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If you've ever looked into a trip to Capri, you have most likely come across pictures and articles stating that no trip is complete without seeing the Blue Grotto of Capri (Grotta Azzurra). But what is it, how do you get there, how much does it cost, and are there any Blue Grotto tours?
We generally recommend getting the Lonely Planet guide for this area to explain how to do most things that you’ll see in this part of Italy (see our The Perfect Amalfi Coast and Capri Itinerary (2-Days on a Budget) article or even our Lemon Cream Pasta article), we are providing this article as an added piece of advice.
The Blue Grotto is now difficult to get into simply because it is limited on capacity, and the more famous Italy gets as a travel destination, the harder it is to do things in Italy as it creates longer lines. Plus, Capri is infamous in itself, showing up - and drawing in more crowds - due to movies such as:
The Italian Comedy: The Emperor of Capri
And the Italian-French Drama Capri-Revolution
But the Blue Grotto has even a little more mystique and awe attached to it – so, the amount of people waiting to get in makes it more difficult to get inside than it used to be. This article will teach you how you can have this experience on your own. Alternatively, you can also get in with a Blue Grotto Capri Tour.
1. 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. There are earlier ferries, but they were booked up months in advance!
After arriving 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. It really helped us to be prepared for the culture shocks in Italy - like this one - by picking up the Italy - Culture Smart! book ahead of time. We gave €5 each, but as our skipper seemed extraordinarily pleased with this tip, I expect you could get away with quite 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 - plus it was a bit stressful as we did get caught up in the “2-hour wait” situation and had to transfer boats (a common thing here, so at least it wasn’t an extraordinary event!).
Learn more about Capri with our Perfect Capri Itinerary on a Budget (Day Trip).
Important Information for Your Trip to Italy
The Lonely Planet guide proved to completely pay for its cost and then some. It was like having a personal local guide in our pocket everywhere we went. Our experience was certainly better because of it!
MAKE THIS EASIER – Choose the Blue Grotto Capri Tour!
You can get into the Blue Grotto by grabbing an extremely affordable day trip to Capri that runs less than $200! Check out the “Capri Day Trip from Sorrento with Blue Grotto” tour for more information.
Do you have a little more time? Here are some other Blue Grotto Tours:
You can also see Capri (including the Blue Grotto) on a 5 day super-adventure of the Amalfi coast that even includes the other must see along the Amalfi Coast - the Path of the God’s hike. Check out the “Walking with the Gods“ tour for details.
Only have 3 days for the Amalfi Coast and Capri? Pack in an amazing adventure in Capri - including the Blue Grotto - along with visiting Sorrento, Positano and Pompeii all for under $300. Check out the “Meet Us There - Amalfi Coast” tour for details.
BEST HOTELS NEAR CAPRI
If you’re looking for a luxury hotel in an amazing location, we recommend the Luxury Villas & Romantic Apt’s - it’s the best value in its class, in our opinion.
However, if you are the type that really wants to do the Path of the Gods Hike, the best hotel in that area for doing the hike is definitely the Mamaral Resort, Agerola - plus, it is usually under $100 per night (huge plus!)
For those of you who are serious budget travelers, we recommend checking out either this bed and breakfast - Oasi Madre della Pace in Sorrento, or our #1 choice for best quality & price for a hostel - the Ostello Beata Solitudo, Agerola (as low as $21 USD per night)
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