The island of Capri is famous for a reason. All those celebrities on yachts anchored in the Marina Grande really do know something you don’t. Capri is an island that has it all; jaw-dropping natural beauty, a see and be seen scene, amazing cuisine, world-class shopping and water in colors you have to see to believe. These are our top 12 reasons to put Capri on your bucket list.
The official name of this world famous public square is Piazza Umberto 1. In Caprese dialect, it’s called chiazza, but most visitors to the island know it simply as the Piazzetta. The clock tower chimes every 15 minutes marking time throughout the day. There are four different cafes with rattan chairs and tables that are full from early morning cappuccino drinkers to late night after dinner digestivo sippers. Prime time is before dinner when this is the gathering spot for the well dressed to stop for a drink.
On a hot summer day, beaches in Capri can get really crowded. The best way to experience the incredible water that surrounds the island without the hoards is on a boat. Hire a skipper and spend a few hours swimming in rocky coves and emerald green grottos. If you are short on time, there are also larger crafts which give one hour long tours around the island.
Going to the beach in Capri may not be quite what you are used to. Instead of a long empty beach where you just plonk down anywhere you like, instead you will find clusters of chairs and umbrellas arranged on large boulders that jut out of the sea or in picture-perfect rows on the few narrow beach coves. These private beach clubs rent a place to lounge, have changing facilities and usually a restaurant. In Marina Piccola, there are three small areas of free beach where you can squeeze onto patches of pebbles with the locals. In Marina Grande, take a boat to Bagni Tiberio, a low key place where you can swim next to Roman ruins.
The Blue Grotto has been bewitching visitors since the time of the Roman emperor Tiberius, who loved the place so much he commissioned statues to decorate it. This extraordinary optical effect is created by the sunlight bouncing on the cave walls which produces water that is an electric blue that seems to glow. Be prepared for a transfer into a small rowboat at the entrance and the possibility you will have to lie flat on the boat to fit into the cave depending on weather conditions.
This massive rock formation made up of three separate limestone stacks is one of the first things you see on your way to Capri. They are so large that on a clear day you can even spot the Faraglioni from Amalfi Coast towns like Positano and Praiano. Beloved by islanders and visitors, some of the best views are from the scenic overlook at the end of via Tragara and the flower filled gardens of Augustus. You can swim next to them at the Da Luigi beach club and sail through them on a private boat tour.
Did you know that there are two separate towns on the island of Capri? Most visitors only visit Capri town with its well known sites like the Piazzetta, Marina Piccola and the famous shopping streets. There is another world a short bus or taxi ride away on the other side of the island. Anacapri is much more spread out and residential. This is where you can take the chair lift to the top of Monte Solara.
With only three key ingredients, this is the must-try dish when you are visiting Capri. Made with vine-ripened tomatoes, milky mozzarella, aromatic basil leaves and a drizzle of sharply flavored olive oil, you will find it on every menu. If you are in a hurry, stop at an alimentari, small grocery shop, and have a panino caprese made.
Naples, the birthplace of pizza, is less than an hour’s boat ride away from Capri. The tasty craft traveled across the bay and there are the particular dome-shaped wood-fired ovens and trained pizzaiolos on the island. Take a break from seafood and spend an evening discovering how a simple margarita pizza and a cold draft beer can be a gourmet experience.
The island’s most famous dessert is a dense flourless chocolate cake made with toasted ground almonds, dark chocolate, sugar, and eggs. The cake’s origins are murky with tales of cooks startled by a fearsome crime boss or forgetful sisters as the reason behind the missing flour. The result is dense, rich and just happens to be gluten free.
Every summer, the slips in the exclusive private port in Marina Grande fill up and on the other side of the island, Marina Piccola is dotted with some of the world’s most expensive yachts. Capri has been a star studded destination since the heady dolce vita days of the late 1950s when celebrities like Jacqueline Onassis, Elizabeth Taylor and Sophia Loren put the island on the jet set map. Today you could spot Beyonce’s yacht, spy the designer Valentino having his morning cappuccino or see Lenny Kravitz do a quick set at a nightclub.
Capri has miles of wild hiking trails and walking paths. The Pizzolungo which is a series of steps, wooded trail and a paved path will take you from the Arco natural through an ancient forest grotto, past the modern architectural marvel of the Casa Malaparte to a breathtaking view of the sea and the Faraglioni. A perfect activity is the Path of the Little Forts in Anacapri, which you can time to end with a sunset view of the lighthouse. If stair climbing is your gym workout of choice, you can climb the 921 Phoenician stone steps that link Anacapri to the Marina Grande.
Capri is a late-night town. It is perfectly normal to sit down to dinner after 10:00 pm and nightclubs don’t even open until after midnight. If you are a night owl, then be like the locals and make sure you have a good sleep in the middle of the day, so that you can dance at one of the island’s famous nightclubs and discos until just before the sun comes up.