Naples (or Napoli) is the third-largest city in Italy, and many people confuse its former reputation with its current reality. One of the most fascinating places in the country, here are the best things to do in Naples, Italy.
This article may contain affiliate links. Please see our disclaimer policy here.
Welcome to Naples: Italy’s Most Misunderstood City?
Napoli is the capital of the region of Campania and is home to almost one million people. Situated at the foothills of Mount Vesuvius, Naples is an economic powerhouse. It’s a cultural, economic, and maritime trade hub and the beating heart of southern Italy.
Apart from that, its historic center is the largest in Europe and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
So, where does Naples’ terrible reputation come from? In the past, Naples had an immense organized crime problem, with the Camorra Syndicate controlling vast parts of the administration. Organized crime still exists, but as a tourist, you won’t see any of that.
Apart from crime, Naples isn’t the cleanest city in the world, and there are social problems. In this context, pickpocketing is an issue, but easy to avoid if you’re careful.
All in all, Naples is an incredible place to visit, and it should undoubtedly feature on your Italy itinerary. Don’t let the reputation scare you, as most of it is media craze.
On this basis, here are the best things to do in Naples, Italy.
The Best Things to do in Naples, Italy
The top places to visit in Napoli are spread all over the city, but it’s easy to get around by public transportation. Start your visit in the Old Town and explore Naples from there.
Explore Napoli’s Fascinating Old Town (Centro Storico)
The historic center of Naples is the largest of its kind in Europe and a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Walking through the narrow alleyways around Via dei Tribunali is the best way to get a feel for the city of Naples.
The Via dei Tribunali is the primary east-west street—of the ancient Greek and then Roman city of Neapolis. As such, it runs straight through the historic center. You’ll find many churches, shops, and restaurants here.
Stroll Along Piazza del Plebiscito and Piazza Dante: the Most Impressive Squares
Naples is home to several magnificent squares, and the two must-see piazzas are Dante and Plebiscito.
Piazza Dante sits at the entrance of the historic center. You’ll find lots of restaurants, shops, and stunning architecture here.
Piazza del Plebiscito holds the Royal Palace and the Basilica Royal. It’s the main square in Napoli and is situated closer to the port.
Eat the World’s Best Pizza
Naples is the birthplace of pizza, and even though Northern Italians won’t agree, the city claims the best pizza in the world. The Neapolitan pizza is different from other parts of Italy as it comes with a thicker dough.
You can get world-class pizza anywhere in Napoli, and the prices are generally low.
If you want the supposed “best pizza in Naples,” a place called Sorbillo won that title several times. The queues can last for hours, but their delicious product is worth the wait.
Climb Mount Vesuvius
Vesuvius is a stratovolcano a few kilometers from Naples and famously erupted in 79 AD, destroying Pompeii and Herculaneum. Vesuvius
Today you can take a tour from central Naples to visit this incredible natural phenomenon and climb up its slopes to look into the crater.
A hike will take 20-30 minutes and isn’t too challenging. The views from the top on a clear day are mind-blowing, and the caldera and crater are undoubtedly worth visiting.
I recommend this tour which includes a hike up to Mount Vesuvius, the buried city of Pompeii, wine tasting, and pizza.
Visit the Spooky Catacombs
The San Gennaro Catacombs are located in the northern part of Naples and are home to over 3,000 burials. You can find the entrance near the Basilica dell’Incoronata.
If you enjoy dark tourism, wandering around the San Gennaro Catacombs is undoubtedly among the best things to do in Naples.
Admire the Most Beautiful Churches in Naples
When it comes to the best Naples, Italy attractions, many of the city’s typical churches are well worth a visit.
In this context, the Basilica Royal, the San Domenico Maggiore, and Naples Cathedral are among the most beautiful churches in Naples.
Learn About the Romans in the City’s Archaeological Museum
Completed in the 1750s, Naples’ Archaeological Museum used to house military barracks and today displays a vast collection of Roman and Greek artifacts.
It explains the history of the Roman and Greek cities that form the basis of modern Napoli – and also Herculaneum and Pompeii, the two towns that fell victim to the eruption of Vesuvius.
Enjoy the Views From Sant’Elmo Castle
Sant’Elmo Castle dates from the 10th century and offers some of the best views in Naples.
You can see Mount Vesuvius, the port, and the entire city from here. As such, catching the views from Sant’Elmo is one of the best things to do in Naples for photographers.
Go on One of the Best Day Trips From Naples
There are many great day trips from Napoli, but three should be on your priority list: Herculaneum, Pompeii, and Capri.
You can visit Herculaneum and Pompeii on the same day as both are superb places to learn about Roman and Greek history and the impact of Vesuvius’ eruption.
The island of Capri is another fantastic day trip. The ferry from Naples to Capri takes around one hour and departs from Molo Beverello and Calata di Massa.
Finally, I could also mention the Amalfi Coast, but the area is worth several days of your time and unsuitable for a short day trip.
Where to Stay in Napoli
As a short-term visitor, the historic center and the Spanish Quarter are the best areas to stay in Naples.
Find a place around Piazza Dante or Via Toledo, and you’ll be in the heart of Naples, with excellent transportation options.
I stayed at the NH Hotel Napoli Panorama and would recommend it thanks to its strategic location and jaw-dropping panoramic views.
Find more places to stay in Naples here.
Best Things to do in Naples: Know Before You Go
To complete our Naples travel guide, here are some FAQs and things to know before traveling.
Is Naples Safe?
Many first-time visitors have one burning question on their mind: is Naples safe for tourists?
Here’s the gist: Naples isn’t the safest city in the world, but as a tourist, the only thing you have to worry about are pickpockets. Get yourself a theft-proof sling bag and keep your wits about you.
If you use common sense, your Naples visit will remain trouble-free.
How to Get Around Naples
The historic center of Naples is walkable. and the city also has an excellent metro system. Taking a taxi in the center isn’t a great option as the streets are usually jammed.
The Best Month to Visit Naples Italy
July and August are hot and full of tourists. Akin to other Italian cities, the locals flee to the beach during these months, so best avoid peak season.
In my view, the best months to visit Naples are the shoulder season. May, June, September, and October are excellent times to visit, thanks to the pleasant weather.