Family Vacations to Sorrento, Italy

Family Overview: Sorrento, Italy
Meander along narrow passages and take in the beautiful vistas throughout Sorrento (Digital Vision)

Sorrento Highlights

  • Enjoy the region's spectacular views of the sea-splashed coast.
  • Drive the winding Amalfi Coast.
  • Take a hydrofoil from Sorrento to the Isle of Capri.
  • Explore ancient Roman ruins.

Sorrento, a popular resort area in Italy's Campania region, is situated on a peninsula in the Gulf of Naples, 31 miles south of the city of Naples. Sorrento's main town perches above the bay. Meander along the narrow passageways, savoring the vistas, and take daytrips to scenic spots and noted archeological ruins.

Views make up the region's currency, not the small beaches. The Amalfi Coast winds along the Gulf of Salerno on the other side of the peninsula. From Sorrento a 45-minute hydrofoil ride lands you in the Isle of Capri (pronounced CAH-pri), a pretty, posh, and popular summer spot. Both Pompeii and Herculaneum, buried by an erupting Mount Vesuvius in 79 A.D. are an easy drive away.

The famous, ledge-top track that twists for 30 miles along the Amalfi Coast between Sorrento and the village of Amalfi is not an easy drive, but a memorable one. Pass picturesque cliffside towns while enjoying views of the sea-splashed rocky coast below. However spectacular, the drive is not for everyone. Don't like tour buses spilling over into your lane at turns or Vespas cutting you off? Then resist the route or at least leave the maneuvering to a tour van. And if your kids easily become car sick, forget about it.

Picturesque Capri has attracted the rich and famous for centuries. Even Caesar Augustus and Tiberius sunned here. At the Grotta Azzurra (Blue Grotto), a popular cave, the sunlight transforms the water to a stunning azure blue. Reach the clifftop town 450-feet up via funicular, bus, or taxi and if you want to test your aerobic capacity, climb the steps from the dock.

Cafes abound, shops are alluring and pricey, and the views stun. Anacapri, another island town, has a more casual feel and amazing views, especially if you ride the chairlift to the mountaintop.

When Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79 A.D. it buried Pompeii, 15 miles south of Naples, and Herculaneum, eight miles south of Naples, in lava, rocks, and ash. Frozen in time, Pompeii and Herculaneum fascinate gradeschoolers and teens. The streets, roofless houses, urns, mosaics, and even the graffiti attest to a lost world. Pompeii, whose population hovered between 10,000 to 20,000, features a well-preserved amphitheater (the Anfiteatro), baths (Stabian Thermae), as well as houses with frescoes, including the Casa dei Vettii (House of the Vettii) and the Villa dei Misteri (House of the Mysteries). Some people prefer smaller and less crowded Herculaneum, ancient population 5,000. The site is known for its well-preserved mosaics, especially the still vivid designs in the Terme Femminili (Women's Baths) and the Casa del Nettuno ed Anfitrite ( House of Neptune and Amphitrite). In both towns, slip away from the group and walk along the back streets. That's the best way to imagine daily Roman life in these once bustling towns.

Tip: Don't bother visiting the Blue Grotto on a cloudy day—no reflected sunlight to transform the water—or when the sea is rough—the boats can't enter the grotto.'s resident family expert Candyce Stapen has written the book on family travel, having authored some 1,400 travel articles and 27 books, 26 of them on family travel. She is the winner of the 2004 "Caribbean Travel Writer of the Year for North America" award and a three-time winner of the Society of American Travel Writers' Lowell Thomas Travel Journalism award. Her articles have appeared in publications including Nick Jr , FamilyFun , Parents , Better Homes & Gardens , Conde Nast Traveler , National Geographic Traveler , and the Family Travel Network , among others. Her book, the National Geographic Guide to Caribbean Family Vacations is available from

Published: 26 Nov 2007 | Last Updated: 7 Aug 2012
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


Sign up to Away's Travel Insider

Preview newsletter »