Are you planning a trip to Naples, Italy ? Great choice ! Italy is one of the countries I know the most and Naples is one of those cities that made the strongest impression on me. You could say this destination is a hit-or-miss : you either love it or hate it. Let me convince you the first option is the right one 😉 Whether you’re planning to stay 2, 3 or 4 days in Naples, let me guide you through the best activities to do here. Off we go, ragazzi !
Before kicking things off, you might be wondering « How much time do you need in Naples, Italy ?« . I’d say if you want to fully explore the city and understand its complexity, 4 days in Naples sounds right. For those of you who’d rather spend more time on the Amalfi Coast, 2 or 3 days in Naples should be largely enough.
Table of content :
- Naples in 2 days
- Naples in 3 days
- Naples in 4 days
- What to see near Naples ?
- Is Naples worth visiting ?
- Where to stay in Naples, Italy ?
- What’s the best neighborhood of Naples ?
- How much does a trip to Naples cost ?
- What’s the best time of the year to visit Naples, Italy ?
Naples in 2 days
Day 1 in Naples
The Castel dell’Ovo
How to get there : Vittoria bus stop (line N1, 128 or 140)
This is your first day in Naples, Italy and you don’t even know where to start… My advice is to kick things off with one of Naples’ most famous castles : Castel dell’Ovo (the egg castle). Naples’ oldest castle was built on the isle of Megaride, where the mermaid Partenope is said to have accosted – giving its first name to the city back when it was founded by the Greeks. The least we can say is that the isle went through the hands of many characters throughout the centuries : rich roman consul, Western emperor, Norman king… A perfect representation of Naples’ long and complex history ! You may be wondering where the funny name of the castle originates from ? Well, a legend says that a sorcerer dropped a magical egg under the castle to protect it… That makes many stories to tell your kids, right ? 🙂
The castle is open from Monday to Saturday (9am – 7pm) and on Sunday (9am – 1pm) and the entrance is free of charge !
While you’re at the castle, make your way to the neighborhood of San Ferdinando, located only 15 min from there (walking). This part of the city, with its large open spaces and its obvious sens of order, is a good way to start your visits smoothly (before diving into the more chaotic part of Naples😅). You’ll quickly understand this used to be the aristocratic/royal area, thanks to the numerous monuments built by the Spanish and French monarchs who used to rule the city. Make sure you don’t miss on the Royal Palace, the Piazza del Plebiscito, the Umberto I Gallery with its Liberty style and of course, the Castel Nuovo and its astonishing architecture. As a bonus, you also get to enjoy a pretty amazing view on Naples’ Gulf !
If you’re like me and you love to discover the history of a city with a local guide, do have a look at this 2h guided tour of the neighborhood :
The Castel Sant’Elmo and the San Martino Monastery
After a well deserved coffee break, you’ll maybe want to enjoy a nice view over the city… Turns out that’s exactly where I want to take you to wrap up this first day in Naples 😉 with the visit of the Castel Sant’Elmo, on top of Vomero hill. If you think that’s too many castles in just one day, worry not : you can’t visit the inside of the castle, people mainly come here to enjoy the view on the city ! If you fancy it, you can also have a look at the San Martino monastery located right next to the castle (its cloister and baroque church are definately worth it). The castle is open everyday except on Tuesdays from 8:30 am to 7:30 pm and a ticket costs 5€ (to walk around it and enjoy the views).
How to get there : from S. Ferdinando, take the funicular from Augusteo to Funicolare Centrale.
A sportier but more fun option is to climb the 500 (or so) steps by foot, along the Via Pedamentina San Martino ! That’s exactly what I did and that enabled me to enjoy other viewpoints on the city + discover the incredible Spanish Quarter which I will mention later 😉
Day 2 in Naples
The historical center
How to get there ? Duomo or Museo underground stop (line 1)
If you’re spending 2 days in Naples, the city’s historical center is something you absolutely can’t miss. That’s where I’m taking you on this second day ! Here I suggest you do just like I did and take a random stroll among the tiny streets full of greek and roman history… Just make sure you don’t miss any of these wonderful spots :
- the Santa Chiara church
- the Gesù Nuovo church
- the Duomo
- the Naples Cathedral
- the street Via dei Tribunali
- the street Via San Gregorio Armeno
- the Piazza Bellini
I also highly recommend taking a walk through the street « Spaccanapoli » (literally : split-Naples), which used to split the city in 2 parts where the roman route was. That street gives you the perfect taste of Naples, with its accumulation of historical monuments, old buildings, little shops and smells of neapolitan cuisine… In short, it’s 1000 years worth of history in just a few kilometers – hard to beat !
I didn’t follow any guide in this neighborhood, but if you’d like to do so here’s a guided tour I found that has great reviews :
For the record : the italian word for Naples (Napoli) comes from the greek word Neapolis (=new city). This « new city » was founded after the old one Palaepolis, which name derives from the mermaid Partenope 😉
The archeological museum
After walking around the bustling historical center, you might fancy a place more quiet. If you’re a big fan of history and archeology, I suggest you head to Naples’ national archeological museum. If you’re really fond of Antiquity history like I am, this place is truly worth it as it has one of the world’s greatest Graeco-Roman collections ! The museum is open from Wednesday to Monday (9am – 7:30pm) and the ticket costs 18€ (you can book it in advance for an additional fee of only 1,50€ on this link). I’d rather warn you : I found that there was unfortunately very few information about the art pieces. According to me, the best way to visit this place is to get a guided tour so you can fully enjoy the experience :
Naples in 3 days
The Spanish Quarter
How to get there ? Toledo underground stop (line 1)
If you’re visiting Naples in 3 days or more, there’s no way you can skip on the famous Spanish Quarter. This area got its name from the presence of a Spanish garrison in the 16th century. It is today home to a relatively poor population, but also many little shops and restaurants. Some will argue that this area is not worth visiting (it used to be pretty dodgy and under the control of the Camorra, the neapolitan mafia)… and still, I pretty much fell in love with this underrated part of the Naples.
All senses are stimulated in this neighborhood : church bells are ringing, scooters are roaring, street art is emerging from every corner, Maradona effigies appear as far as the eye can see, religious altars decorate the entrances of dilapidated but oh so charming buildings, the air is filled with laundry fragrances mixed with the smell of yummy dishes being cooked by the mamma… A big mess, in other words, but an « organised mess » according to me, since I sensed a deep spirit of solidarity and natural goodness here. I could have felt not at ease in such an area as a solo traveller, but the locals’ big smiles made me feel genuinely welcomed ❤️ Just as an example, some people offered me to come inside their front yard when they saw me peaking through the gate…! Incredible.
If you like street art as much as I do, you’ll love this guided tour that I did. Not only does it bring you to the best spots, but the guide will also tell you about the fascinating stories behind each piece :
The lungomare, Chiaia
How to get there ? From the Spanish Quarter, hop on the bus N7 from Battisti to Riviera di Chiaia
The lungomare is Naples’ seaside. It spreads more or less from the Castel dell’Ovo to the Marina Molo Luise, along the neighborhood of Chiaia. From here, you’ll get to enjoy the best views on the Castel dell’Ovo, but also on the Vesuvius volcano ! I highly recommend this spot if you’re looking for a chill walk. Coming here after visiting the Spanish Quarter also makes you realize how big the gap is between the rich and the poor in Naples… A simple bus ride is enough to bring you to a totally different planet : traffic rules become more strict, outfits are more chic, the atmosphere more bourgeois… Smart looking tennis players have replaced the kids playing football on a parking lot. This change of atmosphere was really striking to me – it almost brought me back to Indonesia, where you’ll find luxurious neighborhoods right next to slums.
The Galleria Borbonica
To conclude your day 3 in Naples, I suggest you stop at the Galleria Borbonica, located at the very end of the Lungomare (next to the Castel dell’Ovo). I didn’t have enough time to visit it, but it seems like a pretty interesting and unusual activity to do ! It’s basically a gallery that was excavated during the 19th century by the Bourbons, a royal family who used to rule on Naples. Its original purpose was to enable the King to escape from his residence in case of invasion or riot ! Today, you can visit the gallery through different paths… including one speleology path ! You can book your guided tour right here for only 11€ :
Naples in 4 days
The Pignasecca market
How to get there ? Underground stop Montesanto (line 2) or Toledo (line 1).
If you’re spending 4 days in Naples, I know how to treat you… Quite literally ! This morning, let me bring you to the Pignasecca market, aka the city’s oldest market and its beating heart ! This place is the perfect set to witness neapolitan daily life at its best. Shops’ displays are overflowing on the streets, people are screaming at the top of their lungs or elbowing their way through the crowd of tourists, locals and scooters… This is where you’ll find the very best neapolitan food (including a lot of street food !) : fish, pork belly, fresh vegetables, fried pizza, seafood, sfogliatella (a type of pastry)… The best part is that the market is open every day of the week !
My tip : you’ll probably get overwhelmed by this large choice of unknown foods ! If you’re a major foodie like me, I recommend you follow this street food tour that I did. It’s the best way to find out about the history of each dish and share those moments with other travellers 😉
The San Gennaro catacombs, the Real Bosco di Capodimonte
How to get there ? From the Pignasecca, walk to Museo Nazionale and hop on the bus 204. Stop at Capodimonte.
After filling your belly at the market, I’m pretty sure you’ll want to crash in a quiet spot😅 That’s exactly why I’m bringing you to the Real Bosco di Capodimonte, in the North part of town, right beside the Sanità neighborhood. Naples’ biggest public park is the ideal place to wander along the flowery paths and enjoy georgous views on the city. While you’re here, you can also visit the Capodimonte Museum, an old summer palace that has a really nice collection of great italian paintings today. The museum is open everyday, except on Wednesdays, from 8:30am to 6:30pm.
If you’re up for a more original (and slightly creepy haha) activity, you could also stop by the San Gennaro catacombs that are located right next to the park. It’s more than just a gloomy place, I swear ! It’s actually super interesting if you’d like to discover the history of Christianism « alla Neapolitan », through crypts, mosaics and important figures of the city’s burials. The catacombs are open everyday from 10am to 5pm and you must follow a guide during the visit – although a guided tour only costs 11€ !
Bonus : the Diego Armando Maradona stadium
How to get there ? Napoli Piazza Leopardi underground stop (line 2)
Ok, just because I’m sure some of you folks are big fans of Maradona, I’ll add this visit as a bonus if you have time during your 4 days in Naples : the Diego Armando Maradona stadium, named after the most famous player of the SSC Napoli. You can’t visit the stadium in itself, but I’ve heard watching a game here is a one of a kind experience ! It’s also the best way to get a taste of one of of neapolitan society’s well-known trait : the love of football 😉 And that concludes our visits of Naples in 2, 3 or 4 days !
What to see near Naples ?
Now that you know the beautiful Napoli like the back of your hand, it’s high time to discover its incredible surroundings ! Here are a few recommandations of what to see around Naples :
Pompeii / Herculaneum
Visiting Pompeii from Naples is something most travellers do ! I must admit those famous ruins are definately worth a daytrip. For those of you who are not familiar with it : Pompeii is a city from Antiquity that was completely burried under the ashes of Vesuvius during its eruption in 79 BC. Can you imagine the archeologists’ reaction when they discovered a city that had been sleeping for over 15 centuries… I went to Pompeii during my first trip to Naples as a teenager and I kept a wonderful memory of it. You get the idea : it is a must-see while you’re in Naples. And if you have enough time, make a stop in the town of Herculaneum, smaller than Pompeii but still very impressive !
How to get from Naples to Pompeii / Herculaneum :
You just need to hop on the train line called Circumvesuviana from Naples’ Central Station (sometimes referred to as Garibaldi). There’s a train every 30 min and a ticket will cost you less than 5€. It stops first in Herculaneum (« Ercolano Scavi ») then in Pompeii (« Pompei Scavi – Villa dei Misteri »). Tickets can be purchased at the vending machines inside the stations or in the little tobacco shops. You can find the trains timetable on this website.
Would you rather book an all-included tour ? Here’s one that goes to Pompeii + Vesuvius (transportation, local guide, tickets and food included) :
The Mount Vesuvius
Another visit I did as a teenager that truly stuck with me. The Vesuvius is simply one of the best visits to do around Naples. A dangerous beauty, loved (but also feared) by the locals. Vesuvius is kind of like a powerful god that rules over Naples and its bay ! It’s the perfect nature excursion to do from the city.
How to get to Mount Vesuvius from Naples
Take the same trainline Circumvesuviana and stop at Herculaneum (« Ercolano Scavi ») or Pompeii. From here, take a shuttle (a ticket costs 7-10€). To climb the volcano all the way to its crater, follow the path n°5 – that takes 3 to 4h.
Would you rather book an all-included tour ? Here’s a one day tour to Pompeii + Vesuvius (local guide, transportation, tickets and food included) :
Sorrento is a cute seaside town located on the North part of the Amalfi Coast. I spent one day there during my last trip to Naples and I fell in love with that place ! Go there to enjoy the dolce vita at its best : naps under the sun by the beaches, long walks along the cliffs to admire the villas and their exotical gardens, chats with the sweet locals…
How to get to Sorrento from Naples
It is still the same trainline ! Sorrento is the last stop of the Circumvesuviana (1h journey). A round-trip ticket cost me 8€. The views are absolutely marvelous, with the volcano on one side and the seaside on the other !
Would you rather book an all-included tour ? Here’s a one day tour to Sorrento, Positano and Amalfi – might as well do them all at once !
Positano / the rest of the Amalfi Coast
I personally didn’t go to Positano, but I’m sure there’s a reason why the place is that famous 😉 The only piece of advice I can give you is : try and avoid going during the high season, since social media have turned this spot into actual Disneyland…
How to get to Positano / Amalfi Coast from Naples
Bear with me on this one : the railway doesn’t follow the coastline after Sorrento, because of the very steep landscape… So you must take the Circumvesuviana to Sorrento and from there, take a bus SITA to Positano. The whole journey takes about 2h. There are also ferrys that sail from Naples or the island of Capri.
Would you rather book an all-included tour ? Here’s a one day tour to Sorrento, Positano and Amalfi – might as well do them all at once ! !
The islands of Capri, Procida and Ischia
I bet the only island you’ve heard of is Capri 😉 And still ! I actually decided to head to Procida (quite randomly, I must admit) and that has to be of one the best surprises I’ve had during my travels ! The photo speaks for itself… Then again, Capri is the obvious choice for a romantic trip, although the island lost a lot of its authenticity… When it comes to Ischia, I’ll let you find out about it through this article. Spoiler alert : it looks insane too.
How to get to Capri / Procida / Ischia from Naples
Take a ferry from Molo Beverello harbour or Calata Porta di Massa. The journey takes between 45min and 1h30. One ticket costs 20€ to 30€, depending on the company.
Would you rather book an all-included tour ? Here’s a one day tour to Capri from Naples :
Is Naples worth visiting ?
SÌ, 100% ! It’s hard to put it into words, but as soon as my feet touched this city’s ground, I felt an energy that instantly touched me. Is it the millenium old history, the strong identity that differenciates it from the rest of Italy, the people with their sturdy character, the joyful mess on the streets, the magical environment with the Vesuvius in the background ? Probably a mix of all of that, but anyways if you like authentic travels like me, I promise you’ll fall for Naples too !
In terms of encounters as well, I had a great time. I’ve read travel stories online that said Neapolitans were cold and aggressive people : have you actually been there…?? As far as I can remember, I rarely felt as welcomed by the locals during a solo trip. Each person I talked to was full of kindness and good mood, taking their time to have an actual exchange with me and giving me cute nicknames… I shared this opinion with a local guide and from the way he answered « I’m so glad you understood the Neapolitans », I could tell there must be a lot preconcive ideas about these people. And when it comes to the mafia… yes, the Camorra is obviously present in Naples, but it couldn’t care less about tourists ! I mean, we’re talking about an extremely powerful criminal organization that gets money from extorsion and bribery… it doesn’t give a damn about your family jewels 😅
To finish, the surroundings of Naples are of course georgous : movie set worthy islands, world reknowned antique ruins, legendary coastline that smells of lemon and dolce vita ! Here, are you convinced yet ?
Where to stay in Naples, Italy ?
If you’re solo travelling and you’re looking for the perfect central place to meet people, I highly recommend the hostel where I stayed : Ostello Bello. I payed 34€/night for a bed in a dorm (breakfast included). The staff is adorable, the rooftop has amazing views and the places hosts a lot of parties that mix locals and tourists ! Good to know : one part of their building is also a hotel with private bedrooms.
For a mid-range hotel, have a look at Dimora Donna Elena located in a beautiful neapolitan house from the 20th century – in the heart of the historical center ! One night in a double bed bedroom costs 160€.
If you want to treat yourself, go check out the Grand Hotel Vesuvio, the only 5 starts hotel located by the seaside ! It has a great view on the bay and the Castel dell’Ovo. One night in a double bed bedroom costs 350€.
What’s the best neighborhood in Naples ?
That’s a hard one to answer… There is a neighborhood for every taste ! If I had to mention the main ones :
- The historical center and its main street « Spaccanapoli« , for a wonderful mix of baroque churches, antique ruins, cute restaurants… and many souvenir shops.
- The Spanish Quarter, to dive head first into the real Naples, with its labyrinth of narrow streets, its full of life atmosphere, its street art.
- Vomero on top of the hill, to enjoy the best views on the city and dream among the mediterraneen villas.
- San Ferdinando, to enjoy the large open spaces of the former political center of Naples.
- Chiaia, to experience Naples in a more luxurious way. Super nice to admire the city, the Castel dell’Ovo and the Vesuvius from a new perspective, although I found it less interesting.
- An alternative choice : la Sanità, up North. Although it was still considered as a dodgy part of town 10 years ago, the neighborhood is rising from its ashes today thanks to its spaces for artists, its modern art exhibitions and its old buildings gaining new life from works of street art.
Are there neighborhoods to avoid in Naples ?
As in all big cities, the areas around the major train stations aren’t very sexy/safe… After nightfall, I would also avoid the mazes of dark alleys in the historical center, Spanish Quarter and Sanità. I’m not saying something will happen to you ; the atmosphere is just not very reassuring so you might as well avoid getting scared for no reason. I personally took a walk in the Spanish Quarter every evening after dinner during my trip, but I always made sure I didn’t leave the busy parts of it.
How much does a trip to Naples cost ?
Here’s a little summary table for you ! These are obviously only examples of what I paid during my trip. You must also note that I travelled alone, backpack style.
|1 night in a hostel w/ breakfast||34€|
|1 pizza or 1 dish in local trattoria||5-8€|
|1 dish in a nice restaurant (+ service and water)||14-20€|
|1 cocktail in bars||5€|
|1 subway ticket||1,10€|
|1 train ticket to Pompeii, Herculaneum or Sorrento||1,70-4€|
What’s the best time of the year to visit Naples, Italy ?
The best period of the year is from march to november, although the weather remains pretty mild during winter. It all depends on the type of vacation you’re planning in Naples : during spring, the coast looks wonderful with its explosion of mediterranean nature. Summer is perfect for dips in the turquoise waters of the sea, even though it gets really hot and busy… Autumn and winter are more adapted to travellers who seek calm – and warmer temperatures than Paris or Berlin !
Hey ! If you liked this article, please have a look at my other posts on Italy :
3 réflexions sur “What to do in Naples (Italy) in 2, 3 or 4 days ?”
Oh, I’m definitely convinced! I haven’t been yet, but there’s just something about Napoli that pulls me in, it has been my dream for so long to be able to visit it… One day, hopefully!
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Oh, you should definately give it a go, I’m sure you’ll love it !
J’aimeAimé par 1 personne