15 Best Activities while in Naples, Italy
So you’ve made it to Naples, Italy. How do you make the most out of it? We’ve listed our top picks for you.
- Visit a church
Churches in Naples are not just places for prayer but also a good place to admire priceless works of art. You can find shrines, chapels, churches and basilicas to explore all over the city and there’s no entrance fee to pay.
The tiled cloisters of the Gothic Basilica di Santa Chiara are a must see. These pillars decorated with wonderful and colorful tiles gives a feeling of being in a refuge of tranquillity.
You should not miss the Duomo. This baroque cathedral with its lavish decorations is one of the most recognizable buildings in the city.
The extraordinary Chiesa del Gusu Nuovo also awaits you at the Naples’ historic center.
- Sail at the Amalfi Coast
The Amalfi Coast is a stretch of coastline that is considered to be one of Italy’s most beautiful. Here, mountains and cliffs plunge into the azure sea in a nerve-racking scene of precipitous crags, cliff-hanging houses of the towns of Ravello, Positano and Amalfi and verdant woodland.
Using the word beautiful to describe the Amalfi Coast is an understatement. The coast is most breath-taking in the months of September, June and May. If you don’t like crowds, best to avoid it during its busiest months of July to August.
From Naples, you get on the Circumvesuviana train or Alilauro boat to reach Sorrento. From Sorrento, you can take the summer-only ferries (available only in summer) or the SITA Sud buses to get to Positano and Amalfi.
The Amalfi Coast is a little farther than your typical day trip but the view and the experience is all worth it.
- Buy a Presepi souvenir
Presepi is the Italian nativity scene or the manger scene and Naplesis quite known for it. Local artisans at the Via San Armeno Greco have been making hand-crafted figurines for centuries.
Aside from the animals and the traditional figures from the bible, new characters are added yearly. They include film stars, local celebrities and even Italian politicians’ caricatures.
During the Christmas season, the said street becomes very busy with shoppers wanting to get their hands on their own Presepi for the holiday décor.
You don’t need to wait for Christmas to get yours though. This is a very good souvenir to remind you of your trip.
- Go on a Capri Day Tour
An island known for its sharp landscape and leather handmade sandals located in the Bay of Naples, Capri is a favorite day trip destination for tourists and locals alike.
Discover Capri Town with its whitewashed stone buildings and streets and admire Capri from its highest point (Mount Solano) by taking the terrifying but breath-taking chairlift in Anacapri.
Get to visit the Grotta Azzurra or known as the Blue Grotto which is one of the island’s most popular natural sites. It is a sea cavern that has electric blue seawater.
You can reach the cave by paying €15 for a tour on a boat from Marina Grande. There’s a €14 charge to enter the cave.
It would take you about 50 minutes to cross from Molo Beverello to Capri. You’ll be paying €20 for one-way fare on a hydrofoil.
- Try the Original Neapolitan Pizza
A visit to Italy is not complete if you don’t get to try the food they’re best known for: pizza. Having a meal at one of the pizzerias of Naples is a must not miss experience.
Taste the classic and original Neapolitan pizza at Di Matteo (Via dei Tribunali 94) or Pizzeria Gino Sobillo (Via dei Tribunali 32). These places are so famous that you have to wait in line to be seated.
Naples’ Neapolitan is simple (made of margherita with only basil, tomato and mozzarella as toppings) but has a colorful folklore back story.
To honor Margherita di Savoia, Italy’s queen in the 19thcentury, a local cook created what is known as the Neapolitan Pizza today. The simple toppings reflect the white (mozzarella), red (tomato) and green (basil) of the flag of Italy.
Make sure that the pizzeria you go to has a forno a legna (wood-fired oven) and a sign that says, “Vera Pizza Napoletana”.
To get a real Neapolitan feel, get a glass to go with your pizza.
If just eating pizza is not enough for you, Napolinvespa puts on the excellent pizza-making class which you may want to enrol in.
- Grab some Coffee
After having your fill of pizza, why don’t you go and grab some coffee?
Caffe Gambrinus (Via Chiala 1-2) is the most prestigious café in Naples where you can enjoy drinking your coffee under the chandeliers. Ernest Hemingway and Oscar Wilde had both drank coffee in this place.
If Gambrinus is too fancy for you, try the Caffe Mexico on Piazza Dante which is equally admired for its coffee.
How to get coffee the Naples way? Pay at the cashier then go to the counter to place your receipt there and give your order to the barista. You may want to leave a tip or two as well.
Ask for un caffe, when you want an espresso which is the common type of coffee. You generally get coffee that has already been sweetened in Naples, so ask yours to be amaro (bitter) if you want it as no sugar.
If you are a Cappuccino lover though, please note that they only drink that in the mornings.
- Watch an Opera Performance
Teatro San Carlo is the perfect evening destination for drama lovers.
The Teatro is one of the most prominent opera houses and historical theatre in Italy. With interiors that are classically gilded, it has been the stage of many world-class performances like ballet, classical music and operas.
If classical performances are the least of your favorites, visit the Memus which is the Historical Archives and Museum of the Teatro San Carlo. You go through Palazzo Reale which is located on Piazza del Plebiscito to enter the museum.
The Memus offer guided tours about Teatro San Carlo’s colourful past.
- Experience street life at the Historic Center
Experience the renowned street life of Naples at the backstreets and crowded roads of the historic center.
The long strung-together streets of ‘Spaccanapoli’ and Via dei Tribunali are so busy and hectic but is a fun and lively place for people who loves action.
You can walk around the elaborate piazzas, wait in line at packed pizzerias, pray in imposing baroque cathedrals and churches, and even shop in the action-packed street markets.
- Admire exhibits in a Gallery
Galleries and museums abound in Naples. They showcase exquisite works of art like contemporary installations, ancient sculptures and baroque paintings.
Museo di Capodimonte holds a fair amount of famous art pieces like the works of Andy Warhol, Botticelli, Caravaggio and Raphael. This is considered as Naples’ most significant museum of art.
Visit MADRE, a more modern museum of art which is near the Duomo if you want to check out contemporary pieces.
The Universita metro stations and the Toledo have art works that won’t disappoint.
- Explore Naples’ underground sites
Naples is a city that is full of underground tombs, tunnels, catacombs and grottoes. The good news is, you can visit most of those.
The Galleria Borbonica is a great site to visit. This is a system of tunnels built in the 19thcentury to connect Palazzo Reale (royal palace) to a barracks that is adjacent to the sea. This tunnel also served as a refuge against air raids during the WWII.
One of the most popular underground destinations is the burial site of the patron saint of Naples, the Catacomba di San Gennaro. The patron saint was said to be buried here in the 5thcentury and this is located at the northern part of Naples.
- Take a detour to Herculaneum & Pompeii
Escape modern age for a bit and go back to ancient times.
Located not so far away from Naples, Pompeii has perfectly preserved temples, public baths, brothel, amphitheatre and houses that were constructed a long time ago. This gives a good picture of how our ancestors lived in the ancient times.
If you want to avoid the crowd, come to Pompeii on weekdays and preferably on the afternoons. A lot of people tend to visit the place during Fridays and weekends. Tour buses usually arrive in the mornings around 10am to 11am so the ticketing office is quite busy during that time.
A site that is smaller compared to Pompeii, the Herculaneum ruins is also worth visiting. Although Mt. Vesuvius’s eruption in AD79 claimed Herculaneum as its victim number two, the still standing frescoes and houses are well preserved.
To reach Herculaneum from Naples, hop on the Circumvesuviana train from underneath the Stazione Centrale to Ercolano Scavi. The travel will take around 20 minutes.
To reach Pompeii from Naples, hop on the Circumvesuviana train from underneath the Stazione Centrale to Pompei Scavi. The travel will take around 35 minutes.
Since you’ll be going back in time, don’t forget to bring bottled water with you. You’ll be walking around so ensure that your shoes are comfortable. When you go there during the summer, remember to protect your skin from the sun and bring a hat and sunscreen with you.
- Revisit Ancient History
Museo Archeologico Nazional is a place you should not miss to visit while in Naples. Its collection of world-class Greek artefacts and Roman pieces dates back to ancient times.
This museum is the keeper of many relics as well as exquisite mosaics from the old town of Pompeii and the ruins of Herculaneum.
The sculpture of the Toro Farnese (Farnese Bull) is also found here. This masterpiece shows the Queen of Thebes’ mythical and legendary death.
The mosaic depicting Alexander the Great as he commands his troops to fight against Darius, King of Persia is stunning and worth seeing.
Erotica of the ancient times is also available at the Gabinetto Segreto which is known as the red-light section of the museum.
- Admire Baroque Art
Get to experience the stunning beauty of baroque art in Cappella Sansevero. It is a lavish chapel built in the 16thcentury which now houses magnificent sculptures. It is located in a back alley close to Piazza San Domenico Maggiore.
The most famous of these sculptures is Giuseppe Sanmartino’s work, which is the Cristo velato (The Veiled Christ). This is a life-size sculpture of a lying down Jesus covered with a transparent cloak.
There is also a unique art that can only be seen in this chapel. These are the displayed male and female skeletons with their perfectly well preserved arterial system. This is known as the Anatomical Machines.
- Take a walk at the Seafront
If the bustling city of Naples gets too hectic for you, take it slow and go for a walk at the lungomare (seafront).
The promenade right between the Mergellina and Santa Lucia is a wonderful place to do this. It is 3km in length, and you get a view of Mt. Vesuvius and the island of Capri.
You also pass by different eateries and cafes so you don’t have to worry about getting hungry.
You can get a sumptuous meal made up of seafood at the Borgo and explore the oldest castle of Naples, Castel dell’ Ovo. From the 12thcentury up to the present, Castel dell’ Ovo is considered as a landmark of Naples.
- Head up to Vomero
Vomero is a hilltop area in Naples with a picturesque view of the bay. It is a great place to escape from the city noise and chaos.
Certosa e Museo di San Martino is the place to visit while in Vomero. This is a gorgeous monastery with stunning cloisters and lavish baroque styled décor.
This is also where you can find Naples’ largest presepe or nativity scene with 80 animals and 160 figures in its 18thcentury masterpiece.
You can reach Vomero by taking the funicular at Piazza Augusteo, just off of Via Toledo.