Capri Whirlwind: Tips for Visiting the Island

On our first full day on the Amalfi Coast, we were given a whirlwind course in its beauty by a day trip to the famed island of Capri. Our lovely hotel hosts had recommended a boat excursion and we knew little of what to expect. Typically, I’m a very type A travel planner, yearning for control and a full itinerary, but on this day I decided to surrender to going with the flow. Of course, being me, I had a few things I knew I wanted to do (lunch at il Riccio was one), but we’d see where the day and our Italian boat hosts would take us. After going into the experience blind, there are definitely a few things I wish I would have known before our trip. I’ve interspersed these tips within my travelogue of our dreamy day on Capri.
Our day started early – catching our boat at Praia beach. Luckily, our hotel had a driver, Gennaro, that shuttled us down the rocky cliffs to the beach, where we patiently awaited our water transport. Gennaro told us that someone would meet us there, but I will say that it wasn’t totally clear how we were to find our exact excursion. Luckily, some friendly Aussies from our hotel were on the same day trip, so we stuck close to them. Also,luckily for us, the beach wasn’t bad eye candy.

 

Finally, we managed to get on the proper boat, the Donna Assunta chartered by I’Uomo e il Mare, and were off for Capri. The ride is quite long, but were kept occupied with coastal views of Praiano and Positano.

 

We first passed by our temporary home of Praiano, Positano’s sleepy kid brother. I’ll never get over the little white and pastel buildings dotting the cliffs.
Tip: When boarding the boat, grab your spot ASAP! Tour companies will book to full capacity, especially during summer, so you don’t want to be left without your desired seat simply because you dawdled. Sit on the uncovered bow for better photos and if you’re a sun worshiper. It gets achingly hot though in the direct sun on the sea, so sit in the covered stern if you want to forgo photos for comfort.

 

 

Next, we we made a detour to Positano to pick up a few guests staying in the town. Finally, it was on to the final destination: Capri.

 

Capri rising in the distance.

Required selfie as we approach Capri. I’ll spare you the 30 or so more I took during this excursion.

 

Once we arrived on Capri, we were informed of the day’s plan. If you wanted to stay with the group, we would first go to Anacapri for an hour or so, then on to Capri center. Then, we’d all meet back at our boat to sail around the island. Alternatively, you were free to explore the island on the own. Since we don’t speak Italian and were totally unprepared, we elected to stay with our guide, Marzia, who had a habit of starting every sentence with “Alright you guysssss” and follow her lead.  Anacapri is a fifteen minute or so bus ride away, so we loaded up and were off on our merry way.
Tip: Everything costs extra. The bus, side trips to grottoes, etc. Even though we were still on our original tour, the buses that took us all over the island were extra per each person. Luckily, we had euros on hand, but some of our tour mates weren’t as prepared. It’s a bit of a racket. 
Upon arriving in Anacapri, we ventured from the bus depot to what appeared to be the main piazza in town. After scarfing down a surprisingly good prosciutto pizza (mentioned in this post), we began to peruse the little shops, filled with souvenirs – tiles, Capri’s trademark lemon soap and other knick knacks.

 

 

 

With our time limit fast approaching, we discovered we weren’t in the main part of Anacapri at all! There were in fact many more streets to roam filled with actual shops and restaurants that were much less touristy. Unfortunately, we were only able to quickly window shop and grab some speedy photos before having to scurry back to our waiting bus.

Tip: There is more to Anacapri than the tourist square! Wander around the corner to find the real Anacapri center with shopping, restaurants, etc. We didn’t discover this whole other town until it was basically time to head back to the bus.

 

 

 

 

As life along the Amalfi Coast moves a little slower, our bus was late. Wishing we had instead spent more time in Anacapri, we were left to take in the glamorous bus depot. Finally, twenty minutes late, the bus arrived and took us winding around the island to our next stop – Capri center.
Tip: If possible, spend more time in Anacapri than Capri. It is much quieter and more quaint than the packed Capri center. On our tour, we were on strict time limits for each little town, so we didn’t have a choice. I’d love to go back one day on my own and take my time in serene Anacapri. 

 

 

Upon arriving in center you are greeted with the cutest little white and blue buildings, speckled all along the harbor. You are also greeted to throngs of tourists, wanting to snap photos of said buildings.

 

My family was tuckered, so they elected to find some respite in a snack bar, while I decided to obey my gypsy spirit and traipse about the town. Snaking my way through throngs of tour groups, I took in the Church in the main piazza, restaurants and lots and lots of designer stores.

 

 

I mean, who’s four year old doesn’t need to wear Dolce & Gabbana?
Tip: Capri center is packed and full of high end shopping. If you are not in the mood to shop at extreme ends of the spectrum: either a souvenir store or at Dolce & Gabbana, then there is not a lot for you to do in Capri center. Restaurants, yes, but it is definitely centered around catering to the jetsetting European heiress or tourist industry.
Firmly deciding that I wouldn’t be dropping thousands of dollars at Miu Miu or Prada, I decided to rejoin my family and buy something more up my alley – straciatella gelato.

 

After temporarily sating our what seemed like infinite Italian appetites, we were guided by Marzia back to the boat to spend our afternoon floating around on our aquatic tour of Capri.

 

Our first stop led us to the Pinterest-famous blue grotto. Like almost everything else on the tour, it costs extra, so we decided to skip it and instead stay in our boat to enjoy Prosecco and cakes, all while watching a highly entertaining French couple dance about the deck. Italy is so gorgeous, especially on the water, so you really can just sit back and take in the otherworldly surroundings.
Tip: Skip the blue grotto unless you are absolutely married to the idea of seeing it. The lines of boats were fairly long to get in and the sailors who commandeered the grotto boats were very aggressive. One gentleman on our tour had what seemed like a lifelong curse placed on him in Italian by an angry sailor because he didn’t tip him generously enough. There is simply so much beauty in Italy and along the Amalfi Coast. You really aren’t missing out if you don’t see this particular grotto.
My brother was not pleased with the overrated blue grotto.

 

Tourists waiting for the blue grotto – pass!

 

Departing the grotto, we took in many of the other breathtaking caves and inlets around the island. They more than made up for skipping their more notorious neighbor.

 

As daylight began to wane, it was through the Lovers’ Arches, and all of the couples on the boat kissed while I took solace in a selfie. #foreveralone
Tip: You’ll get to swim on most Capri boat trips, but it will be quick. We were given literally ten minutes to hop off the boat along a grotto. It was awesome, and I was not going to pass up my first chance to swim in the Mediterranean and cool off. If you’re looking for lots of free time to swim, however, don’t plan for it on a jampacked tour.

 

Finally, we said au revoir to my new favorite island and made a final stop back at Positano to let off our fellow sightseers. Taking in Positano at sunset is not a bad way to end the day.

 

In conclusion, the boat trip was a great way to get a crash course in Capri. We saw a lot of the highlights in little time and at a good value (about 100 euro a person). Our tour guides were very personable and special touches like cakes, Prosecco, and provided towels made the journey feel more elegant. If you’re wanting to take a leisurely tour of Capri or visit a beach club (like the famed Fontelina or il Riccio), however, this tour is not for you. You should instead take a ferry or water taxi then hire a cab when you arrive, or pay extra for a private charter to take you around the island at your own pace.
Check out more of my Italy posts:

 

I’m linking up with the awesome girls at Travel Tuesday, hosted by Sara Sees and A Keane Sense of Adventure. Check it out if you love finding excellent new travel blogs!

 

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  • Capri is so beautiful! Of the places I have visited, this is one that is always in my memory. I even have a credit card imprinted with I Faraglioni.

    • thanks for stopping by, ruth! i agree. i can't wait to go back and spend more time on the island. it was otherworldly.

  • Freaking gorgeous! This sounds like my type of day trip! Love the shot of Capri in the distance!

  • ah…amalfi coast is on my list (as many other places as well)! I love the colors and architecture! This trip reminds of the ones they do in Greek islands! I personally don't like boat tours to be honest but sometimes it's the only way to see a place! I'd rather explore a place at my own pace! P.S. the foods looks amazing…I never ate a pizza I didn't like!

  • So beautiful! I've been to Positano and loved it. My hubby went to Capri and Sorrento in college on a study abroad program in Italy. He's always said he really wants to take me there one day (your photos are GORGEOUS!). It's interesting he had the same feedback on the blue grotto – he said he feels it is skipable, and although I trust him, I guess a little part of me wonders if I would be missing out! Lovely guide to the area 🙂

  • Capri looks stunning, but I like how honest you've been about the touristy and/or spendy nature of the place. It is naughty for those added extras to not be in the price of the tour, and I think I'd have skipped the blue grotto too after seeing the queues. I definitely prefer to go at a slower pace, and eat more ice cream – straciatella is one of my favourites, and yours looks amazing! Overall it does sound like a fabulous day trip though, anything that involves Prosecco tends to be a winner in my opinion!