Naples is mostly famous for crime and pizza. I can’t say I love Naples – it’s gritty but in a run-down, unsafe way, and not in the cool “it has character” way. Naples isn’t the prettiest of Italian cities and it is also not one of the safest. It has a well-deserved reputation for muggings. However, it’s the birthplace of pizza and that’s reason alone to visit for at least a couple of days. While I don’t love it, its close proximity to interesting sites like Pompeii, Capri, and Sorrento makes it a good starting point for exploring the region.
Hostel prices – Hostels are cheap in Naples, with dorms costing between 15-20 EUR per night and private rooms beginning at 35 EUR per night for a single bed or 50 EUR for a double with private bathroom.
Budget hotel prices – Rooms average 60 EUR per night for a basic double room with private bath.
Average cost of food – You can eat very cheaply in this town. As the birthplace of pizza, most cost around 9 EUR. If you want a nicer meal, expect to spend around 23 EUR for dinner including a drink. The coperto (table charge) is usually 1 EUR and is a rip off but you must pay it!
Transportation costs – Traffic in Naples is nuts, and taxis tend to be expensive. Walk where you can. Transportation passes for a single bus journey cost 1.50 EUR and are good for 90 minutes. You can get a day ticket for around 4.50 EUR. There is also a metro but it doesn’t go very many places. The price is the same.
Money Saving Tips
Eat on the cheap – Have a pizza or take away a sandwich for just a few dollars on the go, and save a lot of money. Pizza is the best food in Naples, anyway, so it’s a win win.
Top Things to See and Do in Naples
Visit the Archaeological Museum of Naples – One of the world’s best collections of Greek and Roman artifacts can be found here. You will find a lot of art from the city as well as nearby Pompeii. There’s glass, mosaics, sculptures, and even the casts of the bodies found in Pompeii.
Take a peek in the Duomo – A 13th-century Gothic cathedral dedicated to the city’s patron saint. A huge festival is held when a vial of his blood is taken out of its storage place in hopes that it will liquefy. It’s quite the event but the church is still very beautiful even if you can’t make the festival.
Shop at Piazza del Mercato – This place has the best market in the city and great for authentic Italian shopping if that’s your thing. .
Watch a show at Teatro San Carlo – Opened in 1737, this is the world’s oldest surviving opera house. The inside is very ornate and the colors of the paintings radiate. In coming here, you just can sense the luxury that the old aristocracy demanded from the opera, a feeling still alive during shows today.
Be awed by Pompeii – This famous site is one of the best-preserved Roman ruins in Italy. It makes for a popular day trip from Naples and will give you a look at some amazing frescoes and the homes of Romans. Make sure you take a guided tour so you can get the context of all the buildings and sites. I spent a whole day at the site, and I felt like I could have spent even more time there. It lives up to the hype.
Explore Herculaneum – The lesser-known cousin of Pompeii. The site is also very well preserved and filled with much, much fewer tourists. While I wouldn’t skip Pompeii, you should also try to work in a visit here too as it’s a beautiful site filled with ruins and is, in many ways, on par with Pompeii.
Attend the Open-air Cinema Festival – Every Summer, this cinema festival offers something different to do in the evening. It is always really nice outside and the films are shown on one of the largest projection screens in Italy. A ticket is 3.50 EUR.
Visit Villa Floridiana – Originally built as a gift from King Ferdinand I to his second wife, this lush estate is home to beautifully-manicured gardens and original furnishings. The real treasure is the National Museum of Ceramics. With over 6,000 pieces in the collection, you’ll see everything from Japanese Edo ceramics to range of European pieces.
Check out Villa Comunale – This once prestigious strip of seaside land was originally designed for royalty. In addition to beautiful walkways, there is a vintage aquarium, several fountains, a tennis club, and a band stand to check out.
Imagine the violence at Anfiteatro Flavio – This was once the third largest amphitheater in all of Italy. Over 20,000 people used to gather here just to watch crazy, blood-driven events like gladiator matches. Today, you can tour among the various fallen columns and learn more on the history behind the intricate mechanisms used throughout the stadium.
Go on the Naples Underground Tour – Outside of visiting Pompeii (and eating pizza), this was my favorite activity in Naples. Located in the city center, you take an underground tour of some of the ruins of the city, where you can see ancient reservoirs, and learn about how the city has been built up and changed over thousands of years. I love underground tours and this was one of the better ones I’ve been on.
Educate yourself at the Museo Nazionale di Capodimonte – This is the Napolitan National Gallery – a museum featuring work by Baroque and Renaissance artists. Some of the big names here include Giordano, Caravaggio, Bellini, and Titian.
Wander through Castelnuovo – This is a large medieval castle that lies along the coastline. Come here to visit the city museum, a gallery of 19th-century Italian paintings, or to check out the view of the city.