Things to do in Naples

Things to do in  Naples

Unleash your inner archaeologist

Set along the Tyrrhenian Sea with views of Mt. Vesuvius to the east and the sparkling Bay of Naples hugging its shoreline, Naples is a busy, often frenetic city that serves as the main gateway to southern Italy and some of the country's most beautiful beach destinations. Nearby is Pompeii, the largest archaeological site in Europe; the ancient lava-trapped city can be visited on a day tour, as can Herculaneum, another town fossilized by Mt. Vesuvius. The treasures of Pompeii (including a one-million-piece floor mosaic) and other rare antiquities can be viewed at the National Archaeological Museum, easily visited on guided tour. The colorful seaside resorts of the Amalfi Coast—including Positano, Amalfi, and Ravello—are two to four hours away by train or bus; while the lovely islands of Sorrento and glamorous Capri are just quick 45-minute boat trips across the Gulf from central Naples. Take a trip to the island of Capri to see the glowing light of the Blue Grotto on a private boat tour. In Naples itself, spend an afternoon tasting pizza made in the city where it originated, visit historic castles, tour the underground ruins of the ancient Greek and Roman settlements, and revel in year-round Christmas with Naples' well-known nativity-scene shops.

Top 15 attractions in Naples

Mt. Vesuvius (Monte Vesuvio)

Looming above the Bay of Naples, Mt. Vesuvius (Monte Vesuvio) famously erupted in AD 79, covering Pompeii in ash and preserving the ruins of the Roman city for thousands of years. The volcano remains the only active one in continental Europe—despite this, many visitors hike to the crater to catch one-of-a-kind views of Pompeii, the Bay of Naples, and the surrounding Italian countryside.More

Naples Historic Center (Napoli Centro Storico)

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by Naples, a vibrant city that often seems about to boil over into chaos. Look past the streets teeming with scooters, vendors, and Neapolitans, however, and you’ll spot signs of the 2,500 years of history that makes the UNESCO-listed Naples Historic Center (Napoli Centro Storico) one of the most fascinating in Italy.More

Piazza del Plebiscito

The grand semicircular Piazza del Plebiscito is named after the referendum that united southern Italy with Piedmont under the House of Savoy in the 19th century. A miraculous swath of peaceful public space in raucous Naples, the piazza is the site of two top monuments: The Royal Palace and San Francesco di Paola Church.More

Via San Gregorio Armeno (Christmas Alley)

It’s Christmas all year round on Via San Gregorio Armeno, in the heart of Naples’ charmingly chaotic historic center. This unique alley, one of the most popular attractions in the city, is lined with artisan workshops showcasing displays of the handmade figurines used to populate the city’s elaborate traditional nativity scenes.More

Piazza del Gesù Nuovo

Piazza del Gesù Nuovo, named after the ornate church located on the northern end of the square, is the heart of Naples’ vibrant historic center. From here, it’s a few steps to the Santa Chiara Monastery with its famed majolica cloister, and an easy stroll down the length of Spaccanapoli, one of Naples’ most atmospheric streets.More

Naples Cathedral (Duomo di San Gennaro)

One of the most important churches in southern Italy, the impressive Naples Cathedral (Duomo di San Gennaro) was commissioned in the 13th century by King Charles I of Anjou and completed in the 14th century under Robert of Anjou. The Gothic cathedral was built on and around the paleo-Christian Basilica di Santa Restituta and is dedicated to the city's patron saint, St. Januarius. The duomo sits above fascinating catacombs containing archaeological remains of ancient Greek, Roman, and early Christian civilizations.More

Via Toledo

Bustling Via Toledo is one of the most important shopping streets in the center of Naples, an almost-mile-long stretch lined with a mix of small boutiques and large department stores. Rub elbows with Neapolitans who gather here to browse and socialize, admire Galleria Umberto I, and dine in a traditional side-street trattoria.More

Castel Nuovo (Maschio Angioino)

Castel Nuovo, known locally as Maschio Angioino, has the imposing stone walls, soaring turrets, and crenellated ramparts of a storybook medieval castle. Built as the new royal residence between 1279 and 1282 by Charles I of Anjou, it is one of Naples' most striking buildings and home of the city’s Civic Museum.More


Perched high above the chaotic historic center, Posillipo Hill is one of the most elegant residential neighborhoods in Naples. This tiny hillside on the northern coast of the Gulf of Naples offers sweeping views over the city and a more urbane atmosphere than the teeming warren of streets below.More

Sansevero Chapel (Museo Cappella Sansevero)

Giuseppe Sanmartino’s unbelievably realistic sculpture, Veiled Christ, is the unfailing draw to Sansevero Chapel (Museo Cappella Sansevero). The Naples chapel is a riot of baroque sculptures, religious art, and Masonic-inspired design. In an underground chamber, allegedly preserved human circulatory systems display local taste for the occult.More


Ischia is often overshadowed by its glamorous neighbor, Capri, but this island in Italy's Bay of Naples offers many delights, including natural hot springs, beautiful scenery, excellent cuisine, and the resort towns of Casamicciola Terme and Lacco Ameno.More

Herculaneum Archaeological Park (Parco Archeologico di Ercolano)

The ruins of this ancient Roman city, now theHerculaneum Archaeological Park (Parco Archeologico di Ercolano), live in the shadow of their more famous neighbor, Pompeii. But many enthusiasts consider this smaller site—one of Italy’s most important UNESCO-listed spots—to be equally interesting and engaging.More

San Carlo Opera House (Teatro di San Carlo)

Neapolitans boast that the historic San Carlo Opera House (Teatro di San Carlo) was opened in 1737, predating the opening of the famous La Scala in Milan. The opera house is Italy’s largest public theater and one of the oldest in the world, with an opulent interior of gold leaf, red upholstery, and frescoed ceilings. If making it to a performance is not feasible, tours taking in the exterior and exploring the interior are more than worthwhile.More

Galleria Umberto I

One of the most beautiful buildings in Naples, the 19th-century Galleria Umberto I marks the center of the historic downtown like a huge, glass-ceilinged cross. This elegant shopping arcade set between Via Toledo and the San Carlo Theater is included in a number of food and sightseeing tours. It’s the perfect spot for a quick espresso break.More

Naples National Archaeological Museum (Museo Archeologico Nazionale)

A treasure trove of Roman antiquities, Naples’ National Archaeological Museum is home to more than 3,000 artifacts, including bronzes, mosaics, and papyri recovered at Pompeii and Herculaneum; the Farnese Collection of classical gems, semi-precious stones, and sculpture; and the Egyptian collection.More

Trip ideas

Top activities in Naples

Mt. Vesuvius and Pompeii Day Trip from Naples all inclusive
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Pompeii Vesuvius day trip from Naples with Pizza or Wine tasting
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Tour to the Amalfi Coast Positano, Amalfi & Ravello from Naples
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Pompeii Half-day Trip from Naples

Pompeii Half-day Trip from Naples

Amalfi Coast Tour

Amalfi Coast Tour

Herculaneum Small Group tour with an Archaeologist
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Positano, Amalfi and Ravello - Private Tour

Positano, Amalfi and Ravello - Private Tour

per group
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All about Naples

When to visit

Naples runs on high-octane energy year-round, but note that it becomes sweltering and crowded in the high season, roughly from July to mid-September. In recent years, it’s also become more expensive. For fewer crowds, milder weather, and a calmer atmosphere, the best time to visit is from late May to June and early fall. Religious holidays like Easter, Christmas, and the Feast of San Gennaro (the city's patron saint) are great for experiencing traditional celebrations.

Getting around

Naples has a dizzying array of public transport options. The old 2-line rail metro runs from the central train station to Pozzuoli; the newer metro’s half-dozen lines crisscross the city; four funiculars climb the hills; the Cumana commuter rail runs north to Bacoli; and the Circumvesuviana rumbles to Sorrento. But things are inconsistently organized: The airport, for example, is reachable only by bus and taxi. The historic center is best explored on foot.

Traveler tips

Travelers sometimes struggle with finding metro and bus tickets, especially outside the main stations. The tickets usually come in single-ride, 90-minute, and daily varieties and cannot be purchased on buses or trains. To find them, head to a neighborhood bar (in Italy, bars are more like cafés than bars serving alcohol), a newspaper stand, or a tabaccheria. These "tobacconist" shops sell everything from cigarettes to stamps and bus tickets—spot them by looking for signs with an oversized "T."

Local Currency
Euro (€)
Time Zone
CET (UTC +1)
Country Code

A local’s pocket guide to Naples

Rebecca Winke

With its effusive locals, rough-edged beauty, and carbs-only cuisine, Naples has always made Chicago-born writer Rebecca feel right at home. She visits La Bella Napoli regularly to get her fill of pizza and personalities.

The first thing you should do in Naples is ...

stroll the length of Spaccanapoli, the Naples-in-a-street experience that captures the essence of the city from the faded glory of its palaces to the theatrical charm of its people.

A perfect Saturday in Naples...

begins at the Pignasecca street market, a kaleidoscope of colorful food stands and equally colorful vendors. Pizza is a must in this city where pies have UNESCO status; walk off your lunch along the waterfront promenade as the sun sets.

One touristy thing that lives up to the hype is...

Via San Gregorio Armeno, where historic artisan workshops have been crafting traditional Neapolitan “presepi” (nativity scenes) for centuries. Elbow past the crowds to see masters at work creating exquisite figurines by hand.

To discover the "real" Naples...

you don’t have to look hard. Naples wears its soul on its sleeve and the city is authentic in a way that's absent in Italy’s tourism hot spots. From gritty Rione Sanità to swish Chiaia, Naples’ true colors shine bright.

For the best view of the city...

head to the Belvedere di San Martino (next to the Charterhouse of San Martino) perched atop Vomero Hill above the city to watch the sun set behind the Bay of Naples.

One thing people get wrong...

is thinking that Naples is dangerous. Naples is unruly and chaotic, but that’s a part of its charm. Watch your valuables (petty theft is the most common crime) and you’ll find Naples is no less safe than any large city.


People Also Ask

What is Naples, Italy, known for?

Brash, animated Naples is the birthplace of the modern pizza, with venerable old-school joints churning out the beloved pies in the same fashion for generations. The ruins of Pompeii and the glittering Amalfi Coast and Island of Capri are just outside the city—and close runners-up.

How do I spend a day in Naples?

Start with coffee and a sfogliatella pastry at the historic Gran Caffè Gambrinus. From there, visit the Royal Palace of Milan, San Carlo Opera House, and Galleria Umberto I before strolling up Via Toledo to the Naples National Archeological Museum. Dinner is at L’Antica Pizzeria da Michele on Via Cesare Sersale.

What is a must-see in Naples?

Inside the Sansevero Chapel you’ll find Giuseppe Sanmartino’s Veiled Christ. The realistic marble sculpture of a shrouded, lifeless Christ is thought to have been created by transmuting cloth into crystalline marble. Lines are notoriously long—booking advance admission tickets is absolutely crucial.

What is considered rude in Italy?

Some habits to avoid in Italy: turning up as a guest without a pensiero, a small gift; blocking tailgaters from passing on the left (fast) lane on highways; and entering churches with exposed shoulders or knees. While not rude, ordering cappuccinos after breakfast or cheese on seafood are faux pas.

What do locals do in Naples?

Between April and October, Neapolitans swim in the Parco Sommerso di Gaiola, a secluded marine reserve with submerged Roman ruins. Year-round they take part in the afternoon passeggiata—ritual, leisurely walks along either the lungomare (promenade) or fashionable Via Toledo, which leads to Port’Alba and the dense historic center.

Is Naples expensive?

No. Hostel and guesthouse stays, terrific pizza and street food, and affordable museums and attractions make Naples the least expensive metro on the Italian mainland. Travelers can spend days simply walking through the liveliest neighborhoods—those searching for la bella vita can visit exclusive Capri or the Amalfi Coast.

Frequently Asked Questions