Are you visiting or thinking of visiting Naples, Italy, or are you wondering what to see and do once you’re here?
Located on the western coast of Italy and facing the Tyrrhenian Sea, Naples offers some of the country’s most beautiful sights to see. The food is incredible, and the people are warm and fun. The city also has an overall sense of being a “party town” all year round; you can get out and about at any time of the day, and there would always be something to do, somewhere to go, and people to meet. Frankly, the city feels more alive than most places in Italy.
Unfortunately, Naples City has a bit of an unearned reputation. The city is known for being dirty and dangerous. Tourist guides often tell tourists to “beware of pickpockets” as if it’s an extremely common occurrence there. But nothing could be further from the truth; petty crimes like this happen just as often as in other places, and Naples is no more or less safe than any other large metropolitan city. That’s why my motto when visiting any new place is to use your common sense.
It’s also known as somewhat of a stopover for other places. People who come here are often on their way to see the Amalfi Coast, Capri and Pompeii, and Herculaneum, which is a shame, as tourists who skip Naples miss a magnificent city altogether.
So if you’re interested in visiting, here’s a list of what to do in Naples, Italy.
Top Tourist Attractions in Naples
From visiting museums to taking a walk inside an ancient city underground, Naples has it all. Take a look at our suggestions and see what attraction works for you.
Historic Center of Naples
Naples’ Historic Center is a UNESCO world heritage site with over 1,000 hectares of land. It features an impressive mix between urban Naples and the remnants of the city’s storied past — especially buildings, works, and elements from the Greek settlement up to the 18th century. The government prioritizes the preservation of these sites, with conservation and rehabilitation projects being done as needed. Most of the locations in this list can be found within the Center’s boundaries.
Monastero Santa Chiara – A must-see attraction in Naples
One of Naples’ best attractions is the Monastero Santa Chiara, officially known as Complesso Monumentale di Santa Chiara.
It is a fantastic 14th-century monastery you cannot miss seeing when in the city. The monastery offers a serene oasis of quiet in the city center. It has a basilica and a small museum with a religious library. Still, the most prominent feature of the monastery is the Santa Chiara Cloisters, magnificently decorated with hand-painted tiles. The cloisters also feature 72 octagonal columns covered in hand-painted Majorca tiles, with benches linking each pillar. Every single tile is unique, creating a mesmerizing effect.
Much of the interior was damaged when it suffered from a direct bomb hit by Allied Forces during World War II, but restorations have been performed to most, if not all, of the damaged parts.
The Monastery is open from Mon to Sat from 9:30 am to 5:30 pm and on Sunday from 10:00 am to 2:30 pm.
San Gennaro Catacombs
Have you ever wanted to explore a secret underground world with many passageways? This is exactly what the San Gennaro Catacombs provide, and you can find the entrance to this magical place near the Basilica dell’Incoronata in the northern part of Naples. Once there, you will find a network of tunnels and passageways that are lined with ancient city ruins, graves, and crypts dating back to the 2nd century.
Spread over two levels, the lower floor contains a staggering 3000+ burials and is dimly lit to retain the spooky underground feeling.
The top level is more spacious and is just as interesting, containing many detailed frescos and artwork.
A guided tour of the catacombs will provide a memorable experience and valuable insight into the history of Naples.
On Via Tribunali, you can also tour the larger underground city, which the San Gennaro Catacombs are part of. The subterranean marvel contains ancient Roman ruins, burial grounds, and aqueducts. It was later used as an air raid shelter during the Second World War. It offers a unique glimpse of the town’s buried history.
It’s best to have a guided tour to learn more about Naples Underground. Of course, this place is not for you if you have claustrophobia.
Naples National Archaeological Museum
If you are a museum lover and love to know more about the past, you should visit this amazing museum. Naples National Archaeological Museum is known all over the world it is one of the top tourist attractions in the city. History buffs will surely enjoy wandering around while surrounded by items from Naples’ past.
Here, you can observe an extensive collection of one of the world’s most remarkable Roman and Greek antiquities displays. The first two floors are mainly devoted to both Pompeii and Herculaneum, the two major cities destroyed by the volcanic eruption of Mount Vesuvius in AD 79. On these museum floors, you will find different types of frescoes, mosaics, and countless rooms with sculptures, bronze, glass, and ceramics.
Capella Di San Severo
The Capella di San Severo, or the San Severo Chapel, is a little church famous for the Cristo Velato. The world-famous masterpiece features a dead Christ covered with a veil. The veil perfectly adheres to Christ’s form, making it look like an actual veil and not part of the marble sculpture. The sublime textures on the statue make it one of the most well-regarded sculptures in the world.
The San Severo Chapel in Naples is open daily except on Tuesday, from 9:00 am to 7:00 pm. Admissions fees range from €7 for children to €10 for standard tickets.
Reggia di Capodimonte
The Royal Palace of Capodimonte (Reggia di Capodimonte) was the summer residence of the Royal Family of Naples. It is located in the middle of the forest on a hilltop location, hence the name Capodimonte (top of the hill.) Inside, you can visit the National Gallery of Painting, The Royal Apartments, and the famous Porcelain Factory.
The palace is open from 8:30 am to 7:30 pm every weekday except on Wednesdays, with last admissions at 6:30 pm.
The Castel Sant’Elmo area on top of the Vomero Hill offers some of the most stunning views of Naples, Mount Vesuvius, Capri, and Sorrento. Historically, Castel Sant’Elmo was a medieval fortress, and today it offers magnificent views from overlooking the city of Naples. The castle hosts several exhibitions and is open daily from 8:30 am to 7:30 pm.
Certosa e Museum Di San Martino
Another attraction in Naples is the Certosa e Museum di San Martino. It is one of the most prominent historical buildings in the city, right beside Castel Sant’Elmo. This Charterhouse-turned-museum was built as a Carthusian monastery between 1325 and 1368. Centered on one of the most beautiful abbeys in Italy, it has been decorated, adorned, and altered over the centuries by some of Italy’s finest talent, most importantly architect Giovanni Antonio Dosio in the 16th century and baroque sculptor Cosimo Fanzago a century later.
Travelers will also find 17th-century creations by such notable artists as Francesco Solimena, Massimo Stanzione, Jusepe de Ribera, and Battista Caracciolo. The Certosa e Museo di San Martino has an impressive collection of antique presepi (nativity scenes).
What makes it more interesting about Certosa di San Martino is that it is filled with some beautiful underground rooms built in Gothic style. You will surely love this historic site once you’ve visited it.
Toledo Metro Station
The next thing you need to see in Naples is the Toledo Metro Station. It is the 13th art station of the Naples’ Metro System. This station is on Via Toledo, a main shopping area for locals and tourists.
Toledo Metro Station is one of the deepest in line at 50 meters. The station offers you a great and enchanting design themed around water and light. The vibrant colors and almost-psychedelic patterns of silver and blue mosaics will grab and hold your attention, and you’ll surely enjoy your walk in what is arguably one of the most beautiful metro stations in the world.
If you want more, you can sightsee around Via Toledo. People here enjoy walking around, grabbing a bite to eat, or shopping in the many stores. It is pedestrian-only, so you can walk around the street and enjoy yourself. On the right side of the street, you can see the area famous as “Quartieri Spagnoli” (Spanish Quarter). In the past, this area had a reputation for being dangerous. Nowadays, it’s been cleaned up and considered part of the charm of Napoli.
Local food in Naples, Italy
Pizzeria Via Tribunali – must-visit for the best pizza
Via Tribunali is famous for Napoli’s best (and busiest) pizza restaurant.
While strolling the Chiaia area, I recommend a stop at this historic pizza place called Pizzeria Brandi. Interestingly, Pizzaria Brandi claims to have invented the Pizza Margherita in 1889, in honor of Queen Margherita of Italy, visiting Naples. You can see a plaque commemorating this event outside the Pizzeria.
Free Things to Do in Naples, Italy
Piazza del Plebiscito
The Piazza Plebicscito is in the heart of Naples. It offers you a wide array of views because it is the largest square in the city. In the background, you can see and visit the Palazzo Reale (The Royal Palace of Naples).
The Royal Palace was the political center of the Kingdom of Naples until 1861 when it became part of Italy. Then, around the corner from the Royal Palace, you can see the world-famous Teatro di San Carlo. The Teatro di San Carlo is one of the world’s most beautiful and ornate Opera Houses – a must-see!
Dwelling this public square is like taking a glance at historical people. Piazza del Plebiscito was mainly created by Joachim Murat, who became the king of Naples from 1808 to 1815. Murat was the brother-in-law of Napoleon Bonaparte.
After seeing the Piazza del Plebiscito, you might wonder where to have a coffee as the locals do. If this is the case, I recommend stopping for coffee at the most famous coffee house in the world: Caffè Gambrinus.
While not precisely a tourist attraction, Michele Sergio revitalized Caffe Gambrinus and brought it back to its historical roots. Caffe Gambrinus is a coffee shop worth visiting for the espresso and the amazing baba deserts (rum-soaked pastries common in Naples), which go well with the view in Piazza del Plebiscito.
Via Domenico Capitelli (Spaccanapoli)
Via Domenico Capitelli got built in the Roman period, and it’s still part of the city layout. It is one of the most vibrant and fun areas to see and do in Naples. Here, on each side of the street, you can find souvenir stores, coffee shops, and little shops that sell typical deep-fried Naples local specialties showing their local culture.
Via San Gregorio Armeno
Via San Gregorio Armeno is a narrow street famous for the stores that sell handmade religious figurines. Also, the road becomes particularly busy around Christmas when they start selling Naples’s famous Nativity Scenes. Many people tend to visit the street for this reason.
Naples Cathedral (Duomo di Napoli)
The Duomo di Napoli is the main church in Naples. Notably, the cathedral is famous for the miracle of the blood. Every year, for the San Gennaro festivity on September 19th, the saint’s blood liquefies, or at least according to the legend. It’s further said that a disaster will occur in Naples if the blood stays solid. Finally, the Royal Chapel and the Treasure of St. Januarius are two of the most famous attractions of the church.
Via Chiaia to Piazza Martiri
Via Chiaia is probably the most charming little street in Naples for a walk with the locals. Here, you will find high-end boutiques and other stores. You can stroll, people-watch, and have a delicious gelato to go.
Borgo Marinaro e Castel dell’ Ovo
Castel Dell’Ovo is an ancient fortress built on a little island connected by a bridge to the mainland. It is certainly worth a visit. Here, from the top of this castle, the view of the Bay of Naples is truly extraordinary.
The name Castel Dell’Ovo (The Castle of the Egg) comes from a legend. Interestingly, it says that the Roman Poet Virgil hid a magic egg in the castle’s dungeon. If the egg ever breaks, the castle will collapse.
Admission is free, and the castle is open in winter from 9:00 am to 6:30 pm from Monday to Saturday, and from 9:00 am to 2:00 pm on Sunday. In the summer, the hours are Monday to Saturday from 9:00 am to 7:30 pm (last admission at 7:00 pm), and from 9:00 am to 2:00 pm on Sundays.
Also, you’ll see the Borgo Marinaro on the same little island as the castle. Here, fishermen moor their boats and sail to go fishing. Naturally, there are plenty of seafood restaurants in this area. It’s a charming place to go for dinner with a view.
Galleria Umberto I and Castel Nuovo
The Galleria is a beautiful space in downtown Naples built between 1887 and 1891 to host shops and cafes. Today, it is an excellent place for a stroll and to grab a delicious baba or a sfogliatella from Sfogliatlla Mary.
You can reach Piazza Municipio from the Galleria and see the majestic Castel Nuovo. Without a doubt, Castel Nuovo is a massive medieval Castel and is now Naples City Hall. The Castle was first erected in 1279, and its most prominent feature is the Triumphal Arch at the entrance. Also, the Arch was built in 1470 from white marble.
One of Naples’ most recommended activities is climbing the ever-famous Mount Vesuvius.
Mount Vesuvius is considered as one of the world’s most dangerous volcanoes. It rises above the Bay of Naples on the plain of Campania in southern Italy, with its western base resting almost upon the bay. The height of the volcano’s cone in 2013 was 4,203 feet (1,281 meters), but it varies considerably after each major eruption. Mount Vesuvius is most recognized for the 79 AD eruption, which annihilated the Roman cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum. Though Mount Vesuvius’ last eruption was in 1944, its presence still conveys a sense of great danger to the surrounding cities, especially the busy metropolis of Naples.
If you don’t mind the danger, climbing Vesuvius lets you see Naples’ breathtaking and famous sights up high. You can also see the Amalfi coast from there.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Is Naples Worth Visiting?
YES!! There is so much to see and do in Naples, so stop believing in the naysayers and visit the city. I assure you that it’s one of the most lively cities in Italy. You can easily reach Naples by train from Rome and explore the city center. And, if you have more than a day, you can visit Pompeii, Herculaneum, and perhaps even Sorrento and Amalfi!
How do you get to Pompeii from Naples?
You can take a tour or take the train. Either way, going from Naples to Pompeii is easy. You can read more about it in this article: How to Get from Naples to Pompeii.
Final Notes about What to See and Do in Naples
Naples, Italy, is very walkable. Here is a comprehensive walking itinerary I like to follow when visiting Naples. The only areas that are outside the walking path are Castel Sant’Elmo and the Royal Palace of Capodimonte. For these two attractions, I suggest you grab a taxi. Of course, if you don’t feel like walking, the Hop On Hop Off bus is always a great way to get around a new city.
This is just a list of my favorite things to see and do when visiting Naples. If you have more time, there are many more beautiful places to visit.
I hope these inspired you to visit this vibrant and beautiful city. Naples is more than just the gateway to Pompeii or the Amalfi coast. Let me know what you think in the comments.
It would be a marvelous experience to try to visit Naples. You will certainly not regret trying to spend your time in this beautiful city in Italy. Considering everything you can do for free here, and with the availability of cheap tours in the city, you don’t need to break the bank to have a grand adventure in Naples and leave with precious memories.
And that’s it! Hope you have learned a lot from this information. Hope that you are now travel-ready and excited to visit Naples, Italy.