Are you visiting or thinking of visiting Naples, Italy, and wondering what to see and do? Or, will you be arriving on a cruise ship? To be sure, Naples is one of the most beautiful cities in Italy. For example, the food is incredible, and the people are warm and fun. Also, the city has an overall sense of “party town,” all year round. Unfortunately, Naples has a bit of a bad reputation. And, people who travel here often come to Naples to see other places such as the Amalfi Coast, Capri and Pompeii, and Herculaneum. It’s a shame, as tourists who skip Naples miss an incredibly beautiful city altogether.
For some reason, the city has a bad reputation for being dirty and dangerous. For example, many tourist guides often suggest to “beware of pickpockets” – but this is just common sense that applies to any city, not only Naples. To be sure, Naples is no more or less safe any than other large metropolitan cities. Finally, I offer the same recommendation when seeing a new city: use some common sense.
So with that, let’s discover the most noteworthy things to see and do and visit in Naples.
Piazza Plebiscito e Palazzo Reale
The Piazza Plebicscito is in the heart of Naples. Here, in the background, you can see and visit the Palazzo Reale (The Royal Palace). 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 San Carlo. To be sure, the San Carlo Theatre in Naples, Italy, is one of the most beautiful and ornate Opera Houses in the World – and a must-see!
After you’ve seen the Piazza Plebicito, you might be wondering where to have a coffee as the locals do. If this is the case, I recommend stopping for a coffee at the most famous coffee house in the world. The coffee shop is called Caffè Gambrinus and is an institution in Naples. While not precisely a tourist attraction, Michele Sergio revitalized Caffe Gambrinus and brought it back to its historical roots. Certainly, Caffe Gambrinus is coffee shop is worth visiting for the espresso and the amazing baba deserts (Rum-soaked pastries, typical of Naples)
Via Toledo is a busy street located in one of the main shopping areas in Naples. You see, this city gets packed with people strolling around and checking windows. For example, 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.
Via Domenico Capitelli (Spaccanapoli)
Via Domenico Capitelli was built in the Roman period, and it’s still part of the city layout. Indeed, 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.
Monastero Santa Chiara – A Must See Monastery in Naples
Monastero Santa Chiara is an astounding 13th-century monastery that is certainly something to see and do while in Naples. The Monastery offers a serene oasis of quiet, all while in the city center. Here, the most prominent feature of the monastery is the cloister magnificently decorated with hand-painted tiles. For this reason, this cloister is worth a visit. Trust me, and you won’t be disappointed.
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. The tickets are €6.00.
San Gregorio Armeno
San Gregorio Armeno is a narrow street, famous for the stores that sell hand made religious figurines. Also, the road becomes particularly busy around Christmas time when they start selling Naples’s famous Nativity Scenes. For this reason, the street is often packed with people.
Via Tribunali – Must See For the Pizza
Via Tribunali is famous for the best (and busiest) pizza restaurant in Napoli. From this street, you can also take a tour of the underground city. Indeed, the tour is remarkably impressive. For example, you’ll be able to see the history of the town. For instance, ancient greeks used the caves as an aqueduct. Then, in WW2, the caves were used as bomb shelters. Of course, if you have claustrophobia, the tour is not for you.
The Duomo 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 blood of the saint liquifies. According to the legend, if the blood stays solid, a disaster will occur in Naples. Finally, the Royal Chapel and the treasure are two of the most famous attractions of the church.
Cappella di San Severo
The Capella di San Severo is a little church famous for the marble statue of the dead Christ with a veil covering his head (Cristo Velato). You see, the marble masterpiece looks like Christ is wearing a transparent veil, while instead, it is all made by white marble.
The San Severo Chapel in Naples is open daily, from 9 am to 7 pm and closed on Tuesday, and on Saturday it is open from 9:00 am to 8:30 pm. The admission fee is €8.00.
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.
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. Also, outside the Pizzeria, you can see a plaque commemorating this event. To be sure – this is authentic Neapolitan pizza, not the fake stuff!
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. To be sure, 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 castles’ 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 Mon to Saturday and from 9:00 am to 2:00 pm on Sunday. In the summer: Mon to Sat from 9:00 am to 7:30 pm (last admission at 7:00 pm). On Sunday from 9:00 am to 2:00 pm.
Also, on the same little island of the castle, you’ll see the Borgo Marinaro. Here, you will find fishermen mooring their boats and sail to go fishing. Naturally, there are plenty of seafood restaurants in this area. Indeed, 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.”
From the Galleria, you can reach Piazza Municipio 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.
Castel Sant’Elmo and Certosa
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. Today, it offers magnificent views from overlooking the city of Naples. These days, the castle plays host to several exhibitions and is open Mon to Fri from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm and from 2:00 pm to 5:00 pm. Saturday from 9:00 am to 2:00 pm.
While in the area, consider visiting The Certosa of San Martino. For example, it has some remarkable gardens and rooms with frescos and is worth a visit. Lastly, be sure to check the website for the latest schedule and entrance fees.
Reggia di Capodimonte
The Royal Palace of Capodimonte (Reggia di Capodimonte) was the summer residence of the Royal Family of Naples and located in the middle of the forest of the same name. Inside, you can visit the National Gallery of painting, The Royal Appartments, and the famous Porcelain Factory.
The palace is open from Mon to Fri from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm and on Saturday from 9:00 am to 2:00 pm. Tickets are €14.00 and can be purchased here.
Final Notes about What to See and Do in Naples
Naples, Italy, is very walkable. For example, here is a comprehensive walking itinerary that I like to follow when I’m visiting Naples. To be sure, 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. Indeed, if you have more time, there are many more beautiful places for you to visit.
I hope that these few notes inspired you to visit this vibrant and beautiful city and see that Naples is much more than the gateway to Pompeii or the Amalfi coast. Let me know what you think in the comments.