Sorrento is a breathtaking town on the Sorrentine Peninsula. It’s often thought of as the gateway to the Amalfi Coast, as it’s well-connected to bigger Italian cities like Naples.
While it’s not on the gorgeous stretch of the Amalfi Coast, it offers similar allures. You’ll find houses tucked away on the cliffside, clear blue waters on pebbly beaches, a charming village vibe, and more. Across town, you’ll also find bougainvillea-fronted pastel houses and lemon groves that Amalfi Coast is famous for!
Meanwhile, towns on Amalfi Coast aren’t as accessible from Italy’s big cities. And the same applies to the quaint town of Amalfi. But because of this, you’d get a more tranquil and rustic town to host your summer escapade.
Both are photogenic towns that offer tons to see and do, with food scenes that leave you more than satisfied. And if you can’t visit both, this article highlights each town’s allures to help you make the choice.
A small town with a gleaming reputation, Sorrento has long been a tourist hotspot. Since the end of the 19th century, it’s been an obligatory stop of the southern Italy “Grand Tour”. And even today, its bewitching allures allure tourists from all walks of life to set foot on its cobblestone streets.
Sorrento, perched on high cliffs, offers nothing short of spectacular views. From the steep cliffs, you can take in the beauty of the Bay of Naples with Mount Vesuvius looming from beyond.
Wander through town and fall in love with its small-town charm. From the sunshine-yellow buildings, the maze of local shops, and the perpetual smell of citrus in the air, it’s hard not to fall in love with Sorrento.
What Makes Sorrento Unique?
A Postcard-Worthy Town
Sorrento is a scenic wonderland that draws its charm from its natural beauty and interesting landscape. The resort town perches on high cliffs like a balcony overlooking the glistening blue sea. And with views extending from Procida to the Bay of Naples, there’s so much beauty to take in.
Imagine colorful houses stacked in layers on the cliffside, laced with overgrown greenery. Look down and marvel at the lines of white boats bobbing in the sparkling blue waters off the coast. And it gets better at sunset when the sky turns pastel and the houses twinkle with amber lights, giving the town an ethereal feel.
Strolling around Sorrento is just as dreamy. You’ll find a maze of cobblestone streets lined with quaint houses decorated with bougainvillea on their facade.
The old town is especially charming. It’s filled with artisan shops, centuries-old buildings, and more, adding character to the city. Wander through palm-fringed paths lined with sunny buildings until you reach the Piazza Tasso. This is where you’ll truly feel the authentic charm of Italy.
When soaking in the best views that Sorrento has to offer though, Villa Comunale is a must-visit. This is a sprawling public park that’s considered to be the most romantic spot in Sorrento.
Wander around its impeccably manicured gardens that boast luscious floral displays. Take a break on a bench or get a refreshing drink from a quaint cafe.
The main attraction in Villa Comunale, though, is the panoramic view of the Bay of Naples. Here’s where you can get a bird’s-eye view of Sorrento, with Mount Vesuvius looming far beyond. Visit on a clear day, and you may also see the island of Procida beyond.
Rich Cultural Heritage
Often overlooked for its other draws, Sorrento has a long, fascinating history. It has ancient roots that you may not know of. But this is part of the town’s undeniable appeal.
The town of Sorrento was first founded by the Greeks in the 6th century BC. They named it “Surreo” which translates to “flow together”. It was them who put up Sorrento’s foundations until the Romans came.
The Romans built over the city. They transformed the town into a resort, filled with summer villas for the Romans to enjoy the blue sea. The bountiful local produce of the lush countryside was also a big bonus.
Along with this, the Romans also changed the town’s name to “Surrentum”, which means the “Land of Sirens”.
Not much has changed since then in Sorrento’s historic center. So while tourists mainly flock to Sorrento for the beaches, like the Romans did, uncovering the town’s rich history enriches your trip.
Right behind Piazza Tasso is the majestic Valley of the Mills. These ruins were once a bustling spot that housed wheat mills. Now, it’s a humid valley that’s reclaimed by nature, giving it a haunting feel.
You can find a hidden gem in the ruins of Villa di Pollio Felice. While there isn’t much left of it, it offers stunning views as it’s on the coast of Sorrento. You can get here by foot, strolling down a path filled with lemon and olive groves.
A more famous historical site in Sorrento is the Cloister of San Francesco. This centuries-old monastery is best known for its romantic appeal. This is thanks to its charming baroque arches and lush and colorful greenery all around.
But the Cloister of San Francesco holds more surprises for the history buff. Wander around and you’ll discover the ancient structures incorporated into its architecture. Some of which are ancient pagan temples and other glorious archaeological wonders.
Inviting Turquoise Waters
Sorrento is one of Italy’s best-loved resort towns. With the famous azure waters of the Mediterranean sea, the town is home to inviting and idyllic beaches. Thus, it’s unimaginable to visit Sorrento without hitting the beach!
The first must-visit spot for some beach fun in Sorrento is the picturesque Marina Grande. It’s a small fishing village that exudes a rustic charm with its traditional looks. It’s lined with souvenir shops and seafood restaurants selling the catch of the day.
Marina Grande, despite having a sleepy vibe, is bustling with sun worshippers. You’ll find most of them at Bagni Sant’Anna, a sprawling, well-equipped sunbathing spot.
If you want to get the perfect tan, Bagni Sant’Anna is full of sunbeds and colorful beach umbrellas. Sip on some cocktails as you get a sprawling view of the stunning Bay of Naples. Or you can always plunge into the crystal clear waters for a refreshing swim!
You can also head to Sorrento’s main harbor, Marina Piccola. There are more beaches here, giving you more options on how you want to spend your beach day.
There’s the Bagni da Salvarote, a simple yet relaxing spot that’s popular among locals. Old Roman villa walls surround its natural sea pool, giving it a fairy-tale-like vibe.
Marameo Beach is arguably the prettiest beach in Marina Piccolo. It’s a stylish beach club that spoils its visitors to the fullest. Besides the usual deckchairs, you’ll also get a floating sunbed, sofa-filled leisure zone, jacuzzi, and more here.
Mixing history and beach fun is the Baths of Regina Giovanna. It’s the remains of a once-opulent Roman villa sitting by the sea. Mediterranean waters flow into this pool that’s surrounded by cream-colored rocks and greenery.
Plunge into the turquoise waters, read a book on the rocks, or enjoy the breeze under the shade of a tree!
An Eclectic Shopping Scene
Sorrento is an exciting shopping destination to indulge the shopaholic in you. The town has high street brands aplenty to dress the devout fashionistas. While that’s enticing to many, it’s the town’s traditional local crafts that make up its charming shopping scene.
Start your shopping spree at the heart of Sorrento, Piazza Tasso. This sprawling piazza is one of the most bustling spots in Sorrento. From here, you’re only a few steps away from the best shopping streets in town, Corso Italia and Via San Cesareo.
Via San Cesareo, though small and narrow, is a well-loved shopping spot by the locals. Here you’ll find lines of boutiques with locally made goods.
It’s the best spot in Sorrento to buy some lemon products, which the town is famous for. Buy lemon soaps, scents, and even the limoncello.
Via San Cesareo also has other offers to delight your shopping spree. Stop by Giolleria Onix for jewelry, Mary Shop by De Martino for leather finds, and shop for fresh fruits and veggies.
Meanwhile, Corso Italia is a larger, more glamorous shopping street. It’s home to the best fashion boutiques in town, along with shoe stores, homeware shops, and more.
From Corso Italia, you can follow the lines of narrow streets and reach the historic part of Sorrento. This is the best spot for traditional Sorrento crafts. Among those are handmade leather sandals, souvenirs, food specialties, and more.
If you want to take home a special souvenir to remember Sorrento by, get your hand on some intarsio. Sorrento has been famous for its intricate inlaid wood furniture since the 19th century. You’ll have a lavish piece of art of centuries-old craftsmanship to decorate your home.
Another local Sorrentine good is handmade custom sandals. Sorrento is full of artisan workshops by traditional shoemakers. Choose your leather and design, and an artisan will custom-fit sandals for you to walk away with a one-of-a-kind pair.
Incredibly Indulging Gastronomy
Sorrento’s allure doesn’t only lie in its stunning views, rich historic heritage, and shopping scene. A gastronomic adventure in Sorrento is just as exciting as these. Thanks to its bountiful produce from the countryside, the town’s dishes pack the freshest taste of the peninsula.
Sorrento has a long gastronomical tradition with ancient roots behind its cuisine. Each family with their own twist on the dishes passed down to generations. Long years of culinary refinement, along with homegrown produce, make their way to your plate.
Year-round, you can fill your stomach with delicious pasta, dried tomatoes, and mozzarella cheese. Other dishes are seasonally available and you may be lucky enough to try them.
No matter what time of the year though, you can get the best taste of Sorrento. Here are some must-try dishes that you shouldn’t miss on your Sorrentine escapade—
Gnocchi alla Sorrentina may be simple, but it’s impeccable in taste. It only needs a few ingredients to tickle your tastebuds, a display of Sorrento’s top-notch produce.
It’s a dish made with boiled, pillowy potatoes, slathered in a savory and velvety basil-flavored tomato sauce. Add some more basil and a sprinkle of parmesan and you can dig into its melted cheese goodness.
Spaghetti alla Nerano is a tasty dish of courgettes, black pepper, and basil. It’s a cheese lover’s delight, as it’s a concoction of various kinds of cheese. The selection depends on the chef’s preference, but Provolone from Monaco is usually the star of the plate.
Along the breathtaking and sunny Amalfi Coast is the scenic town of Amalfi. With its strategic location in the center of the coast, it’s a popular starting point for most tourists. But it’s more than just a base, as it holds allures that tempt you to extend your stay.
Right off the bat, Amalfi impresses tourists with its stunning seaside views. Venture off further inland and you’ll find lush nature reserves to immerse yourself in nature. Take a boat off the shore and you’ll discover a picturesque and fairy-tale-like grotto.
Stay in the heart of the town and you’ll find remnants of its past as a powerful Medieval town. From its iconic cathedral to the labyrinth of alleys, Amalfi is a historically rich town. Top that off with its authentic draws, and Amalfi masterfully blends its traditional charms and modern allures.
What Makes Amalfi Unique?
Majestic Natural Wonders
A picturesque town that’s nestled at the mouth of a plunging ravine, Amalfi has no shortage of natural wonders. Cradling the town are towering cliffs that house a plethora of thriving flora. And sprinkled across the town are luscious greenery and lemon groves that fill the air with a zesty scent.
Amalfi’s natural wonders need an adventurous tourist to discover them though. The town’s best sights need some work to get to. But the reward at the end of the journey makes this worthwhile.
Valle Delle Ferriere is one of Amalfi’s precious jewels. This deep valley is a nature reserve, luscious and primitive, that’s miles and miles of fascinating paths. It’s the best spot in town to get an authentic taste of the coast while immersing yourself in nature.
This nature reserve has many surprises tucked away in lush vegetation. Among those are cascading waterfalls, forgotten ruins along the river, and thriving flora and fauna. Giant ferns and spotted salamanders are a common sight here, a delight for the nature lover.
Amalfi also has an unmissable natural wonder off the shore. Take a boat and head out to the enchanting Emerald Grotto.
This stunning cave’s filled with turquoise water and surrounded by stalactites and stalagmites. When sunlight enters the cave and shines on the water, it bounces off the cave walls, coloring the cave walls. This captivating spectacle is what earned this cave its name.
The Emerald Grotto houses an underwater nativity scene of ceramic statues. If you’re lucky enough to visit it at Christmas, divers across the country visit the scene and place flowers on its tableau.
Fascinating Historical Sites
Though more known for its natural beauty, Amalfi has layers of history that are a delight to peel back. With several stunning historical landmarks in town, Amalfi is a real treat for even the most passionate of history buffs.
Amalfi’s most iconic landmark is the impressive Duomo di Sant’Andrea. Located in the heart of Amalfi, this cathedral is a dominant sight that looms over the charming piazza.
First built in the 10th century and redesigned in the 13th, Duomo di Sant’Andrea has an eclectic mix of styles. Its distinct exterior looks medieval. While the sparkling golden mosaic on the top of the building exudes a Moorish charm.
Part of the cathedral is the Cloister of Paradise, an elegant Arab-Norman building. Here you can marvel at the authentic frescoes, walk through the lush garden, and get a stunning view of the bell tower.
Walk out of the Duomo and you’ll find the incredibly detailed Fountain of Saint Andrea. This centuries-old fountain, while a tourist attraction, serves another purpose. Here you can refill your with drinking water to hydrate you while exploring the town!
Amalfi is one of Amalfi Coast’s most historic towns. It was once a powerful Medieval town that had a strong hold on the trade routes of the Mediterranean. So there’s always a piece of its fascinating history at every turn.
Constantly under the threat of invasion, Amalfi formed a maze-like landscape. Narrow paths stem out from the main roads, creating an interesting web of charming streets. This protected the citizens of Amalfi as invaders would get lost in this labyrinth.
Wandering around the city is a real pleasure. Not only because Amalfi is flatter than other Amalfi Coast towns but also because it hides Amalfi’s authentic charms. Get lost and discover pretty corners, bougainvillea-laced balconies, hidden courtyards, and more.
Paradisiacal and Idyllic Beaches
Sitting on one of Italy’s most glorious coastlines, beach-hopping is a must on any Amalfi-town itinerary. Boasting crystal clear Mediterranean waters, its beaches are a tempting slice of sunbaked paradise.
Amalfi’s best-loved and business beach is the picturesque Marina Grande. It’s flanked by towering cliffs, offering the iconic views that the coast is famous for. Being centrally located, the vibrant Spiaggia Grande’s shores gets full of sunbathers and beach lovers.
But other than relaxation, you can also get a boost of adrenaline here. Watersports are aplenty here, such as parasailing, kayaking, and waterskiing. You can also go on a scenic boat tour and explore other Amalfi coast towns!
If it’s too full in Spiaggia Grande, you can walk to a smaller beach called Porto Beach. It’s the go-to beach for families with young children as the water is shallow and calm. But because of this, it’s not the best spot to spend a relaxing time by the beach as you’d hear kids frolicking about.
Instead, you may want to go to La Marinella, the smallest beach in town. There’s a charming restaurant here with tons of sunbeds and umbrellas for relaxation. And even if the swimming area is quite small here, it’s popular for its crystal clear waters and large shade below the dock.
If you truly want a secluded and tranquil beach, you’d need to venture off the beaten path. Amalfi has hidden gems tucked away on its shores, away from the hustle and bustle of the town.
There’s the Duolgio Spiaggia, nestled away among the towering cliffs. It’s one of Amalfi’s most enchanting bays, and you’d need to go down hundreds of stairs to reach it. Because of this challenge, not a lot of people go here, so you can have the shore almost all to yourself.
You can also go to Santa Croce, a paradisiacal beach that you can only reach via boat. Facing the south, the sun shines on its shores for almost the entire day. Thus, it’s the perfect beach for sunbathers.
Hearty Traditional Dishes
Being a coastal town in Italy, Amalfi is a foodie paradise. With its culinary scene focusing on traditional seafood and Mediterranean food, Amalfi offers a burst of flavors in one dish. Still, with its diverse range of restaurants, it also has tons to offer for picky eaters.
Start your gastronomic adventure with a taste of the Mediterranean sea. L’Abside sits right off the main street of Amalfi. Loved by locals and tourists alike, this restaurant is a gem for its scrumptious seafood dishes!
Try their sciallatelli with seafood. It’s a pasta dish mixed with various seafood, such as mussels, shrimp, and clam. There are also meat and vegetarian choices here to cater to everyone’s preferences.
L’Abside can get crowded, though, as it’s a crowd favorite. So if you want the ultimate seafood experience away from the crowds, head to La Carcara instead.
La Carcara is a family-run restaurant that offers the freshest seafood on your plate. It’s quite a journey to get there, though, as it’s perched up on the hill for spectacular views. But there’s a shuttle service to and from the restaurant for your convenience.
If you’re traveling as a couple, the Taverna Buonvicino is a romantic restaurant. It’s located in a small yet charming restaurant, filled with lush greenery and lit up with amber-hued lights.
Its menu changes depending on the season. But you can always grab a plate of spaghetti with anchovy oil topped with lemon here, a local favorite.
Not only that, their recipes are from a cookbook used by the Dukes of Naples in the distant past. So you’ll get a taste of history here too!
Want to take a break from seafood dishes? You can always find a pizzeria around town. But some are better than others. So if you want to get the best pizza Amalfi has to offer, head to Pizzeria Donna Stella.
Naples, a nearby city, is the birthplace of pizza. And in this restaurant, you can help yourself to a hearty serving of the glorious Neopolitan pizza. The best part is that you can munch away under the shade of their charming lemon garden!
Is It Better to Stay in Sorrento or Amalfi?
The choice between staying in Sorrento or Amalfi is not an easy decision. Some would go to Amalfi to get the quintessential Amalfi Coast experience. But because Sorrento is similar, it becomes more complicated.
The smartest decision for budget-conscious travelers would be to stay in Sorrento. Because the town is not on the Amalfi Coast, Sorrento does not have the VIP price tag that Amalfi has. This is partly due to its size and the influx of tourists as well.
Being a larger town, Sorrento has tons more accommodation options. It’s also not as popular as the town of Amalfi. Combining these, you’ll have less competition with other tourists, so you’ll be paying two to four times less for your stay.
Despite not being on the Amalfi Coast and its cheaper price tag, you’re not sacrificing Instagram-worthy spots in Sorrento. Sorrento looks like Amalfi in many ways, but its cliffs are much steeper than Amalfi. A bonus in staying in Sorrento is the sweeping view of the Bay of Naples and Mount Vesuvius from a breathtaking vista.
Not only that, but due to its size, Sorrento has much more establishments for your enjoyment. You have more restaurants, cafes, beach clubs, and boutiques to choose from.
If you truly want to get a taste of Amalfi, remember that Sorrento is the gateway to the Amalfi Coast. You can always hop on a boat and take a day trip to Amalfi! Several boat companies run between the two daily.
Amalfi Lemons vs. Sorrento Lemons
There’s not much difference between Amalfi lemons and Sorrento lemons other than their looks. Limone Costa d’Amalfi are long, tapering to the end. While Limone di Sorrento has a rounder shape to it.
Both varieties are sought-after by foodies and chefs alike and are IGP-protected. They both have brightly colored skin that’s rich in oil, perfect for making the famous limoncello. Both also have a flesh that’s sweet and juicy, ideal for adding some zest to a hearty bowl of pasta.
Sorrento to Amalfi Distance
The straight line distance from Sorrento to Amalfi is around 12 miles (19.3 kilometers). But the travel distance gives you a more accurate number if you choose to travel between the two. The driving distance between both towns is around 19.4 miles (31 kilometers).
Sorrento to Amalfi
There are a few ways to travel from Sorrento to Amalfi to fit your preferences and budget. You have the option to take a bus, ferry, water taxi, or taxi.
If you’re on a budget, taking the bus is the cheapest option. One-way tickets only cost around 3 USD.
If you wish to have a shorter travel time, take a taxi instead. A taxi can get you to Amalfi in just under an hour. This comes with a high price tag, as it costs around 47 to 58 USD.
Ferry From Sorrento to Amalfi
Taking the ferry from Sorrento to Amalfi is the perfect choice for those who want to admire the scenery. There are plenty of ferry services that run between the two towns daily, so it’s also convenient.
From Sorrento, make your way to Marina Piccola to buy a ferry ticket. Two of the popular ferry companies here are Alilauro Gruson and NLG.
NLG travels from Sorrento to Amalfi around 14 times a week. With this option, the travel time is around 1 hour and 20 minutes.
Alilauro Gruson has a similar travel frequency to NLG. But it’s a much faster option as the travel time will be only around 50 minutes.
Sorrento to Amalfi Ferry Price
The average ferry price from Sorrento to Amalfi is around 53 USD. Prices vary from one company to another, but the difference is only minimal.
Sorrento to Amalfi Ferry Schedule
The first ferry departing from Sorrento for Amalfi leaves at 10:45 AM. The last ferry leaves at around 5:05 PM. Ferry schedules change from time to time, so make sure to check online for an accurate timetable.
How Long Is the Ferry Ride From Sorrento to Amalfi?
The average ferry ride from Sorrento to Amalfi is around 1 hour and 20 minutes. But if you choose a faster service, like with Alilauro Gruson, you can cut down your travel time to just around 50 minutes.
Hydrofoil From Sorrento to Amalfi
You can take a fast hydrofoil from Sorrento to reach Amalfi. With this option, you can reach your destination in around 40 minutes. Hydrofoil prices start at around 17 USD.
They usually leave Sorrento during the afternoon though, and they don’t travel frequently. With this, you need to check online for a more accurate timetable. You can also book a seat online for your convenience.
Water Taxi From Sorrento to Amalfi
If you want a fast and comfortable way to travel from Sorrento to Amalfi, you can always book a sea taxi. This option cuts down your travel time to just under an hour. Several companies provide this service frequently and you can always book one from the port.
This option comes with a high price tag though. And prices vary drastically from one company to another, so it’s hard to give an estimate. Other than that, the cost also depends on the type of boat that you choose.
Train From Sorrento to Amalfi
While Sorrento has a train station, the town of Amalfi does not. So, unfortunately, you can’t travel between the two towns by train. Instead, you have the option to travel by sea or take a bus or taxi if you want to travel by land.
Bus From Sorrento to Amalfi
Direct buses are available between Sorrento to Amalfi for you to travel without breaking the bank. From Sorrento, make your way to the train station as it also doubles as a bus station. Once there, you can buy your ticket and make your way to Amalfi.
Riding a bus, while cheap, has a long travel time. You’ll have to travel around 2 to 2 hours and 30 minutes to get to Amalfi. There are no night buses available too, so you’ll have to travel by day.
The first bus leaves Sorrento at around 6:30 AM, while the last bus leaves at 7:00 PM.
How Much Is the Bus From Sorrento to Amalfi?
A one-way ticket from Sorrento to Amalfi costs around 3 USD. But if you’re planning to take a day trip, you can buy a 24-hour ticket called Costierasita. This ticket costs around 10 USD.
Taxi From Sorrento to Amalfi
Taking a taxi is not only a comfortable option for you to travel from Sorrento to Amalfi. But it also gives you a scenic drive along the Amalfi Coastal road.
This option is also the fastest way to reach Amalfi. The travel duration is only around 40 minutes.
How Much Is a Taxi From Sorrento to Amalfi?
The comfort of riding a taxi from Sorrento to Amalfi comes with a high price tag. You can expect to pay around 47 to 58 USD for one. And if you’re traveling with a large group, you’ll need a bigger car, so you will also be paying more.
Sorrento to Amalfi by Car
If you wish to have more freedom in your travel, you can always drive from Sorrento to Amalfi. You have two routes to choose from on this trip.
You can travel via SS163 and cover a distance of 19 miles (31 kilometers). The average travel time on this route is around 1 hour and 13 minutes.
You can also drive via SS145 and SS366 which has a distance of 30 miles (49 kilometers). Expect a longer travel duration on this route, which takes around 1 hour and 32 minutes on average.
Best Way to Get From Sorrento to Amalfi
The best way to travel from Sorrento to Amalfi is to ride a ferry! This option is fast, comfortable, and offers a stunning view of the glorious coastline.
Depending on your chosen company, it can take you anywhere from 40 to 1 hour and 20 minutes to reach Amalfi. Ferry prices on this route cost around 53 USD though.