Is Capri, Italy, worth visiting? That’s an easy one! Yes, yes, and then yes again. Capri is a stunning little isle that fragments from the side of south Italy, rising like a petrified dragon from the Tyrrhenian Sea. It’s handsome, it’s bathed in sun and bath-warm waters, and it’s one of the chicest places in Europe.
If you’re keen to get your slice of La Dolce Vita this year, then read on. This guide will delve down into the ins and outs of the isle to reveal some of the highlights of a visit…
Is Capri, Italy, worth visiting for the beaches? For the history? For the cuisine? All of these things and more are reasons that we’d say the island should be on anyone’s Campanian travel itinerary. On top of that, it’s one darn eye-watering place with a location that’s right on the side of the uber-famous Amalfi Coast. You’ll be reaching for the passport before we’re done…
Because it’s STUNNING
Capri hasn’t gained a reputation for being a jet-setter isle in the midst of the Med for nothing, you know? The island is famously jaw dropping. Rising like a cathedral from the cobalt waters of the Tyrrhenian Sea, it’s a sculpted mass of fluted limestone dressed in dashes of olive and scrub. Below, little coves of marble-white pebbles are washed by light waves. Above, the tabletops of the cliffs gaze over a yacht-speckled sea.
That vibe carries on into the little towns and villages. Here, there’s a bijou fishing harbor with well-kempt bistros strewn in bougainvillea. There, you encounter the small hill village of Anacapri, where lemon trees line the avenues and white-painted villas from the 1950s pop up on all sides.
We think you should plan enough time to appreciate the beauty of Capri from both the land and the sea. Yachts can ring circles around the island to reveal wonders like the cavernous Blue Grotto. Hikers, meanwhile, can case out the zig-zagging paths of the Via Krupp or the series of eye-watering rock stacks that is the Arco Naturale from panoramic trails. Just prepare to be wowed!
For the food
Capri has firmly established itself as one of the culinary hotspots of the Amalfi Coast and south Italy. It’s a standout on the eating scene because it draws a resident crowd of moneyed travelers who can afford the price tag in upscale joints, but also because it’s blessed with unique microclimates and rich sea waters that make sourcing local ingredients a breeze.
An example of the sort of fine place to eat would be Restaurant Il Riccio. This one recently featured on Steeve Coogan’s and Rob Brydon’s darkly hit culinary-travel comedy The Trip. It’s a Michelin-starred seafood bistro that gazes at the Blue Grotto bay on the north side of the island, fielding a menu of rich tuna tartar and sea scallops cooked in smoked ricotta cheese.
And there’s way more besides. You could hit Materita Pizzeria up in the hills for crispy-crust Romana pies topped by Campanian buffalo mozzarella. You could check out the courtyard of Da Paolino, where fresh caprese salads with hand-picked basil are served under the shade of citrus groves. You could retreat to Terrazza Tiberio for sweeping views and tasting menus of veal fillets and salt-crust fish.
For the hotels
Capri is up there with Como and Cinque Terre as one of the most upscale and fancy destinations on the whole of the Italian boot. You’re as likely to spot Leo DiCaprio as you are another Joe Bloggs in these parts, and the island has been a famous retreat for writers and artists (and even Roman emperors) since anyone can remember.
All that means that the hotels are pretty darn slick. Yep, five-star palaces and boutique B&Bs with elegant rooms are the name of the game on this salt-washed rock in the Med. They might cost you a whole stack more than hotels in other places in Italy, but they do promise a luxury stay that you’ll never forget. Some of the stand-out options are:
- Capri Palace Jumeirah ($$$) – Bearing the prestigious Jumeirah name, this grand hotel has suites with infinity pools and al fresco massage rooms.
- Capri Tiberio Palace ($$$) – A gorgeous stay in a 19th-century mansion tucked into the hills just behind the coast.
- Hotel Punta Tragara ($$$) – Delve behind the terracotta walls of Hotel Punta Tragara to find chic suites with a twist of Italian passion, many of which have unbeatable sea views.
For the history
Capri might have made its name as an escape for artists and poets in the 20th century, but the past of the island actually goes back WAY further than that. Yep, its story really started in the Roman era. Back then, it was seen as a bit of rest and recuperation getaway for the emperors. Tiberius loved it so much that he even raised a whole string of villas on the island and finally moved to Capri to run the whole empire.
You can see that history firsthand at the Villa Jovis complex. It was built by Tiberius back in 27 AD and is considered one of the best-preserved examples of high-class Roman villa architecture in the world. It’s now just a shadow of what it once was, but you can still wander the ancient slave quarters and court rooms where historians have reported the emperor held debaucherous parties.
There’s more on offer at the Villa San Michele. That’s a 20th-century addition to the island but it sits atop the so-called Phoenician Steps, which some think were crafted by the first Greek settlers in Capri thousands of years back. Also don’t miss the lovely Church of San Michele Arcangelo, which is gilded with glorious Baroque mosaic and brick work.
For the beaches
You might think that being a sun-kissed isle in the southern Med would make Capri a perfect place for a beach trip. Truth is, not that many people come here for the sands. In fact, there aren’t that many sands at all. The island’s rugged geography and sheer-cut topography means you don’t get long runs of golden powder for sunbathing and swimming like you get in Greece or even on the nearby Amalfi Coast.
However, there are some pretty stunning cove beaches. Many are only accessible by boat since they have a backing of vertiginous cliffs and mountains. Others you can reach by foot but will have to navigate pretty sheer walking paths.
The best is probably the Marina Di Mulo. It’s a small swimming spot enfolded by handsome trattorias, scented with grilling seafood, and dashed by small pockets of white sand. You can hop straight off the rocks into the Med at Gradola, where the water is famously clear. The same goes at Da Luigi Ai Faraglioni, a small bridge of stone that has swimming spots on both sides.
For the adventure
It’s not all about sipping limoncello in chic port-side bars on Capri. There is also a wilder side to the island that beckons the more intrepid traveler. That awaits in the forest-fringed hiking paths inland or with the carved sea caves that pierce their way into the cliffs along the shoreline.
If you’re keen to hit the trails, then you’re in luck. There are loads of fantastic hiking routes wiggling and weaving their way through Capri’s backcountry. There’s one that crosses the jagged Punta Tragara to reveal visions of arrowhead rock stacks in the Med. There’s another, the famous Via Krupp, that zigs up the side of a vertical cliff from the harbor of Marina Piccola.
More adventure awaits on the waves. Capri is a sailing mecca. A yacht charter or boat trip should be close to the top of the itinerary, especially as they make it possible to drop by the Blue Grotto. That’s arguably the main natural draw on the island, where a narrow sea tunnel leads to a big cave that’s illuminated by shimmering turquoise light.
For the surrounding Amalfi Coast
It’s hard to ignore that Capri sits just a stone’s throw from the UNESCO World Heritage Site that is the Amalfi Coast. Just a mention of the name is usually enough to stir images of lemon tree-covered cliffs cascading straight into a pearly blue sea. It’s not for nothing that the region is hailed as the most romantic in all of Europe.
Ferries to and from Capri typically leave or arrive at one of the main towns on the Amalfi Coast – Sorrento, Positano, or Amalfi itself. That means you can easily string together a trip to the iconic 25-mile stretch of Campanian coastline before or after you’ve tasted the island life.
There are some spectacular places to visit along the way. Check out the church perched on the cliffside in lovely Atrani, where small trattoria lurk in the alleys behind the port. Head to Positano to feel the honeymoon vibes in cliffside B&Bs that gaze over gold-domed cathedrals. Or scale down to the impossibly wonderful cove of Fiordo di Furore to see one of Italy’s most iconic pebble beaches.
For the cute towns
Capri isn’t all about the lemon tree-studded cliffs and rugged coast grottoes. The island also hosts a couple of truly gorgeous little towns and villages. For us, beautifully named, beautifully looking Marina Piccola tops the bill. It’s set against a backdrop of the steep-sided Faraglioni rocks that emerge from the Med like spires to the east. The place itself is a cluster of salt-washed seafood restaurants and bobbing boats, with dreamy beaches filtering through the rocks just in front.
Then there’s the town of Capri itself. That’s perched a little higher up, swirling around the lovely Piazzetta di Capri, which has its band of proper La Dolce Vita cafes and a pretty clock tower. Push over to the north coast and you’ll come to Marina Grande. It’s the place where the ferries come in, but also home to the chicest resort hotels and their adjoining yacht moorings.
These are the sorts of places that you’ve seen in the brochures and watched on James Bond flicks. A long lunch, a laze on the beach, a coffee on the piazza – there are moments you’ll never forget in the towns of Capri.
For the shopping
Move over Milan, Capri is a top spot for devout shoppers in Italy. It’s home to a stylish array of haute couture purveyors and more souvenir spots than you can shake your limoncello at. Talking of limoncello, this is also a top destination for buying the foodie take-homes of the south of Italy (think olive oil, olives, wild oregano, and the rest).
The place to begin is on Via Camerelle. It curves through the very middle of the main town in Capri in a C-shape that hosts some very recognizable names. Mainly, it will satisfy the jet-setters out there on the hunt for the coolest beachwear threads and designer gear. Brands like Saint Laurent, DIOR, and VERSACE crowd the pavement space.
Elsewhere on the island there’s more casual shopping. Drop down to Marina Piccolo and you can hope between little grocery stores selling dried mountain herbs and olive oils, but also makeshift seafood stalls that have the catch of the day. Up in the main marina are more craft shops and local Italian food shops, each with plenty of charm.
Is Capri, Italy, worth visiting? Our conclusion
Is Capri, Italy, worth visiting? You bet it is! This island is sure to take the breath away. From the moment you glimpse its rugged outline against the blue Mediterranean on the ferry in from the mainland, we’re willing to bet you’ll be in love. It’s a proper R&R hub with stunning hotels and gorgeous coves, along with some of the best fine dining anywhere in Europe. You can also shop for the hottest new VERSACE suits, laze on lovely beaches, and hop between pretty towns. What’s not to love?
When’s the best time to visit Capri?
Capri is very much a summer destination. Most people come when the weather warms up, to make the most of the lovely beaches and swimming coves. That means trips between May and August are the most popular. If you wanted to avoid the biggest crowds and get some cheaper rates, then a trip in early spring or late fall could be a better choice.
What’s the best way to get to Capri?
The best way to Capri is on your own private yacht. If that’s not possible, then make use of the regular public ferries that come over from both the city of Naples and the Amalfi Coast. They take no more than an hour in all and usually run throughout the main summer season between April and September.