Best Things to Do in Naples
Few locations in Italy arouse as much interest as the country’s third largest metropolis, Naples.
For a while, Naples had the bad reputation of being its own city: rebellious as well as dangerous. But your preconceived notions about the Neapolitan wonder need to be re-examined. It’s no longer the Naples of old, despite what you may have heard in the media.
What are the current conditions of the city? Naples has so much to offer, so what are the greatest things to do? Yes, it has a really lived-in appearance. However, this results in a more genuine and charming experience than the identikit one seen in more popular northern cities. With back alleyways filled with laundry and marketplaces overflowing with sweet-smelling local food, Naples is undeniably Naples. There’s no mistaking it: this is a city that thrives on its streets.
It’s also a city steeped in history, with monuments and artifacts littering the landscape. Feel it in the city’s tiny, cobblestone alleys and in the many pubs, pizzerias and art galleries that dot the landscape; we guarantee you’ll be spending a lot of time in these establishments while you’re here. To top it all off, the view of Mount Vesuvius to the east, Pozzuoli to the west, and the timeless islands of Ischia, Procida, and Capri in the sparkling harbor is just breathtaking.
Chiostri di Santa Chiara
These cloisters of the Santa Chiara order may be seen behind the rebuilt Gothic church that has the same name. With orange blossoms and colorful majolica tiles portraying classic 18th-century Neapolitan themes, the complex’s pathways were bombed by the Allies during World War II.
The ornately adorned cloisters, located in the city’s hectic center, offer a welcome respite from dodging mopeds and three-wheeled Piaggio Apes.
Museo d’Arte Contemporanea Donnaregina (MADRE)
World-class contemporary art museum named after the Gothic cathedral that formerly stood on the site. The stunning main structure of Museo d’Arte Contemporanea Donnaregina houses site-specific sculptures by Jeff Koons, Anish Kapoor, and a host of other notable artists.
You may want to take a moment to appreciate something that isn’t as ancient as Italy itself at some time. It’s on you to find a cause to go to a renowned art museum.
The finest views of Naples can be found from a magnificent old castle perched atop a hill, and there is plenty of room to contemplate. The ride up on the funicular path is equally impressive.
This is famous because of the breathtaking views that may be had from the summit. The historic Castel Sant’Elmo may be reached by walking from Augusteo’s Centrale line station, which is on Petraio’s waterfront. Buildings in Naples’ city center are encircled by the sea on one side and Mount Vesuvius on the other.
Via San Gregorio Armeno
The most renowned alleyway in the city is known for its abundance of souvenir shops selling kitschy nativity scenes.
Avoid the throng by visiting the San Gregorio Armeno church’s secret cloister, which has a magnificent 17th-century walled garden full of citrus trees. In the morning, it’s only open for a few hours until the nuns seize it for their own.
Via dei Tribunali
Via Tribunali has the finest pizza in Neapolitan, according to all Neapolitans. While ‘Pizza Alley’ has plenty of places to acquire the fluffy, scorched dough,’ if you have the time to wait for Sorbillo, you won’t be disappointed.
Visit the world-famous Sorbillo and Figlio del Presidente, both favorites of former President Bill Clinton’s; and visit Di Matteo for some of the city’s finest arancini (rice balls).
The nearly brutalist façade of Gesù Nuovo, a church located in the western part of the city, may be seen on a large plaza there. Spend some time wandering through the luxurious rooms.
Explore the life and work of early 19th-century physician Giuseppe Moscati, who devoted his career to treating the impoverished. In 1987, he was declared a saint after performing a few miracles.
Neapolitans of all ages congregate in this bar-lined plaza during aperitivo, when the city is alive with students, residents, and visitors. In the middle of the plaza, several old remains have been left carelessly unprotected — and often defaced with garbage.
Vintage postcards and other memorabilia line the walls of Intra Moenia. Purchase one to take home and then reserve a seat outside to relax and have a drink while watching the crowds swell.
Pio Monte della Misericordia
The little chapel of Pio Monte della Misericordia, located in the Forcella neighborhood off Via Tribunali, is home to one of the few remaining Caravaggio paintings.
Compete with your traveling companion to identify the ‘seven acts of compassion’ in Caravaggio’s most renowned Neapolitan painting. Or, better still, join forces; after all, the globe is already filled with competitive rage.
Naples National Archaeological Museum
An important Roman collection is housed at Naples’ Archaeological Museum, together with most of the treasure found during the Pompeii and Herculaneum excavations.
Despite the fact that it’s home to a plethora of antique artifacts and sculptures, the main attraction here is the sexual art from Pompeii that’s hidden away in a small, out-of-the-way space.
Caffè Mexico is the finest coffee shop in town, beloved by locals as well as yopros on vacation (no small achievement when you consider the relationship Neapolitans have with the stuff). Come in for an espresso; in Naples, it’s customary to get it sweetened unless you specifically request it not be.
As much as the caffeine will boost you up, the bright orange espresso machine will cheer you up. Bring a book, but you’ll find the background noise of local conversation just as engrossing.
From this seaside castle on a tiny island, you can see sailing boats docked in the harbor and chic seafood restaurants all around. The island is linked to the mainland by a footbridge.
Climb the Norman castle’s ramparts to see where the first town was established by Greek colonizers more than 2,500 years ago.
Mimi alla Ferrovia
Neapolitans are masters of a variety of cuisines, not simply pizza. Mimi alla Ferrovia, a seafood restaurant in this coastal city, is a wonderful spot to fill up on the local delicacy. This local favorite serves up classic fare done well, as well as superb house wine and staff that could double as Naples tour guides when not working.
Legendary tenor Luciano Pavarotti was a frequent diner (and cuisine lover) at the restaurant. Stranger things have occurred than getting pipes like the great man from eating here.
John Francesco di Sangro, an alchemist and scientist, designed this chapel. Inside, he sculpted one of the world’s most captivating marble sculptures: Jesus, laying on a bed with a veil covering his face, taking his last breaths.
The small church on Di Sangro’s estate is richly ornamented with sculptures and pieces of art that are full of meaning. Putting in the effort here will pay off handsomely.
When a plague killed off 250,000 of Naples’ inhabitants in the 17th century, an ancient quarry was turned into a burial place. Fontanelle’s graveyard may seem unsettling, but the local custom of caring for a lost soul’s skull gives the area a haunted, ethereal vibe. Cemetery presently closed, but intends to reopen depending on how fall goes…
It’s possible to run across an unusual Italian nonna while out and about, since she may be visiting her assigned skeleton and making a request for its soul’s release to paradise.
Diego Armando Maradona stadium
Football is the country’s only other major religion, and Diego Maradona is its undisputed spokesman. A trip to the stadium named after him (originally the San Paolo Stadium) to see SSC Napoli in Italy’s premier division will almost certainly be rewarded with a world-class match.
With 50,000 screaming fans around you, you’re sure to have chills. After that, don’t forget to pay a visit to the reliquary at Bar Nilo, where you may see a strand of Diego Maradona’s hair.
In terms of beauty, Capri is the best-known and most crowded of the three islands in the Bay of Naples, owing to its location. While Ischia has thermal baths, it’s Procida’s colorful homes and cobblestone alleys that set it apart as an off-the-beaten-path destination worth visiting.
One of Jude Law’s most visually stunning films, “The Talented Mr. Ripley,” included the picturesque seaside town of Corricella. Of course, there’s ‘Chocolat.’
Yes, you’ve heard of Pompeii, but seeing it in person is a whole other experience. Despite having foot traffic comparable to Oxford Circus on a Saturday, the town’s immaculately maintained streets manage to retain its spooky quality.
That people are ultimately at the mercy of Mother Nature is a welcome reminder. There aren’t many things in Pompeii that scream “carpe diem” like the plaster cast of a Pompeiian looter’s corpse. The more things change, the more they remain the same.
The Linea 1 Metro
More than 180 one-of-a-kind commissions by pioneering international artists including Sol LeWitt, Joseph Kosuth, and Michelangelo Pistoletto can be seen along the city’s main metro line.
There are silver-blue walls at Toledo metro station to give the illusion that you are traveling through the earth and into the sea.
A 2.5-kilometer stretch of beachfront pedestrianized street offers a stress-free path for a walk. Grab a lemon granita at one of the beachside shops, find a rock to lounge on, or have a sunset cocktail at a bar.
Neapolitan skyline views include Mt. Vesuvius, Capri, and the city of Naples. If you’re lucky, you’ll catch a stunning sunset to top it all off.
There may have been a lot of focus on Pompeii, but Herculaneum, which was destroyed by the same volcanic explosion that destroyed Pompeii, has even better-preserved images of ordinary Roman life. For example, in the 1990s, archaeologists discovered that a row of 12 boathouses had served as the last refuge for more than 300 individuals.
Herculaneum is still a popular tourist destination, although it offers tourists some privacy. How else can you make sense of such a horrifying (and interesting) period of history?