Naples, famous for its crime and pizza, is gritty in a run-down not cool “it has character” way. Naples isn’t the prettiest of Italian cities nor is it one of the safest. It has a well-deserved reputation for muggings. I can’t say I love Naples but it’s definitely an interesting place to visit. It’s the birthplace of pizza and that is reason alone to visit for at least a couple of days. Additionally, its close proximity to in Pompeii, Capri, and Sorrento makes it a good starting point for exploring the region.
Top 5 Things to See and Do in Naples
1. Visit the Archaeological Museum of Naples
2. Check out Villa Comunale
3. Go on the Naples Underground Tour
4. Be awed by Pompeii
5. Take a peek in the Duomo
Other Things to See and Do
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1. Shop at Piazza del Mercato
This place has the best market in the city and is great for authentic Italian shopping if that’s your thing.
2. 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. You can sense the luxury that the old aristocracy demanded from the opera.
3. 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.
4. 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.
5. 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.
6. 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 about the history behind the intricate mechanisms used throughout the stadium. Admission is 4 EUR and it’s open daily (except Tuesdays) from 9am until an hour before sunset.
7. 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. Admission is 7.50 EUR and it’s open daily (except Wednesdays) from 8:30am-7:30pm.
8. 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.