Villas perched on steep cliffs, roads that will give you vertigo,
paths snaking down to the sea, lovely gardens in the sun.
The romantic Isle of Capri is unforgettable.
If your cruise ship stops at Naples or Sorrento, there will be excursions to Capri. These are often expensive, but they take all the worry out of getting around the island and getting back to your ship on time. The waters between Naples and Capri can be rough, and while the passenger ferries still travel in fairly wild seas, if it is dangerous of course they won't travel. We returned to Naples one afternoon when the wind was catching the bow wave and sending sheets of water over the top observation deck - and this was a beautiful day, not stormy. While it is easy to see Capri on your own, the cruise excursions will take you to Anacapri and then give you time to wander across the center of the island.
If you do want more time to explore, it is easy to take walk-on ferries from both Naples and Sorrento, and on Capri there is a good bus service. (That link shows how to get to Capri, as well as advice on the funicular to the town and bus schedules and maps.) You can also take the Capri buses to Anacapri and the Marina Piccolo.
Boats arrive on Capri at Marina Grande. This is not the main town, but it has a street of touristy stores that are interesting, as well as restaurants, if you have time to spare. It is quite crowded in the summer months.
There is a protected harbour, and there are lots of boats from Naples and Sorrento, and some from Amalfi and other ports.
If you come to Capri on your own, there is a funicular to take you up the hill from Marina Grande to the main town. The entrance is on the main street almost opposite to where you walk ashore from the boat.
I am putting this first because most cruise excursions do this first. Anacapri is a community at the west end of the island, and there is one road to get there. And what a road! It often appears to be one lane, and a good part of the journey is on the very edge of a cliff, a part of which is shown in the photo beside. Part of it is out from the cliff and held up by concrete posts. Buses are narrower than usual, and they toot their horns as they go into a corner. Sometimes they have to wiggle against the cliff face or the outside railing to pass. The far right shows the same road and the height of the cliff. If you look closely you can see the white pillars. The third picture shows what it looks like riding in the front of a bus!
Now you have reached the town of Anacapri. Tours will take you to the Villa San Michele - a lovely home, now a museum, built above the cliff. It belonged to Axel Munthe, a Swedish doctor. There are beautiful gardens and walkways, and views of the harbour.
To get to Villa San Michele on your own, get off the Anacapri bus at Piazza Vittoria, cross the street to the bus parking and climb steps to the street behind and turn left. This will take you to the villa. As you get near the villa there are lovely (and expensive) shops to lure the tourists - you really will need a zippered beach bag with 'Capri' on it to take extra purchases home on the plane!
Go through the villa, and then follow the lovely path along the edge of the cliff to the lookout over the town. Marina Grande and the harbour is below, and Sorrento is in the distance. On a clear day you can see Mount Vesuvius and Naples, just to the left of the first picture. You can barely see Mount Vesuvius in the right hand picture, below. Yes, the sea is that blue!
Berthold Werner, Capri harbour from Anacapri 2013, CC BY-SA 3.0
Just at the back right corner of the bus stop and up a block is the chairlift to the top of Mount Solaro. The top of the mountain is mainly a series of lookouts, with views over the south side of the island. If you are on a tour, you would have time to do this instead of going to the Villa San Michele. The views are exceptionally lovely, but there is not much else at the top.
Across the street from the bus stop are stairs that lead you down to Piazza Vittorio. It is a pretty square, with a single fabulous umbrella pine tree. There are shops and restaurants, and from the bottom of the square is Via Orlandi, that also has pleasant shops.
Back down from Anacapri by excursion bus or Capri buses, you will be very near the central square in the actual town of Capri. The center of that is a restaurant with white pillars around the patio area (right). This is often a meeting place, too - and this building is the top of the funicular from Marina Grande.
Behind this is the Piazza Umberto I, and the famous bell and clock tower. The Church of St. Stephen (Chiesa di Santo Stefano) is just up some steps, and was built in the 1600's - but the tower was part of a previous church that stood on the spot.
Capri - a walk to the south side
Go to the far right hand corner of the piazza, and walk through an arch which has Via Vittorio Emanuele on the wall. From here you simply follow the street (path) - there are lovely homes, hotels, stores and gardens as you go. After a square the path narrows, but continue in the same direction until you come to a view of the sea. Turn to the right, and the path is lovely, with wonderful trees, stone walls and bougainvillea. (There are restrooms on the hill above the path - watch for the sign.....) You will see broad steps that go up on the left of the path (picture below) - this goes to a lovely lookout, and the Gardens of Augustus.
Below is the lovely view from the lookout - the Faraglioni Rocks - faraglioni means eroded by the sea. And on the other side, a cliff and the coast line. A few years ago, when I visited, there were flags hung on the cliff above the path.
You had left the main path at the steps to the lookout. If you continue along the path, it snakes down and around and around and around - finally heading around the base of the cliff.
If you don't mind the climb back, go down the snaking path and around the bottom of the cliff and you will get to the Marina Piccolo (little marina). There are beaches - not sandy - and restaurants. There is another alternative to climbing back up the path - there are Capri buses that go from Marina Piccolo to the main part of town.
If you simply went to the lookout, retrace your steps to the Piazza Umberto I and the restaurant with the pillars that looks over the Marina Grande. In that building is the funicular, and when you are ready to go down to the harbour, that is the way to go.
I hope you enjoy Capri! If you are lucky enough to be able to stay longer, there are lots of other things to see - the Blue Grotto, the ruins of a Roman villa high on a mountain and much more!