Holiday in Sorrento - Review & Tips

I've just got back from a holiday in Sorrento, Italy on the Amalfi Coast near to Naples. We went in June and it was beautiful, with a full week of sunshine and temperatures around the mid to late 20s. It is perfect for couples, both young and old (we found there was a good selection from those in their mid 20s to early 30s to those old enough to have siblings who have fled the nest and are off exploring!).

We went for 5 days (Monday to Friday) and that was easily enough time. We also found it was pretty cheap, meals were really good and didn't break the bank at all. It is a good alternative away from beach holiday, there is enough to keep you occupied exploring around the city while the weather is good enough to get a tan around the pool too. It is worth saying early on it isn't a place for families, little ones would be bored and I would stick to the Balearics!

Why holiday in Sorrento?

Becky and I decided to go to Sorrento for several reasons.

The island of Capri is near by
1. We wanted a break away from Center Parcs, and within our delicate budget, to explore some other countries. We calculated on the same money we were spending at Center Parcs we could be doing much better exploring.

2. We didn't want a quick city break in June, if we were going away we wanted to explore a city but get some sun too.

3. We didn't want somewhere too big but somewhere quiet and easy to get to and handle.

3. Italy was chosen as the main destination as our favourite foods are pasta and pizza!

4. I looked into Tuscany but there would be quite a lot of driving involved, while Sicily and Capri proved to be expensive.

5. Sorrento came highly recommended on personal recommendations, backed up with some good reviews on Trip Advisor.
6. Flights from Liverpool were convenient (Monday to Friday - so we both wouldn't miss competing at the weekends) and cheap with great depature times from Easyjet.

Getting to Sorrento

Naples is the nearest airport. It is about 1 hour away from Sorrento. Unfortunately Manchester Airport didn't do any direct flights to Naples however Easyjet from Liverpool did and they were cheap as chips. The times were spot on too, taking off at 6.45am from Liverpool and 11.20am from Naples on the return. (There is nothing worse there is nothing worse than trying to find your bearings in the dark, or being chucked out of your room at 10am and hanging around all day on depature day. I'm more a "get up and get on with it" type of person).

We added on hold luggage and also Speedy Boarding which I would recommend. You get to pretty much queue jump to check in your luggage and you also get to board the plane first. If you're not a frequent flyer with Easyjet let me advise you that there is no allocated seating. It is first come first served. As such there is the most incredible cattle market rush to be the first in the queue to board the plane (I've seen people run, jump over seats and scream across the apron to get on the plane first - seriously).

The flight takes about 2 hours 45 minutes. Once at Naples, the cheapest and easiest option is taking a coach which takes you directly to Sorrento. It is brilliant and is run by a company called Curreri Viaggi. It costs 10 Euros per ticket and takes 1 hour 30 minutes. You simply walk out of the arrivals hall at the airport and it is right infront of you. You buy your ticket from the driver. The coach then drops you off in the centre of Sorrento by the train station.

A word of warning, if you suffer from travel sickness it is well worth taking some tablets, mints and water. The journey is incredible through little villages along the coastline but the road is very windy, going up and down the mountain side!
Definitely look into the coach, there are regular departures throughout the day.

Where to stay in Sorrento

Hotel Girasole - view from hotel room
I searched long and hard for hotels to stay at in Sorrento. I looked through many hotel reviews. Being a popular destination, although beautiful, many hotels were 4 star and quite expensive. I then came across Hotel Girasole on Trip Advisor and Expedia. It stood out as it was relatively inexpensive compared to most hotels in the area. It was 3 star but had incredible reviews. Looking through the photographs the hotel looked lovely with great views and also a swimming pool. If I booked direct in advance there was a significant discount available too which made it fit in with our budget.

Having stayed at the Hotel Girasole, I can throughly recommend it. It was fantastic.

It isn't central and is a good 15 minute walk however this allows the hotel to have an amazing swimming pool which is surrounded by orange and lemon trees. I booked a sea view room which happened to be on the top floor and had beautiful views to the Gulf of Naples.

The room was nicely decorated, really clean with a fridge, although no tea and coffee facilities. The room also didn't have a bottle opener, so if you're wanting to drink some of the superb Sorrento wines while you read on the balcony (they are pretty cheap from the local shops) then I would suggest taking one with you or spend 5 Euro purchasing one! The bed was comfortable and did the job. Our room also had a balcony which was brilliant; we spent a lot of time reading and playing cards overlooking the sea.

Sunset - view to the right of our room with the hotel pool
The owners were lovely, really welcoming and even prepared a packed lunch as we were leaving really early in the morning.

The cost of the room also included breakfast which was buffet continental. We ate fresh orange juice, pastries and croissants outside in a beautiful dining area under lemon and orange trees. The swimming pool also had a bar which served beers, wine, freshly made snacks and also the most incredible homemade lemon juice which was to die for.

Hotel Girasole -surrounded by lemon and orange trees

My top tips for staying at Hotel Girasole:

* Ask for a room with sea or garden view. The hotel is directly outside a very busy road which doesn't slow down until after midnight. On the opposite side of the hotel, in the pool or restaurant you wouldn't know it at all - but I don't know how anyone could stay overlooking the road!
* If you're a light to medium sleeper - take earplugs. Noise does echo around the hotel from other rooms and corridors. The hotel is nestled within a village so it does become noisy in the mornings with cockrels and the odd beeping bike.

* Don't stay if you're unfit or have a buggy. If you're the one who whizzes round to the corner shop in the car to pick up the morning paper, or have little ones in a pram then this hotel isn't for you. We had no problems with the walk as it was quite nice however it is a 15 minute walk into the centre along a very busy road. At some points you do need to walk single file.

* Taxis in Sorrento are incredibly expensive (12 euro for a 5 minute journey, 25 euro if you're wanting one at 6am) so unless you have money to burn you will be walking. We walked back to the station with our cases on Friday morning with no problem.

Hotel Girasole is a beautiful hotel, typically Italian and well worth checking out. If you're looking for hotels more in the center then do check them out first. We found that Sorrento was quite packed together, and in my opinion, I couldn't see with many of the hotels how you could get a view of the sea. The roads are very busy and can be quite noisy too with beeping bikes and cars so try to avoid road facing rooms.

What to do in Sorrento


Piazza Tasso - main square is the place to be
The weather was gorgeous, we spent a couple of days sunbathing by the pool however Sorrento has much to be explored from the harbour to the number of backstreets with little shops. Although we didn't do so, there are trips to Pompei and Capri easily available.

You will be able to cover Sorrento in a couple of days (this will also give you a few hours in the afternoon to relax too). We did sightseeing on Tuesday, relaxing on Wednesday and half and half on Thursday. That was easily enough time.

My top tips for Sorrento:

 * Eating out - you won't go wrong eating out in Sorrento. There are lots of restaurants, all offering really good food and fine wine. The pizza's are superb, all freshly made and oven cooked. They are quite big and if you're hungry would be my choice. The pasta's can be hit and miss - they are tasty but can vary in size. We found that eating out was pretty good on the wallet. On average, two pizzas, a bottle of Rose and a bottle of still mineral water came to around 30 Euro, with some restaurants offering complimentary bread and liqueur afterwards.
The more central you go the more expensive and be careful of pushy waiters. If you're found looking at the menu you can be rapidly shoehorned into a table without even saying anything. We Brits can be too polite, remember Sorrento is a competitive tourist town. Check out some reviews and ask around before hand. I printed out a Google map before hand and drew up all the places highly rated.
Il Leone Rosso - a must visit in Sorrento
My tip would be to keep central and believe the hype, if it's busy: it is good. The most expensive meal we had was at a restaurant called Parco Ibsen - it had some good reviews, looked beautiful but it was quiet and the food only ok.

The best meal we had, also happened to be the cheapest. In fact we ate at this restaurant twice. If you're visiting Sorrento make sure you check out Il Leone Rosso, it is in a little side street, the next block down from the train station and just down the road from the main square. The pizzas were incredible and the price unbelievable. We had a 1 litre bottle of Rose, 2 large pizzas, 2 coffees, 1 litre of still water together with a free starter and limoncella liqueur and it came to 25 Euro. 25 Euro!! Good service too, well worth checking out.


Sightseeing bus for 12 Euro is well worth it.
* Sightseeing bus - there is a red sightseeing bus which you will probably recognise from cities around the UK. We've been on one in Edinburgh. It is basically a 1 hour 40 minute journey around the countryside of Sorrento. For 12 Euro each it is well worth the money. The bus leaves from the train station and the scenery is stunning. You also get a 10 minute stop for photos overlooking Capri. We went early doors (around 10am) which was good to not only avoid the crowd (the trip after ours at around 11.30am was packed) but also the hot midday sun.


Davide Galato - well worth checking out for ice cream fans
* Have a drink, people watch and play cards in Piazza Tasso - it is the main square, you won't miss it but have a drink, sit back, relax and watch the World go by. Be it people watching or laughing at the mad driving of the Italians, it is brilliant. Everyone goes to Bar Fauno but can be hard to get a table, however we really enjoyed the bar in the corner surrounded by a hedge. If you like ice cream, make sure you check out Davide Galato with nearly 30 choices of flavours to choose from.

 Conclusion

Sorrento - little side streets to explore
Sorrento is well worth putting on the list. 5 days to a week maximum is all you need. It is ideal for couples not so for families. It offers opportunities to grab some sun, the weather is very mediterranean with a nice cool breeze. It is easy to get to from Naples and perfect if you're looking to get a taste of Italy.

I still think I prefer Spain, Menorca in the Balearics in particular. I found the Italians to be quite rude and obnoxious. They have a very serious attitude problem, wierdly I found that they love setting rules. You couldn't have a laugh with them and the "bums on seats" focus spoilt what could have been a beautiful town. In Spain I made friends, in Italy I was just another person.

That said Sorrento proved value for money, a lot less than a holiday in Spain was going to cost. It is well worth checking out.


3 comments:

Warner Carter said...

Belmont Station has assembled an inspiring roster of taps and bottles, plus daily meet-the-brewer events, for this mini-fest that happens in the Biercafé and the recently completed beer garden. Holiday Square

Ayn Nicole said...

Nice to see you have shared so much about all these places. I myself love sharing my holiday with others, I went to England recently and lived my life beautiful moments where I stayed in a relaxing hotel and visit Fitzrovia and Soho attractions nearby.

Michael Kimbley said...

I recently was on a holiday in Italy. Me and my girlfriend had a great time there, but I do believe a big part of our fun came from the great offer we found. We visited http://www.sudtour.it/ and we found we were looking for. Strongly recommend this site!