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Sorrento on a shoestring: Exploring the best free activities in town

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A picturesque setting on the Bay of Naples, towering cliffs, and fabulous food make Sorrento an obvious Italian destination. While Sorrento is a vacation-worthy spot all its own, it’s also the gateway to amazing locations around the coast. Ferries regularly leave for the scenic islands of Capri and Ischia, and you can get a boat to Amalfi, Naples, and Positano.

With all the names we’ve just dropped, you may expect Sorrento to be entirely unaffordable. It’s not. It’s much more budget-friendly than anywhere on the Amalfi Coast or the islands, although, on the affordability scale, Naples will certainly give Sorrento a run for its money!

Whether you’re passing through on your way to other coastal Italian adventures or you’ve booked a few days here, there are lots of great things to do that won’t cost anything. As busy as you’ll be, one thing that’s worth a small fee is Sorrento luggage storage. There’s no faster way to ruin a lovely trip than by dragging a cumbersome suitcase all around town behind you.

Here are the activities we recommend when you visit Sorrento on a budget:

Old Town

Old Town

One of the big selling features of Sorrento is its lovely Old Town. Narrow alleys are lined with historic buildings and family-run trattorias. Local shops and artisan boutiques are ideal for a little window shopping or splurging on a unique souvenir.

The Centro Storico, as it’s known in Italian, stretches from the sea to the main street of Corso Italia. The stone buildings have medieval influences but generally date to Roman times. There’s something new to see around every corner, including the odd palace or monastery – no big deal. Have your camera ready to capture the magic where cobblestone streets meet modern living, and if your budget allows, stop in for a bite at one of the many traditional restaurants.

Dine on street food

Dine on street food

Southern Italy can rival any place in the world in the street food game. While grabbing some arancini or pizza to accompany you as you wander isn’t technically free, it’s a great way to save when compared to basically any restaurant – even the most basic ones.

Street food is a way of life here, and there’s arguably no better way to feel like a local than lining up at a street-front counter to pick something tasty. Items will be less than €5 each, with some much lower than that. To get the best deals, avoid locations on the main thoroughfares, and instead stroll down a side street or alley for the tastiest (and usually cheapest) options.

Picnic in the Villa Comunale gardens

Whether you save your street food for a picnic or pick up supplies at the weekly Tuesday market, spending time in the Villa Comunale Gardens is a must. Fountains, expansive views, and manicured greenery all await you here. We know that a picnic isn’t technically free, but admission to the gardens here is, and you have to eat anyway, right?

It may sound grand, but this is simply a city park. It’s right on the coast and has gravel walking paths, various sculptures, and benches looking out to the water. This is one of the best places in town to people-watch as well since you’ll see both tourists and locals taking advantage of the park.

Get religious

Ok, so we don’t actually mean you should take on Catholicism if you’re not already a member of the church, but in Italy, churches are some of the most ornate and historic structures around. You don’t need to have an appreciation of a higher power to enjoy the art, stained glass, and architecture that went into building these masterpieces. Although it probably helps.

In Sorrento, there are four notable churches. The first is Church and Convent of San Francesco, with a beautiful interior courtyard and sweeping water views. Then, there’s the Church and Convent of Saint Paul, further back from the water. Next, you can view Chiesa dell’Addolorata, which is small yet ornate, and Basilica Sant’Antonino, which has a gorgeous painted ceiling. These locations are quite close together, so seeing them all in an hour or two is reasonable.

A day at the beach

A day at the beach

It’s not a trip anywhere in Mediterranean Italy without at least one visit to a fantastic beach. The crystal-clear water and the scenery will leave you wondering where to focus your attention because it’s all so good.

A solid choice for a relaxing beach day is Sorrento’s Levanto Bay. This spot isn’t right in the city, but it’s near Massa Lubrense. You’ll walk about two kilometers on a coastal path before arriving at this small slice of heaven. The inviting waters, views of Capri, and the bright sun might make it hard ever to leave.

Marina Piccola is a closer option, near the port. The beach is rocky and small, but many beach clubs provide loungers and umbrellas for a fee, and restaurants and bars add to the vibe here. There is an elevator near the Church of San Francesco that takes you down to sea level from the Villa Comunale. It’s also easy to head here from Piazza Tasso.

Spiaggia Grande, also in town, is larger, as the name implies, and is ideal for some time by the water. This is also a perfect location to come to around sunset for lovely views and photo ops.


While the free activities in Sorrento may not have the allure of cruising the Amalfi Coast or dining in lavish seafood restaurants, there’s plenty to do here that doesn’t break the bank. From delicious street food to sun-soaked picnics and a lively town center, you need never be bored here, even if your travel budget is modest.

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