Naples if one of the liveliest and most interesting cities in Italy, yet somehow it is often overlooked by tourists. Now the third-largest city in Italy, 4000 years old Naples has plenty of cultural, natural and historical significants sites including the Roman ruins of Pompeii, the Vesuvio, and a multitude of churches, palaces, and museums. Spending 3 days in Naples, is perfect to get a feel of the city, visit the most beautiful places and eat plenty of pizza of course.
Like most Mediterranean cities, Naples can be visited year-round, with temperatures rarely going below freezing. During the summer months of July and August temperatures can reach 30 deg, while from December to Feb average temperatures are in the single-digit range. Spring and autumn are the best seasons to visit Naples, with great weather and far fewer tourists.
You can reach Naples via its International Airport (NAP), or via a short 1h30 min train ride from Rome (around 30 USD). You can discover most of Naples by walking or you can use the rather aging yet practical subway system for 5 USD / day.
3 DAYS IN NAPLES – DAY 1 ITINERARY
Start the day by visiting Castel Nuevo dating back from 1282, and once the castle of the Kings of Naples, Aragon, and Spain and admire the view of the bay from the upper floors.
Just a couple of minutes walk, is the Galleria Umberto Uno, a beautiful shopping gallery with a intricate glass and steel roof and an impressive 56m high central dome. Don’t miss the beautiful floor mosaics representing all the horoscope signs,
Exit Galleria Umberto Uno on the San Carlo opera house side, and walk to Piazza Del Plebiscito. The largest square in Naples, Pizza Del Plebiscito is surrounded by the Pallazo Reale and the Basilica San Francesco di Paola. (both can be visited). A popular meeting point for locals, it is a great place to people watch. The square is also regularly turned into a concert area.
Stop by Gran Caffe Gambrinus, Naples’s most prestigious (and probably most expensive) cafe, where intellectuals, writers, and politicians have been gathering since 1860. Sip an Aperol Spritz with some snacks on the terrasse, or admire the Belle Epoque decoration inside with a cappuccino and sfogliatella, like Oscar Wilde and Jean-Paul Sartre once did.
Head over to Castel dell’Ovo, Naples’ oldest castle, and admire the panorama over the Bay of Naples from its ramparts.
If you need a break for the hyper-busy center of Naples, head over to the Lungomare, a 2.5km long boardwalk along the Mediterranean sea starting from Castel Dell’Ovo, all the way to Mergellina. On the way, stop by the Villa Comunale and its beautiful garden, admire luxurious villas on the city side, and the view of Mt Vesuvius, and some simple fish market on the seaside. Depending on when you arrive in Mergellina, consider stopping by 50 KALO for delicious pizza (The cream-based one with Serrano ham is to die for!)
Finish the day in Via Toledo and wander the Spanish Quarter.
3 DAYS IN NAPLES – DAY 2 ITINERARY
Day 2 of this 3 days in Naples itinerary is dedicated to old Naples, and starts in Spaccanapoli. Now officially known as Via Benedetto Croce and further east as. Via S. Biagio dei Librai , Spaccanapoli is a long and narrow street in the heart of old Naples. The picturesque street is lined up with churches, pizzerias, cafes, and workshops specialized in nativity scenes (it is like Christmas all year around here!). As you walk along Spaccanapoli, don’t miss the Sanservero Chapel and its incredible Veiled Christ, by Giuseppe Sanmartino. As you continue your exploration of Old Naples, don’t miss other exceptional places like the Church of San Domenico Maggiore and the Santa Chiara monastery.
If you are not the claustrophobic kind, don’t miss Napoli Sotterranea, one of the most interesting places to visit in Naples. Through a 2 hours guided tour, discover the 2400 years old Greko – Roman Aqueduct, built 40 m below ground level to provide water to the entire town of Naples. It was later used as a shelter for the Napolitan population during the heavy bombardments of the 2nd WW. Exhibits of both periods are on display. The few caves that still contain water are only accessible through the extremely narrow non-lighted corridor (no larger than 60 cm). If like me you are slightly claustrophobic it is kind of frightening, but the beauty of those caves makes it totally worth it. Included in the tour as well is a visit to the nearby remains of a Roman Theatre. Enter through the door of a simple Napolitean house, open a hatch underneath a bed, and access the ruins of an ancient theatre! Just like that. The tour is available in Italian & English and departs every 2 hours from 10 am to 6 pm. Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to book a tour in other languages.
For lunch grab a pizza at the legendary Sorbillo Pizzeria, on Via dei Tribunali another typical Napolitean street.
In the afternoon, visit Naples’ National Archeological Museum. This museum host a stunning collection of Roman and Greek Antics, as well as lots of relics from the buried city of Pompeii. It is considered one of the most important museums in the world for classic Greek / Roman Antics, yet when I visited, the museum was almost empty of tourists, which made it even more enjoyable. The National Archeological Museum is open every day but Tuesday, from 9 am to 7.30 pm. Full price tickets will set you back 15 EUR.
3 DAYS IN NAPLES – DAY 3 ITINERARY
The best thing to do during your 3rd day in Naples is to leave Naples and enjoy a day trip to either Pompei or Capri. Two completely different destinations obviously, but both of interest!
The famous archeological site of Pompei, the city buried under the Vesuvio volcano ashes in 79 AD, is located only 30 min drive south of Naples or 40 min by public transports. Touring the ruins of the ancient city takes around 2 hours, which leaves plenty of time to also visit the nearby Mount Vesuvio. Walk around the crater of the only active volcano in continental Europe, experience the nasty smell of sulfur, and enjoy the view of the Bay of Naples.
Very touristy but oh so pretty spending the day on the island of Capri is also a good idea. I personally have not been to Capri, so I recommend you to read about the Things to Do in Capri here or to book a full-day guided tour.
WHERE TO STAY IN NAPLES?
I recommend staying at Renaissance Naples Hotel Mediterraneo (part of the Mariott Group). The rooms are comfy, although the one we had was much smaller than expected. The location of the hotel is ideal and allows you to visit Naples on foot. My favorite part of the hotel is the beautiful rooftop where breakfast is served. I was saddened not to see a bar there too, but you can buy a drink at the lobby bar and bring it up to the roof to enjoy an alfresco sundowner!