Capri is a mere half-hour’s ferry or hydrofoil ride away from Naples. This beautiful island is synonymous with stars, style and impossible glamour but, away from the central Piazzetta, it’s also a place of stunning natural beauty and calm. Charles Dickens once wrote “In no place on earth are there so many opportunities for delicious peace and quiet as on this small island”. It’s gained in popularity since Dickens’ time, but to enjoy the best of both worlds, here are ten of the best things to see and do in Capri.
1. Visit the Piazzetta
When you step off the ferry at the port of Marina Grande, cross the street and take the funicular straight up to Piazza Umberto I – better known as La Piazzetta – the heart of Capri. It’s a tiny square but always bustling, with every seat of the four bars packed to the rafters, and the perfect spot for people-watching. You’ll need to pay for the privilege though; there are four café bars on the Piazzetta and there isn’t much between them in terms of prices and what they offer, so I’d choose the one that you like the look of and grab a seat. The bars are all open until about 2am so, as long as the money doesn’t run out, you could spend your entire evening watching what Norman Douglas described as “the world’s little theatre”.
2. Take a boat-trip
One of the loveliest ways of experiencing the beauty in Capri is out on sea, away from the crowds. There are boats and tour companies that can arrange everything from a speedboat transfer to another island (or back to Naples), a trip to Positano or the Blue Grotto, or finding a quiet cove to drop anchor and have lunch in. You can have a skipper for a day or hire your own boat. Bring lunch, swimwear, plenty of water and suncream.
It’s commercial alright but there’s no doubting how pretty the iridescent blue water of the grotto is, and the trip there is fun too. Discovered in the time of Tiberius, the place was initially thought to be haunted by evil spirits and so was avoided; it was rediscovered in the 19’th century and since then has become one of Capri’s most popular attractions. When the weather is fine a small rowing boat will take you into the grotto (you’ll need to lie down in the boat as the opening is very narrow) and, thanks to reflecting sunlight, the water appears to take on the color of sky. If you’re lucky, your boatman might even sing you a song so that you can experience the wonderful acoustics.
The grotto is about 10 minutes by boat from Marina Grande.
4. Take a hike
To really appreciate the beauty of this little Mediterranean island, take a walk along a coastal path. The perimeter covers a distance of 17 kilometers and you can gaze out over the twinkling turquoise sea and admire the natural beauty, the Faraglioni islands and appreciate the quiet away from the crowds.
If you’ve only got a couple of hours to stay in Capri and want to take that classic shot of the sea and the Faraglioni before you leave, head to the Gardens of Augustus. Close to the center and only steps away from the Charterhouse of San Giacomo, the Gardens of Augustus are comprised of a series of panoramic flower-decked terraces overlooking the Faraglioni on the one side and the Bay of Marina Piccola and Via Krupp on the other.
5. Have lunch at Il Riccio
“What’s good to eat in Capri?” – Nearly all restaurants in Capri serve typical island cuisine.
The beach side restaurant of the Capri Palace Hotel on Anacapri is open to the public, so a wonderful way of enjoying a bit of luxury without the price tag of the hotel. Simple seafood salads, delicious pastas and the freshest fish accompanied by gentle sea breezes and spectacular views. Accompany your meal with a glass or two of local wine and conclude with a shot of chilled limoncello.
6. Shop like a star
There’s no way to avoid the shopping in Capri. Few places in the world can boast such a high concentration of designer shops as Capri. Make your way along Via Camerelle and, in the 100 meters which separate the Grand Hotel Quisisana from Via Tragara, you’ll come across all the biggest names from the world of fashion.
If you’d rather buy something which has been made on the island and which you are unlikely to come across anywhere else, there are plenty of little artisan shops and showrooms in Capri where you’ll be able to find just what you’re looking for!
Don’t leave the island without these 3 souvenirs of Capri
- A pair of sandals, hand-stitched in Capri
- Your very own artisan-made perfume
- A bottle of limoncello
Capri is famous for its handmade sandals. To get a pair of your own, all you have to do is walk into a sandal shop, where the cobbler will measure your feet while you choose the type of straps you want, and, less than an hour later, your sandals will be ready! Jackie Kennedy was such a fan of Capri‘s sandals that she once had her favorite shop open exclusively for her and spent the whole night trying out the various models.
Another typical souvenir from Capri, a bottle of artisan-made perfume is a great gift for those back home too. The tradition of perfume in Capri dates back to the 15th century when the monks residing in the Charterhouse of San Giacomo started producing exquisite scents using the island’s herbs and flowers.
Capri is a great place to stock up on gastronomic goodies too! A decorative bottle filled with limoncello, the liqueur made with the island’s lemons, is a classic keepsake. If you like the idea of an edible souvenir, the wickedly rich chocolate and almond Torta Caprese is the ultimate in mouthwatering mementos …
7. Monte Solaro.
Capri’s most beautiful panorama?
My favorite view is the one that can be seen from the summit of Monte Solaro, which, soaring 589 meters above sea level, is the highest and most panoramic point in Capri. Here the view extends across the whole of the island of Capri, the surrounding Bay of Naples, the Amalfi Coast and as far as the distant mountains of Calabria.
Take a seat for views of Capri from the top of the island. The quickest (around 15 minutes), easiest and most fun way to get there is to take the chair lift, although it’s possible to walk there. For those who aren’t afraid of heights you simply jump on a chair and it whisks you up to the top of the island giving you fabulous views over the entire island. You can take the lift down again or wander down at your own pace – the descent will take around 40 minutes.
8. Villa San Michele
This view from Villa San Michele in Capri it’s undoubtedly one of the most beautiful views in the world, with the villa’s sphinx looking out to Ischia ahead and the Bay of Naples to the left.
Villa San Michele in Anacapri was the dream home of the Swedish physician, Axel Munthe.
Munthe first came to Capri in 1885. He built his villa on the ruins of an ancient Chapel dedicated to San Michele, following a series of sketches made on a wall. The result was a building articulated on various levels: the study is on the first floor, the loggia crosses pergolas and columns to reach a circular viewpoint which looks out across the Bay of Naples. In Villa San Michele a number of ancient artifacts are displayed – objects found by Munthe in Capri, Anacapri and elsewhere, some of which donated by friends. There are fragments of sarcophagis, busts, Roman paving, marble and columns can be seen. In the garden there is a Greek tomb and a granite Sphinx which gazes out over the whole Island of Capri. The views from the terrace are spectacular. Concerts and cultural events are held in the evenings in the chapel or the gardens of the villa, with tickets costing around 15 euros (5 euros for under-18s and students).
Villa San Michele is a place for you who yearn, dream and search for answers. An international meeting place, where dialogue between people from all over the world can take place in the peace and beauty of its magic settings.
9. Marina Piccola
is the pretty beach in Capri where the sirens tried to seduce Ulysses. Half the fun is getting here… you could take a bus or taxi but really the best way is to walk along Via Krupp where you can drool over your destination all the way down. There are precious few Capri beaches that are sandy and Marina Piccola is no exception – but don’t let the pebbles get you down, the sea is fabulously clear. Unless you’ve anchored off your own little beach cove, sunbathing is an expensive business; Marina Piccola has several bathing establishments and each will charge for sunbeds, deckchairs and umbrellas – but you do get to make use of the bathroom facilities and showers, and you can hire a beach hut to store your clothes while you go a-dipping.
The beaches in Marina Piccola are the most glamorous of all those on the island. The Faraglioni lie within easy swimming distance. The only downside is that the sun leaves the bay early in the afternoon. There are two public beaches, one on either side of the Siren’s rock.
10. Take a bath in the clear crystal waters
Capri’s beaches are miniscule bays between the cliffs, in which you’ll find beach clubs similar to water edge lounge rooms, or rocks from where to dive into the sparkling, crystal clear sea. First things first: if you’re looking for great stretches of soft golden sand… you’ve come to the wrong place! Capri‘s tiny beaches are comprised of a few square meters of pebbles and little platforms positioned between the rocks.
Marina Grande boasts the biggest and free beach on the island, right next to the harbor where the hydrofoils dock. Despite the vicinity to the port, the water is always incredibly clean. The sun leaves the beach mid-afternoon. After a crazy day spent cruising and walking around in Capri what could be better than a swim in the shimmering and crystal waters of the Mediterranean Sea and laze in the sun with a leisurely lunch, savoring Capri’s traditional cuisine.
At the end of the day, as the sun begins to fall, holidaymakers can make the most of their day in Capri enjoying the cruise back to Naples and the beautiful views from the sea.