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Naples is the largest city in Southern Italy and is the capital of the Campania region. You can spend an entire week in Naples, and yet get disappointed as you would have missed out some places worth watching.
It is one of the most ancient cities in Europe, and has even earned the UNESCO World Heritage Site recognition. There is a lot to see in Naples, so ensure that you plan your itinerary accordingly. If you are confused then our Naples travel guide can come to your rescue!
What To Do In Naples, Italy?
The Infamous Mount Vesuvius:
Naples, Italy is at the base of Mount Vesuvius, which is considered to be the world’s most dangerous and active volcano. Until now, it has erupted more than 50 times and caused a lot of destruction. In 79 AD, the volcanic eruption had destroyed entire cities of Pompeii, Herculaneum, and Stabiae, and killed more than 16,000 people.
In about 25 hours, the entire city of Pompeii was turned into ashes. The unfortunate people of Pompeii suffocated and died due to the pumice and ashes in the air. However, this covered them and preserved amazing details of the life in the Roman city. In the year 1748, a group of explorers rediscovered Pompeii and were shocked to find that the city was mostly intact beneath a thick layer of ashes and ruins. The buildings were intact and so were the corpses! These indications encouraged archaeologists and they began to dig.
Mount Vesuvius still is a great danger to the nearby cities; especially Naples. Yet another major volcanic eruption that occurred in Mount Vesuvius was in the year 1944 during World War II. It destroyed aircrafts and caused a lot of problems for the Allied forces in Italy. Since then, there have been several minor volcanic eruptions in the region.
At present, more than a million people live in the cities that are surrounding Mount Vesuvius. Tourists usually visit the area for trekking to the top, which provides a sense of pride and achievement. It certainly is an interesting and unique way to experience Roman history. And, not to forget the mesmerizing views from the top to the Bay of Naples! Hiking Mount Vesuvius is not going to be easy but the below mentioned tips in our Naples travel guidewill provide all the information that you need:
- It is a long and steep climb, and first time hikers will take about 40-50 minutes, so ensure that you wear proper clothing and comfortable shoes.
- Initially, the path will be an uphill until you reach the edge of the crater.
- Carry lot of fluids to keep your body hydrated.
- If you are driving a car then you will have to leave the car at the lower parking lot and then walk by foot.
- If traveling by public transport buses then you will be dropped to the higher parking lot, which will reduce a considerable part of your walking distance.
- However, the bus will only wait for 90 minutes so you need to come back within the time period.
- Start climbing only if you are 100% fit and do not have a medical problem.
- At the top of Mount Vesuvius, it may get a bit cold due to higher altitudes so dress up accordingly.
- Although it is one of the most dangerous volcanoes, it is pretty safe to climb to the top and explore the craters.
- Don’t forget to click plenty of pictures once you are on top of Mount Vesuvius.
Pompeii Archaeological Site:
Today, the modern Pompei (notice that the modern city has a change in name with one less “i”) has turned into an archaeological site, which is been attracted by millions of tourists each year. The well-preserved ruins provide visitors a look into the lives of ancient Romans. No wonder, it is considered to be one of the top Roman era attractions in Italy.
Tips On Visiting Pompeii:
Your visit to Pompeii is going to be an interesting one. Some of the areas have been completely excavated, so you will be able to see the amphitheatre, gymnasium, Temple of Apollo, House of the Vettii, theatre, House of the Faun, the Basilica, Forum Granary, and many more remarkable areas. Once you are in Pompeii, the below mentioned travel guide will help in making your trip successful:
- The Circumvesuviana trains run from Naples to Sorrento, stopping at Pompei station. However, this is a cheap but not-so-convenient option as the trains are always crowded. There are large standing areas by the doors and if you are comfortable to stand for about an hour then you can certainly travel by train. The entrance to the Pompeii archaeological area is quite close from the station. You can get plenty of help from the tourist office and the tours to Mount Vesuvius that are right outside the station. You can buy tickets for Circumvesuviana train at the station by paying cash. Buses are also available, which cost the same as the train. You can get a public transport bus from Naples to Pompeii.
- Remember that Pompeii site is extremely vast. So, if you have keen interest in archaeology then you will need an entire day to explore most of it. If you are new to the subject then you will need a good Pompeii travel guide that will provide information because once you are inside the site, there aren’t any details available of what you are viewing. Some tourists hire guides that are easily found near ticket counters while independent visitors prefer using their own researched travel guides to Pompeii that contains accurate and in-depth information on the area.
- To enter the archaeological area, there are three entrance gates. If you are traveling by public bus then you will enter through the main Piazza Anfitheatro gate, which is to the east of Pompeii. However, if you are reaching by Circumvesuviana train then you will reach at the south west part of Pompeii where there are two entrance gates close to each other.
- Bear in mind that you won’t find much facilities around the ruins. Just a small café and a couple of washrooms are available. Also, there is no shade, so carry an umbrella, hat, or scarf to cover your head during the hot sunny days. Carry plenty of liquids like water and juices to keep your body hydrated. Wear comfortable shoes as you will be walking a lot on uneven surfaces.
- The entire city of Pompeii is under debris and has uneven grounds so it won’t be easy to move wheelchairs and strollers in the area. Also, the site is not going to be an entertaining one for kids. However, if there are disabled travelers or babies traveling with you then you should try and go from the Porta Marina entrance as the other entrances have plenty of stairs. Through this entrance gate, a new barrier-free route has been created that makes wheelchair users access the popular archaeological site. It is a 3km smooth pathway, which provides entry to 20 of Pompeii’s most important sights.
- On first Sunday of the month, it is free to enter the Pompeii area. Rest of the days, you need to buy tickets. Single day tickets cost 15 Euros per adult. European citizens between the age of 18-24 and school teachers can buy tickets at discounted rates of 9 Euros. European citizens below the age of 18 can visit the site for free of cost. Two sites visit to Oplontis and Boscoreale would cost 7 Euros and three sites visit to Pompeii, Oplontis and Boscoreale would cost 18 Euros. You can even purchase a five-site pass that includes Herculaneum. It costs 22 Euros and is valid for 3 days. Also, check for a skip-the-line ticket to save time and energy.
- At the entrance to the archaeological site, you will notice several vineyards. The grapes grown here are of an ancient variety, which makes the wine one of the most exclusive ones. The ashes of volcanic eruptions have made the soil extremely fertile; thus, enhancing the quality of farming. Archaeologists realized that the types of grapes grown as well as the kind of farming that is been done now, are following the same method that was used in ancient Pompeii. At present, about 1,700 bottles of Villa dei Misteri are made each year.
- If you are planning to spend more than a day in Pompeii, then you can consider staying in Hotel Diana Pompei. It is a 3-star hotel that provides Internet connection and is reasonably priced. Alternatively, you can stay at Hotel Visagi, which is about 700-800 meters away from the excavations. It is also a 3-star hotel and an inexpensive one.
National Archaeological Museum:
After visiting Pompeii archaeological site, your next stoppage should be the National Archaeological Museum of Naples. Here, the best preserved mosaics and items that were found in Pompeii, Herculaneum, and Stabiae have been displayed. The collection also includes works from Greek and Roman civilizations. There are more than 2,500 objects displayed in the museum, which makes it one of the largest collections of Egyptian artifacts in Italy. An extensive collection of erotic or sexual items that were derived during the excavations of Herculaneum and Pompeii are displayed in a part of the museum that is known as the “Secret Cabinet.”
The National Archaeological Museum is open for six days a week with Tuesday being a holiday. You can visit between 9am to 7:30pm. Also, it is closed on 25th December and 1st January. In case Tuesday is a public holiday, then the museum will remain closed on Wednesday. You can purchase entrance tickets outside the museum. The ticket office closes at 7pm. Entry is free to all visitors on first Sunday of each month. Moreover, European residents and non-European underage citizens will get free entry to the museum. The entrance ticket costs 12 Euros at the ticket counter; however, if you buy tickets online then you will have to pay 2 Euros extra as reservation fees.
To reach the National Archaeological Museum, you can get down at Museum Station or Piazza Cavour Station and then walk for 100 meters on foot. You will be allowed to click photographs inside the museum for personal memories, but without using tripods, selfie sticks, and flash. However, if you want to click professional photographs, then you need to take prior permissions from the Director of the Museum. It is a wheelchair accessible area and you can acquire wheelchairs at the Infopoint, which is on the ground floor, next to the entrance gate.
Herculaneum Archaeological Site:
The well-preserved Herculaneum is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that provides access to the ancient Roman civilization. Similar to Pompeii Archaeological Site, Herculaneum City had faced the same fate. It was buried under ashes due to the volcanic eruption of Mount Vesuvius. However, the city has still preserved several beds, roofs, clothing, doors, furniture, corpses, and food in their original form. It provides a glimpse of ancient Roman lifestyle, right before the destruction. The excavation for Ercolano (Herculaneum) began long ago but most of the site is still buried and is been excavated slowly by archaeologists.
Tourists prefer visiting Herculaneum rather than Pompeii because it is a smaller site and has lesser visitors. You can visit the place in the same Circumvesuviana train as Herculaneum is a couple of stops apart from Pompeii. Ensure that you purchase skip-the-line ticket to visit the site so that you do not have to stand in long queues. The area is wheelchair accessible. You can explore several buildings, gymnasiums, shops, bathing areas that are intact.
The first Sunday of each month provides free admission to all. The opening hours are 8:30am to 5pm from 1st November to 31st March and 8:30am to 7:30pm from 1st April to 31st October. You can purchase tickets from the ticket counters at the entrance that shut down one and a half hours before closing time. The entrance tickets are available for 11 Euros, which may change in conjunction with events or exhibitions. European residents below the age of 18 can enter the ruins of Herculaneum for free of cost. If you are visiting both Pompeii and Herculaneum on a single day then you can even purchase the combine ticket.
Garden Of The Fugitives:
Located in south-east side of Naples, the Garden of the Fugitives is the place where plaster casts of many victims of Pompeii have been displayed. Sadly, there are several children too on display. When the archaeologists were excavating a part of Pompeii they found decomposed bodies of innumerable victims.
In one area that is considered to be a fruit orchard, they poured plaster of Paris into the spaces that were left out by decomposed bodies. After some days when the plaster of Paris had hardened, the dirt was removed. They found thirteen adults and children together, attempting to save themselves from the volcanic eruption.
The area was then named as the Garden Of The Fugitives. You can see frozen glimpses of thirteen people of Pompeii in their last hours. Even though, Pompeii is yet been excavated, archaeologists have stopped creating new casts as the plaster of Paris damages the fragile remains of the corpses.
You have to enter the Pompeii Archaeological Site from the Anfiteatro entrance to reach the Garden Of The Fugitives. A shed has been built with glasses to protect the 13 casts from external elements. By looking at them closely, you can experience the tragedy that they went through at the time of volcanic eruption.
The Royal Palace Of Caserta:
Referred as the world’s largest palace by volume and top-rated Naples, Italy attractions, The Royal Palace of Caserta is worth exploring. The Bourbon Kings of Naples had built the palace in the 18th century. To reach the Royal Apartments in the palace, you have to walk through the Grand Staircase of Honor. The mesmerizing interiors, huge statues, intricate marble work, and marvelously painted domes display the grandeur of Roman Emperors. Each room has awesome wall-hangings, paintings, enormous chandeliers, and painted ceilings that are absolutely worth admiring.
The Throne Room is the highlight of the entire palace as it is covered with gold. The ornately decorated room has a huge and awesome throne kept at the far end. The entire palace has 1,200 rooms that are divided among five floors. However, the entire palace is not open for public viewing. Only a quarter of the palace on one floor can be explored, and this in itself will take about 2-3 hours. So, you can imagine how much time it would have taken to view the entire palace!
Right at the back of the palace, there is a beautiful and huge park, which is about 3kms long. In between the 3km stretch, there is a long water body that enhances the overall beauty of the palace. The well-maintained lawns and wonderful lighting system perks up the entire area in day as well as night.
To reach The Royal Palace of Caserta, you can take a direct train from Naples. It is approximately 30kms from central Naples, so will take about one hour by train. Once you have reached, keep at least 2-3 hours in hand for exploring the entire palace. Close to the palace, there are restaurants and cafés to have meals or a drink.
Things To Do In Naples Italy:
After exploring the archaeological sites and breathtaking palace, you should spend some time in the local markets of Naples. A day spent in the local market will let you taste the mouthwatering cuisines and explore the shopping areas for souvenirs, antiques, clothing, and much more. Interesting, isn’t it? Continue reading the Naples travel guide and you will exactly know where to head next!
Where To Eat And Drink In Naples:
Naples is also known as the birthplace of pizza, so how can you leave the city without having yummy pizzas out here. You will find innumerable pizzerias in every nook and corner of Naples and some of the most highly-rated ones are located near the train stations. And, believe me; each pizza that you try will be delicious!
- Da Cicciotto: Situated in the cliff-top area of Marechiaro, Da Cicciotto provides amazing views. Don’t forget to try out spaghetti alle vongole, Greco di Tufo wine, and fresh fish from here.
- Café Gambrinus: Located at the end of shopping street at Piazza Trieste e Trento, it is the best place to find a plethora of cakes and pastries. After reaching this café, you are surely going to get spoilt for choices!
- Pizzeria Brandi: Since 1780, Pizzeria Brandi has been serving pizza margherita to its customers. Do visit them at Salita Sant’Anna di Palazzo and tasty the yummiest pizza ever!
- Di Matteo: It is a reasonably priced pizzeria that is located at Via dei Tribunali. They serve delicious pizzas and fried antipasti.
Shopping In Naples:
What other things to do in Naples Italy? The answer is simple go for shopping. There is such a lot of stuff available for a reasonable price. Some of the things that you should take back home from Naples are listed below:
- Made-to-measure silk ties from E Matinella.
- Sculptures and vases from Laboratorio Oste, which is the showroom of late Neapolitan sculptor Annibale Oste.
- All fashionistas should visit the Via Toledo, which is one of the longest shopping streets in Naples. Here you will come across several departmental stores and boutiques.
- Via Chiaia in Naples is well-known for branded boutiques, antiques, and art dealers.
- The Via San Gregorio Armeno is a perfect place to visit for buying antiques and figurines.
Where To Stay In Naples?
Some of the areas of Naples are not very safe to stay due to rampant pickpockets. After keeping your safety in consideration, listed below are a list of hotel recommendations to stay in Naples, you can click on the hotel names and book them or look for more information:
Romeo Hotel: If you are looking for a 5-star hotel, then you can consider this one. It is located near the ferry terminal. There are different kinds of rooms available in here, so you can pick the one that suits your preferences.
La Ciliegina Lifestyle Hotel: It is a 4-star hotel that is located near Via Toledo. Free WiFi, Jacuzzi, safety vault, rooftop restaurant, and mini bar are some of the amenities that you would get in this clean and comfy hotel.
Grand Hotel Europe: If you are traveling by main train then you can consider staying in this comfortable 3-star hotel. Your visit to Pompeii would be easier through the Grand Hotel Europe as it is nearby.
Hostel Pensione Mancini: This hostel is perfect for those travelers who are looking for budget hotels in Naples. It is close to the train station and has clean rooms as well as friendly staff. You can either select a private room or a dorm for your stay.
All in all, Naples, Italy is a beautiful city that has impressive historic centers. Although you will find trash at some places, it is certainly worth ignoring. Also, take care of your belongings as there are some cases of pick-pocketing found lately. Whether you chose to explore archaeological sites or relaxed places like Capri, you are surely going to have a great time in Naples. So, start planning your trip right away and don’t forget to keep the Naples travel guide in sight at all times.
I also suggest you to read my own experience in Naples, Italy by reading my article here – One Day In Naples, Italy