The Perfect Itinerary for One Day on Capri
Avalon Harris-Trussell, 09.07.19
A small island just off the Sorrento Peninsula, Capri is jaw-droppingly beautiful in every sense of the word: a dramatic cove-studded coastline, with rugged cliffs rising from sparkling blue sea and elegant whitewashed villas draped by flowers such as bougainvillea and wisteria. Enjoy world-class shopping, sublime cuisine and water such a brilliant blue that you can only see it to believe it. Glamorous Capri also has a big reputation for drawing in the rich and famous; celebrities are commonplace, lounging on yachts while anchored in the harbour.
But be aware: hotel and restaurant prices on Capri can be mind-numbingly expensive. Instead of staying on the island, many tourists choose the popular option of day-tripping from the mainland. This means one day to fit in all that Capri offers to see and do—and there really are some gems. But no need to stress, we’ve put together the perfect itinerary for an unforgettable day on Capri, complete with a travel guide, alternative options and top tips!
1. Travelling to Capri
Regular ferries depart from Naples and Sorrento; in the summer, routes from further along the Amalfi Coast also operate from Positano, Amalfi, Salerno, and Ischia.
Naples and Sorrento are home to the larger ports. From both, either speed boat or ferry tickets can be purchased in advance or immediately prior to departure. If you are visiting during the high season (from May-September) and you know what day you plan on heading over to Capri, we recommended either booking in advance (which you can do online) or arriving early in the morning to avoid the crowds. If you purchase tickets online you’ll need to present your voucher at the ferry ticket window to receive your tickets.
Ferries from Naples to Capri depart from two ports: Molo Beverello, from which high speed ferries depart, and the Calata Porta di Massa, from which much larger passenger ferries depart.
The main ferry companies each run eight daily services (during the summer) and the crossing over to Capri takes about 45 minutes.
Round trip ferry ticket: €20 EUR (approx)
Many tourists will choose to visit Capri as a day trip from Sorrento, a key base for those visiting the popular archeological site of Pompeii, Mt Vesuvius and exploring the stunning Amalfi coast.
Ferries for Capri depart from Sorrento's Marina Piccola port. To reach the port of Sorrento, there are two options. You can climb down the zigzagging stairs from the top of the cliff, a short walk with great views of the harbour. Or, and we definitely recommend this option for the return trip back up to the main town of Sorrento, there is an elevator that will take you down through the cliff for just a small fee—but be aware that queues can build up during peak periods.
The crossing schedule is more frequent in the summer (departing about every 30 minutes), and the crossing over to Capri takes about 25 minutes.
Round trip ferry ticket: €35 EUR
Top Tip: Whether traveling from Sorrento or Naples, take a seat on the left side of the ferry to enjoy the best views of the coast between Sorrento and Punta Campanella!
2. Visit the Blue Grotto
Inside the Blue Grotto. Credit: Wikipedia Commons
The Blue Grotto needs to be on your to-do list when visiting Capri. Long lines can form during the day, so to avoid these we definitely recommend heading there first.
All passenger ferries dock at Marina Grande, the main port on Capri. On the pier, where you disembark from the ferry, you’ll find ticket offices for the Laser and Motoscafisti boat tour companies, the two main companies offering both tours around the island and boat transfers (10 minutes) straight to the Blue Grotto. To make the most of your day on the island, choose the return ticket to the grotto. Once there, you’ll need to switch from your tour boat to take one of the small rowboats in order to enter the cave itself.
The Grotta Azzurra (or Blue Grotto) is a magical natural grotto, where the still waters reflect around the cavern in deep and hypnotizing electric blues. The grotto is only accessible by gondola—prepare yourself to lay backwards in your boat as your skipper eases the vessel through the small cave entrance. Once inside, your gondola will slowly circle the magnificent cavern, allowing time for you to enjoy the natural wonder. Skippers often sing traditional Neapolitan folk songs, which echoes around the stone walls and adds to the magical experience.
Boat transfer to and from the Blue Grotto: €14 EUR Blue Grotto: €14 EUR (€10 rowboat; €4 entrance fee)
3. Take the Chairlift to Mount Solaro
View from the top of Mount Solaro. Photo credit: Wikipedia Commons
For the next leg of your Capri adventure, you’ll be heading to the village of Anacapri to take the chairlift up Mount Solaro.
Your Blue Grotto boat transfer will take you back to the port at Marina Grande. From the port, it’s easy to navigate to the bus stop and pick up one of the regular buses heading up to Anacapri (€1.80 EUR one way). The journey from the port only takes about 15 minutes. Please note that the buses are small and you may need to stand; open top taxis are also abundant on the island, but charge a high premium.
Top Tip: After visiting the Blue Grotto, instead of heading back to Marina Grande port, you can ask the skipper to let you off at the stairs next to the grotto instead. From here, you can climb the stairs to the top and hop on the bus to Anacapri so you don't waste time in the long line at the bus terminal in Marina Grande. We only recommend this option if you’re visiting off-peak; the bus from Marina Grande port will not stop if its already full.
Next, stop at Piazza Vittoria—the main stop in the village of Anacapri. After you get off the bus, turn left, crossing the small piazza, and you will be faced with the chairlift station. The journey on the chairlift is a relief from the hubbub of Capri’s port and is a peaceful 12 minute ride up Capri’s imposing Mount Solaro (a soaring 589 meters above sea level), where you will be treated to unrivaled views out over the island and glistening sea.
Once at the top, step off the chairlift and prepare to be mesmerized: if you're lucky, the cloud will hold back and offer you enchanting panoramic views of the island, the Amalfi coast and as far as the distant mountains of Calabria. With a restaurant available at the top of Mount Solaro, you could easily spend hours standing open mouthed at the view and taking incredible selfies.
Chairlift ticket to Mount Solaro: €11 EUR
4. Discover Villa San Michele
"My home shall be open for the sun and the wind and the voices of the sea - like a Greek temple - and light, light, light everywhere!" Axel Munthe
Inside Villa San Michele
Once you’ve peeled yourself away from the stunning views at the top of Mount Solaro and caught the chairlift back down to Anacapri, it’s time to hunt out a secret wonder that many tourists overlook: Villa San Michele.
The villa is just a few minutes walk from the chairlift station in Anacapri and can be found down a winding lane lined with quaint boutiques and cafes. Although, instead of heading straight to Villa San Michele, you might want to take a moment to wander the picturesque alleyways of Anacapri, a pretty whitewashed commune with many alleyways to explore, and perhaps grab a bite to eat.
Villa San Michele and its gardens are open daily to the public, and are absolutely stunning. The villa was built in the early 20th century by Axel Munthe, a revolutionary Swedish physician, on the ruins of an ancient chapel dedicated to Saint Michael. The villa is home to many ancient artifacts, including the head of Medusa and a marble bust of the Emperor Tiberius, sacred Medieval art, and Tuscan furnishings dating from the 1700s.
And it’s not just the villa that is set to amaze. The landscaped gardens are notably luscious compared to the rest of the island and remain quiet enough to offer a peaceful haven. It’s enchanting, quiet and serene, overflowing with dreamy pergolas and mediteranean flora and many secret corners hiding incredible views across the Gulf of Naples. Don’t miss the garden’s granite Sphinx, brought back by Munthe from Egypt, which sits quietly gazing out over the island.
Entrance ticket to Villa San Michele: €7 EUR
5. Head back to Marina Piccola Port
By now, it will almost definitely be time to head back to Marina Piccola Port, bearing in mind that your ferry ticket means you will need to travel back to Sorrento on one of the departing ferries, which are limited in number and are likely to be busy. If you miss your boat, you miss your boat! You’ll need to catch the bus from Anacapri to get back down to the port.
1. Explore the island by boat
Capri’s Faraglioni rocks
From Capri’s Marina Grande, boat companies offer numerous tour packages to explore the island from the sea. One option is to purchase the ‘Island Tour by Sea + Stop at the Grotto’ package, offered by most of the companies. The tour boat will take you on a complete circle tour of the island, including a stop at the entrance to the Blue Grotto.
Duration: (circle tour) 2 hours Cost: 18 Euros Plus entrance to grotto: 14 Euros
Alternatively, hire a boat from the Marina Grande port and head out to explore Capri’s Faraglioni, three magnificent spurs of rock which rise high up out of the sea. Sunbathe in the warm Italian sun or swim in the bright blue waters; the day is yours to do as you please. You can also hire a boat for the day from the port in Sorrento and head out from there, a popular option for many adventurous tourists.
2. Spend the day shopping and eating in Capri Town
From Marina Grande Port you’ll easily find the entrance to the funicular railway. Head up to the charming Piazzetta, a small and stunning square in the heart of Capri town. Capri town is vibrant and chic and bursting with award-winning up scale hotels. Many choose to dedicate their day on Capri to exploring the island’s main town and this is a great option if your priority is checking out the designer Italian boutiques that Capri is known for. In fact, any top designer label which comes to mind when you think of haute couture is very likely to have a boutique on Capri. Sit back in the sun at one of the restaurants lining the Piazzetta square and absorb the bustling charm and architectural beauty of the old town.
Visiting Capri; Top Tips
There’s a great network of small buses that service all areas of the island. The fare is €1.80 EUR each way and the buses run frequently (circa every 10 minutes) from major stopping points. Due to the large influx of tourists arriving from the boats, during peak periods waiting for the buses can be a bit of a nightmare. Because of these unpredictable queues, be prepared to adapt your itinerary on the day!
Planning on visiting the Blue Grotto? For citizens of the European Union between 18 and 25 years of age, with a valid student card, there is a discount of 50% on the entry ticket!
Tickets for both the funicular and buses on Capri can be purchased at the tobacco shop ("tabaccheria") at the port of Sorrento. Consider purchasing your tickets before heading to the island so you don’t have to wait in line at the ticket office once on Capri. There is also a day pass, entitled ‘UNICO Capri’, which costs €8.60 EUR and gives you unlimited bus rides and two trips on the funicular!
Take me to Capri
The closest airport to Capri is Naples International Airport.
If you’re staying in Naples, it is easy to navigate into the city from the airport, via the airport transfer bus, and onwards to the port.
If you’re staying in Sorrento then getting from Naples International Airport to Sorrento is also quick and easy. One option is to catch the airport bus between Naples Airport and Naples Centrale Station, the city’s main station, and then the Circumvesuviana train, which runs regularly between Naples and Sorrento. The train journey will take just over an hour and costs €3.60 EUR. Alternatively, private transfers will take you straight to your accommodation in Sorrento and take about 30 minutes. Expect to pay from €80 EUR per journey, per vehicle.
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