A visit to Sorrento towards the end of peak tourist season is truly a treat! It has the amenities of a small city with the energy of a small town. With gorgeous seaside views, a busy port, and incredible cafes, 4 days in Sorrento felt like a mini escape before we hit harvest hard.
How To Get To Sorrento
Visiting Sorrento and the Amalfi coast is always wonderful, but getting there can be a pain. The roads are windy, narrow, and Napoletane drivers are a different breed. Intriguingly, traffic signals are often seen as suggestions with Vespas zipping through stop signs, passing on the wrong side, or vehicles cruising down what you thought was a sidewalk. Make sure to nail down your logistics immediately after (or during) booking lodging. Hundreds of thousands of tourists visit the Amalfi coast every summer, therefore, hotel staff is equipped to help. We recommend booking your visit to Sorrento through a travel planner because it makes it 10x easier to relax and enjoy.
Personally, we drive up from Calabria when visiting Sorrento because we always pack the car with our favorite foods from Campania! We have no problems with the roads. However, Giuseppe is Italian and accustom to the tiny medieval roads of Calabria.
Do You Need A Car?
No, and we don’t recommend bringing a car. Sorrento is small so you can walk anywhere in about 15 minutes. If you want to hop over to Amalfi, Atrani, Positano, or Capri walk down to the ferry terminal and catch a ferry. You can bring luggage onto the ferries (but check if you have to pay extra). You can also take a taxi but why do that when you can travel by boat?
Parking in Sorrento is very challenging. In addition, the roads are quite small and narrow. So, if you’re not accustomed to driving in Italy it can be a lot. However, you’ll absolutely need a car if you’re planning on road tripping the Amalfi coast. This is a super fun way to see the Amalfi coast but does require a bit of extra planning. Make sure you’re staying at accommodations that are either further outside of town (i.e. a villa, residential home) so easily accessible by car or have a parking garage close by. Bonus if the hotel will park it for you until you need it again.
While driving along the Amalfi coast you’ll definitely want to stop for pictures so having your own mode of transportation is great. You’ll also definitely need a car if you’re heading into the mountains to visit places like Gragnano. Visiting more remote places in south Italy is virtually impossible without a car.
When To Visit Sorrento
It’s best to visit Sorrento sometime between May and September. The weather is particularly nice during that time of year, however, that’s not why we recommend visiting in that 5 month period. The Amalfi coast is a seasonal place. In fact, most of the hotels and many of the restaurants and businesses completely close from October to March. Imagine you plan a wonderful trip to Sorrento in October and you get there and half the town is closed. If you’re going to hike, take private cooking lessons, language lessons, or visit friends then this might not bother you at all. However, if you love sitting in piazzas, wandering through outdoor markets, and walking down busy streets you might be disappointed. Many of the townspeople leave on holiday, head to other parts of Italy for work, or just shut down shop and hang out with their family until next spring.
We are no strangers to seasonal places as Le Castella is a huge European tourist destination. The town is essentially open from May to September. If you want to enjoy all that Sorrento has to offer try not to go in ‘off-season’. If you’re set on visiting in the fall or winter talk to a travel planner or a local hotel who can help you get your trip in order. South Italy in the fall and winter can be a little lonely.
How Long Should I stay?
4 days and 3 nights just for Sorrento feel good. This does not include day trips to other places. However, this 100% depends on you and the type of traveling you enjoy. We could easily spend 2 weeks in Sorrento just hanging out, walking around, making new friends, and sitting in cute cafes.
What To Do In Sorrento
We have done the ‘go, go, go’ travel thing and are 100% over it. Now when we travel now we want to eat, drink, sit in cafes and drink coffee, talk to strangers, walk, and eat. Did we say eat twice? We don’t really want to do anything but enjoy and that’s why we love Sorrento. It’s the perfect place to go on a walk and end up in a cute cafe talking to strangers (who sometimes become lifelong friends). Head to Marina Grande, snag a table, and have an aperitivo. Relax, do nothing, start conversations with strangers. This is what you do in Campania. It’s a region full of people that love to talk and are almost always delightful. In fact, we have yet to meet someone from the region of Campania that isn’t lovely. That’s not something we can say about other parts of Italy (we said what we said).
For shopping head to Via S. Cesareo and Corso Italia. There are small boutiques tucked away between the bigger chain stores. There’s something for everyone. These streets are also full of adorable cafes and bars so stop in for a coffee or drink. Sorrento is truly a city for walking and enjoying. If you’re traveling with a checklist of places to see and things to do then this might not be the city for you.
If you want epic photos of Sorrento, those need to be taken along the SS145 on the way into the city, not on the way out. This is because you can only pull over on one side of the road. In crowded months it can be extremely challenging to find a place to pull over because there are so many vehicles and people so pay attention. Our favorite place to pull over is where there’s a man selling granita al limone. Granita has never tasted so good.
Where to Eat In Sorrento
In Sorrento, the food is hit or miss. After all, it’s an extremely touristy place and many of the restaurants are only truly open for 7 or 8 months a year. Therefore, the restaurants swing between so big and busy there’s no room for quality and so exclusive, you need a reservation and must pay in blood. The exception to this is visiting shortly before ‘off’ season, like the end of September.
We visited in September, towards the end of the second Covid-19 summer, and only had a hard time getting into one restaurant. We can’t imagine what it’s like during peak season. However, there were already a few beaches closed. All restaurants and hotels were open.
We only ate out two or three times in Sorrento. Everywhere was pretty good, however, that’s probably because we had excellent recommendations from Cassandra and the owner of the apartment who’s from Sorrento (and loves Calabria). There are loads of touristy restaurants in Sorrento. You’ll know whether or not you’re in a good spot if there are Italians eating at the restaurant. Locals and most Italian visitors usually won’t eat at restaurants that cater to American tourists. So, if you’re surrounded by American tourists and there are pictures on the menu it might be better to pay the bill and skedaddle.
The restaurant we posted about on Instagram is called O’Parrucchiano La Favorita. It’s the restaurant every single influencer that has ever been to Sorrento takes a photo in because it has lemon groves. Naturally, our first question is, who the heck maintains all 257498979 of those lemon trees, shrubs, and greenery hanging from the ceiling. Our second question is, who is the oversized cat meandering through the outdoor dining room, and can we feed him? Turns out his name is Nando and yes you can feed him. However, it might piss off the neighboring table. Nando only visits the outdoor dining room and makes half meows after eating anchovy heads. He’s a big boi which is a clear sign of how much everyone loves him. If you see Nando in Sorrento say hello and give him a pet, he’s a very good boy.
O’Parrucchiano is lovely, however, it’s huge so can give off Cheesecake factory vibes (FYI: we love the Cheesecake factory but it’s BIG). It’s imperative to make a reservation because it’s always full. You can request to be seated under the lemon groves when making a reservation but TBD if that will happen. It might be best to have your travel planner call and work their magic. In the ‘off-season’ the restaurant won’t be as full, so you can walk in and snag a table (like we did). However, it’s never not busy.
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If you’re planning a trip to Sorrento or have questions, please leave a comment and let us know your thoughts! We love to hear from you and do respond to comments. If you’re on Instagram or Facebook don’t forget to tag us and use #EXAU so we can repost!