Capri is a little island in Italy’s Bay of Naples, on the Tyrrhenian Sea, easily reached by Naples or the Amalfi Coast. After about three weeks exploring Italy, I decided it was time for a some sunshine vacation. My friend Lisa joined me, and although our nerves were frayed after almost missing our ferry from Naples, the view of limestone cliffs and turquoise waters as we approached Marina Grande made us sink back into our dreamy pasta-fuelled Italian stupor.
Capri felt a lot different than other places in Italy I visited, especially compared to Naples. The women were dressed to the nines, and designer brands surrounded the main square. Boats shuttled tourists around the island, and aggressive shopkeepers along the waterfront hounded us to buy tickets. Truthfully, it wasn’t the greatest first impression.
I still feel rather lukewarm about Capri, but there were some special moments. Here are my tips for exploring Capri.
Stay in Anacapri to cut down on cost
There are a handful of tiny villages scattered around the island, but the main ones are Capri and Anacapri. Chances are, when you’re not sightseeing, you’ll be spending your time in Capri. It’s the hub.
However, Anacapri is a wonderfully cheaper option for good accommodations, and the bus shuttle service that comes through here is quick and reliable. We had no problem getting back and forth from town. And when we stayed out too late, we negotiated a fair price for a convertible taxi.
It was shoulder season during my visit, though, and the buses were often packed. They’re tiny buses, meant to easily navigate the winding Capri roads at terrifying heights. I imagine it’s a bit more difficult in peak season to cram yourself into the minibus.
We stayed at the Hotel Casa Caprile, a wonderful spot with free breakfast. But keep in mind there are quite a fair stairs if you’re lugging your suitcase around!
Do a boat tour
I’m not one for big touristy boat trips or bus trips, but I was desperate to see the island from the sea, and there weren’t many affordable private options. (Like, none. Apparently mostly rich people vacation here.)
If you walk along Marine Grande, you’ll find a few operators selling tickets from stalls. It’s best to go with one of these if you’re trying to cut down on spending. The cheapest one I found was about 25 EUR for an hour journey. I couldn’t hear a damned thing the captain was saying, but that wasn’t the point anyway. I wanted to get up close to sea caves and limestone arches.
Note: unless you’re paying extra to get close to the famous Blue Grotto, you’re not going to see anything from a standard boat tour. We couldn’t get close at all.
Don’t expect a beach vacation
Me and Lisa were miserably ill-informed when picking Capri as our Italian beach spot, because…the beaches suck. I mean, they don’t really exist. It’s a rocky mess in the Marine Grande. Although it was the most ideal spot for sunbathing, but it wasn’t exactly a relaxing area.
You can, of course, pay for private beach access. Usually the fee covers service, a lounger, and a few other goodies. But it’s a bit outrageously priced.
We asked our check-in guy at Casa Caprile for his recommendation, and he told us to go to the Lido del Faro — the lighthouse beach. It ended up basically just being a concrete slipway, and not a beach at all.
We gave up trying to get comfortable, but I wanted a cold beer in the sun so we decided to hang out for a bit at da Antonio, a snack bar with a massive patio.
The plus side: every one at this beach was a local, and we were definitely the only tourists.
Show up at Lido del Faro for a Sunday sunset DJ party
As we chilled for a bit at da Antonio, we noticed more and more young people start trickling in. The bar was filling up, and suddenly a DJ arrived to set up his table. And she was good.
Apparently this sunset party takes place every Sunday during the summer months, and we just happened to be there by chance. We watched the sun dip behind the horizon as ridiculously beautiful people jived out on tabletops and at the bar — a perfect and unexpected ending to a day gone awry.
The sunset was pretty spectacular to watch from anywhere in Capri, really. This is actually a view from the main Capri town.