The island of Capri has attracted the rich and famous for centuries — from Emperors Augustus and Tiberius in Roman times to, since the 30s and 40s, every Hollywood star and international playboy worth their salt. Legendary British author Graham Greene and music hall favourite Gracie Fields loved it so much that they are now buried here.
It’s easy to see what has attracted the international jetset down the years and continues to do so. The island basks in almost year-round sunshine, is famous for its classy, upmarket boutiques, has some ofthe Mediterranean’s bluest waters and boasts spectacular cliffs.
Yet despite its well-heeled visitors, the island has an abundance of delights to offer every visitor regardless of their budget.
Capri faces the Amalfi coast and from Naples is short hop by hydrofoil (40 minutes) or ferry (1hr 20mins). If you choose to catch a ferry or hydrofoil from Sorrento, further down the coast of the mainland, the travel times to Capri are shorter still.
Despite its small size, the island consists of two towns — Capri itself, where most of the hotels are located, and Anacapri, on the hill above and slightly less expensive. Many visitors, therefore, stay in Anacapri and get one of the regular buses or reasonably priced taxis — a convertible Mercedes, no less; this is Capri, after all — into Capri town itself.
But Capri island is best explored on foot or by scooter from one of the many rental stores. Driving by car is to be avoided given that the roads tend to be very narrow — as the scrapes on many buses testify — and are often bordered by a sheer drop to the sea.
Whether you choose to walk, ride a scooter or take a bus, signs of opulence are never far away. If you dream of buying property in Italy, the price of a villa in Capri — a two-bedroom house in Capri can comfortably fetch £1.75million — can prove an eye-opener. However, that is pretty much in keeping with the going rate for a villa here on the Amalfi coast.
If you’re just here for sightseeing, Anacapri is as good a place as any to start. Take a spectacular 12-minute chairlift ride to the top of Monte Solare from where you get dizzying views of Sorrento, the Bay of Naples, the mainland and Mount Vesuvius.
Anacapri also boasts the seven-acre Villa Jovis ruins, where Emperor Tiberius’s palace once stood, and Villa San Michele, the home of early 20th century Swedish doctor and writer Axel Munthe. The villa has been turned into a museum and houses classical Roman and Egyptian artefacts as well as a bird nature reserve.
In Capri town itself, must-sees include the 14th-century monastery Certosa di San Giacomo, now a school, and the Gardens of Augustus, a lush, green park and an oasis of serenity.
Capri is renowned as a mecca for shopaholics and its picturesque shopping district is full of smart boutiques and designer stores. If you fancy a break from your spending spree, there’s no better way of relaxing than by a restaurant table in the town’s main piazzetta as you sample a limoncello, a local alcoholic speciality made from the lemons that are grown in abundance in Capri.
An even more relaxing and spectacular way to see the island is to hire a small boat with skipper and sail around it. Ensure you stop off at the Blue Grotto, a 200ft long cave in which the light is the most unbelievable shade of blue, thanks to the peculiar angle at which it is refracted through the water. Gaze in awe also at I Faraglioni, three imposing rock formations just off the coast and jutting out from the sea.
How to get there: Naples airport and then ferry or hydrofoil to Capri, around 20 miles away.