Both chaotic and artistic, this largest city in southern Italy offers a little something for everyone. From its world-class monuments, archaeological treasures, Italy’s best pizza and electrifying street life, Naples is all but dull. One day in Naples can seem like not enough time to explore everything, but it’s just enough to fall under its southern charm and get the real vibe of the city.
What’s the best time to visit Naples?
Even though Italy’s always been one of the world’s best summer destinations, Naples is a brilliant winter break destination, too. It enjoys a mild, southern climate, which makes winters pretty enjoyable. If you want to enjoy sunny weather and still skip the tourist crowd pick May or late September.
What’s good to know about Naples?
Italy’s third-largest city and one of its oldest is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. Its historic centre, listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, is the largest in Europe.
Over the centuries, especially during the Renaissance and Enlightenment eras, Naples has been a major cultural centre and its rich historic architecture doesn’t hide that. It’s often called an open-air museum, due to many historic monuments and archaeological sites, including the Roman ruins of Pompeii in the immediate vicinity.
One Day in Naples Itinerary
Top things to do in Naples, Italy
Follow this guide and make the most of your trip even if you’re short on time. These are the top sights and things to do during your one day in Naples.
Start your day with a coffee and sfogliatella
Before you even start your Naples tour, take a shot of a strong espresso. Even though all of Italy is known for its great coffee, the best one is still served in Naples. Find a patisserie that serves sfogliatella and try this shell-shaped filled Italian pastry, originally from the region of Campania.
Stroll around the historic centre
Walk the Old Town as early as possible to skip all the crowds that come later in the day. Follow the Spaccanapoli (Via San Biagio dei Librai) – the narrow, straight street that splits the historic centre in two. The street offers plenty of patisseries and souvenir shops as well as many historical buildings and churches.
Visit Il Duomo (The Cathedral)
Follow Via Duomo all the way to the Cathedral of Naples dedicated to Our Lady of the Assumption. The church was originally built in Gothic style, but was reconstructed and renovated in other architectural styles over the centuries. The church keeps the blood of Naples Patron Saint, San Gennaro. It’s kept in a little flask that’s supposed to liquefy twice a year in front of the crowd. The spectacle is called the Miracle of Saint Gennaro.
Discover the hidden world of Napoli Sotterranea (Naples Underground)
Many Italian cities are actually built on previously existing underground cities. Napoli is not an exception. Napoli Sotterranea includes the ruins of underground structures built by ancient Greeks and later developed by the Romans. From Roman forums to Roman markets, you can witness the centuries of civilization, all under the existing city of Naples. Prepare yourself for a 90 minute exploration full of imagination and mystery.
Stop at Sorbillo’s to eat the original Napoli pizza
Pizza, the most famous Italian dish, originated in Napoli. You can still taste the original pizza taste in one of many Naples’ pizzerias. The best one, Sorbillo, offers several types of pizzas for a really fair price. Be prepared for long lines if visiting in the peak season, but once you get seated, you won’t wait more than 5 minutes to get your pizza. Try the basic one with basil, tomato and mozzarella. In case you want to skip the long lines and still taste an amazing pizza, visit Solo Pizza.
Check out the Gesù Nuovo church unique facade
Chiesa del Gesù Nuovo was first built as Palazzo Sanseverino in the 15th century and was later converted into a 16th-century church. Giuseppe Valeriani designed its unique facade, covered in pyramid shapes that make a great visual experience. It’s a great place to snap a few photos, too.
Explore the Ancient Art at the Museo Archeologico Nazionale
Out of many museums and galleries in Naples, Museo Archeologico Nazionale is the most impressive one. It houses the world’s finest collection of ancient Greco-Roman arts and artefacts, including the most impressive Roman finds of Pompeii and Herculaneum. Colorful Pompei frescos and mosaics, early Greek sculptures, Herculaneum bronze finds – it’s all there. Don’t skip the secret room – a collection of saucy ancient erotica.
Stroll Via Toledo and visit Toledo Metro station
Via Toledo is the most famous shopping street and the best place to indulge in the city’s vivid atmosphere. Stroll the Toledo street, visit some of the Italian brand shops and finally, don’t miss checking out the Toledo Metro station.
This station won the LEAF Award ‘2013 as “Public building of the year” and according to CNN is the most beautiful metro stop in Europe. Check it out to see why.
Visit Galleria Umberto I and Piazza del Plebiscito
Via Toledo actually offers more surprises. Galleria Umberto I offers exclusive shopping experience in a high and spacious cross-shaped structure with a glass dome, the luxurious building that resembles the one in Milan. Even if you’re not into shopping, passing trough this arcade gallery is a must.
Finally, visit Piazza del Plebiscito, one of the most iconic public places in Naples embraced by the impressive facades of the Palazzo Salerno, Royal Palace & Church of San Francesco di Paolo. Grandeur of historical architecture makes this Piazza an interesting place to see and a great photo opportunity.
Visit the Castles
Naples is home to many forts and castles, and two of them are really worth a visit even if spending only one day in Naples. The Castel dell’Ovo, located at the end of the lungomare, is the oldest one, dating from the 12th century.
The second one, Castel Nuovo, overlooks the port and was built at the end of the 13th century. If you’re not up for an inside tour, checking the seaside area and the beautiful promenade is still a great thing to do in Naples. The area is especially beautiful at sunset, so make sure to schedule your day right so you don’t miss it.
Spend a night at Piazza Bellini
Naples is famous for its lively piazzas (squares) where both locals and tourists gather until the early hours. Piazza Bellini is a great choice not just because of the nice bars and restaurants, but because you also meet a lot of interesting locals and musicians who hang around the mini park in the centre. There are many nice beer shops, so even if you’re travelling on a budget you can have quality Italian beers for less than 2 euros.
Where to stay in Naples?
Since you only have a day in Naples, it’s very important not to waste much time on transport, so you should pick yourself some central place to stay.
Hotel NapoliMia should be a great pick since it’s located in one of the busiest and most interesting streets in Naples – Via Toledo. The hotel is pretty close to the Toledo station and many other city attractions, plus they serve an amazing breakfast in the morning.
The Santa Chiara Boutique Hotel
The Santa Chiara Boutique Hotel is even more central, located in the heart of the historic centre. Antique furniture, tasteful interior, interesting art is what describes this boutique hotel best. Not to mention their amazing breakfast. You shouldn’t miss the fantastic views from the roof terrace either.
Caruso Place Boutique & Wellness Suites
Caruso Place Boutique & Wellness Suites is a new stylish boutique hotel that combines modern designs with antique details and furniture. It’s centrally located, literally on Via Toledo, right across Galeria Umberto I. The spacious rooms provide unique and comfortable stay.
NeapolitanTrips Hotel Royale
NeapolitanTrips Hotel Royale is another stylish hotel with a perfect location, close to all the main attractions. The hotel has an amazing rooftop deck with a fantastic bar overlooking the city. Enjoy your evening drinks with a spectacular city view.
Hotel Piazza Bellini
Located on Piazza Bellini, Hotel Piazza Bellini is perfect for city exploration and sightseeing. Set in a 16th-century building, hotel combines modern design with artistic elements. Uniquely decorated rooms bring extra comfort.
DAY TRIPS FROM NAPLES
Naples is a beautiful and interesting city, no doubt about that. However, there are many things to be seen outside of it. Setting off on a day trip from Naples is a great idea no matter what kind of tourist you are, and some of these locations really are a must.
Obviously, Pompeii have to be number one on your list. This ancient Roman city was completely destroyed when the nearby volcano erupted, but this calamity has also preserved it in an incredible state and you can clearly see how ancient Romans lived. The volcano, Mount Vesuvius, can also be seen up close – climb all the way up for a spectacular view. Don’t worry, it’s perfectly safe.
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Amalfi Coast is an absolutely beautiful strip of land, full of picturesque villages and serene little towns. If you really want to get away from it all, head over here and enjoy the scenery. Of course, you can also enjoy the beaches in the area, and the locals will always be friendly. Lunch in a place on this coast seems like a perfect idea, but just grabbing a snack and strolling down a street of a small Italian town should be more than enough to help you recharge your batteries.
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Islands in the Bay of Napoli
If you fancy a trip across the Bay of Napoli, you won’t be disappointed. You can head to the island of Capri, for example, and visit the famous Blue Grotto and enjoy more scenery characteristic for southern Italy – beautiful little villages and deep blue sea. Ischia is also a great choice, though. The largest island of the bay is full of thermal waters, so relaxation is the name of the game here. Pamper yourself a bit and come back to the city completely rejuvenated.
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Visiting Sorrento is another excellent way to enjoy yourself in an absolutely mesmerizing surrounding. Cobbled roads, lovely shops, great food loads of beaches will provide you with absolutely everything you need. And yet, you will be able to relax because you will be far from a big city. This destination offers a little bit of everything that makes this part of Italy so unique and attractive. You simply can’t go wrong!
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Caserta Royal Palace
Travel back in time with a visit to this magnificent palace from the 18th century. Caserta belonged to Bourbon rulers and has 1200 room, incredible gardens and everything else you’d expect from a place like this. Take a peek into the royal suites, check out the huge ballroom and see firsthand how nobles used to live. Known also as Italian Versailles, this magnificent piece of architecture is also a UNESCO heritage site.
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Extra tips for visiting naples
-The traffic can get crazy in Naples. Whether you’re just crossing the street, even on the marked place, you need to watch out for the cars. Sometimes they just don’t care for the pedestrians at all.
-If visiting Napoli Sotterranea, bring a long-sleeve shirt. It can get cold down there.
-Watch your wallet! Pickpocketing, especially around tourist attractions, is very common so you better keep your cash, credit cards, phone and other valuables concealed.
-Unlike many European cities, there’s no strict dress code when visiting religious sites, so you can enter even if wearing short clothes.
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