the old part of town.  Lemons are everywhere, their design printed onto tea towels,  ceramic dishes, fridge magnets and t-shirts.

A Short Break in Sorrento

The introduction of flights from our local airport in Exeter, Devon to Naples with Ryan Air seemed too good an opportunity to miss for a cheap(ish) trip to Italy.  Perfect for exploring Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast

I’ve never really been one for organised holidays so that meant I started my research well in advance for a week on the Amalfi Coast. If you have been on holiday in this part of Italy already you will know that a month would be a more sensible amount of time in the area!

It soon became apparent that I would have to pick and choose carefully our itinerary. My decision was also to use public transport throughout the trip as a way of introducing my teenage girls to the delights of backpacker style independent travel (it’s hard for me to change my spots!). That also meant being realistic about what we would achieve in the time.

Exploring Sorrento Coast Harbour View

Sorrento –  A Great Base

Easy to reach by shuttle bus or private taxi from Naples Airport, Sorrento is a good choice as a base. It’s a lovely town, perched on the cliff above the beautiful blue sea of the Mediterranean.  As the largest town on the Amalfi Coast it has excellent public transport connections. There are frequent public bus services around the region (we visited Positano one day) and Sorrento is the terminus for the railway line that runs from Naples to Herculaneum and Pompeii (called the Circumvesuviana).

For water travel it’s well connected for ferries to Capri, Ischia and Naples,  as well as no end of private tour operators that head out around the Amalfi Coast.  In addition it is a lovely town with plenty of accommodation to suit all budgets.

Sight Seeing in Sorrento

During our visit in April, the trees in lemon groves and around the outskirts of the town were groaning under the weight of their fruit.  You can see why, when you wander round the old part of the town, that the lemon features so strongly in the gifts on sale.  There was lemon soap everywhere and of course limoncello plus amazing gelato and lemon sorbet. We spent a happy few hours browsing the endless gift shops in the old part of the town.

Exploring Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast lemon tree

key sights 

I had allowed just one full day in Sorrento after we first arrived to explore.  It’s easy to get your bearings as you wander the pedestrianised areas and old town. Take your time, explore the port, gaze out to sea and marvel at the ornately painted churches. If you enjoy historic buildings and people watching with a drink, then I would allow at least 2 days in Sorrento.

Visit the beautiful 11th Century Cathedral (free entry) just off the pedestrianised Corso Italia which even impressed my teens. There is also the Basilica of Sant’Antonino.  Another popular attraction is the tranquil Cloister of San Francesco.  During the summer, the Cloister is used for art exhibitions and concerts and is also popular for weddings, which you are allowed to watch.  For more culture visit the Correale Museum, based in a 1700 century villa featuring paintings, decorative art and a lovely garden with views over the Bay of Naples (8€ per person).

Exploring Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast Corso Italia

Stunning Mediterranean Views

Sorrento is perched on a cliff so make sure you head for the coast and the Villa Comunale, a park where there is a large terrace overlooking the sea for admiring the views of the Bay of Naples.

Down below is the bathing area. There is just a small beach where you pay for a sun bed, but most visitors use one of the private piers.  With colourful beach huts and small restaurants overlooking the beautiful blue water this a lovely place to relax.  Enjoy a swim in the sheltered sea and hire a beach hut or sun lounger.  To reach the piers there is a lift down. There are also steps from the Villa Comunale or walk along from the ferry area.

Exploring Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast marina view

The Land train

Alternatively for a view of the town, take the white land train which starts at the Plazza Tasso (6€ per person).  The tour is about 30 minutes and goes through the historic districts, down to the port, back up through the centre of town and around the numerous government buildings. There are complimentary ear phones with an audio guide in numerous languages,  although I’ve read they don’t work very well!  It’s not possible to get on and off the train.

The Plazzo Tasso is suggested in the guide books as a lovely place to sit and watch the world go by –  to be honest it’s a busy road junction and although picturesque with many cafes,  there were plenty of quieter places to sit.

Exploring Sorrento land train

Marina Grande

For an excursion just outside the town centre head to the Marina Grande, the little fishing village of Sorrento. We missed this on our trip but it looks pretty as we passed it on our way back to Sorrento from Possitano.  To reach it by foot head towards the coast from the town centre and bear left past the tranquil Piazza della Vittoria. Follow this road and it heads downhill towards the small fishing harbour. It should take about 20 minutes to walk.  Not surprisingly the fish restaurants are recommended where you can enjoy the views of the little boats and watch the world go by as you eat.

Returning to Sorrento centre it’s a steep walk up the hill or you can get the local bus back.  The EAV bus service (red and orange buses) goes approximately hourly from Marina Grande to Sorrento centre.  Tickets cost €1.20 and can be purchased at tobacco shops (“tabaccaio”) or at the Circumvesuviana train station.  Tickets cannot be purchased on board. Please check locally for details.

Exploring Sorrento Marina Grande

Exploring Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast

USEFUL INFORMATION

Where to Stay

There are endless places to lay your head in Sorrento depending on your budget. I chose an AirBnB self catering apartment, Il Siculo, which was a modern, clean apartment not far from the train station on Via degli Aranci.  It was an excellent location for exploring the town.  In April it cost about £80 per night (with two double beds).  For budget stays I was also recommended Seven Hostel which is in a great location.

Transport

From the airport you can take the Curreri Viaggi shuttle bus to Sorrento and other towns.  Buses run every couple of hours to Sorrento (to the train station) via Pompeii.  It’s possible to book on line in advance, 10€ per person.   A private taxi will cost upwards from 80€.

Getting around the coast is easy and cheap on the SITA bus which has it’s terminal at the train station in Sorrento. Bus tickets must be purchased in advance at a newsagent, there is one at the train station. Single tickets 2€ or whole day tickets can bought (I think it was 3.40€ to Positano).  Buses may be busy so arrive early to make sure you get a seat. 

Train travel – Sorrento is the terminus for the Circumvesuviana railway line that runs from Naples via Herculaneum (Ercolano Scavi) and Pompeii. It’s a fairly slow train with lots of stops but costs just 3.60€ from Naples to Sorrento. There is also the Campania Express service with less stops.

Ferry to Ischia

Ferries are run around the Amalfi Coast and up to Naples and Formia by Alilauro. We went to Ischia from Sorrento and then back to Naples. There are daily ferries in peak months i.e from Easter which was 22.90€ one way (about a 1 hour journey).  Tickets can be bought at the port or online. 

There’s a blog post to follow about Ischia but our highlight was a trip to Negombo Thermal Park –  take a look at the video we made of our day. 

Heading Home – Getting Across Naples

There’s a frequent public bus from Naples Ferry Terminal to the Airport via the Central Train Station,  5€ each on Alibus.  Turn right out of the ferry port exit along the main road for about 200 metres to the bus stops.

Early Flight Times

Staying near the airport: we had a really early flight back home so I found an AirBnB apartment literally 500 metres from the airport called “Little House in Naples Airport”.  It wasn’t as nice as the place in Sorrento, but good enough for a few hours sleep. It also meant not worrying about getting a taxi at 4am.

 

Places to Eat

We kept it simple and ate in a couple of nights, helped by the fact that there was large a supermarket just 200 metres from us.  My girls love pizza and Da Francos on Corso Italia was a big hit.  Casual dining (served with a plastic fork) and full of tourists, it was fantastic pizza, freshly made and huge (8-12€ each), we couldn’t fault either time we ate there.

Of course anyone with a sweet tooth won’t be able to resist the delicious gelato and cakes on offer as well.

Exploring Sorrento fabulous gelato

More Research

For more details about travel in the area this is a useful website – Sorrento Insider

There is also an excellent Facebook group call Capri, Sorrento and Amalfi Coast which you can join. It’s the perfect place to ask questions and see other peoples photos. 

Affiliate advert link to Lonely Planet guides.

Coming soon will be a write up of our day trip to Vesuvius,  Positano and Ischia.  The Amalfi Coast is a beautiful place to visit, I hope to go back and see more as I keep learning about other places to visit.  Please share your top tips and best experiences in the comments below.   

If you enjoyed reading this then why not take a look at our trip last year to Crete.  That was our first time using AirBnB which we managed in a great budget. 

Exploring Sorrento street art

Affiliate advert link to Expedia.

Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday
Otis and Us

17 Comments

  1. Fiona Cambouropoulos

    A beautiful looking place, it would be wonderful to visit one day #KCACOLS

    Reply
  2. Jade

    Thanks for sharing this has brought back lots of memories of my family holiday to Sorrento and the Amalfi coast when I was a youngster. I must have been around 11/12 and was very impressed that I was being offered limoncello almost every restaurant we went to!

    Reply
  3. Nicola | Travelling with boys

    Looks incredible and somwhere I’m desperate to visit with my boys. I did Naples and Pompeii in 2010 alone, but would love to do Sorrento and Positano too. God bless Ryanair and their cheap flights!

    #KCACOLS

    Reply
  4. becka

    Stunning. Im married to a half italian and yet only went to Italy for the first time this year, to Venice. Sorrento looks and sounds beautiful. There are definitely more italian cities id like to see. Thank you for linking with #KCACOLS! x

    Reply
  5. Crystal Green

    This looks like an amazing place to visit. Thank you for sharing the stunning pictures with us so that we can learn more about it. #KCACOLS

    Reply
  6. Tracey Carr

    It’s one of my dreams to visit the Amalfi coast one day. I have been to other parts of Italy but never there. My husband and I always say that one day we will retire there. That would be the ultimate dream! It looks absolutely beautiful! #KCACOLS

    Reply
    • mm

      It really was lovely and I am already thinking about going back to see the bits I missed.

      Reply
  7. Jenna - NorthernBird84

    My best friend went on honeymoon to Sorrento and her pictures are stunning! What I love is her married name is Lemons haha perfect choice of destination or what? Thank you for a wonderful post, I really would love to go here xx #KCACOLS

    Reply
  8. Cerys @ Travelled So Far

    I really want to visit Sorrento, it seems like a really good base to explore the coast from. How child friendly do you think it is for pre-teens? Our local airport does cheap flights there. #MondayEscapes

    Reply
    • mm

      It’s good for all ages if you are all happy to wander and explore the towns. There’s only a tiny beach but lots of sandy beaches on Ischia which was lovely and makes for a good two centre holiday (easy to reach by ferry from Sorrento).

      Reply
  9. Chloe: Picture Taker Memory Maker

    I visited Rome, Naples, Capri and Pompeii many, many moons ago (pre-children) and fell in love with Italy. Sorrento, Positano and the Amalfi Coast have been high up on my list of ‘must-visit’ places for a long time. I love that you’re introducing your kids to the backpacking way of life – it’ll stand them in good stead when they come to travel the world themselves. The places you visited look beautiful and your post has so much useful information in it too. I hope I make it there one day!

    Reply
  10. mainy

    Thanks for the food and accommodation tips. AirB&B is a big hit and something we are also doing on our english staycation this year.
    Mainy
    #KCACOLS

    Reply
  11. Bread

    Lemon groves! I love them. It all looks so lovely. #kcacols

    Reply
  12. Kerri-Ann

    Sorrento sounds and looks beautiful. I didn’t realise the smell of lemons would be so strong. Italy is on our bucket list, we just need to get round to it.

    Reply
    • mm

      It’s mainly the soap they sell but it is nice and very colourful!

      Reply
  13. KAty Stern

    This looks so lovely!! We were looking at visiting Sorrento this year, but the flights for all five of us were just so pricey, maybe next year lovely, as you have made me want to go even more!!

    Reply

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About Clare

Clare Flipflops or WelliesHi! I am Clare and I live in glorious East Devon with my family. I love finding new places to explore in the West Country as well as further afield. I hope you enjoy reading and taking inspiration from my blog.

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