The sparkling blue sea, the rocky cliffs, the endless leafy, lemon trees, and daily cloudless sky. These things combine into an irresistible place: the magical island of Capri. It’s definitely a top destination in Italy and somewhere on everyone’s bucket list for a good reason, because a trip here never disappoints. The island is small, but can also be a bit overwhelming for a first-time visitor to figure out how to spend their days. Here’s a list of the essential things to do in Capri to really live la dolce vita.
1) CRUISE UNDER THE FARALIGIONE
Capri must be experienced from the water, so plan to spend one day renting a small boat and cruising the Mediterranean. Being out on the water you will experience views of the island you won’t see from the land, and it’s essential to really soak up the magic of the island. Your captain can take you all around the island, stopping for lunch at many of the places only accessible by boat (check out Conca del Songo) and pointing out some history along the way.
Don’t miss the Faraligione, Capri’s most iconic landmark. You can see this rock formation from several locations around the island, but the best way to see it is by cruising underneath it on a vintage mahogany boat.
2) SWIM IN THE GROTTOS
Capri is famous for its grottos; small sea caves where nature has done something amazing. There’s the white grotto, green grotto, love grotto, sailor’s grotto, the list goes on and on. But the blue grotto is the most popular thing to visit in Capri. You typically have to book a boat trip in order to go inside. However, if you wait until 5pm when the grotto closes to boat tours, you can jump into the water and swim into the grotto to experience it like no one else. You can actually swim to the grotto from Il Riccio, a nearby restaurant and beach club. It’s the perfect way to cool down after a long, fabulous lunch.
3) HAVE A FRESHLY MADE CONE OF GELATO AT BUONCORE
You can smell Buoncore well before you see it. This gelateria is definitely the most famous on the island. That’s because of the immensely creamy flavors, but also the cones. They make fresh cones all day; pouring batter into the iron, pressing it until it cooks, and then shaping it into a cone before filling it with scoops of cold gelato. When they hand you your selection, the cone is still warm in your hand, and your heart starts to melt with your ice cream.
There is always a giant line, but it’s well worth waiting for! They even have whipped cream (ask for “chantilly!”) to put on top. The pistachio is particularly amazing.
4) SIP A SPRITZ IN THE PIAZZA
The beating heart of every charming Italian town is its piazza. It’s where the locals and tourists sit alike no matter the hour – chatting, gossiping, reminiscing on the day. Cappuccino in the morning, gelato in the afternoon, spritz at aperitivo, and wine at night. Dishes of tarallucci, olives, and chips are devoured and laughter is exchanged day in and day out, so pull up a chair and stay a while. You’ll likely be-friend your waiter and neighbors in the meantime.
5) SUNBATHE AT LA FONTELINA
This iconic Capri spot has grown very popular for good reason. On top of the fabulous, fresh seafood and specials of the day, the view is hard to beat! La Fontelina is perched among the rocks and only accessible by boat or by a long, lovely hike down (376 steps!) with incredible views of the water. There’s a beach club attached where blue and white umbrellas and soft white cushions are set up in and around the rocks, almost like they naturally grew that way.
There is also a blocked-off swimming area to cool down in the sea whenever you get a little warm, and the sunbeams are full-service so you can keep sipping rose as you get a little pink yourself. The past few years it has become extremely popular, so early booking is absolutely essential! Request online several days in advance of your desired date for both your lunch reservation and your sunbeds. If you need an afternoon treat – don’t miss their affogato, which is the best I have ever had in Italy.
6) INDULGE YOUR SWEET TOOTH IN A WHOLE ROOM OF DESSERTS
There are several places to have a delicious meal in Capri, but only one that has an entirely separate room of only desserts. Your eyes will light up when you walk into Il Riccio’s Temptation Room in a way they never have before. It’s a banquet fit for a royalty: a tower of nutella cannolis, rum babas with perfect dollops of custard and baby strawberries, limoncello custard parfaits, cocoa-dusted tiramisu, molten chocolate cakes and fresh, fig tarts. A wedding-cake sized bowl of fluffy whip cream and six types of sauces!
The smell alone is intoxicating, steam still rises from some things and sugar glistening on others. Every surface is covered in platters, trays, and dishes – all yours for the taking. As if all that weren’t enough, the open air restaurant has bright blue chairs, white linens, and unobstructed views of the sea.
7) GET HANDMADE SANDALS
Custom made sandals are the ultimate souvenir from Capri. It’s an old practice in Italy and on the island especially. There are several shops on the island to get them made; you choose the leather, the style, the height, and the width. Then your measured and adjusted, and you watch as your sandals are made to order before your eyes.
Sandalo Caprese is the best one because only Salvatore has touched the feet of Jackie O’, and only Salvatore smiles ear to ear as he hammers and nails, stitches and snips until all is perfect. And while it’s just a leather sandal, with Salvatore it feels more like a glass slipper. Prices range from 60 – 120 euros depending on the style, and will last you a lifetime.
8) VISIT THE VILLA ST. MICHELE
Tucked away in Anacapri is the Villa Saint Michele, a historic residence built by a Swedish doctor on the ruins of Emperor Tiberius’ villa. It is steeped in history and full of ancient relics that Alex Munthe collected over the years. Along with bedrooms, a chapel, a bird sanctuary and over one thousand artifacts, it also boasts incredible views of the sea and beautiful gardens. There is a small fee to visit and rarely anyone else here, so you’ll basically have the place to yourself.
9) DANCE AT THE TAVERNA
There’s only one place to go to dance the night away in Capri – and that’s the Taverna. This place is a hole in the wall, a tiny “nightclub” that is a guaranteed good time any night of the week and beloved spot on the island. The live band plays a mix of Italian classics and old hits, and it’s always full of life, laughs, and fun.
There is no pretension here – just solid fun, as the crowd is a mix of all nationalities, ages, and personas! Expect to do the YMCA and watch an extremely fit seventy-year-old man dance on tables as you sip cocktails, dance the night away, and bump into celebrities visiting the island. This summer Jennifer Lopez donned the stage for a mini-concert during her visit!
10) HAVE A FRESH GRANITA
Capri’s famous lemons are juiced into limoncello, iced into sorbet, baked into cakes, squeezed over fresh calamari, and perhaps most famously crushed into a fresh granita. This refreshing treat will satisfy your thirst and your sweet tooth and is hard to find better outside of the island of Capri. You can get them fancy in restaurants, but I have the thing for the ones shaved freshly on the street, with homemade lemon syrup poured over it. It’s more like a drink than a dessert, so there’s no need to choose between this and your cone of gelato.
OUTSIDE THE BOX TIPS
Visiting Capri in the summer is wonderful, but is also peak tourist season. If you want to avoid the crowds and peak prices, consider visiting in May or September when the weather is still wonderful but tourism has slowed down considerably. You can still catch some sun rays in your bathing suit well in October. There is a lot to see and do on Capri, so definitely plan on spending at least two full days here if you are visiting the Amalfi Coast. A day trip won’t do it justice!
I hope you enjoy your trip to this beautiful island and find these essential tips helpful! Remember to allow some time to discover your own essential thing to do! The island is full of charming corners, beautiful views, and wonderful restaurants. Get a little lost and you’ll surely find your own piece of Capri’s magic!
Have you been to Capri? If you have any additional tips for our readers or questions please leave these in the comments below.
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Our Top Places To Stay In Capri, Italy
- La Scalinatella
- Hotel Quisisana
- Casa Morgano
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