Amazing Day Trips to Take From Sorrento by Boat

The colourful dome of Santa Maria Assunta rises high above Positano
The colourful dome of Santa Maria Assunta rises high above Positano | © Clearview / Alamy Stock Photo
Julia Hammond

Sorrento is closely associated with lemon-growing, a fact which won’t escape you as you wander past shops stocked with every conceivable citrus-themed souvenir. While there’s a wealth to explore in and around the picture-perfect coastal city, Sorrento makes for a terrific base to navigate the dramatic Amalfi coast, which stretches south for mile after exquisite mile. Without question, it’s best viewed from the sea. Sailing south, there’s a slew of places to drop anchor and enjoy some of Italy’s most splendid scenery. Here we reveal some of the best day trips to do by boat from Sorrento.
Discover the top spots around Italy’s coast by Culture Trip’s Sailing Trips.

Capri

In Capri’s glamorous 1950s heyday, you might have spotted Elizabeth Taylor, Sophia Loren or Grace Kelly. You’ll still find plenty of designer boutiques, fancy restaurants and upscale hotels on showy Via Camerelle and Piazza Umberto I. But there’s more to this pretty island than shopping and nibbling on pricey Caprese salads. Hop on the chairlift to the top of Monte Solaro for panoramic views of the Faraglioni rocks and the glittering Tyrrhenian Sea. Hike back down through the Cetrella Valley with its pine trees and wild orchids.

Cala di Mitigliano

Li Galli

Three islets comprise the Li Galli archipelago. The largest is Gallo Lungo, which was settled in Roman times. Its shape resembles a dolphin. It’s flanked by La Rotonda and La Castelluccia, sometimes referred to as Isola dei Briganti after the bandits who once hung out there. The islands have been in private hands since the death of their former owner, the world-famous ballet dancer Rudolf Nureyev. Though they’re now off-limits to the public, you can swim nearby. From the water, you can admire the villa retreat built by Swiss-French architect Le Corbusier.

Positano

By the water’s edge in Positano, hawkers tout boat tours and fishing trips. Yellow, white and rose pink buildings cling to the precipitous slope that rises from an attractive shingle beach. The village grew up around a 9th-century Benedictine abbey, though the green and gold tiles of the Chiesa di Santa Maria Assunta now hog the spotlight. Positano’s fortified walls and watchtowers are a reminder of past incursions but today it’s better known for its upscale boutiques and fancy restaurants.

Praiano

Praiano is a labyrinth of tiny lanes and vertiginous flights of steps. Saunter past majolica-tiled votive shrines and pastel-painted houses. The main beach is the Marina di Praiano, a small strip of sand enclosed by cliffs on three sides. Before you leave, check out Cala della Gavitella on the opposite side of the headland. It’s the only beach on the Amalfi coast that catches the sun right up until sunset. From it, access Fontana dell’Altare, a natural pool positioned at the mouth of a cave.

Fiordo di Furore

Furore is a village whose name evokes the sound of a tempestuous sea and its fjord has the drama to match. To fully appreciate this cleft in the rock, you need to be at sea level. Once, Fiordo di Furore was revered as a natural harbour, but today most of the boats that chug into this sheltered gap bring tourists to gape slack-jawed at the fjord’s sheer cliffs and the bridge which spans it thirty metres above their heads.

Grotto dello Smeraldo

This flooded limestone cavern takes its name from the emerald colour of the water that results when sunlight filters through. It contains dozens of stalactites and stalagmites which formed before it was swamped by the sea. Until 1932, when a local fisherman called Luigi Buonocore discovered it by chance, it had been the subject of speculation and legend. Today, it houses an underwater nativity scene. Sail to the entrance to board one of the rowing boats with permits to go inside.

Amalfi

Drop anchor in Amalfi’s sheltered bay and come ashore to explore this pretty waterfront town. Behind the seafront cafés and gelaterias, you’ll see an arch. Step through it and climb a few steps to the 9th-century Duomo di Amalfi, with a glittering mosaic depicting the Triumph of Christ above its door. The square below is crammed with restaurants where you can try Amalfi’s signature scialatielli pasta. Walk off lunch as you browse in shops selling olive oil, limoncello and locally made ceramics.

Maiori

Maiori’s beach is the largest on the Amalfi Coast. To the west, the Palazzo Mezzacapo, an 18th-century palace with immaculately landscaped gardens, perches above the harbour. At the other end of the beach, you’ll see a 13th-century watchtower called the Torre Normanna. Above it all looms Castello di San Nicola de Thoro-Plano, a thousand-year-old hilltop castle. From Maiori, hike the Sentiero dei Limoni, a winding path that leads west through the lemon groves to neighbouring Minori.

Discover the top spots around Italy’s coast by Culture Trip’s Sailing Trips.
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