With a historic center listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and nearby Mount Vesuvius–a still-active volcano that destroyed the ancient Roman town of Pompeii–Naples, Italy, holds a special place in travelers’ hearts. Whether you’re looking to immerse yourself in Italian culture, explore the region’s rich history, or simply check one more city off your bucket list, Naples serves as the ideal home base. Find out how you can plan the perfect itinerary and discover the best places to stay in Naples.

Early Morning: Grab Breakfast

There’s no better start to your first day in Naples than breakfast in a quaint café. Caffé Svelato L’Arte is a café close to San Domenico Maggiore that’s so small it’s easy to pass up. Unlike many cafes in Naples, this one is rarely busy and is perfect for stopping in for a quick bite and cup of coffee. Stairs Coffee Shop is another good option. Choose from a variety of baked goods, coffees, teas, chocolates, and desserts.

You can also fuel up at Gourmeet’s Lavazza café. The croissants are noted as being among the yummiest in Naples, and the brioche is always filled with a delightful assortment of creams and sweets. It is street food meets traditional café in the finest sense.

For more substantial fare, try Capatoast, a toasteria with four locations throughout Naples. Master cooks prepare the breads fresh daily, from white and whole grain to vegan and sweet varieties. Choose your favorite fillings to create the perfect breakfast sandwich, or try one of the chef-created options on the menu. Just to get an idea of what’s offered, the Genuine features ham, tomatoes, and fennel, while the Irresistible is like an eggplant parmesan on toast. Whether you prefer sweet or savory, this toasteria has it all!

For extra help getting around Naples, download a few apps before you go. Triposo is a great all-around travel guide for discovering great restaurants and attractions, while Lingolook helps you brush up on your Italian.

The Historical Site of Pompeii in Naples.

Midmorning: Stretch Your Legs

With so much to experience in Naples, you’ll want to get a head start right after breakfast. History lovers can’t come to Naples without visiting Mount Vesuvius and Pompeii. These archaeological sites on the Bay of Naples are world-famous, and since they’re an easy excursion from the city (just a few train stops will get you there), you’ll want to set aside plenty of time to explore.

Since Pompeii is such a popular tourist attraction, ticket lines are already long by 10 a.m., but patience pays off. Just remember that the site is vast, consisting of 163 acres. Since there aren’t any golf carts to drive you around, you’ll want to bring plenty of water. Tourists tend to get lost in the maze of streets, so snag a guidebook or download an app that can help you find your way around. From Pompeii, take the shuttle van to the volcano, but be prepared for a hike up to the summit.

Back in Naples, acclimate yourself to the city by taking an open-top, hop-on hop-off bus tour. The City Sightseeing Naples tour covers three routes throughout the city, the longest of which lasts one hour and 30 minutes. As a hop-on hop-off tour, you’re free to get off the bus, sightsee, and rejoin the bus at any of the designated stops. Onboard commentary also helps you learn about the history and culture of Naples, making this a perfect tour for your first day.

Noon: Sit Down to Lunch

Did you know that pizza was invented in Naples? Well, now that you know, you’ll have to savor an authentic Neapolitan lunch known as the pizza margherita. L’Antica Pizzeria Brandi is the original birthplace of the pizza margherita, having been around since 1780. You simply can’t get any more authentic than that!

Other great places to enjoy a pizza margherita (or your favorite variety) include Pizzeria Di Matteo and Da Michele, the latter of which was made famous by “Eat Pray Love.”

If you prefer to grab something on the go, Naples offers plenty of street food options. You don’t have to venture far to find food vendors serving up foldable pizza al forno, soft pagnutiello, fried montanara, or a brown paper cone or o’cuppetiello. Even if you’ve never heard of these classic Neapolitan street foods, it’s worth sampling a few before heading home.

National Archaeological Museum
Roman Sarcophagus Depicting the Legend of Prometheus Creating the First Man in the National Archaeological Museum in Naples.

Afternoon: Hit the Museums

Like most cities in Italy, Naples is full of museums, so set aside plenty of time to visit your favorites. The National Archaeological Museum is considered the most important Italian museum of its kind. The building itself was constructed in the 1750s, and prized collections include both Greek and Roman antiquities. If you’ve visited Pompeii during your stay in Italy, you’ll want to view the museum’s artifacts from the fated city, which include recovered mosaics and other artifacts.

Located at the Palace of Capodimonte, Museo di Capodimonte is a renowned art museum dedicated to preserving and showcasing Neapolitan paintings and decorative art. Its vast collection traces back to 1738 when King Charles VII of Naples and Sicily wanted to build a hunting lodge on Capodimonte hill, but decided a grand palace was better. Naturally, the palace become a repository of fine art, beginning with the pieces the king inherited from his mother.

Today, Museo di Capodimonte contains the Galleria Nazionale (National Gallery) on the first and second floors. Works consists of paintings spanning the 13th through the 18th centuries by the likes of Raphael, Caravaggio, Masaccio, and others. It’s one attraction you simply cannot miss!

Other must-see museums in Naples include Museo d’Arte Contemporanea Donnaregina, the Sansevero Chapel Museum, and the Pietrarsa railway museum.

Vomero Hill
Vomero Hill in Naples.

Late Afternoon: Shop ‘Til You Drop

Naples is home to some of the most beautiful shopping streets in Italy. Whether you’re hunting for the perfect souvenir, a gift for a loved one, or the latest fashion trend, you’ll find it all in Naples.

One of the longest shopping streets in the city is Via Toledo, also known as Via Roma. The street boasts neoclassical architecture dotted with countless boutiques, department stores, and large chains. The thoroughfare itself may be ancient, but you’ll find an endless variety of modern shopping options to suit every taste.

Need a new pair of shoes? Check out the fashion on Via Scarlatti, which is situated on Vomero hill. This quaint pedestrian area houses a variety of shoe shops and elegant boutiques, plus offers some of the best views of Naples.

For authentic antiques and traditional crafts, head to Via San Gregorio Armeno and its adjoining alleyways. This historic section of Naples is home to the world-renowned Nativity scene makers. It’s Neapolitan custom to put out the Nativity scene on December 8, although the baby Jesus figurine isn’t added to the manger until Christmas Eve.

Dinnertime: Enjoy a World-Class Meal

If you think Naples is all about pizza and pasta, you’d be mistaken. In fact, this vibrant corner of Italy serves up some of the best sushi around. Visit Yao Sushi Chiaia for sashimi, nigiri, hot rolls, and sake. You can even order takeaway if you’re tired from sightseeing and want to unwind with a good meal in your hotel room.

Given the fact we’re in the Mediterranean, you’ll want to enjoy a Mediterranean meal at least once during your stay. Crudore serves some of Naples’ most amazing raw fish, tartare, and carpaccio with good wine and unforgettable dressings. It’s on the pricy side, so be sure to save this one for a romantic night out!

Craving tapas in Italy? You’re in luck! Family-run restaurants like Milagros Gastrobar have you covered with gourmet tasting menus designed to satisfy. Touted as the only authentic Spanish restaurant in Naples, Milagros features chef-created favorites like gazpacho, chorizo croquette, rice with clams, and seafood paella. Reservations are recommended, and mandatory for groups of 10 or more.

Late Night: Catch a Show

While in Italy, don’t pass up the chance to experience the opera, a ballet, or other musical performance. Established in 1737, Teatro di San Carlo is the oldest continuously active opera house in the world. The venue’s opera season runs from January to May with the ballet season taking over from April to June. No matter when you visit, experiencing a show at Teatro di San Carlo is a real treat. Upcoming performances for the 2017/2018 season include “The Barber of Seville,” “La Boheme,” and “My Fair Lady.”

Another great performing arts venue is Teatro San Ferdinando, named for Ferdinand I, King of Naples. Built in the late 18th century, Teatro San Ferdinando was most noted for its 1950s-era productions. Unfortunately, it closed in the 1980s and didn’t reopen until 2007. Today, Teatro San Ferdinando hosts a variety of drama performances, including the upcoming “Single Girls With Any Experience.”

Palace of Capodimonte
Palace of Capodimonte in Naples.

Airport Guide

Naples, Italy, is served by the Naples International Airport (NAP), which is located 6 km from the city center. Major airlines traveling through NAP include Aer Lingus, British Airways, easyJet, Ryanair, and Turkish Airlines.

The airport has a single runway and two terminal buildings, although Terminal 2 is strictly used for charter operations. As such, you will arrive in Terminal 1 and make your way to baggage claim. For bus tickets, head to the terminal’s north end. The Alibus departs just outside Arrivals in front of the bank every 20 minutes. This will also connect you to the Metro, the railway, and other transportation options. Currently, the Naples Metro system hasn’t been extended to the airport, so you will need to make a bus connection if using public transportation.

If you’re using Alibus, there are dedicated Naples Alibus Airport shuttles between the airport and two stops in the city center: Central Train Station and Molo Beverello Port. If you didn’t buy a ticket from an airport agent, you can always buy one from the driver, although you’ll be charged a premium fare.

If you prefer to rent a car from NAP, a free shuttle service will take you to the rental car parking area. Car rental companies include AVIS, Europcar, Hertz, and Enterprise, just to name a few. Speak with one of the agents if you’re not sure how to reach your destination. When in doubt, make sure you have a GPS app on your phone to help you get to your hotel. You can also reserve a taxi ahead of time by booking online and let someone else do the driving!

Check with your hotel when booking to see if they provide a courtesy shuttle service to and from the airport. Even if this service comes with an extra surcharge, it’s often worth the extra euros to save yourself the stress and hassle of navigating ground transportation at the airport.

In the event that you’ve lost any luggage, head to the Lost & Found Office before exiting the airport. This office is located on the ground floor of Terminal 1 in the Arrival’s area.

Currency exchange offices are located in the airport terminal, but exchange rates are often much higher than you would find around Naples. It’s a better idea to exchange your money at a local bank in Naples to avoid steep transaction fees at the airport, hotels, and other tourist spots. Depending on the exchange rate, you may even be better off using your credit card to withdraw money from an ATM.

Mount Vesuvius
Mount Vesuvius in Naples.

Where to Stay in Naples

Since Naples is such an iconic destination, there are plenty of accommodations suited to your travel style. Take your pick from the best Naples hotels, hostels, and private rentals to make the most of your stay.

Top Hotels

Travelers on a budget should consider three-star hotels offering a mid-range option. These tend to give you the standard amenities at affordable rates, plus you can have your pick of Napoli neighborhoods. Hotel San Giorgio is a smart option that offers satellite TV, private bathrooms with showers and bidets, wireless internet, and separate sitting areas.

The recently renovated Hotel Casanova also includes fast internet, nicely furnished rooms, and private bathrooms, as well as a little library for guest use. Best of all, breakfast is included, so you can save even more during your stay in Naples.

Other mid-range options include Hotel Fiorentina, Hotel Martini, and Hotel Tourist. There are literally hundreds of hotel options that offer exceptional value for the money.

For something a bit more upscale, reserve a room at The Royals Experience. Situated in the Chiaia district close to shopping and historic sites, this accommodation boasts elegant rooms and suites with iPod docking stations, bathrobes, an airport shuttle service, room service, a daily newspaper, and more.

B&B Orsini46 exudes warmth with its grand furnishings and cozy atmosphere. Located in prestigious Saint Lucia, Orsini46 places you within steps of the Via Caracciolo promenade, the Royal Palace, and Plebiscite Square. The five-star service includes daily housekeeping, in-room breakfasts, free coffee and tea, an in-room minibar, satellite TV, and luxury linens. When you want an upscale bed-and-breakfast experience, look no further than Orsini46.

Best Hostels

Solo travelers, couples, and budget-minded backpackers should consider staying at one of Naples’ many hostels. The centrally located youthhome B&B features dorms with balconies overlooking a lively street with a bus station. Sharing bathrooms with other guests requires patience, especially in the mornings, but just imagine how much money you can save by renting a single bed over an entire room.

Hostel Mancini Naples is a premier hostel located in the city center just five minutes from Naples Central Train Station. The newly renovated accommodation includes free Wi-Fi, common areas, and friendly staff. Each guest will receive a free city map to help guide you to the best tourist attractions, and staff are more than happy to make recommendations. Hostel Mancini Naples features both shared dorms and private rooms, making it a great option whether you’re traveling solo or with the family.

With its colorful accommodations, Hostel of the Sun is a unique hostel near Castle Mashio Angioino, the Royal Palace, and the National Archaeological Museum. The facility offers both dorms and private rooms with twin, double, triple, and quad options. From the moment you arrive, the well-trained staff will sit with you to explain the lay of the land, suggesting places in Naples worth visiting. There’s a cozy common room for meeting fellow travelers, a vast DVD movie library, free board games, gaming consoles, and free breakfast (with plenty of Nutella!).

Coolest Private Rentals

If you’re traveling with a large group and want some extra space, consider booking a private rental. Naples apartments come in all shapes and sizes, and in many cases, you’ll have an entire flat to yourself. Book one with a full-size kitchen to help save money by cooking, or get one with laundry facilities so you can pack light. No matter which neighborhood you prefer, there are countless options to consider.

Are you ready to take the trip of a lifetime? Plan your trip to Naples, Italy, from transportation and accommodation to attractions and tours, right here on GoDoTrip.