Sadly, Sorrento tends to be the ugly step-sister of the Amalfi Coast. Not that Sorrento is ugly, just that it is often overshadowed by trendier cities along the coast — Positano and Ravello for example. I have always stayed in Sorrento because of its strategic location. From Sorrento you can easily get to Naples, Capri and all the little cute towns along the coast. Despite always staying in Sorrento, however, I rarely took the time to explore or appreciate the city. Fortunately, the past couple of summers I have had a bit more time in Sorrento and I’ve had the chance to really explore the city. While it will never top Positano or Capri in terms of charm and elegance, it is a delightful city with a lot more to offer than simply a strategic base.
Where to Stay
If you are looking for somewhere super fancy in the center of town, then the Grand Hotel Excelsior Vittoria is for you. It is pretty much the nicest place in Sorrento. I have personally never splurged to stay there, but I do enjoy their champagne bar at sunset! For a more budget-friendly (but still very nice, vacation-worthy) option, I really like the Hotel Royal and the Grand Hotel Ambasciatori, (Allie and I stayed at the Ambasciatori this summer and loved it). If you book early, you can find pretty good deals for both on Booking.com.
Where to Eat
Sorrento is very much a tourist town in the summer, which means restaurants can be hit or miss. But generally, you will eat well in Sorrento. The city specializes in southern Italian cuisine and is famous for its gnocchi alla Sorentina. Personally, I love eating outside along the water in the Marina Grand — Da Emilia and Porta Marina are my two favorites. More in the center of town I like the creative pizzas (especially the lemon pizza) at Acqu’ e sale, the zucchini pasta at Ristorante La Lanterna, pretty much everything at Ristorante O’ Murzill’, and the seafood dishes at Fuoro. And remembe wherever you go, Sorrento is famous for lemons so try as many lemon dishes as possible!
What to See and Do
Sorrento is a beach town, but it doesn’t really have much of a beach in the traditional sense. In fact, the entire region is rocky, so you will find rock rather than sand beaches. Sorrento sits on a cliff and has problem-solved this by building large platforms to sunbathe and swim from. There are several public “beaches” and many of the nicer hotels have private “beaches.” While the rocks are not comfy or convenient, they make for some super clear, stunningly blue waters to enjoy.
If beaching isn’t your thing, you can stroll and shop your way the adorable town center, visit an eclectic museum housed in an 18th-century villa (Museo Correale di Terranova), hire a private boat for the day (or one to take you to Capri), take the public ferry to Amalfi, Positano, or Capri for the day, hop on the local train to get your history on in Pompeii, or taste lemon-everything at the Cataldo lemon garden. But my favorite activity in Sorrento (and also in Positano) — shopping for custom made sandals! My favorite store in Sorrento is Sandali Arte Artigiana Sorrento (on Via Torquato Tasso).