capri in winter
Italy,  We12inspire

Why not to visit Capri in the winter

Google ‘Capri’ and you will see beautiful pictures from an island surrounded by turquoise waters and colorful houses built against a dramatically steep mountain. Yes, when my sister and I went to Naples in Italy for a weekend last winter, we knew idyllic Capri was going to be one of the places we really wanted to see. For one day, we’d dive into the world of the jetsetters who spend their vacations her … If only we had known what Capri is really like in wintertime.
 
Capri is located in the Golfo di Napoli (Gulf of Naples) and is just a short trip away from Naples. As we are not your typical city-trippers, we usually like to explore a bit more on the outside of a city and do some nice activities. After spending an afternoon in Naples on the day of our arrival in Italy, we knew this wasn’t our city and we wanted to get out as soon as possible. While reading our Lonely Planet, we figured we might as well head over to Capri. The weather looked promising and since it was only February, the idea of gallivanting around a Mediterranean Island for a couple of hours, sounded like a great idea.
 
We took a ferry (Caremar) from the port of Napoli to the island and within 75 minutes we arrived in what we thought would be our paradise for a day. As we entered the island after a smooth sailing, we decided not to immediately board another boat to the Blue Grotto but instead first have a cup of tea instead. The weather still looked pretty good at that point and we figured that there would be no harm in returning 30 minutes later. As we sat down in the only bar that was open around the harbor side, we immediately noticed things work differently around here. The service was poor, the seating was limited and the bar was cold, even though it was in the middle of winter. As soon as we finished our tea and cakes, we were urged to leave to make room for the next people in need of a drink. The huge bill for just two tea and cakes wasn’t the best start of the day, but we knew it was going to be like this. As we made our way over from the bar to the booth of the only company operating winter cruises to the Blue Grotto, we saw a boat with tourists coming back. They didn’t look too happy and as we arrived at the booth, the lady behind the glass told us “no more tours today”. As it turned out, the waves were too strong and the people on the boat got really sick. We were quite disappointed because we had been looking forward to it a lot, but also knew there was a reasonable chance it would get canceled because of weather conditions.
 
capri town in the winter
 
So instead, we decided to catch a ride up to Capri Town, the main settlement on the island. The busfare was everything but cheap, but we didn’t want to waste too much time since we already noticed dark clouds coming in. We walked around the Piazza Umberto, the central square and enjoyed some of the views in the distance. There were quite a lot of other tourists but they didn’t bother us, as this seems to be the way it is on islands like these. After taking a bunch of pictures, we decided to go for a little walk, before it would start to rain. We soon noticed that basically everything was closed in town. No shops were open, most bars were closed for the season and even some museums had closed their doors. We finished our walking tour of the city within minutes, as soon as we left the piazza, we were the only ones in the narrow streets. Although wandering through the narrow streets of Capri may sound very sophisticated, it was everything but that, we found it rather depressing. No life, no bustle, just everything closed and nobody else around.
 
capri in the winter
 
It was then when we realized we had made a mistake coming here in wintertime. As the clouds were closing in on us above our heads, we decided to make one of the walks recommended in Lonely Planet, from Anacapri to Belvedere di Migliera. We caught the bus from Capri to the town of Anacapri and from here, we started walking. Earlier on I wrote a full blogpost about this hike and even though it was nice, it couldn’t make up for earlier disappointments that day. Here in Anacapri, life seemed to have vanished. We barely saw a soul and everything looked incredibly depressing. The view at the end of the walk was stunning yet the dead rats we found in the park did not impress us. It started to rain and to get cold, but luckily we found a place that had opened up for some lunch.
 
belvedere di migliera
 
anacapri in winter
 
After we explored the silent streets of Anacapri, we decided to take the bus back to Capri Town and see from there what we should do. We still had a couple of hours to waste before our boat would return to Naples but as we arrived in town, it started pouring with rain. One bar was open and everyone gathered there for a coffee, hesitant to order more as prices were insane, once again. In addition, staff was very unfriendly and urging us to move on after we finished our tea. However there wasn’t really anywhere else to go because everything was closed, we spent a small fortune on tea in just an hour and a half. When it was about time to head back down to the harbor, we decided to walk down instead of take the bus again, to save some money as we’d already been spending way too much.
 
As we hopped back onto the ferry, I wasn’t sad at all to leave the island of Capri behind. I’m sure that in summertime it’s very idyllic and stylish, however all of the stories above, including the outrageous prices for food and drinks as well as the rude staff in bars and cafes, left us utterly disappointed about Capri. Not only did we not see what we came for (pouring rain instead of sun, empty streets instead of the Blue Grotto) but we spent a small fortune on a day that, looking back on it, would better have been spent another way.
 

If you are still considering going to Capri in the winter, here are some things to consider:

– Weather is very changeable. We had sun in Naples in the morning and upon arrival on the island, which made the temperature very pleasant, however when the sun disappeared and the rain started to pour, it got extremely cold.
– Expect to pay up for your drinks and food. Although this is to be expected, we had hoped at least for some kind of service, however, that seemed to be out of the question.
– Bring your own food and drinks if you can. We didn’t see any supermarkets (although I’m sure they are there in the summer) nor any small vendors, everything seemed extremely commercial.
– Trips to the Blue Grotto are often canceled because of poor weather, so don’t make this your number one must-see. If you go, take seasickness pills!
 
Needless to say, I don’t think we’ll be coming back to Capri. I’m sure it’s nice in summer when it’s hot and sunny and everything is coming to life. However, in winter it’s just very depressing and what set us off most, was meeting nothing but rude
 
Have you been to Capri? If yes, how were your experiences?
 
Want to read more? You may also like these:
City-break Naples in pictures
Climbing Paternkofel in the Dolomites
How not to photograph the Northern Lights
 
Thank you for sharing!

19 Comments

  • Vicky Barnes

    I went to Capri in the winter and although we did have summer temps and it was sunny, I totally have to agree with you about the locals not being friendly. Such a shame for such a beautiful place!

  • Kevin Jordan

    Agree totally about the locals..we have been twice in September and its been perfect (apart from hordes of tourists!) I really think that you should have done some more research before you went. Its a very different island in winter and its obvious that the weather can be changeable to say the least. Its without doubt one of the most beautiful places on Earth but even paradise can have an off day…

    • anto

      Thank you for your comment. I did in fact do some research but could find little about Capri in winter online nor in my guidebook. I’m sure it can be truly amazing but in my case with the wrong circumstances, it just wasn’t worth the journey. Maybe I’ll give it another try, but given the fact there will be hordes of other tourists like you say, I’m not sure it will be my cup of tea 😉

  • Jen

    Sorry you had such a bad time! I’ve been to Capri, but in the summer and fall (October) and it is wonderful! I think people forget that the Mediterranean isn’t the Caribbean, and that they have a winter too. It is very expensive, even in Summer, but it is quite lovely and filled with people. The Amalfi coast though is by far my favorite. I’m from Cape Cod so I guess I’m just used to things being seasonal, esp an island, so this makes sense to me.

    • anto

      Thanks for your comment. And yes, I didn’t realize that Capri isn’t a year-round destination. As far as I can recall, there was no mention of this in my guidebook so that’s why I decided to write this post, just to inform people it may not be what you expect of it. Plus we had bad luck with the weather too, which is of course the risk of travel 🙂 I may go again one day in summer or spring 🙂

    • anto

      I never specifically mentioned locals, I mentioned staff in bars and cafes. If they can’t handle tourists (I’ll leave the hateful part somewhere in the middle) then maybe working in tourism isn’t for them …

  • Kevin Jordan

    It looks like i have opened up a can of worms here 🙁
    I totally agree with anto regarding some of the staff we encountered on the island. Maybe it was because it was near the end of the season but many were downright rude and arrogant.
    Capri isn’t everyone’s cup of tea/
    Its staggeringly expensive and at saturation point with visitors in Summer.
    Counter that though with areas of outstanding natural beauty.
    I personally think its a magical place that should be on your bucket list.
    My original point was that winter is not a great time to go for many reasons and perhaps anto should have gone in Spring or Autumn.
    Thats just my view not really a criticism.

    • anto

      Haha yes, somehow the comments came rolling in for a few days in a row 🙂 if I ever get back to the area in spring or summer then I’d definitely like to give it another try. I can totally see how it can be gorgeous in the right season, I was just a bit unlucky …

  • Danelle Crockett

    Thank you so much for posting this. We are headed to Italy (including Naples) in January and we were planning on traveling to Capri. I think we are going to pass. I started noticing a lot of things were closed during that time. So that based with your review and posts here, it doesn’t make sense for us to go.

  • Som

    Hi,
    My fiancé & I are planning to travel to Italy next year around first or second week of February. If not Capri, what places would you recommend – places that were alive and fun even in the winters?

    • anto

      Unfortunately I have not been to Italy a lot in the wintertime. It really depends on what you are looking for I’d say … up north you can ski combined with amazing cities such as Turin (I wasn’t a fan of Milan) and Venice, where there is always a lot going on. I loved Rome for sure and you could easily spend a week without getting bored. Around Naples you can get up to the Vesuvius volcano and visit Pompei which was really worth it. I’ve heard Puglia is amazing too but can’t say what it’s like in winter though … sorry I can’t be of much more help!

  • Anshita

    Hey, we are going in the first week of April. Any idea how the weather will be then? I am little worried if I should even try to plan a day trip to Capri from Sorrento. Thank you 🙂

    • anto

      It can be sunny or can be rain. I’d just see on the spot what the weather will be like and then decide. I guess we were pretty unlucky. Good luck and have a great trip!

  • Alex

    Capri is a gorgeous and magical island, but it’s definitely seasonal. What many people don’t understand about Capri and much of the Amalfi is that the population decreases significantly during the winter months. The weather is extremely unpredictable and just about everyone who works in the tourism sector leaves to work abroad until the spring rolls around again, so the service you might experience in establishments during the off season is probably not typical. For the record I did spend a little time in Capri (in summer) and had the most wonderful experience. We were greeted by the warmest, most accommodating hosts you could imagine. I would also recommend not just day tripping but actually staying a night or two. The locals definitely appreciate people who take the time to see the island, rather then those who just show up in the morning, create chaos and leave. Another tip, the island of Ischia is apparently open for business all winter. A visit to Ischia would be well worth it in winter because it is volcanic and famous for its thermal baths, which would be fantastic year round.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *