I went to Sorrento on the Almafi Coast in February and was welcomed with unexpectedly sunny and warm weather. This was a blessing as it meant we were able to enjoy the outdoors as much as possible, which is what you want to do in this beautiful coastal town overlooking Mount Vesuvius.
Arriving from Naples for three nights, here’s my Sorrento travel guide of the top tips and things to do, no matter what time of year you visit:
Get a balcony
After 30,000 steps exploring Pompeii the day before, we wanted a relaxing stop on our tour of Italy. This meant spending an afternoon and evening on our hotel balcony. Cost does come into it but we were upgraded for free as it was off-season.
The view from any hotel on the coast will be stunning as the water is clear and Vesuvius can be seen from most angles. The rocky edge of the land adds character and the fresh air is in notable contrast to Naples and the surrounding areas.
In essence Sorrento is about relaxing and taking it easy. The main sights are outdoors and the town is full of restaurants, coffee bars and lemon trees. Bizarrely enough, we also found all the Christmas decorations were still up. Does anyone know if they’ve been taken down yet?
Find the hidden cove
About a two hour walk east along the coast, across roads, pathways and down some pretty steep hills after going up some pretty steep hills, you can find the ruins of an ancient Roman Palace. The palace was a testament to wealth and was therefore able to be built around a beautiful cove. In all honestly it’s just about worth the walk and definitely worth a bus journey.
Bagni Della Regina Giovanna is very serene and it’s no wonder why the Romans centred a building around it; it’s perfect for swimming and relaxing with a small beach lapped by calm waves. Nowadays, there are three entrance points which all draw you to a rickety wooden step path. These can be tricky to navigate but are a handy way to keep the location secluded. Although, a quick Google search implies it gets much busier in the summer months.
Sorrento is the home of Limoncello, a staple of Italy. The high alcohol content liqueur is produced from lemons grown on the groves in the area and the locale definitely adds to the quality.
Definitely take some time to visit one of the groves and sample some, even if you’re not normally a fan. I Giardini di Cataldo in the centre of Sorrento makes for a lovely walk. The lemon trees surround you with beauty as you walk through the dirt paths and you can even take time to sit on the benches. You’ll want to do this if only for the fragrant smell of citrus.
In the summer, this particular grove also has a shop and a stand for free tasting. Other than these lemon farms, you’ll find Limoncello in nearly every shopfront in a range of colourful souvenir bottles.
Visit the abandoned mill
Right in the centre of Sorrento and beneath the main road, you find yourself staring down at something from a horror film. In a green valley that cuts through the landscape there’s an old abandoned mill that’s certainly seen better days. The windows now look to be gaping wounds in the imposing structure and nature is slowly reclaiming it with vegetation.
As shocking in this location as it is mesmerising, it’s just a small detour to view. The canyon it rests in is known as ‘The Valley of the Mills’ while the building itself used to produce flour. It closed in 1866 after Tasso Square, from which you stand to survey its remains, was built and consequently cut off it’s access to the sea.
Take a break with an espresso
You’re in Sorrento because you’re on holiday, so it’s almost required to use your downtime with a visit to a local coffee shop. These extremely affordable (60 cents) and tasty treats breathe Italy into your system and are a great afternoon pick me up for more exploring.
Enjoy the sunset
When you’re surrounded by the famous Amalfi coast nothing quite matches seeing it in the warm tones of a sunset. It’s the perfect end to any day and another reason to see if you can get that balcony. Each night we made the time to watch from either our room or the large hotel terrace; it was a good time to take stock of the day and plan for the next adventure.
During our time in Sorrento we stayed at the Parco dei Principi which also had extensive grounds and a free taxi service into the centre, which is otherwise a twenty-five minute walk.
Sorrento also offers up a number of museums and art galleries for when the beach, Limoncello and natural beauty have done their job. It’s also worth noting that the architecture here is quite modern, more so than Tuscany for example, but there are several churches and courtyards to explore.
If there’s anything you’d add to my Sorrento travel guide let me know with a comment below.