You’ve all seen the pictures, you’ve all heard the fuss and you’ve all dreamt of visiting here for as long as you can remember. This was me too until in July, on a family holiday with the parents, we headed for Sorrento & Positano and woweeee what a treat.
Now I’ll tell ya this right now, if it weren’t for our parents, Bryn and I would not have been able to afford this leg of the trip (we’re poor backpackers remember?!) However since being on our family vacay, our mums spoiling us head over heels, you could say we were living in luxury….for the meanwhile anyway.
ARRIVING IN ITALY:
After spending our last week sipping wine in a tiny wee French town in Provence, it was time for a change of culture. We (our mummas, Bryn and I), flew from Lyon to Naples, picked up our car for the next week and hit the road. Easiest way to get to Sorrento is by flying into the city of Naples. Here you can either jump on a train or a bus to get down the coast or, if you’re like us and want your own car, you can pick one up from the Naples airport where I recommend you book in advance.
First stop…Sorrento. If I was still living the budget backpacker life and wanted to visit the Amalfi Coast, Sorrento is 100% where I’d stay. With lower prices than Amalfi, Positano and the island of Capri, you can use Sorrento as your base and head off on day trips from there. Sorrento may be known as the gateway to the Amalfi Coast, but this gateway is bloody beeeeaaaauuutiful so make sure if you are planning to run off on day trips, you give yourselves some time in Sorrento too.
We had 4 days here and spent our time day tripping, eating, swimming, eating, sunbathing, eating and eating. Yes lots & lots of eating. Here’s what you can expect:
WHAT TO DO:
Get lost shopping & wandering the streets – Without a doubt, the hidden streets of Sorrento are stunning & bursting with life. From the hundred limoncello stores, to leather goods, sandals, jewellery, clothing, gelato & more…each shop is full of heart, full of soul and full of that wonderful Italian culture. Here’s the perfect spot to buy yourself (or ya loved ones) something nice.
Spend a day at the main beach – A classic European beach (where you gotta pay 13Euro for a spot), we spent one morning chilling at Sorento’s Marina Piccolo. The walk down is pretty beautiful, the high cliffs with brightly coloured buildings remind you that you’re far away from the beaches of New Zealand. Along the shore line you’ll find heaps of beach bars to choose from, so without fluffing around (they’re all the same), pick one, pay your money & set yourself up. European culture at it’s best, so do as they do and sit back & enjoy.
Go searching for a secluded beach – Another beach, just 5 minutes down the road by bus & is called “Bagni Della Regina Giovanna” & is worth searching for. This little secluded spot is open to the sea but protected by rocky land so it’s like a little lagoon. Not super comfortable to spend an entire day but cool to check out, have a dip and take some pics. We we’re lucky and actually visited this lagoon our way back from our Capri Day Tour, where we jumped off the boat and swam in from the sea. There are tons of little secluded spots along this part of the coast, so if you’re not vibing the crowds, go wandering.
Wander down the main strip at night – This was epic. At night, the main strip gets closed down to cars and the street performers come out to play. Spend an hour walking through (either on the way to dinner or after) and enjoy the buskers doing their thang.
Visit the Lost City of Pompeii – Day trip number one and okay wow. I hugely underestimated this until I saw it for myself. The City Of Pompeii was an ancient Roman town that was completely destroyed during the eruption of Mount Vesuvius AD 79. The entire city was covered in 14-17ft of volcanic ash and wasn’t even found for another 1500 years!!! How mental is this?!
We decided not to do a tour in the 35 degree heat, but instead wandered around the city, reading facts that we’d googled along the way. Its crazy to think that the city has been preserved in such detail for over a millennium, archaeologists have even been able to identity the exact position people were in when they died and have used plaster to re-create their body shapes. This is hugely mind-blowing and sad too.
Tours and buses leave daily from Sorrento or alternatively, and what we did, was drive ourselves, stopping to check out the beautiful views on the way. The drive from Sorrento to Pompeii takes about 45min.
Tour the Island of Capri – Day trip number two. From Sorrento, day trips to Capri are advertised EVERYWHERE…it’s actually almost a little confusing to pick one. In a nutshell, they’re all super similar and you just gotta think about what you want. Do you want time on the island? (If yes take the ferry). Do you want to go around the island? (If yes get a semi private or private tour). Do you want both? (If yes I’d suggest the semi private/private tour. You can always catch the ferry over, then book another boat while you’re there to go around the island but this becomes too much admin – just book it all with the same company and its easy peasy. If you’re luxe enough to stay on the island, well then….lucky you!
We went through a company called Cooperative Azzurra Sorrento, had a gorgeous day & I’d totally recommend them. It was epic to have a semi private tour (only 7 people & we took up 5 of those 7 spots). The boat was perfect with space to sit up the front and enjoy the view + it was comfortable to sit out the back too. We only had a few hours on the island and I would have loved another hour or two, but it was still enough to go up the cable car to visit the town center of Capri, take in the views and most importantly, eat a gelato.
The boat tour around the island was the highlight for sure. We took the boat into some epic grottos (we even swam into a couple of them), went through the “tunnel of love” (part of the 3 famous Faraglioni rocks), checked out the million insane super yachts, went for a snorkel, all while sipping on our free bottle of prosecco. What a day, what more can you ask for.
Other day trips from Sorrento include – Mt Vesuvius, Amalfi & Positano (an absolute MUST), Naples, Rome and even Pisa. These are all possible as tours or buses are available daily.
Like I said…we did a lot of eating in Sorrento and like I kept telling myself, why the hell not?! You’re in the land of pizza, pasta and gelato, it’d be rude not to right?! Some good restaurants are:
Pure Gelato Cafe Sorrento – For something a little cheaper with an epic gelato to match head here to Pure Gelato Cafe Sorrento. New school in its cafe vibe, the savoury crepes and gelato were the business.
Taverna Azzurra – Located along the small fishermans beach of Marina Grande, the seafood here was absolutely incred. We sat on a little terrace over the sand, watching the sun go down and the boats dock in. This beach is also a beaut spot for the day & is where we took our semi-private boat tour to Capri. I would recommend going to any of the restaurants located along this small beach, its beautiful, more private and has the best seafood around.
O’Parrucchiano – This restaurant was HUGE and absolutely beautiful. Set in a lemon grove, the outside terrace and garden was full of plants, flowers & the smell of epic Italian food. Seafood for us as usual, we were happy as Larry (but who is Larry and why is he happy?!)
L’Antica Trattoria or next door at Blu Water – After hearing pretty epic reviews on the seafood and being seafood lovers, we thought wed take a look. The restaurant looked amazing but after seeing it was a Michelin, we opted for something a little cheaper. Instead we went next door to “Blu Water” and had ourselves a beautiful meal with lots of wine.
Bellevue Syrene Gourmet & Restaurant (La Pergola) – For a fancy restaurant with a hell of a view, hit this up. Situated in a luxurious 5 star hotel, you’ll feel like one of the rich and famous in no time. We didn’t go so I can’t vouch for the food, but judging by the setting and the reviews it looks amaze.
AND TO DRINK:
Insolito Night Day – This was one of the busiest places to have a few drinks at night and although not super trendy, it was always packed with people. I think it probably turns into a nightclub later on but after a few cocktails in the hot sun, we were passed out in bed by midnight.
Chaplin’s Irish pub – Because who doesn’t love an Irish bar
Mannekens Pis – We went for a drink here on Sharon’s (Bryns mummas) last night and by chance, got a hell of a show by a street performer. The mime was honestly one of the best I’ve seen and had the audience so captivated, there we’re a good few hundred people standing around. Luckily we had a seat at the pub, so the mime couldn’t come have a laugh at us, but wow was he funny taking the piss out of members of the crowd.
Our accom was smack bang in the middle of town and was super easy to get anywhere and everywhere. Free breaky each morning & affordable prices, this bed & breakfast is highly recommended.
Click here to book your stay at Casa Astarita.
Sorrento is little shy hostel wise, but check out hostelworld.com for your best budget options.
Well…4 days later and it was time to move on. With Bryns mum flying back home to New Zealand, Tina, Bryn and I packed up, jumped in the car & hit the crazy winding roads to Positano. Thanks Sorrento.
Leah | free & addicted