Capri is a highlight of any Naples or Amalfi Coast vacation. A favorite among Roman emperors, the rich and famous, artists, and writers, this enchanting, picturesque, and exceedingly glamorous Italian island made of limestone rock remains one of the Mediterranean's must-see destinations. Its top attraction is most definitely the famous Blue Grotto, but it's also celebrated for its stunning beaches, shopping, gardens (featuring an abundance of lemon trees churning out a certain local specialty), historic villas, and delicious eateries in its two stacked cities, Capri and Anacapri—it is the land of pasta and pizza, after all.
Capri is located in the Bay of Naples, south of the city and near the tip of the Amalfi Peninsula, in southern Italy. Learn how to get there, what to expect, when to visit, and what to do.
Planning Your Visit
- Best Time to Visit: The island's moderate temperatures make it a year-round destination, but spring and fall are the best (i.e. quietest and cheapest) times to visit as summer sees about 10,000 tourists a day. That's about as much as the island's permanent population.
- Language: Italian
- Currency: Euros
- Getting Around: There's only one road on Capri and it is well-serviced by public buses, but they can be crowded. Non-resident vehicles are forbidden on the island from Easter to November. The funicular railway (funiculare) takes visitors up the hill from Marina Grande to the town of Capri. To get to Mount Solaro, the highest and most panoramic spot on the island, there's a chair lift from Anacapri during the day. Taxi service is reliable and the convertible taxis are especially refreshing on warm days. Boats at the harbor offer tours around the island and transport visitors to the famous Blue Grotto. There are boats for rent there, too.
- Travel Tip: Early mornings and late evenings, when the day trippers aren't around, are the best times of day to visit the most touristy parts of the island. This is perhaps the only way to get a good souvenir photo without hundreds of people in the background.
Things to Do
In addition to being somewhat of a playground for the wealthy, Capri is a nature lover's paradise. It's surrounded by sea caves—the most famous being the Blue Grotto—and dramatic rock formations rising from the water. You can get good views of the yacht-studded harbor by taking the Phoenician Steps from the shore to Anacapri, the highest town. Near the central square, there's a chair lift to Mount Solaro, which offers even better views of the island.
In Capri, the main town, you'll find luxury fashion boutiques and restaurants along Via Camerelle. Handmade leather sandals, ceramics, and perfume are some of the island's specialties. And although Capri is notorious for being pricey, you don't have to spend a lot of money: Simply walking around and exploring the gardens, Roman villa remains, beaches, and monasteries is extraordinary.
- The Blue Grotto: Known locally as Grotta Azzurra, this is the most beloved of the island's many caves. Refraction of sunlight into the cave makes an iridescent blue light in the water. Visitors can only enter the cave in small rowboats. Tours can be booked through Marina Grande, the Motoscafisti, Laser Capri, and Capri Cruise boat charter companies.
- The Faraglioni rock formations: Apart from the Blue Grotto, these are the island's most treasured natural wonders. The Faraglioni is composed of three towering rocks, or "stacks," that protrude from the sea, making for a unique photo opportunity. On the shore, Faraglioni beach is one of the island's most beautiful, too. There are several other unusual rock formations in the sea around the island, including a natural arch.
- Villa San Michele: This Anacapri villa was built by the Swedish writer Axel Munthe in the late 19th century on the site of a Tiberian villa. Bits of the Roman villa are incorporated into the atrium and garden. Inside are traditional local and Swedish furnishings and hundreds of art pieces from antiquity to the 20th century. Not to be missed is the garden, with its breathtaking views of the cliffs, harbor, and sea.
What to Eat and Drink
Italy is, of course, famous for its cuisine and this euphoric hamlet is no different. The island is known for its ravioli Caprese, pillow-soft pasta pockets filled with parmigiano, aged caciotta cheese, and marjoram, and served with fresh tomato and basil sauce. La Capannina, a traditional trattoria beloved by the Hollywood set, is said to serve the best iteration of this dish. Other local delights include Caprese salad—a beautiful and simple starter featuring tomato, mozzarella, basil, olive oil, and sometimes arugula—and wood-fired pizza, found at Villa Verde and Aurora. Save room for the local-favorite dessert: chocolate almond cake, traditionally served with a glass of limoncello.
Limoncello, a lemon liqueur, is this island's true forte. It's said to have been invented here and while that remains unverified, the name, at least, was originally registered by a family who ran an inn in Anacapri. You'll find limoncello everywhere and other lemon-based items made from the abundant Capri fruit in most shops. The Limoncello di Capri distillery is open to the public for tours, but many restaurants around town also offer tastings.
Where to Stay
Anacapri and Capri have a range of hotels for almost every taste, though most are quite high-end (hence why day-tripping is so popular). Anacapri tends to be quieter at night while Capri, being the island's main "center," and has more nightlife. One of Capri's chicest hotels is the five-star Grand Hotel Quisisana, a 19th-century establishment overlooking the central plaza, featuring a luxurious spa and baths. In Anacapri, the glamorous Capri Palace Jumeirah, a member of the Leading Small Hotels of the World, is nestled in its own secluded corner and has a world-class medical spa called Capri Beauty Farm. The Hotel Carmencita in Anacapri offers more budget-friendly accommodation. It operates almost like a hostel, but with only private rooms sleeping one to six people.
Discover the best Capri hotels for foodies, couples, families, and history buffs.
Ferries and hydrofoils transport travelers to Capri from the city of Naples (via the Molo Beverello and the Calata Porta di Massa ports) and Sorrento (via the Marina Piccola port) more than a dozen times a day. The trip is 45 minutes from Naples (about $25) and 25 minutes from Sorrento (about $20). The price and frequency of the ferries fluctuates with the seasons.
In the summer, ferries also depart from Positano, Amalfi, Salerno, and the island of Ischia. If you're staying in Positano or Sorrento, you can book a small group tour with boat transportation through other regions of Italy.
Culture and Customs
Tipping is not expected for servers, taxi drivers, porters, or anyone else in Capri or throughout the rest of Italy, though some tourists will round their bills up a few euros as a courtesy. Sometimes a restaurant may include a service charge (servizio) of 10 to 15 percent, which is usually stated on the menu. Keep in mind that coffee will cost more if you sit down at a table rather than drink it while sitting (or standing) at the bar.
Capri is incredibly safe, even for kids and solo travelers. The water is clean, there are no health risks, and crime is kept to a minimum. However, tourists should always stay aware of their surroundings as pickpocketing does occur in busy areas and foreigners are a common target.
Money Saving Tips
- Capri is notoriously expensive, but overnight visitors may be able to strike a bargain on accommodation in Anacapri, which tends to be cheaper than accommodation in the bustling town of Capri. Be sure to check prices on Airbnb, too.
- The great thing about this island is that you don't have to spend a lot of money to marvel at the main sites. Sure, visiting the Blue Grotto and other caves requires a boat tour, but you can have just as much fun finding good viewpoints, walking the trails, and people-watching in the piazza.
- Save money by visiting in the shoulder season, March to May and September through November. During the spring and fall, hotels and ferries tend to be cheaper and, as a bonus, you won't have to deal with the overwhelming crowds.