Do you have a spirit vacation spot? That place you feel a deep connection with, and even if you go years without setting foot on it, when you return it feels like no time at all has passed and there’s almost a sense of coming home? When Adam and I went to Capri for our honeymoon 10 years ago, I fell in love with everything about it. It’s funny that most people associate Capri with nightlife and Hollywood glamour, since while it does have that side, the Capri that I adore is all about rocky cliffs, azure waters, long hikes, longer swims — and of course, the food.
Earlier this month, we returned for a week to celebrate our 10 year wedding anniversary, and it was every bit as magical as I remembered. We hit up our longtime favorites like Capri Palace and Paolina, and discovered lots of new-to-us spots that have found a permanent spot on my must-go list. ‘Cause I’m determined to not let another decade pass before I get back to Capri. Scroll on for exactly where to stay, eat, swim, and play on the island, plus a few insider tips you need to know to make it smooth sailing.
Need to know.
Getting there. Capri isn’t the easiest spot in the world to get to since it’s a small island without a commercial airport. You need get to Naples either by plane, train, or car, and then take the ferry from the Port of Naples to the Port of Capri. Once you get to Capri, you can hop in a cab to get to your final destination. This trip, flying into Naples was going to leave us with a long layover, so instead we opted to fly directly to Rome, then take a car service the 2 hours to the Port of Naples where we hopped in a ferry. I’ve heard rumors you can also go by helicopter, but I’ve sadly yet to experience that one firsthand.
Two sides to the island. The island is split into Capri town on one side, which is generally busier and more crowded with tons of shops, restaurants, and hotels; and Anacapri, which is more rustic, less crowded, and “authentic.” We stayed in Anacapri on both our trips and I personally love the quiet, natural vibes of that part of the island. If nightlife and shopping is your thing, stay in Capri; if you’re looking for hiking and chilled out beaches, you’re an Anacapri girl. You can get between the two sides by the busses running back and forth (crowded but cheap), taxi (convenient but pricey – 25 euros one way), or walking – which is a cool experience but you’ll likely only want to do the hourlong hike down the epic staircase once during your trip.
When to go. May is still relatively chilly, July and August gets really crowded with tourist high season. June is perfect, and I’ve heard September is nice too (just make sure it’s still warm enough to swim!)
How to say it. “Cah-pree.” Just do it.
Where to stay.
Capri Palace. This is the only hotel I can personally speak to since I’ve stayed there both times I’ve been to Capri; once I experienced it on our honeymoon, I couldn’t bear to stay anywhere else! On top of the cliffs in Anacapri, it’s ideally situated in the most charming village with endless Mediterranean views. The rooms are beautifully simple and there’s art everywhere. And the Michelin-starred restaurant and unrivaled spa deserve entries of their own, so read on.
Where to eat.
Paolinao. At this Capri institution, you’ll dine under a lemon grove with lemons literally the size of your head. Expect homey Italian dishes like Caprese salad, spaghetti with clams, and linguine showered with an ungodly amount of shaved truffles. Yum!
pro tip: Limoncello is the official drink of Capri, and Paolino is the perfect spot to enjoy a house made sip at the end of your meal.
L’Olivo. Our hotel also happens to house two Michelin starred restaurants, one of them being the stunning L’Olivo where we spent a couple of our most delicious nights on the trip. It’s elegant without being fussy, and some of the best people watching on the island. Adam and I shared everything since we couldn’t decide between the pastas and the crunchy lobster – and we had to save room for the candy cart that circulated at the end of the evening.
Il Riccio. Capri Palace also has the prettiest beach club on the island. We spent the day lounging in the beach chairs then headed up for a late lunch of fresh mozzarella and the grilled catch of the day. We were back for dinner on the evening of our anniversary. Watching the sunset from the upstairs lounge followed by an epic dinner of sea urchin spaghetti is something I’ll never forget.
pro tip: Don’t miss the “Temptation Room” filled floor-to-ceiling with ever Italian dessert you could dream up.
La Capannina. This restaurant down in Capri town, near the main Piazza, is an old-school gem. Tucked into a cozy alleyway with photos of visiting celebrities covering the walls, you’ll feel like you stepped back into Capri’s most star-studded glamour days. Adam and I cozied into a booth with a glass of the house red and plates of Veal Milanese until late. Then we strolled down the sidewalk eating gelato with the moon lighting up the Mediterranean. Date night doesn’t get better than this.
Lido del Faro. This beach club felt way more local and less touristy than the others, full of Italians who were there to sun and swim all day! We loved it for the beachside restaurant where we ate a 2-hour lunch and split a bottle of the mineral-y local white wine. Many of the beach clubs in Italy have basically the same menus and pretty good food, but this one set itself apart with the most perfect just-caught fish, grilled octopus, and spaghetti with zucchini flowers.
pro tip: Arrive just before 1pm and you’ll be able to choose a table with the prettiest views. The Italians never eat before 1:15pm.
Da Gelsomina. A friend mentioned this place to me, and since it’s in a remote area of Anacapri that requires a hike to access, we almost missed it – thank goodness we didn’t! A tiny bed and breakfast that makes its own wine from grapes on the property, our waiter was the owner and his wife’s grandparents had opened it 3 generations before. This is a truly special spot, in the country and overlooking endless sea views. We ordered ravioli stuffed with roasted tomatoes and buffalo mozzarella, and our favorite simple salad with arugula and big chunks of freshly shaved parmesan.
Pro tip: Walk over a bit early and explore the fascinating “Philosophy Park” across the roadside, which offers views of both sides of the island if you hike up to the highest point.
What to do.
Ride in a boat. Capri is one of the most stunning spots to go for a boat ride, and there are lots of ways to go about it depending on your budget and what you have in mind. At the marina, there are tons of group boat cruises you can hop on to take you around the island and down to see the blue grotto. On our honeymoon, we booked a fancy speedboat which took us to Positano and back. This time was my favorite boat experience of all: my friend Alex turned me on to the private boat rides given by the family that owns Paolino (see restaurant above.) Talk about a quintessential Capri experience! Our captain, Tonnino, gave us the most incredible complete tour of every spot around the entire island. We skipped the famous-yet-touristy blue grotto and instead got a rare glimpse inside the Green Grotto, the White Grotto, and of course we crossed under the famous Faraglioni and kissed for good luck.
Pro tip: You can email Michela, Tonnino’s wife (her father, Vittorino, is also a captain and owner of Paolino) at [email protected] to check their availability.
Villa San Michelle. We walked over to the villa, museum, and gardens created by Swedish doctor and author Axel Munthe around the turn of the century. It totally exceeded my expectations — Some of the most stunning views and incredible gardens we saw on our entire trip. Make sure to checkout the famous sphinx sculpture overlooking the cliffs — it dates back to 3200 years ago!
Pro tip: Near the sphinx, you’ll find the starting point for the famous Phoenician steps that lead down into Capri town. Wear sneakers and get ready for an incredible hike, capped off with a coffee or glass of wine in the Piazza as your reward.
Fontelina Beach Club. If you haven’t been to a European beach town, the term “Beach Club” may be a tad misleading. These are not clubs in the sense of having any type of nightlife; instead of dancing, there’s laying under beach umbrellas, and instead of jello shots, there’s freshly grilled fish from the sea. In other words, my kind of “club.” Fontelina is the old school favorite for a reason. It’s blue and white striped parasols ooze Italian holiday and the entire scene is set against the most famous skyline in Capri, the Faraglioni rocks. Call them to make a reservation for beach chairs around 11am, then book a table for either the 1pm or 3pm seatings for lunch.
Pro tip: You can reach the beach club on foot, via the little path next to the Tragara viewing point in Capri town. Wear comfortable shoes: the path winds its way down to the sea for about a 20 minute hike. There’s also a shuttle boat that can take you to the marina if you’re not feeling up to a hike.
Hiking the Path of Forts. Somehow on our honeymoon trip, I missed the memo that Capri is one of the best hiking spots on the planet. Our boat captain (see above) pointed out the various historic forts along the coastline, and mentioned that as a kid, he’d hike the 3-hour trail that connects them all. So of course, we had to go find it!! This article does a good job of explaining the full route, and since there are a lot of different spots you can hop on and hop off, it probably makes the most sense to chat with a local and map out your hike based on your starting point and how far you want to go.
If you need a break from it all, this world class spa is the destination spot in Italy. It offers cutting edge treatments, but the holistic focus on true wellness from the inside out is what really sets it apart, in my opinion. You can meet with a doctor or nutritionist for a complete protocol, or just go for one of the best massages of your life. Reflecting their east-meets-west approach, I got my first authentic Thai massage from an incredible therapist who trained in Bangkok.