The best way to enjoy Capri, Italy

by Beth Graham

I FINALLY made it to Capri! I’ve spent a lot of time in Italy but never made it to the Amalfi Coast or Capri (shameful, I know). So after our recent Windstar Cruise from Barcelona to Rome, we decided to tack on a few days and visit Capri.

We had one experience on Capri that was truly the highlight of our 2-week European trip. You’ll have to read on to learn what it is – and I highly recommend it!

Where is the Isle of Capri, Italy
Capri is an island located in the Tyrrhenian Sea off the Sorrentine Peninsula, on the southern edge of the Gulf of Naples in Italy. It is part of the Campania region and is situated to the west of the Amalfi Coast. The island is renowned for its rugged landscape, upscale hotels, and shopping, from designer fashion to limoncello and handmade leather sandals.

How to get to Capri Italy

There are no flights to Capri, Italy but it’s easy to get one of the surrounding cities of Rome or Naples to reach the Amalfi Coast. if you’re in Rome, there are many day trips from Rome to Capri. A quick 2-hour train ride followed by a 50-minute ferry is a relaxing journey.  We hired a private driver to take us directly from our cruise ship in Civitavecchia to Sorrento where we overnighted before heading the Capri. But don’t let the logistics of getting there scare you away from visiting. You can book your train and ferry online and it’s really a seamless process. There are tons of options for getting from the Amalfi Coast to Capri if you want to start your journey in another town.

Capri at night
Marina Grande at night

Choosing the best hotels in Capri, Italy

There are plenty of Capri hotels to choose from. You’ll first want to decide where to base yourself. Marina Grande is where all of the ferries arrive and it can be quite a congested area with tourists on their day trips to Capri from Naples. There are a few high-end hotels near the marina but if you’re looking for peace and tranquility, I would suggest you head over the top of island (via the funicular) to the Marina Piccolo side. It’s much more calm and there are some really beautiful Capri hotels 5-star.

Anacapri is a small residential enclave on the island. This is where you’ll find villas or a Capri Airbnb. There are only a few Anacapri hotels but I will certainly choose this area as a base next time I go. There are very few tourists as this is where most of the year-round locals live, but it is stunning and serene. 

What to do in Capri, Italy

Most people flock to the Blue Grotto on Capri. There are literally hundreds of small boats shuttling day tourists for a glimpse of the blue water. If you have a lot of time and patience, by all means you can check this off your list. We opted for a boat tour around the entire island which was fascinating because the island has so many different terrains, grottoes, and historic sites. You can only see the green grotto and natural arch via boat. Capri Italy beaches are not your typical white sand beaches but there are a few lovely beach clubs where you can rent lounge chairs.

There are some amazing high-end shops in the city center of Capri. You can take the funicular up or walk the steep climb – or better yet, take one of the colorful, chic open roof taxis. The views from the top of the island are spectacular. You can just meander through the narrow streets of Capri and wander into a few of the historic churches. Giardini di Augusto is a must-see and offers panoramic views of the island of Capri and the coast. Villa Jovis is where you can visit the ruins of Capri’s largest and most lavish Roman villa.

Where to eat in Capri, Italy

One of my favorite pastimes in Italy is always eating. And drinking. We had a chance to try some of the best restaurants in Capri, Italy like the famous Da Paolino set in an actual lemon grove. Villa Verde is another top choice for dining.  For an aperitivo, I highly recommend having cocktails at Capri Rooftop. The views are simply magical. 

Da Paolino Capri
Da Paolino

The absolute best thing to do on Capri: DO NOT MISS THIS!

I’m a foodie, so I love to take cooking classes when I travel. And this one proved to be among the best I’ve ever experienced.  We spent the evening with Gianluca and Holly at their home in Anacapri for a private food, wine, and olive oil tasting. It is by far the best cooking class in Capri. Gianluca is a trained chef who closed his acclaimed Caprese restaurant and now he and Holly conduct cooking classes and tastings at their home. They private label their own wine and olive oil and most of the meal’s ingredients come right from their garden.  And yes, you’ll have an opportunity to buy wine and olive, and they’ll even ship it back to the states for you.

When is the best time to visit Capri?

It’s important to know that Capri is generally only open to tourists between Easter and the end of October (roughly). Restaurants and hotels close for the season and a large portion of the residents leave the island. There are very limited ferries and services during the off-season.  But according to Holly and Gianluca, this is actually the best time to visit the island. There are no tourists, the weather can be mild, and the winter vegetation is stunning.  While most restaurants are closed, the small family-run restaurants stay open to serve the locals, which is how I love to eat.

Here’s my caveat on Capri: it is at risk of overtourism. There are 12,000 residents on Capri (8,000 off-season) yet 25,000+ tourists arrive daily on the ferries and spend less than 4 hours on the island. There are hundreds of small boats ferrying tourists to the grottoes and the smell of fuel is overwhelming around Marina Grande (that’s why I would opt to stay on the Marina Piccolo side). But this is capitalism and the ferry owners, restauranteurs, and souvenir shop owners (rumor has it most of these are all owned by the same people). The island has so many amazing sites and experiences so I do hope that local government can find a way to better manage tourism. The sealife, wildlife, and residential life are all being negatively affected by overtourism. 

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