Naples, made famous as the birthplace of pizza, is a gritty city home to a wealth of historical treasures. The medieval Naples Cathedral, the 18th-century Villa Comunale park, and nearby Pompeii make Naples a must-see destination for history buffs and foodies alike.
Naples is the gateway to the south so you’re very likely to come here if you’re crisscrossing the country. Its location near Pompeii, Capri, and Sorrento make it the perfect starting point for exploring the region.
Best of all, it’s a foodie city like no other; I ate my weight in pizza during my visit!
This Naples travel guide can help you plan your trip, save money, and make the most of your time in this iconic Italian city!
Table of Contents
Top 5 Things to See and Do in Naples
1. Visit the Archaeological Museum of Naples
2. Check out Villa Comunale
3. Hike Mount Vesuvius
4. Be awed by Pompeii
5. See the Duomo
Other Things to See and Do in Naples
1. Take a free walking tour
One of the first things I do in a new destination is take a free walking tour. It’s the best way to see the main highlights and learn about the city from a local guide who can answer all your questions. Free Walking Tour Napoli offers a solid free tour that covers all the main sights. Just be sure to tip your guide at the end!
2. Shop at Piazza del Mercato
This market has been Naples’ main market square since the 13th century. It sells everything from household goods to fresh produce and handmade souvenirs. During the Christmas season, this place is jam-packed with even more stalls selling festive goods.
3. Watch a show at Teatro San Carlo
Opened in 1737, this is the world’s oldest opera house. The inside, with blue upholstery, gold décor, and sparkling chandeliers, gives off a lavish and ornate atmosphere. If you can’t catch a show here, at least do a guided tour for 7 EUR.
4. Explore Herculaneum
Herculaneum is the lesser-known cousin of Pompeii. It used to be a fishing village of about 4,000 inhabitants who all befell the same fate as the citizens of Pompeii (Pompeii was completely destroyed when nearby Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79 CE). The site is also very well preserved and usually has fewer tourists. While I wouldn’t skip Pompeii, you should also try to work in a visit here too. Tickets are 11 EUR.
5. Watch a film under the stars
Every summer there is an open-air film festival held here called N’ato Cinema. It starts at the beginning of June and then runs every week until the end of July, with screenings of international films and family films. Tickets are just 4.50 EUR.
6. Visit Villa Floridiana
Originally built in 1816 as a gift from King Ferdinand I to his second wife Duchess Lucia Migliaccio, this estate has beautifully manicured gardens, expansive views over Naples Bay, and an ornate fountain filled with turtles. It also houses the National Museum of Ceramics. With over 6,000 pieces in the collection, you’ll see everything from Japanese Edo ceramics to European pieces. It’s 4 EUR to visit the museum.
7. Tour the Anfiteatro Flavio
This was once the third-largest amphitheater in all of Italy, dating back to 1 CE. Over 40,000 people used to gather here to watch gladiator matches and other entertainment. Today, you can tour the various fallen columns and learn more about the history of the stadium and its events. Admission is 4 EUR.
8. Visit Museo Nazionale di Capodimonte
This is the Neapolitan National Gallery, a museum featuring work by Baroque and Renaissance artists. Some of the big names here include Giordano, Caravaggio, Bellini, El Greco, and Titian. Works date from the 13th to 18th century. Admission is 12 EUR.
9. Wander through Castelnuovo
Castelnuovo is the large medieval castle that stands out along the coastline. Come here to visit the art museum, which houses a gallery of 17th-19th century Italian paintings, including works from Luigi Crisconio and Carlo Vanvitelli. It’s 6 EUR to visit and you will get some great views over Naples and the coast too.
10. Take the Underground Tour
This was my favorite activity in Naples. Located in the city center, you can take an underground tour to explore some of the historic ruins of the city, including ancient reservoirs and the remains of a Roman-era theater. You’ll learn about how the city has been built upon and changed over its 2,400-year history. It costs 80 EUR, but it’s worth every penny.
For more information on other destinations in Italy, check out these guides:
Naples Travel Costs
Hostel prices – A dorm bed in a hostel with 6-8 beds costs 18-30 EUR per night. Private rooms range from 35-85 EUR per night. Hostels usually include free Wi-Fi and some also include free breakfast.
Budget hotel prices – There aren’t many two-star budget hotels in Naples. For a three-star budget hotel, prices range from 60-100 EUR per night. Expect basic amenities like free Wi-Fi, AC, TV, and a coffee/tea maker. Some also include free breakfast.
On Airbnb, you can find private rooms for 35-60 EUR per night. Entire apartments cost closer to 100 EUR per night.
Average cost of food – Italian cuisine is beloved around the world, though every region in Italy offers its own distinct flavor. Tomatoes, pasta, and olives and olive oil form the backbone of most meals, with meat and fish and various cheeses rounding out the menu. Pizza, popularized here in the 18th century, is a must when you’re in Naples. Spaghetti alla puttanesca (spaghetti with capers) and Caprese salad (a fresh salad with tomatoes, basil, and mozzarella) are two other local favorites.
Overall, you can eat very cheaply in Naples. As the birthplace of pizza, there is no shortage of options under 10 EUR. Try Pizzeria Sorbillo (it’s famous for a reason). For other affordable eats, head to just about anywhere along Via dei Tribunali. Most casual restaurants offer pizza or pasta dishes for 10 EUR or less.
If you want to splash out, a three-course meal at a mid-range restaurant serving traditional Italian cuisine costs around 25 EUR.
Fast food (thick McDonald’s) costs around 7 EUR for a combo meal. Beer is around 3 EUR while a latte/cappuccino costs around 1.50 EUR. Bottled water is less than 1 EUR.
If you’re staying somewhere with a kitchen, a week’s worth of groceries costs 40-55 EUR. This gets you basic staples like pasta, seasonal produce, and some meat or seafood.
Backpacking Naples Suggested Budgets
On a backpacking budget of 50 EUR per day, you can stay in a hostel dorm, cook all your meals, limit your drinking, take public transportation to get around, and do mostly free activities like strolling the parks and taking free walking tours. If you plan on drinking, add 5-10 EUR to your daily budget.
On a mid-range budget of 110 EUR per day, you can stay in a private Airbnb, eat out for most meals, enjoy a few drinks, take the occasional taxi to get around, and do more paid activities like visiting the museums and taking a day trip to Pompeii.
On a “luxury’ budget of 230 EUR per day or more, you can stay in a hotel, eat out for all your meals, drink more, rent a car or take more taxis, and do whatever tours and activities you want. This is just the ground floor for luxury though. The sky is the limit!
Use the chart below to get some idea of how much you need to budget daily, depending on your travel style. Keep in mind these are daily averages – some days you’ll spend more, some days you’ll spend less (you might spend less every day). We just want to give you a general idea of how to make your budget. Prices are in EUR.
Naples Travel Guide: Money-Saving Tips
Naples isn’t as expensive as northern Italian cities like Rome or Florence but it’s still easy to blow your budget if you eat out a lot and do lots of activities. Fortunately, there are lots of ways to save here too. Here’s how you can save money in Naples:
- Eat on the cheap – Have a pizza or take a sandwich to go for just a few dollars to help manage your spending. Pizza is the best food in Naples and won’t break the bank.
- Get the Visitalia Tourist Card Napoli – If you are going to do lots of sightseeing, this tourist card gives you discounts to the top museums, tours, and attractions. It’s priced to save you money compared to buying separate tickets and it includes free public transportation too. A one-day pass costs 14.50 EUR, a two-day pass costs 19 EUR, and a three-day pass costs 23.50 EUR.
- Buy wine instead of going to a bar – You can buy a great bottle of wine for just a few euros at the store. It’s a lot cheaper than drinking at the bar.
- Stay with a local – Accommodation is quite expensive in Italy, even in the hostels. Use Couchsurfing to stay with locals who have extra beds and couches for free. It’s a great way to save money and connect with locals who can share their tips and advice.
- Go on a free walking tour – This is a great way to learn the history behind the places you are seeing and to avoid missing any must-see stops. Free Walking Tour Napoli runs regular tours to help you get your bearings and see the main highlights. Just don’t forget to tip your tour guide!
- Bring a water bottle – The tap water here is safe to drink so bring a reusable water bottle to save money and reduce your plastic use. LifeStraw is my go-to brand as their bottles have built-in filters to ensure your water is always clean and safe.
Where To Stay in Naples
Looking for an affordable place to stay when you visit? Here are some of my recommended places to stay in Naples:
How to Get Around Naples
Public transportation – When it comes to public transportation in Naples, it’s best to get a TIC (Ticket Integrato Campani) ticket, which works on all city metro, bus, and funicular services. A single ticket costs 1.60 EUR and is good for 90 minutes. A one-day pass is 4.50 EUR and a weekly ticket is 15.80 EUR.
The bus isn’t the most efficient way to get around Naples, but it’s useful for navigating Corso Umberto (the long main commercial street) since there is a designated bus lane.
Naples has a metro, but it doesn’t have an extensive network so the bus is usually a better idea.
Train – The Circumvesuviana trains from Napoli Centrale runs to Sorrento for 4.50 EUR, and Herculaneum for 2.20 EUR. Pompeii costs just 2.80 EUR. The Ferrovia Cumana trains run to Pozzuoli for 2.20 EUR.
A great resource to use when planning your trip via train is ItaliaRail.
Taxis – Taxis are not cheap here. Meter rates start from 4.25 EUR and cost 1 EUR per kilometer. Skip the taxis if you can as they add up fast. If you do need a taxi, make sure the driver uses the meter so you don’t get ripped off.
Bike rental – Naples is a bike-friendly city and rentals can be found for as little as 5-10 EUR per day.
Car rental – Cars can be rented for around 30 EUR per day for a multi-day rental. However, traffic in Naples is terrible so I’d only rent a car if you’re heading out to do some day trips. Additionally, drivers here are on the aggressive side, so I’d only rent a car if you’re an experienced driver.
When to Go to Naples
Thanks to its location on the Mediterranean, Naples is warm year-round. The summer months (June-August) are the most popular time to visit but they are also scorching, with temperatures usually above 31°C (88°F). July is also the driest month of the year. Many Italians take their vacations in August, so it gets particularly crowded here then. Expect accommodation to be booked well in advance (and to be more expensive) during this time.
Personally, I think the shoulder seasons are the best time to visit Naples (April-May and September-October). You’ll avoid peak tourism season and you’ll still have nice weather. Temperatures average around 22°C (72°F) which is much more tolerable.
This is especially a good time to visit Naples if your priority is going to Pompeii or Herculaneum. There will be fewer crowds and you will be a lot more comfortable exploring the ruins in cooler temperatures. There isn’t much shade at these sites and very few places to sit and take breaks.
December to February are the coldest months, with a high of 8°C (46°F). This isn’t the best time to visit, but prices will be a little lower and the crowds are gone.
How to Stay Safe in Naples
Naples is a very safe place to backpack and travel but often gets a bad rap for being a bit grittier than other places in Italy. Pickpocketing is the most common crime you’ll encounter here so you need to stay vigilant in crowded areas (especially on public transportation). Always keep your valuables secure and out of reach.
When taking a taxi, always make sure they use the meter so you don’t get ripped off.
While scams here are rare, if you’re worried about getting ripped off you can read about common travel scams to avoid right here.
The Spanish Quarter is a little sketchy at night, so avoid that area after dark or if you’re alone.
If you’re walking everywhere, stay alert! The traffic in Naples is crazy, and drivers do not respond to traffic lights very well. Be careful when crossing the street.
If you experience an emergency, dial 113 for assistance.
Always trust your gut instinct. If a taxi driver seems shady, stop the cab and get out. If your hotel is seedier than you thought, get out of there. Make copies of your personal documents, including your passport and ID.
If you don’t do it at home, don’t do it in Naples!
The most important piece of advice I can offer is to purchase good travel insurance. Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it as I’ve had to use it many times in the past. You can use the widget below to find the policy right for you:
Naples Travel Guide: The Best Booking Resources
These are my favorite companies to use when I travel to Naples. They are included here because they consistently find deals, offer world-class customer service and great value, and overall, are better than their competitors. They are the ones I use the most and are always the starting points in my search for travel deals.
- Skyscanner – Skyscanner is my favorite flight search engine. They search small websites and budget airlines that larger search sites tend to miss. They are hands down the number one place to start.
- Momondo – This is my other favorite flight search engine because they search such a wide variety of sites and airlines. I never book a flight without checking here too.
- Airbnb – Airbnb is a great accommodation alternative for connecting with homeowners who rent out their homes or apartments.
- Hostelworld – This is the best hostel accommodation site out there, with the largest inventory, best search interface, and widest availability.
- Couchsurfing – This website allows you to stay on people’s couches or in their spare rooms for free. It’s a great way to save money while meeting locals who can share the ins and outs of their city. The site also lists events you can attend to meet people (even if you’re not staying with someone).
- Booking.com – The best all-around booking site that constantly provides the cheapest and lowest rates. They have a no money down policy, great interface, and the widest selection of budget accommodation. In all my tests, they’ve always had the cheapest rates out of all the booking websites.
- ItaliaRail – A great resource to use when planning your trip via train around Italy is ItaliaRail. You can compare prices, routes, and schedules and save up to 60% on your tickets.
- Intrepid Travel – If you want to do a group tour around Europe, go with Intrepid Travel. They offer good small group tours that use local operators and leave a small environmental footprint. If you go on a tour with anyone, go with them. And, as a reader of this site, you’ll get a discount when you click the link!
- The Man in Seat 61 – This website is the ultimate guide to train travel anywhere in the world. They have the most comprehensive information on routes, times, prices, and train conditions. If you are planning a long train journey or some epic train trip, consult this site.
- Rome2Rio – This website allows you to see how to get from point A to point B in the best and cheapest way possible. It gives you all the bus, train, plane, and boat routes as how much they cost.
- FlixBus – German based Flixbus has routes between 20 European countries with prices starting as low 5 EUR. Their buses include Wi-Fi and electrical outlets too.
- BlaBlaCar – BlaBlaCar is a ridesharing website that lets you share rides with vetted local drivers by paying a small fee. You simply request a seat, they approve, and off you go! It’s a cheaper and more interesting way to travel than by bus or train!
- Take Walks – A day tour company in Italy (as well as other destinations). What makes them so good is they get you inside access to attractions and places you can’t get elsewhere. Their in-depth Pompeii tour is a must if yu’re going to the site!
- EatWith – This website allows you to eat home cooked meal with locals. Locals post listings for dinner parties and specialty meals that you can sign up for. There is a fee (everyone sets their own price) but this is a great way to do something different, pick a local’s brain, and make a new friend.
- World Nomads – I buy all my travel insurance from World Nomads. They have great customer service, competitive prices, and in-depth coverage. I’ve been using them since I started traveling in 2003. Don’t leave home without it!
Naples Gear and Packing Guide
If you’re heading on the road and need some gear suggestions, here are my tips for the best travel backpack and for what to pack!
The Best Backpack for Travelers
Straps: Thick and cushy with compression technology that pulls the pack’s load up and inwards so it doesn’t feel as heavy.
Features: Removable top lid, large pocket at the front, hydration compatible, contoured hip belt
If you want something different, refer to my article on how to choose the best travel backpack for tips on picking a pack and other backpack suggestions.
What to Pack for Your Trip
- 1 pair of jeans (heavy and not easily dried, but I like them; a good alternative is khaki pants)
- 1 pair of shorts
- 1 bathing suit
- 5 T-shirts (Unbound Merino is my preferred company. If you’re a member of NM+, you can get 15% off your purchase)
- 1 long-sleeved T-shirt
- 1 pair of flip-flops
- 1 pair of sneakers
- 6 pairs of socks (I always end up losing half)
- 5 pairs of boxer shorts (I’m not a briefs guy!)
- 1 toothbrush
- 1 tube of toothpaste
- 1 razor
- 1 package of dental floss
- 1 small bottle of shampoo
- 1 small bottle of shower gel
- 1 towel
Small Medical Kit (safety is important!!!)
- Hydrocortisone cream
- Antibacterial cream
- Hand sanitizer (germs = sick = bad holiday)
- A key or combination lock (safety first)
- Zip-lock bags (keeps things from leaking or exploding)
- Plastic bags (great for laundry)
- Universal charger/adaptor (this applies to everyone)
- LifeStraw (A water bottle with a purifier)
Female Travel Packing List
I’m not a woman, so I don’t know what a woman wears, but Kristin Addis, our solo female travel guru, wrote this list as an addition to the basics above:
- 1 swimsuit
- 1 sarong
- 1 pair of stretchy jeans (they wash and dry easily)
- 1 pair of leggings (if it’s cold, they can go under your jeans, otherwise with a dress or shirt)
- 2-3 long-sleeve tops
- 2-3 T-shirts
- 3-4 spaghetti tops
- 1 light cardigan
- 1 dry shampoo spray & talc powder (keeps long hair grease-free in between washes)
- 1 hairbrush
- Makeup you use
- Hair bands & hair clips
- Feminine hygiene products (you can opt to buy there too, but I prefer not to count on it, and most people have their preferred products)
For more on packing, check out these posts:
Naples Travel Guide: Suggested Reading
Inferno, by Dante Alighieri
Inferno is the first part of Italian writer Dante’s 14th-century epic poem, The Divine Comedy. It tells the story of Dante’s journey through Hell, guided by the ancient poet Virgil. Here, Hell is depicted as nine circles of torment located within Earth. It’s a dense read, but it’s also incredible. This version is a beautiful translation of Dante’s masterpiece. You can also get your hands on the full volume with all three epic poems. It’s been inspiring people for 700 years!
City Of Fortune: How Venice Ruled The Seas, by Roger Crowley
Crowley explores Venice’s fascinating 500-year-old journey to become a city unrivaled for drama and majesty. City of Fortune traces the Venetian imperial saga, from the Fourth Crusade to the fall of Constantinople to the Ottoman-Venetian War of 1499-1503, which eventually led the Ottoman Turks to become the preeminent naval power in the Mediterranean. You’ll also learn how a small city of “lagoon dwellers” became the richest place on the planet. This isn’t a boring history book — it’s a vivid, detailed account of Venice and its people through the ages.
Angels and Demons, by Dan Brown
Robert Langdon is summoned to an assignment at a Swiss research facility to analyze a symbol seared into the chest of a murdered physicist…and discovers the resurgence of an ancient secret brotherhood known as the Illuminati. Then the brotherhood announces they’ve left a time bomb inside Vatican City, and Langdon must take off to Rome to find it. Even if Dan Brown (who wrote The Da Vinci Code) isn’t your thing, this book will get you pumped to go sightseeing in Rome.
Under the Tuscan Sun, by Frances Mayes
Have you ever dreamt of buying up a crumbling villa in Italy and restoring it to its former glory? That’s exactly what Frances Mayes did 20 years ago with an abandoned property named Bramsole in the Tuscan countryside. This story recounts her restoration journey, along with what it’s like adjusting to life in rural Tuscany. Mayes is a poet, gourmet cook, and travel writer; you will literally be drooling over her prose and evocative language. Mayes paints the dreamiest picture of life in Italy. You have to read this book before visiting Italy.
La Bella Figura: A Field Guide to the Italian Mind, by Beppe Severgnini
Written about Italians by an Italian, Beppe Severgnini wants you to forget all the romantic notions of Italy and its people. This laugh-out-loud book takes you beyond the historical attractions and scenic areas, and into places where Italians are at their best and worst: including the highway, the airport, and the small town. Severgnini describes the chaos of the roads and the “theatrical spirit of the hypermarkets” in a way that will give you some deep insight into the Italian psyche.
A Room With a View, by E.M. Forster
This is a funny, satirical read that takes the English notion of respectability and turns it on its head. Well-bred Lucy Honeychurch sets out on an adventure touring Italy with her overbearing cousin and soon falls in love with the handsome (but entirely unsuitable) George Emerson. Yet somehow, she becomes engaged to Mr. Cecil Vyse. Lucy is easily lured away from the upper-middle-class Edwardian society by her longing for the man she left behind, creating a good amount of chaos in the process. This is Forster’s most beloved book!
Naples Travel Guide: Related Articles
Want more info? Check out all the articles I’ve written on backpacking/traveling Italy and continue planning your trip: