Lemons, leather and limoncello; holidays to Sorrento put you high above the sea inside the ancient walls of an utterly pretty medieval town
There’s floating sun decks at the edge of volcanic sands, Michelin starred dining in the stone vault of a former monk’s cellar and the scent of leather and lemons along the ancient cobblestoned streets of Via San Cesareo. This tiny town, flooded with jasmine, wisteria and mimosa is the place to come if you fancy a perch high above the sea dipping in and out sun drenched pools, meandering through a labyrinth of Roman alleyways and following splendid walking trails through the Lattari mountains.
Holidays to Sorrento are all about ditching the plan, stopping here or there for limoncello or gelato and darting in and out of cathedrals and museums steeped in Roman Empire history. We love the sleepy fishing village feel of Marina Grande - whose famous seafood lunches are outstanding - the secret cove of Baia di Ieranto and the shallow, family friendly waters of Puolo. We also love cliff top cocktails overlooking the Bay of Naples, the steep sloping lemon and orange grove terraces as you drive the Amalfi Coast Road and the old town’s charming cathedral and historic lanes filled with lacework and intarsio. It’s all fairytale pretty and otherworldly, bustling with family-run restaurants, old artisanal workshops and Villa Communale’s grand Mount Vesuvius views: and all just a hydrofoil away from the Naples and Capri.
Following in the company of greats including Goethe, Byron and Wagner whose holidays to Sorrento where long and frequent, you’re perfectly placed for alfresco Champagne dinners, hotels decked out in age-old frescoes, wooden jetties suspended on stilts over the Tyrrhenian Sea and the captivating remains of ancient walls.
Best time to visit Sorrento
April to October is the ideal time to visit Sorrento as the days are brighter and enjoy more sunshine. From November to June many outdoor swimming pools are closed and from November to May a number of beaches are not accessible. We advise checking with your Personal Travel Expert before travel to avoid disappointment.
Sorrento holiday highlights
Explore the delightful Old Town with its winding medieval lanes and the cloister of the Church of St Francis, and in the summer look out for classic concerts held in the evocative Cloister of San Francesco. Admire the wood inlay, historic frescoes and antique columns at the 15th-Century cathedral and stroll down Via San Cesareo for a taste of limoncello from artisanal makers, looking out for tiny churches along the way. Stop for a cappuccino at one of the many bustling pavement cafés in Piazza Tasso and relax on a natural terrace and drink in the sensational views over the panoramic bay. The bay side park of Villa Comunale sits on a cliff top and is worth visiting not only for its colourful blooms but also spectacular coastal views over the entire Bay of Naples. The Museo Correale di Terranova sits inside a palatial villa with four floors of fine art, antiquities and precious glass from the Correale houses Naples and Sorrento, and is one of the best provincial museums in Italy.
Although there are not many beaches here you can access the waters of Mediterranean via bathing platforms that sit at the base of the cliff. The cafés and restaurants here are a delight, especially dining al fresco under the Italian sun. If you fancy a scenic walk, there are plenty of signposted trails around the peninsula as far as Positano. The trails are not strenuous and offer great natural rewards, as well as tiny cafes and restaurants along the way. Sorrento is also a great base from which to explore more of the Amalfi Coast. Ferries to the island of Capri operate from Sorrento, making for a fantastic day or overnight trip and don’t miss a visit to nearby Pompeii, which is just a 50-minute drive away.
Where is Sorrento
On the north coast of southern Italy overlooking the Bay of Naples, Sorrento is a small resort town just under an hour away from Pompeii
Sorrento is a small town that’s easily navigated by foot, but both the EAV and Sita buses will take you up and down the hillside too. Tickets need to be purchased in advance from a tabaccaio shop and can’t be bought on board. Sita buses will also take you to Positano and Amalfi. If you are hiring a car you can easily drive along the Amalfi Coast or on to Pompeii, or take the local Circumvesuviana train, which is just a 30-minute journey to Pompeii. Ferries also depart from Sorrento to both Capri and Naples.
Food & drink
It’s all about a love of lemons in Sorrento. And depending on which type of lemon is used you’ll always experience a different taste. Expect delicious seafood laced with lemon, speciality risotto al limone and for desert, torte al limone. You’ll also find Michelin-starred restaurants, farm-to-table dining, Neapolitan classics and charming water’s edge eateries. Expect everything from lobster linguine to juicy shrimps and carpaccio of buffalo to chateaubriand fillet of beef. There are lots of restaurants found down the maze of alleyways leading off the main historical square offering everything from kid-friendly pizza and pastas to typically Sorrentine cuisine. Dine in magical gardens, candlelit overlooking the harbour or on a decadent terrace with breathtaking Bay of Naples views. There are also plenty of bars to enjoy a cappuccino, lemon granita or sunset spritz, and a few chic late night cocktail lounges for when you fancy a rooftop glass of Champagne or to try a lemon beer.
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