The Best Things To Do In Naples, Italy

There is no shortage incredible things to do in Naples, Italy. Falling in love with this city, the capital of the Campania region of Italy, is pretty much inevitable. Chaotic, noisy, incredibly busy and right in your face, Naples is one of the most fun cities in the country. People there are as friendly as it gets. They will welcome you with open arms – and probably holding a cone of cuoppo in their hand, just in case you get hungry.

Seeing all of Naples in one go is almost impossible – but you can certainly give it a try! If you are still planning your trip, this selection of things to do in Naples, Italy, will certainly come in handy.

Make sure to read my post The Best Places To Visit In Italy.

32 Incredible Things To Do In Naples, Italy

Go on a walking tour of the city

One of the best things to do in Naples to get your bearings and a basic understanding of the city is to join a guided walking tour. This way, you can learn the city’s history, it’s culture and way of life. Tours normally last between 2 and 4 hours.

You can book your walking tour of Naples here, here or here.

Archeology Museum Naples

Visit Naples’ Archeological Museum

One of the best things to do in Naples, Italy, at the beginning of your visit and to learn about the history of Naples is visiting the Archeological Museum. This museum showcases artifacts from ancient Roman, Greek and Renaissance periods. Other exhibits include an Egyptian collection, mosaics and statues, but the Treasure of the Magnificent is the most prominent item on display. You’ll also see many paintings including some that were once so forbidden, they were kept under lock and key!

The MANN – Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli – is open every day except Tuesdays from 9:30 am to 7:30 pm. Admission is €15. To book a guided tour, click here.

Admire the Cappella Sansevero and Veiled Christ

Capella Sansevero is a magnificent baroque chapel housing important artworks by artists of the 1700s. Some of the works you’ll see include Il decoro by Antonia Corradini, La liberalità by Francesco Queirolo and Lo zelo della Religione. Also on display is the famed masterpiece Veiled Christ by Giuseppe Sanmartino which features incredible detail and quality. The sculpture is one of the most impressive of all time.

Sansevero Chapel is open every day but Tuesday from 9:00 am to 7:00 pm. Admission is €8 and you should book your visit in advance. You can do that here.

For a guided tour of the historic center that also goes to Cappella Sansevero, click here or here.

Maschio Angioino

Explore the Maschio Angioino Castle

Construction began on the mighty Maschio Angioino Castle in 1279. It served the purpose of royal residence until it took on the duty of fortress to protect the city in times of war. The first thing you’ll notice is the stunning views, but it’s inside where you’ll be in awe. During a tour, you’ll see the Armoury Hall, Saint Barbara Chapel, Charles V. Hall and Sala della Loggia. Be sure to stop and admire the beautiful artwork from the 1400s onward.

The Maschio Angioino is open from Monday to Saturday from 8:30 am to 6:30 pm and on Sunday from 9:00 am to 2:00 pm. Admission to the Civic Museum inside the castle is €6. If you also want to visit the terrace, the ruins, and the prisons (for which you will need a guide) the fee is €14. You must book your visit in advance on the official website here – unfortunately it is only in Italian, but it is quite self explanatory.

Castel dell'Ovo

Then go to Castel dell’Ovo

Castel dell’Ovo is the stuff of legends that you’ll learn about during a tour of this beautiful waterfront castle on the Megaride Peninsula. The castle served many purposes, including royal residence, prison and fortress, since it was built in the 12th century, but today it welcomes visitors who come to learn about the history and admire the views from the terrace.

The Castle is open from Monday to Saturday from 9:00 am to 6:30 pm and on Sunday from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm. There is no admission fee, but you still have to book your visit on the official site here.

Naples Waterfront

Walk along the Waterfront

With so many things to do in Naples, at some point, you’ll just want to relax and the best way to do that is with a walk along the scenic waterfront. There are 1.8 miles (3 kilometers) of waterfront to explore and the views, which consist of Capri and Castel dell’Ovo, are said to be among the best in Italy. The road is closed to traffic so you can enjoy all the bars, restaurants, historic buildings and shops without the hassle of traffic.

things to do in Naples Italy

Hang out in Piazza del Plebiscito

The Piazza del Plebiscito is a beautiful square that was built in the 1800s. Today, it’s the largest square in the city and a gathering place for residents and visitors and many of the city’s events take place there. An interesting feature of the square is that it was constructed with volcanic rock from nearby Vesuvius.

pizza in naples

Eat the famous Napoli Pizza

Pizza is one of the most popular dishes in the world and since it was invented in Naples in the early 1800s, you’ll find many pizzerias around the city serving up some of the best pizza you’ll find anywhere. While Margherita and Neapolitan pizza are the most popular options, you can find every type of pizza imaginable.

If you can only choose one pizzeria to go to while in Naples, make it Sorbillo. This long-standing eatery is run by Gino Sorbillo whose grandparents first opened the shop in 1935 and is said to make the best, most authentic pizza in Naples. There are various Sorbillo’s pizzeria in town. I went to the one by the waterfront but the most popular one is in Via dei Tribunali. They don’t take bookings so either go very early or be prepared to wait!

Care to learn how to make Napoli’s famous pizza? Enroll in a class! To find out more, click here!

cuoppo

Go on a Food Tour

When it comes to food, Naples is known for more than pizza, and eating is easily one of the unmissable things to do in Naples. The city is a foodie’s paradise and the best way to experience the food scene is with a tour. The cuisine is a mesh of Greek, Roman, French and Italian cultures and is heavily influenced by the Campania region which uses a lot of fish, cheese, vegetables and pasta.

There are many different tours including street food tours, traditional tours, pizza lessons combined with food tastings and evening food tours. Some of the delicious dishes the city is known for include pizza fritta, cuoppo, babà, sfogliatelle, struffoli and mozzarella in carrozza.

To book a food tour of Naples, click here, here or here.

Make sure to read my post What To Eat In Naples.

Palace of Capodimonte

Walk up to Palace of Capodimonte

Palace of Capodimonte was once a summer home for royalty, but today it houses the National Museum of Capodimonte. On display are 18th-century furnishings, a porcelain collection, sculptures and artworks by various Italian artists including Caravaggio, Titian, El Greco, Simone Martini and Lorenzo Lotto.

The Museo di Capodimonte is open every day except on Wednesday from 8:30 am to 7:30 pm. Last admission is at 6:30 pm. On Friday, it is open until 10:30 pm. Admission is €10.

Go on a tour of Napoli Underground

There are ancient tunnels running underneath Naples and you can visit these tunnels with a tour that takes you 40 meters below the city streets. Thought to have first started about 2400 years ago, tunnel extensions were added throughout the centuries. Fascinating things you’ll see on a tour include the Greek-Roman Aqueduct, remains of the Roman Theater and a small museum showcasing ancient artifacts uncovered in the tunnels. It’s one of the most popular things to do in Naples.

For a guided tour of Naples Underground, click here or here.

Pulcinella

Touch Pulcinella’s nose

Locals will swear that one one the unmissable things to do in Naples is touching Pulcinella’s nose. Located in the Via dei Tribunali, in the heart of the historic center of Naples, the statue was sculpted by artist Lello Esposito and is very much a symbol of the city. Representing one of the traditional masks of the city, according to an urban legend rubbing the nose of the statue will bring good fortune. Give it a try!

Pop inside San Domenico Maggiore Basilica

San Domenico Maggiore Basilica is a Gothic Roman Catholic church founded by the friars of the Dominican order. After admiring the stately exterior, check out the treasures housed inside. The Sacred Relics Chamber is where the hearts of Charles II of Naples, Ferdinand II of Naples and Alfonso V of Aragon are preserved. The Aragonese Arches, The Processions and the Sacred Ornaments are other collections of priceless art and artifacts on display.

Learn everything about Maradona

Diego Armando Maradona was a professional football player and hero to the people of Naples in a time when they needed someone to be in their corner! At Bar Nilo, there’s a shrine dedicated to his memory. At this shrine, there’s a container that’s said to hold actual Maradona tears and it’s best not to refute this with local admirers!

For a Diego Maradona city tour click here.

teatro san carlo

Check out San Carlo Theater

San Carlo Theater, which opened in 1737, has the distinction of being the oldest continuously running opera house in the world. From January to May, you can catch an opera performance and from April to June, Ballet performances are held. Guided tours are available and during a tour, you’ll see the Main Stage Hall, Royal Box and Foyer.

And Galleria Umberto I

Galleria Umberto I is a shopping gallery that first opened in the late 1800s. Today it’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site and while many people come here to shop or enjoy a meal at one of the restaurants, just as many come to admire the historic architecture. It’s located literally on the other side of San Carlo Theater.

Certosa di San Martino

Visit the Certosa di San Martino

Built in the 1300s, it was once a monastery, now it’s a museum on Vomero Hill. Inside Certosa San Martino today, you’ll see beautiful ceiling paintings by Lanfranco and Luca Giordano, the main church and its incredible architecture and underground rooms with artworks from the 13th century. Outside, you’ll find a garden and an old cemetery with an eerie railing holding bones and skulls.

The Certosa di San Martino is open every day but Wednesday from 8:30 am to 7:00 pm. Admission is €6.

Take in the views from the Vomero

There’s no shortage of spectacular views around Naples but one that isn’t to be missed is the view from Vomero. This lively hilltop district overlooks the city, Mount Vesuvius, the Bay of Naples and the Tyrrhenian Sea. It’s easy to reach from the center of Naples (you can take the stairs or a funicular) and once there, you’ll enjoy a selection of cafes, restaurants and shops along with some of the best views in the world.

Visit San Gregorio Armeno Church

San Gregorio Armeno is a Baroque church and monastery featuring incredible architecture. Inside, you’ll see a selection of paintings portraying The Life of Mary by Paolo De Matteis, a cloister dating back to 1580, a marble fountain and statues by Matteo Bottiglieri.

things to do in Naples Italy

Look at all the nativity scenes in Via San Gregorio Armeno

One of the best things to do in Naples (typically in December, but practically throughout the year) is to shop for small terra-cotta Nativity figures. Nativity scenes – called presepi in Italian – are a common thing to see all over Italy when Christmas approaches, but like many other things, it’s taken on a whole new level in Naples.

Go on a walk along Via San Gregorio Armeno and you will find anything you may possibly need to re-create the scene at home, way beyond the most important figures! You can literally reproduce the entire city of Bethlehem at home, with incredibly elaborate figures complete of traditional attire, as well as animals, perfect reproduction of shops, rooms, furniture and more.

But since this is Naples, besides the traditional figures of the Nativity you can expect humorous ones too. The most popular local and international celebrities often find a place among the tiny statues, just for a bit of fun.

Don’t feel like shopping, or the Nativity is not your thing? Just go take a look, it’s free!

church in naples

And Gesù Nuovo Church

You’ll see its imposing stonework work first, but Gesù Nuovo Church is more than meets the eye! Inside this 13th-century structure, you’ll see stunning religious art dating back several hundred years including The Expulsion of Heliodorus from the Temple by Francesco Solimena. You’ll also see eight busts of saints, the Sacred Heart Chapel, Nativity Chapel and Chapel of the Crucifix.

Catacombs of San Gennaro

Go to the Catacombs of San Gennaro

When you hear the word Catacombs, it likely sends chills down your spine, but the Catacombs of San Gennaro are a must-see – in fact, this is one of the best things to do in Naples. This fascinating underground attraction beneath the Rione Sanità district is home to the city’s oldest catacombs where early Christians and bishops lie in eternal rest and some areas date back to the 2nd century. Other attractions include the 3rd-century Basilica Minore and a lower level with ancient Pagan elements.

San Gennaro Catacombs are open every day but December 25th from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm. Admission is €9 and includes a guided tour that departs every hour. Advanced bookings are mandatory.

For a guided tour of the Catacombs of San Gennaro, click here or here.

Stroll along Via Chiaia

Even if you’re not in the market for upscale Italian shopping, Via Chiaia is an interesting place to explore. This historic shopping district is a pedestrian street with luxury clothing stores, specialty boutiques and restaurants. Whether you’re looking for a unique item to take home as a souvenir or just window shopping, you’ll enjoy a lively atmosphere.

Spaccanapoli

Then along Spaccanapoli

One of the best ways to see some of Naples’ most iconic landmarks is to take a walk along Spaccanapoli. This historic street is one of the most picturesque in the city with its old buildings with overhanging balconies, narrow alleys, produce stands, little shops, restaurants and local people going about their daily lives. The sound of music fills the air and you’ll enjoy a lively atmosphere that can only be described as classic Naples.

Royal Palace of Naples

Visit the Royal Palace

Built in the 1600s, the Royal Palace is one of Naples’ most stunning buildings. Situated in Piazza del Plebiscito, it once housed royalty. Today, it features a museum with exhibits showcasing antique furnishings, art and items of historical value. As you tour the palace, you’ll see many lavish quarters including the theater and throne room.

The Royal Palace is open every day but Wednesday from 9:00 am to 8:00 pm. Admission is €10. For more information, click here.

Fountain of the Giant

Admire the Fountain of the Giant

Since the 1600s, Fountain of the Giant graced many areas around Naples until finding its final resting place on via Partenope. This striking marble fountain created by Pietro Bernini and Michelangelo Naccherino is so unique and detailed that it’s said to be the most beautiful fountain in Naples.

Fontanelle Cemetery

Wander around Fontanelle Cemetery

A cemetery may not sound like the type of place to visit on vacation, but Fontanelle Cemetery, which is situated in a cave on a hillside, is a fascinating place with historical significance. When the Spanish arrived in the city in the 1500s, a lack of locations for cemeteries prompted them to remove older remains to this cave so that local people could be buried in their churches. The site you see today is an ossuary holding the remains of an unknown number of people. As you explore the site, you’ll see epitaphs with anecdotes and legends scrawled in memory of the dead.

The cemetery is open daily from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm and admission is free. At the time of writing, the Fontanelle Cemetery is closed. For more information, click here.

Caserta Royal Palace

Go to Caserta for a day

It’s only a 35-minute drive and a quick train ride from Naples so Caserta is the perfect location for a little day trip. Situated in the foothills of the Campanian Subapennine Mountains, it’s known for its lovely piazzas and various attractions including a 19th-century cathedral, Palazzo Vecchio and The Aqueduct of Vanvitelli. The Royal Palace, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site is the top must-visit attraction in Caserta.

For a guided tour of Caserta Royal Palace, including tickets, click here.

Make sure to also read my posts A Guide To Visiting Caserta Royal Palace and The Best Day Trips From Naples.

Hike Mount Vesuvius

The hike to the top of Mount Vesuvius is not as hard as it looks. It’s also not dangerous despite it being an active volcano. There’ll be warning if it decides to erupt again! The hike takes 30 minutes one way and at the top, you’ll enjoy spectacular views of the sea and surrounding villages and look down into the crater.

The park is open every day from 9:00 am. The last admission to walk to the crater is at 3:00, 4:00, 5:00 or 6:00 pm depending on the season. Admission is €10. You must get tickets in advance here. Alternatively, consider joining a guided tour that also includes transportation. You can book it here.

Make sure to read my post A Guide To Hiking Mount Vesuvius.

Pompeii

Visit Pompeii

The most fascinating site to visit in Italy is the ancient town of Pompeii which was destroyed when Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79 A.D. The well-preserved site was excavated to uncover streets, homes and businesses that were occupied by 20,000 people who were going about their day before the town was buried in a thick layer of ash. In a flash, townspeople were frozen in time only to be uncovered centuries later.

Today, they’re memorialized as they were in those final moments, set in plaster casts. As you explore this UNESCO World Heritage Site, you’ll see ancient graffiti and the remains of The Forum, Amphitheater, Baths and Gladiator Barracks.

The archeological site of Pompeii is open daily from 9:00 am to 7:00 pm (April to October) and from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm (November to March). Admission is €16 and you must book it in advance.

To get your tickets to Pompeii, click here. For a guided tour, click here.

Make sure to also read my posts A Complete Guide To Visiting Pompeii and How To Get Pompeii Tickets.

Herculaneum

And Herculaneum

Herculaneum is another town that was buried in ash after the Vesuvius eruption. Although lesser-known than Pompeii, the town’s remains are better preserved. Some of the buildings still have intact upper levels and balconies and as a former retreat for the elite, you’ll see remains of lavish living quarters.

The site is open daily from 8:30 am to either 5:00 or 7:30 pm depending on the season. It is closed on December 25th and January 1st. Admission is €11.

For a guided tour of Herculaneum, click here or here.

Positano

Go on a tour of the Amalfi Coast

The Amalfi Coast is an incredible journey along the beautiful coastline of the Sorrentine Peninsula and the starting point for this amazing route is only an hour away from Naples. As you cruise this 50-kilometer (31 miles) route, you’ll see cliffs, rugged beaches, lemon groves, vineyards and colorful fishing villages. You’ll pass through the towns of Positano, Amalfi and Ravello and see attractions including Villa Rufolo, Emerald Cave and Vallone delle Ferriere Waterfalls.

For a guided tour of the Amalfi Coast departing from Naples, click here.

Make sure to read my posts How To Get From Naples To The Amalfi Coast and The Best Things To Do On The Amalfi Coast.

Further Readings

These posts will be useful when planning your trip to Italy:

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Read about the best things to do in Naples, Italy - via @clautavani

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