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Sorrento Itinerary

Hi - family of 4. We only have two and a half days in Sorrento (unfortunately) I would love to hear from people who have been to this area. I know we can't do everything that I wish to get to. Could you help me with advice on the timing for our travels.

We will arrive at Naples train station mid afternoon and plan to have a driver bring us to our hotel in Sorrento. I am wondering if we should try to to to amalfi, positano that day? Boat or Bus. Or should we just walk around and enjoy Sorrento.

The second day I am planning a trip to Pompei. I know Pompei is on the way from Naples, but I don't want to go there with our luggage and we may feel wiped out from our previous couple days in Rome. The day we depart Rome we are going to the Colosseum in the morning. If we go to Pompei in the morning, is there time to do something else in the afternoon?

The third day, I am torn. I want to see Positano, Ravello and the Amalfi coast. I hear we should see it by boat and bus. (Ravello is by bus) I also wanted to go to Capri. Is Capri a full day? Is it reasonable to go to Capri and then a boat ride to see the coast?

Here is a summary of what we are hoping to see and understand if I have to eliminate something

Staying in Sorrento, wish to see:
Pompei, Capri, Amalfi, Positano coast boat ride and bus tour.

Day 1 - arrive mid afternoon
Day 2 - full day
Day 3 full day
Day 4 - depart early morning flight from Naples airport.

EDIT: WE ARE TRAVELING THE FIRST WEEK OF SEPTEMBER
Thank you!!

Posted by
360 posts

We were in Sorrento last spring. It's a great little town. A few comments:

Day 4 flight from Naples - you really want to be in Naples the night before. Really. Transportation might be efficient, reliable and on-time - but there is an equal or better chance that it won't be. We took an airport shuttle from Sorrento to Naples airport - it should have been a 1.5 hour bus ride, but took over 3 hours due to construction and traffic. Train may be faster, but again - might not be because sometimes they get cancelled.

Pompei and Amalfi coast trips are full days, no matter how you do it. We did a shared tour of the Amalfi (mini-van) via Mondo Tours
It was great but it was all day - and an even longer day than expected due to traffic. Boat tours are also full days as far as I can tell (we looked into a few but the dock at Positano was closed when we were there).

You could take the ferry to Capri and make that half a day, depending on what you wanted to see there, weather conditions, and (again) traffic. Buses there can be packed, with long wait times, to get from place to place.

Plan on everything taking longer than you expect. And make some time for Sorrento itself, it's very cute, nice shopping, good restaurants, beautiful sea views. We did a food tour through Sorrento Food Tours, you get plenty of food and a walking tour of the town. Check out Grande Marina (it is the small harbor lol) for fish, it's a very pretty walk from center of town.

Posted by
1952 posts

Important--what month are you visiting Sorrento?

Day 1--given your arrival late afternoon, I would stay close to Sorrento the rest of the day & evening for sure. Great to walk, taste some limoncello, shop, decide where to dine among the dozens of choices, most of them very good. Sorrento has some of the best food in Italy.

Day 2--Pompei but not in the rain! Too easy to turn an ankle on the cobblestone, no matter how limber you are. You would catch the Circumvesuviana commuter train right at Sorrento station, fun but a little skeevy & watch your pockets, right to the Pompei Scavi stop, about 40 minutes. Easily the most efficient & cheapest mode of transportation here. Alternative on a rainy day would be the CV train into Naples Centrale station, then a cab to the Archeological Museum. Fantastic, with many of the Pompei artifacts.

Day 3-- SITA bus can take you to Positano, and you'd have to change to get to Amalfi. Capri is an entity onto itself. Cab or Uber there or I believe there is a ferry from Sorrento that will take you anywhere on the peninsula.

Overall, from your proposed timeline, You are running the risk of putting too many activities into too small a timeframe. And the time of year makes a huge difference as well. We visited in early March when it was deserted and wonderful. In high season, you think Sorrento is crowded?! The other side of the peninsula borders on gridlock for at least 3 months straight.

Good luck with your planning!

Posted by
360 posts

Agree with Jay above. Time of year is important. We were there in late April. And even though we were having a loooong day in a van for our Amalfi tour, the folks taking the bus were having an even longer one. Lines at bus stops were lining the roads as packed buses went by, too full to take on more passengers. Honestly, if I were to do it again, I would look at a boat tours, which I think would be better with better views.

And I don't know how I forgot about limoncello! It is THE theme throughout the region. Our food tour included a tour and tasting at the limoncello "factory" right in downtown Sorrento. It was great (they also had limoncello ices).

Posted by
26 posts

i am planning a similar trip in early June and after discussing with people who have been there, here is our plan. Hope its helpful.

  1. Visit Pompeii when we are in Naples. It is closer to Naples. We are not booking tickets ahead of time until we have a good idea of the weather. That was recommended by the folks we are renting from in Naples.
  2. When we visit Sorrento, we are taking the ferry to Capri one day and the other day, we are taking the ferry to Positano. The ferry rides take about 20-30 minutes and by all accounts is much more efficient than spending a couple of hours on a winding traffic jammed road to Positano. We are going to play it by ear about trying to do the other places on the amalfi coast the same day. Currently, the plan is just Positano but that could change if we run out of things to do. From my research of Capri, there is plenty to do on Capri. I am assuming taking the ferry both days will allow us to see the coast and not have to use 2-3 hours on a boat ride.
Posted by
4226 posts

Transportation in the region is slow and you won't have time for the Amalfi Coast the same day that you're arriving. We did a small group driving tour from Sorrento and in a 9 hour day, 4.5 hours were in a vehicle. For me, Pompeii was a must-see and we spent 12 hours over 2 days there. That leaves one day to choose between the Amalfi Coast and Capri, personally we enjoyed Capri significantly more; it's faster to get to giving you more of the day to explore, and we thought the views were just as spectacular.

I'd highly recommend staying in Naples the evening before your flight out of Naples unless that flight is late in the day. Take transportation issues in the region seriously.

Posted by
4535 posts

1) month? in summer, Pompeii would need to be early morning.
Outside of summer, since you are coming from Rome and not flying in on arrival day, I would see if you can alter your driver plan to stop at Pompeii. They can watch your luggage or you can store it. If it was do that or miss Pompeii, this is what I would do.
I consider Capri a full day and the AC a full day, so if you stop at Pompeii on the way in, you can do both. I am sure there is a tour that groups Ravello in, but you can do it yourself, it's just a long day. Maybe skip Positano--you can enjoy the views from the ferry.
If leaving early morning, I would be staying in Naples the last night.

Posted by
19 posts

THANK YOU TO EVERYONE FOR YOUR RESPONSES. I AM GOING TO READ OVER ALL OF THEM! IT IT HELPS, OUR FLIGHT IS AT 11M FROM NAPLES AIRPORT. I THOUGHT I WOULD USE A DRIVER/TAXI FROM OUR HOTEL IN SORRENTO THE MORNING OF OUR FLIGHT. DOES THAT SEEM REASONABLE WITH AN 11AM DEPARTURE?? THANK YOU AGAIN.

Posted by
5027 posts

Is your flight to a destination outside of Schengen? If so, you would want to arrive 3 hours before departure. In ideal conditions, it's only a one hour drive. But transportation in that area is rarely ideal, so you would want to allow extra time for the drive. So you would be looking at a pick up time of around 6:30 am.

OR you could have a driver take you to a hotel near the Naples airport after dinner the night before, and not have to get up at the butt crack of dawn and chew your nails all the way to the airport.

Posted by
11372 posts

While I would not call 11AM "early morning", I do agree that spending the last night in Naples is the smarter choice.

With having to have 4 people ready to travel by 630AM it likely means a 5AM wake up. And if the flight departing Naples goes to a non Schengen destination, you would be better off leaving closer to 6AM

Your trip, your $$$, your choice.

Posted by
15974 posts

The OP is traveling end of August/first week in Sept, as mentioned in these two threads.
https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/italy/colosseum-tickets-1271dade-4588-4775-8180-9ac17221b3e2
https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/italy/train-from-rome-to-sorrento-e87ec0d2-59bb-431f-969a-6191b5785954

RosaMaria, if you want to cover Pompeii, Amalfi, Ravello and Capri, then I'd suggest you to do Pompeii en route to Sorrento. Yes, morning is a better time to do that one, you may be tired from the day before, and the scavi - which is vast - is shadeless and promises to be quite hot in the mid-afternoon but if you want to accomplish everything on your list, then you may have to bite that bullet. You can store your bags there, however, and take the Circumvesuviana onward to Sorrento, or pay your driver to wait. Your current plan doesn't leave you time for anything but a walk about Sorrento anyway. Last entry to Pompeii is at 5:30 PM, and closing at 7:00 so you don't want to dawdle leaving Rome.

An alternate is to arrange a private tour to collect you from the train station in Naples, provide a car and guide (they are often not one and the same) for the scavi, and then bring you to your hotel in Sorrento. It would be expensive but make efficient use of the time that you have.

Capri is a day, IMHO, although it depends on what you want to do/see there. You want to get there early in the morning, and you could have some additional sightseeing time if you're done by early afternoon but not enough time for Pompeii or Positano/Ravello/Amalfi so may as well slow down and enjoy it. It will be VERY busy in the town centers and easier walks to scenic viewpoints. If you can, pick a couple nice hikes to get away from the mob.

You should allot the better part of a day to Positano/Ravello/Amalfi.

The caution here is not to expect to get much of anywhere on the coast quickly and efficiently during high season. The region will be heaving with tourists, roads will be congested, bus services overloaded, and ferries running at capacity as well. The less you try and do in a day the less frustrated you will be and the better time you will have.

Buses on the coast: if anyone in your party suffers from motion sickness, they'll want to make good use of anti-nausea medication! Ferries are nice but not particularly inexpensive; tickets are running abt. € 20,00 or more, one way, to Capri from Sorrento. Sorrento to Positano is showing as € 18, and Amalfi to Sorrento is running about € 20.

Honestly, there is so little to do in Positano that I'd probably choose just to view it from the water and take a ferry all the way to Amalfi, bus to Ravello, bus back to Amalfi, and then either ferry or bus back to Sorrento. Or bus to Amalfi and Ravello, and then ferry back from Amalfi to Sorrento.

Your family: Ages? That can be a factor in what and how you choose to do this part of the trip.

Posted by
464 posts

It would be best to be in Naples the night before your flight. We were stuck in several hours of traffic on our ride from Sorrento to Naples. It will be challenging to do all that you wish to do in only 2 and a half days. You may have to choose one item to save for a future trip. Sorrento is lovely in itself with views across the Bay of Naples and gorgeous sunsets from the cliffside as well a lovely Centro Storico area of shops and restaurants. Capri and the Amalfi Coast are spectacular, so whatever you have time for will be great. We preferred taking ferries for the views rather riding on the curvy mountainous roads which can cause motion sickness.

Posted by
19 posts

Thank you all for the great advice!! I greatly appreciate it. Family of 4 - all adults. I should clarify the flight at 11am from Naples is going to Palermo, Sicily. It is not an international flight. Are you advising that it will be too stressful to get from Sorrento to Naples airport by car in the morning? I missed mentioning that this is the first week of September. I originally thought we would to arrive about 9am at the airport for our flight to Palermo. Thanks so much, I will change my reservation if what I am planning does not seem doable.

Posted by
4226 posts

Are you advising that it will be too stressful to get from Sorrento to
Naples airport by car in the morning?

The thing about transportation in that region is that you just don't know. We made all of our transfers and were never late for anything, but it was often chaotic. The only people doing anything with a sense of urgency are the tourists. The trains run on time unless they don't, the buses run on time unless they don't, hired drivers show up on time unless they don't.....

Posted by
1952 posts

In March 2017 we had a 12:30 flight out of Naples Capodichino Airport. We stayed in Sorrento the night before, took the 8AM Curreri Viaggi bus ( https://www.curreriviaggi.it/en/naples-airport-shuttle ). Pickup was right at the Sorrento Centrale bus/train station--tickets were bought in advance, and we got there 30 minutes early in case of a queue.

Usually about a 50-70 minute ride, there was a massive traffic jam in Castellammare di Stabia, didn't get to the airport until a little after 10:00. It was fine, but is indicative of the extra time that needs to be built in. I'd reserve the first bus out of Sorrento--6:30 AM--and for an 11AM flight you should be OK.. Good luck!

Posted by
360 posts

Yeah the transportation is a big maybe. Our experience was similar to Jay's, but in 2023. As noted in my previous post, we had a 3pm flight to Rome out of Naples. Took the airport shuttle bus from Sorrento, and decided to opt for the earlier bus even though it would mean hanging out at the airport for a while. The later bus seemed to cut it a bit too close. What should have been an 1.25 hours ended up being 3+. Half the folks on our bus missed their flights. We got the the airport, and our flight was cancelled, no reason given. They provided a bus to get to Rome, which was an adventure in itself...thank god we were not flying home until the next day.

Going to Sorrento from Rome via train - also a nightmare. In Naples, noon train was cancelled, 1 pm train was cancelled, finally a train came along and of course ended up packed to the ceiling with 3-trains-worth of passengers. We could barely get in with our carry-ons.

So moral of all the stories is - add a LOT of cushion to travel plans there. Personally, I would get to Naples the night before.

Editing to add, if allowed, my blog post about the above adventure.

Posted by
16 posts

I'd skip the bus and use the ferry to get around. The views of the Amalfi Coast are amazing from the water. You can buy tickets same-day right by the water. The ferry system connects Sorrento with Positano, Amalfi, Capri, etc. You won't need to take a separate boat ride to see the coast if you use the ferry system to get around.

Capri - give yourself a full day to see Capri, if possible. Capri is divided into two towns, the town of Capri and Anacapri. You must likely won't have time to explore both, we did not - we only had time to see Capri. It will be a long day, I'd relax in Sorrento that evening.

The next day, I'd take the ferry to Amalfi to explore Amalfi/Ravello. From Amalfi, you'll need to take a taxi or bus to Ravello and back. Here's a video that shows Amalfi from the coastline and explains that Ravello is a 20 min drive up the mountains. On your way back to Sorrento, stop in Positano for dinner at either Ristorante Max or Bruno.

If it were me, I would do:

Day 1 - arrive and explore Sorrento
Day 2 - day trip to Capri, dinner in Sorrento
Day 3 - Ferry ride to Amalfi/Ravello, stop in Positano for dinner on your way back to Sorrento
Day 4 - depart

Have an amazing time! One of my favorite places in the world.

Posted by
356 posts

Just got back from Sorrento last week. As others have said, an 11 am flight out of Naples - I'd want to be in Naples the night before. Chaotic is a good way to describe Naples and its transport/traffic/etc. can be very inefficient even with a private driver.

Sorrento is lovely. No major sites there itself, but it is a lovely place to just wander, sit at an outdoor cafe, etc.

Navigating the Amalfi Coast can be daunting, even when others are doing the driving. We had a private driver, in March, and it was still crazy. I would just say plan on transportation between towns on the Amalfi Coast as being slow and unreliable. I would not try to pack too much into a single day. For example, if your driver picks you up in Naples in mid afternoon, I would not count on being able to see Amalfi, Positano, etc. yet that day. You can clearly get to Sorrento, get settled in and explore the town itself, grab a nice dinner, etc.

It is not reasonable to try and fit Capri and the towns of the Amalfi Coast in a single day. We had to make some tough choices last week. I wanted to see Capri, but we just ran out of time. You may have to select what you want to prioritize as well.

Check out Cafe Latino for dinner in Sorrento. Our family loved the outdoor seating there.

In any case, you'll love the trip - it's a beautiful area!