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Private car from Naples to Sorrento vs Circumvesuviana can expense of private car be justified?

There will be 3 of us traveling from Naples to Sorrento. I realize this is a subjective question because budget wise it's easily Circumvesuviana. However, with the convenience of a private airconditioned car (Mercedes) - a driver meeting us in Naples and the potential for some sightseeing along the way along a scenic route without making all the stops on the Circumvesuviana can the 90 euro expense be considered not frivolous?

Under other conditions and visits to other cities, we always use public transportation. However, we might be willing to make an exception if others can share there experience.

Posted by
15274 posts

Not really much sightseeing at all along the way, but everything else is up to you to decide. It's a commuter train for I think €4:50 each vs. luxury car for €90.

Posted by
2628 posts

I usually go public transport for my transfers between places. But as I get older and I notice that sometimes I just get plain wiped out from long transfers, I sometimes splurge. On my trip that I just returned from, I had a day that I was going Venice to Positano. I walked the 25 min from my Venice apartment to the Venice train station. I took the train from Venice to Naples (5.5 hours), hot inside the train and quite crowded.

I had the option of then doing train/bus thing to Positano. And I went for the private ride. I thought I might already be tired and I was right. We hired Aldo Limos to meet us at the Naples train station and drive us to Positano. We also went ahead and had them stop at Herculaneum for couple of hours en route. Fee was 110 Euros each way and they charge 35 Euros per hour waiting time if you want to make a stop.

Was it pricey? Yes. But the driver was awesome, he stopped at some great vistas along the way and he shared lots of great information with us. Moreover, we had plenty of room to stretch out after the cramped train ride and we weren't stuffed into a cramped and overheated car.

I'm still a proponent of public transport transfers. But I'm starting to make little adjustments for traveling comfort. After that lovely transfer to Positano, we headed to Rome a few days later. I had us walking from the Rome Termini train station to our hotel near the Pantheon and at the last minute I threw caution to the wind and hopped in a cab instead. 10 well-spent Euros and no regrets! So there's my opinion, FWIW:)

Posted by
3941 posts

...on the flip side - a private car will take you right to your accoms - so unless where you are staying is convenient to public transport, you may have to pony up for a taxi or bus anyways. I've never used a private car for transfers - have used Super Shuttle and a super shuttle type transport in Rome and the odd taxi...but I would be open to private if getting to where I was staying was going to be a PITA using other methods.

We did use Sorrento Silver Star for a private day long tour (8hrs) and tho I'm very budget minded and it was expensive, it was still very enjoyable.

Posted by
169 posts

Thanks for the prompt replies. Just for some additional context, we will be arriving by train from Florence. So the thinking was it might be nice to avoid taking the Circumvesuviana after a 3 hour train ride. However, it still seems like a splurge, but perhaps one worth taking for the convenience or a nicer drive and the potential for sightseeing.

Posted by
32933 posts

If all you are looking for is validation, I'm sorry I can't. It really sounds like you are desperate to have folk say that you have made the right decision.

That's entirely between you and your 2 traveling partners.

What I can do is tell you that there really isn't a huge amount of scenery out the left hand windows of the car leaving Napoli. You may get a kick out of watching all the way there how Napolitains drive, both outside your car and maybe behind the wheel.

You can get some scenery out the right hand windows as you turn right onto the peninsula looking over to Naples and Vesuvius but only for very short times and only if your driver goes slowly enough for you to get glimpses. These are the same views you will get once you are in Sorrento, and the same views as from the train, although the train goes more slowly so, paradoxically, you get the views for longer as long as the windows on the train car you pick aren't badly graffitied..

Only the 3 of you can decide if the driver and 90 (plus tip?) are good value for money.

Posted by
23343 posts

There are folks who are wiling to pay for convenience and comfort and that is what you are asking about. Unless you get a talkative driver, you may get nothing but a ride. Second there is not a lot to see along that route so sightseeing should not be a big consideration. Only you can define frivolous. For us, it would be since we would much prefer to spend that money in highly rated restaurant.

Posted by
5697 posts

For anyone flying in to Naples then transferring to Sorrento, the Correri bus was marvelous at €10 per person -- enough seaside vistas that we decided to skip another bus ride along fged Amalfi coast, and many many times more comfortable than Circumvesuviana. Big soft seats, luggage stored safely below, and clean nom-graffiti windows. Arrives the same place as Circumvesuviana.

Posted by
169 posts

Not really looking for validation. Just perspective. The Circumvesuviana ride can be part of the local flavor which would be interesting on it's own. Although this forum and others never discuss it in those terms. Either way, the big picture is we are headed to Sorrento and which experience might complement the trip. Perhaps the compromise would be Driver one way, and Circumvesuviana the other.

Posted by
7368 posts

travelguy, you didn't give the month of your trip, which makes a big difference in how unpleasant public transit in this are can be. If you want to hear that the Circumvesuviana is unpleasant, then I'll tell you it was unpleasant. I ride the subway in NYC several times a week, and even with a beggar or a musician in the car, it's not as crowded or as in-your-face as the Circumvesuviana. It's hard to watch your suitcase when it isn't in front of you, because it can't go in the aisle that your standing in but has to remain (hopefully within reach) nearer the doors.

I will say that the locals were very nice, even noticing that we had (on a sightseeing day) inadvertently boarded a train that wasn't going to Sorrento, and telling us to get off. Since the car wasn't jammed full, I should have guessed ... ....

We found the ride unpleasant enough that we happily paid for a car service going back to Naples after Sorrento. As others noted, there is virtually zero scenery on the car trip between Naples and Sorrento. And you can't legitimately ask for extra travel on a flat-rate "transfer". He's making a living, and you didn't hire his car for the day, you bought a transfer.

Posted by
7049 posts

The Circumvesuviana ride can be part of the local flavor which would be interesting on it's own. Although this forum and others never discuss it in those terms.

It has been discussed in those terms before - there are still some people here who prefer the "back door" experience when it comes to some things and don't shun public transport if it's not luxurious or runs like trains in Japan. I took the Circumvesuviana and, although a bit rickety, it was definitely like riding the rail with locals as there was nothing touristy about it. I was there off-peak season so it wasn't too crowded or hot, so I had no issues with it at all. It really helped that I had no luggage or anything to watch over with me except the purse on my shoulder. Every place I wanted to go was right off the rail line (Herculeum, Pompeii "Scavi"), so I couldn't justify getting there another way. Being from Poland, I'm used to not-the-prettiest of trains (especially under communist times when I was a small child), although not so much used to major crowds. But all in all, Naples was crowded, chaotic, and very memorable.

Posted by
2455 posts

Travel guy, this is one particular splurge that I have done, and can endorse, depending on: (1) how many people -- I was only one, you have three to share the benefit and divide the cost; (2) where you're starting -- I started at my lodging in Naples, a ways from the RR station, so saved that extra time and expense; (3) where you're headed -- I was headed for lodging a little ways outside of Sorrento, also saving the tine and expense getting there from town; (4) how much baggage -- mine was modest but not insignificant; (5) time of day -- in my case I was picked up in Naples after lunch, at 2 pm, and was in my room in Sorrento before 3:30 pm, then off seeing Sorrento -- the Circumvesuviana can be most crowded and uncomfortable during worker and student commuter hours; (6) do any of you have issues with walking and lugging/lifting your baggage -- I did not, but preferred to use my energy exploring rather than transiting. I think it is extra expense well worth it!

Posted by
32224 posts

If you don't mind spending €90, the air conditioned Mercedes is the way to go, especially as you'll be dropped right at your hotel. If you're planning any sightseeing further south on the Amalfi Coast, you could also use the same service.

However, if you're on a budget and don't mind a "colourful" trip, the Circumvesuviana will get you to Sorrento. Depending on where your hotel is located, you may have to use a Taxi from the station. Note that the Circumvesuviana has several routes, so be sure to board the correct train, and don't forget to validate your tickets prior to boarding.

Posted by
119 posts

If you can afford it, why not add in either a visit to Herculaneum or Pompeii on the way? It would not add that much to the cost, but if you have not visited these sites, I would not pass them up.

Posted by
1446 posts

In 2013, we based in Sorrento for 5 days. We were coming from the Cinque Terre and had a long train ride to Naples where we had hoped to catch the Circumvesuviana train to Sorrento. It was the end of August/beginning of September & therefore peak season. We unsuccessfully attempted 3 times to catch the train to Sorrento. Unfortunately we had a lot of luggage with us due to all the photo gear we carry and we each had a check-through piece of wheeled luggage & a carry-on piece of wheeled luggage plus a backpack. We stood on the platform & waited for the train along with tons of other people. When each train came, everyone pushed and shoved their way onto the train leaving us on the platform. It was total chaos and we didn't have a chance of getting on the train with all our bags. Even if we had managed to get on the train, it was standing room only and the train was hot & sticky (no A/C) and my husband did not like the notion of standing for an hour to get to Sorrento in the hot train. I was willing to try a fourth time and wait for the next train but my husband put his foot down and decided to abandon the Circumvesuviana and instead hire a taxi to get us to Sorrento. It was a lot more relaxing and after an already long train ride from the CT to Naples, I just wanted to get to Sorrento, check into our hotel and get situated. I was sorry we had wasted so much time with the Circumvesuviana and wished we had taken a taxi to begin with. I know it's a lot of money but I personally think it's worth it if you can swing it. During the Sorrento/Amalfi Coast portion of our trip we spent more money than normal on private drivers/guides due to the convenience and not having to worry about logistics of getting from one town to the next along the coast. Taking the bus along the coast during that time of year would have been similar to our Circumvesuviana experience and it was so much more relaxing to use private drivers and/or guides. If you're interested, I can recommend a wonderful driver to pick you up in Naples and deliver you to Sorrento. We used him on our last day in Sorrento to get back to the Naples train station from where we caught a fast train to Rome. We had also used him for a day trip along the Amalfi coast and liked him so much that we booked him for the transfer on our last day as well because the thought of repeating our Circumvesuviana debacle was not appealing!

Posted by
169 posts

I wanted to thank everyone that responded to my post. We just returned from 2 amazing weeks in Italy. We ended up taking the Circumvesuviana rather than a private car - both ways. First, there is the obvious cost factor, €180 euros roundtrip - while we could have justified it, in the end we thought the money could be better spent on other stuff. Additionally, once you get to Sorrento you will still need to get from your hotel to the station, so we decided that's where we would take a taxi.

Here's what our other considerations were.

  1. we traveled light. we each had one small carry on type suitcase on wheels.
  2. we arrived in Naples mid day - and returned same time.
  3. it's easy to get to the Circumvesuviana from the Naples train station (rather than from the airport)
  4. we were traveling in May, so the weather was still cool
  5. we took the more express train, saving about 20 minutes to and from Sorrento
  6. on the way from Naples to Sorrento, we lucked out and got a "newer" train that actually had working airconditioning. We gave ourselves some extra time on the way back from Sorrento to Naples and also got a newer train.
  7. We had the luxury of time going from Naples to Sorrento, and return. So we weren't rushing to catch a train or flight. 7 We managed to get seats, so it made the journey easier. We would have waited for the next train if we had to. Standing in the aisles with the rush of people getting on or off would have make it more difficult.

Just some other random tips:

Signage is not the best, but we did some research and new we had to walk till we saw the down escalator for the Circumvesuviana.
We also knew what the symbol looked like.

Go with purpose. We had people coming up to us, asking "wanting to help". Ignore them.

Make sure you ask what track the train is leaving from.

On the way down to the tracks, the escalator might not be working. You might have to carry or maneuver with your bags down the steps.