Naples is a city rich with attractions, natural scenery, diversity, history and some really great cooks of food from across the globe not just their native food.
Home to the biggest city centre on the planet and to Italy’s first pizza restaurant, the “New City” has approximately a million, only beaten in size and occupation by Rome and Milan, and was founded by ancient greeks.
From climbing to the top of the Castel Sant’Elmo, touring public streets and alleys and passing through an abundant amount of cafes and pizzerias (pizza restaurants), to going all Indiana Jones and digging underground into the city’s backstory as part of the Naples underground tour, I found on my three-day break over there that there is no shortage of engaging and eye-opening activities.
Which makes me have to take a long pause for when deciding on a top 5 check list for Italy’s third-largest city
But without further ado, I give you my 5 must dos when in Naples:
Buy the Campania ArteCard
This was the very first thing that I bought in Italy and I had no regrets. A Campania ArteCard allows you free roaming around Naples and its Campania region and free entry to some/all attractions included and/or discounts on entry to others in the tourist pass.
There are different type of 3-day and 7-day passes so take your pick depending on your length of stay and how much sightseeing you plan to do. Either way you’ll be saving a lot of money. I bought the 3-day All Region pass for €27. As mentioned in my Naples review, you can get a discount on the 3-day, weekly and annual passes if you’re aged between 18-25.
Details of all the passes and their prices are below:
- Napoli Centro Antico – €12, free entry to all attractions included, valid for 3 days, no free access to transport
- Castelli di Napoli – €12, free entry to all attractions included, valid for 3 days, free transport included
- Naples and Caserta – €20, free entry to the first 3 attractions you visit, 50% on all remaining sites included on the card, valid for 3 days, free transport included
- All Region (Tutta la Regione) 3 days – €27, free entry to the first 2 attractions you visit, 50% discount on all remaining sites included on the card, valid for 3 days, free access to transport included
- All Region (Tutta la Regione) 7 days – €30, free entry to the first 5 attractions you visit, 50% discount on all remaining sites included on the card, valid for 7 days, no free access to transport
- All Region (Tutta la Regione) 365 days – €44, free entry to many attractions you visit, valid for 365 days, free access to transport
And then visit the Archaeological Museum
Put your Campania ArteCard into use for the first time by getting a whopping 50% discount off the entry fee (€6 was the original price being an EU tourist and under 25) to the Naples Archaeological museum (or Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli); it’s best to go during the evenings as it’s only €2 OR – if you want to plan your visit precisely it is free entry on the first Sunday of each month.
Here you can spend an afternoon admire the architecture built by the Roman and Greek empires back in their hey day along with other collections and exhibitions. from other Italian cities like Pompeii and other parts of the world (e.g. Egypt).
If you’re a Football fan like myself there’s a Napoli FC gift shop where you can buy the club’s merchandise including as the local football team sponsors the museum.
It is open on from Wednesdays to Mondays on a weekly basis between 9am and 7:30pm, with the national museum closed on Tuesdays.
Then visit Pompeii too
Again thanks to the ArteCard you can get free entry to the remnants of old Pompeii, one of the most advanced cities in Italy during ancient times before being buried under many metres of ash due to the eruption of the neighbouring Mount Vesuvius on 24th August 74AD.
The disaster took the lives of 2000 people, including children and meant that Pompeii was mostly not rediscovered till the mid 18th century in the year 1748 🙁
Without the ArteCard the entry fee is €11 for natives and a reduced fee, like many tourist sites, for EU citizens aged between 18-25 are at a price of €5.50. Those EU citizens but aged under 18 or 60+ are granted free entry.
After attempting to get to the relic twice, I finally got the chance to feel the emotion, the power and what once was as a walked down the streets, houses and shops that once existed. Should you visit the Archaeological museum and go on the Underground tour along with the ruins of Pompeii then you get a comprehensive study on life in ancient Pompeii.
It’s a gigantic area to explore and you need the whole day to visit all parts of the ruins so come stacked up with sunscreen, snacks and juice cos. The ruins are opened between 8:30am and 7:30pm from April to October, while from November to March the opening times are from 8:30am till 5pm.
Spend a sunny afternoon in Santa Maria
I liken this activity to a day out in Southend or Margate. Within the Santa Maria district, you’ve got an attraction nearby to conquer in the form of the beautiful Castel dell’Ovo, one of the three medieval castles book-ending Naples, and a shopping area to explore for the fun part of the day/afternoon out and then to conclude is the most chilled part of the day, where you’re walking by the bay and going to sit on the seaside.
By this point you’re admiring a view that is created by a combination of mother nature and man if you haven’t admired it prior.
Something like this maybe:
Maybe these ones:
Go to the top of Castel Sant’Elmo
What awaits you when you get to the very highest point of this castle residing on top of a hill is a complete view of the whole of Naples and it’s truly incredible. The one time I had time to visit it I never quite managed to make it into the medieval fortress, let alone the top because I arrived 15 mins after its closing time at 6pm so had to settle for these pics from the road just below it:
Originally home to King Robert in Naples in the 14th century and then the military afterwards, the Castel Sant’Elmo is now one of many castle-turned museums and exhibitions.
To be honest for the casual goer there isn’t much intrigue behind the castle (and not much is documented on its history) but the views from the castle itself. I guess that’s one time where – for the last time lol – the ArteCard, granting the holder free entry to the castle, comes in handy.
Having mentioned closing times, be warned! I’ve read reviews about visitors complaining about inconsistencies in opening times so my best advice would be to go around midday or early afternoon to avoid disappointment. But the 360 views will be really worth it once you’ve tortured yourself with the climb.
There you have it! My top 5 things to do when in Naples.
Special mentions go to going on the Naples Underground tour, eating pizza or pasta from a pizzeria or restaurant and respectively.
Again keep in mind this is a list mainly based on my personal experience so don’t assume this is the definitive guide for how to be a Napoli native 😛
But in the meantime feel free to comment on what else is there to explore in Naples I may not have mentioned, like the post or share it with others looking to visit Italy in the near future.
But for now, Ciao tutti and Happy Easter!
Johnny | The Travel Connoisseur 😉