Traveling from Sorrento to Palermo on the island of Sicily takes a long time unless you fly. Because Sorrento is on a peninsula and Sicily is a large island, the trip requires multiple hours of travel, including crossing the Straits of Messina. The journey is worth the effort; Palermo's sights and the food and wine of Sicily are not to be missed. Whether you have two weeks in Sicily or are planning a week-long visit, your stay in Palermo will likely be one of the highlights of your trip.
Overnight ferries run from Naples and Salerno to Palermo on a daily basis. This mode of travel can be a good option if you want to have a car in Palermo but do not want to drive 444 miles to get there. On the other hand, if you travel from Sorrento to Palermo by car or private driver, you can stop along the way to see the Greek ruins at Paestum, south of Naples, or visit the gorgeous beaches at Cilento and Vallo di Diano National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, or at Cefalù.
Taking the train from Sorrento to Palermo can be a good choice, especially if you do not want to worry about parking a car in Palermo. Overnight bus service from Naples is also available. Bus travel is the least desirable transportation option because the journey from Naples to Palermo takes 12 hours, which is a long time to be on a tour bus.
Duration: 4.5-6 hours
Traveling from Sorrento to Palermo by plane involves flying from Capodichino Airport in Naples or Fiumicino (Leonardo da Vinci) Airport in Rome to Palermo. To get from Sorrento to Naples, you take the EAV train, then go by bus or taxi to the airport. Continue from Naples to Rome and Fiumicino Airport by train if you are flying to Palermo from Fiumicino.
Your choice of airport depends on the time of year and the cost of flights. Volotea and easyJet operate out of Naples, but easyJet only offers service during the summer. Alitalia offers several flights per day from Rome to Palermo.
Duration: 11.5 hours
To travel from Sorrento to Palermo by train, take the EAV train, then head upstairs to Piazza Garibaldi Station. Trenitalia trains leave for Palermo three times per day. When you reach Villa San Giovanni, your train will be loaded onto a ferry for the crossing to Messina. This is an interesting, if jolting, process to observe. If you are traveling on the overnight train, consider upgrading to a couchette or sleeping car for more comfort. Be sure to bring your own food and beverages; if your train has a refreshment trolley or café car (and it might not), choices will be limited and prices will be high.
Duration: 9-11.5 hours
Tirrenia and Grandi Navi Veloci car ferries depart from the port of Naples and sail overnight to Palermo. You can get a good night's sleep if you book a private cabin instead of sleeping in the deck lounge. Caronte & Tourist offers car ferry service from Salerno to Palermo. Whichever ferry line you choose, you will need to get to your departure port. Traveling by taxi or private driver to the port is the quickest and easiest option, although it is certainly possible to get from Sorrento to Naples by train and bus.
By Car, Taxi, or Private Driver
Duration: 8.5 hours
While having a car in Sicily can be quite handy, as there are many things to see and do near Palermo, driving in Palermo itself can be somewhat challenging. The city has a Zona a Traffico Limitado (ZTL), a section of the city where driving is restricted to locals with permits during certain hours. Unlike in many Italian cities, you can buy a pass to drive in Palermo's ZTL for 24 hours; this pass will be necessary if you are parking your car in the ZTL. Palermo's traffic can be frustrating. Consider arriving in the midafternoon, when everyone is home for lunch and a rest, to avoid getting snarled in Palermo traffic.
To get from Sorrento to Palermo by car, head toward Salerno from Sorrento. Continue south via the A3/E45 and A2/E45 toll highways to Villa San Giovanni, where you and your car will board a Caronte & Tourist ferry to Messina. Once in Messina, take the A20/E90 and the A19/E20 to Palermo.
Duration: 12 hours
SAIS Autolinee and Autoservizi Salemi S.r.l. offer overnight bus service from Naples to Palermo. Autoservizi Salemi also offers bus service from Salerno to Palermo.