Nine great day trips from Sorrento in Southern Italy – from ancient monuments to beautiful coastlines and glamorous islands – all of which you can do without a car, both independently or on a tour.
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Sorrento’s stunning sunsets, clear blue seas, delicious food and panoramic views make it one of my favourite places in Italy. But as well as being a fantastic place to visit in its own right, Sorrento is also surrounded by some of Southern Italy’s best sights.
You can easily base yourself in Sorrento and take day trips out to places like Pompeii, Capri and the Amalfi Coast, all of which are accessible by public transport so you don’t need to hire a car. So here are nine of my favourite day trips from Sorrento, with details of how to visit each place independently as well as tour options if you don’t want to do-it-yourself.
Map of day trips from Sorrento
Pompeii is one of the world’s best-known Roman sites and a travel must-see that makes an easy day trip from Sorrento. This coastal city was destroyed when Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79 AD, killing thousands of people and covering the city with 25-metres of volcanic ash.
But it was this ash which preserved the city underneath, and 1800 years later Pompeii was rediscovered. A whole buried city has been unearthed since then, and Pompeii’s now one of Southern Italy’s biggest tourist attractions. You can wander around its paved streets, bathhouses, temples and amphitheatres, and even spot original Roman graffiti.
The Pompeii archaeological site stretches over 160 acres so you’ll never see it all in a day, but it’s enough time to see the highlights. It’s a good idea to get a guide or audio guide – hearing the stories of life in Pompeii really helps bring these extraordinary ruins to life.
To reach Pompeii by public transport, take the train from Sorrento to Pompeii Scavi: Villa dei Misteri, which is the closest station to the ruins. There are two train services – Circumvesuviana local trains which run year-round, and the less frequent air conditioned Campania Express tourist service (April–October). The journey takes 35 minutes.
You can book tickets for Pompeii in advance online for a specific date for €16 adults (free for EU citizens under 18 or €3.50 for 18–25s) or buy them at the entrances. You can also get fast-track tickets* if you want to avoid queuing, which include an audio guide.
Take a tour
There are lots of different tours available from Sorrento to Pompeii which include travel, entry and a guide. There’s a half-day Pompeii tour* if you’re short on time. Or you can combine it with a visit to Mount Vesuvius* or Herculaneum* for a full-day trip.
Pompeii might be Southern Italy’s most famous Roman town, but it’s not its only one. Herculaneum – located just south of Naples – was also destroyed in the same eruption which covered Pompeii. But instead of the town being buried by the ash cloud, it was covered by a pyroclastic flow (a super-heated avalanche of gas and rock).
Like Pompeii, Herculaneum it was hidden away and forgotten, but here a new modern town called Ercolano grew up on top, until an 18th-century local dug a well. Instead he hit a Roman building and discovered Herculaneum. It’s about 50 metres below the ground level of Ercolano, so people live around the edge, looking down on the ancient city.
The Herculaneum archaeological site is a lot smaller than Pompeii, but it was a richer town so its buildings are larger and more ornate, with mosaics, statues and frescoes. Its smaller size means you can soak up the details rather than rushing around to see everything.
Read more: The ghost city of Herculaneum
You can take either a Circumvesuviana local train (year-round) or Campania Express tourist service (April–October) from Sorrento to Ercolano Scavi station, which is a 10-minute walk to the entrance of the the ruins. The journey takes 55 minutes.
Herculaneum tickets can be booked in advance online for a specific date for €13 adults (free for EU citizens under 18 or €3.50 for 18–25s) or you can buy them at the entrances. You can also get fast-track tickets* to avoid queuing, which include an audio guide.
Take a tour
Mount Vesuvius has left its mark on this part of Italy – from the giant eruption which destroyed Pompeii and Herculaneum in 79 AD right up to its most recent eruption in 1944 – and it’s classed as one of the world’s most dangerous volcanoes. Over 600,000 people live on the slopes around Vesuvius, which became Vesuvio National Park in 1955.
From the bus stop it’s a 20-minute walk up to the edge of the crater, with a path taking you right to the rim. At the top there are views down into the heart of the volcano and across to Naples and the Bay of Sorrento. You can follow the path along the rim, where steaming vents and wafts of sulphurous fumes show there’s still a lot going on below the surface.
It’s not a tough walk but the path is pretty rocky, so it’s a good idea to wear decent shoes, pack a hat as there’s not much shade and take a jumper as it can get cold at the top.
To get to Vesuvius from Sorrento, take either a Circumvesuviana local train or Campania Express tourist service (April–October) to Pompei Scavi: Villa dei Misteri, which takes 35 minutes. Then catch the EAV bus from Pompeii’s bus terminal in Anfiteatro Square. The bus journey to Vesuvius takes around 55 minutes and costs €3.10 one way.
There’s also a quicker shuttle bus from Herculaneum train station called the Vesuvio Express* which costs €10 return. And entry to the National Park is €10 per person.
Take a tour
Most of the tours of Mount Vesuvius from Sorrento are full-day trips* which also include a visit to Pompeii. There’s also a half-day Vesuvius tour* which combines a visit to the crater with a wine tasting and lunch at a vineyard on the slopes of the volcano.
4. The Amalfi Coast
The Amalfi Coast is one of the most stunning stretches of coastline in Europe, with pastel villages, lemon groves and pine forests perched on the cliffs. It stretches over 30 miles with 13 villages. The narrow coast road that connects them is spectacular, but a combination of crazy traffic and even crazier driving means the best way to explore is by boat.
Positano is the most famous village on the Amalfi Coast, with its postcard-perfect good looks. Wander the backstreets, visit the ornate Church of Santa Maria Assunta and try a tasty delizia al limone cake made with local lemons. The other two big-hitters are Amalfi and Ravello, but there are also plenty of villages, forts and beaches to explore.
Or head up into the hills on one of the Amalfi Coast’s walking paths. Most famous is the Sentiero degli Dei, or Path of the Gods, which runs for 4.8 miles from hilltop Agerola to Nocelle, just above Positano. But there are plenty of others at different difficulty levels.
Public ferries run from Sorrento’s port to Positano* (40 minutes) and Amalfi* (70 minutes) from April to October, and cost around €15–20 each way. There are also local SITA buses which connect Sorrento with Positano, Praiano and Amalfi, and you can change in Amalfi for the bus to Ravello. A 24-hour bus pass for unlimited rides costs €10.
Take a tour
You can take full-day trips from Sorrento to the Amalfi Coast by boat*, which stop off in Amalfi and Positano, and give you the opportunity to go swimming and snorkeling. Or there’s a guided bus tour* which calls at Positano, Amalfi and Ravello.
Capri has been a magnet for the rich and famous for centuries, attracting everyone from Roman emperors to Hollywood film stars. With steep limestone cliffs jutting out of the blue Tyrrhenian Sea, this island is a real beauty. The prices are as A-list as the views, but you can get a taste of the luxury lifestyle on a day trip from Sorrento to the island.
Capri’s two main centres are Capri Town and Anacapri, and both are filled with whitewashed buildings, cafés and boutique shops. From Anacapri you can take the seggiovia – a tiny one-seater chairlift – to the island’s highest point on Monte Solaro.
Another Capri must-do (weather permitting) is the boat trip to the Blue Grotto, or Grotta Azzurra. This sea cave glows blue in the sunshine, with a tiny entrance that’s only accessible by rowing boat. And there are also Roman villas, lighthouses and beaches.
Ferries run from Sorrento harbour to Capri from April to October. There’s a choice of regular (30-minute) and fast (20-minute) ferries which cost around €20 each way. They do get very busy in peak season though so it’s a good idea to book tickets in advance*.
When you get to Capri, you can get from the port at Marina Grande to Capri Town on the funicular (which costs €2 one way, and runs every 15 minutes) or on foot. Public minibuses connect Capri Town to the rest of the island – or you can hire an open-top taxi.
Take a tour
You can take a full-day boat tour* from Sorrento to Capri which visits the Blue Grotto (when it’s open) and sails along the island’s coastline before stopping for four hours to explore the island, with lunch and a limoncello tasting included.
Where Capri is all about the glitz and glamour, things are a lot more low-key and relaxed on the neighbouring island of Ischia. This is where Italians come to recharge, and the island’s thermal waters and mud baths have been used since the Etruscans.
If you want to unwind or ease any aches and pains, Ischia has a mix of thermal parks and gardens like the Poseidon Gardens and Negombo Spa as well as natural hot springs. Other highlights of a trip to the island are medieval Castello Aragonese, a castle town which is built on a fortified island connected to the rest of Ischia by a causeway.
There’s also the Mortella Gardens, built by the wife of English composer William Walton. They are overflowing with colourful plants and flowers, with a fantastic view along the coast to Forio. And the island has lovely sandy beaches where you can soak up the sunshine.
The ferry* from Sorrento harbour to Ischia Porto runs from April to October. The journey takes around an hour and costs €24 each way. Once you get to the island, you can walk to neighbouring Ischia Ponte and the Castello Aragonese. Or if you want to explore further afield there are local buses (a day pass for unlimited rides costs €4.50) and water taxis.
Take a tour
There is a full day private tour* to Ischia from Sorrento which includes the ferry and a guided car tour around the island, including Castello Aragonese and Monte Epomeo. Or you can take a combined Ischia and Procida day tour* by boat from Sorrento.
Smallest of the islands in the Bay of Naples, Procida is less than two square miles in size. But that hasn’t stopped it being named Italy’s Capital of Culture 2022. With its brightly coloured buildings, narrow alleyways, unspoilt beaches, waterside cafés and pretty harbour, it’s been used as a location for films Il Postino and The Talented Mr Ripley.
Marina Grande is the main harbour on the island where most day trips start. From there you can explore fishing villages like Marina Corricella and Marina Chiaiolella. Or visit Terra Murata, the historic heart of the island with its hilltop abbey and palace prison.
There are also some beautiful black sand beaches, including Chiaiolella and Ciraccio which are divided by two towering rock stacks. And don’t miss trying a Lingua di Due (ox’s tongue), a crispy local puff pastry filled with a lemon custard.
Alilauro run a daily direct service from Procida to Sorrento which takes 50 minutes and costs €24. They also have another daily service via Capri between June and October which takes 40–60 minutes and costs €24, but check locally as there’s not much info online.
You can also reach the island by catching a Circumvesuviana local train or Campania Express tourist service (April–October) to Naples, which takes 1 hour 15 minutes. Then take a more frequent high-speed ferry* from Naples Molo Beverello port, which reaches Procida in 30 minutes. It’s easy to get around Procida on foot, or you can hire a scooter or ebike.
Take a tour
You can also take a full-day boat tour* from Sorrento to Ischia and Procida, which includes swimming and snorkeling stops and around 1–2 hours free to explore Procida.
Manic and more than a little bit rough around the edges, Southern Italy’s capital is bursting with character and makes a real contrast to our other day trips from Sorrento. The historic heart of Naples is its centro storico, which is packed with world-class architecture, from the dramatic Duomo to its fresco-filled Baroque churches and palazzos.
You can also see some of the archaeological treasures unearthed in Pompeii and Herculaneum at the city’s Museo Archeologico Nazionale. As well as the sights above ground, there’s a whole network of tunnels 40 metres below Naples’ streets. You can the explore catacombs, water cisterns and wartime shelters that lie underneath your feet.
And make sure you come hungry as Naples has some of the best food in Italy. It’s the city where pizza was created but also has tasty pasta, seafood and sweet treats, as well as wine which is grown on the fertile slopes that surround Mount Vesuvius.
It’s around 75 minutes from Sorrento to Naples by either the Circumvesuviana local trains or Campania Express tourist service (April–October). There’s also a SITA bus connecting the two, which costs €2.80 one way and takes around 75 minutes.
Or you take the more scenic route across the Bay of Naples on board the high-speed ferries* from Sorrento to Naples Molo Beverello port. These take around 40 minutes and cost around €14 one way. They run year-round but are more frequent from April–October.
Take a tour
Most tours run from Naples to Sorrento rather than the other way around. But you can make your own way to Naples using the public transport options above or a private transfer* and take a city tour – there are lots of different Naples tours available including a walking tour*, underground tour* and street food and sightseeing tour.*
Long before the Romans made their mark on this part of Southern Italy, the region was home to the Ancient Greeks. And you can still see one of their most impressive monuments at, just south of the Amalfi Coast. This coastal city was founded in the 6th century BC and is where you can find three of the best-preserved Greek temples in the world.
The temples date back to between 600 and 450 BC and have been made a UNESCO World Heritage Site.is an atmospheric place to walk around – and is usually a lot quieter than Pompeii or Herculaneum. The biggest of the three temples is the Temple of Neptune, which is 60 metres long and is almost completely intact.
Then there are the two smaller temples of Hera and Athena. The site is also known for its ancient tomb paintings from 470 BC.was eventually taken over by the Romans, and you can see the ruins of their forum and amphitheatre, before it was abandoned and overgrown until it was rediscovered and excavated in the 18th century.
Paestum is a bit fiddly to get to by public transport but it is possible. First catch a Circumvesuviana local train or Campania Express tourist service (April–October) to Naples’ Garibaldi station (75 minutes). Then it’s a five-minute walk to Napoli Centrale station where you can catch a mainline train to Paestum, which takes 1 hour 15 minutes.
The train station in Paestum is a 15-minute walk from the ruins. Entrance to the archaeological site costs €12 for adults from March to November and €6 from December to February (free for EU citizens under 18 or €2 for 18–25s).
Take a tour
You can also take a full-day tour* from Sorrento to Paestum, which includes a guide at the ruins and a tour and tasting at a local buffalo mozzarella farm.