Day Trip to Italy’s Captivating Isle of Capri
With its spectacular scenery and elegant vibe, it’s no wonder Southern Italy’s Island of Capri has been a favorite summer playground since early Roman times. Emperor Tiberius fell under its alluring spell and made it his ruling seat in 26 A.D. Capri’s stunning natural beauty has been an inspiration to poets, painters, lovers, and travelers throughout many centuries.
With its aphrodisiac climate, lush gardens, and awe-inspiring vistas, Capri is truly magical. This is a place where the sun, the sea, and great food and wine blend together in perfect harmony to create one of the most memorable Italian experiences. If you find yourself in Southern Italy, definitely add a day trip to Capri to your itinerary. And we’ll show you the best way to do it!
Almost every artist, designer, movie star and member of royalty that’s visited has fallen in love with this dazzling paradise. Famous or not, visitors don’t come here to see or be seen. They come to escape.
Even with its enchanting beauty and chi-chi luxury villas and boutiques, Capri remains surprisingly humble. Its people are warm, friendly, and laid-back. Simplicity is valued here. We should know as we’ve frequented the island on numerous occasions and fell in love with it time and time again.
On a recent cruise port visit to Southern Italy, we couldn’t resist booking a day trip to Capri to revel in all that Capri has to offer.
Book an Organized Tour For Your Day Trip To Capri
The island of Capri is an incredibly popular destination, not only for international or other European travelers but also for other Italians. Being popular means the island can get crowded, and also getting around can be confusing and time-consuming, figuring out how to get from point A to point B, especially when your time is limited and you want to see as much of this incredibly picturesque Italian gem as possible.
This is why booking a tour is vitally important. Having a local tour guide provides insider information on the island visitors wouldn’t have on their own – even with a good guidebook. Add in the choices of an individual or small-group tour, and this will all make your visit all the more enjoyable.
Here are some recommendations for Day Tips to Capri:
How To Get To Capri
There’s only one way to get to Capri (unless you’re a good swimmer), and that’s by boat. Island visitors can travel here by private boat, or take a hydrofoil ferry from Naples that takes about 50 minutes. If you leave from the Amalfi Coast town of Positano, you’ll arrive in 30 minutes, 20 minutes if your departure is from Sorrento.
After disembarking in the port of Marina Grande, we met our guide at the dock. If you’ve never been to Capri, we highly recommend booking a guided tour as noted above. This private tour is a great option. Not only will this enable you to experience all the island has to offer, but you won’t wait in long lines for some its more popular attractions, like the Blue Grotto. In our case, we wanted a professional photography tour of the island leading us to some of the most photographed spots.
How to See The Top Sights in Capri
These are our absolute favorite must-dos we’d recommend on a trip to Capri.
Visiting the Capri Grottos
Though there are actually three picturesque grottos on the island, the most popular of these is Grotta Azzura (Blue Grotto). Though some see Capri’s Blue Grotto as a tourist trap, we highly recommend doing it at least once, as it is a marvel of nature. The natural sea cavern’s dream-like blue and silver colors are created by light streaming through holes and reflecting off the cavern walls.
Boats leave for the grotto from Marina Grande. Then, hopping on our wooden rowboat, we had to lay flat on our backs to enter the tiny mouth of the cave due to the rising tide. Once inside, our boatman’s melodious voice echoed in the cavern as he serenaded us with a lovely rendition of a Neapolitan classic, O Sole Mio.
One piece of travel advice here: if you’re visiting Capri during the summer months (it’s the busiest time of year) and don’t have a tour with front-of-the-line privileges, get there early as this is the island’s number one attraction.
Riding the Funicular to the Town Square
Capri is a mountainous island with multiple levels. Hopping on the funicular takes visitors up a vertical steep hill and through a tunnel before arriving at Piazza Umberto in the center of the island. From here we ventured out on our day tour of Capri.
Exploring the Magnificent Gardens of Augustus
After passing charming boutique shop windows and admiring the immense glamour and opulent beauty surrounding Capri’s main plaza, we headed to the Gardens of Augustus. This botanical paradise was designed in multi-stepped terraces featuring every possible island plant species. But the biggest draw of the gardens is its view – jaw-dropping 180-degree panoramas overlooking the sapphire waters of the bay.
From the gardens, views of the island’s Faraglioni are breathtaking. This is Capri’s most iconic site. Three towering rock formations stand guard like sentinels in the bay, one with a spectacular arch carved by the sea’s erosion. A massive flotilla of over a hundred yachts, sport, and fishing boats of all sizes dot its sparkling waters.
Paying a Visit to Villa Jovis
One of the best preserved and most magnificent archeological ruins of the 12 Capri villas built by the Roman Emperor Tiberius is Villa Jovis. From this remote palace, Tiberius ruled the entire Roman Empire rarely ever leaving the island.
Perched on the edge of a cliff, the villa offers breathtaking views. According to local legend, the cliff’s edge is known as Tiberius Leap as it is believed that disobedient disloyal subjects and undesired guests were hurled over its steep precipice by order of the emperor himself.
Hiking to Marina Piccola
At the back side of the Garden of Augustus, we trekked a one-mile path snaking down the side of the mountain on sharp switchback turns. The descending views were awe-inspiring as the trail led down to the beach at Marina Piccola, the smaller of Capri’s two harbors. The massive rock formation fronting the sea is known as Sirens’ Rock. It is in this bay where Odysseus nearly succumbed to the Siren’s seductive song – a fitting legend for this island of enchantment.
Waters here are calm and crystalline, perfect for snorkeling. As an added treat, the beach provides a magnificent closer view of the Faraglioni. This area of Capri has sublime stretches of sand and like us, you’ll be smitten and pinch yourself that you’re really here…in captivating Capri, Italy!
Taking the Chair Lift to Anacapri
Scents of lemon groves permeate the air and purple bougainvillea clings to ancient stone walls and medieval terraces in the town of Anacapri. To experience the ‘other’ Capri with quiet little streets, whitewashed homes, lovely churches, and peaceful piazzas, our day on Capri included taking the chairlift to this quaint village. Ascending 1,932 feet in elevation, the lift climbs to the highest point on the island on the slopes of Monte Solaro.
It’s an entirely different world on this end of the island. Panoramas at the top are almost indescribable. Under the clearest of skies, we could literally see the entire Bay of Naples, Sorrento, the Amalfi Coast, and the distant mountains of Calabria.
Dining in Capri
If you want to know the best place to dine, ask a local. Lucky for us, our tour guide was just that. Many restaurants sport stunning views and even those off-the-beaten-path offer an incredible Mediterranean ambience.
After living in Naples for over three years, we are quite familiar with Southern Italian cuisine and those dishes we long for and dream of having once again. No trip to Capri would be complete without our favorite foods.
Ristorante Villa Verde is located just steps from the center of the town square. The family-owned local restaurant has a quiet tucked-away outdoor terrace filled with plants and flowers, and the setting is utterly romantic.
We shared an Insalata Caprese, a signature dish of Southern Italy. Representing the colors of the Italian flag, the salad made with fresh buffalo mozzarella and tomatoes was simply seasoned with sea salt, olive oil, and sweet and fragrant fresh basil.
A perfectly-chilled bottle of Lacryma Christi (tears of Christ), the most celebrated of Neapolitan wines was the perfect accompaniment to the meal. Next, it was on to our favorite pizza of all Neapolitan pies –the Quattro Stagioni. Each of the four sections of this mozzarella-smothered masterpiece features a specific topping—artichoke, mushroom, olives, and prosciutto.
Enjoy this in Southern Italy as it’s not always on the menu in other regions of the country. Foodie heaven doesn’t even describe our unforgettable lunch at this delightful restaurant.
Wandering the Piazza Umberto Town Square
After lunch, we wandered through the small, bustling town square, the heartbeat of the island and the focal point of Capri life.
It didn’t take us long to understand why locals refer to it as the ‘drawing room of the world’ for it attracts artists from everywhere. Picturesque winding streets sprout from this fountainhead. Charming boutiques and cheery sidewalk cafés abound, and the famous Clock Tower chimes on each quarter hour.
I’m not typically a shopper, that is, until I get to Italy. It’s impossible to resist the siren call of its artisan shops, especially those carrying Capri’s famous leather sandals so beloved by the late Jackie Kennedy Onassis. And yes, I did buy two pair. Years later, I still wear them as the quality of the goods made on this island is unsurpassed.
Heading Back to the Marina
We had the option of taking the funicular back to Marina Grande, but we accepted our guide’s suggestion of strolling down to the marina instead. More amazing views abounded as we meandered the winding cobblestone streets past charming homes covered with flowery vines and colorful doorways leading to secret places.
As we awaited our boat trip back to the Amalfi Coast’s Positano, we decided to treat ourselves to a scoop of Italy’s famous gelato. The frozen delight was absolutely perfect on a warm, sunny late afternoon. Me choosing the lemon flavor and my hubby a blood-orange delight.
As our ferry returned to Positano, signaling the end of our unforgettable return trip to Capri, we couldn’t help but smile. It was our beautiful day in a picture-perfect place. Bella giornata.