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Can someone tell me what's so great about Sorrento?

I've never been to Sorrento, but I've been viewing it on Google Earth "Street View" (You can now get street level views of Sorrento and all of the Almalfi Coast). It looks to me to be VERY touristy. Lots of turisti with lots of Euros. I'm not big on shopping. What is it about Sorrento? People seem to fall in love with it. Good or bad, we'll be staying there this summer. If anything, I'll be going for the lemons & artichokes.

Posted by
10344 posts

More than a few travelers, the ones reporting in here anyway, use Sorrento as a convenient home base for exploring the rest of the Amalfi coast or Amalfi peninsula, which is visually stunning. You mentioned Google Earth, if you're actually in Google Earth (instead of Google Maps, which is what most people find), enable the Terrain layer in Google Earth and then fly over the other side of the Amalfi, the south side of the peninsula (Sorrento being on the north side of the peninsula), also the west side of the peninsula. Better yet, enable the Panoramio photo layer, then click on some of the little rectangle icons you see over on the south side of the Amalfi peninsula--then you'll see what all the fuss is about.

Posted by
304 posts

Done that on Google Earth Street View. Bella vista sul mare. The bay of Sorrento looks very nice, but the city looks like a huge tourist trap with blocks and blocks of shops. I can take a little of that. Where's the charm?

Posted by
1829 posts

As a regular visitor over 30 years to Sorrento I find sometimes find it difficult to say why beyond the fact that we feel comfortable there. There are of course more beautiful places in the world. Maybe its just familiarity but its probably the kindness and courtesy we meet with and the views of the Bay of Naples. If we go in the spring/early summer we stay out of town but for autumn visits stay in town.

That is not to say we don't visit other parts of Italy (and elsewhere), last year it was Rome and Sorrento in April and then Rome in November. Originally the draw was the ancient Roman sites, my particular interest, but latterly we go to just "be" rather than "do".

Yes it is busy but that's because it is a destination resort town for many Europeans, including Italians, on their annual vacation and has been for the best part of 2,000 years. As a resort it will try to provide the sort of things that holidaymakers look for when on holiday. There has been a big increase in day trippers from cruise liners in recent years and that is noticeable but most are gone by about 5 o clock.

If something is worth visiting/seeing lots of people will go to see/visit, that's just how it is. Sorrento is not for everybody but what is?

BTW I too took a "Google walk" around Sorrento today and noticed it is very limited because of the traffic restrictions in the older parts of the town. As is the case with both Positano and Amalfi.

Posted by
158 posts

Like the other poster said, its a great home base. You can easily access the more attractive towns like Capri, Amalfi, and Positano by bus or ferry. When I stayed there we even bussed to Pompeii. We spent little time in the actual town. Make sure you go to the island of Capri to see the Blue Grotto...the most beautiful thing I saw in southern Italy.

Posted by
267 posts

we used sorrento as a base to see capri/ana capri, the amalfi coast/positano, etc... it worked for us. i did find it to be a little touristy, but would love to go back again. good luck :):)

Posted by
586 posts

Hey, Ray. I agree that it's a perfectly situated and comfortable home base for exploring the Amalfi Coast and Pompeii...but I would add something else: true, it's touristy, but there's a bit of a small town feel to the place, anyway, and it's just easy to talk to and connect with people there, in my experience. Not necessarily Italians, mind you, but Brits, Turks, Canadians, Swedes, Americans...all sharing a few drinks at an Italian bar, being served by an immigrant from Eastern Europe. Kind of like a global village. Seemed to me that early in the AM and late at night was the best chance to meet and interact with locals. So, yes, Sorrento is not a rustic Italian town, but nonetheless, it's a pretty cool place.

Posted by
1449 posts

Ray, from your description of city, maybe Sorrento isn't a fit for you...

No town is everyone's cup of tea.

Posted by
1890 posts

There isn't anything great at Sorrento. It's a tourist trap. It's filled with shops, not great food. But - it is convenient as a home base to visit the Amalfi Coast. the ferry is convenient from Naples, it's easy to get to Pompei and Vesuvio or by ferry to Amalfi.

We stayed in Sorrento for 3 nights a few years ago just for this reason, easy to get to, and in and out of. We didn't have a car, but depended on the ferry/bus to get around.

I watch the web cam still, just to see what the weather is like, and as a reminder of our holiday to this region.

You can skip it if you think you are going for an Italian experience. When I waa there I thought it was more like a town in California than one in Italy.

Posted by
2297 posts


I'm with you. We really enjoyed the Sorrento Peninsula - OUTSIDE Sorrento. If a touristy town is not really your cup of tea there are lots of smaller, less touristy places in Campania. They may be a bit more diffficult to reach by public transportation. We had a car which really helped exploring the quieter sites, beaches and hikes.

There was a thread about Massa Lubrense a couple of weeks back that can give you some ideas as well.

Posted by
1003 posts

We also used Sorrento as a home base for 4 nights and visited Capri, Pompeii, Positano, etc. It was very touristy but we really enjoyed our time here. Lots and lots of people out in the evenings strolling, etc. and we loved it! Our hotel room at Settimo Cielo had a balcony with lovely views of the Bay of Naples and we enjoyed sitting out there in the evenings with a bottle of wine. The most fun was being in Sorrento when Italy won the World Cup in 2006 and the celebrating that followed! We will always have fond memories of Sorrento and hope to return again someday!

Posted by
3551 posts

I guess it depends on what a traveler is interested in. Me, I love Sorrento and think it is a great base for enjoying the amalfi coast, naples, pompeii and it is a good transport hub, for ferry, train, bus. Depending on what season you go indicates how touristy it will be. You don't need to shop or go to tourist restaurants. it is a semi -elegant smaller italian town.

Posted by
944 posts

Yes, it is tourist-y; it is the main departure to Capri.. and... sooo....?

It can also be an entirely differnet experience if you look for and do lesser known things in the area.
Buy a Pie, just like the locals do, and have a slice, with vino, watch a sunset in the evening in one of the many public overviews. Sorrento is a very beautiful and romantic place.

You can experience Sorrento in many different ways out side of the obvious tourist shopping traps. All you have to do is look. Did you know that they build boats there? (my personal interest)

And you can rent a boat and run up and down the coast. There are hiking trails.

The main thing is Sorrento is a world away from Naples, yet it is still connected to all the neat things to see in the area.

The alleys are very fun to walk in the evenings. And the views are wonderful.

Posted by
304 posts

I want to thank everyone for the replies. And thank you Gio for your info. That's what's great about travel! I am sure on my first trip to Sorrento that it will reveal itself to be a place with a special allure. I am looking forward to it, and the rest of the peninsula.