Capri is really as beautiful as they say it is. The views are in a word, breathtaking. The rugged coastline seems endless, littered with superstar homes and creeping flowers in bloom. The brightly painted homes hug the coastline like Hollywood starlets sunning themselves in the summer. The food, the quiet of the cafes in the hillside, and the charm of the winding roads with incredible views of the Gulf of Naples made us never want to leave.
We decided to do a spontaneous day trip to Capri while vacationing on the Amalfi Coast in June 2016. There are plenty of ferries and cruises that go to Capri from Amalfi town, Naples, Positano, Sorrento, etc. We decided to take the ferry at 8 in the morning, which we got the tickets for the night before. Tickets are significantly cheaper the earlier you buy, so we recommend planning ahead to stick to a budget (while of course a spontaneous splurge is always possible!)
The “fast ferry” from Amalfi to Capri takes around an hour. Remember to look behind towards Amalfi as the ferry pulls away – the view of Amalfi from the water is incredible in itself.
The ferries fill up fast, but only a handful of tourists think to go past the doors of the cabin to the very front of the boat. There’s not much seating but the views are very much worth the bumpy ride. The views of Sorrento and Positano from the water are a must-see from the water.
Capri takes your breath away from the moment you set eyes on it. The rugged hillside backdrop with clouds licking its peaks and the bustling colorful restaurants and homes welcome you to an island filled with loud tourists on one hand, and a quiet charm on the other. There’s no doubt about it, Capri is filled with the average tourist ready to party and rub shoulders with the occasional celebrity who ventures out to enjoy the island vibe. Having eight hours during the day on the island, we wanted to keep the drinks to a minimum and the food and exploration to a maximum.
While we don’t recommend hitting the first restaurant you see when you land at most ports, Capri is a different story. The boats dock right in front of the most visited promenade in Capri, Marina Grande, filled with tourists doing day trips as well as week-long vacations on the island. We were both pretty hungry when we arrived and decided to try out one of the restaurants on the promenade and ended up having one of the best meals we’d had during our trip to Amalfi (which is saying a lot!) My pesto seafood linguini was sublime, and Christian’s lemon past was done to perfection. And while it is a tourist hotspot, our service was impeccable, with the owner of the restaurants coming out to take our orders herself, and make sure everything was prepared to perfection (the creaminess of the lemon pasta was of particular importance to Christian!)
Following our somewhat boozy lunch (of course we had a large beer and wine with our dishes!) we decided to take the tour to the Grotta Azzurra/Blue Grotto. Tickets can be purchased at the entrance to the ferry port, as you land. The Blue Grotto is ridiculously littered with tourists, but it is a sight worth seeing.
Our tour took around an hour, and tickets were around thirteen euro*. You are first picked up from the main ferry port and transported via speedboat/ferry to outside the Grotto. There you have to wait your turn on the boat as smaller rowboats come to pick you up in groups of three or four. The guides are loud and pretty demanding in terms of tip, just a heads up! We were a little put off by the excess of tourists and the crowd of wooden row boats at the entrance but the trip inside was definitely worth the less-than-optimal organization of the tour. We also got pretty lucky to be one of the first on the rowboats so we spent the rest of the time tanning back on the main boat as everyone else made their trips.
Wearing a swimsuit underneath your clothes is optimal as the boats are wet, and there is a fun bending backwards and crouch involved when you enter Grotto Azzurra!
We considered doing the White Grotto as well but decided instead to spend our time exploring the island instead of doing another boat tour. The Grotto Azzurra tour includes a trip around Capri, with magnificent views of the Faraglioni which is a must-see (as well as a few other sights, including Georgio Armani and Benito Mussolini’s holiday mansions on the island 😀 ). You’re encouraged to kiss your loved ones as you pass through the Faraglioni; try it, it’s pretty cute! They also take you to the Green Grotto so all in all, it is an excellent value trip and we strongly recommend it despite the crowded tourist conditions.
Once back on the island we took the bus to Villa San Michele (direction of Anacapri) from Marina Grande, which is located away from the tourist hubbub of the lower parts of the island.
Don’t take the bus if you are short on time. Taxis are expensive (around 20-30 euro one way, feel free to negotiate!) but worth it for the views and the convenience, especially if you are tight on time during a day trip. We decided to take the bus as we had planned it in advance, and knew we would take a taxi back to the port. The taxis are also open air, so it’s a great way to enjoy the views that Capri has to offer.
The buses run regularly but are not punctual… at all. It’s two euro one way though and a fifteen minute drive to Anacapri on the other end of the island, so it’s definitely worth it if you have time. There are different routes to different sections of the island but maps are available at the bus stops and the drivers are usually helpful.
Non-resident cars are not allowed from mid-March through November so renting a car is out. It takes an hour to walk, uphill, from Marina Grande to Anacapri so we don’t recommend it!
We took the bus to Anacapri and hit the busy center of town on the other end of the island. The buses run two ways – towards Anacapri and towards Marina Grande. Anacapri is filled with shops and tourists, but a short walk away from the busy center will take you to smaller niches with quieter residents sipping Aperetivi in cafes lined with yellow flowers (known as Common Broom in English).
The chairlift to Mount Solaro is a must-do on Capri.
I’m usually not the biggest fan of paying to see a view of a city, but in certain cases it’s definitely worth it! A round-trip costs 11 euro* and it is recommended if you’re doing a day trip on the island. If you have more time, we recommend walking down after enjoying the views from the top – there are over a 1000 high steps though so you need to be dressed and somewhat in shape for the walk!
The office of the chairlift is a short walk from the bus stop at Anacapri, at Piazza Vittoria, and most people will direct you in the right direction. There’s also signs you can follow. The ride takes around fifteen minutes and the views are spectacular. It’s only one rider per chair though, so if you are a couple enjoy the time alone 😉
Once at the top… what can we say… simply enjoy the views. It can get a little misty as you gaze over Mount Tiberius and the Sorrento Peninsular but we enjoyed every minute of it.
The chairlift to and fro and drinking in the views can take a while – be sure to budget at least an hour for this activity!
Boats back to Amalfi leave around four or five in the evening, which should give you enough time to enjoy the views and take a taxi or walk down. We strongly recommend you take a taxi as it can be very relaxing and an experience itself to enjoy the breeze as you take in the quieter sections of the island. The bus routes keep away from the most beautiful residential areas so a taxi can be a great way to experience the charm of these quieter areas in bloom in Capri.
You can also consider using the Funicular to get from Marina Grande to the center of Capri, which is a quick, cooler way to explore the center, but the Funicular doesn’t run to Anacapri, so you’d have to switch to a taxi or a bus once you’re done exploring the center. If you’re doing a day trip, you may have to choose between exploring the center of Capri and visiting Anacapri and Mount Solaro (we recommend the latter!)
Eight hours in Capri affords you enough time for a delicious lunch with drinks, a tour of the Faraglioni, Grotta Azzurra, and the Green Grotto, a chairlift to Mount Solaro, and some time to enjoy the beaches if you take buses and taxis to get around. The breathtaking views themselves make the trip one of the most memorable we’ve had so far.
Been to Capri? Planning a trip there? We’d love to hear about your experiences! Share your stories with us below!