What to visit in Naples, one of the most beautiful cities in Italy
With its breath-taking landscapes, its atmospheres, its works of art, Naples is considered one of the most beautiful cities in the world. A real open-air museum, the capital of Campania knows how to amaze with the colours, the beauties, the shades that only this place can offer.
It is difficult not to be enchanted by the magic that you can feel in every corner of this city, whose essence is not always easy to fully understand and perhaps it is this aura of mystery that makes it even more fascinating.
What is certain is that there are so many things to visit in Naples and you won’t know where to start. So you just have to take note of all the main attractions to taste the beauty, history and traditions of this wonderful land.
Your stay in Naples: what to do and what to visit
Below you will find a small list of the most important places of historical, cultural and artistic points of interest to see in Naples. The choice of which ones to visit and how much time to dedicate to each of them, of course, depends a lot on the time you have available and the length of your stay.
Read on to discover all the places not to be missed in the capital of Campania and its surroundings.
Spaccanapoli, the road that divides the heart of the city in two
Those who want to immerse themselves in the life, culture and history of Naples cannot fail to explore “Spaccanapoli”, the road that divides the city in two. Together with the major decumanus and the upper decumanus, it represents one of the main roads with which the Greeks organized the urban layout.
Along this road, which can be clearly observed by looking at the city from above, for example by going up to San Martino, you will feel like you are taking a walk through a thousand years of history, admiring the beauty of ancient churches, buildings and palaces.
Sansevero Chapel and Veiled Christ
Among the many things to visit in Naples there is, without any doubt, the Sansevero Chapel, located in the heart of the historic center, a few steps from Piazza San Domenico Maggiore. At the center of the chapel stands the evocative statue of the Veiled Christ by Giuseppe Sanmartino, a work famous all over the world that will fascinate you above all for the skill with which the transparent veil that covers the body of Jesus was made. An element that continues to enchant the many visitors and to whom a lot of legends are also linked.
Cathedral and Treasure of San Gennaro, patron saint of the city
The Cathedral of Naples, also known as the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta, is one of the most important places of historical and artistic interest in the city. It is exactly here that, three times a year, the famous ceremony of the dissolution of the blood of San Gennaro, patron saint of Naples, takes place.
The building houses the Chapel of the Treasure of San Gennaro, while next to the Cathedral you can find the Treasure Museum, which houses jewels and works of great value, the result of donations and offers to the Saint over the centuries.
Napoli Sotterranea (Underground Naples): a parallel city, waiting to be discovered
Many people do not know it, but under the Naples we all know another city develops, the so-called Underground Naples. It is a path between tunnels and cisterns, at a depth of 40 meters, which allows you to make a journey through history over more than two thousand years.
The Underground Naples Association offers excursions through which you can visit the remains of the Greco-Roman aqueduct, the air-raid shelters of the Second World War and the War Museum, for example, enjoying a completely new view of the city.
Archaeological Museum, for a journey through Roman and Egyptian finds
If you are wondering what to visit in Naples and you are a lover of Roman and Egyptian history, the National Archaeological Museum of Naples (MANN) is a must. Considered one of the most important archaeological museums in the world, it will allow you to take a real dive into the past.
You will be fascinated by the many finds from the Roman era, from the Pompeian collection, which came from the excavations of Pompeii, but also by the precious Egyptian collection, the second most important in Italy, after the Egyptian Museum in Turin.
San Gregorio Armeno, the street of the Nativity Scenes
San Gregorio Armeno is the famous street of the city dedicated to the nativity scene tradition. Throughout the year, in fact, you can find workshops of artisans who make nativity figurines, not only referring to the classic Nativity, but also reproducing celebrities from entertainment and politics. A unique and characteristic place not to be missed.
Church and cloister of Santa Chiara
The Monumental Complex of Santa Chiara is located in the heart of the historic center of Naples and is an important symbol of Gothic architecture. The church, almost completely razed to the ground by the bombings of 1943 and then rebuilt following the original Gothic style, will amaze you also for the famous Majolica Cloister: modified in the eighteenth century by Domenico Antonio Vaccaro, it has two avenues flanked by pillars covered with majolica that will leave you enchanted by their refined beauty.
Royal Palace and San Carlo Theatre
In Piazza del Plebiscito, one of the most important symbols of the city, stands the Royal Palace. Built in 1600 by Viceroy Fernando Ruiz de Castro, inside it is possible to admire the numerous works of art, tapestries, period furniture, the majestic entrance staircase and the beauty of the outdoor spaces such as the hanging garden, from which it is possible to enjoy a fantastic landscape.
Next to Piazza del Plebiscito, you can also find the Real Teatro di San Carlo. Founded in 1737, it is now considered a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Umberto I Gallery
Here is another place that cannot be missed in a guide on what to visit in Naples. Leaving the Real Teatro di San Carlo, the Umberto I shopping gallery awaits you, one of the most significant stops in the city. The gallery, with its elegant and sumptuous appearance, was built in just 3 years, from 1887 to 1890, and its name is a tribute to the King for his presence in Naples during the cholera epidemic of 1884.
Surmounted by an iron and glass structure, it will amaze you for its grandeur, but also for the statues, decorations and frescoes that embellish it. On the ground floor, you will also find shops, restaurants and cafes.
Castel dell’Ovo and the legend of Virgil
Among the many things to see in Naples, we cannot forget the Castel dell’Ovo, one of the most photographed places by tourists. Built on the islet of Megaride, its name is wrapped in an imaginative legend that has to do with Virgil. According to the story, in fact, the Latin poet would have hidden a very special egg in his basement which, if it had broken, would have caused disasters to the city.
At the exit of the castle another splendid attraction awaits you: the Lungomare di Napoli. You just have to let yourself be captivated by this breathtakingly beautiful landscape.
Another castle worth visiting is the Maschio Angioino, also known as Castel Nuovo. Built in the thirteenth century, during the reign of Robert of Anjou it became a center of culture and hosted personalities of the caliber of Giotto, Boccaccio, Petrarch, while with the Aragonese it assumed the characteristics of a real fortress. Today it houses the Civic Museum, exhibitions, and cultural initiatives.
The artistic subway stations
What if we told you that even a subway station can become a museum of contemporary art? This is exactly what you can find at the stations of Line 1 and 6 of the Naples metro, renewed by the proposals of Italian and international architects and designers, and enriched by over 200 works of art that aesthetically enhance and redevelop these spaces.
A beautiful example can be found at Toledo station, where you can admire Relative Light by Robert Wilson, which illuminates the station with plays of light in shades of blue.
Capodimonte Museum and Real Bosco
Among the advice on what to visit in Naples you cannot miss the site of “Capodimonte”, born in the eighteenth century as a hunting reserve of King Charles of Bourbon and royal residence for three dynasties. Since the King had the Farnese Collection inherited from his mother transferred there, the place began to host artistic collections, enriching itself with new works during the centuries, it became an obligatory stop on the Grand Tour of Italy.
The Museum allows you to take a journey through the history of art from the thirteenth to the twentieth century, admiring artists such as Caravaggio, Titian, Raphael, Warhol, Gemito, just to name a few.
Then you cannot miss the opportunity to immerse yourself in the greenery of the Real Bosco, the park in front of the palace which, with its 134 hectares, its 400 plant species and the architectural heritage it hosts, in 2014 earned itself the nomination of the most beautiful park in Italy.
Certosa and National Museum of San Martino
The Certosa di San Martino rises on the Vomero hill, from which you can admire all the splendor of the city and the Gulf of Naples from above.
Built in the fourteenth century and subject to various changes over the centuries – in the sixteenth century, in particular, its original Gothic appearance was replaced by the current Baroque architecture.
Having become state property, in 1866 the structure was used as a museum.
Among other things, at the National Museum of San Martino today you can find one of the oldest collections of Neapolitan Nativity scenes.
Pausilypon Archaeological Park
By crossing the Grotta di Seiano, built in Roman times and over 700 meters long, which joins the Bagnoli plain with the Gaiola valley, you reach the Pausilypon Archaeological Park, which in Greek means “place that makes your troubles stop”. Here you will find the remains of the luxurious villa built in the 1st century BC by the Roman knight Publio Vedio Pollione, of the theater and of the odeion, as well as enjoying a breathtaking view.
So if you have time and a way to move a little from the historic center, this is undoubtedly an interesting place to see in Naples. For information and reservations, you can visit the park’s website.
The Virgilian Park and its panoramic view
If you are looking for a place to relax, take a romantic walk and be amazed by a wonderful landscape, all you have to do is reach the Virgilian Park, also known as the Parco della Rimembranza.
The peculiarity of this little corner of paradise, which rises on the Posillipo hill, is that it is a panoramic park. From here you can see the most beautiful areas of the city, but also the Vesuvius, the islands of the gulf, the islet of Nisida and the Gulf of Pozzuoli.
Typical dishes of Naples
After suggesting what to visit in Naples, it’s time to immerse yourself in the atmosphere of the city, savoring its cuisine and traditional dishes. Surely a stay in the Neapolitan city cannot be said to be concluded without first tasting the Neapolitan pizza, be it a classic Margherita, a calzone or a delicious fried pizza. But it will not be easy to resist even other culinary temptations such as spaghetti with seafood, Neapolitan cuoppo, sfogliatella and a thousand other specialties.
From Vesuvius to the Amalfi Coast: what to see after Naples
According to the time you have available, you can also consider reaching the surroundings of Naples: there is no shortage of things to see and there is something for everyone.
For example, you could head to the Vesuvius National Park, venture among the available routes (11 trails for a total length of 54 kilometres) or experience the thrill of visiting the volcano’s crater.
Another option is to go to Pompeii and Herculaneum, the cities overwhelmed by the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 AD. UNESCO World Heritage Site, these places will leave you breathless: it will be like going back in time and discovering how daily life was in the ancient Rome.
Finally, you cannot miss the charm of the Sorrento and Amalfi Coast. Why not take advantage of your stay for a splendid trip to discover the beauties of Capri, Ischia or the many attractions of Procida, Capital of Culture 2022?
Getting around Naples by scooter
To visit Naples at 360 degrees and easily reach even the most distant areas from the center, such as Posillipo, where the Virgiliano Park is located, you can think of visiting it on a scooter by relying on the Sorrento Trips rental service. In this way, you will manage your holiday in total freedom, without wasting time and without stress: you will organize your itinerary as you prefer and you will move from one area to another quickly and easily.
It is, in fact, a really good choice on many occasions. Here, for example, is how to get around the Amalfi Coast by scooter or how to visit Positano on two wheels.