CAPRI - EXPLORING A LUXURY ISLAND
Updated: Apr 5
Designer shops, lemon delights, a scenic chair lift ride and walking from one side of the island to the other
We caught a bumpy ferry from Naples to Capri and when I say bumpy, I mean bumpy! The ferrymen were having to hand out sick bags to passengers and escort them to the toilets so they didn’t fall over into another passenger’s lap. I don’t suffer from sea sickness but this ferry even made me feel nauseous. You can catch a slow or fast ferry from Naples to Capri taking either 50 minutes or 1 hour 25 minutes. Tickets are between 15 and 23 euros depending on which time you choose to take the ferry.
This rocky ride was quickly forgotten as we disembarked from the ferry and were met by an ambassador from our hotel who addressed us by name and took our luggage off our hands. Our luggage was taken to the hotel and it was clearly explained how we got from the ferry port to the hotel. We were given complimentary funicular tickets to take us to Capri town level and then the hotel, Capri Tiberio Palace, was a short walk from Piazza Umberto I.
Instead of checking straight into our hotel (which we regretted once we later saw how incredible it was) we began exploring Capri. As we wandered down the narrow lanes we quickly noticed the high fashion and luxury brands on offer. We winced as we checked some price tags and reached the conclusion that this wouldn’t be a shopping trip for us! Piazza Umberto I is stunning and full of cafes and restaurants making this the perfect stop for an espresso and some people watching.
We walked from Piazza Umberto I, along Via Marina Grande and arrived at a church, Chiesa di San Costanzo. Continuing past the church you’ll reach the sign “Scala Fenicia” marking the start of the Phoenician Steps walk. There are 921 steps to reach the Scala Fenicia viewpoint. It’s a steep incline and not a walk for those looking for a gentle stroll. The steps are steep and the 30 degree heat quickly dehydrates you. The woodland areas offer some shading from the sun and the views as you begin to climb higher and higher are stunning. When you reach the top of the main set of steps, take a short walk along a main road to re-join the final staircase to reach Scala Fenicia. This attraction was jam-packed with budding photographers, even during COVID-19 times, so to avoid the crowds (and the scorching heat) I’d recommend doing this walk early morning.
Once you’ve captured that beautiful shot of Capri from above, you continue along a walkway to reach Villa San Michele. You can enter this villa for 8 euros per person. There was huge queue outside the villa when we were passing so we decided against it. Just past the villa there are a number of lovely shops offering souvenirs and locally sourced goodies. Nino and Friends stood out to us with their perfectly presented shop and a chocolate fountain in the window. I was entranced by the rows of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, limoncello, biscuits and chocolates. As we were becoming mesmerised by everything on offer, the shop keeper asked if we’d like to try some of their produce. We tried the limoncello, limon crème, lemon biscuits and chocolate truffles – they were to die for. My favourites were the limon crème and the lemon biscuits – a perfectly soft biscuit with a gooey lemon filling, amazing!
After that little pick-me-up we continued down this shopping street which brings you out into Anacapri. The island of Capri is separated into two halves, Capri and Anacapri (the ancient greek prefix 'Ana' means 'up' or 'above'.) It’s around one hours walk from the centre of Capri to the centre of Anacapri. You can catch the local bus between the two communes or if you want to treat yourself hop into an open-top taxi and feel the breeze in your hair. If you’re trying to decide where to stay during your time in Capri, Anacapri is generally quieter than Capri. If you’re looking for nightlife and hustle and bustle as the sun goes down, opt for Capri.
Once we’d arrived in Anacapri we began exploring and quickly noticed the difference in shops from Capri. Anacapri seemed to offer more touristy souvenirs and more affordable clothes and shoes whereas Capri is full of designer stores. There are lots of attractions to see in Anacapri as you’re walking through the centre such as the Casa Rossa, the church of San Michele and the church of Santa Sofia. Before moving on we stopped at a cafe to recuperate and at 6 euros a beer, drinks were considerably cheaper than Capri.
We then headed to one of the main attractions in Anacapri, the Monte Solaro chair lift. This is a single person chairlift which takes you to the top of this mountain. It’s 9 euros one way and 12 euros return per person. The chairlift is a lot of fun and definitely value for money. It’s an extremely relaxing ride and the views of the coast are spectacular. At the top you have 360° views over the water and you can catch a glimpse of the famous, Faraglioni rock formation. There’s also a café at the top to enjoy a coffee or a spritz and take in the views. It was misty when we reached the top and although our views was restricted, the mist was actually a great feature and resulted in some eerie-looking photos.
So next is where we made an error. You can walk back from the top of Monte Solaro to Capri and to Anacapri. The walk down into Anacapri is supposedly very lovely and picturesque. Our walk back to Capri however, was a different story! After our day of walking and exploring I was desperate to check into our hotel and have a dip in the pool but unbeknown to us we had a 90-minute descent ahead of us. The walk from the top of Monte Solaro to Capri is well-marked at the start, and takes you through a woodland area. You continue on and after around 20-30 minutes you’ll reach an amazing viewpoint of the Faraglioni. At this point we were thinking we had definitely made the right decision and this walk was lovely until we got lost…
From the viewpoint we carried on the right and headed up to a church, Hermitage of Santa Maria of Cetrella. We researched online that this was a reference point and from here you continue down into Capri. We tried right of the church but this looked a little sketchy. It was a very narrow path with a sheer drop to the right so we decided against this. We tried left of the church and after seeing a red marking we thought “this must be the way”. However, after battling through some overgrown plants we turned around and admitted defeat. We then headed back to the path where we’d arrived at the viewpoint and took the path to the right (as you’re looking at it from the viewpoint.) This seemed the right way but quickly became more difficult than any other part of the walk so far. We got to a scrambling section which looked like an old via-ferrata trail. The descent from here was very sketchy and we scrambled our way down extremely steep rocks for around 20 minutes or so. My heart was racing and I was seriously regretting not buying that return ticket! When we finally reached the bottom we still had around 30 minutes to walk back to our hotel. I still don’t know whether we just took the wrong path but from our experience, I definitely wouldn’t recommend walking down from Monte Solaro. Buy a return ticket for the chairlift and enjoy a relaxing and much less stressful experience.
As we stepped into our hotel instantly everything was forgotten. Check out our night of luxury in Capri.
We checked out from our amazing hotel and began day 2 of exploring Capri. We first headed to Arco Naturale on the east coast of the island. The walk took us around 15 minutes from our hotel, Capri Tiberio Palace and takes around 20 minutes from Piazza Umberto I. There are a few steps but nothing too tasking and it is mostly shaded from the sun. We arrived at Arco Naturale and were instantly taken aback by the sheer size of the arch, it is huge. You can view the arch from a balcony area which is the perfect photo platform to capture the arch and the sparking blue water below in all it’s glory. It really is a spectacle and with it being so easily accessible from the main piazza in Capri, it’s not one to miss.
We then continued back past a small café overlooking the arch and found the signs for the Pizzolungo walk. This stunning walk will take you along the coast all the way until you reach another of Capri’s most famous attractions, the Faraglioni rock formation. This walk is extremely picturesque and definitely worth it for all of the amazing photo stops it offers. Make sure to where comfortable shoes though as this isn’t a leisurely stroll. There are a number of steps both up and down but the majority are downhill if you’re coming from the Arco Naturale. We saw a couple coming up the steps the opposite way in swimwear and flip flops and they didn’t look as though they were having as much fun we were! You will pass the Sorrentine peninsula and then reach the Faraglioni. From there you can continue the walk until you reach a breath-taking 5 star hotel overlooking the coast called Hotel Punta Tragara. Stay on the Via Tragara and you’ll reach a beautiful walkaway adorned with luscious greenery and brightly coloured flowers. Take this all the way to the end, turn right onto Via Camerelle then continue all the way back into the centre of Capri.
It was gelato time, yay! We had read about a Gelateria that made fresh waffle cones and thought we had to try. This delightful little eatery is called Buonocore Gelateria Pasticceria Gastronomia e Tavola Calda. I went for a Kinder gelato in a waffle cone and James had a caprese sandwich. We walked as we ate and headed to our next sightseeing stop, Giardini di Augusto. The gardens are botanical and have a terrace overlooking the sea and windy road of Via Krupp. There are benches where you can relax and enjoy the view. We sat here reflecting on our time in Capri before we had to make our way to the ferry port in time for our departure. At the ferry port we were met by an ambassador from the Capri Tiberio Palace who handed over our luggage and wished us well.
Capri is another world. From helicopter rides to champagne dinners and designer clothes, this place is made for those with money to spare. Walking around the town I felt like an imposter. But stepping away from the designer shops and fancy restaurants, I was so glad we chose to visit. There is an abundance of beautiful nature to see and explore and this really makes Capri a place for everyone to enjoy. Don’t be put off by the expensive price tag and make sure you visit Capri on your trip to the Amalfi coast, whether that’s a day trip from Naples or Sorrento or treating yourself to a night stay on the island.
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