Visiting Naples: 10 Best Things to Do in Naples Italy This Year
Last Updated on April 19, 2023.
Naples, Italy is a hidden gem. It’s a cultural and foodie mecca for visitors wanting a truly authentic Italian experience. Plan to embrace the vibrant energy of the city by doing and seeing some of the items on this list. After all, they say that Rome is the heart of Italy, but Naples is the soul of the country.
- Authentic and Essential Things to Do in Naples
- How to Get to Naples
- Recommended Tour Options in Naples
- Frequently Asked Questions about What to Do in Naples Italy
Authentic and Essential Things to Do in Naples
Run, not walk to the nearest pizzeria upon landing in Naples. Known as the birthplace of pizza, discover spots on every corner serving up authentic Neapolitan pizza. Pizza in Naples is famous for its thin, chewy crust, juicy Italian tomatoes, and gooey, melted bufala mozzarella cheese. The pies bake for just a few minutes in a wood-fired oven at extremely hot temperatures until perfectly crisped. Sample them for yourself at some of the city’s most renowned spots, like Pizzeria Gino Sorbillo or Pizzeria Starita.
Winetraveler Tip: Want to take a food and sight-seeing tour with a local guide in Naples? Do it with Food Raphael Tours. Discover the vibrant and delicious flavors of Naples on a guided street food tour that takes you through the winding streets of the historic center. Meet your guide in Piazza Bellini and embark on a culinary adventure that includes tasting local specialties such as pizza a portafoglio and the unique pizza fritta. You’ll also get to try frittate di pasta, arancini, taralli, babà, and sfogliatelle – all dishes originating from Naples.
As you walk through the city, your guide will share legends and stories of Naples and take you to must-see landmarks, such as the Santa Chiara Church, Piazza del Gesù, and the Conservatory of San Pietro a Maiella. Savor the taste of fresh mozzarella at a salumeria, a small shop selling typical products where the smell of fresh cheese, ham, salami, mortadella, and more will capture your senses.
No tour of Naples would be complete without trying limoncello, so visit a limoncello factory and sip a shot of this famous Italian liqueur. You can even end your tour with a refreshing gelato.
Roam the Ancient Ruins
The ancient cities of Herculaneum and Pompeii are just outside of Naples. When Mount Vesuvius erupted in AD 79, volcanic ash buried both cities. The cities have remained well-preserved thanks to the lack of air and moisture, which is why you can still explore these UNESCO World Heritage sites today. Walk through the ruins to see what were once homes, streets, and theaters. You may even catch a glimpse of skeletal remains.
If you choose, you can take an intriguing guided tour of Pompeii led by an archeologist, which we highly recommend for history buffs. Alternatively, if you’d rather explore the archeological site yourself at your own pace, you can buy tickets ahead of time.
Continue Your Archaeological Journey at the Museum
Naples’s National Museum of Archaeology has an incredible collection of artifacts from the ancient Greek, Roman, and Egyptian empires. In fact, many say that the best of Pompeii and Herculaneum are actually in the museum and not preserved at the sites. Make sure to check out the gabinetto segreto, or the secret room of erotic artifacts.
Tour the Castles
Naples is the only city in the world that has seven castles within its city limits: Ovo, Nuovo (Maschio Angioino), Nisida, Forte di Vigliena, Sant’Elmo, Carmine and Capuano. Make sure to visit the Ovo, the oldest one, which towers above the crashing waters on the Megaride islet. Or, take the funicular up to see the towering Sant’Elmo, which has panoramic views of Naples and beyond.
Winetraveler Tip: Schedule a walking tour in advance that includes an entrance ticket to many of the Roman ruins and castles around Naples.
Wander the Spanish Quarter
The weaving, hilly streets of the Spanish Quarter are some of the most interesting — the heart of the city. Stroll up and down, listening to the Neapolitan chatter and taking in the crowded apartments, bustling restaurants, and Vespas zooming by for an insight to the daily life of a local Neapolitan.
See the Veiled Christ
The Veiled Christ that was created in 1753 sits in the Cappella Sansevero. Even if you aren’t an art fanatic, this sculpture is worth the wait in line to see it, famous for its incredibly realistic detail. Although the statue is made of marble, it seems like there is an extremely realistic veil of fabric lain atop the Christ figure. Some say it was a real veil, turned to marble by a chemical process. Others insist it was the meticulous handiwork of sculptor Giuseppe Sanmartino. Check it out to form your own opinion.
Taste the Pastries
Sipping a cappuccino and sampling a sfogliatella for breakfast is as Neopolitan as it gets. This delectable shell-shaped pastry that has fine layers is usually generously topped with powdered sugar. If you want to start the day off right, swap out the sfogliatella for a babá, a tasty treat soaked in rum.
Walk the Lungomare
Naples features a gorgeous promenade along the water, known to Italians as the Lungomare. You’ll notice many Italian families leisurely walking there on a Sunday afternoon. Start at Plebiscito Square, admiring some of Naples’ most important and historical buildings. Then, check out the views of Mount Vesuvius before heading to walk along the water, spotting the Ovo castle as you meander the waterfront.
Take a Day Trip to Ischia, Amalfi or Capri
Once you’ve had your fill of city living in Naples, it’s easy to head to some of Italy’s most famous waterfront spots nearby, like the sophisticated island of Capri, or towns like Positano and Sorrento along the Almalfi Coast.
For something a little less touristy, though, head to Ischia, which is where the Italians vacation. Ferries take you to the islands, and you can catch trains or buses to Amalfi towns. We recommend scheduling a day tour in advance to Ischia, which includes lunch a round trip ferry tickets.
Giant lemons are native to the regions around Naples. Really, you can’t go wrong eating anything that’s been made with citrus fruit — gelato, sorbet, pastries, even pasta with lemon sauce. But the real fun comes after the meal when you can sip one of Italy’s most famous liqueurs, limoncello. You can also buy it to take home for friends, family or even yourself.
How to Get to Naples
Getting to Naples is relatively easy, as the city is well-connected by various means of transportation. One option is to fly into Naples International Airport (NAP), also known as Capodichino Airport, which is located approximately 5 kilometers (3 miles) from the city center. The airport serves both domestic and international flights and is connected to the city by taxis, buses, and private transfer services. You can check current flight prices into NAP right here.
Another popular option is to travel by train. Naples’ main train station, Napoli Centrale, is well-connected to major Italian cities such as Rome, Florence, Milan, and Venice, as well as several European destinations. High-speed trains, such as the Frecciarossa and Italo, offer a fast and comfortable journey, while regional trains provide a more budget-friendly alternative.
If you prefer to travel by bus, numerous long-distance bus companies operate services to Naples from various Italian cities. Buses typically arrive at the Metropark Napoli Centrale parking facility, which is near the main train station.
For those driving to Naples, the city is well-connected by a network of highways, including the A1 (Autostrada del Sole) from Rome or Milan, and the A3 from Salerno and the Amalfi Coast. Be aware that traffic in Naples can be chaotic, and parking can be challenging. It is often more convenient to use public transportation or explore the city on foot, but you can check current rental car rates here.
Lastly, if you are arriving by cruise ship, the Port of Naples (Molo Beverello) is centrally located, with many attractions within walking distance or accessible via public transportation.
Recommended Tour Options in Naples
Naples Guided Tour by Bike
Discover Naples with a 3-hour guided bike tour, operated by Ride A Bike Naples, that offers a truly unique experience. Join a professional guide as you pedal through the historic city, learning about its rich archaeological, cultural, and culinary heritage. Make frequent stops to capture memorable photos and enjoy a well-deserved Neapolitan coffee break along the way. This bike tour is perfect for cruise passengers or tourists on a short break, providing an engaging and active way to explore the vibrant city and its main sights.
Naples Walking Tour with Underground Ruins
Embark on a half-day guided walking tour through Naples’ historic city center and uncover its fascinating highlights. Led by an art historian guide, you’ll visit notable landmarks such as the San Carlo Theater, Plebiscito Square, Castel Nuovo, Royal Palace, and ancient underground ruins. Along the way, you’ll also encounter artisan shops, cafes, and churches. The tour includes entrance tickets to the city’s underground ruins and an hour of free time for shopping and lunch, allowing you to further explore Naples with helpful tips from your guide.
Frequently Asked Questions about What to Do in Naples Italy
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