Easy Access to Coastal Towns and Islands

Sorrento is known as a great location to visit because it has easy access to many other coastal towns and nearby islands.

My first weekend here I decided to take advantage of Sorrento’s ideal location and go on two day trips to Positano and Ischia

The commute to both Positano and Ischia was about an hour by ferry, which started at the Port of Sorrento on Marina Piccola (about a 10-15 minute walk from Marina Grande).

My friends and I bought our ferry tickets ahead of time online for Positano, but the next day we bought our tickets for Ischia the day of at the port.

There was no price between buying our ferry tickets online versus when we arrived at the port.

The only advantage to buying tickets online guaranteed that we had tickets and that they would not be sold out.  

I came from the state of Ohio, the Midwestern United States, which contains mostly rural areas, not oceans, so this was my first time commuting by ferry.

I thought it was such a fun way to travel because not only are you able to have a quick commute, but you also have great views of the ocean and islands you pass by.   


amalfi coast positano about sorrento audrey smith 1

Positano, with its picturesque charm and vibrant colors, is a must-visit destination that often tops the lists of travelers exploring Italy.

Eager to experience this once-in-a-lifetime fishing village-turned-tourist hotspot, my friends and I arrived on a bustling Saturday.

The streets and shops were teeming with activity. Starting from the port, we embarked on an uphill hike, navigating numerous stairs, to reach our first stop—a delightful restaurant.

Despite the steep climb, the pathway was lined with an array of captivating shops and street vendors selling treasures like sea glass jewelry, linen clothing, lemon-themed souvenirs, and much more.

Due to the crowded nature of Positano on that particular day, my friends and I were determined to seek out a less-known and secluded beach: Fornillo Beach.

To access this hidden gem, we trekked along Via Lepanto and followed a downhill path that led us to the beach.

Fornillo Beach offered both rented beach chairs and umbrellas, but we opted for the serene and free public beach, nestled in one of Positano’s enchanting cliffs.

As I ventured into the water, I marveled at the colorful buildings of Positano on my left and the verdant cliffs on my right, fully immersed in the magic of the moment.

However, as dark rain clouds swiftly approached, we sought shelter in a nearby oceanside restaurant until the rain subsided.

Our journey continued as we made our way back to the lower part of town to visit the Chiesa di Santa Maria Assunta (Church of Santa Maria Assunta).

Dating back to the 10th century and rumored to have been founded by Benedictine monks, this historic church houses the renowned “Black Madonna” painting—a revered depiction of the Virgin Mary—still displayed above the church’s altar to this day.

With its stunning seaside backdrop and awe-inspiring white and gold architecture adorned with exquisite religious paintings, the church left us in awe.

church of santa maria assunta positano black madonna amlfi coast about sorrento

Chiesa di Santa Maria Assunta is conveniently located near the port, making it the perfect concluding stop on our Positano adventure.

Although our ferry was delayed by an hour, we made the most of our time in the crowded port, eagerly anticipating our departure.

To ensure a hassle-free experience, I recommend approaching the booth of your ferry ticket company and inquiring about the name of your scheduled boat.

For example, our boat’s name was ‘Picasso,’ so it was easy to spot driving into the port. 

Overall, we were able to shop, go to the beach, and sightsee all in a day’s worth, and we were back in Sorrento before the sun set!

Buy your ferry or hydrofoil ticket.

Ischia Island: A Hidden Gem with Stunning Landscapes

Ischia, a destination previously unknown to me, was highly recommended by fellow classmates and seasoned travelers of Italy.

While not exactly hidden, I believe it’s fair to call this island a “hidden gem.”

Even during the ferry ride, the vibrant array of colorful buildings and the majestic Castello Aragonese d’Ischia, situated on its own island adjacent to Ischia, captivated my attention.

Upon arriving at the Port of Ischia, it became evident that Ischia offered a distinct experience compared to Positano, with significantly fewer crowds yet a plethora of shops and beaches to explore.

As soon as we disembarked from the port, my friends and I made our way towards Castello Aragonese d’Ischia.

Initially, our plan included visiting the castle as well as the island’s natural hot springs, resulting from its volcanic foundation.

However, we discovered that the hot springs were a 40-minute drive from Castello Aragonese, which unfortunately exceeded our available time.

If you wish to visit both sites in a single day trip, I recommend arranging transportation, such as a taxi or bus, from the Port of Ischia to the hot springs.

Additionally, keep in mind the return journey to the port in order to catch the ferry back to Sorrento.

It may be more convenient to prioritize the hot springs earlier in the day, concluding with a visit to Castello Aragonese.

Ischia Island shops Hidden Gem Audrey smith about sorrento

The leisurely walk from the Port of Ischia to Castello Aragonese took approximately 35 minutes, allowing us to pause at any stores that caught our eye, featuring handmade gems and trinkets.

Along the way, we stumbled upon a jewelry store where we had the pleasure of meeting Luca, the owner and master craftsman behind the store’s exquisite jewelry collection.

Luca even offered to adjust the length of any jewelry we purchased, providing a personal touch that truly enhanced the charm of Ischia.

Finally, we reached Castello Aragonese d’Ischia.

Since the castle stands on its own island, a bridge connects it to the main island of Ischia.

After acquiring our tickets (€12 for general admission or €10 for students), we marveled at the 25 remarkable sites that recounted the castle’s rich history.

These sites included several churches such as the Church of the Immacolata, Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie, Church of the Madonna della Libera, and Cathedral of the Assunta, as well as a convent and much more.

The original fortress on the land was built by Hiero I in 474 B.C.

In 1411, the prince of Salerno commissioned the construction of the bridge connecting the small island to the main island of Ischia.

Since 1911, the current owners have diligently preserved and restored the castle and its grounds, transforming it into a captivating museum and art gallery for visitors.

Personally, I found the outdoor terraces to be the most breathtaking spots.

Perched high on its small island, Castello Aragonese offers mesmerizing views of the island of Ischia below, rewarding visitors with an unforgettable panorama.

After exploring all 25 sites within the castle, my friends and I descended to swim in the crystal-clear waters right beside the castle’s entrance.

It was a refreshing respite following the climb down from the top of Castello Aragonese.

We made a quick stop to enjoy a panino before heading back to the port, ready to return to Sorrento.

Although it was a busy weekend, both trips proved to be successful and undoubtedly worthwhile!