A week in Sorrento is a good amount of time to explore Southern Italy. Here are my top tips for making the most of your visit when travelling on a budget.
High in the cliffs overlooking the Bay of Naples lies the La Badia Hotel; a beautiful, three-star Sorrento hideaway surrounded by flora and fauna. On our approach, sweet smells of citrus and jasmine waft through the air, evoking feelings of relaxation and calm.
The La Badia Hotel is a converted abbey, boasting air-conditioned rooms, friendly staff and a spotlessly-clean swimming pool. With heaps of character, it's situated just two kilometres from the town centre – far enough away from the hustle and bustle, yet still within walking distance of the main sights, transport links and attractions.
My husband and I stayed at the La Badia for seven nights in June and chose it because we wanted to be close enough to walk into the centre of town but still enjoy some fabulous views. Our room was bright and airy with a large balcony where we could snack, drink wine and admire the awe-inspiring spectacle of Vesuvius.
To get to Sorrento, we flew into Naples Airport from London Stansted, which took around two-and-a-half hours. After a swift journey through security and baggage, we walked a short distance to our bus transfer – the Curreri Viaggi – which took us into the city centre, dropping us off at the train station.
The Curreri bus is one of the more affordable ways to reach Sorrento, costing 10 euros per person for a single journey (pre-book your place to guarantee a seat). It takes around an hour and a half to reach Sorrento, running along the coast from Naples via Pompeii. Top tip – sit on the right of the bus for the best views heading out and on the left for your return.
There are other ways to reach Sorrento – the more expensive option is a taxi, or you can take the train. The latter option is less scenic and can be cumbersome, especially with luggage, but it's a great budget option if you don't mind the extra legwork.
After getting dropped off at the station, we decided to walk to our hotel. This was a big mistake on our part because Sorrento has a lot of steep hills, steps and cobbled paths – and certainly not ideal in 30-degree heat! My recommendation would be to take a taxi if your budget allows you to do so. From Sorrento station, taxis cost between 20-30 euros to get to La Badia, depending on the time of day.
While it may not be as famous as its neighbours, Naples and Positano, Sorrento is a fantastic springboard for seeing the Almalfi's most famous sites and attractions. And, whether you want stunning views and hikes or wish to laze by the pool with an ice-cold Aperol Spritz, you can easily fill seven days here.
Sorrento itself is a romantic destination, popular with couples and honeymooners. Located overlooking the Bay of Naples in Southern Italy, it is perhaps best known for its incredible cliffs, bustling marinas and abundance of lemon and orange groves.
The historic town is centred around the Piazza Tasso, a pretty square lined with bars, cafes and restaurants. Here you can get lost in the labyrinth of alleyways and dip into shops selling luxury fashion, handmade leather goods, woodwork and, of course, limoncello.
You'll be tripping over places to eat in Sorrento. From bakeries where you can buy paninis stuffed with tomatoes and buffalo mozzarella to high-end restaurants selling delicious homemade pasta.
One of our favourites was the Fauno Bar in Piazza Tasso which serves authentic pizza and a wide selection of drinks. The perfect place to people-watch as the sun goes down, you will find the staff very friendly here – and they even offer a complimentary shot to finish your meal!
Behind the main square, in one of the alleyways, you will find Chantecler's Trattoria – a small, family-run restaurant selling traditional, local cuisine at very reasonable prices. This cosy restaurant is bursting with character, and there's a peaceful outdoor terrace where you can soak up the atmosphere. We enjoyed this restaurant so much that we visited it three times during our stay!
Some other eateries we enjoyed during our trip to Sorrento were Enjoy the Little Things Bistrot – for an inexpensive, authentic lunch – and the Semola Pasta Bar for its fresh and innovative take on the Italian classic. Depending on where you go, the average price for a main dish in Sorrento is comparable with the UK, costing between 10 and 15 euros for a pasta or rice dish and 15-20 euros for meat and fish.
Of course, no evening in Italy would be complete without gelato, and you will find bars and gelaterias throughout Sorrento selling all kinds of flavours. Authentic Italian cannolis are also a must-try!
If there's one thing you must do while on holiday in Sorrento, it is to visit Marina Grande. Not to be confused with Marina Piccola, the big harbour to the east of Sorrento, Marina Grande is a picturesque fishing district from which Sorrento was formed.
You can access Marina Grande via a shuttle bus from the town centre or walk down – just be prepared for an uphill trek back! The general vibe here is laidback and rustic – relax, admire the beautiful pastel-coloured cottages and watch the fishermen come and go.
At Marina Grande, you will find a short black-sand beach on which to set down your towel (free beaches are scarce in this part of the world) and a fabulous selection of tavernas and family-run restaurants selling some of the best seafood Sorrento has to offer.
If lazing on a sunbed all day is more of your vibe, head to Marina Piccolo, where you can access one of the many private beach clubs. We didn't visit one of these during our stay, but you will find the prices for these displayed outside each club, giving you access to sunbeds and direct access to the water.
Marina Piccolo is where you will also find boats and ferries to visit Naples, Sorrento, Ischia and Capri. You can walk down to the harbour, but most people use the lift from Villa Comunale Park – another beautiful spot for photos and watching the sunset. The lift costs 1.90 euros for a return journey, which is well worth the money if just to save your legs!
Other notable points of interest in Sorrento include The Cloisters of San Francesco – an idyllic 14th Century monastery – and I Giardini di Cataldo, a fabulous limoncello factory. Here we enjoyed a walk through the lemon grove and sampled some of its delicious produce – the lemon gelato is a must!
Sorrento is a very walkable city, but be prepared for a lot of hill climbs! You can get about by bus, but we found them to be fairly irregular and they never seemed to leave at a time that was convenient for us – perhaps you will have better luck! You can buy tickets from the information point outside of the railway station.
Located a mere 20-minute ferry ride from Sorrento, the island of Capri offers spectacular views, traditional charm and beautiful gardens. However, my first impressions were disappointing.
The port was heaving with tourists, and stepping off the boat felt pretty overwhelming (we were very aware that we were part of the problem!). If you can board one of the local buses to get away from the tourist hub, then definitely do so. However, be warned that the buses are tiny and there will be queues.
We'd planned to visit the Mount Solaro chairlift during our time on the island, but we quickly realised that it wasn't going to be possible that day. Open-top stretch taxis are available but, like Sorrento, are very expensive. If we were to return, we would visit in the low season or stay on the island so that we could explore without so many people being around.
Despite the crowds, we still managed to have an enjoyable day in Capri. A funicular railway took us to the centre of Capri from the port – tickets can be purchased from the little kiosk on the right of the ferry entrance, costing two euros each way.
In Capri town, you'll find the island's famous strip of luxury boutiques, designer stores, and souvenir shops selling limoncello, sandals and artisanal perfume. Spend some time wandering the pretty streets and admiring the fabulous houses.
A short walk from Capri's main centre, the Piazzetta, you will find the Gardens of Augustus – a botanical paradise with stunning views, beautiful flowers and lush greenery. There's a small entrance fee of 1.50 euros, but it is well worth paying. A peaceful spot to rest in the shade, visit early in the morning or later in the day for the most relaxing experience.
Capri is a notoriously expensive island, especially for restaurants, but cheaper options for eating are available. We picked up a takeaway picnic of calzone and arancini from an authentic Italian deli – Salumeria Rosticceria – and ate it on a nearby bench overlooking the sea. For under 10 euros, it was easily one of the most memorable moments of our trip to Italy.
Unless you wish to explore more of the island, four hours would be enough time to give you a flavour of Capri. The ferry organisers in Sorrento will likely ask you to pre-book your return trip, and we found that six hours was just a little too much time for our budget.
Pompeii appears on every Italian adventure's bucket list, and for good reason. Nestled in the shadow of Mount Vesuvius, the ancient Roman city continues to surprise archaeologists today, with the most recent find being the remains of a pregnant tortoise!
For those unaware of its history, Pompeii was buried under several feet of volcanic rock and ash when Mount Vesuvius erupted in the summer of A.D 79. Having been preserved by the ash, this largely now-excavated city offers visitors a glimpse into what Roman life was like at the moment it was buried.
To my surprise, Pompeii was much larger than I had envisioned, and it was further away from the volcano than I had expected, too. The scale and location of the city show how utterly devastating the eruption must have been for Pompeii and its surrounding towns.
We spent several hours walking up and down the streets, treading in the footprints of ancient Romans and their chariots – you can even see indentations in the road from the wheels! Other spectacles include ancient villas, mosaics, Roman graffiti and decorative arts.
You can also see several casts of the victims displayed in glass showcases where their bodies were originally found. Seeing this felt slightly odd and voyeuristic, but it was interesting nevertheless. It's worth noting that many of the casts are now located in the Naples Archeological Museum.
Getting to Pompeii from Sorrento is easy – take the Circumvesuviana train, which takes about 30 minutes. Outside Pompeii station, there are third-party sellers promoting tour packages. If you'd prefer to tour solo, turn right on leaving the station and take a short walk to the entrance gates. Here you can buy your tickets at the standard entrance price.
There isn't much shade at Pompeii, and the crowds, particularly at the entrance, can be overwhelming. I recommend visiting on a cloudy day or during the low season to make the most of your time here. There's a snack bar selling sandwiches and ice creams, but it would be quicker and easier to bring your own picnic.
If you prefer to explore without a tour guide, download the Discover Pompeii mobile app. There isn't much signage in Pompeii, and the additional information helped to enhance our visit. An audio guide is available at the entrance for a small fee if you'd prefer.
I fell in love with Sorrento's scenery, food and endless list of places to explore. Being my first trip to Italy, it provided a brilliant introduction to the country, and I'd love to return to visit the hills of Tuscany, explore the sites of Rome, Venice or Florence, or even see more of the Almalfi Coast.
We found that seven days wasn't quite enough time for everything we wanted to see and do. If you want to squeeze in more day trips, it might be wise to extend this so that you have some time to relax in between – it is supposed to be a holiday after all!
If I returned to Sorrento, I would love to visit Mount Vesuvius, The Herculaneum, Positano and Naples – all of which were locations on our ‘to-do' list, but we just didn't get around to going.
The escort driver will pick up clients at the address provided. Proceed to Sorrento with a 90 minutes stop at Royal Palace of Caserta where the guest explore the Palace. Or the reverse, where pick up is Sorrento and drop off is Rome with a 90 minute stop Royal Palace of Caserta.