Swimming in Sorrento

The bathing piers of Sorrento

Although it is a resort town, don't come to Sorrento expecting beaches (though the water's a bit cleaner than along most of the bay).

Marina Grande beach

There is a sandy beach at Marina Grande—the fishing village just west of (and below) Sorrento's clifftop city center—but it is really more of a fishing boat beach than a sunbathing and swimming one. The black sand is coarse and gritty, scattered with fishing detritus, and sporting the, um, aroma of a fishing port.

Da Delfino restaurant near the middle and "Tony Beach" at Da Cataldo (Dacataldo.it) near the far end both have bathing terraces with loungers for rent. This isn't a "day at the shore" kind of beach; more of a "let's hit the beach for an hour" kind of beach.

Spiaggia San Francesco "beach"

For swiming, most folks use the Spiaggia San Francesco, a series of piers jutting out over the rocks from the few scraps of pebble and black sand beaches (which rarely get sun) at the base of the town's cliff.

All of these piers are private (read: pay, usually €6–€8 to enter and get a chair; more if you want an umbrella). They do, however, also offer showers and changing cabins, snack bars and restaurants, and paddle boat and kayak rentals.

They are all pretty interchangeable. Bagni Salvatore has the claim to fame of being built on the remains of Arippa Postumo's ancient Roman villa, evidenced by a brick niche in the wall (the rest of its remains you can sometimes just make out under the water).

How to get to the swimming piers in Sorrento

You can walk around the from ferry docks at Marina Piccola, or ride one of the public elevators on Piazza Francesco Saverio Gargiulo in the Villa Comunale (tel. +39-081-807-2543, Sorrentolift.it). These elevators charge €1 (or €1.80 round-trip) and operate all year round with varying hours:

  • June-Aug: 7:30am–1am
  • May & Sept: 7:30am–midnight
  • Apr & Oct: 7:30am–8:30pm
  • Nov-Mar 7:30am–7:30pm

"Proper" beaches near Sorrento

If you are looking for a more faimilar expanse of sand under the sun, there are a few beaches near Sorrento along the peninsula—but, again, these aren't the greatest beaches around; just some modest-sized expanses of dark sand crowded by ranks of overpriced beach chairs and umbrellas.

  • Lido Marinella is larger, with more kid-friendly waters. Via Caruso 1, Meta di Sorrento, about 5km east of Sorrento (tel. +39-081-532-2030, Lidomarinella.it).
  • Cala Di Puolo is pretty, but with a steep droop-off. Via Marina di Puolo, Massa Lubrense, about 6km west of Sorrento (tel. +39-081-533-9795).

Tips & links

How long does Sorrento take?

Planning your time: Sorrento has maybe 2-3 hours of mediocre sightseeing. To be brutally honest it is probably the least interesting town in this area. It is only famous for its location.

Sorrento makes an ideal base for exploring Campania thanks to its location at the nexus of regional public transit—pretty much the only place from which you can get anywhere without having to change mode of transportation: Trains direct to Pompeii and Naples; ferries to Capri; buses or ferries down the Amalfi Coast.

If you prefer the home-base style of travel, Sorrento is the perfect base. Figure on three days/two nights here (hit Pompeii on the train ride down from Naples—you can store your luggage temporarily at the Pompei train station—then spend one day each visiting Capri and the Amalfi Coast).

If, however, you prefer to travel from town to town, just treat Sorrento as a way-station to switch from train to bus or ferry; skip Sorrento entirely and sleep in a more interesting locale on the Amalfi Coast or Capri.

» Sorrento itineraries

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