Over Summer, I visited Sorrento for the second time, and it reminded me just how much I love this region of Italy. We had a week of hot weather, fantastic food and spectacular views! Many people use Sorrento as a base to explore the rest of the Amalfi Coast, taking day trips to the surrounding areas (including Positano and Amalfi – my photo diary of which can be found here). Despite it being used as a base, I am a firm believer in the fact that it is a stunning destination in its own right, and there’s plenty to do and see in the charming town centre.
Where to Stay: Grand Hotel President or Villa Pane:
On our first stay in Sorrento, Gareth and I stayed at the Villa Pane, which is a tiny, family run hotel, located high up in the hills overlooking Sorrento. We had an amazing sea view room, looking out to the sea, while giving amazing views of Sorrento and Vesuvius. The food was also incredibly nice (although a little bit too fancy for my taste) and the owners were lovely.
However, the Villa Pane did not have much of a swimming pool, so this time, we opted for the Grand Hotel President, which we booked through Thomson. While a lot bigger than the Villa Pane, it still had a homely feel to it, and it also had stunning views over Sorrento and the Bay of Naples. It also had a lovely swimming pool (which was on a patio overlooking Sorrento), and a rooftop bar perfect for watching sunset from. Like the Villa Pane, the evening food was a little bit too fancy for my taste, but the lunch time swimming pool bar offered fantastic pizza.
I would 100% recommend both hotels, although I think I preferred our stay at the Grand Hotel President due to the swimming pool and bars, as well as the fact that it was a lot easier to organise tours through!
Things to Do:
People Watch at Piazza Tasso:
There are lots of cafes and restaurants in the main piazza in Sorrento, and it’s definitely the hub of activity in Sorrento. It’s the perfect place to get out of the heat for a while, and do some people watching (or just relax!)
Visit Marina Grande:
You’ll definitely be headed here if you’re planning to take a ferry to Capri, but even if you’re not, it’s worth a visit. It’s the perfect place to watch the sun go down, grab an ice cream or just wander around. Also, if you’re daunted by the long climb down to the marina, there’s a lift which only costs a couple of euros to take you down. Unfortunately, we were unaware of this the first time we visited, so ended up doing the climb up all of the steps after visiting Capri, which was definitely a big mistake!
Wander around Villa Communale:
This is a popular park with lots of fountains and plants, overlooking the marina, and is the perfect place to eat an ice cream and sit down for a while! Also, if visiting in Summer, be prepared to see a LOT of wedding parties.
Visit Gallery Raffaele Celentano:
This was perhaps my favourite discovery in Sorrento, and was one we made completely by accident. The first time we visited, we presumed it was only there for a certain amount of time, but to our delight, when we returned two years later, it was still there! It’s a small upper floor photo gallery by Sorrento native Raffaele Celentano, located just outside the villa communale park. It was very very quiet, as not many people know about it, as you have to walk through a garden area which looks closed off to get there! It was the loveliest place, with an outdoor terrace complete with a swing and stunning views of both the park below and the Bay of Naples. As it costs only 2 Euros to get in, and the photos and views are amazing, I would 100% recommend.
Wander Around the Many Churches in Sorrento:
There are lots of beautiful church in the Sorrento town centre, and if like me, you always enjoy visiting churches, 100% do this.
Explore the Old Part of Town:
The old part of town is made up of lots of windy, narrow streets lined with shops and art galleries, and even though it was boiling to explore them, it’s a lovely way to spend a couple of hours exploring and picking up souvenirs.
View the Abandoned Water Mill:
Another incredibly cool discovery, was the abandoned water mill, located just outside of the Piazza. It was a complete surprise, as it comes out of nowhere, but you can look over at it from a railing just off a main road!
Where to Eat:
I honestly don’t think there’s anywhere not nice to eat at in Sorrento, but my personal favourite was the Bar Syrenuse, located on the piazza. They served the nicest cocktails (or mocktails in my case, but Gareth tells me the cocktails were nice!), lovely but simple food and great views over the path down to the Marina.