If one had to find an example for the word idyllic, Capri Island would be the perfect example. It exudes every aspect of the definition of idyllic – extremely happy, peaceful, and picturesque.
Prior to arriving on this island, I had no expectations whatsoever on how Capri Island would look like. Fast forward, and now I’m eager to return to Capri Island.
Unlike most other places on this trip, such as Naples, Positano, and Amalfi, Capri Island deserves a minimum of two days to fully appreciate the whole of the island leisurely. For us, we were there early in the morning all the way till the afternoon of the next day. For those that are making it just a day trip – don’t! The time spent here is worth so much more, and here I will tell you what exactly to do to enjoy both the touristy and non touristy aspects of this gorgeous heaven.
First of, we were fortunate enough to have our accommodation host Fabio, who mentioned that he was some sort of President of Capri Island’s council or something like that. He gave us a map and meticulously presented to us the best things to do on the island, and therefore we were able to venture into some sightseeing that often most tourists would ignore.
I must also say that we were very blessed as the weather on the first day we were in Capri Island was perfect, as you will see below in my many many photos.
By the way, a helpful tip is that most tourists actually arrive at the island around 11am in October. We were awake and doing things by 9am, and we found that to be incredibly more time efficient as you will see later.
Capri Dolce Vita (website)
Right after you go up the Funicolare, you will be in the Piazzetta, a small but busy main square. Capri Dolce Vita is practically one minute walking from this Piazzetta. The location is so central that buses are literally directly diagonal from the entrance!
As I mentioned, Fabio, the president of Capri Island Council or something, showed us to our room and sat us down to go through the things to do in Capri Island. He went above and beyond by even giving us his whatsapp and asking us if everything was OK in a non pushy way. The bedroom was comfortable and homey, and while we were only one floor away from the hustle and bustle, our windows were tightly secured enough that it was completely soundproof once you close the windows.
Capri Dolce Vita sits one floor up and so even those with huge luggages like us had no problem. That said, it was supposedly going to have an elevator during the summer of 2018, was started construction in January 2018, and yet as of October 2018 it still wasn’t completed.
All in all though, the location, the cleanliness, and the friendliness makes this accommodation somewhere you should definitely considering when coming here if you’re looking for something small, comfortable, and convenient. If you’re looking for something more baller, you might want to consider Capri Palace, which is located in Anacapri and is a five star hotel.
First off, do not rent a car. Not sure if you can even rent a car, but if you can, just do not rent a car. The roads are extremely narrow, there are a lot of one way streets with both directions going the same way, and so you need to have lots of experience driving there to know when to give way and how to give way to other cars. I’m literally on the bus all the time thinking how the hell do these bus drivers and taxi drivers manage to squeeze through, because honestly their car mirrors were literally one centimeter away from the wall most of the time. Yes, that’s how narrow it was!
OK, now that I convinced you to not drive and take public transportation, what are your options then?
Well firstly, when you get off the ferry, you will be in Marina Grande (of the Capri one, note there’s also a Marina Grande in Sorrento as well, don’t get confused!) Marina Grande is located at the bottom of Capri, so you actually need to take the Funicolare (that’s Italian, English is funicular), a cable car that brings you up to the Piazzetta, the main square of Capri. If you have lots of heavy luggages, you may want to do a single trip and take a taxi ($$$) up there, as it may be extremely difficult to carry around while on the cable car – choice is yours. The taxi may cost around €20-30. The Funicolare/Cable Car is only €2. By the way, if you want to take a more scenic route but spend a little extra time (probably 5 minutes longer), you can also take the bus from Marina Grande to Capri. The bus will cost €2.
Speaking of buses, all buses cost €2 if you buy tickets beforehand at ticket booths, or €2.50 if you buy the tickets on the bus. You may also want to purchase a day pass, worth €6 from Capri ticket booth. Note that the bus companies operating in Capri and the bus companies operating in Anacapri are two separate bus companies. Therefore, if you buy a full day bus ticket in Capri, it cannot be used for any buses that start from Anacapri that goes to different destinations.
Before I continue, I want to say that Capri and Anacapri are both part of Capri Island, but you can consider them as two separate places. Both are gorgeous, with Capri being more touristy and with more high end fashion labels, but Anacapri matches that of Capri in elegance as well.
Anyway, buses from Capri go to Anacapri, Marina Grande, and Marina Piccola (just a beach, photos will show that later). Anacapri buses will go to Capri, Faro (a beautiful sunset place) and Grotta Azzurra (the famous blue cave everyone goes to when at Capri Island).
Each of these buses have different intervals, so check the timetables. Also, their timetables and even availability varies amongst seasons, so be sure to check out Capri.net for more information on getting around. There’s also an app for you to download as well.
Lastly, you can choose to take taxis. But of course, taxis in Europe are always expensive. Take for example, a taxi ride from Faro to Anacapri, a ~15 minute ride, was going to cost us €30-40. Bus ride from Faro back to Capri back to Anacapri for two persons was going to be €8. The taxi prices vary as well depending on the number of persons you have, so there is no economies of scale or whatever.
By the way, for getting to Capri Island, there are ferries from Naples and Sorrento and Amalfi. The prices differ depending on season and hour. For us in end of October (almost or is considered off season, just before winter) it cost us less than €20 per person one way in the morning / afternoon. Check the ferry schedule from Capri.net for more info on pricing and where you can get on and off.
Also when we embarked in Sorrento, there was a valet parking lot right by the ticket counter. The ferries also have designated times as well, so do make sure to check online the day before. When doing valet parking, remember to keep all your valuables with you, including coins, and don’t let that spare change hanging next to the driver seat.
Restaurants and Food
Just before I begin to introduce to you all the amazing food we had savoured, you must know that in places such as Capri Island, not all hotels, shops, and restaurants may be open. A lot of times, the very best of best of restaurants, like Michelin star restaurants, are only open during the high season, so be sure to do a bit of research before coming here.
Buonocore Gelateria (website)
Every time we passed by this place, this gelato shop had so many people queuing for its gelato. Not only do they make amazingly delicious gelato, but they also have creative and delicious pastries as well. I would even go so far as to say that its pastries and desserts are even better and more unique than their gelato.
Ristorante Villa Verde (website)
Its website has the perfect description of the restaurant – enchanting flavours, intriguing aromas, delight of the senses. Even their website’s music instantly sets the mood of the ambience of what you can expect from this restaurant! Sit outdoors and bask in the sunlight for a truly wonderful experience.
Restaurant Le Grottelle (website)
We didn’t go, but we passed by this restaurant overlooking the Capri sea while on our way to Arco Naturale. During that time, I thought to myself, “There’s no way this dingy little restaurant that’s dark inside can be good.” As I’m writing this, it has really good reviews by other users. Damn should have tried!
Ristorante Ai Faraglioni (website)
The restaurant I wanted to go to was Ristorante Terrazza Brunella. But as I had mentioned, some high end restaurants close when nearing or during off season, so that was one of them. We did pass by Ristorante Ai Faraglioni and were really close in just sitting down here, but at the end we decided to go somewhere with higher ratings.
So instead of going to Faraglioni, I decided we should head over to Michel’angelo as I remembered passing by this restaurant and seeing that it had somewhat good reviews.
This place was OK – atmosphere was a tad too dark, there were live instruments set up (although no live performance that night), and the food was OK. They recommended their own red wine, which actually turned out to be quite good.
It’s quite close to the Piazzetta, about a 5 mins walk away.
Il Piccolo (website)
When in Capri Island, do not, and I emphasise again do not, go to any of the restaurants at the Piazzetta.
Early in the morning, we wanted to have a quick breakfast and I was not feeling croissants or bread. I wanted eggs, or sausages, something meaty, whatever. We decided to walk nearby to Il Piccolo, where everybody was standing for coffee.
A really helpful note – when in Italy, the price will differ tremendously if dining in or takeaway. Takeaway including just standing around. That’s why in the mornings you will often see Italians standing around in the restaurant drinking their espressos; it’s because if you sit down the price dramatically increases!
OK, so now we’re at Il Piccolo in the Piazzetta looking at the menu. OK here’s an omelette that’s costing €10 and the picture looks like it got peppers and mushrooms and stuff, it better be good right? Guess what! It comes out… JUST AN EGG. That tasted mediocre. Here’s a picture of what I got for €10…
Luckily, the coffee and chocolate were much better, even though each drink still costed around €4-6 each. Touristy trap I fell for =(
Salumeria Da Aldo (website)
Wait, you’re telling me to just go into this grocery store? No no no, as of writing, it’s actually the #1 food/restaurant on TripAdvisor for Capri Island! Yes that’s right. Packed at the back of the grocery store, there’s a sandwich maker who famously makes some of the best caprese sandwich, and when I mean best, I’m quoting from other people online as I thought it was completely overrated to put this sandwich at the top.
The bread was too tough and I thought too much to complement with the mozzarella cheese and tomato and olive oil. The fillings was good and enough. If you’re a small eater, one is enough to share amongst two persons.
Other restaurants we wanted to try but weren’t open: L’Olivio and Il Geranio.
Things to Do
OK, so here’s the secret gems I’m going to offer you to do the “not so touristy” parts of Capri Island and why you need to spend at least 2 days on this island, because there’s just so many things to do!
This part is Capri. Sorry it may be a bit hard to see, but number 11 is where the Piazzetta is. What our host Fabio suggested was to walk to Arco Naturale (right middle) then walk down, see the Villa Malaparte, continue walking the path and see the Scoglio del Monacone from different vantage points, and return to Piazzetta. The walk is pretty tiring, taking about one hour to 1.5 hours. You can also walk at the Via Krupp as well (number 6). On another half day, you can spend it at the top right, where you walk to Villa Lysis (Wikipedia), “a building with a theatrical and neoclassical style… using sophisticated and expensive materials such as marble, vaults, and terraces overlooking the sea, elegant columns and capitals.” (Capri Apeiron) Then you can go see Villa Jovis, Grotta di Tiberio, and then walk back all the way to Piazzetta. We did not do the Villa Lysis / Villa Jovis walk as we did not have enough time.
In Anacapri, you can take the cable car (a very scary one!) to the top of Monte Solaro (589 metres). Take the cable car back down, then you can watch the sunset at Faro Punta Carena, home to Capri’s lighthouse, number 1 blue color at bottom left. I recommend going to the famous Grotta Azzurra, the blue cave, early in the morning. Grotta Azzurra is number 2 at the top left. As mentioned before, there’s a bus from Anacapri to go to Faro and Grotta Azzurra. Of course, you can walk around Anacapri as well to check out the local shops.
All the things you can do as mentioned on the map:
- Faro Di Punta Carena
- Grotta Azzurra
- Chiesa Di San Michele
- Villa San Michele
- Seggiovia Monte Solaro
- Marina Piccola
- Giardini Di Augusto (via Knupp)
- Certosa Di San Giacomo
- La Casa Rossa
- Museo Ignazio Cerio
- La Piazzetta
- Marina Grande
Hiking to Arco Naturale
Giardini di Augusto
Near La Piazzetta, there is a small garden also recommended by the host called the GIardini di Augusto. Originally we wanted to visit Via Krupp, but the path was blocked due to “dangerous seasonal conditions”, and we were right at Giardini di Augusto. It costs €1 per person to enter.
People watch at La Piazzetta
As I had mentioned above earlier at Il Piccolo (again don’t go!), you can people watch at La Piazzetta. I think it’s not worth purposely going just to people watch – all you see are just tourists taking pictures and gathering together.
Nothing much to do there, but there’s a beach restaurant/bar and people go there mainly for the beach. Be aware – the buses that go there and come back are pretty infrequent, so be sure to check the bus schedule.
Go up to Mount Solaro
You can take a cable car ride up. I had no expectations, but actually while going up it was actually kinda scary to see how high you were! Plus, the cars did not look safe at all, it seemed it was just supported by one metal rod, and there’s a metal bar that you can easily swing open, there’s no seat belts or no outer protection etc. But the views you get were amazing. Be careful not to drop your phone! Oh also, the ride was like 20 minutes… nerve racking!
They almost closed down on us, and we were like nooo… so they were like OK. Last ride was 4:30pm. Since we were in a rush, the guy just directed me and said ok stand here and sit down, close the bar. Then after a while, I was like wth!!! It was going to be so high!
Watch the sunset at Faro
Beautiful, beautiful place to enjoy the sunset. You can take pictures of Faro Punta Carena, the lighthouse, and the sunset.
Grotta Azzurra (Blue Cave)
If at Capri, it’d be wise to ask the info centre if you can enter the Grotta Azzurra, because sometimes, the waves are too big and since the entrance is too small, you may not be able to enter into it. By the way, going into Grotta Azzurra is pretty expensive. If you’re going from Marina Grande, you have to take the ship to get to the cave which I heard was about €15. Or you can take the bus, so from Capri you have to take bus to Anacapri then to Grotta Azzurra. Also be sure to go there early… some comments from Tripadvisor said they waited for at least 2 hours! We were there by 9:45am so we only waited for about … 15 mins? Also, the Grotta Azzurra is treated as a museum, so there is a museum entrance fee of about €14 per person. Then, the guide / rower will ask for tips at the end of the trip. Most just give coins, but we gave him €10. All in all, it’s super expensive! And you’re only in there for less than 10 minutes.
Anyway Grotta Azzurra is one of two blue caves in the world that are more easily accessible by people, the other one being Okinawa. But while in Okinawa you have to scuba dive to see it, in Italy you won’t even get wet.
Visit Art Shops
Walk and shop around Capri
I personally had an amazing time at Capri Island and felt that Capri Island and Milan were both my favorite places in Italy for this trip specifically. Lots of high end shops, great restaurants, lots of beautiful views, things to do, relaxing… if only some restaurants and hotels were also open, otherwise this would have been perfect! Hope I was able to help you on your next Capri Island trip so you are more prepared!