A 5-day trip is more than enough time for everything there is to see and do in Naples. Not only that, but you can also take advantage of some excursions and visit nearby places like Pompeii or the Amalfi Coast, two places to get closer to the history and tradition of the area.
Naples is a city full of Roman ruins and with a religious culture that is represented in the many churches there. Of course, it is also a perfect place to sample the best Italian cuisine. Of course, its streets can be narrow and even a bit chaotic, so I advise you to follow this itinerary so you don't get lost and see everything.
Day 1: Tour the historic center of Naples
For your first day in Naples I suggest you to visit the old town and three religious buildings that are very important for the city: the Cathedral, the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore and the Chapel of San Salvatore. Don't worry because you will also have time to stroll through its streets.
Start the day at Piazza Garibaldi
Start your trip in Piazza Garibaldi, a very central place where you will also find the train station and several bus stops and metro line 1, so it will be very easy to reach, both on foot and by public transport. It is a Renaissance style square, although most of its buildings are modernist.
Unfortunately, the buildings in the Plaza Garibaldi are private homes, so you will have to be content to walk around and contemplate their facades. Where you can get closer is to the food stalls that are on the premises. It is a good place to buy something if you have not yet had breakfast.
Garibaldi Square, like other locations that I propose this day, is usually included in the Naples Guided Tour, so if you want you can sign up to learn about the history of the city while you walk around it.
Discover the treasures of the Naples Cathedral
Leave Piazza Garibaldi behind and head down Via Umberto I towards the Cathedral of Naples, which is about a 15-minute walk away.
Its official name is the Metropolitan Cathedral of St. Mary of the Assumption and it is one of the city's great landmarks. In addition, it is also usually included in the tours of Naples.
- It is free, although you have to pay 2€ approximately to access the baptistery.
- Its facade is in neo-Gothic style.
- Its interior is much more curious, as it mixes baroque, neo-gothic and gothic elements.
- Do not leave without visiting the treasure it contains: dozens of silver statuettes and capsules with blood of San Gennaro.
Stroll and eat the best pizza in Naples in Via Tribunali
After leaving the Cathedral of Naples, maybe it's time to stop and have a bite to eat. Two minutes away is Via Tribunali, one of the most important avenues.
There you will find several high quality pizzerias, such as the Di Matteo restaurant, which is said to have the best pizza in the world (and they sell slices for about 1€).
If you don't feel like pizza, you can go to any other restaurant and try other typical food of Naples, such as arancini, rice balls that are delicious. But the best way not to miss any exquisite dish is with a gastronomic tour, I recommend it for lunchtime!
Admire the historic architecture of the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore alla Pietrasanta
At the end of Via Tribunali is the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore alla Pietrasanta, which was built over an ancient temple dedicated to the Greek goddess Diana. Not only are there classical remains, but through its architecture it tells the history and evolution of the city. Access to the interior is free and will also allow you to climb the brick bell tower.
Apparently the area adjacent to where the Basilica now stands was continually haunted by the Devil, so the bishop who was in Naples in the sixth century decided to erect this building for protection. Over the years the structure was damaged and had to be rebuilt in 1656.
End the day at the Chapel of San Severo
Next to the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore is one of the great treasures of Naples: the Chapel of San Severo.
- The entrance fee is about 8€.
- It houses the famous Veiled Christ, the famous sculpture by Giuseppe Sanmartino.
- You can see two human bodies up close, because in the basement there are two skeletons that perfectly preserve the circulatory system.
Day 2: Stroll through the streets of Naples
Believe it or not, you still have some things to see in the center of Naples, but for the second day I have prepared a slightly different itinerary. In the morning you can take a look inside a couple of religious buildings, but in the afternoon I recommend walking around and discovering the charms of the streets and squares of Naples.
If you don't feel like another guided tour, you can choose to use a tourist bus to facilitate your tour and get to know the city in a comfortable way.
Enter the Gesú Nuovo Church
In the heart of the Neapolitan center is the Church of Gesú Nuovo, right in the square that bears the same name.
It is a building that was built in the late sixteenth century and stands out for its stone facade in Renaissance style, although its interior is baroque and very ostentatious. The best thing is that you don't have to pay to see its beauty, since access is free.
Did you know that the Church of Jesús Nuevo was originally going to be a palace? That explains why its exterior is so different from that of any other religious temple. However, it ended up being a church and that's why inside it is so decorated with frescoes, marble elements, domes...
Visit the Basilica of Santa Clara
Right in front of the Gesù Nuovo Church is the Monastery of Santa Chiara, one of the major temples of Naples. Gothic in style, its immensity and its artistic and historical value make it one of the most visited places in the city.
- Admission is free.
- Access to the Great Cloister costs about 6 €.
- You can find a museum that traces the history of Naples.
- There are archaeological remains of the Roman baths that used to be there.
Stop in the Spanish Quarter for lunch
When you leave the Monastery of Santa Clara take Via Toledo, one of the city's main thoroughfares, to the Quartieri Spagnoli (the Spanish Quarter), which is less than a 15-minute walk away. Why the name? Naples was part of Spain on three occasions, so this neighborhood is a legacy and proof of the close relationship between the two places.
In its streets you can breathe a very popular and local atmosphere, perfect for tasting the typical food, which I also recommend you to try in a gastronomic tour of Naples. If you do not know how to schedule it, I recommend you to do it at lunchtime and take advantage of it.
When you have filled your stomach, I recommend you to continue walking through the narrow and cozy streets of the Spanish Quarter. In particular, I encourage you to visit the Galleria Umberto I, a glass and metal structure under which there are several stores, and the Castel Nuovo, a castle that was the residence of different kings when Naples was under Spanish rule.
Get to know Piazza del Plebiscito and its historic buildings
A 5-minute walk from the Gallery of Umberto I and the Castel Nuovo is Piazza del Plebiscito, home to the city's historic buildings such as the Basilica of San Francesco di Paola (free admission) and the Royal Palace (approximately 6€).
Although entering the buildings is an option, you can also just stroll around the square and see if you can pass the test that Queen Margherita used to give some prisoners to set them free. Apparently, she would place them in the middle of the square, blindfold them, spin them around a few times and challenge them to walk in a straight line and pass between the two statues in the square. It looks easier than it is, let me know if you try it!
Although you can also just have a drink around it, as it's a good place to sit and rest while you watch it.
Watch the sunset over Naples from the Egg Castle
Before the day comes to an end, go to the Egg Castle (or Castell dell'Ovo). It's about a 15-minute walk from Piazza del Plebiscito, specifically on an islet. Because of its strategic position it was the great fortification and defense of the city against attacks. Today it is a cultural center that you can access free of charge.
Wondering why it has such a strange name? Legend has it that the poet Virgil hid an egg under its foundations that, if broken, would bring misfortune to the city. I don't know if this is true, but what I can assure you is that, from the fortress, there are beautiful views of the Bay of Naples (and Vesuvius in the distance), especially at sunset.
Day 3: Get to know Underground Naples
Your third day in Naples comes loaded with history, and for that there is no better place than the Archaeological Museum. After spending most of the morning there, I encourage you to return to the downtown area for a bite to eat and continue walking through the history of the city, this time underground.
Start the day at the Naples Archaeological Museum
Start your second day with a visit to the Naples Archaeological Museum. Although it is about a 15-minute walk from the center, just off Piazza Cavour, you may find it more convenient to reach by public transportation (metro line 1 or line 2).
It is one of the best museums in Naples, so I recommend you buy a ticket and see its collections of great historical value.
There are four floors in total and the most interesting, at least for me, is the area dedicated to sculptures and objects from Roman times. Particularly striking are the remains that were rescued from the ashes of Pompeii.
Take the opportunity to do some shopping at the Galleria Principe di Napoli
You may spend a whole morning visiting the Museum, but before going to lunch in the center, I recommend a stop at the Galleria Principe di Napoli, which is just 5 minutes from the museum. Access is free, although you can take the opportunity to do some shopping.
The history of the Galleria Principe di Napoli is a bit tragic, as it has never been very well cared for. In fact, as early as the beginning of the 20th century, Neapolitans were already calling for the building's restoration, although it did not arrive until well into the 21st century. Now its brick structure and glass roof is much more stable and hosts concerts and leisure activities.
Take a gastronomic tour of Spaccanapoli
After so much history, you may have gotten hungry. The Spaccanapoli area is one of the best places to eat. Walk down Via San Sebastiano from the Galleria Principe di Napoli towards Benedetto Croce, the first stretch of this street of streets. Once there I recommend taking a gastronomic tour of Naples.
For about 30€ you will enjoy the best typical food (beyond the pizzas) while a guide explains facts about the history of the city.
The good thing about these tours is that you make sure you go to good places and that you will order well. Spaccanapoli is one of the most important areas of the center, although you could say that it is actually several streets.
Go underground to visit the Naples Underground
Can you imagine being able to visit a city underground? Get your tickets to visit Naples Underground and discover it (they cost about 10€). This network of tunnels (the largest in Europe) is a 15-minute walk from the Spaccanapoli area.
It is a unique experience in which you will discover these passages that originally, during Greek times, were water reservoirs.
With the Romans their use changed and these subway tunnels became places to extract rock. Centuries passed and the Second World War came, when they functioned as shelters during the bombings, saving thousands of lives. Today you can visit them, walk through them and discover the bowels of Naples. Be careful, they are not for you if you suffer from claustrophobia!
Discover the ruins of the Greco-Roman Theater of Naples
When you leave Naples Underground you will do so through the Greco-Roman Theater, which emerges from the basement of a private house. The site you see today is Roman, although there are also remnants of what was the earlier construction, of Greek origin.
The visit is included in your Naples Underground ticket and what is most impressive about the Greco-Roman theater (besides the fact that it is under a house) are its marbles, which decorate the entire enclosure.
It is also known for being the place where Nero presented many of his plays and where, it is said, he did not interrupt his performance even during an earthquake.
Day 4: Discover the ruins of Pompeii and climb Mount Vesuvius
Very close to Naples, barely half an hour away, is Pompeii, an ancient town that was devastated, but at the same time preserved, by the eruption of the volcano Vesuvius.
This visit is a must, so for your third day I recommend booking an excursion from Naples to Pompeii and Vesuvius, the city that was trapped in time. These tours include not only the transfer and entrance fee, but also the explanations of a specialized guide.
Pompeii archaeological site
To buy tickets to Pompeii and visit it is to go back some 2000 years. I know it seems impossible, but think that the lava and ashes that covered this city managed to keep buildings, objects and even bodies for years, specifically since 79 A.D., when Vesuvius erupted.
There is a lot to see and do in Pompeii. It is quite a large area, so be prepared to walk.
This city was prosperous and rich, although nature was never on its side (a few years before the eruption of the volcano it suffered a severe earthquake). During your visit you will be able to check it out and visit incredible places such as the ancient Forum, the Temple of Apollo or the Villas of the Roman nobles. Everything remains almost intact, so you can get a pretty reliable idea of what life was like there.
Have something to eat after you finish your visit to Pompeii
At least you'll need the whole morning to tour the remains of this Roman city. When you finish, I recommend you leave the site to fill your stomach. You may think that being a tourist place nothing is worth it and it is better to take a sandwich, but there are very good restaurants to eat around Pompeii.
Pizza, pasta, tapas and Mediterranean menus... You have a lot to choose from. In the streets around the archaeological area there are many places to eat well for about 25€ per person. When you finish, it's time to continue your visit and meet the "culprit" of Pompeii's destruction: Vesuvius.
Climb Vesuvius and take a close look at its crater
In any case, then you have to continue walking and pay the access to the top, which costs about 10€, unless you have it included in the tour.
Vesuvius is one of the most dangerous volcanoes in the world, but don't worry, there has been no activity on it since the forties. Climbing it is worth it to see its craters and smoke plumes up close. Also, at over 1200 meters above sea level, the views of Naples are quite incredible.
Discover the surroundings of Pompeii
While you're in the area, when you come down from Vesuvius, I recommend staying and seeing the area around Pompeii. It's a very beautiful area with lots of nature, you won't want to miss it! One of my favorite places is Herculaneum, a city also buried by the lava of Vesuvius.
Although not as well known as Pompeii, Herculaneum is also very well preserved. I recommend walking around it because, in addition, it is usually less crowded. There you can find remains of Roman baths and ancient dwellings of those who lived there.
If you also want to know this area in depth, I recommend you to book an excursion to Pompeii that includes Herculanoles. It is not usually visited as much because it is less known, but it is also very worthwhile.
Day 5: Take a tour of the Amalfi Coast
I'm sure you've already seen that the bay area of Naples is very beautiful. However, to really enjoy movie beaches and traditional rocky clifftop villages, nothing like taking an excursion to Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast from Naples.
To move between them it is best to go on an organized tour that includes transportation to take your worries away, although you can also rent a car or go by bus combined with train. I'll tell you what your itinerary could be.
Start your tour in Sorrento
Start your trip along the Amalfi Coast in Sorrento, one of the most representative cities of this area.
- Climb its walls for a panoramic view of the Tyrrhenian Sea and the Bay of Naples.
- Go to the historic center of Sorrento, formed by narrow streets of medieval air.
- Visit its stores and restaurants, especially in Piazza Tasso, the heart of the city.
- Nearby is the Vallone dei Mulini, an area that has been uninhabited since 1940 and is therefore like a large wild forest in the middle of the city.
Continue the journey to Positano
Just 40 minutes drive away is Positano, your next destination and also that of many other tourists, as it is one of the most visited towns on the Amalfi Coast. The truth is that it is not surprising, because its colorful houses and the vegetation that floods the whole city give it an unmistakable and very beautiful aspect.
The only bad thing about Positano is that there are many stairs, so be prepared to climb up and down many times. However, it will be worth it because it will mean that you see such beautiful places as the Church of Santa Maria Assunta and its famous dome or its beaches.
Take the opportunity to have lunch on the beaches of Positano
After a dip in one of Positano's beaches, what better than a bite to eat? Although the prices can be a bit expensive, being on the seafront also has its advantages: the best quality fish you could imagine. I recommend you try the pasta with clams or a good seafood.
When you finish, before continuing your trip, you can take a walk along the sand or lie down to rest a while in the hammocks that are usually available on any of the beaches. Be careful, if it is high season it will be difficult to find a free one.
Discover the history of Amalfi
Your next stop, just over half an hour by bus from Positano, is Amalfi. As you can guess, history runs through its streets and, in addition, here you will find one of the great symbols of this area: its Duomo.
The Cathedral or Duomo of Amalfi is one of those places that you have to visit. It costs about 3€ to enter and allows you to see the entire enclosure, which is actually two connected churches and, among other rooms, the famous Cloister of Paradise. Built with marble columns and Arab arches, there are sarcophagi of illustrious people of the city.
Finish the day in Revello and go up to its belvedere
Before returning to Naples, I advise you to make one last stop in Ravello, the last town on the Amalfi Coast. It may not be as well known as the previous towns, but it has its charm. So much so that for years it has been a destination for artists of all kinds, who went there to relax.
Besides strolling through its streets and having a drink in one of its terraces, the good thing about ending the trip in Ravello is that it will serve as the perfect farewell. For this, go to Villa Rufolo, an ancient noble house that today is a cultural center and also a viewpoint from which to observe the entire Amalfi Coast.
The best way to get around Naples
Naples is a city where its inhabitants usually go by car. However, as a tourist it is best to walk; distances are generally short within the historic center.
If your hotel is a bit far away, you can get single tickets for public transport (about 1,10€), daily passes (about 4,50€) or weekly passes (about 16€).
The only circumstance where it might be interesting to rent a car in Naples is if you plan to make several trips. The price per day is about 30€, but keep in mind that driving and parking in Naples is complicated and somewhat chaotic.
Have you got everything ready? Write down the places you want to go and follow this itinerary to not miss anything and enjoy Naples.