Is Italy even real, or just a dream? ...
One of the top tourist destinations in the region of Naples is the ever-beautiful Isle of Capri. I've visited once before, a few years back, on a Contiki tour but one day on this stunning island, is just not enough. This time I based myself in Naples which is well connected to the major destinations in the region.
Getting to Capri
Ferry services are operated by two main companies. All ferries depart from Naples Molo Beverello and operate every 30-60 minutes. Tickets can be purchased online in advance but beware of the online booking fee. When I looked at booking, the added fees were almost half the ticket price (€12). In the summer, expect tickets prices to be higher compared to the off-season. I visited in mid-September and the ticket set me back €42.
Note: At the port, you can only purchase one-way tickets, but you can easily purchase your return ticket in Capri when you arrive or just before departure from the ticket office on the port.
The ferry takes around 45 minutes to reach the island, except for when your ferry has to turn back to port with technical difficulties. The crew communicated with the passengers well and fixed the problem very quickly and we were departing again with only a 30-minute delay. Don't expect this to happen to you, it was a rare problem. The ferry services are very reliable and do run to schedule.
After a stormy morning in Naples, I didn't know what to expect in Capri but much to my delight the sun was out and putting on a show. Not a cloud in sight.
Getting around the island
Now there are lots of things to do and ways to see the island. Some of the top places to visit include Capri town, Anacapri, Monte Solaro, the Blue Grotto and Marina Grande.
There is a funicular that connects the port, Marina Grande to Capri town. The 5-minute journey costs €2 and runs every 15 minutes.
Note: There is a supplementary charge for large luggage on all public transport.
Due to the narrow, winding roads of Capri, buses cannot be found on the island. The public bus service, therefore, is comprised of mini buses which can merely accommodate a few dozen passengers. Services run frequently across the island with departures every 15-20 minutes. This is said to be more often in the high season. Tickets cost €2.50 and journey times vary depending on the route but all sit between 15-25 minutes.
Note: There is a supplementary charge for large luggage on all public transport.
By far the coolest way to see the island, but definitely the most expensive. The open-top taxis make it very easy to get you into the holiday mood. With seating for up to seven; groups may find this option more appealing and not much more expensive than the public transport. Taxis are readily available and can be hired for the day or for individual trips, but rates are negotiated with individual drivers.
Another flexible way to explore Capri is by hiring a scooter. The main scooter hire locations can be found in Marina Grande, Capri town and Anacapri. I didn't come across too many during my visit in September.
Last but not least, my personal favourite way to explore the isle, walking. That’s right put that right foot in front of the left and explore the island the old-fashioned way. Opting to walk around the island is of course the cheapest option, being for free and all, plus it gets you to see all the lesser known and visited areas of the region. But do brace yourself for stairs. The main towns of Capri and Anacapri are located higher up on the island than the port. Walking times are dependant on which route you take, your fitness level and how many photo stops you do along the way.
On my last visit to Capri I explored Capri town and the island from the sea with a cruise around the island. It is an incredible way to see the island and one that you definitely must do. It is also one of the ways to visit the famous Blue Grotto. But be prepared that this will take up quite a bit of your day. This time I chose to venture to a different part of the island, Anacapri. Rather than sitting in a packed and stuffy bus, I opted to walk from the harbour to Anacapri. Brace yourself for stairs upon stairs upon stairs. Literally, this walk, or rather hike is not for the lighthearted. It is a solid work out and you will break a serious sweat. It offers some spectacular views over the island and the Italian peninsula, which does soften the pain a little. The walk isn't exactly signed but it's impossible to get lost. Follow the stairs until there are no more stairs and then you've made it to Anacapri. That’s where the hordes of tourists suddenly appear. So, doing the walk actually made the island a lot more enjoyable and blissful, because let's be honest, tourist groups really ruin the serenity and island vibes.
After wandering through Anacapri, I wanted to make my way to Monte Solaro. Monte Solaro is the highest point on the island, sitting at 589 meters above sea level, and as such, offering spectacular views across the island.
How to get to Monte Solaro
Monte Solaro Chairlift
The Monte Solaro Chairlift operates between the peak and Anacapri, taking a total of 12 minutes. The chairlift features single chairs that pass over the centre of Anacapri and its surrounding natural landscape. Tickets can be purchased from the terminal in Anacapri for €8, one-way or €11 return.
Note: In high season, the line does get very long, but it also moves swiftly. You shouldn’t be waiting for more than 15-20 minutes.
Alternatively, for those that aren’t fans of height or those looking for another option to reach the summit there is also a hiking trail. The trail departs next to the chairlift station or you can start the trail from Villa San Michele in Anacapri town. From my research online, all the sites I came across recommended hiking shoes and moderate fitness levels for the hike. Now I didn’t hike up but I did hike down, and in Birkenstocks no less. So I wouldn’t say that hiking shoes are essential, but I would at least recommend some sneakers.
I chose to take the chairlift to the top and hike the trail back into town. The chairlift definitely does offer exceptional views across the Anacapri region and gets you to the summit at a nice relaxed pace. At the peak there are infinite insta-worthy photo opportunities with panoramic views across the isle, as well as a garden and café.
The hike down the summit was quiet and serene. The initial decent is quite steep and uneven, but after the first 10 minutes it evens out. The hike down takes no more than 40 minutes but 20 minutes into the walk the trail reaches a T-junction. The hike continues left back into town, or alternatively, you can make a detour, right, and visit Eremo di Santa Maria Cetrella (Hermitage of Sant Maria of Cetrella). I cannot recommend this detour enough! Only adding another 10 minutes of walking to your trip, this easy walk leads you to the best views on the island. The Faraglioni stacks are one of the most notable and photographed sights of Capri, and this is where I got the best views and undisturbed pictures of them. Since most visitors take the chairlift rather than the hiking trail, the church and viewpoint is tourist free; a rarity on Capri.
Tip: Haven’t had lunch yet. This location serves as the perfect spot for an idyllic and scenic picnic. Buy some supplies from a local convenience store in one of the town centres or pick up some snacks from the café at Monte Solaro.
Following back along the short trail you came from, you return to the T-junction again. Continue following the trail down into the town centre and before you know it you’ll be back to civilisation, but unfortunately back with the masses of tourists.
With a few hours left of my visit, I started on my way from Anacapri to Capri town. Of course, as mentioned above you have multiple travel options between the two major towns. I walked between the two towns, descending the many steps that I had conquered earlier in the day. I’m happy to say, it way much more pleasant on the return journey. The trail turns off just before the port, with a sign to Piazetta, which leads you to Capri town via numerous lanes which zig-zag to the centre.
Tip: If you miss the turn, just follow the main road and you’ll meet up with the narrow lanes.
Capri town is much larger than Anacapri and is filled with designer shopping boutiques, luxurious hotels and numerous restaurants. Wandering through the busy streets of Capri you can find your way to the Gardens of Augustus. This beautiful botanic garden offers, yet again, breathtaking views of the peninsula. Being easily accessible from the town centre, it is a very popular site, but it is the closest that you can get to the Faraglioni stacks without being on a boat. Entrance to the gardens costs a mere €1.
And is it a trip to Italy without a gelato? On the way into the Gardens of Augustus, there is a small gelato stall, Chiosco Tizzano di Natalia e Antonio Tizzano S.N.C, which serves delicious homemade gelato. The stall gets very busy at times due to its strategic location, but luckily, I had just beaten a tourist group. With a scrumptious hazelnut and cookies gelato in hand, I continued my adventures into the gardens.
After a light walk back down through the lanes, I was back at Marina Grande. I purchased my return ferry ticket to Naples and was on my way back to the mainland.
Farewell Capri, until next time.