Do it like a local: the best places to visit in Naples and surroundings
One thing is for sure: there are A LOT of things to see in Naples and any trip there can only be one of charm and beauty! Founded by the greeks, the city has always been a fantastic mix of cultures, and it perfectly represents the Mediterranean spirit. The soul of the people is strong and passionate, a lot more than other places in Italy.
Today, we take you on a discovery of the best the city has to offer and then beyond, passing through Caserta, to the archeological ruins of Pompei and Ercolano, following on to the island of Capri and the splendid Sorrento. A 7-day travel guide to our must-see places to visit in Naples and surroundings.
Day 1: NAPLES FROM ABOVE
Hilltop view of Naples and Vesuvius: photo credits @vincepenta
There's an easy way to see all the magic places worth visiting in Naples at once and it's from above! Upon arrival in the city, we suggest going straight to the top of the hill that dominates the surrounding area, so you can really take in the grandiosity of this metropolis born at the foot of the volcano. Its borders are lost towards the east while on the other side the sea determines its form. It's as though the city is opening up through this semicircle on the sea, as a sign of welcoming, which is, after all, one of Naples' main characteristics. Vesuvius stands out upon the horizon, simultaneously representing the guard of the city and the warning of nature. All of this is visible if you take the furnicular to Vomero, the hill that towers over Naples, which also gives its name to one of the prettiest and wealthiest neighbourhoods of the city.
Aerial view of the geometric neighbourhood of Vomero: photo credits: Google Earth Pro + @squareofitaly
To reach this beautiful view one needs to climb 485 metres above sea level, to the highest place in Naples, the sixteenth century Hermitage of Camaldoli. From up there, it goes beyond Naples, beyond Vesuvius and the Gulf until all of the following can be seen: the neighbourhoods on the peripheries, the Flegei fields, the peninsula of Sorrento, Posillipo, Ischia, Procida and Capri, stretching right up to the mountains of Lazio.
Day 2: CENTRE OF NAPLES AND SPACCANAPOLI
It's now time to back down into the heart of the city to get to know the everyday life of its inhabitants and to understand the very famous Neapolitan identity. We choose to follow one out of three ‘decumani’ (streets) of Roman origin, the most spectaular and characteristic, Spaccanapoli, a street that literally splits the city into two. Following its lead, buildings parade one after the other, storming the city with jewels belongint to various styles.
Spaccanapoli: photo credits @marco.40.locatelli
Following on we crossed from our list pretty much all the more "traditional" things to see in Naples: the Baroque Church of New Jesus, the Monumental Complex of Santa Chiara, a gothic-style masterpiece where Giuseppe Sammartino's Cristo Velato is kept, celebrated globally for its extraordinary transparency of the shroud which covers the body, and then San Gregorio Armeno and the Via dei Presepi, where there are many artisanal workshops with statues of famous people and religious figures. To conclude the tour of the centre, there is no better place than the Cathedral of Naples (Duomo), symbolizing the visceral link of the city with its patron.
In terms of accommodation, we recommend La Controra Hostel Naples, a design hostel, situated in front of the National Museum where peace presides and the commotion of Naples remains outside. The hostel is found a few minutes from the famous Piazza di Spagna, in an area located in the middle of the Vomero hill. A few stops from the historic centre and the Metro Station, it's perfect to visit Naples.
Majolica of the Santa Chiara Monastery: photo credits @vincepenta
Between the places to visit in Naples you can't miss the Stations of Art. An unpublished project, uniting public transport and art. There are 15 stops on Line 1 of the Naples Metro, each made unique by international artists. One not to miss is Toledo stop, designed by Oscar Tusquets, a Spanish architect, winning awards for being the most beautiful in the world.
Naples Metro stop Toledo: photo credits @micheleborrelli
Talking about the city center, if you don't want to part from the heart of the city not even in your sleep, we highly suggest you try the Naples Experience hostel, situated in a typical Neapolitan neighbourhood and easily reached by bus and train, given that it’s only 15 minutes by foot from Garidbaldi central station.
Day 3: PIAZZA PLEBISCITO AND NAPLES SEAFRONT
Piazza Plebiscito: photo credits @pio_palmieri
Piazza Plebiscito is the THE thing to see in Naples. It represents the heart of the city and is one of the biggest piazzas in Italy. The Papal Royal Basilica of San Francesco di Paola is considered one of the most important neo-classical Italian buildings and its sides are connected by two big semi-circular columns which have a strong scenic impact. The piazza is found not far from the sea and is also reachable by foot. The seafront of Naples is true "Italianness" at its best. The pungent sea breeze gratifies the sense of smell, carried by the waves that break upon the shore. The big stretch of the beach overlooked by the volcano is full of people passing by. On the other side of the street, there is the chaos of cars and mopeds, in gridlock alongside a long stretch of bars and restaurants. Via Caracciolo, considered the ‘most beautiful seafront in the world’, contains the Neapolitan nightlife and it's the place to find young people. An evening walk is the perfect solution and we recommend that you taste the pizza before you leave the city, because while it's true that it’s the food that is most diffused in the world, you won’t have tasted any pizza as good as it tastes here! After all, the art of pizza-making and the pizza are registered by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, a praised recognition for the Neapolitan genius and creativeness.
If you want to fall aspleep with the sound of the waves slowing crashing on the shore, Hostel of the Sun is the place you want to be. One of the prettiest buildings in the city, Hostel of the Sun is found in a quiet zone, little distance from the port, and from the train and bus stations. The rooms are well-decorated and spacious, and there is also a walking tour organised, as well as bike, kayak and so on.
If you have to stay in the city for few additional days, we're sure you would find other things to see in Naples as interesting as the one we have just suggested you: however, we're going to walk you through a little one-day trip to the magnificant tourist attractions that surround the city and definiletly deserve a little of your time.
Day 4: POMPEI AND ERCOLANO
First stop, the archeological sites of Pompei and Ercolano. Getting there it’s not tricky as you think: you can go by car, you can take the bus that follows the Circumvesuviana from Piazza Garibaldi and reaches the stops Pompei Scavi and Ercolano Scavi.
Mosaic of Pompei: photo credits @marziomartel
Pompei and Ercolano are inextricably united by history. Everything remains from the time 79 A.C., after the cataclysmic eruption of Vesuvius (one of the most dangerous volcanoes in the world) didn’t let the two cities escape, submerging them all under a blanket of ashes and a layer of lava that solidified and trapped houses, monuments and people.
The ruins of Pompei are the biggest archeological site in the world! It’s a challenging visit and the most beautiful route is to walk along the cobbled streets and immerse yourself in the life of the times. Unmissable is the Villa of Mysteries, named as such for the series of paintings perfectly conserved through mysterious means, as well as the Villa Imperiale, the Teatro Grande, Anfiteatro and the House of Fauno, one of the biggest homes in the whole site.
It’s magnificent to enter between the arches and the ‘decumani’ of the ruins of Ercolano that are smaller than those of Pompei, but usually possess a charming particularity, such as the House of Two Atriums, the House of Neptune and Amphitrite, the House Sannitica and the big House of Rilievo Telefo.
At this point of the trip it’s advisable to stay overnight at least one night in either of these two places. The eclectic Fabric Hostel, really close to Ercolano, is one of the best hostels in the area. As you can guess by the name, this hostel is born from the reconversion of an 1800s textile factory. The structure is made up of comfortable and clean rooms, and it’s also an excellent restaurant. An irresistible mix of fun, culture and great food!
Day 5: CASERTA
From Naples it’s possible to reach Caserta in many ways: boat, bus, train, metro or by other means. The trip takes about an hour but what awaits in this city is something truly spectacular. The beauty of the majestic Caserta Palace, a total pride of Italy, competes with the more renowned european residencies, and has no reason to envy the equally famous Palace of Versailles. The project was commissioned to Luigi Vanvitelli on request of Carlo III of Borbone with the objective of excelling the main palaces of the era, such as the previously mentioned Versailles and the Royal Palace of Madrid. Vanvitelli made twelve hundred rooms, obliging this sumptuous request, topping it all off with the construction of the immense park that extends right above the hill.
The park is traversed along its entire length by a stream that configures its forms and which culminates in the artificial waterfall that uses the slope of the mountain. Crowning this magnificence there are the “real delights”: in addition the the Park (Italian Garden), decorated by fountains and sculptures, there is also the much quoted English Garden and the Forest of San Silvestro, all aspects of the Palace of Caserta that contribute to its entirety, as one of the grandest in the world!
The advice is to leave Naples at a good hour and book a time for a guided tour. The monumental complex is truly immense and deserves to be visited thoroughly, including all the various sections.
Palace of Caserta: photo credits Simone Borgia / IG: @the_ht78 / FB: The Humble Traveler
Day 6: SORRENTO
Sorrento is an enchanting maritime village and just strolling along its streets induces serenity. In the centre there is Piazza Tasso with the statue dedicated to the most distinguished figure to which Sorrento has given birth, the great poet Torquato Tasso, creator of the celebrated poem ‘Jerusalem Released’. A few minutes from the piazza you’ll find Villa Silvana, a residence in liberty-style, surrounded by a scenic exotic garden with palm trees, aloe, agave and much more. The surrounding territory is covered in terraces that face the panorama of the Gulf, immersed between vines and lemon trees. It's from these that we get the renowned limoncello, the gastronomic symbol of the city.
Amalfi Coast: photo credits @ournextflight
Our chosen accommodation is the Seven Hostel of Sorrento in Sant’Angello, a few steps from the Circumvesuviana stop, very comfortable if your trip to follow is by bus. The hostel has private rooms with bathroom, or communal mixed and female rooms. It’s only a few minutes from the beach, with a quality:price ratio that’s unbeatable. The terrace is great and the staff are always friendly and available to book excursions or bicycle, scooter and car hire, but also to help you with advice on what to do and see in Sorrento and in the surrounding area.
Terrace of Seven Hostel of Sant’Agnello (Sorrento)
Day 7: CAPRI
From Sorrento it’s possible to embark with the hydrofoil (faster and also more expensive) or with the ferry to reach Marina Grande in Capri, this gem of an island that stems off the south of the Gulf of Naples. Our advice is to arrive as early as possible on the island, getting on board early in the morning so you can enjoy a panorama of the Peninsula of Sorrento that offers fantastic landscape views with jagged cliffs that crash against the sea. And then from here, in the middle of the sea, you’ll meet the Island of Capri, which is exciting even before arrival!
Capri with rocks in the background: photo credits @vincenzofalconedelicious
We can say without a doubt that Capri is one of the most beautiful places in the world. Almost always kissed by sun, it enjoys mild winters and hot summers. And it’s possible to take a trip of the island by boat, stopping off in one of the most famous and beautiful spots in the whole island, the ‘Grotta Azzurra’ (blue cave), a splendour fascinating thousands of visitors that rush here every year. The characteristic colour of the water comes from sun rays that, upon meeting the surface of the sea, give off sparkles that give the cave its characteristic colour of intense blue. We suggest diving straight into the blue for an unforgettable experience.
We really hope our short guide can help you plan your holidays in the best way possible: if you have any suggestions on other things to see in Naples, don't be shy and let us know on our Facebook Page! And if we have succeeded in persuading you to visit this beautiful piece of Italy, then feel free to check out all our accommodation using the booking form down below. Happy Travels!