Julie Italy 33 Comments

During our tour of Italy we had three days to spend in Sorrento. Sorrento is a great home base for exploring this part of Italy, as it is well connected to the island of Capri, the Amalfi Coast, and the historic ruins of Pompeii.

Day 1: Pompeii

We spent our first day visiting Pompeii. We had a late start to the day, and the Circumvesuviana train we were taking to Pompeii broke down on its third stop, so we did not arrive until midday. It was HOT and crowded walking around Pompeii.

Tyler, who has been learning about Roman construction through our early start with homeschooling, taught us what he knew of Pompeii, with supplemental information from Rick Steves Guide Book.


Tips on Visiting Pompeii

The Circumvesuviana train connects Sorrento with Pompeii. The journey takes 30 minutes. This is a local, commuter train. There is no air conditioning so it can be a hot ride during the summer months. We know from our experience!! Also, while on the train, beware of pickpockets. Here is a link to the Circumvesuviana timetable.

Pompeii can be visited in half a day. We recommend taking a guided tour. The four of us followed the Pompeii tour in Rick Steves’ Italy Guide but we felt like we were missing something.


The second half of your day can be used to visit the top of Mount Vesuvius. From the train station in Pompeii, you can take a bus to Mount Vesuvius and then you will have to walk up 860 meters to the summit of Vesuvius. Or, you can skip Mount Vesuvius and explore the beautiful town of Sorrento instead.

We spent the rest of the day touring the town of Sorrento, shopping for limoncello and groceries for dinner, and then relaxing at our hotel.


Day 2: Capri & the Blue Grotto

We spent our second day on the island of Capri. This was our favorite day while in Sorrento. The island of Capri is gorgeous and Tyler and Kara had a great time seeing the Blue Grotto and taking the chair lift up to Mount Solaro.

For full details on how to visit the island of Capri and the Blue Grotto, read How to Visit the Blue Grotto

Blue Grotto

Day 3: The Amalfi Coast

We spent our third and final day touring the Amalfi Coast. All four of us loved Positano and our favorite activity was kayaking in the Mediterranean Sea. It would have been a perfect day if we skipped the drive down to Amalfi and just spent the day in the amazing town of Positano. The crowds of people on the roads in July took away from what a great experience this could have been.

To get around the Amalfi Coast, you have several options for transportation: self-drive, hire a private driver, or use the public bus system. Since we were traveling on a tight budget, we relied on the buses. This was incredibly frustrating. In our experience, the buses were consistently late and on more than one occasion, failed to show up at all. If I did it again, I would pay the money and hire a driver. If you have plans to self-drive the Amalfi Coast during the busy summer months, beware that it can be very difficult to find parking in town. After our experience, hiring a driver seems to be the best method of touring the Amalfi Coast.

If you don’t have a rental car and want to avoid using the public bus, here are three guided tours of the Amalfi Coast:


Amalfi Coast

Tyler Rivenbark

Where to Stay

LUXURY: Grand Hotel Excelsior Vittoria. Perched on top of a cliff overlooking Sorrento, this property has three historic buildings surrounded by a private park. The main entrance leads to Sorrento’s main square and you can take an elevator to the harbor. Rooms are luxuriously decorated and the hotel offers a spa, multiple onsite restaurants, and an elegant bar with sea views.

UPSCALE: Bella Sorrento B&B. This small property boasts an excellent location in Sorrento and gets rave reviews by prior guests. Breakfast is served in the garden and some rooms offer views of the sea. If you are traveling as a family, there is a room that can accommodate up to four people.

UPSCALE: Maison La Minervetta. This hotel, with its cliff top setting, offers amazing views over Sorrento, the Bay of Naples, and Mount Vesuvius. Rooms have a nautical theme. If you are looking for a room with an unforgettable view, check out the superior corner suite with sea view. 

MID-RANGE: Vista Mar B&B. This bed and breakfast has a great location in Sorrento. From the rooftop terrace, enjoy stunning views over the city. This property gets exceptional reviews and there is a family room that is perfect for four people.

More Information about Italy

AMALFI COAST: Getting from Rome to the Amalfi Coast can be confusing but we take the guesswork out of how to do this in our Rome to the Amalfi Coast Guide. You can also add on Pompeii as you travel between Rome and Sorrento. Learn how to hike the Path of the Gods, the best hike on the Amalfi Coast, how to visit the Blue Grotto in Capri, and what it is like to visit the Amalfi Coast in October.

DOLOMITES: In our article Best Hikes in the Dolomites, we cover 15 epic trails in the Dolomites. Which ones do you want to do?

ROME: For a list of the top experiences in Rome, read our article Best Things to Do in Rome. Learn how to put these together in our 2 Day Rome Itinerary, where to eat in our Rome Restaurant Guide, how to visit the Colosseum, and where to stay in our Rome Hotel Guide.

FLORENCE & TUSCANY: If this is your first visit to Florence, read our guide to the Best Things to Do in Florence. If you are planning a visit to Tuscany, learn how to spend one day in Sienahow to visit Pienza, and the best things to do in San Gimignano.

ITALY ITINERARIES: If you are just beginning to plan your Italy itinerary, take a look at our 10 Days in Italy Itinerary for four different ways to spend 10 days in Italy.


We have TONS more information about Italy in our Italy Travel Guide, including Rome, Florence, Venice, Tuscany, the Dolomites, the Amalfi Coast, the Cinque Terre, and Puglia.


Three days in Sorrento


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Comments 33

  1. Avatar for Lisa Mail
    Lisa Mail

    Thank you for all of he great information. I’m planning a trip (about 10 days or so) for this August with my husband and two kids who are 16 and 18 . I’m afraid of the crowds but this is the time we want to go.
    We definitely want to spend time in the south. Does August and the fact that this is so last minute change your ideas at all for an itinerary or any other suggestions? Thank you! Lisa

    1. Avatar for Julie Post

      August will be a busy time but it wouldn’t change the itinerary I have listed, just as long as you can get a hotel reservation (you still should be able to). You could add another day to spend more time on the coast. One thing we don’t have listed to do is the Path of the Gods, a beautiful hike along the coast. You could book your tours/drivers now, to make sure you have them reserved. And about 2 weeks before your trip, make restaurant reservations, if you plan to have a nice dinner in one of the towns. Cheers, Julie

  2. Avatar for Amanda

    Hi there!
    I am planning my trip to Italy at the end of the month, and worried about getting from my hotel from the train stations – are cabs the default method of travel? Are they expensive? I am debating whether to rent a car since I will be going from Naples to Pompeii to Sorrento and then to Postitano. Thanks!

    1. Avatar for Julie Post

      Yes, you can hire a taxi to take you from your hotel to the train station. Renting a car is not a bad idea this time of year. Crowds are low so you should not have the parking issues like you would during the insanely crowded summer months. Just check with your hotel in Positano to see if they offer parking (and if they don’t, where do they recommend you park?). You can also hire a driver to take you from Naples to Positano, if you don’t want to rent a car. I don’t know exact prices, but usually renting a car is cheaper than hiring a driver. Cheers, Julie

  3. Avatar for Raquel

    Hi, im so happy i found out this blog, make such a difference in planning a trip to italy. I wonder if you could help me figure out whether to visit Amalfi Coast or cinque Terre. We are planning to be 15 Days in italy for June with our 4 and 3 year old daughters. So which of them would be best and less difficult to visit with our kids. We are also planning to visit Florence and part of the Tuscany side (just the way you suggest in the blog) and then travel all the way to bologna and end up in verona.
    Thank you so much for all the info you proviene in tour blog!!!! Is so helpfull.

    1. Avatar for Julie Post

      I love Verona…it’s so nice you are ending there. And so far, I’ve only driven through Bologna but I hear the food is amazing. As for the Cinque Terre vs Amalfi…personally, we liked the Cinque Terre a little bit more than the Amalfi Coast. Part of the reason is because we had such a terrible experience with the public bus system in Amalfi, but this can be easily avoided if you hire a driver, or get around by ferry. Pick the Amalfi Coast if you want to visit Pompeii, don’t mind hiring a driver to get around (because the buses can be a nightmare), and like the idea of the day trip to Capri. Our kids loved the Blue Grotto. Pick the 5Terre if you like the idea of staying in a colorful town and exploring the towns each day. You can get around by train but expect lines midday. Monterosso would be a good place to stay since there is a beach here. Just know that it sounds like it is getting quite crowded in the 5Terre. Someone just wrote in this week about how crowded the hiking trails and trains were recently. You can read Angela’s comment on the 5Terre hiking post. Both are great places to visit. If you will be traveling from Florence, the 5 Terre will be closer, so that might be a factor to consider. Hope this helps! Cheers, Julie

  4. Avatar for Valerie Phan
    Valerie Phan


    Thank you for the detailed information! We are visiting the Almalfi Coast this summer and I have a question pertaining to Pompeii.
    We are flying into Naples airport and need to catch the Circumvesuviana going to Pompeii. Can you tell me how to get to the train station from Naples airport?
    The other question is should we purchase train tickets on site the day when we get there? I heard there issues with being ripped off with train tickets purchase…

    Thanks again!

    1. Avatar for Julie Post

      Hello Valerie. There is a shuttle bus that goes from the airport to the central train station. Click the link for more info. You can also take a taxi to get to the train station. As for the Circumvesuviana tickets, you buy them at the station right before you get on the train. From what I know, you can’t buy them in advance. Take a look at our article about getting around Sorrento/Naples/Pompeii for more info (and the price you should expect to pay). Cheers, Julie

  5. Avatar for Alexia D.
  6. Avatar for Aurore Buriez
    Aurore Buriez

    Fantastic explanation. Thank you very much.
    I love your work.

    I just would like to add few details to whom would like to stay away from the crowd on the AMALFI Coast ( more nearest Amalfi)

    On the Amalfi Coast , just above Amalfi away from the crowd but still easy to reach by foot, there is the beautiful village of PONTONE, strangely still unknown on the guide book.

    It seems that time has stopped in that village and locals seem to be your neighbors as very friendly. I have stayed in a guesthouse called Lemon in the air.

    From Pontone, ( a village, part of SCALA) you have the best trekking paths to reach Amalfi or Ravello as the Valley delle Ferriere or Basilicata Saint Eustachio.

    Of course , as you said take comfortable shoes as on the Coast it’s free exercise and steps , lot of steps… every where.

    1. Avatar for Julie Post
  7. Avatar for Traci

    Hi, Your blog has been so helpful planning our trip to Italy thank you ! I was wondering, is there places to hire drivers when you are there or is it best to try and book them in advance. We are looking to have a driver from Pompeii to Sorrento after our tour at Pompeii and then a couple days later for our trip to the Amalfi Coast/Positano . We are staying in Sorrento. I saw that you suggested Sorrento Silver Star.

    Thank you,

    1. Avatar for Julie Post

      We did not use Sorrento Silverstar but they get good reviews online. We never used a driver while in Sorrento. It didn’t work for our budget at the time. But even so, knowing what I know now, I’d hire a private on our next visit to Sorrento. There are more options than Sorrento Silverstar. If you have a hotel picked out, you could email the hotel for suggestions. Cheers, Julie

  8. Avatar for Monica och
    Monica och

    My brother and I will be traveling to Italy for 2 weeks in October this is our 1st trip and part of it will be to explore our family heritage in Cozensa. We will be flying into Rome than heading to Sorrento for 3 nights than into Cozensa for 3 nights than going back to Rome.Any suggestions on our trip back to Rome? We will be staying in Rome for 3 nights. We are in our sixties and cannot do a lot o f walking.

    1. Avatar for Julie Post

      We have a two day Rome itinerary you can take a look at. It would be easy to break up the two days into three (you might want to do the Vatican in one day, the Colosseum and Roman Forum on the second day, and walk the heart of Rome on the third day) and it would space out the amount of walking that you will do. To get around Rome, we mostly used the metro, which can be crowded at times, but taxis work, too. Have fun exploring your family heritage…that sounds very interesting! Cheers, Julie

  9. Avatar for Kristie

    This was very helpful! We will be going to Italy in August and we only have 5 days up in the north before 5 days in Sicily. We will be in Rome, out first day and then the next night maybe Florence, and then 3 in Sorrento/ Amalfi coast. I can’t make up my mind. Any advice. Amalfi coast is my must.
    Thank you!

    1. Avatar for Julie Post

      If I understand your timeline correctly, it sounds like you’ll have about one day in Rome, travel to Florence and see Florence in one day, then travel back past Rome to Sorrento and spend 3 days here. In my opinion, I’d skip Florence, spend 2 days in Rome and then 3 days in Sorrento. Adding in Florence for such a quick trip really does not give you enough time here and takes you well north of Sorrento. However, that is just my opinion. Florence/Tuscany and northern Italy could make a nice future trip. Just a thought. Cheers, Julie

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