Day Trip: Capri

Capri is an island in the Gulf of Naples that offers breathtaking landscapes that have captivated poets, Roman emperors and lovers since ancient times. It is a hugely popular day trip destination in the southern region of Italy and can get quite crowded, especially in the height of summer.

CaReMar Hydrofoil

To get to Capri from Sorrento, you need to take one of the ferries or hydrofoils from Marina Piccola. There are multiple lines that service this route, including CaReMar and Alilauro, and you can choose which one you prefer based on the time of departure and the speed of the boat. The websites are a little confusing to navigate and buying tickets in Sorrento isn’t difficult, so there really isn’t a need to buy tickets online. The ticket booths can be found in Marina Piccola, just before the boarding pier. If you see an open area with ticket windows and people lining up, you’ve found the right place. We ended up taking the CaReMar hydrofoil, which was about a 30-minute boat ride to Capri. You should know that lines to board the hydrofoil in Capri can get long so buy a roundtrip ticket in the morning to save time on the return trip. Another tip, sit on the left side during the ride for better views of the coast. 

Grotta Azzurra (Blue Grotto)

The first item on our itinerary, and really the main reason we wanted to go to Capri, was to see the Blue Grotto. To get there, you need to buy tickets from one of the boat operators in Marina Grande in Capri. We suggest buying your tickets as soon as you get there because, like we mentioned, lines can get long. We decided to get a combined ticket that offered entrance into the grotto and a boat tour around Capri. We bought our tickets, got in line and after about a 45-minute wait, we were finally able to board a ferry and headed off to our first stop. Fun fact: the Blue Grotto can only be accessed via rowboats, and only if the tide is low and the sea is calm. We got lucky because it was actually closed for months up until the day prior to our jaunt to Capri. If your heart is set on seeing it, make sure you check the weather forecast before going. You wouldn’t want to go all the way there only to discover that it is closed for the day. Not that this should stop you from visiting Capri, mind you. The island is host to many amazing sites and you can definitely find other things to experience besides the grotto, but more on that later. When we got to the cave, our tour guide announced that we had to wait another hour to get into the rowboats that actually go inside the cave. Good thing we did this early in the morning, before the sun was out in full force. In hindsight, whiling away another hour of our time relaxing on a boat by the coast of southern Italy wasn’t bad at all. When our turn came, the tour operators separated us into groups since the small wooden rowboats only held 3-4 people at a time, not including the guy who rows the boat. Not-so-fun fact: the rowboat ride has a separate cost from the boat tour. We get into our designated rowboat and they bring us towards a floating ticket booth where we pay a fee to get in. Now for the fun part because just getting into the cave was an experience in and of itself! After we pay the required fee, the small boat containing our group inches towards the entrance of the cave. At this point, we were all wondering how the heck our boat would fit through the seemingly tight entrance with all of us in it. We bobble around in the water for a few more minutes as we wait our turn, and the boat gets closer and closer to the entrance. When we get there, the rower (rowguy?) asks us to squeeze ourselves as much as we can into the inside of the boat which means that someone’s foot may or may not have been in my face or someone’s hand may or may not have been near someone else’s private parts. Fun times! Anyway, as we lay flat on the bottom of the boat praying that our heads were low enough as to not get decapitated by the limestone walls, the rowboat man (rowman?) pulls on a chain that is attached to said walls and then just like that, we were inside the cave. I will tell you, it was really cramped. It was really uncomfortable. It took really long to get in. And IT WAS ALL WORTH IT. All you see as you enter is darkness . . . and glowing blue. And for a few precious minutes, it is  enchanting.

And then the otherworldly moment is interrupted when the row-dude loudly tells us that we can now get up from our cramped positions on the floor and sit on the narrow planks that run across the boat. We attempt to move and try our hardest not to overturn the boat. The row person then starts singing Sorrentine hymns as he maneuvers the boat around the small cave while avoiding the other rowboats filled with tourists trying to capture the same magical experience. We spent about 10 minutes inside . . . 10 fleeting minutes . . . watching how the sunlight from outside shines through the water to create the famous blue colored reflection that illuminates the cavern. 

Capri Boat Tour and I Faraglioni

Afterwards, we then proceeded to go around the island on the boat tour. The boat was filled with tourists, including us, who were trying to take selfies with all the amazing scenery we were seeing. We passed by fascinating rock formations, cliffside caves and white limestone walls enveloped by clear turquoise waters. Our favorite part was kissing while going through Faraglioni di Mezzo, which is one of the three rock formations that comprise the Faraglioni Rocks, Capri’s sea giants. Legend has it that if you kiss under the arch, you will be together forever. A corny anecdote that caters to tourists, but kiss we did! We are on our honeymoon, after all.

 

Bar Aprea

It was around lunch time when we got back to the pier and because we were starving, we decided to go off-script and just find a place to eat along Marina Grande. The pier was packed side-by-side by restaurants offering a plethora of Italian dishes. We ended up eating at Bar Aprea, which had outdoor seating and was right beside the funicular station. We ordered a creamy pasta dish (which I can’t recall the name of) and Pizza Margherita. Fun fact: it is said that this type of pizza was invented in Naples for Queen Margherita of Italy, and that the ingredients of this pizza (cheese, tomato and basil) represent the colors of Italy’s flag. We thoroughly enjoyed our first authentic Italian pizza, especially Michael who often says that he could survive on a diet of just pizza and Mountain Dew. 

Funicolare (Funicular) and Minibuses

According to our itinerary, the next item would be to go up Mount Solaro. Since we were already so close to the funicular, we decided to take it to get to the center of Capri. The ticket office in Marina Grande is found to the right of the pier when your back is to the sea. The crowd trying to get into the funicular was unbelievable! It just kept getting bigger and the lines kept getting longer. After a few minutes of struggling amidst the chaos, we were eventually able to get on the funicular and then it was a quick 15-minute ride to the top. 

Once there, we realized we still needed to get on a bus to Anacapri to get to Mount Solaro. I think out of all the places we went to in Italy, we were the most confused trying to get around in Capri. Maybe it was a combination of tiredness, hunger and jet lag. It took a little while but we finally figured out where to get tickets and which bus to take. Make sure to line up in the correct spot to get on the right bus as we saw a number of tourists getting lost. We were starting to get worried that we were in the wrong place again as the line behind us kept getting longer and longer, and there was no bus in sight. Finally, the minibus that serves the Capri to Anacapri route arrived. We were relieved that because we were close to the front of the line, we were definitely getting on this one unlike many of the people behind us who might have to wait for the next bus . . . or so we thought. Much to our surprise, the driver kept asking passenger after passenger to get in until the bus was packed to the rafters. Holy moly! It gave us a bit of a laugh, though, since it felt a little bit like home –  getting on the 6 train during rush hour is eerily similar, minus the bus driver. Ha! When the driver was satisfied he could no longer squeeze anyone inside, we set off. After another 15 minutes on the crammed bus holding tightly for dear life as it zigzagged through the narrow roads up to Anacapri, we finally arrived at Piazza Vittoria. It was a short walk from there to the chairlift which would take us up to Mount Solaro. 

Seggiovia Monte Solaro (Mount Solaro Chairlift)

It is possible to go up Mount Solaro by hiking but since we were tired (and if we are being honest, we’re not really the hiking type), we decided to take the chairlift to the top. Buy roundtrip tickets unless you are planning on hiking back to the bottom, which I’ve read takes about an hour or so. Of course like everywhere else in Capri, there was another long line snaking its way from the chairlift platform on the second floor, down the staircase through the small lobby then exiting the building and continuing onto the side of it. Surprisingly though, the line moved pretty quickly so we didn’t have to wait too long. Because I occasionally get scared of heights, I was starting to have doubts about getting on the lift when we finally reached the platform. The first thing I noticed when we got there was that the chair lift did not stop, nor did it slow down. It just kept moving along, and it was up to the passengers to either be ready and get on or to wait for the next one. The second thing I noticed was that it was being operated by middle-aged Italian men who all had cigarettes in their mouths and who all were yelling at the top of their lungs so that said passengers would always be ready to get on. Admittedly, the mayhem was a little bit disturbing. The third thing I noticed were the actual chairs. Let me just paint a picture here. Each chair is made of metal and wood . . . OLD metal and wood. It is attached to the lift cable by a single piece of pole, and the only thing holding you back from falling is a “safety bar” (and I use that term very loosely here), which is a slim piece of metal that acts as a seatbelt and is, not coincidentally, also old. All of these things are running through my head as I step onto the platform. The thing is, there is almost no turning back when you get to that point. I mean, after lining up for most of the day under the hot sun and then getting yelled at by the lift operators in Italian to hurry up and get into position for the incoming chair (at least, that’s what I think they were yelling), and then literally getting pushed into the chair (don’t worry, they do it to everyone), you really don’t have any opportunity to back out since everything happens in the blink of an eye. Before you know it, you’re sitting down in this old wooden chair and you’re moving up. And, if you’re one of the unlucky ones like me, your heart drops when you realize that the safety bar isn’t down and you hurriedly (but carefully) pull it in place. Then after you get over the initial rush of paralyzing fear, you look up and your breath gets sucked from your lungs yet again but this time, it’s because of the sheer beauty that’s before your eyes. I was trying so hard to focus on seeing the views without dropping any of my stuff that I was unable to take any good photos on the way up, hence the pictures we have are all from our descent back to Anacapri. I did take a quick video, though, which you can view below. Also FYI, flip-flops are not recommended. I think that’s self-explanatory. So even if it terrified me a little bit, I am really glad we took the 12-minute ride on the chair lift. After I got over the initial fear, the rest of the way was really just pure exhilaration.

 

Mount Solaro

Mount Solaro is the highest point on the island. When you get to the summit, you will find many pathways leading to different views of the area around Capri. I kid you not when I say that all of them, or at least all the ones that we saw, were breathtaking. From up here, you have a clear view of the hillside villages of Capri and Anacapri, the giant rock formations of I Faraglioni, and the other islands across the Bay of Naples. For those in need of a little sustenance, La Canzone del Cielo is a small cafe at the top of Mount Solaro that serves snacks and beverages including ice cream and wine, whichever your heart fancies at the time. Surprisingly, despite how much I rave about the beauty of the place, I couldn’t really find a lot of pictures from our time atop Mount Solaro. M says it was because I was tired and cranky by the time we got to the mountaintop. I decline to comment. Haha!

After taking in the landscape, we headed back down via the chairlift to walk around Anacapri. We passed by a quaint little gelato store during our stroll and because it was still stifling hot outside, we decided to stop and sit inside to sample their goods. We then headed to the bus stop to take the minibus back to Capri. 1

La Piazzetta

This piazza, also called Piazza Umberto I, is the main square and heart of Capri. It has the funicular and bus stations, newsstands, the visitor information center and the town hall, which is located across concrete steps that is a prime spot for people watching in the piazza. La Piazzetta is also host to restaurants and cafes where, if you’re so inclined, you can rub elbows with royalty, celebrities and high society. Unfortunately, we weren’t really able to enjoy the charm and allure of La Piazzetta because by this time, we were exhausted and heavy-eyed from jet lag. We decided to forego the rest of the itinerary, and just hang out at Marina Grande until our hydrofoil arrived to take us back to Sorrento. 

All things considered, our day in Capri was great even if we didn’t really get to see as much as we had planned. We will just have to make sure to go back on a day when we’re not so tired so we can enjoy the many other experiences that the island has to offer. 

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Other Sights in Anacapri: Villa San Michele, Chiesa di San Michele, La Casa Rossa (“Red House”), Hermitage of Cetrella 

Other Sights in Capri: Giardini di Augusto (Gardens of Augustus), Via Krupp, Villa Jovis, Villa Imperiale di DamecutaFar, Cathedral of Saint Stefano, Torre del Orologio In case anyone wants it, we will be sharing our original Capri itinerary below, including opening hours and admission fees to the various tourist sites as well as walking directions from one spot to the next. We would love to know if it helps you during your trip. HAPPY TRAVELS!

Itinerary PDF: The Traveling Route-Capri

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