Before I visited Capri, I didn't know much about it except that the Blue Grotto is found there. Like many of you probably have, I discovered the Blue Grotto while Pinterest-surfing and knew that even though chances of being able to see it in November were slim, I had to try my luck.
Having now spent a day in Capri, I can say that it was the friendliest place that I visited in Italy. It's a place where locals will stop to ask if you need any help with directions if you look lost, and where they'll smile and say hello to you as they walk by. It's also a really beautiful island. And while there are parts of it that are extremely commercialized with high-end designer stores, it also has that laid-back island feel to it.
Looking online, there seems to be mixed reviews about Capri, but I really enjoyed the island. Because it was off season when I went, it wasn't completely inundated with tourists. But for the same reason, there were things that I missed out on (spoiler alert: I didn't get to see the Blue Grotto). Here are some of the things that I did during my one day in Capri, as well as some of the things that I wasn't able to do, but would like to do if I ever got to go back to Capri!
Things I Did
Our ferry from Sorrento dropped us off at the Marina Grande. From there, we took the funicular (€1,80 one way) up to the Piazetta, Capri's famous square. You might be thinking, that's great but is it really worth mentioning? Yes, because the views from the funicular are stunning. On your way up, you'll get a great view of the white buildings of Capri with beautiful white cliffs in the background.
Capri's Piazetta is small, but it's a great place to grab a coffee and pastry (to go, if you don't want to pay the sitting fee which makes everything way more expensive) and enjoy the atmosphere.
Following the (very cute, ceramic) signs from the Piazetta, we walked ~30 minutes to Villa Jovis, which was once the imperial residence of Emperor Tiberius. It is not the the easiest walk - there is quite a bit of uphill walking involved - but it was scenic with beautiful residences on either side of the road, so I enjoyed it!
The grandeur of Villa Jovis has been reduced to ruins over time, and I found they have not been as well preserved as the ruins of Pompeii or the Herculaneum. There were also very few signs around, so we didn't know what we were looking at most of the time. But what it lacks in that respect, it makes up for in the views. Being so high up, you get a spectacular view of the ruins with cliffs and ocean in the background. I spent a good amount of time there just taking in the views. Fun fact, it was rumoured that Tiberius would throw subjects who wronged him off a 300m high cliff from Villa Jovis to their deaths.
Entry into the Villa Jovis in November 2016 was €4,00.
Bus to Anacapri
From the Piazetta, you can take the bus from Capri to Anacapri. It's worth mentioning because it is quite a harrowing ride! The small orange bus takes you along the windy road to Anacapri. The bus would honk as it went around the tight turns to make sure it didn't hit anyone coming down the other way. I found it even more exciting than the famous Amalfi cost bus ride. I wish I could've taken some photos or footage, but I was too busy holding on!
Historic Center of Anacapri
Where you are dropped off from the bus at Anacapri, there's a route that you can walk that takes you through the historic center of Anacapri. It will take you by the Casa Rossa (Red House, built in the 1800s) as well as a few churches that are home to some beautiful paintings.
This villa was one of the 12 villas that Emperor Tiberius built on this island. It is located on the cliff right above the Blue Grotto, and it is said that there was probably a passage leading from the villa out to the sea. The villa was abandoned after the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in 79AD (the same eruption that buried Pompeii and Herculaneum).
You can get some great views here and entry is free. But because the ruins themselves (the part that was accessible to visitors) were not very big, I would recommend that you do something else on the island over this if you have limited time.
One of our last stops in Capri was to see the Faraglioni. We saw them from the viewpoint area of Punta Tragara. The walk to this spot from the Piazetta is very picturesque. It's lined with hotels and those high-end designer stores that I mentioned earlier (although 99% of them were closed in November), with greenery that created a pretty, natural frame for the view, even in November! You might also come across the original Carthusia perfume boutique/factory. I mention it because the scents wafting from this store are divine. And although the perfume was out of my price range, smelling it in the vicinity is free...!
When we got to the Faraglioni, we were just getting into that magical time of the day where the setting sun makes everything twice as beautiful, so we got to admire these rock formations under a beautiful golden lighting.
Things I Missed
- The Blue Grotto - the #1 thing I wanted to see, but alas, the waves were too rough for us to visit. When you arrive at Capri on the ferry at Marina Grande, you can ask at the information center if the Blue Grotto is open that day. Another tip that we got from a local, is to ask the bus driver of the buses that go to the Blue Grotto since they are always have real-time information on whether it is open.
- Monte Solaro chairlift - after the Blue Grotto, this was what I was looking forward to most, and I'm so sad it wasn't open! This chairlift (which looks a bit like a ski lift) takes you up to the summit of Mount Solaro, but it was too windy when I visited, so it was not in operation.
- Arco Naturale - we actually walked to the Natural Arch which was formed naturally through many years of erosion, but there was scaffolding over it which was very unfortunate. Check online beforehand if you are planning to visit, to see if there is still preservation work being done to it!
- Villa Lysis - we decided against visiting this villa (which is near Villa Jovis) because we were afraid that we wouldn't have enough time to take the chairlift and explore Anacapri. On hindsight, if I had known beforehand that the chairlift would be closed, I would definitely have visited this pretty villa.
So would I recommend Capri for a day trip? Absolutely. There is plenty to do on the island and even if you decide to take it slow and only do one or two things, just wandering in the streets was enjoyable a) because it was so lovely, and b) because the locals were so friendly!
Want to get here from Sorrento?
It is a 25 minute boat ride from Sorrento to Capri. Go down to the Marina Grande in Sorrento, and you'll find booths selling ferry tickets. We ended up taking the Caremar ferry as they were one of the two that were open and were cheaper (it was €14,80 one way). When we bought the ticket, the man at the booth told us that there were only two boats returning that evening. This might not be an issue if you are going during the busier season, but it would still be safer to check when the return times are so you don't miss the last ferry back! You can also check here beforehand for the ferry schedule. Quick tip here too: if you get sea sick, bring some gravol. The ferry ride was rough.
Have you been to Capri? Were you able to visit some of the spots I couldn't see? If so, how was it?
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