How to Enter the Blue Grotto - Capri (Grotta Azzurra)
If you've ever looked into a trip to Capri, you have most likely come across pictures and articles stating that no trip to Capri is complete without seeing the Blue Grotto. But what is it, how do you get there, and how much does it cost?
What is the Blue Grotto?
The Blue Grotto (known in Capri as the "Grotta Azzurra") is a natural sea cave that is roughly 60 feet deep, 180 feet long and 75 feet wide. The blue glow of the water is caused by sunlight entering from below a rock lip near the cave entrance that only protrudes into the water from the top by a few feet (i.e. no cave wall from water level to the bottom of the sea floor).
Capri.com states that "During the reign of Tiberius in Roman times, the grotto was used as a marine temple, and ancient Roman statues found here are now on display at the Casa Rossa in Anacapri. For many years afterwards, the Blue Grotto was avoided by sailors, as local legends told of spirits and demons living there. One day in 1826, however, local fisherman Angelo Ferraro accompanied German author August Kopisch and painter Ernst Fries to the cave, and their tales of its marvels have led to the grotto being one of the must-see sights on any visitor to Capri's itinerary."
2. How to enter the Blue Grotto and Opening Times.
There are really only 2 ways to get to the Blue Grotto, other than swimming (which is illegal). You can either walk down the stairs from the shoreline (this requires first traveling to Anacapri) or traveling by boat from Marina Grande (either tour or private).
As lines at the Blue Grotto grow rather quickly, you may want to try getting there in the quickest way possible. The fastest way is likely to stay overnight in Anacapri and be ready when it opens at 09:00. We took the earliest ferry we could get from Sorrento at 09:50, arrived shortly after 10:15 in Capri and went straight to the boat tour operators on the dock to hopefully avoid that situation.
As you arrive at Marina Grande in Capri (and before you even make it to the shore), you will notice the boat tour operators sign signifying that they have a "Blu Line" and a "Yellow Line" (see image). These are the small 15-20 person boats you'll see on both sides of the dock right next to this ticket window. While you get to circle the entire island of Capri, and see quite a bit more on the Yellow Line for only €3 more (€18 vs. €15), it will take you much longer to arrive at the Blue Grotto and your boat guide will likely tell you that there is a 2 hour wait before you'll get to enter the Grotto when you arrive. We happened to choose the Yellow Line, so this is exactly what happened to us because the last stop before going back to the dock on that line is the Blue Grotto. After a bit more research we found out that this is a common issue with people visiting Capri and it could end up putting a damper on the rest of your trip if you don't plan well.
Our boat guide allowed us to transfer onto another boat that was waiting because nobody else on our boat wanted to wait the additional 2 hours to go into the Blue Grotto at that point. However, we waited on the second boat for only about 30 minutes before we were able to get into the small rowboat that would take us into the cave. As the cave opening is only about 6 feet wide, these are the only boats that will fit inside the cave opening. Additionally, you must lay down in the boat on the floor as the cave top is very short and the skipper has to time the waves and pull the boat into the cave using a metal chain attached to the wall at the right moment. Due to this procedure, only a maximum of four people can ride in a single boat. Once inside, the skipper will circle you around the cave a couple of times and then wait in line to exit the cave. We were in the cave a total of 10 minutes and our skipper (as well as a few of the others) sang Italian songs and took our picture for us. We spent a grand total of 60 minutes from the time that our initial boat arrived at Grotta Azzurra to the time our second boat left (including the time spent inside the cave on the rowboat). So, don't let the "2 hour wait" when you first arrive make you change your mind if you really want to go inside!
3. Blue Grotto Capri Ticket prices.
If you take a taxi, bus, or other transport to get to Anacapri (walk to the entry), then you might want to factor in the cost of that trip, especially if it's the only reason you're going into Anacapri. If you take the boats at Marina Grande, as we did, then you may factor in roughly €15-€18 each, depending on what line you chose. It is important to note that this boat cost does not include entry into the cave itself!
Once you arrive at the Grotta Azzurra and make your way onto one of the small rowboats, the skipper will bring you to a floating ticket counter where you'll buy entry tickets for €14 each (€4 for one and €10 for another - but I honestly don't understand why there are 2 separate tickets here). You should note that these aren't the only charges for this trip as tips for the skipper are expected upon exit from the cave. We gave €5 each, but as our skipper seemed extraordinarily pleased with this tip, I expect you could get away with a bit less.
Overall we spent €18 + €14 + €5 = €37 each to see the Grotta Azzurra. It was amazing and we really were happy to see it, but it was definitely not a budget excursion after it all added up. We intend to upload our 360 video footage (VR ready format) so that you can experience this without the delay or hefty costs in Virtual Reality (as if you were there yourself). In other words, we could offer you the VR experience for €2 if you're interested in doing it this way. If so, please mention your interest in the comments and we'll work on getting the footage edited and uploaded for you!
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