The beautiful Italian city of Sorrento faces out across the Bay of Naples on the western coast of southern Italy.
Although the city is found in the tourist region that surrounds this spectacular coastline – that includes such famous locations as Naples and the Amalfi Coast – Sorrento still somehow manages to retain an aura of calm and relaxation in an otherwise busy and bustling part of the country.
Sorrento is a great choice for those looking for an alternative to the over-visited parts of southern Italy but still want a historic, charming Italian city to immerse themselves in.
The old streets of Sorrento and the dramatic cliffs that the city is built upon are the perfect locations from which to access the rest of this grand region, without having to stay overnight in the busier areas.
The Amalfi Coast is just a short drive away, while Naples is just a ferry ride away, as are the many islands to be found out in the bay.
And, of course, you can’t miss the historic archaeological sites of Herculaneum and Pompeii, Roman cities that fell to the destructive power of the ever-present Mount Vesuvius, which rears above all of southwest Italy.
Here are the best day trips from Sorrento:
Naples is the third largest city in Italy and arguably one of the most historic and cultural cities in the country.
Naples is vast, but many of the truly historic places can be visited in a day trip from Sorrento – the two city centers are easily connected by regular ferries that ply their way across the bay.
Naples has hundreds of ancient Greek and Roman sights to see and a large part of the city is listed under the UNESCO World Heritage scheme.
It’s one of the most important places in Italy and the views over the water and across to Mount Vesuvius are absolutely spectacular.
Naples is also home to the ubiquitous pizza and the city truly is heaven for anyone with a hankering for Italian food.
Standing at 1200-meters, Mount Vesuvius is an ever-present fixture on the skyline of the Campania Region of Italy.
It is Europe’s only active volcano, and one that has violently erupted more than once in the not-so-distant past.
The distinctive, conical peak is visible from much of the coastline here.
From Sorrento, it’s possible to make a day trip to Mount Vesuvius, not only to admire it from afar, but to get up close and tackle a climb to the summit.
The huge crater at the top can be reached along a rugged, windswept trail that leads up the mountain; many companies and guides in the region are ready to offer their services to help tourists experience this natural marvel in the best way possible.
Recommended tour: Pompeii & Vesuvius Full-Day Tour From Sorrento
After a trip to Mount Vesuvius, it’s prudent to visit the ruins of Pompeii to see the damage that this powerful volcano is capable of inflicting on the surrounding areas.
The ruins of Pompeii are perhaps one of the most well-known Roman archeological sites in Europe.
When Mount Vesuvius erupted in AD 79, the thriving city of Pompeii was completely annihilated and buried under ash.
This is a demonstration of the veritable power of nature.
The ruins were discovered again a few hundred years ago and have since been excavated in places to reveal a city that was literally buried in time.
A visit to Pompeii is not just a visit to Roman ruins, but a visit back to a time thousands of years ago, as life here was preserved hauntingly in death by the power of the volcano.
Herculaneum, like Pompeii, was a Roman city that was buried in the same eruption of Mount Vesuvius in AD 79. The ruins of Herculaneum are much quieter to visit than Pompeii but contain an equally compelling insight into the lives of Roman citizens in the first century AD. Grand villas and expensive houses were found along this stretch of coastline – a coastline favored by the elite of Rome for its beauty, as it still is by tourists today.
The location though, unfortunately meant that when Mount Vesuvius erupted, the entire city of Herculaneum was completely buried.
Recommended tour: From Sorrento: Half-Day Herculaneum Express by Local Train
Just an hour’s drive away from Sorrento is the large city of Salerno.
Although nowhere near as populated as Naples to the north, Salerno is still much bigger than Sorrento and makes for an interesting, if chaotic, day trip.
The city is home to a huge industrial harbor, but past this, the promenade opens up to beautiful vistas of the ocean.
It’s a lively, bustling place, where you can experience real Italian life on the streets and in the homely restaurants.
Top rated tour: Full-Day Tour of Salerno & Paestum
6. Amalfi Coast
The Amalfi Coast is found just east of Sorrento and is well known as one of the premier tourist destinations in Italy.
The coastline is absolutely spectacular and receives a huge number of tourists each year, who are looking to experience a piece of charming, Italian life in a serene setting.
While the number of visitors here may make that impossible these days, the raw natural beauty that made the Amalfi Coast so famous to begin with is still as untouched as ever.
There are so many quaint, colorful villages to explore that you can always find a secluded spot to make your own amongst the dramatic, high cliffs and white sand beaches.
Suggested tour: Amalfi Coast Full-Day Tour from Sorrento
7. Capri Island
Capri is one of the most spectacular islands to be found anywhere along the extensive Italian coastline.
From Sorrento, you can see Capri waiting out on the water; there are many ferries and tour companies running day trips across to this beautiful island.
Huge cliffs tower skyward on Capri and there are glorious, sandy beaches nestled between the exceptionally majestic rocks that rise from the ocean.
Capri has long been a favorite tourist spot – even the Romans used the island as a getaway.
There are many historic villas to explore amongst incredible scenery, but the real star of Capri is the Blue Grotto, a colorful, underwater cave that shimmers turquoise in the light.
Suggested tour: Capri: Full-Day Small Group Boat Tour
8. Procida Island
Untouched and much under-visited, Procida is another island found off the coast of Sorrento.
A bit further out than Capri, Procida is much less developed and considerably less touristy.
The scenery, though, is every bit as good, if not better than its more famous neighbor.
Spend the day exploring not only the beautiful beaches and coastlines, but the historic towns and villages that have stood on the island for thousands of years.
Available tour: From Sorrento: Ischia and Procida Boat Tour
9. Ischia Island
Ischia is the third must-visit island that can be reached from Sorrento.
Found next to Procida Island, near to Naples, Ischia is one of the more popular destinations for day trippers in the region.
It’s a mountainous place, with wild scenery to explore and the incredible sight of the Aragonese Castle to see.
This medieval castle is perched dramatically on the edge of an isthmus at the far end of Ischia and can only be reached by a causeway that crosses the turbulent ocean around it.
Recommended tour: Ischia and Mortella Gardens Full-Day Tour from Sorrento
Close to Salerno, but found inland, Battipaglia doesn’t quite have the spectacular coastal vistas of much of the rest of the region, but it does make for a welcome day trip away from the beaches and is easy to reach from Sorrento.
Battipaglia has its own beauty, found in the dominating form of the local, historic castle located on a hill overlooking the city.
It’s also famous for the quality of Buffalo Mozzarella, a delicious cheese that residents here have been creating and perfecting for centuries.
Although Sapri is a good few hours’ drive to the south of Sorrento, this small town is well worth a visit if you would like to experience the coast as it was many years before tourism arrived.
Being quite distant from the main tourist centers of the region, it’s remained relatively untouched and is a charming coastal town to set foot in.
The views from the harbor are absolutely spectacular and you may find yourself the only tourist in town.
Agropoli is another relatively untouched destination along the coast south of Sorrento.
Although it doesn’t see the same number of tourists as, say, the Amalfi Coast, it’s much larger and busier than Sapri and much easier to reach too.
Agropoli is very historic; the attraction of the town lies in the aesthetic cliffs the historic center is built upon and the beautifully preserved Aragonese-era castle that was built here many centuries ago.
This Italian town is found along the Cilento coast, south of Sorrento, and is absolutely stunning to see.
The town, however, is known more for the longevity of its citizens than its beautiful surroundings – for some reason or other, the locals are more likely to live to age 100 than any other town in Italy.
The source of this longevity is unproven, but it’s popularly thought to stem from the mineral water that’s consumed here.
14. Torre del Greco
Found in the shadow of Mount Vesuvius, halfway along the coast between Sorrento and Naples, Torre del Greco is an interesting city to day trip to.
For starters, the views of the volcano are some of the best in the area, but there’s also a quirky museum of coral to wander around and some wonderful restaurants to enjoy a slice (or four!) of authentic pizza at.
Found away from the bustle of the coast, Avellino is nestled amongst mountains and greenery.
It’s a world away from the beaches and harbors of Sorrento and Naples, and the small town life here is very much preserved in a manner that has been lost elsewhere.
There’s great hiking and plenty of Roman ruins to explore, but perhaps more importantly, the area around Avellino is known as one of the best wine producing regions in Italy.