The Isle of Capri is just a ferry ride away if you’re visiting Sorrento, Naples, or the Amalfi Coast of Italy. With its beautiful blue waters and gorgeous gardens, and plenty to see and do, Capri makes for a fabulous day trip from any of these places. So read on to discover what to do in one day in Capri!
We did a day trip to Capri from Sorrento, and we enjoyed the day so much that we did another day trip to the island the very next day!
Fun fact about Capri
Did you know that Capri is the island mentioned in Homer’s Odyssey as the home of the sirens? The sirens used the haunting sweetness of their song to bewitch sailors into wrecking their boats on the rocky shores of the island. Although today’s Isle of Capri features no sirens, it lures you in anyway with its magical beauty!
WHAT TO DO IN ONE DAY IN CAPRI!
Located in the Bay of Naples, the Isle of Capri actually includes two towns: Capri and Anacapri. You have many choices on what to do on a day trip to this beautiful island. You can do walks and hikes of varying length and difficulty. Or visit sights such as churches and villas. You can shop! Or take a boat tour around the island and/or to the Grotta Azzurra (Blue Grotto). And of course, there are great places to eat or just relax and people watch.
My one day in Capri is designed for the active traveler, but you can pick and choose from the many activities I have described if you want a more relaxed experience.
IS CAPRI A TOURIST TRAP?
Capri has sometimes been called a tourist trap. But if you are willing to move away from the Piazzetta (the main square in Capri Town) and its immediate surroundings, you will have a less touristy, much more enjoyable experience.
Many of the walks on the island lead to stunning destinations. And the cobbled walkways are beautiful as well. Gardens and lovely old gates line the paths and there are views of the deep blue water from everywhere.
Make the Most of Your One Day in Capri!
First, be sure you take an early ferry to the island in the morning, and plan on taking the last ferry back, to maximize your time on the island. Capri gets crowded, and lines for the funicular and the bus can get really long.
If you plan to visit during the summer months, or even the shoulder months, you might want to consider booking your ferry tickets in advance (perhaps even the day before for shoulder months, after you check the weather!). We visited in very late September without advance bookings and had to wait for a later ferry in the morning from Sorrento.
You can get information on ferry schedules and buy tickets online here.
Capri Harbor: Marina Grande
Your ferry will drop you off at the picturesque Marina Grande, Capri’s main harbor. I hung out the ferry window to get a good look at the island as we approached. The towering cliffs of Capri rise tall into the sky, surrounded by the blue water. The harbor is vibrant with lots of boats, and colorful houses are clustered on the hillside behind.
At the Marina Grande, various boat tour companies offer tours around the island. You can also rent a private boat, with or without a captain. There are restaurants and cafes lining the street next to the harbor. The funicular station to Capri Town as well as the bus stop for the bus to Anacapri are just a short walk away.
To start your day, take the bus up to Anacapri. If you have to stand in the bus, hold on tight, because the bus zips up the narrow curvy road, veering alarmingly close to the cliff edge at times. We saw some co-passengers shutting their eyes to avoid looking out!
Anacapri is the “other” town on the island. It is located higher up than Capri Town, on the slopes of Mt. Solaro. It is the quieter town. While Capri has the dazzle of designer stores and the villas of the rich and the famous, in Anacapri, you can still feel the slow rhythms of a rustic Mediterranean retreat.
What to do in Anacapri
The bus will drop you off in the main square, the Piazza Vittoria. Start by taking a walk around the historic center. Pause to enjoy the red walls of Casa Rossa, and the simple white facade of the Chiesa di San Michele. Linger a bit at the Piazza Armando Diaz, presided over by the Chiesa di Santa Sofia.
Watch a craftsman at work in the doorway of a sandal shop. Wander the quiet alleyways, where lemon trees dress up little gardens and bougainvillea clambers over walls and fences.
MT. SOLARO AND THE VILLA SAN MICHELE
If you aren’t afraid of heights, your next activity is taking the chair lift up to the top of Mt. Solaro for breathtaking views of Capri, the Bay of Naples, and even beyond. Take the lift back to conserve time if you want to tour the famous Villa San Michele.
The former home of Swedish physician and author Axel Munthe, the Villa San Michele is a symphony in stone, mosaic, marble and terracotta. It is framed by gorgeous gardens with pergolas and terraces designed to take in the views.
If heights are a problem, you can skip the chair lift and do a more leisurely tour of the Villa San Michele…there is plenty here to keep you occupied! You can look up hours of operation and current admission fees for the Villa San Michele here.
Lunch with a View!
Book a table in advance at Da Gelsomina, for a meal that will stay in your memory for a long, long time. The restaurant sends a van to pick you up from town. Upon arrival, you get a tour of the beautiful property, with its lush gardens and gorgeous water views. Then you are escorted to your table. Ask for a table by the window!
Our lunch at Da Gelsomina was one of the best meals we enjoyed in Italy. Of course we started with a Caprese salad! The ingredients were fresh and flavorful and we enjoyed every tasty morsel. Our pastas and dessert were just as delicious.
The “Secret” Viewpoint at Da Gelsomina
After lunch, ask your server to point you to “the secret viewpoint.” Tucked away a small distance behind the restaurant is a viewing terrace, from where you get fabulous views of the Faraglioni rocks far below you. The three rocks are arguably the most famous Capri landmarks, and they actually have names!
Stella is the rock attached to the cliff. The middle one is called Faraglione di Mezzo. And the one closest to the open sea is called Faraglione di Fuori (or Scopolo). As you explore the island, you will see these rocks from many viewpoints.
From the viewpoint, you can also see the red lighthouse of Capri at Punta Carena. It is the second tallest lighthouse in Italy. It is an active lighthouse, and has been in operation since 1867!
While Da Gelsomina is a delightful option for lunch, it does involve investing a couple of hours. If you wish to conserve time, you can opt to eat in the town center. Pizzeria Aumm Aumm is a really short walk from the town center and serves both pizza and pasta. You can also pick up a Caprese salad panino at one of the many restaurants here for a quick lunch-on-the-go.
Exploring Capri Town
After lunch, take the bus down to Capri town. Make your way to the Gardens of Augustus, where colorful flowers brighten the terraced beds, and walkways meander through the shrubs and trees to views of the water.
From one side of the gardens, you can see the Faraglioni again, a little closer than from Anacapri. On the other side, you can look down into the blue waters of the bay and the Marina Piccola (Little Harbor) in the distance. Noel Coward’s song “A Bar on the Piccolo Marina” was written while he was holidaying on the Isle of Capri.
A switchback trail, called the Via Krupp, goes down from the gardens to the marina. It has, however, been closed for a while because of the danger of falling rock, so check to see if it’s open when you visit. Wouldn’t it be fun to walk that trail?
After you tour the gardens, you can decide whether to take the funicular down to the Marina Grande for a boat tour of the island, or continue exploring Capri. If you decide to explore, another lovely walk is the path to the viewpoint at Punta Tragara, from where you can get a really close look at the huge Faraglioni. You can also see the Marina Piccola and the impossibly blue waters around the island.
A pathway goes down from the viewpoint all the way down to sea level, to the feet of the Faraglioni. If you continue walking past the viewpoint along the Pizzolungo trail, you come to the Arco Naturale, with views out to the water. The arch was undergoing maintenance when we visited, so we turned around when we saw the scaffolding, but you can walk right up to the arch if it is open.
Head back to the Piazetta to enjoy a drink and a slice of torta caprese, Capri’s flourless chocolate and almond cake, before taking the funicular down to the Marina Grande for a ferry back.
Boat Tour Around the Island
If you choose the boat tour, which we did on our second trip to the island, the boat goes all around the island. And it even passes right through the gigantic Faraglioni! We chose a smaller private boat so we could get into a couple of the grottos. The larger boats tend to be crowded and cannot maneuver close enough to see the details in and around the caves.
From the boat, you can really get a sense for how tall and sheer the cliffs of Capri are. We saw the Punta Carena lighthouse again from the boat. Our captain also pointed out the Arco Naturale and the Marina Piccola.
We visited a couple of grottos, but not the famous Blue Grotto, which requires a much larger investment of time. Our boat ride was immensely enjoyable even without the Blue Grotto. Some grottos feature stalactites and stalagmites. And you’ll find the water color is a lovely shade of bright blue or green. We saw pink crystal formations on the rock at the water’s edge in one grotto. The rock textures are stunning.
If it’s on your bucket list, make sure you do the Blue Grotto in the morning. Then spend the rest of your one day in Capri on the activities that appeal to you. You can get to the Blue Grotto either by boat from the Marina Grande, or by bus from Anacapri. Note that high winds or choppy seas might mean that the little boats that take you into the grotto may not operate. If you go, remember to ask your boatman to sing for you in the grotto: the acoustics are supposed to be marvelous!
On your ferry ride back, opt for seats on the open upper deck if they are available. We had a lovely ferry ride back to Sorrento, with views of Mount Vesuvius, the volcano that destroyed the ancient towns of Pompeii and Herculaneum.
When to Visit
The shoulder months of April-May and September to mid-October are lovely times to visit. The island is bustling during the day even in these months, but you can still walk away from the Piazzetta to places that are very serene.
In the spring, the island is bright with blooms, and the heady scent of citrus blossom and jasmine waft through the pathways. The weather is gorgeous for hiking. In the early fall, there are still many sunny days. We had lovely sunny weather on both days we visited. And if you are a shopaholic, in October you just might find an end-of-season deal on that perfect pair of handcrafted strappy sandals!
So there you have it: my recommendations for how to spend one day in Capri. Have you visited the Isle of Capri? If you have, comment below to tell me what you loved about this beautiful island. If you have not, I recommend you add it to your itinerary for your next trip to southern Italy!
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