The Natural Arch in Capri is one of the island’s most stunning natural attractions, along with the Faraglioni Rocks and Blue Grotto. Here is what you need to know before you go…
Most of the walking around Capri is past the beautiful wares of the designer boutiques from the likes of Versace, Dolce & Gabbana, Prada, and Louis Vuitton. But on our trips to Capri, Italy, we like to get away from the tourist throngs and see some of the natural wonders of this gorgeous island.
Our favorite walk is much prettier than even a stroll along Via Camerelle, and it is far away from the luxury hotels and well-heeled travelers to a part of the island where you will barely pass another soul.
It seemed like such a hidden gem that I was almost reluctant to share the details, but I don’t like to gatekeep. If you are spending one day in Capri, I would encourage you to squeeze in a hike to the Natural Arch.
What is the Natural Arch in Capri?
The Natural Arch, or Arco Naturale, is located on the eastern side of the island, not too far from Villa Jovis on the coast of Capri. The Arco Naturale is a natural limestone arch that is located on the top of a cliff and is 18 meters (59 feet) high and 12 meters (39 feet) wide.
The Arch was formed by the erosion of a grotto ages ago. The Arch is beautiful to see and offers spectacular views of the sea and the surrounding area and well worth the effort to get there.
How do you get to the Natural Arch in Capri?
The Natural Arch is only accessible by foot and you can reach the Arch from Capri Town. There are two ways to get there, and I’d recommend combining them to create a loop and a nice scenic walk. However, unless you like climbing UP hundreds of stairs, I’d strongly recommend you follow it in the same direction we did, starting out at the Natural Arch.
Start off in Capri Town at the main piazzetta, and take Via le Botteghe to Via Croce, following signs for Arco Naturale. From Via Croce you will walk through a quiet residential area and stay right onto Via Matermania.
From there it is easy to follow the signs and the path past a small restaurant Le Grottelle and up some stairs to the Natural Arch.
The views from the Arch are just spectacular. The overlook feels so close to the arch it seems like you can reach out and touch it. As you peer down at the aquamarine water crashing on the rocks below, you start to feel dizzy from the height.
The only drawback to being so close to the arch is that you can’t fit it into the camera frame to capture it in a way that provides the same impact as seeing it in real life.
After taking all the pictures that you want, it is time to take the scenic cliff path back to town and the Belvedere Tragara. From the arch, you should next descend the 200 stairs to the Grotto di Matermania. Keep in mind that these steps can be quite steep and a little slippery so you will want to wear sturdy shoes and avoid this route if you have trouble with stairs or limited mobility.
Before our hike, I had read a bit about the Grotto di Matermania and understood that it was a cave where ancient rituals had been performed by the Romans to the goddess Cibele and it is also thought that it is connected with the cult of the God Mithras.
Yet somehow when we arrived at our destination, passing only one other hiker along the path, we felt as if we had stumbled upon a secret cave that surely must contain a secret treasure. The cave has clearly been used for something special once upon a day and we had fun exploring like junior archeologists inspired by Indiana Jones.
The cave was formed from natural erosion and is approximately 27 meters long, 18 meters wide, and 18 meters high. It feels much larger in person than it seems in pictures.
From the Grotto dei Matermania, continue along the Pizzolungo path, climbing slightly to take in the amazing views of the coastline and the famous Faraglioni rocks.
The views all along the Pizzolungo Path are simply stunning and there are plenty of opportunities to take pictures along the way. You will probably encounter more hikers or walkers on this stretch going in the opposite direction, but for some reason not all of them make it all the way to the Natural Arch.
When you approach the overlook at the Farglioni rocks, the path becomes more crowded with people walking up from Via Tragara to see the rocks. It is also higher at this point, with steep drop-offs, making it a little harder for those with a fear of heights.
From there, it is an easy stroll back down Via Tragara into town.
Tips for Hiking to the Natural Arch in Capri
If you get a chance to visit Capri, I’d highly recommend you take this hike to the Natural Arch and follow these tips:
- Head out in the morning before it gets too hot and before day trippers arrive on ferries and from cruise ship excursions
- Plan on taking about two hours to complete the entire loop, especially because you want to leave time to take pictures
- Follow the route outlined above, starting at the Natural Arch and then following the cliff path past the Faraglioni Rocks to avoid climbing a lot of stairs
- Bring along water for the walk
- Wear comfortable shoes for walking up and down stairs and over dirt paths
- Don’t forget to wear sunscreen!
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