15 Best things to do in Naples (Italy)

Naples is a large city on the west coast of Italy, facing the Tyrrhenian Sea. This huge metropolis is the third largest in Italy after Rome and Milan, with a population of 975,000 and a metropolitan population of over 3.1 million. Naples and the surrounding area has been inhabited since the Neolithic period, and it has seen some form of continued human activity from the time of the ancient Greeks to the Roman Empire and beyond.

Throughout history, Naples has been the scene of fierce battles, with many civilizations vying for power here. The port of Naples is one of the most important ports in the Mediterranean and the city has one of the largest economies in Italy. Due to the area’s rich history, Naples is full of historic buildings, squares and churches, as well as many modern amenities and fantastic nightlife opportunities. Looming in the shadow of the fabled Mount Vesuvius, this is a truly epic tourist destination.

Let’s explore the best things to do in Naples:

1. Climb Mount Vesuvius

Mount Vesuvius

Classified as a stratovolcano that dominates the skyline and landscape around Naples, Vesuvius is a legendary volcano that erupted in AD 79, causing the destruction and burial of Pompeii and Herculaneum.

Vesuvius is the only volcano on the European continent to erupt in the past 100 years – it is considered extremely dangerous due to the large number of human settlements within its danger zone.

Today, you can tour this magnificent natural phenomenon by bus from Naples and climb its slopes to peer into the crater.

The hike takes 20 to 30 minutes and is not considered too challenging – the view from the summit on a clear day is simply fantastic, and the crater and crater is very interesting.

Suggested Tour: 4-Hour Vesuvius Wine Tasting Tour and Lunch from Naples

2. Visit the ruins of Pompeii

Pompeii

Pompeii is an ancient city nestled in the shadow of the iconic Mount Vesuvius.

The settlement was very advanced and extensive, and was destroyed during the devastating eruption of the volcano in AD 79. Despite the devastation and the large amount of lava pouring over the city, Pompeii remains in a fantastic state today – a protective effect due to the huge layers of ash deposited on parts of the ruins.

Today you can visit Pompeii and walk through the vast ruins – particularly interesting sights include the Amphitheatre, the Case of Delphino, the Temple of Apollo and the Temple of Jupiter.

Also, you can find plaster casts of many unfortunate victims, buried under ashes and in death poses forever.

Recommended Itinerary: Day Trip to Pompeii Ruins and Mount Vesuvius

3. Naples National Archaeological Museum

Frescoes at the National Archaeological Museum of Naples

The museum is housed in a beautiful ornate building built in the 1750s that operated as a military and cavalry barracks before being converted into a museum.

The museum is north of the harbour, but there is a subway station next to the building.

Inside, you’ll find a rich collection that includes a variety of Roman and Greek handicrafts, as well as selected pieces from Pompeii and Herculaneum.

The collection includes a collection of marble statues depicting scenes from ancient mythology, beautiful mosaics from the ruins of Pompeii, and a wealth of objects from ancient Egypt such as mummified remains and death masks.

Anyone interested in ancient history and archaeology will find this museum a very interesting place.

4. Catacombs of San Gennaro

Catacombs of San Gennaro

Have you ever wanted to explore a secret underground world with tons of details and passages? That’s exactly what the Catacombs of San Gennaro have to offer, the entrance to this otherworldly place you’ll find near the Cathedral dell’Incoronata in the north of Naples.

Once underground, you’ll find a network of tunnels and passages lined with tombs and crypts dating back to ancient history.

Spread over two floors, the lower level contains a staggering 3,000 tombs, dimly lit and retains the eerie subterranean feel.

The top floor is more spacious but no less interesting and contains many detailed murals and artwork.

Guided tour of the Catacombs will provide an unforgettable experience and a real insight into the history of Naples.

5. Visit the ruins of Herculaneum

Herculaneum

Another city that was devastated after the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in AD 79 was Herculaneum – a lesser-known counterpart to Pompeii, but no less interesting and a well worth a visit.

Even though the city was farther from Vesuvius than Pompeii, it was still completely destroyed.

Herculaneum is actually considered a better preserved example than Pompeii, with some of its wooden structures, frames and roof still intact.

Interesting spots within the complex include the Papyrus Villa and the Argus House, both of which contain beautiful frescoes and frescoes.

In addition, there is a series of skeletal remains showing the deaths of this unfortunate group.

If you visit Pompeii, make sure you also visit Herculaneum to learn more about the ancient times.

6. Newcastle

newcastle

Castel Nuovo is the main feature of the Naples skyline and one of the first sights that people who enter by cruise ship see.

Conveniently located near the famous Piazza del Plebiscito, the castle is one of the main historical sites of Naples.

Built in 1282, the castle has 5 circular sawtooth towers and a fantastic triumphal arch that was added later.

Visit the castle, admire the beautiful towers, stand in the central courtyard, admire the painted ceilings of the Baron’s Hall, climb the castle walls, and enjoy breathtaking views of Naples and the harbour.

7. A cappella

a cappella

There are many chapels and churches in the center of Naples, Sansevero Church is a good example.

Built in 1590, this chapel was once the private building of the Duke of Torremagova and has been the family burial church since 1613. The church is located in the center of Naples, not far from the harbour and Castel Nuovo.

The chapel, though unremarkable on the outside, is the real highlight of the imposing interior.

The chapel has a large collection of art and several notable sculptures.

The ceiling is adorned with a detailed and magnificent fresco, and numerous marble statues stand on each pillar.

At the heart of this fantastic exhibition is a beautiful hooded statue of Christ by Giuseppe Sanmartino.

8. Egg Burger

egg burger

When you enter the port of Naples, you will undoubtedly see this stunning sea castle.

The land on which the castle is located was once an island and is now connected to the mainland, accessible by footpaths and roads.

The oldest surviving fortification in Naples, Castel dell’Ovo was built in the early 6th century BC, and some form of defensive structure has been in existence ever since.

Open to the public, the castle is a wondrous building to explore – through the passages and arches, looking out to the Mediterranean.

You can also find some art exhibits and displays about the history of the castle.

9. Port of Naples

Port of Naples

Naples is a very busy port, and maritime trade is the city’s main source of economy.

The network of ports is divided into independent terminals and is a true hive of activity at any time of the day.

Stretching from Castel Nuovo to Piazza San Giovanni Battista, you can easily spend hours walking through the marina and harbour watching the interesting business happening here.

Also, if you continue west, you’ll find Porto di Mergellina, full of trendy restaurants and cafés and vibrant.

Come here to experience the local life and see the different yachts docked in the harbour.

10. Referendum Square

referendum square

Without a doubt, Naples’ main square, Piazza del Plebiscito, with its Royal Palace and Royal Basilica, is a truly wonderful place.

This vast open space is filled with important buildings and statues, and in addition to the aforementioned structures it contains the Palazzo Salerno, the county palace and a statue dedicated to Charles III of Spain.

The semicircular colonnade of the Royal Cathedral stretches out and beautifully outlines the square.

Use this place as a starting point for your visit to Naples, and be sure to visit the fine historic buildings located here.

11. San Domenico Maggiore

San Domenico Maggiore

Another beautifully decorated church in Naples, Sam Domenico Maggiore, was founded in 1324 by Dominican Friars. The church is located in the center of the old town of Naples, near the university and Dante metro station.

While the outside of the structure isn’t particularly impressive, the inside is a real treat.

Filled with Renaissance art, sculpture, and decoration, the church is gorgeous—the paneled ceiling is gilded, and the high altar is a stunning masterpiece.

In addition, there is a “treasure house” containing a large collection of religious artifacts, clothing, accessories and other trinkets.

12. Naples Cathedral

Naples Cathedral

Dating back to the 13th century, the Cathedral is a magnificent building and the main church in Naples and even southern Italy.

The cathedral is located on Via Duomo and can be reached via the Museo metro station, but there is also a regular bus service through the front door.

This religious building is a mix of styles including Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque – due to restorations and changes since its creation.

Outside, the front façade features a large central tower and many ornate sculptures and stonework.

Inside, the main nave consists of a series of huge columns and is beautifully decorated.

Don’t forget to visit the beautifully decorated Chapel of San Gennaro, which has a beautifully decorated altar and two vessels containing the saint’s blood.

13. Explore the Saint Lucia District

Saint Lucia

To really experience Naples from a local perspective and soak up some culture, head to the St. Lucia district.

Just west of People’s Vote Square, the district features numerous narrow cobblestone streets that wind down to the sea and is home to a range of craft shops, restaurants, cafes and shops.

Here you can experience Neapolitan life at its best – locals walk the streets doing their daily errands, clothes hang on clotheslines and children play carefree in the world.

14. Royal Palace

Royal Palace

This stunning Royal Palace is the focal point of the People’s Vote Square and sits opposite the Royal Cathedral.

The building’s front façade features a symmetrical series of black frames, brown renders and numerous windows, creating an official and imposing appearance.

In addition, at the base of the palace stand 12 detailed statues of successive Neapolitan kings, from Roger of Sicily to Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II.

Inside this lavish building is a series of well-preserved rooms filled with ornate decor – the original hallways and staircases are incredibly ornate, as are the Throne Room and the National Theatre.

A tour of the interior and rooms is a must and will complete your visit to this wonderful historic building.

15. Explore Capri by boat

Capri

Capri is a small inhabited island known for its stunning scenery, rugged coastline, beautiful caves and quaint and charming Italian villages.

Less than two hours by boat from the port of Naples, there are regular ferries between the island and the mainland, as well as neighbouring Sorrento.

Pass through the wonderful Marina Grande, admire the boats in the harbour, and set off to explore the island.

Don’t forget to check out the famous Blue Hole Sea Cave or the view from Mount Solaro.

Available Tours: Capri: Full Day Tour from Naples

Where to stay: The best hotels in Naples, Italy
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