When planning a trip to Rome, many people often look for day trips from Rome, or head to the other big cities like Rome and Florence. Why not consider an Amalfi Coast itinerary that allows you to explore Pompeii, Sorrento, and Capri? While it is possible to visit Pompeii and even Sorrento in a day, we would recommend spending at least a few nights in the area when traveling with kids.
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What to See in Pompeii, Sorrento, and Capri with kids
Sorrento has spectacular vistas, abundant lemon trees, and a charming town square. Pompeii is perfect for kids to run and explore, weaving in and out of the ruins as children would have before it was destroyed. Capri is charming and elegant, and it’s easy to take a ferry from Sorrento to Capri.
Instead of rushing through a trip to the Amalfi Coast, make plans to stay awhile and enjoy the area of Sorrento, Capri, and Pompeii with kids. We think this Amalfi Coast itinerary will help you plan the perfect Italian vacation that includes Rome with a side of the sea.
How many days in Amalfi Coast with kids
When people ask, “how many days do you need in Amalfi Coast?”, that’s not an easy question to answer. It all depends on your travel speed and whether you like to relax and enjoy a destination or always be on the go.
For a visit to the Amalfi Coast with kids we recommend 3 nights minimum. This allows for a day trip to Pompeii from Sorrento, and a day trip to Capri from Sorrento while using the city as your home base. This Amalfi Coast itinerary covers Sorrento, Pompeii, and Capri.
Traveling from Rome to Sorrento
If you have a car, the trip from Rome to Sorrento is just under 3 hours. By bus it will take about 4.5 hours, and train is about 3 hours as well. We recommend the train. You could also arrange a private transfer from Rome to Sorrento.
Train from Rome to Sorrento
To reach Sorrento and other points on the Amalfi Coast by train, you will have to first travel through Naples. I say through Naples because I have yet to find a reason to actually stop and visit the city.
The train ride from Rome to Naples can take between one to three hours, depending on the train you choose. There are three options: the frecciarossa, the intercity, and the regionale. Frecciarossa is the high-speed train and the one we recommend.
From Termini Station in Rome, you will catch a train to Napoli Centrale, the main station in Naples. Once you arrive, follow the signs downstairs to the Circumvesuviana trains. Buy a separate ticket there.
The Naples train station is chock full of sketchy characters. Be mindful of the ones that offer to “help” you with getting your luggage onto the train. Kindly refuse. They are not there to help with your bags if you know what I mean.
The Circumvesuviana train to Sorrento is approximately an hour long. Mind your bags, there are a lot of tourists on the train, which makes it a prime target for small-time thieves. I suggest standing or sitting with your backpack to a wall and standing away from the door.
Where to Stay in Sorrento with kids
Hotels in Sorrento vary from modest budget to high-end boutique. Some have private beaches and swimming pools, while others offer rooms with a view and a cozier ambiance.
Those away from the center of town tend to require a taxi to reach them (and the center of town when you want to shop or eat), but they may also have beach access and swimming pools.
It all depends on what you are looking for when it comes to Sorrento accommodation. Some of the best hotels in Sorrento to consider are:
- Hilton Sorrento Palace – This property is a 15-minute walk from the center of Sorrento, and overlooks the Bay of Naples. There’s a citrus garden, six outdoor seasonal pools, an indoor heated pool, tennis, and fitness center. Some rooms comfortably sleep up to 4 people.
- Grand Hotel La Favorita – 5-star hotel in the town center. Has several restaurants and a rooftop pool. Several room options for families.
- Hotel Bellevue Syrene – this property has a private beach, an outdoor pool, and spa. The on-site restaurant, La Pergola, is open for lunch and dinner and offers beautiful ocean views. Several suites sleep 3 and their 2-bedroom suite will accommodate a family of 4.
- The Mediterraneo Sorrento – beachfront location, a mile from town. There’s an on-site spa, swimming pool, and gym as well as several restaurants. Rooms have sea or garden views and the family suite can sleep up to 5.
Where We Stayed: Sorrento Flats, Corso Italia 176
We thought the location of Sorrento Flats was unbeatable. This bed and breakfast is a couple of blocks walking from the train station, in a building on the main street, Corso Italia.
Our host was the wonderful Luigi, who was charming and ensured we had everything we could possibly need. We rented one of the apartments they have available (they also have several doubles and duplexes).
There was a single bedroom with a large comfortable bed, and in the main room, they had put together three single beds to make a huge bed for our three kids. The kitchen allowed us to prepare our meals (very handy when traveling with a child with allergies), a bathroom, a washing machine (which meant we could pack fewer clothes), and a balcony with a view to the ocean.
The property is just down the street from the grocery store, restaurants, and the main piazza. This bed and breakfast in Sorrento was very clean, large, and comfortable.
Things to Do in Sorrento with kids
One of the reasons to visit Sorrento is for the wonderful views along the cliffs overlooking the Bay of Naples and its central location for exploring the region. There is a ravine that divides the shops and restaurants of the old town from the more modern area.
We hiked from the town square to the top of the cliffs overlooking the Marina Grande for the traditional tourist “photo op”. After the kids finally cooperated, we decided to hike down to the marina, which led to an impromptu day trip to Capri.
After taking the return ferry to Sorrento, we enjoyed wandering aimlessly through the small streets of the town, sampling the limoncello in the local shops, and of course stopping for gelato. We didn’t try any of the local restaurants because we had our own kitchen, but we always made time for gelato and sampled a couple of the gelaterias around town.
If you have the time, there are a few other places to visit in Sorrento that we would recommend:
- The ruins of a Roman villa, Villa Pollio Felice, which sits at Capo di Sorrento. There is a natural pool beneath it that is perfect for swimming on a hot day.
- Learn about the foods of Sorrento with a pizza making class that includes a visit to a local farm.
- See the historical sights throughout Sorrento including the Cloister of San Francisco, Cathedral and Bell Tower, city walls, and Archaeological Museum.
- Explore the Amalfi coast from the water with a kayak tour.
Day Trips from Sorrento to Capri
Another popular option for families visiting Sorrento is to take a day trip to Capri from Sorrento. It’s very easy to reach the island by ferry or guided tour, and you can easily spend a few hours or more exploring.
Sorrento to Capri Ferries
The Sorrento and Capri ferry runs on a regular daily schedule, but it makes the trip more frequently during the summer. Make note of the last return ferry or you will find yourself needing overnight accommodation in Capri. You can purchase the Sorrento to Capri ferry tickets at the dock in Sorrento.
The ferry takes about 20 minutes and is not cheap, it can cost about 40 Euros round trip for adults, but there is a discount for children. The kids enjoyed the boat ride and it provided us with beautiful views of Sorrento and Capri from the water.
Capri on an Amalfi Coast itinerary
When we arrived at the Marina Grande in Capri, we boarded a funicular (which the kids found really exciting) and rode that up the hill to Capri Town. Unfortunately, we hit the town right during the afternoon riposo (translation: nap time), so all of the stores were closed.
Via Camarelle is the main shopping street where the shops rival the finest boutiques in Paris. In other words, I couldn’t afford anything, and the riposo saved me from “pretend” shopping.
We took a leisurely stroll through town, which was easily the most enjoyable (and cheapest) part of the afternoon.
The heart of the island is the Piazetta, where locals and tourists alike gather at the sidewalk cafés for afternoon coffee and drinks.
After enjoying some refreshments, we headed back to the marina to take the ferry to Sorrento. We had to wait about an hour for our return trip, so we walked to the beach area.
Unfortunately, it is not a sandy beach, but covered in rocks. The kids were unfazed and proceeded to skip rocks for the next thirty minutes (with adults joining in the fun). The ferry ride back was uneventful, followed by a steep climb up to Sorrento town from the marina.
Other things to do in Capri include:
- a boat tour to the Blue Grotto
- Visit the Giardini di Augusto for stunning gardens with an equally impressive view
- Head to Villa Jovis to see the ruins of a villa that once belonged to the Emperor Tiberius
- Hike to the top of Monte Solaro (the highest point in Capri) for epic views
- Stop for gelato at Pasticceria E Gelateria S. Nicola or Buonocore Gelateria
Where to Stay in Capri with Kids
Here are a few places we recommend:
Hotel Mamela – centrally located, easy walking distance to shops and restaurants, just one block from Via Camarelle. The property has an infinity pool with stunning ocean views. Rooms are spacious, and some have ocean views. Families should consider booking the two-bedroom suite.
Sina Flora Capri – this hotel is easy to access from Marina Grande and is close to Piazzetta Square. Junior suites sleep up to 4 people and many rooms have ocean views. There is a swimming pool with a large terrace where meals are served.
Grand Hotel Quisisana – gorgeous historical property with a pool, large gardens, and a sea view. The hotel overlooks Via Camarelle. Rooms overlook the pool or the park, and can sleep 2 or 3 people.
How to Get from Sorrento to Pompeii
It is fairly simple to visit Pompeii from Sorrento. If you don’t have a car, it’s easy to take the Sorrento to Pompeii train. Buy a return ticket to Pompei Scavi at the Sorrento ticket window. There is also a Sorrento to Pompeii bus that takes about an hour. Alternatively, you could drive, take a taxi, or book one of these guided Pompeii tours from Sorrento.
The train ride is a quick 30 minutes. The best time of day to visit Pompeii is as early as possible, preferably in the off-season. If you’re visiting in the summer, go as soon as Pompeii opens because the heat can be unbearable later in the day.
Once you arrive, turn right, make your way through all the other day trippers, walk past the souvenir kiosks and food stands, and find yourself at the Biglietteria (ticket booth).
Purchase your tickets and be sure to grab a couple of maps (if you are like us, you will misplace at least one of them along the way). Once you have tickets in hand, pass through the turn-style, walk up the cobblestone ramp, and pass under the stone arch.
What to See in Pompeii with Kids
Here you will find yourself transported to a world buried almost 2000 years ago when nearby Mount Vesuvius erupted and covered Pompeii in lava and ash. The city lay covered and undisturbed until 1748, when explorers seeking riches began to excavate a site called La Cività and the rest, as they say, is history.
Today Pompeii Archaeological Park is a UNESCO World Heritage site. The ruins are not completely excavated, but there are ancient villas, baths, and an amphitheater for your family to discover. We made good use of the onsite café, stopping for water and coffee in the morning, and lunch later in the day.
Our friend Franco came along and it was a good thing too, because we needed the extra hands to help wrangle the kids as they were often running in and out of buildings and up and down streets faster than we could keep up with them. In six hours we probably covered less than half of the site. We would have returned for a second day if we had the time.
Must Sees in Pompeii
- Roman amphitheater – it once held up to 20,000 spectators and the oldest stone amphitheater in the world.
- Baths at Pompeii – there are five thermal baths at Pompeii. Be sure to see at least one.
- House of Sallust – one of the most well preserved houses in Pompeii.
- House of the Tragic Poet – mostly intact building with stunning mosaics on the floors and walls.
- House of Vetti – after undergoing restoration for the last 20 years, this stunning villa just opened early this year (2023).
- Garden of the Fugitives – plaster casts of some of the bodies that were found after the volcanic eruption.
- The Forum – Enormous area that includes the Temples of Apollo and Jupiter, the Basilica, and the Forum Granary (stocked with pots, jars, and other items excavated from the site). It’s a great spot for taking photos with Mount Vesuvius in the background.
- Villa of the Mysteries – impressive villa that probably belonged to one of the most prominent families in Pompeii prior to the eruption.
The kids also asked to hike up Mount Vesuvius, which we did not do, but there are several tour companies that will arrange day trips to the volcano. If you’re looking for a tour of Pompeii, consider using a company like LivTours that runs kid friendly tours throughout Italy.
Why Stay in Sorrento instead of Positano
In my book, Sorrento is a charming, picturesque Italian village that is an optimal home base for day trips to Pompeii and Capri. By using Sorrento as your base, you can use public transportation to explore the area and save yourself the hassle of driving the dangerous hairpin curves along the coast and trying to find parking.