Tiberius' Sacred Santuary: Capri's Blue Grotto.
Visiting the Blue Grotto
- Getting there: by boat from Marina Grande or by bus from Anacapri
- Ticket price: €13
- Hours: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. The grotto is closed to visitors during rough seas or high winds.
This is the most famous sight on Capri, where visitors from around the world form long queues to get a peek inside for just a few magical moments: we're talking about the Blue Grotto, of course. This natural cavern is 25 meters wide and 60 meters long, with a tiny entrance less than a meter high. To enter, visitors lay back in wooden rowboats and glide through the low cave mouth. Once inside, the boats bob in the dark, suspended on the surface of water so blue that it seems dream-like.
Floating in the Grotta Azzurra is an experience that should be on any traveller's bucket list.
Visiting the Blue Grotto - Practical Tips
Entrance to the Blue Grotto is possible only by boarding small rowboats which hold a maximum of four passengers at a time. The entrance ticket must be purchased at the floating ticket office at the cave entrance. After purchasing your ticket, your skipper will ask that you lay back along the bottom of the boat to enable the group to pass through the tiny mouth of the cave. Once inside, your skipper will row you around the cavern, singing traditional Neapolitan folk songs which echo off the rock walls and create an unforgettable atmosphere.
There are a number of ways to reach the Blue Grotto entrance:
- By tour boat: from Marina Grande, the Motoscafisti and Laser Capri boat charter companies depart with organized group tours of the island of Capri and stops at the Blue Grotto. Tickets cost around €17 (tickets to enter the Blue Grotto must be purchased separately). These tours take about 2 hours.
The Motoscafisti charter also offers round trip transport to the Blue Grotto from the port. Tickets for this service are €13 (in addition to tickets to enter the Blue Grotto) and the trip lasts about an hour.
- By rental boat: from Marina Grande, visitors can hire a gozzo (the traditional boat of Capri) with skipper for a tour of the island by sea and a stop at the Blue Grotto. Private boats can usually transport up to seven passengers and cost between €150 and €200 for three hours.
- By private boat: if you are visiting Capri on your private boat, you can anchor near the grotto (there are a number of buoys near the entrance) and call for a boat to transfer you to the grotto entrance.
- By land: the cave entrance can be reached by land from Anacapri: Take Via Pagliaro from the center of town, then Via Grotta Azzurra. At the end of the road, follow the stairs down to the grotto, where you can board the rowboats. The walk is about 3.5 km (40 minutes downhill) from Anacapri, or there is a bus line which leaves from Piazza della Pace in Anacapri and reaches the cave in 15 minutes.
How long is the cave visit?
Rowboats stay inside the Blue Grotto for about five minutes. That said, the line to enter the cave is often quite long...in high season, wait times can reach an hour.
Can visitors swim in the Blue Grotto?
No, visitors can neither enter the cave by swimming nor disembark from their rowboat to swim inside the cave. However, after the cave closes to the public at 5:30 p.m. (when the rowboats and ticket office close), many swimmers enter the cave by sea. This is both illegal and dangerous, as the cave mouth is low and narrow and in case of high waves it is easy to get thrown against the rocks.
When is the best time of day to visit the Blue Grotto?
The glowing effect of the water inside the Blue Grotto is due to the sunlight which enters through a second, underwater cave mouth beneath that on the surface. For this reason, the most intense color comes with the most intense sunlight during the midday hours of noon to 2:00 p.m.. The difference between the first morning light and the late afternoon light is negligible, though there is often a longer line in the afternoon. It is best to avoid visiting the grotto on overcast days, when there internal glow is much less dramatic.
How much does it cost to visit the Blue Grotto?
The €13 ticket includes the entrance fee (€4) and the cost of the rowboat transport (€9). Children entrance under 6 years old: free. EU citizens under 18 pay €9 for the rowboat transport. For EU citizens between 18 and 25 years of age, there is a discount of 50% on the entrance fee, for a total of €11. The rowboat skippers are often tipped. The first Sunday of each month the entrance of Blue Grotto is free, only the boat service - about 9 euros per person - must be paid.
The ticket price is in addition to the cost of a boat transfer to the cave entrance, which is about €17 for a full island tour by sea or €14 for a round trip ticket just to the grotto.
How do I know if the Grotto is open or closed?
In case of high seas, the grotto is always closed. At times, the weather may seem mild but because of adverse winds the entrance is closed. Unfortunately, it's hard to forecast closures due to weather, especially from October to May. To check on daily closures, call the Motoscafisti di Capri pier number: 081 8375646.
Is the Grotto open in winter?
In case of mild weather, the Blue Grotto is open during the winter months.
The history of the Blue Grotto
This sea cave was known during the time of ancient Rome, when it is thought that the Blue Grotto was one of Emperor Tiberius' favorite nymphaea, or temples dedicated to sea nymphs. Inside the cavern, a number of statues have been found dating from that period. For many centuries, the Blue Grotto (also known in the past as the Grotta di Gradola) was abandoned, feared by the local sailors because of legends of spirits and demons which inhabited the cave. This changed dramatically on April 18, 1826 when the cave was "rediscovered" by the German writer August Kopisch and painter Ernst Fries, his friend and travel companion, who were taken to the cave by Angelo Ferraro, local fisherman, and notary Giuseppe Pagano.
How to Reach the Blue Grotto
- By boat: 10 minutes from Marina Grande or as a stop during a tour of the island.
- By bus: from Anacapri, 50 meters from Piazza Vittoria.
- On foot: follow Viale T. de Tommaso, Via Pagliaro and Via Grotta Azzurra (3.5 km).
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