Capri According to the Guidebooks

What travel guides say about the island that has been enchanting people for centuries

By Amalfi Coasting

"It was the Emperor Tiberius who startled his grammarians with the question, what songs the Sirens sang? I suspect he knew more about the matter than they did, for he was a Siren-worshipper all his life, though fate did not allow him to indulge his genius till those last few years which he spent among them on the rock-islet of Capri".

Norman Douglas (1923)

According to Lonely Planet, "A legendary idyll: Capri's beguiling combination of fabled beauty and hedonism has charmed Roman emperors, Russian revolutionaries and showbiz stars for decades. It’s the perfect microcosm of Mediterranean appeal – a smooth cocktail of chichi piazzas and cool cafes, Roman ruins and rugged seascapes. Already inhabited in the Palaeolithic period, Capri was briefly occupied by the Greeks before the Emperor Augustus made it his private playground and Tiberius retired here in AD 27. Its modern incarnation as a tourist centre dates from the early 20th century. It’s also a hugely popular day-trip destination and a summer favourite of holidaying VIPs. Inevitably, the two main centres, Capri Town and its uphill rival Anacapri, are almost entirely given over to tourism with the high prices that predictably follow. But explore beyond the effortlessly cool cafes and designer boutiques, and you’ll find that Capri retains an unspoiled charm, with grand villas, overgrown vegetable plots, sun-bleached peeling stucco and banks of brilliantly coloured bougainvillea. All of this overlooks the deep blue water that laps unseen into secluded coves and mysterious grottoes."

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Michelin says that, "The island’s main town is dotted with bright white houses, tiny theatrical squares and narrow streets and covered passageways which give it a real Moorish atmosphere. Crowds of visitors window-shop in the boutiques and relax at outdoor cafés while waiting for their boat to leave. However, head off the beaten track and you’ll discover quiet pathways lined with attractive villas and lush gardens, where the magic of Capri can still be felt."

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Frommer's writes that, "lying a few kilometers off the tip of the Sorrentine Peninsula, Capri is a rugged, mountainous island jutting dramatically from the sea. This chic playground for millionaires was the haunt of eccentrics and intellectuals in its past, and in spite of the daily tourist invasion, it continues to beguile with its spectacular scenery, impossibly azure sea, and air of glamour."

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Watch Rick Steves' video on Capri


Capri and Sorrento are very popular resort towns but also very, very busy. Nearby, though, right in the heart of the beautiful Amalfi Coast, is a small jewel, Praiano, less hectic and more authentic than Positano or Amalfi. Praiano has a spectacular natural setting, and many discerning tourists have decided to stay there, and use it as a base for their Amalfi Coasting. Try Praiano, trust us!

Our Insider's Guide to Capri

In Greek mythology it was home of the sirens, in Roman times a favored resort of the emperors

Capri First Beguiles, Then Casts its Spell Upon You

You will feel happy, like many before, as you sense the spirit of the place