It may not be the most attractive and romantic city in Italy, but there sure is a lot to do. What most people don’t see about Naples is that its true beauty lies within the culture. Yes, the city is a bit dirty and the locals are not the most pleasant, but it is an outstanding destination one cannot miss. Not only does the city serve as a popular cruise port and gateway to the incredible Italian coastline, Naples has much more to offer.
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Italy is obviously known for pizza, but Naples is the birth place of this beloved dish. Napoletanos are so serious about their pizza that they want to argue with anyone whom mentions New York. The pizza itself must be made in a precise way to consider it Neapolitan. Fresh San Marzano tomatoes are accompanied by some creamy Mozzarella di Bufala, then tossed on top of light and thin Neapolitan dough before being slung into an extremely hot brick oven. The ingredients are important, but the brick oven is what makes this pizza so incredibly, stupidly, insanely, amazingly, more adverbs with -ly, delicious. The work of art is cooked in the oven for about 60-90 seconds at a temperature of about 900* F, talk about the pits of hell, or heaven in this case.
While a Neapolitan pizza can be found on the sides of the streets through out Naples, its hard to pass up a visit to L’antica Pizzeria da Michele, which is said to be one of the first places to serve pizza. The L’antica is widely known by tourists and becomes overcrowded quicky. If you want a spot to enjoy the best $5 pizza you will ever have, you might as well go for breakfast, because around 10/11 am there is a line out the door and you could wait for hours. I don’t know if the wait is worth it, as there are plenty of pizza places in Naples, but in my opinion, the pie lives up to the hype.
Eat, Eat, Eat
I know I just talked about pizza, but Italian food is a lot more and then some. The pizza in Naples is the staple, no doubt, but I believe that Naples has some of the best food in the entire country. Due to its location along the coastline and its Mediterranean climate, Naples is the perfect spot for some of Italy’s finest foods. Lemon trees line the streets of the nearby Amalfi Coast, while San Marzano tomatoes are plucked at the base of the towering Mt. Vesuvius. The port town sits on the Mediterranean Sea, therefore you can also expect to enjoy the freshest seafood linguine you can find. Not to mention, the food is very inexpensive.
A homegrown Caprese salad will hit your pocket at about $7 while a handmade penne topped with a sweet tomato sauce and meat will go for $9. Never forget the wine! A trip to Italy cannot be complete without drinking wine like it’s water. I try to make sure I drink the suggested amount for my health everyday, about 1-2 liters… The table wine is always the way to go. It will cost much less than a bottle from a known vineyard and they typically pour it into your glass straight from a random barrel in the basement.
If you’re looking for a suggestion on a restaurant in good ole’ Napoli, go to “Hosteria Toledo”. This tiny restaurant lies hidden, deep down the side streets of the Historic District. After spending a good amount of time in Naples, I have found that this place is simply put, my favorite restaurant on Earth. I have eaten at Toledo a total of 8 times now, and am working on my goal of devouring the entire menu. Nothing they serve is less than exquisite. From the antipasti and creamy mozzarella di bufala, to the pasta dishes and fresh seafoods, the food is to die for. Make sure to have the Caprese Salad, antipasti zucchinis, penne with carmelized onion/meat sauce and the whole baby octopus. Finish that off with 1 or 2 bottles of wine and an aperitif of limoncello. Once you complete this task, you have done Naples right.
Walk the streets
The streets of Naples, as I mentioned before are not the cleanest, but they are quite a show. This city is bustling with energy. I can’t say I am the biggest fan of most of the inhabitants in Naples, but they can make for great entertainment. The motorcyclists are the true entertainers as they zip around the tiny streets doing everything they can to not hit someone. The streets are tight and often lined with linen over top. The smells of fresh made Italian food attacks your nose and will make your mouth water. Venders litter the sidewalks outside of pizza shops trying to sell their best (fake) items.
The sights are not as pretty as the rest of Italy, but there are plenty of historic monuments and sculptures scattered amongst the town. The Historic District near the cruise port is the best spot for exploring and accommodation. The area is lined with pedestrian only streets and is full of history and incredible restaurants. If you are spending some time in Naples, this area is your best bet.
It’s not a lot, but anytime there is a 13th century castle nearby, it is worth seeing. The castle sits by the cruise and ferry terminal as one of the first sights you see when debarking. The castle itself is very dark in appearance and has a very gothic look about it. If you’re a history buff, you can buy tickets to go inside and enjoy a tour. Honestly, that’s all I have to say about that… ***Forrest Gump voice***
Piazza del Plebiscito
Another area that might not be the most exciting of places, especially within Italy, is the Piazza del Plebescito. This large Piazza is enclosed by the Royal Palace on one side and the Basilica of St. Francis of Paola on the other. It is generally quiet compared to other Piazzas in Italy, which gives you the perfect opportunity to get away from the crowds and enjoy some impressive Italian architecture.
Nearby Pompeii is one of the main attractions that draws visitors to Naples, as it should. Lying at the foot of the famous volcano, Mt Vesuvius, this ancient Roman town was obliterated into ash some 2,000 years ago. A walk through the ruins will take you back in history, as the Romans were seemingly “frozen” in time. The structures of houses remain almost completely intact while most bodies were buried in ash before they could escape. Not only were many of the Romans wiped out from the eruption, they were buried in a plaster created from the ash. It’s kind of weird and creepy to see the corpse of a real human being whom was killed 20 centuries ago, but it is also very intriguing.
At the time of the eruption, Pompeii was one of the most populated and bustling towns of the Roman Empire. Not only was it energetic, it was quite sinful. One of the most interesting themes you will discover on a walk through Pompeii is the vulgarity of the town. The streets are legitimately lined with cement penises as a map leading to brothels. The Romans whom lived here enjoyed more kinds of eruptions than only that of the volcanic kind… It is said that the inhabitants of Pompeii were buried in ash as a result of their sins. Good thing Las Vegas doesn’t have a volcano nearby.
Hike Mt. Vesuvius
This is one of the activities I never had the time to enjoy whilst visiting Naples. Nearby Mt. Vesuvius is of course infamous for it eruption 2,000 years ago that buried Pompeii in ash. It remains as the only active volcano to have erupted within the last 100 years on mainland Europe. Vesuvius is considered to be one of the most dangerous volcanos in the world due to the high population surrounding it. While that all may make it sound off-putting, if your up for the challenge, you can still climb it. Chances are extremely slim that the volcano will erupt while trekking the paths leading to its summit. All dangers aside, I hear the views at the top are worth it.
Gateway to the Amalfi Coast
I would guess that the majority of people whom visit Naples only do so as a gateway into the hills and seas of the Amalfi Coast. I don’t blame them as the nearby coastline is one of the most stunning places in the world. I can talk your face off about how beautiful the Amalfi Coast is, but Naples is the main focus here.
Naples is typically the jumping point for an adventure to the incredible coastline. There are many options to visit the coast, but that entirely depends on your ideal means of transportation. Driving along the hillside towns will be the most expensive way to get there, and is something to avoid due to the tiny and winding roads that take you along the edges of cliffs. It is better to put your trust in an experienced driver’s hands. You could take a bus, but that will be uncomfortable and take hours. The ferries are easily the best option for traveling between towns and you will be able to enjoy the views of the lush, vineyard filled cliffs leading into the surrounding water.
A ferry service sounds easy, however, it can be a bit tricky and need some planning. The ferry service will not take you from Naples and directly into the more popular towns of Positano and Amalfi. Your best option is to first take the short ride out to Capri or Sorrento, then catch another ferry into the heart of the Amalfi Coast. An alternative is to board the 30 minute train ride from Napoli Centrale into the most Eastern town of the coast, Salerno. From there, you can catch a ferry to any of the towns along the coastline.
For a full ferry schedule, go to
All of the Amalfi Coast is beautiful, but three towns ultimately stand out in charm and beauty. Do not miss Positano, Amalfi and Ravello when visiting. For some more information on the Amalfi Coast, follow this link to my post about hiking Sentiero Degli Dei.
One of the best destinations in Italy, and all the Mediterranean, is the small island town of Capri. A cheap and short forty minute ferry ride from Naples, a visit to Capri is essential. Capri delivers jaw dropping views from top to bottom as the towering and lush cliffs are littered with lemon trees that lead into the sea. Make sure to rent a boat when in Capri, as the best way to enjoy the sights is by circling around the island on your own watch. It only takes about an hour and a half to go non stop around the island, but allow yourself more time to jump into the refreshing and crystal blue waters or explore the many grottos.
If you’re planning on staying in Capri for a night or two, which I recommend, stay towards the top of the island in Anacapri. This small village is a lot less crowded from day trippers than its counterpart, Capri Town. Not only is it more hidden, the views from here are stunning. Ferry services run all day to and from Capri. Here is the schedule.
While Naples often has a poor reputation, it is not a city that you should miss on an adventures through Italy. Not only is it the gateway to some of Italy’s most incredible destinations, but it has its own special charm to it that is hard to find anywhere else. Whether you are in Naples for a few days or only a short layover, make the best of it. Eat the food, hunt for pizza, and take a ferry to Capri. It is very easy to get lost in the wild culture of Naples, just eat your way to freedom.
Have you ever been to Naples? Do you agree or disagree with my to do list? Do you have anything to add? If you have any other questions or want more recommendations, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or message me on Instagram @travelingle and @egtrotters . Thank you! Enjoy your trip in Naples! =D