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 of Capri the very next day!
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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 Piazza Umberto (also called 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.
You can also overnight on the island to experience it late in the evening and early in the morning, when it is relatively peaceful.
Getting to Capri Island
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!).
Tickets for the early ferries to Capri tend to sell out first.
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.
There are three distinct levels to explore on the Isle of Capri: at the bottom is the Marina Grande, the main harbor, and water-level activities. On the middle level, accessed by funicular, bus, or taxi, is Capri Town. And at the top is the town of Anacapri, accessed by bus or by taxi.
We explored the island from the top down, and that’s how this itinerary is written. But if you plan to visit the Blue Grotto, your best shot is early in the day, so start with the water level and work your way up: just follow my itinerary in reverse, or start with the boat tour, then explore Anacapri and end in Capri Town.
Start at 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. It’s the perfect picture postcard.
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. Don’t dawdle, because the lines get long very quickly!
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 the town of 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.
Wander Anacapri town: it’s beautiful!
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.
Take the chairlift to the top of Mt. Solaro
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.
You can catch the chair lift at Piazza Vittorio. The ride takes 12 minutes each way.
Tour 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.
Have 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.
Enjoy the views from the “secret” viewpoint
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 if you want to maximize sightseeing time.
Explore Capri Town
After lunch, take the bus down to Capri town. There are many beautiful sights and walks at this level, and you will have a fabulous time exploring the gorgeous (and glitzy) Capri town.
Admire the Gardens of Augustus
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.
Take a look at the zigzagging Via Krupp
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 visit when the days are long, you might even be able to squeeze in a quick walk along the Pizzolungo before you head down to the harbor!
Walk the Pizzolungo for amazing views!
If you decide to explore, another lovely walk is the path to the viewpoint at Punta Tragara (Belvedere di Tragara), from where you can get a really close look at the huge Faraglioni.
You can also see the Marina Piccola with all the boats in the harbor, 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.
Admire the Natural Arch of Capri
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.
If you want to spend some time shopping on your day trip to Capri, head to Via Vittoria Emanuele or Via Camerelle for the luxury brands.
For more local shops, try Via le Botteghe, where you’ll find hand-made sandals, bags, and more.
Relax for a bit in the Piazza Umberto
Head back to the Piazza Umberto, 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.
Return to Marina Grande
If you started your explorations at Anacapri, you’ll now want to take a boat tour, to see the island from the water level. You can also stroll the marina, and grab a drink or a snack.
Take a 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 grottoes. The larger boats tend to be crowded and cannot maneuver close enough to see the details in and around the caves.
This super popular boat trip option from Sorrento includes boat transport to Capri and back, plus a tour around the island. Go swimming and snorkeling, visit the grottoes, and enjoy time to explore the towns.
Book this tour now!
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.
Take the ferry back to Sorrento
After your fabulous trip to Capri, take the ferry back to your start point. Make sure you know the time the last ferry for the day departs on the day you visit the island.
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.
The best time to visit Capri
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, Capri 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, Italy. Have you visited the Isle of Capri? If you have, comment below to tell me what you loved about your Capri trip!
If you have not, I hope you add it to your itinerary for your next trip to southern Italy! And if you are planning an Italy trip, check out our 3-week Italy itinerary and our Italy guide for ideas, as well as the most beautiful places to visit in northern Italy!
MORE INFORMATION FOR YOUR ITALY TRIP
Rome: 25 Best Things to Do in Rome for First-Timers
Cinque Terre: 2 Magical Days in the Cinque Terre
Venice: How to Make the Most of 2 Days in Venice
Florence: The Top 10 Things to Do in Florence
Amalfi Coast: Driving Italy’s Amalfi Coast
Tuscany: See the Best of Tuscany in One Week
Siena: One Day in Siena
Verona: The Best Things to Do in Verona
Orvieto: What to See and Do in Orvieto in One Day
Sorrento: The Best Day Trips from Sorrento
Val d’Orcia: How to Do the Most Scenic Drive in Tuscany
Ravenna: A Guide to the Mosaics of Ravenna
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