Julie Italy 31 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, Casa Elena.


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 Is the Blue Grotto Really Worth It?

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 for Your Trip to Italy:

Planning a trip to Italy? Read all of our articles in our Italy Travel Guide.

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Three days in Sorrento


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Comments 31

  1. 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!

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      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

  2. 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.

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      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

  3. Hello!

    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. 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

  4. 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.

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  5. 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. 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

  6. 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. 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

  7. 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. 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

  8. Did you consider doing any of the hiking in the mountains/cliffsides of the Amalfi Coast? We are also staying in Sorrento and are not sure if we’ll have time to hike, let alone if the logistics are simply impractical. Curious if you considered it and how you evaluated what to do or what not to do.
    Thanks for sharing your awesome tales!!

    1. Post

      No, we did not consider any of the hikes. We only had the one day for the Amalfi Coast and like you mentioned, we did not want to put time into figuring out the logistics. But hiking along the coast sounds like an interesting idea! Cheers, Julie

  9. My family wants to go to Capri! Especially my 10 yo dd, Capri. We have a low budget, but if you were tonight Italy with 7 kid, ages 10-29, where would you most like to go? I am thinking three days in a rental house on Capri, and 4 days somewhere else, or can we make 3 places in a week and still have it seem relaxed?

    1. Post

      If you want 3 days in Capri, you could then do 4 days in Sorrento or 4 days in Rome since they are so close to Capri. Capri is small and you can see all of it with just one day. You could do what we did, staying three to four days in Sorrento (with a day trip to Capri) and put the rest of your time into Rome. Just a thought. – Julie

  10. We just got back from Sorrento and I can’t imagine having taken a bus or self drive the coast. We took the ferry and it was the best way to go!

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  11. Julie – enjoyed your practical tips and great photo’s – we are looking forward to our trip to Italy in June/July. We plan to visit Capri on my son’s 12th birthday. I notice you took your kids on the chairlift to Mt Solaro and wondered if they have any age constraints? Margaret

    1. Post

      I am not sure if there are age constraints. Kara was 9 years old and permitted to ride the chair lift all by herself.

  12. My family and I are so inspired by your blog. Cannot wait to visit Italy and follow in your footsteps for the most part! Thanks again!

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  13. My boys, Eric and Ryan, are classmates of Tyler. We just returned from Italy, specifically Rome,Florence and Sorrento, and we were talking while we were there about your world adventure. I looked up your blog and I am LOVING catching up to you guys and reading about your adventures and looking at your GORGEOUS pictures. What a wonderful experience you are giving your kids!

  14. Hi my name is France’s de Gregorio I am married to elenas brother we live in New Zealand Wellington island bay. The Italians here come from masslubrense just five mins out of Sorrento. Maybe one day you all come this way.

    1. Post

      Yes, we are eventually going to make it to New Zealand, but it won’t be until April of next year. We are really looking forward to it and have only heard good things about New Zealand.

  15. Julie, Love reading about the experiences on your trip and seeing all of these great pictures. You are visiting many places I have always wanted to see.

  16. You are taking such good pictures! You have a good photog eye. So far all your pictures are making me want to go on a trip

  17. Your photography is breathtaking. I am sharing the blog with my daughter since neither of us will ever take such a trip. I trust you have many memory cards for your camera for such a long trip!

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