I'm going to be honest with you. Naples wasn't my favourite Italian city. We opted to stay near the train station to make it easy when travelling but that wasn't our best decision. The area surrounding the station is a bit grim, run down and very dirty. We even saw a couple of rats due to the sheer amount of rubbish on the street. But don't let that you put you off a visit as some of the best food we had in Italy was in Naples.
Just choose your location carefully. We spent a lot of our time down next to the sea. It is a beautiful area crammed with an amazing array of restaurants and bars and a friendly, relaxed atmosphere. There are lots of great things to do in Naples and the surrounding area. Naples sits in the shadow of Mount Vesuvius and you can see the famous volcano from the port. Naples is a great base for exploring the nearby Islands thanks to the regular Ferries travelling from Naples port to islands like Procida and Capri.
It is also the cheapest place for shopping that we found during our trip to Italy. There's something for everybody in this city. It's a city full of contrasts. There are designer boutiques aplenty as well as many stores selling shoes for under €10. If pizza is your passion, you can really indulge here. Naples is famous for its world-class pizza.
Getting to Naples
Naples is easily accessed from the UK. Ryanair run regular flights to the city and the centre is just a 15-20 minute bus ride from the airport. We flew from East Midlands airport to Naples.
Getting around Naples
Like most major Italian cities Naples has a great transport system. The metro runs throughout the city and is quick and cheap. Single fares are just 1.30 euros and it is the easiest way to get around the city.
What to do in Naples, whatever your budget
Of course you can't visit Naples without checking out Pompeii. It's an interesting day out and you can get there by train from Naples train station. It takes you straight to the entrance. Just be prepared to stand on the train and queue for entrance on you get there, as it gets so busy.
The site itself is vast and impressive. Many of the plaster casts of victims from Pompeii have now been relocated to Naples Museum but some still exist at the site. It is also amazing that the buildings still stand - everything from the parliamentary headquarters to individual homes. To get the most from your visit sign up for a guided tour. This is the best way to really find out the history of the place. But if your budget is tight then there are a plethora of apps available that can guide you through the site and explain the significance of each particular dwelling.
This is the only active volcano in Europe but don't worry it won't surprise you by going off. There are weeks of signs prior to an eruption. You can take a bus tour to the volcano from Naples, but be warned it will only take you half-way up. Once there it's a steep 1km walk to the top, this is only for the very fit. If your fitness levels aren't high enough you'll really struggle with this journey. It takes around half an hour to get to the summit. The views from the top are amazing. From up there, you can see the inside of the crater and spend some time looking out across the city. It really is a magnificent view.
When coming into Naples by boat, the castle is the first thing you'll see on the horizon. The huge structure looks out onto the water. It was built in 1282 and has 5 large Towers. Take the tour so that you can access the Courtyard and see the amazing painted ceilings. Go to the top, as again the views out onto Naples are really something to behold.
There are many fine chapels in Italy and Cappella Sansevero is one of them. This is the perfect place to visit after checking out Castel Nuovo since they are very close to each other. It was created in 1590 for the Duke of Torremaggiore. It doesn't look like much from the outside but don't be put off by it's boring facade as inside it's stunning. This Chapel contains amazing artwork and sculptures. Like many chapels in Italy it contains decadent ceiling frescoes and statues made from Marble. Well worth a visit!
Explore Santa Lucia
Santa Lucia is a beautiful area within Naples, the perfect place to go to embrace the local culture. Here you'll find cobblestone streets that end at the sea. You'll also benefit from a large collection of boutiques, restaurants, cafes and bars. So, why not sit in the sunshine with a cappuccino and do some people watching amongst the natives. This place really is a great slice of authentic Neapolitan life.
Take a trip to Capri
Italian islands are beautiful. Instagram really doesn't do them justice. Capri is a small island just a two hour boat ride away from Naples. It's full of stunning scenery and secluded caves with a beautifully rugged coastline out into the sea. There are regular Ferries that leave from Naples Harbour going to Capri so getting there is easy. It's great for a budget day out as the ferry fares are very reasonable.
Where to eat in Naples
Check out my other posts from Italy