Naples is Rick’s favorite Italian city, and is on the Western coast of Southern Italy. With a fascinating history, Naples, Italy, has many old major landmarks that we feel any visitor to Italy should experience.
Unfortunately, it has a bad reputation. For that reason, we put together this guide so that you can rest assured you’ll have an amazing time, just as Rick and I do every time we visit. In this article, we will tell you everything you can do in downtown Naples completely free and are all within walking distance from downtown. So there is no need to take any subway, bus, or taxi. If mobility isn’t an issue, you can walk to all of these sites.
Is Naples Safe?
Before we get into the things to see and do in this beautiful Italian city, it’s important to address the ‘elephant in the room.’ The number one question we get asked about Naples is, “Is Naples safe?”.
Unfortunately, the beautiful city of Naples Italy has a bad reputation for being dangerous – and our answer is yes, Naples is very safe. It is like any other big city; you have to be careful with your belongings in the same way you have to be careful in London or New York. One thing that is a little dangerous in Naples is traffic. You have to be quite careful when you cross the street because drivers are pretty aggressive.
If there is anything “unsafe” about Naples, I’d say it’s the streets themselves! Let me explain – most of the very old roads of Naples have ancient pavement. This can be pretty uneven, and it is rather easy to trip on. Also, if you have mobility issues, be careful and watch your steps.
Free Things To Do in Naples
You’ll find the following attractions in or near the downtown core of Naples, Italy. Yes, there are a lot of other free attractions in Naples, but those require some sort of transportation.
Let’s begin our tour of free things to do in Naples, Italy in:
Our first free thing to do in Naples is to walk on Spaccanapoli. Your visit to Naples, Italy, will not be complete if you miss walking in the vibrant and precious old town. This very straight and long road cuts the old city in half. In fact, the name Spaccanapoli means cut Naples in Italian. This road originates from Roman times. Over time it became a medieval road and then a modern road.
Spaccanapoli is a beautiful place to walk around. Locals call it the heartbeat of the city, cutting through the historic center. Here, you can find many stores that sell pastries, coffee, souvenirs, and local craft showing Neapolitan life and their local culture.
At night Spaccanapoli is very popular between locals and tourists as a place to grab some food, like their best pizza available in the old town, and drinks and walk around.
One of the things that Naples is absolutely famous for, other than pizza, is desserts. There’s no shortage of places for desserts here in Spaccanapoli.
Another thing you need to know about Naples is that the important people are superstitious. This is an ancient city, so they love their superstitions.
One of these superstitions regards red horns. According to the locals, these red horns bring good luck. Walking around Spaccanapoli, you will see many places that sell red horns. In order for them to bring good luck, you have to buy one of these horns and give it as a gift to someone else.
San Gregorio Armeno
The second free thing to do in Naples is to visit a street called San Gregorio Armeno. This street is world famous for nativity scene figurines, called “presepio” in Italian. Via San Gregorio Armeno is a charming little lane hidden between two of Naples’ most important city center streets: Spaccanapoli and Via Dei Tribunali.
On this street, you can buy every kind of figurine you want, from traditional to modern. Via San Gregorio Armeno is one the largest shopping streets in Naples, Italy famous for selling these kinds of figurines.
These figurines can be traditional ones, but they can also be modern ones such as political figures, singers, famous people from Naples, or soccer players.
Our next item on the list of free things to do in Naples is to visit the Duomo. The Duomo di Napoli, or Cathedral di San Gennaro, is a beautiful Gothic cathedral in the city center. It is Naples’ main church and is considered one of the most beautiful Naples sightseeing. The Duomo is completely free to visit; however, if you want to see the Museum of the Treasury, you need to buy a ticket.
The Duomo of Naples was built on top of a paleo-Christian church, and the paleo-Christian church was built on top of some Greek ancient ruins. This is very common in Naples and in Italy in general.
Inside the church, there are the remains of the dry blood of San Gennaro, the Saint Patron of Naples. Three times a year, the Bishop of Naples takes the vials of the blood of San Gennaro and shows it to the public in prayer. The dry blood miraculously liquefies. According to legend, if it does not liquefy, something terrible happens to Naples.
In recent history, the miracle of the blood did not happen, and this is what happened:
- 1940: Italy enters World War I
- 1943: Nazis invade Naples, Italy
- 1973: Cholera outbreak
- 1980: Earthquake near Naples, Italy
- 2016: Forrest Fires near the Italian city
Moving on to our next free thing to do in Naples, Italy we will take a look at:
The Statue of Pulcinella
Our next free thing to do in Naples is to see the statue of Pulcinella. The statue has a very shiny nose because, according to popular superstition, if you rub the nose, it will bring you good luck.
The last time we were in Naples, we each rubbed the nose of the Statue of Pulcinella and won 1700 euros at the lottery! So we’ll rub it every time we come back.
Mercato di Pignasecca
Our next free thing to do in Naples, Italy, is to visit the market of Pignasecca. This area is famous for a market that is here every day. Browsing the market is a lot of fun. You can find cheap clothes and food. If you like fresh seafood, this is one of the perfect places to buy fish, clams, mussels, and other local delicacies.
You can also see some quite interesting local delicacies, such as tripe which is infused with lemon juice that drips right on the trip itself.
This charming and colorful market gives you a glance at Naples’s local culture.
Galleria Umberto I
The next thing on the list of free things to do in Naples is the Galleria Umberto I, or the Galleria as the people of Naples call it. This Galleria was named after King Umberto I, who reigned as king of Italy during the construction of the gallery.
Its impressive glass ceilings are a remarkable site in Naples, Italy.
This beautiful Galleria has many stores and a place to sit down for a little cocktail or a bite. One of our favorite places is right by the entrance of the Galleria. Here they sell desserts that are a must-try. The place is called “Sfogliatella Mary.” They specialize in Sfogliatelle, which are crispy pastries with a filling made of ricotta cheese.
Piazza del Plebiscito
Piazza del Plebiscito is our next free thing to do in Naples. It offers you a wide array of views because Piazza del Plebiscito is the largest square in Naples City.
One of the main buildings in the piazza is the Royal Palace, with its massive facade with statues of the main kings of Naples.
Piazza del Plebiscito, as it stands now, was mainly constructed during the reign of Joachim Murat, who became the king of Naples from 1808 to 1815. What makes it more interesting is that Murat was the brother-in-law of Napoleon Bonaparte.
On the square, you can see two statues: Statua di Carlo III di Borbone and Statua di Fernando I di Borbone, while on the other side of the square, you can see the church of San Francesco di Paolo.
This beautiful piazza hosts a lot of events during the summer.
The facade of the royal palace has statues of the past kings of Naples from medieval times all the way to Vittorio Emanuele, the II first King of Italy. The Royal Palace is not free to visit inside, but it is not very expensive either, and it is totally worth it.
The next item on the list of free things to do in Naples is the Royal Gardens at the Palazzo Reale of Napoli or the Royal Palace of Naples. You can stroll around the gardens and relax in the shade. The Royal Garden is a little oasis of peace and quiet in the middle of the city. The perfect place to read a book, or to stroll around in the shade.
The Lungomare Carraciolo
The Lungomare is a long stretch of pedestrian boardwalk right on the coast. It is a beautiful place to walk, watch people, eat, or stop for a drink.
Lungomare has a connection with the city’s history. Looking back, it got its name from Admiral Francesco Carraciolo, who became a historical hero of Naples in the 18th century.
On the Lungomare, plenty of restaurants and bars serve food and drinks al fresco. It is also where some of the most expensive hotels in Naples are because of the breathtaking views of the coast, the Island of Capri, and Mount Vesuvius. In the summer, especially on weekends, and in the evening, this area is packed with people walking and enjoying the Mediterranean sun.
The main landmark of the Lungomare Carraciolo is the Castell dell’ Ovo. This ancient fortress is one of the oldest in the city. The name of this ancient castle means “Castle of the Egg.” This is because, according to legend the Roman poet Virgil hide a magic egg in the foundation of the castle. The legend also says that if the egg ever breaks the fortress, and the entire city, crumble.
This beautiful medieval fortress is entirely free to visit. However, if you want to know more about the history of the castle, there is a guided tour that you can take.
Almost Free (Cheap) Things to Do in Naples
Let’s take a look at some other attractions in Naples that are not free, but they are worth a visit.
Toledo Metro Station
Our next free thing to do in Naples is at Toledo Metro Station. The station is free, but in order to visit it, you’ll need to buy a metro ticket.
This station is on via Toledo, which this street is the main shopping area for locals and tourists. On the street, people enjoy walking around, grabbing a bite to eat, or shopping in the many stores. This area is completely car-free. It is pedestrian-only, so you can walk around the street and enjoy yourself.
Going back to Toledo Metro Station, this station really offers you great, modern and enchanting design. It is one of the deepest in line at 50 meters below ground, and is themed around water and light.
Definitely, it is one of the most beautiful metro stations in Naples City, and you will surely enjoy your walk in this fabulous station.
Naples National Archaeological Museum
If you love ancient history and archaeology, you should visit this amazing archaeological museum. It is one of the top tourist attractions in the city. History buffs will surely enjoy the Naples National Archaeological Museum.
When you go inside the Naples Archeological Museum, there you can observe an extensive collection that includes a wide array of Roman and Greek artefacts. This world-famous Archaeological Museum brags an extensive display of different objects from antiquity, including frescoes and mosaics.
In addition, you could also get to see a selection of works from both Pompeii and Herculaneum, paying tribute to the devastation caused by the volcanic eruption of Mount Vesuvius in AD 79.
What makes it more amazing is that the museum was primarily built to operate as a military and cavalry barracks and was only turned into a museum in the later years.
Wander the Naples Underground
You will be more amazed by the wonders of Naples as it not just offers jaw-dropping sceneries above ground, but there is more to it.
One of the best sights in Naples City is its breathtaking underground. It is a network of squares and streets built by the Romans and the Greeks, which were later used as air raid shelters at the heights of the second world war.
In addition, it is full of extensive caves, passages, and catacombs. When you enter this underworld, you will walk through dimly lit passages and tunnels, exploring the impressive caves and underground temples.
It’s best if you have a guided tour to learn more about this incredible Naples Underground.
Certosa di San Martino
Another historical building that adds to Naples’ attractions is the Certosa di San Martino. It is one of the historical buildings found in Naples and was a former Carthusian Monastery built during the 14th century.
Now, it is a museum in which you can see a diverse set of images and paintings, all from the 15th century. You will also see a beautiful central courtyard as well as a lovely chapel.
Another interesting fact about San Martino is that it is filled with some beautiful underground rooms that were built in Gothic style. This surely looks charming and majestic, especially if you visit it personally.
From the Certosa, you can admire some of the best view of the entire city and the Gulf of Naples with the Island of Capri and the city of Sorrento.
Monastery of Santa Chiara
The Monastery of Santa Chiara, located right on Spaccanapoli, was built in the 14th century by the order of King Robert of Anjou. It has a simple facade with an old rose window. You will surely be captivated by the frescoes depicting scenes from the Old Testament once you go inside.
What makes this Monastery world famous it is Cloister which is covered by thousands of hand-painted ceramic tiles.
One of Naples’ attractions is Mount Vesuvius. It is one of the world’s most dangerous volcanoes. The Volcano is famous for the great eruption of AD 79 that resulted in the destruction of the two cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum.
It is still an active volcano, that erupted last in 1944.
Many tourists would enjoy climbing Mount Vesuvius because of the view when you are on top of it. The Volcano is located about one hour outside the city center. In order to reach Mount Vesuvius, you will need to hire a Taxi or, better take a guided tour.
From the top of Mount Vesuvius, you will definitely view the whole Gulf of Naples and a large part of the Amalfi coast. The Amalfi Coast is one of the most famous sights in Italy. In fact, it has been listed as a Unesco World Heritage Site.
What a marvelous experience it would be if you try to visit Naples, Italy. You will surely not regret trying to spend your time in this wonderful city in Italy. With all these things you can freely do in Naples, surely your experience would be grand, and you will leave Naples with memorable ventures.
And that’s it! We hope you have learned a lot from this information. Hope that you are now travel-ready and excited to visit Naples, Italy.
Happy travel, everyone.