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9 of the Best Things to do in Naples + Travel Guide

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best things to do in Naples - weekend travel guide

Naples is an ideal jumping-off point for Sorrento, the Amalfi Coast, and various other gems of Southern Italy. It’s also an absolute gem of a city and well worth visiting in it’s own right – but all too often it goes overlooked by visitors keen to get to the coast.

A city of pizza, art, gorgeous architecture, and – of course – history, Naples is absolutely seething with things to do.

From the narrow side streets of the Old Town, to the vibrant nightlife of the Spanish Quarter, to the fascinating archaeology at the National Archaeology Museum as well as at nearby Pompeii and Herculaneum – there is just so much to discover in Naples!

So be sure to spend some time discovering the city before you head from Naples to the Amalfi Coast.

To help, here’s my weekend guide to Naples, featuring everything you need to see, do, and -most importantly – EAT in the city.

Top 6 Things to see in Naples
Art and Culture
Food and Drink
Where to Stay
Getting There and Around

Sightseeing: Six Best Things to Do in Naples

If you only have a short time in the city, or you’re only here for a day trip from Sorrento, these are the absolute must-see things to do in Naples. 

Naples Old Town

At the heart of the city is the Centro Storico, the historic centre. Start in the Piazza  del Gesù Nuovo to discover two of the most important buildings in Naples; the Basilica di Santa Chiara and the oddly spiky Chiesa del Gesù Nuovo – a 15th-century palace converted into a 16th-century church.

Naples travel guide
The bizarre facade of the Chiese del Gesu Nuovo

From there, work your way along the Spaccanapoli, the iconic street running through the historic centre, and discover the small shops, cafes and churches dotted along it’s sidestreets. And don’t miss a trip to the Duomo, Naples’ cathedral which dates back as far as 1272 and is full of history.

Naples Vespa Tour

My favourite discovery in Naples was the Vespa tour from NapolinVespa. Hop on the back of a classic Vespa to explore the city with an expert guide. In a city where everybody seems to ride a scooter, this really is the ideal way to explore – and it’s so much fun. It’s also a great way to cover a lot of ground in a short space of time, so you can see a lot of the city during on afternoon tour. Our Vespa tour of the city was definitely the highlight of my recent Naples trip – I can’t recommend it enough!

Vepa tour Naples

If you don’t fancy an afternoon on a Vespa, you can also take a tour in a classic Fiat 500 – another Italian icon! NapolinVespa also offer tours further afield – to the Amalfi Coast, Sorrento, or Pompeii and Herculaneum.

Pompeii and Herculaneum

You can’t talk about Naples without mentioning Pompeii and Herculaneum! The two ancient Roman towns were destroyed when Vesuvius erupted in 79AD, and have been amazingly preserved under meters of ash and pumice. No matter what level of interest you have in history, the chance to walk the streets of an ancient town is an unmissable opportunity! 

RELATED POST: Pompeii and Vesuvius in One Day

Palazzo Reale and the Piazza del Plebiscito

At the edge of the Spanish Quarter in Naples lies the Piazza del Plebiscito, a huge square that pulses with life. This is where many of the city’s major events are held and there always seems to be something going on. On one side lies a sweeping curved colonnade, with the neoclassical Chiesa di San Francesco di Paola sandwiched into the middle. On the other is the dusty-pink facade of the Palazzo Reale – which is open as a museum.

Reggia di Caserta

The Royal Palace of Caserta lies about an hour outside of Naples and is a fantastic choice for a half-day trip. Just exploring the grounds leading up to the palace is worth the trip; the 3km long driveway follows a man-made river down from a spectacular carved fountain to the palace itself, through the Royal Park.

Reggia di Caserta
Inside the Reggia di Caserta

Inside the palace is equally stunning. From the gold-filled royal rooms, which date from 1700-1800, to the sweeping stone staircases, there’s a lot of magnificent art and architecture to take in. The palace has been used as a filming location for several movies – so geeks like me will get pretty excited to visit rooms from Naboo’s palace in Star Wars (Episodes 1 and 2).

The easiest way to reach Reggia di Caserta is to hop on the City Sightseeing shuttle bus (from 8€). I highly recommend it! 

Reggia di Caserta
A ball being held at the Reggia di Caserta

Santa Chiara Convent

A slight hidden gem in Naples, the interior of the Santa Chiara convent is well worth exploring. The tranquil courtyard at the heart of the convent is filled with colourful ceramic tiles painted with scenes from the surrounding area – a way to make the nuns feel less homesick as the convent had no windows and they never went outside. The beautiful garden and colourful pillars make a gorgeous setting that’s a little oasis from the chaotic streets outside.

things to do in Naples
The courtyard at Santa Chiara Convent

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Naples – Art, History and Culture

Naples is absolutely teeming with history and art. The city was founded in the 6th century BC by the ancient Greeks, and there are centuries of history to discover. There’s also plenty of street art and frescos in Naples, so you can soak up the culture as you wander the streets! Below are a few of the cultural highlights you shouldn’t miss…

National Archaeological Museum

Whether you’re a history buff or someone with a passing interest, the National Archaeological Museum in Naples is well worth a visit. The collection from Pompeii and Herculaneum alone is incredible. Plus there’s an enormous collection of Ancient Roman and Greek statues collected from all over Italy. The intricate mosaics from Pompeii are a particular highlight, and the Farnase bull – an enormous and beautifully carved statue made from just one block of marble – should not be missed.

Naples Archaeology Museum
Farnase Bull

San Gregorio Armeno

Naples is famous for its presepe; hand-made and beautifully crafted nativity scenes. Head to Via San Gregorio Armeno to find them. Local artisans create the scenes all year round, as well as amazingly detailed statues. Alongside the usual wise men and shepherds, you can find lots of unique characters. There are caricatured villagers to create crowd scenes, and popular figures like celebrities or politicians. For the best of the best, take a visit to Guiseppe e Marco Ferrigno’s shop, where you can see artisans at work and explore an enormous collection of statues.

Museo Madre

Hidden away inside the nineteenth-century Palazza Donnaregina lies MADRE – the Museo d’Arte Contemporanea Donnaregina. Contemporary art lovers won’t want to miss this one. The first impression from the brightly coloured entrance hall is hard to ignore; a confusing mishmash of optical illusions and oddly placed mirrors by French conceptual artist Daniel Buran. As well as an ever-changing schedule of temporary exhibitions, there are several site-specific installations from internationally renowned artists like Jeff Koons and Anish Kapoor.

Entrance hall at the MADRE museum
Entrance hall at the MADRE museum

Pio Monte Misericordia

One of Italy’s most famous artists, Caravaggio spent several years living in Naples and painted some of his most important works here. One of the most special is the Seven Acts of Mercy (Sette Opere di Misericordia) which was painted for the small church at Pio Monte Misericordia and is still found at the same church today.

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What and Where to Eat in Naples

For me, one of the absolute highlights of Naples is the food. The city is renowned for it’s gastronomy, and there are plenty of unique dishes to try. And, of course, this is the city of pizza – so that’s one thing you absolutely can’t miss!

Naples Must-Tries

Pizza – Pizza was invented in Naples and the city’s obsession with it stretches back centuries. This is the absolute number one must-try food in Naples and there are hundreds of shops to choose from.

naples food guide

Since I only tried one pizza in Naples (at 50 Kalo), I can’t offer too many recommendations (although it was the best pizza I’ve ever had!). Luckily, my favourite foodie bloggers 2 Food Trippers spent a month in the city to produce their guide to the best pizza in Naples, so check that out for more inspiration!

Cuoppo –  A cuoppo is a street-food snack that’s unique to Naples. A paper cone filled with a mixture of fried snacks like seafood, veggies, and arancini. Grab yours at Passione di Sofì – I was recommended the place by a local and it was amazing!

naples food guide
Cuoppo – a cone of fried snacks!

Crocchè di Patate – One of the most popular fritti (fried snacks) in Naples is the crocchè. It’s a potato croquette stuffed with cheese and sometimes ham. Simple, but delicious – don’t miss it!

Genovese – Another unique local dish, Genovese is a rich, onion-based pasta sauce with beef or veal that’s slow-cooked for several hours.

9 of the Best Things to do in Naples + Travel Guide

Risotto ai frutti di mare – Seafood is seriously popular in the port-city of Naples, and seafood risotto with Napolitana sauce is the ideal way to taste it.

Tarallo – Eaten all over southern Italy, tarallo are like a cross between a bread-stick and a pretzel. These small circular biscuits can be sweet or savoury, and you’ll spot them all over the city.

Naples food guide

Salame di cioccolato – “Chocolate salami” is a popular dessert all over Italy but it’s particularly associated with the province of Campari. This super sweet snack is designed to look like a salami, but uses rich dark chocolate and nuts.

What to eat in Naples
Salame di cioccolato

Where to Eat

Antica Latteria – This tiny, traditional restaurant is a real hidden gem and the best place to try local specialities like genovese. A large open window overlooks the lively street outside, so grab the table next to and settle in for some people watching.

50 Kalò – Considered one of the best places in Naples to get pizza, 50 Kalò is a light, modern pizzeria with a great atmosphere. It’s also teaming with locals on the weekend – always a good sign!

where to eat in Naples
Pizza at 50 Kalo

50 Panino – Also popular is 50 Kalò’s sister restaurant, 50 Panino. Known for it’s burgers and paninis, there’s a casual atmosphere and great value for money.

Caseari Cautero – A boutique delicatessen and wine store owned by Salvatore Cautero, this is a great place to discover locally sourced meats, cheeses, and – of course – wine.

These were just the places I ate at and would be happy to recommend. For more great suggestions, check out this fab Naples food guide.

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Where to Stay in Naples

Grand Hotel Oriente – This is where I stayed for the two nights I was in Naples and I’d be more than happy to recommend it. The location was ideal for exploring the city on foot, but also nice and quiet at night.

The hotel is clean and very comfortable, and the welcome and service from all the service from staff was really fantastic. The real selling point for me though was the breakfast, which is served on the roof terrace with some absolutely amazing views of the city and the distant volcano. Check prices now.

city view from hotel window
View from the Hotel Oriente’s roof terrace

This is the only hotel I can personally recommend in Naples, but if you know any others please share. Scroll down to the bottom to leave me a comment!

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Getting There and Around

British Airways, EasyJet and Monarch all offer non-stop flights (two and a half hours) direct to Aeroporto di Napoli from Gatwick, Stansted and Luton. So it can be fairly low cost to fly in to Naples.

Naples airport is only about ten minutes drive from the city centre, but that depends very much on the traffic. You can rent a car at the airport, hop in a taxi (roughly 15-20€), or take the Alibus which runs every 20 minutes and costs 4€.

Naples Cathedral

If you prefer to book a private transfer, I highly recommend Blacklane (read the review) to hire a car with a driver. Use my discount code,  8QGSZNQL, to get £10/$10/€10 off your first booking.

Getting around Naples is easy. The city centre is small and easily walkable – you can see most of the old town within one day. There are excellent buses within the town, and taxis are fairly cheap.

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Best things to do in Naples - Travel Guide

My visit to Naples was a press trip organised by Aeroporto di Napoli for the #NaplesToday campaign. As always, absolutely all words and opinions are my own. 

12 thoughts on “9 of the Best Things to do in Naples + Travel Guide”

  1. I absolutely love Naples – definitely one of Italy’s hidden gems! I’ve been back many times as it’s one of my all-time favourite destinations, but there were still some new things in this post that I need to try out next time I’m in town. :)

    1. Oh wow really? I’m pretty proud that I managed to find some stuff a frequent visitor didn’t know about :) Thanks so much for commenting – let me know next time you visit so I can hear about your new discoveries!

  2. I felt like Naples was a bit dirty compared to other Italian cities I have visited. I wish I seen the Vespa tour though as that looks awesome.

    1. I’ve had a few people say that to me, and I really didn’t notice myself! It felt a bit more “lived in” and chaotic than other places I’d been to – but I loved that side of Naples. The Vespa tour was awesome fun and the street food in Naples was some of the best I’ve had in Italy!

  3. I wish I would have known about the Vespa tour when I went to Naples! I would have loved to do that!

    I completely agree with everything in the article, it’s a very good summary! Pompei is fantastic, it blew my mind. It’s not as well preserved as Herculaneum but it’s so big! It’s a complete different experience, you really feel like being a roman walking around the city. It’s so so good!

    In terms of food, I’d recommend the Pizza fritta all the way :)

  4. Hi Emily. I’m going to Naples soon with a few friends and came across your blog! Just wondering with the Vespa tour, do you need to be able to drive scooters before or are you able to do the tour with no experience on scooters? And which tour did you do? Thanks!

    1. Ooh amazing, you’ll have a great time! We didn’t drive the Vespas ourselves on the tour – the guides drove and we sat on the back. I think driving your own one might be an option if you know how to drive a vespa, you might need an international driving licence though. Personally I think it’s easier to look at sights etc if you’re not driving, though :)

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