Are you going to Naples and the Island of Capri? The Blue Grotto is definitely worth a trip and one of the most recognizable places to visit on the island. Here is our guide to the Blue Grotto
The Blue Grotto, or Grotta Azzurra is a sea cave located on the northwest coast of the island of Capri, right ff the coast of Naples in southern Italy. It is famous for its bright blue waters, as if from another world. The fluorescent glow comes from a large underwater opening under the entrance of the cave used by boats to visit it, which illuminates the water in the cave from below, like neon lights in a swimming pool. Known since Roman times, where it was consecrated as a nymphaeum, the Cave’s intense and brilliant blue reflections have fascinated visitors until now.
History of the Blue Grotto
The cave was known and visited in Ancient Rome, as evidenced by the ancient statues that were found in the cave. The cave is believed to have been the emperor Tiberius’ personal swimming pool when he installed the capital of the Roman Empire on the island in 27 AD. At the time of Tiberius, the cave was decorated with several statues of Roman gods that were discovered in the cave and it is believed that there could be more resting in the depths. The cave was known to the locals as Gradola, after the name of the landing stage near Gradola, but the place was avoided because the people thought the cave was occupied by witches and monsters.
The Blue Grotto was largely forgotten until its rediscovery in 1826 by the poet August Kopisch, from Poland and his friend, the artist Ernest Fries, from Switzerland. Kopisch was very impressed by the beauty of the cave and described it in his book Entdeckung der blauen Grotte auf der Insel Capri (Discovery of the Blue Cave on the island of Capri). Since then, the Grotta Azzurra has become the emblem of the island of Capri, attracting tourists from all over the world. Two years later, the German poet Wilhelm Waiblinger wrote a hymn to his glory as a tribute to the era of romanticism and man’s “return to nature”. It then inspired Hans Christian Andersen’s novel The Improvisatore in 1835, a 19th century best-seller that triggered an uninterrupted flow of tourists to Capri.
A new project of the Marevivo association aims to restore the cave to its Roman appearance, with copies of Roman statues.
What to see and do in the Blue Grotto
The Blue Cave is 200 feet long and 82 feet wide. 500 feet separate the surface from the water in the cave with its sandy bottom. The light in the cave comes from two sources: one is a small hole in the cave wall, precisely at the waterline, which is one and a half meters in diameter, and used as the entrance door to the cave. The second light source is a larger submerged hole, located directly under the entrance hole, which is responsible for the majority of the lighting.
How to get to the blue Grotto?
The Blue Grotto is accessible by bus from Anacapri, or by walking on the well-marked path. Any access to the cave is impossible on windy days or when there are waves. As housing on Capri can be expensive, staying in Naples is a good option as you can simply take a ferry to Capri Island and follow these directions.
Additionally, there are a wide variety of boat tours of the island of Capri that stop at the Blue Grotto among other popular spots or offer a trip exclusively to the Grotto :
- Blue Grotto transfers
There are two local operators who will have similar prices for these direct to the Grotto trips. Prices range from 14€ to 17€ and you will get to see part of the Island of Capri in addition to the Grotto itself. These trips depart from the Capri Marina Grande and last about one hour, depending on the length of the line to enter the Grotto.
- Tours of Capri
Finally, these same operators and other companies offer longer tours or the island, many featuring the Blue Grotto. Prices are in the 18€-30€ range for about two hours, the boats depart from the Capri Marina Grande
Opening hours and rates for the Blue Grotto
Entering the grotto itself requires a small rowboat, as the entrance is so low it will even require you to lay down in the boat. These rowboats start operating at 9am until the evening. Note that what makes this grotto so noteworthy and beautiful is the sunlight hitting the water, so the best hours to visit are when the sun is the strongest, between noon and 2pm.
– The Blue Grotto is open for visits from 9am to 5pm
Full price: 14€
Children under 6: Free
European citizens under 18: 10€
European citizens between 18 and 25: 12€
Tickets for the Blue Grotto itself can be bought at the ticket office at the entrance. You can access it by walking down a staircase if you are already on the island or as part of a boat tour of Capri.
GOOD TO KNOW
Here are a few practical tips to help you visit the Blue Grotto in Capri in the best conditions :
– A visit to the Grotto lasts about 5 minutes.
– The guides on rowboats are likely to haggle for a tip, in addition to the entrance fee and eventual boat ticket.
– The line to enter the Grotto can be long, and you might wait about an hour before being able to get in. Unfortunately, while lines are shorter during off peak hours, the sun will be down and the blue light that makes the Grotto so iconic will be faded. We recommend going there expecting a long wait.
– If you arrived at the entrance by boat, you will wait in line on that same boat, and seasickness might occur, especially with the diesel fumes from all the boats.
– If there is bad weather or too much wind, the Grotto will no longer be accessible. To see availability in real time, check here
That’s it, you’re ready to visit the Blue Grotto in Capri!
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