“There are cities that preserve art in museums and daily life happens on the streets, but Naples is a city where art is a lifestyle.” Are you ready to take an unforgettable journey through an engaging Naples tour? Naples is one of Europe’s largest and oldest cities.
It’s a chaotic, surprising and intense place stuffed with character; modern life and history clash on every street. After having been in many Italian cities, nothing will prepare you for the exuberant, colourful, and sometimes chaotic hubbub of Naples.
With Vesuvius to the east, the ancient port of Pozzuoli to the west and the timeless islands of Ischia, Procida and Capri nestled in the glittering bay, it’s no wonder the Romans nicknamed the area the happy land.
Naples has still held on to much of its character and old-world charm: famous museums, great antique buildings, mysterious churches and breathtaking panoramas expect you.
Whether you arrive at the Central Station or the ferry/cruise port or are lucky enough to stay in a hotel in central Naples you may well be fine just walking everywhere. During your Naples tour, all the main sights are easily walked to from any point in the centre.
Here’s a list of the 10 top things to do during your Naples tour, so you do not miss any of the beautiful and unforgettable Naples sights!
Admire Piazza del Plebiscito
All the Naples tours, should start from here in Piazza del Plebiscito. This beautiful pedestrian square is in the heart of Naples and a short distance from many of the main tourist attractions, like Castel Nuovo, Teatro di San Carlo, and the Quartieri Spagnoli.
This vast open space is filled with important buildings and statues, and it’s a truly fantastic place to visit, here you will find the Palazzo Reale, a 30-room Royal House Museum, as well as Biblioteca Nazionale Vittorio Emanuele III, the largest library in southern Italy.
The square is an ideal spot for people-watching, taking in the grand architecture, and enjoying views of the harbour and mountains. Occasionally the square is used for open-air concerts; big names, such as Elton John and Bruce Springsteen, have performed here.
Good stop for a coffee break: The famous Gran Caffé Gambrinus is a great place to drink a coffee and do some people watching. This café features great works of art by contemporary Italian artists and is known as a meeting spot for the city’s artists and intellectuals.
Visit the Royal Palace of Naples
The Royal Palace of Naples is an historic building located in Piazza Plebiscito, one of the city’s landmarks you cannot miss during your Naples tour. It is one of the most representative museum complexes in Naples, holding objects, decors, tapestries and rooms dating back to the Spanish and Bourbon periods and important paintings and frescoes by artists of the time. The palace is a great place to step back from the hustle and bustle of the city and check out the more-stately side of Naples.
Millions of tourists visit this complex every year, a majestic place that, through its rooms, tells the splendour and the magnificence of the dynasties that have reigned over this city. The Royal Palace of Naples was the historic residence of the Spanish viceroys for over 150 years.
The interior of the palace is full of massive rooms decorated in lavish colours with paintings, chandeliers and gold-leafed furniture. A tour of the interior and rooms is a must and will complete your visit of this wonderful historic building. Ticket: from € 6 per person. The palace is open from 9 am – 8 pm every day except for Wednesdays.
Visit Maschio Angioino – “Castel Nuovo”
Located in close proximity to the famous Piazza del Plebiscito the castle is easily accessible and is one of the main historical sites you cannot miss during your Naples tour. The Maschio Angioino, also called Castel Nuovo, is a distinctive piece of the Naples’ skyline and an essential part of any Naples sightseeing.
Created in 1282, the castle features 5 circular crenelated towers and a fantastic triumphal arch that was added at a later date. The castle was the residence of kings and viceroys of Naples.
Don’t miss to take a tour of the castle and admire the beautiful towers, stand in the central courtyard, admire the painted ceiling of the Baron’s Hall and climb the castle ramparts for stunning views of Naples and the harbour.
Since some years, it’s possible to follow a museum tour inside the castle (Civic Museum), inside there are several works from the Caravaggio school and important Neapolitan baroque artists, finally there are some rooms dedicated to temporary exhibitions. (Prices: Full ticket 6€ / Closed on Sunday)
Explore Castel dell’Ovo
Naples is the principal port in Southern Italy, and the harbour is its heart. As you enter the port at Naples you will undoubtedly see this stunning sea bound castle, the oldest standing fortification in Naples. The castle’s name comes from a legend about the Roman poet Virgil, who had a reputation in medieval times as a great sorcerer and a predictor of the future.
In the legend, Virgil puts a magical egg into the foundations to support the fortifications. Had this egg been broken, the castle would have been destroyed and a series of disastrous events in Naples would have followed.
Once an island, the land that the castle stands on is now connected to the mainland and is accessible by a footpath and road.
The castle is open to the public and it is a fantastic structure to explore. For a great view, climb the ramparts of the Norman castle, which marks the site where Greek colonisers founded the first settlement here more than 2,500 years ago.
You can also find several exhibits of art and displays about the history of the castle. There is no charge for admission to the castle and museum (Free Entrance From Sunday to Friday 09am-02pm Saturday: closed)
Naples Cathedral and its Blood Miracle
The Cathedral of Naples is the largest church in the city and one of the most visited sights during Naples tours. Also known as the Duomo of San Gennaro, the patron saint and protector of Naples, the cathedral is one of many religious sights to visit in this vibrant city. Built in the 11th and 12th century, the cathedral was later renovated using more than 100 columns salvaged from ancient Greek temples.
The Cathedral is best known for the ceremony held within its magnificent structure three times each year. On these dates, the faithful crowd into the cathedral to see if a relic of the saint’s blood will liquefy as a sign that all is well in the city.
It is really worth visiting the museum of the Treasure of San Gennaro just next door to the Cathedral, which contains the biggest and oldest collection of treasures in the world after the Her Majestys Crown Jewels in the Tower of London.
Did you know? The novel of literary man Boccaccio (Decameron), has been set in Minutolo chapel in Naples cathedral.
(Cathedral – Free entry -Tickets for the Museo del Tesoro di San Gennaro – € 6)
San Gregorio Armeno: the place where “every day is Christmas”
Located in the city’s historic district, this street is one of the most amazing attractions in Naples and it’s the best place if you want to see really all about the Neapolitan Crib. Using wood or clay, street artisans create manger scenes here that range from the traditional to the deeply personal, often crafting figurines to represent family members or people from popular culture.
There are workshops displaying statues depicting also celebrities and politicians such as Sofia Loren, Monica Bellucci and even Barack Obama and Donald Trump. This mix of sacred and profane sums up the incredible irony and creativity of the artisans who transform world news and special events into a singular form of art.
During Christmas time in Naples, more than half a million tourists from all the world come to see the shops with the original miniature figurines and the street is especially busy. However, the most shops are open all year round.
Prices run from a minimum of 30/40€ for a 5cm-tall shepherd, to thousands of Euros for very large reproduction of classic, 18th-Century shepherd statues.
The mysterious “Catacombs of San Gennaro”
Have you ever wanted to explore a secret underground world? This is exactly what the San Gennaro Catacombs are, don’t miss this visit during your Naples tour. The archaeological site is an underground cemetery, which shelters the ancient tombs of the Early Christians and bishops of the City of Naples.
Hidden just 100 steps beneath the city, the catacombs are home to over 3000 burial sites, including that of San Gennaro, the celebrated patron of Naples.
Once underground, you will find a network of tunnels and passageways that are lined with graves and crypts dating back to ancient history.
Spread over two levels, the lower floor is dimly lit to retain the spooky underground feeling.
The top level is more spacious but just as interesting and contains many detailed frescos and artwork.
A guided tour of the catacombs will provide a memorable experience and a true insight into the history of Naples: walking into the catacombs is like stepping into a time machine — it is like being in another world of times long past. Tickets € 8
Our tip:To fully enjoy the tour, wear comfortable shoes and a sweater. The temperature in the catacombs ranges from 15 to 22 degrees also in summer.
Climb Mount Vesuvius -the most famous piece of Naples’ skyline
Mount Vesuvius is a popular tourist attraction and no Naples tour is complete without climbing up this iconic peak. Mount Vesuvius is famous for its eruption in 79 A.D. that destroyed Pompeii, Herculaneum and other cities nearby. Today you can take a bus tour from Naples to visit this magnificent natural phenomenon and climb up its slopes to peer into the crater.
A hike will take between 20-30 minutes and is considered not too challenging –Once on the top, it offers incredible panoramic views of the surrounding area for you to photograph.
Did you know? Mount Vesuvius is one of only two active volcanoes in Continental Europe and stands about 1281 meters tall. The whole of the Mount Vesuvius National Park is both beautiful and productive, dotted with small farms and wineries planted with heirloom varietals boasting a unique terroir.
Don‘t miss a chance to try Lacrime Cristi wine made out of the grapes that are growing on this volcano. You can try it after you‘ll be done visiting the crater, at the bar near the bus stop.
Our tip: Don’t forget to wear comfortable shoes, bring with you a hat, sunscreen and lots of water.You‘ll take about 1:30 hours to visit the crater.
Feel like a VIP: explore the island of Capri
If you are planning a Naples tour, then this is one of the most amazing things to do with your partner. Capri is a beautiful island with an easy reach from Naples.
Surrounded by the startlingly blue waters of the Tyrrhenian Sea and characterized by craggy hills covered in trees, Capri island will capture your heart so you may never want to leave! You will fall in love with its dramatic scenery, rugged coastline dotted with beautiful caves and its quaint and charming villages.
The island has several churches, museums and monuments but the main attractions are the natural wonders and beaches. Don’t miss the Blue Grotto: the island’s most well-known attraction. It is a sea cave where the sunlight passing through the underwater opening gives the water a cobalt blue colour. Simply amazing!
Go to Molo Beverello in Naples and buy a ticket for a round trip on the high-speed hydrofoil.(Ticket costs about €20 for route /The sea-journey takes 50 minutes) You’ll arrive at Marina Grande, the main port of Capri.
Here, you can purchase a ticket for the Capri boat tour. (Boat tour costs €18). Take the complete circular tour, which includes passing through the famous Faraglioni rock formations and a visit to the marvellous Blue Grotto.
Eat Pizza in its birthplace!
Naples is the birthplace of pizza and you can’t leave without trying some of the world’s best!
Legend has it that the classic Margherita pizza was invented in 1889, 28 years after the unification of Italy. During a visit to Naples of Queen Margherita of Savoy, wife of King Umberto I, chef Raffaele Esposito of Pizzeria Brandi and his wife created a pizza resembling the colours of the Italian flag, red (tomato), white (mozzarella) and green (basil). They named it after the Queen – Pizza Margherita.
Where to eat the best pizza: “L’Antica Pizzeria Da Michele”
This pizzeria located the historic city centre was famous long before Julia Roberts was featured munching on a slice in the movie “Eat, Pray, Love.” In business for more than a century, Da Michele has earned a reputation for making the best pizza in Italy.
If you love pastries, you cannot leave Naples without sampling the granddaddy of Neapolitan pastry—the Sfogliatella: flaky crust and soft cream, best when enjoyed warm and fresh out of the oven.
Naples travel tips: Things to know before you go!
- Grab a Sfogliatella to start the day with a cup of coffee, perhaps at Casa Infante and Leopoldo.
- Visit the Museums on the first Sunday of the month. Every first Sunday of the month, all the state run museums, ruins, and gardens are free.
- Go on a free walking Naple tour – This is a great way to learn the history behind the places you are seeing and to avoid missing any must-see stops.
- If you haven’t time to visit Pompei, go to the Archaeological Museum in Naples
- For the lovers of contemporary art, there is a whole “underground” world to discover. The Toledo station has been considered the most beautiful station in Europe by CNN and the Daily Telegraph daily newspaper. The most impressive work of this station is Crater de Luz, by Robert Wilson, which connects the inside with the outside and remembers the sea in its many facets, as well as the wavy walls surrounding it.
- Coffee in Naples is a cult. In various bars of the city you can find the possibility of finding a “suspended café” where those who take a coffee pays another, leaving him in suspense for those who will come as if they wanted to offer a coffee to all the people of the world who could pass by there.
- Like in any big city in Europe, pickpocketing and fraud at street market can occur in Naples. Avoid the Spanish Quarter after dark or if you’re alone.
- For shopping lovers: Via Toledo, is one of the main business and shopping streets.
- When it rains: visit the Capodimonte Museum. You will be able to admire the masterpieces of the Baroque and Neapolitan Renaissance, the porcelain collection, but also Caravaggio, Botticelli and Andy Warhol.
- For a stunning view: The panoramic view of Posillipo is a must if you want to visit Naples. Just think of the photos and the most beautiful postcards of Naples, which immediately springs to mind the memory of the Gulf and the city, seen from the Posillipo hill.
- The perfect place to watch the sunset in Naples is Lungomare Caracciolo, near the sea. From there you can see the fishermen’s boats, Castel dell’Ovo and the public park.