Last updated on March 11, 2024 by Stefano Ferro, founder of MEL365, following extensive travelling in Naples and Amalfi Coast

Positano or Sorrento – Which One Is Better in 15 Key differences

Is Positano or Sorrento a better base to stay on the Amalfi Coast? That is a common question I receive on this blog.

Having visited both towns, I have decided to organise a comparison on 15 points, including the destination’s appeal for families, couples, nightlife or the ultimate itinerary in 4-5 days.

You will find the answers to “Which one works better for public transportation?”, or “Where are the best beaches”, for example.

By the way, did you know that Sorrento is not actually on the Amalfi Coast, although, really it is so close to it (see map below).

But, without further ado, let’s get into it.

Where to stay on the Amalfi Coast
Map of the Amalfi Coast and nearby towns, cities and islands

Positano or Sorrento – A quick comparison table

Here below is a comparative table for a quick overview of the differences. But keep reading for more information.

You can click on the subject for more details.

SubjectPositanoSorrentoMy favouriteWhy
For FamiliesPicturesque, limited activitiesFamily-friendly, more activitiesSorrentoMore activities for all ages
For CouplesRomantic, intimate settingCharming, convenient basePositanoIdyllic romantic atmosphere
4-5 Day ItineraryScenic beauty, smallerExcursions, largerTieBoth towns are great bases.
I would include both in an itinerary
Where to stayLa Nunziata, Torre Trasita,
Alcione Residence
Palazzo Marziale, Sun Suite,
I Giardini di Cataldo
NATorre Trasita is one of the most
unique stays on the Amalfi Coast
ArchitectureUnique cliffside landscapeHistoric, elegant stylesPositanoIconic vertical landscape
FoodSeafood, coastal flavoursDiverse, limoncelloSorrentoWide culinary variety
BeachesPicturesque sandy shoresRocky shores, beach clubsPositanoBeautiful beaches, clear waters
Nature
(walks and views)
Breathtaking hiking trailsVerdant parks, coastal walksPositanoStunning panoramas
NightlifeIntimate, charming barsLively, varied optionsSorrentoVibrant atmosphere, more options
HoneymoonDreamy, luxurious hotelsRomantic, exploration basePositanoIdyllic romantic retreat
Budget (affordability)Upscale, exclusiveBudget-friendly optionsSorrentoMore affordable choices
SizeCosy, cliffside villageLarger, bustling townSorrentoMore to explore, variety
Festivals &
Cultural Events
Local traditions, artisticDiverse, lively calendarSorrentoRich, varied cultural experiences
Public TransportationLimited options, cliffsideWell-connected hubSorrentoEasy access to regional attractions
As a baseMore charming and uniqueMore practicalTieIt really depends on what you want to visit on your trip
Sorrento or Positano – Comparison table
Positano - A panoramic drone shot of the illuminated town
Positano – A panoramic drone shot of the illuminated town

Positano or Sorrento for Families

Positano is a picturesque town famous for its colourful cliffside houses, vertical landscape, and beautiful beaches.

The main beach, Spiaggia Grande, is a family favourite, offering soft sand and calm waters for kids to play in. Watersports like kayaking and paddleboarding are also available for families to enjoy together.

Positano has also a good selection of pizzerias and ice cream shops that kids will of course love.

However, the steep streets and numerous steps in Positano might be challenging for families with young children or strollers.

Sorrento, on the other hand, is a bustling town that offers more family-friendly activities and flatter terrain.

Sorrento is one of the great places to explore Pompeii and Herculaneum, just with a short train ride. Or you can organise a day trip to Mount Vesuvius, another amazing and unique destination in the area

Sorrento also has a lively historical centre with plenty of shops, piazzas, and parks for kids to run around.

From Sorrento, you can even think to take the train to the Valle dell’Orso waterpark for plenty of fun for the entire family.

The Winner for Families: Sorrento

When it comes to family vacations, Sorrento takes the crown. I love the fact that Sorrento is flat, with a nice pedestrian area and it has easy access to nearby attractions. You can visit, for example, Mount Vesuvius also from Positano but it is going to be a much longer day.

Sorrento - Lemon garden of Sorrento
Sorrento – Lemon garden of Sorrento

Positano or Sorrento for Couples

Positano is a dream destination for couples seeking a romantic getaway.

The town’s picturesque charm and stunning sunsets create an enchanting atmosphere. Intimate restaurants with candlelit terraces overlooking the sea are perfect for a romantic dinner.

For couples who enjoy hiking, the Path of the Gods offers breathtaking views of the Amalfi Coast.

Positano is really the best place to stay on the Amalfi Coast to enjoy a sunset, either on a boat or simply drinking an aperitivo at a beachside bar.

Sorrento also offers a romantic setting for couples, with its lively atmosphere and stunning coastal views.

I loved exploring the Historic Centre, with charming shops and plenty of bars or restaurants for a drink or dinner.

A visit to the Marina Grande, a picturesque village, is another lovely experience.

Taking a cooking class together or indulging in a wine tasting at a local vineyard are unique ways to connect and make lasting memories.

The Winner for Couples: Positano

For a truly romantic experience, Positano comes out on top. Its breathtaking views, charming atmosphere, and intimate dining options make it the ideal destination for couples.

Positano - Sunset time in winter
Positano – Sunset time in winter

4 to 5-Day Itinerary: Positano Vs Sorrento

In Positano, a 4 to 5-day itinerary can include exploring the town’s narrow streets, lounging on the beach, taking a boat tour to nearby islands like Capri or Ischia, or taking a ferry/bus to nearby towns like Amalfi or unique beaches like the one in Fiordo di Furore.

Hiking the Path of the Gods is a must for nature lovers, and the town’s many art galleries and shops provide endless entertainment.

A 4 to 5-day itinerary in Sorrento can include exploring the historical centre, visiting the beautiful Marina Grande, and enjoying the vibrant nightlife.

From Sorrento, you can also easily organise day trips to Pompei and Herculaneum by train (30-40 minutes), Capri Island by ferry and Mount Vesuvius with an organised trip or a rented car.

For those interested in local culture, Sorrento offers the chance to participate in cooking classes, wine tastings, and artisan workshops.

Another great day out is to take the ferry to Amalfi or Positano and back by bus for the stunning views (tip: take the seats on the left side of the bus for the best views)

This is a summary table for an itinerary of 5 days on the Amalfi Coast that includes both Positano and Sorrento.

With 4 days on the Amalfi Coast you can think to skip Day 3

DayHotelActivitiesLunch/Dinner
Day 1Nunziata
(Positano)
1. Stroll through Positano
2. Visit the main beach
3. Walk to Fornillo Beach or Arienzo Beach
Lunch: Posides Cafe
Day 2Nunziata
(Positano)
1. Ferry to Amalfi
2. Ferriere Valley walk
3. Visit Duoglio Beach
Lunch: Dejavu Cafe or Lido di Ravello
Dinner: Li Galli or Mirage Restaurant
Day 3Nunziata
(Positano)
1. Capri and Sorrento Coastal Tour visit OR
2. Ferry to Cetara and explore
Lunch: Spadone (Cetara)
Day 4Palazzo Marziale
(Sorrento)
1. Ferry or bus to Sorrento
2. Visit Vallone dei Mulini
3. Swim at Bagni Salvatore
4. Sunset at Bagni Regina Giovanna
Lunch: Bagni Salvatore
Day 4Palazzo Marziale
(Sorrento)
1. Visit Ieranto Bay
2. Bus to Nerano
3. Walk in the Natural Park
Dinner: 86 Bistrò
7 days in Amalfi Coast for couples – A quick table summary

The Winner for a 4 to 5-Day Itinerary: It’s a tie

Sorrento is very handy, centrally located and with convenient access to public transportation. It’s a great base for exploring the Amalfi Coast and surrounding attractions. Positano works better if you just want to stay in the most charming town on the Amalfi Coast and explore from there.

Amalfi Coast - Scenic Road on Rocky Cliffs and Mountain Landscape
Amalfi Coast – Scenic Road on Rocky Cliffs and Mountain Landscape

Where to stay in Sorrento and Positano

I will talk more in the budget comparison section. Shortly now I just want to mention that Positano is on average more expensive than Sorrento

In fact, if you stay outside the Sorrento historical centre, you can find some amazing deals.

Sorrento is even cheap in winter when prices crash down like a stone.

If you are on a limited budget, try at least to book one night in Positano, it would be a pity not to stay there at least for one night.

Great Accommodations in Positano and Sorrento

Positano - View of Positano perched on the hill
Positano – View of Positano perched on the hill from the Main Beach

Positano and Sorrento Architecture

Positano‘s unique architecture is one of its most striking features.

The town’s colourful houses cling to the steep cliffs, creating a stunning vertical landscape.

The narrow streets and countless steps reveal charming churches, like the Church of Santa Maria Assunta with its beautiful majolica-tiled dome, and small piazzas that offer breathtaking views of the coastline.

Sorrento‘s architecture is a mix of historical and elegant styles.

The Old Centre is so beautiful, a maze of narrow streets, historic buildings and important monuments, like the Sorrento Cathedral and the Basilica di San Antonino.

The Piazza Tasso, Sorrento’s main square, showcases beautiful examples of Baroque architecture, while the Villa Comunale offers stunning views of the Gulf of Naples and Mount Vesuvius.

The Winner for Architecture: Positano

When it comes to architecture, Positano steals the show with its unique cliffside landscape and charming streets. 

Positano - View of Spiaggia Grance and the western side of town
Positano – View of Spiaggia Grance and the western side of town

Sorrento Vs Positano for Food

Positano‘s food scene offers fresh seafood and coastal flavours.

Local specialities include dishes like spaghetti alle vongole (spaghetti with clams) and seafood risotto.

The town is also famous for its delicious lemon-based desserts, like the mouthwatering delizia al limone.

Nowadays is common to have cafe offerings also lunch, and sometimes dinner too. It is usually cheaper than restaurants.

My favourite restaurants in Positano are Posides Cafe (lunch), Li Galli and Mirage Restaurant

Sorrento‘s culinary scene is more diverse, featuring classic Italian dishes, seafood, and local Campania specialities.

The town is particularly known for its production of limoncello, a sweet lemon liqueur, and offers numerous opportunities to taste and learn about its production.

Don’t miss trying gnocchi alla sorrentina and the famous caprese salad while in Sorrento.

My favourite restaurants in Sorrento are Bagni Salvatore (lunch by the water), Il Buco and 86 Bistrò

The Winner for Food: Sorrento

When it comes to food, Sorrento takes the prize with its diverse culinary scene and signature limoncello. 

Sorrento or Positano for Beaches

Positano is famous for its beautiful beaches, like Spiaggia Grande and the more secluded Fornillo Beach.

Both offer clear waters and stunning views of the surrounding cliffs. Spiaggia Grande has sand meanwhile Fornillo is a pebble beach.

Unfortunately, these beaches can get crowded during peak season.

Sorrento‘s beaches are characterized by rocky shores and beach clubs with sunbeds and umbrellas.

Popular options include Marina Grande and Marina Piccola, both of which offer swimming platforms, sunbed rentals, and beachside dining.

While not as picturesque as Positano’s beaches, Sorrento’s beaches still provide a relaxing experience.

The Winner for Beaches: Positano

For beach lovers, Positano is the clear winner with its picturesque sandy shores and crystal-clear waters. 

Positano - The main Beach at sunset time
Positano – The main Beach at sunset time

Sorrento and Positano Nature (walks and views)

Positano is a paradise for nature lovers, offering several scenic hiking trails, like the famous Path of the Gods.

This walk starts in Agerola to finish just outside Positano, close to Arienzo Beach. This is where you will have some of the best views of the Amalfi Coast and the Tyrrhenian Sea.

Other popular hikes include the Montepertuso and Nocelle trails, which also offer stunning vistas.

Sorrento also boasts a variety of nature walks and beautiful viewpoints.

The Villa Comunale, a public park, offers not only stunning views of the Gulf of Naples and Mount Vesuvius but also lush gardens and walking paths.

Another must-see is the Vallone dei Mulini with the ancient sawmills.

For a coastal experience, the walk from Sorrento to the nearby fishing village of Marina Grande is both picturesque and relaxing.

The Winner for Nature: Positano

When it comes to nature, walks, and views, Positano has the edge with its breathtaking hiking trails and panoramic vistas. 

Sorrento - Vallone dei Mulini with the old sawmills now ancient monuments
Sorrento – Vallone dei Mulini with the old sawmills now ancient monuments

Positano Vs Sorrento Nightlife

Positano‘s nightlife scene is more subdued and intimate, with a focus on relaxed bars and elegant beachside venues.

The town offers several chic bars and lounge clubs where you can enjoy a drink while listening to live music or admiring the stunning coastal views.

Positano’s romantic atmosphere makes it an excellent choice for couples seeking a laid-back evening.

In Positano, you can find also a nightclub called Music On the Rocks carved into the cliff. Beautiful setup but also quite expensive.

Sorrento is actually quite famous for its nightlife options.

In the summer months, it’s not as unusual to find the young Napoletani driving there for bars and clubs, sometimes with live music too.

The town’s bustling historical centre is home to numerous bars and pubs, as well as lively piazzas where street performers entertain visitors late into the night.

For those looking to dance the night away, Sorrento also offers a few nightclubs.

The Winner for Nightlife: Sorrento

If nightlife is a priority, Sorrento is the winner with its vibrant atmosphere and a wide variety of entertainment options. However, for a more relaxed and intimate experience, Positano’s charming bars and lounges should not be overlooked.

Sorrento Vs Positano Honeymoon

Positano is an idyllic choice for a honeymoon, with its romantic atmosphere, picturesque scenery, and intimate dining experiences.

It’s undoubtedly the best town to stay on the Amalfi Coast for a honeymoon. A sunset boat ride is a must, with a lovely aperitivo or champagne glass.

Luxurious hotels with stunning views and private terraces add to the town’s romantic appeal.

Sorrento also offers a beautiful setting for a honeymoon, with its coastal views, charming historical centre, and romantic restaurants.

However, the competition with Positano for a honeymoon time is almost unfair, but still, if you are after a base to explore the nearby attractions like Capri, Pompei or Mount Vesuvius, then Sorrento actually may work better.

The Winner for Honeymoon: Positano

For a truly romantic honeymoon experience, Positano is the winner with its dreamy coastal atmosphere, intimate dining options, and luxurious hotels. 

Positano - Such an unbeatable romantic town on the Amalfi Coast
Positano – Such an unbeatable romantic town on the Amalfi Coast

Positano and Sorrento for Budget (affordability)

Positano is known for its upscale hotels, boutique shops, and fine dining, making it a more expensive destination for travellers.

While it’s possible to find budget-friendly accommodations and dining options, they are generally more limited in Positano compared to Sorrento.

Visitors should expect to pay a premium for the town’s exclusive atmosphere and breathtaking scenery.

Overall Sorrento is more affordable, with a much wider range of accommodations, from budget hostels and guesthouses to luxury hotels.

And it’s not only about cheaper hotels. You will find better value for money also in restaurants, pizzerias and trattorias.

This is not to say that there are no boutique restaurants, on the contrary, you will be able to find a few amazing options, like Il Buco.

Public transportation in and around Sorrento is also more accessible and budget-friendly.

The Winner for Budget: Sorrento

When it comes to affordability, Sorrento is the clear winner with its diverse accommodation options and budget-friendly dining choices.

Is Positano or Sorrento bigger

Positano is a smaller town, with charming streets and colourful houses nestled into the steep cliffs.

This cosy, cliffside village offers a more intimate atmosphere, allowing you to feel connected to the local community and culture. However, the town’s compact size may mean that popular spots can feel crowded during peak tourist season.

Sorrento is a larger town compared to Positano, featuring a more extensive historical centre, shopping options, and a variety of dining experiences.

The town’s size provides more opportunities for exploration and entertainment. In Sorrento, you can also find more piazzas and parks, places to seat and watch the local life passing by.

The Winner for Size: Sorrento

When considering size, Sorrento is the winner, offering a more extensive area to explore and a wider variety of activities. 

View of the street in Sorrento, Italy.
Sorrento – Beautiful way to the sea between the rock

Positano or Sorrento for Festivals & Cultural Events

Positano offers several local festivals and cultural events throughout the year, celebrating its rich heritage and artistic community.

The town’s most famous event is the Positano Art Award, which showcases the work of local and international artists.

Other noteworthy events include the Feast of Our Lady of the Assumption and the Festival of Santa Maria Maddalena.

Sorrento is more of a city, with quite an extensive cultural program that runs throughout the entire summer.

Unmissable is the Sorrento Jazz Festival and the Sorrento Film Festival.

If you are a Limoncello lover (like I am!) then you should not miss the Festival del Limone, running usually end of July.

Additionally, Sorrento’s religious celebrations, like the Feast of San Antonino, offer visitors the chance to experience local customs and traditions.

The Winner for Festivals & Cultural Events: Sorrento

For a diverse and lively calendar of festivals and cultural events, Sorrento takes the crown. The town’s wide variety of celebrations offers something for everyone. 

Positano Vs Sorrento for Accessibility by Public Transportation

Positano‘s public transportation options are more limited due to its cliffside location and narrow streets.

The town is primarily accessible by bus, with connections to nearby towns along the Amalfi Coast.

However, these buses can become crowded during peak season, and the winding roads may be challenging for those prone to motion sickness.

Positano is also well connected by ferry/boat to other towns on the Amalfi Coast, Sorrento and Capri.

Sorrento is a transportation hub, offering excellent accessibility by public transportation.

Getting around the Amalfi Coast from Sorrento is as easy as a pie.

There is a train line leaving Sorrento and connecting Naples, Pompeii, and Herculaneum.

On this line, you will find two types of trains, the Circumvesuviana (low cost, slower) and the Campania Express (better service, quicker but also more expensive).

The towns on the Amalfi Coast, Capri, and other destinations are instead reachable by bus and/or ferry.

Sorrento’s central location and well-developed transportation network make it an ideal base for exploring the region.

The Winner for Accessibility by Public Transportation: Sorrento

When it comes to public transportation, Sorrento is the clear winner with its well-connected train station, bus routes, and ferry connections. For travellers looking for a convenient base to explore the Amalfi Coast and surrounding attractions, Sorrento is the ideal choice. 

Sorrento - View of the cliff below the town accessible by lift from the main square
Sorrento – View of the cliff below the town accessible by lift from the main square

In conclusion, Sorrento or Positano as a base?

The short answer: Sorrento is more practical meanwhile Positano is a much more picturesque and charming option.

The long answer is that Sorrento is the best base if you plan to visit Pompeii, Herculaneum, Mount Vesuvius and possibly also Naples on a day trip.

Organising any of the above day trips from Positano is going to be quite challenging unless you book an organised trip where they pick you up from your hotel.

In saying that, staying in Positano is a must, especially if it’s your first time on the Amalfi Coast. It’s such a unique town, hard to find anything similar in the world.

Positano in the blue hour with the beautiful street lights
Positano in the blue hour with the beautiful streetlights
Stefano Ferro - MEL365.com Founder and Editor

About the Author

Stefano is a seasoned travel expert and the visionary founder of MEL365.com, a leading travel website with traffic across 6 continents. With a rich background in the travel industry, Stefano spent four pivotal years at Amadeus Travel Distribution System, gaining invaluable insights into travel technologies and distribution.

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