Known for its vast citrus groves, breathtaking views, and charming piazzas, Sorrento is the place to go to experience the slower pace of life and revel in your stunning surroundings. Thanks to its location in southwestern Italy, this blissful town is the ideal place to base yourself if you want to check out some of the best spots that Italy has to offer.
The Amalfi Coast, Capri, Ischia, Pompeii, and Naples are all just a short drive away, and each place can easily be visited in a single day. So you can make the most of your trip, we definitely recommend renting a car. Even if you don’t go that far, driving along the picture-perfect Mediterranean roads is a memory that will stick with you forever.
Whatever type of vacation you’re planning, you’ll never be stuck for what to do in Sorrento. Whether you want to spend your days exploring sleepy villages and wandering through fragrant fruit gardens or discovering ancient ruins and driving along world-famous roads, you’re sure to have a wonderful time in this coastal Italian town.
With so many fun things to see and do, it can be tricky to know where to begin. To help you, we’ve compiled a list of the absolute best things to do in Sorrento, Italy. Add these activities and attractions to your Sorrento bucket list, and you’re sure to have a fantastic time staying in this sweet-smelling town.
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15 Fun and Unique Things to do in Sorrento
1. Unveil Ancient History at Pompeii
The famous historic site of Pompeii is just a short drive or bus ride away from the town, definitely making it one of the top things to do in Sorrento. This city was almost entirely destroyed when the colossal Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79 AD. A lot of the most interesting discoveries and artifacts are hidden away in Naples’ National Museum, but there are still loads of cool things to discover here.
The huge quantity of ash which blanketed Pompeii acted as a protective layer. It’s what kept the city in pretty good condition, despite the disaster. Some of the most well-preserved parts include the amphitheater, the Temple of Apollo, and the Temple of Jupiter. It can get confusing if you explore on your own, and it’s easy to miss out on the most impressive stuff, which is why we suggest signing up for a small tour.
On this tour, your expert guide will help you spot all kinds of things you’d struggle to see on your own. You’ll even get to see the hidden-in-plain-sight signs that indicated where the city’s brothels were hidden almost 2,000 years ago!
2. Take a Walk around Old Town
When you want to get out but you don’t want to do anything too energetic, wander through Old Town. One of the best Sorrento sightseeing spots, the town’s historic quarter is the life and soul of the party. While the rest of the town is often slower and quieter, Sorrento’s town center is reliably buzzing and full of life.
Instead of following a guide, we suggest exploring the area at your own pace. Just start walking and see where your feet take you! The winding cobbled streets will lead you to all kinds of wonderful piazzas, bars, cafes, restaurants, boutiques, and churches you never even knew existed. Make sure you’ve got your phone handy because there are some gorgeous pastel-colored houses you’ll definitely want to snap pictures of.
Almost all of Old Town is pedestrian, making it a fantastic place to walk around. If you’re searching for souvenirs, you’ll find plenty of great places selling them here. Be on the lookout for handmade lace, all kinds of lemon products, and quality leather bags and shoes.
3. Admire the Views from Villa Comunale
For some of the best sights in Sorrento, take a trip to Villa Comunale. This lush, green park overlooks the sea and has incredible views of the Gulf of Naples. Built between 1877 and 1879, the park is set on what used to be Franciscan monks’ vegetable gardens. Today you can still find the cloister and the Church of San Francesco d’Assisi in the center.
The best time to visit is just before sunset. Find a good spot at the coastal end of the park and watch the sun as it dips into the horizon behind Marina Grande. The colors are absolutely spectacular. Hang around for a little longer, and you’ll get to see the bars and restaurants below become illuminated with twinkling lights.
Take a walk around and see if you can find the two busts from the early 20th century. One is dedicated to historian Bartolomeo Capasso and the other to the magistrate Francesco Saverio Gargiulo.
4. Go on a Road Trip along the Amalfi Coast
The Amalfi Coast boasts some of the most spectacular roads in the world. But you should only attempt a road trip if you’ve got nerves of steel! Renting a vintage car and embarking on a road trip along the Amalfi Coast is easily one of the coolest things to do in Sorrento and something you’ll be telling friends about for years.
The views along the way are beyond stunning. But for the chance to see them, you need to be brave enough to drive along staggeringly narrow lanes, ascend scarily steep hills, and share the road with wild drivers. If you want to feel the wind in your hair, opt for a chic Vespa instead of a car.
One of the best routes goes from Amalfi to Agerola. This stretch of road rewards brave drivers with spectacular views of Praiano. You’ll also find plenty of places to stop along the way and take photos. Conca dei Marini, just after the Belvedere Hotel, is home to one of the best viewpoints you’ve got to check out.
5. Treat Your Sweet Tooth to Delizia al Limone
When you need a break from all the top Sorrento activities, stop by a local bakery or cafe and order yourself a delizia al limone. This delicious Italian delicacy was first created in Sorrentino and has since been officially recognized as Campania’s traditional dessert.
The perfect sweet treat if you’re a fan of citrus flavors, delizia al limone is made up of a dome-shaped sponge cake that’s drizzled with a decadent limoncello syrup and covered in a sticky lemon glaze.
It’s filled with a creamy, velvet-smooth lemon custard that’s surprisingly addictive. For the perfect finishing touch, the dessert is usually decorated with lemon slices, although strawberries are sometimes used for an extra bit of color.
Gelateria Primavera boasts some of the very best delizia al limone in Sorrento. This traditional bakery and ice cream parlor prides itself on using old, tested recipes that go back generations. Here the classic dessert is served in individual portions with whipped cream for extra indulgence.
6. Take a Day Trip to Capri
One of the top things to do in Sorrento is to hop on a boat and spend the day in Capri. There are around 20 ferry crossings each day that connect the town with the beautiful island, giving you plenty of chances to do so.
Capri has got a reputation for being an extravagant playground for the rich and famous. But there’s much more to the popular destination than that. The glamorous island dazzles everyone who steps foot on it with its aquamarine sea, tree-clad mountains, and winding streets lined with colorful buildings.
During the daytime, Capri boasts loads of hiking routes with dramatic views, gorgeous beaches with watersport opportunities, and amazing natural landmarks that are unlike anything you’ve ever seen.
In the evening, Capri transforms itself into a high-octane nightlife spot. The city’s main square is where all the action is. Here you’ll find a great selection of bars brimming with people dancing, drinking, and generally having a great time.
7. Get Zesty with the Sagra del Limone
If you’re planning on traveling to the town in July, you’re just in time for one of the most fun things to do in Sorrento! The Sagra del Limone is an amazing lemon festival in celebration of a special variety of Massese lemon called femminiello. This is the type of lemon you find all over Sorrento – you can barely take two steps without smelling its tempting scent!
Loads of events take place throughout the town in celebration of the fruit. The event program changes each year, but it usually includes food stalls selling all kinds of lemon goodies, free tasting sessions, music by local bands, traditional dance performances, and access to cultural spots that are usually closed off to visitors. You’ll find people all over sipping sweet limoncello – grab yourself a glass and join in with the locals!
Keep an eye out for posters throughout Sorrento advertising dates, times, and locations of events. Activities usually start in the morning around 10 am and go on until 11 pm, giving you plenty of opportunities to get involved.
8. Admire Unique Artwork at the Museo-Bottega della Tarsia Lignea
A day at the Museo-Bottega della Tarsia Lignea is one of the best things to do in Sorrento if you want to learn more about local art. Intricate wooden inlay is a popular art form with an extensive history in Sorrento. You can see examples of it all over town, from ancient churches to modern souvenir stores. But the best place to find out more is inside this museum.
Set inside an 18th-century patrician mansion, the Museo-Bottega della Tarsia Lignea is teeming with all kinds of inlaid wooden art. Take a look around, and you’ll discover boxes, furniture, and pictures, all of which were created by Sorrento’s 19th-century marquetry masters.
As well as all the fascinating wooden art, the museum is also home to gorgeous frescoes and hand-painted wallpapers. If you find something you really like, check out the gift shop before you leave. There are modern versions of many originals in the museum, some of which are signed by the artist.
9. Explore Sorrento’s Oldest Church
One of the most interesting things to see in Sorrento is the Basilica di Sant’Antonio. Named after the town’s patron saint, this is the oldest church in Sorrento and is hidden away in Old Town. Due to its one-of-a-kind façade, you could easily walk straight past this building without even realizing what it is.
The Basilica di Sant’Antonio is staggeringly tall, with a huge entrance that looks more like a giant tunnel than an opening to a religious building. But step through the entrance, and the bizarre structure takes on a much more traditional feel.
Inside, the church boasts an ecclesial vibe, enhanced with dark medieval paintings, Roman artifacts, and a gilded ceiling. There are even two whale ribs decorating the lobby just past the entrance. Sant’Antonio is said to have performed miracles, including one in which he saved a child from a whale’s stomach – that’s why the bones are there.
The much-beloved saint’s bones can be found beneath the church, kept safe in an 18th-century crypt. This underground space is also home to hundreds of silver medallions, most of them votives of shipwrecked sailors.
10. Wow Your Taste Buds with Linguine allo Scoglio
If you’re a fan of seafood, one of the must-do things in Sorrento is to try linguine allo scoglio. Also sometimes known as linguine ai frutti di mare, this decadent dish is one of the most popular pasta entrées in Italy.
According to locals, back in the 1980s, there wasn’t a single restaurant on the southern Italian coast that didn’t offer some variation of linguine allo scoglio. Even today, you’ll find most restaurants serve the timeless classic – that’s how popular it is!
This entrée is made with linguine topped with freshly-caught seafood and shellfish. Because the chefs never know what the catch of the day is going to be, you could order the dish twice from the same place and have two totally different experiences. Most variations contain an assortment of mussels, clams, shrimp, and baby squid.
Bagni Delfino is an amazing place to go for linguine allo scoglio. This gorgeous restaurant overlooks the sea and has been running for more than 50 years. Here the classic dish is piled high with all kinds of delicious seafood caught that very morning.
11. Stroll around Marina Grande
One of the most relaxing things to do in Sorrento is to take a walk around Marina Grande. Despite what its name suggests, this cute marina is small and has a charming vintage vibe. Lined on one side by pastel-colored houses and the dazzling turquoise ocean on the other, this part of town is almost too stunning to be real.
Walk around the marina, and you’ll discover a handful of bustling cafes, pasta restaurants, and rustic tavernas that have been run by the same families for generations. These terraces are the perfect places to relax and watch the world go by. They’re also where you can try some of the freshest fish and seafood you’ll ever have in your life.
There’s a small sandy bay here and the water is perfect for taking a dip, so make sure you bring your swimming stuff with you. If you forget it, it’s still worth heading down to the beach and watching the fishermen unload their boats and carry their catches straight to the nearby restaurants.
12. Kayak Over Aquamarine Waters in the Punta Campanella Natural Marine Reserve
The Punta Campanella Natural Marine Reserve is one of the most beautiful Sorrento attractions. The gorgeous reserve stretches on for over 18 miles from Punta del Capo on the Gulf of Naples to Punta Germano.
Exploring the reserve by kayak is one of the best ways to admire its beauty. As you paddle along the rocky coastline, you’ll discover mysterious inlets, hidden coves, and mesmerizing sea caves to explore. You’ll also find secluded sandy bays that you can only get to by boat or kayak.
The Punta Campanella Natural Marine Reserve is a wonderful place for diving and snorkeling. Dive under the water’s surface, and you’ll be surrounded by all kinds of colorful seaweed, fascinating marine life, and unusual coral reefs. Because very few boats sail in this area, the seabed is well-preserved and provides a safe haven for mollusks, starfish, seahorses, sea urchins, and all kinds of gorgeous fish.
13. Go Olive Oil Tasting at Frantoio Gargiulo
Looking for unique things to do in Sorrento? How about unleashing your inner foodie and going olive oil tasting? Frantoio Gargiulo is a huge olive farm located just 10 minutes outside the town, where you can take a guided tour to find out how simple olives are transformed into rich, silky olive oil.
Your tour begins with a walk through Frantoio Gargiulo estate, where you’ll get to admire the ancient olive trees and discover the secrets of what makes Sorrento’s olive oil so exceptional. You’ll learn all about the tradition and history of olive oil making and have the chance to see the tools that were used hundreds of years ago to make the golden nectar.
Then for the best part – the sampling! You’ll get to try the estate’s famous extra virgin olive oil along with local honey, marmalade, liqueur, and cream liqueur. To make things super easy, the estate organizes transport to and from the estate from your accommodation, so you don’t have to worry about getting there yourself.
14. Unleash Your Inner Art Lover at the SyArt Sorrento Festival
Sorrento boasts loads of fascinating festivals, and the SyArt Sorrento Festival is definitely one of the best. Held on the stunning grounds of Villa Fiorentino, this contemporary arts festival attracts some of the most outstanding experimental, modern, and progressive artists the world has ever seen.
Villa Fiorentino is where you’ll find the Fondazione Sorrento, which is one of the most important art galleries in the city. But each year during the festival, the popular cultural attraction becomes even more appealing.
The event boasts an incredible scope and assortment of contemporary artwork, with creations from artists as far away as Cuba and Australia. The pieces considered to be the best are selected and displayed in the dedicated SyArt zone for the rest of the year.
The dates for the festival change each year, but it’s usually held in the fall. So check the official website to confirm the dates before you make any plans.
15. Keep it Simple with Gnocchi alla Sorrentina
You’ve got to try at least one pasta dish when you’re in Italy, and in Sorrento, the local favorite is gnocchi alla Sorrentina. This heavenly classic is made of light and fluffy potato gnocchi smothered in a deliciously rich and wonderfully smooth tomato sauce made even better with aromatic basil and creamy mozzarella.
After being coated in the decadent sauce, the gnocchi is topped with even more mozzarella, pecorino, or parmesan before being placed in the oven and baked until the top forms an enticing golden crust. This dish is typically baked in individual portions in clay pots called pignatiellos. They’re delivered to the table while they’re still sizzling, and the cheese is still bubbling.
Ristorante Zi’Ntonio is where you’ll find the best gnocchi alla Sorrentina in town. It’s served in a miniature frying pan topped with a little grated mozzarella and fresh basil. It’s the perfect comfort food and a wonderful way to end your vacation.
There you have it! The 15 best things to do in Sorrento, Italy. What’s your favorite thing to do in Sorrento?
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