It is easy to fall in love with Naples for its pizza, for its incessant chaos, for its beautiful views of Vesuvius (if you know how to find them), and for many more things that I will tell you about if you keep reading. Do you feel like taking a trip to Naples from Rome? The following lines are for you.
1. The best day trip to Naples from Rome (takes you also to Pompeii)
If you decide to leave Rome for a day, that excursion has to be well worth it. And visiting Naples and the incredible Pompeii are a great reason that will make you forget the majestic Eternal City for a day. I don't know if it's the same for you, but when I'm traveling I like to let myself go, enjoy and not have to worry too much about the logistics of transportation, especially if I'm on a tight schedule - as in this case, if we only have one day to do this excursion.
With this all-inclusive day trip to Naples and Pompeii in Spanish, you will leave early from Rome in a private bus and will be accompanied at all times by a professional guide who will put everything you see in context (something I found essential, especially in Pompeii).
The stop in Naples will allow you to get to know the historic center of the city and its most important points without having to spend too much time moving from one place to another. Besides, you will have time to have lunch and taste one of their famous Neapolitan pizzas. What more could you ask for?
About the visit to Pompeii
You will be touring the ruins of Pompeii for about two hours. Although a priori it may seem little, I assure you that it is a reasonable time to see the essential enclaves of the ruins and understand how people lived in this impressive city that was petrified with the eruption of Vesuvius.
Be prepared to see very well preserved remains of what was the city, utensils of its citizens, petrified bodies (quiet, although it sounds strong, it is not as impressive as it may seem) and even the last finding of the city (discovered in late 2020): what is supposed to have been once a "fast food" restaurant.
If with all that I tell you you prefer to visit Pompeii with more time, you can dedicate up to a whole day or even combine the excursion with an ascent of Vesuvius. If you want to know all the possibilities, I invite you to read this article on how to visit Pompeii from Rome in one day.
2. Other options to go to Naples from Rome
The train is a very convenient option for a day trip to Naples from Rome. You won't have to worry about parking, unnecessary detours or stops. The disadvantage compared to other methods of transport can be the price: the fast train ticket, which will take you to Naples in 1 hour 15 minutes, costs between 44 and 60 € each way.
There is a slower train, which takes between 2 and 3 hours to get to Naples, which costs between 20 and 27 € each way depending on the class. It can be a good option if you are traveling on a tighter budget, and if you take the train early in the morning you will have plenty of time to explore the city in one day. Check all schedules and prices on Trenitalia's official website.
Getting to Naples from Rome by bus
Most buses to Naples from the Italian capital are operated by Flixbus, Baltour and BusCenter, and a round-trip ticket usually costs around 20 €. Buses go direct to Naples, departing from Rome's Autostazione Tiburtina and arriving at Naples' Piazza Garibaldi bus station in about 2.5 hours.
My recommendation is that you buy your bus tickets a week in advance, to make sure you have seats available for the day you want to do the tour, so you don't have to worry about getting a return ticket as well.
In any case and being very honest with you, I will tell you that you cannot see all of Naples in one day (and even less if we add the waiting times for public transport). The goal of your excursion from Rome will be to enjoy the city and spend a day different from what you would find in the Italian capital. This is the itinerary I did on my visit:
3. Start with the best breakfast in Naples
I am not a great coffee lover, but I must admit that Neapolitan coffee is something worthy of the most exquisite palates. The first thing I did when I got off the train in Naples was to head for the Gran Caffè Gambrinus, a stylish Viennese-style coffee shop, with marble walls, sculptures on the shelves and chandeliers hanging from the ceiling.
It probably rings a bell, as it has become quite a touristy spot, but I being a romantic was not going to miss the opportunity to have an espresso and sfogliatelle for breakfast at one of Oscar Wilde's favorite places in Naples.
4. Stroll through the Piazza del Plebiscito
The Piazza del Plebiscito is a huge square, the core of the public life of Naples and one of its main points of interest. Its name is due to the plebiscite held during the Italian Unification, thanks to which Naples became part of the Kingdom of Italy and the House of Savoy.
As if its historical importance were not enough, the square has that Italian essence of grandeur and spectacle, presided over by the immense colonnade of the church of San Francesco di Paola. It is a neoclassical marvel that impresses by day and captivates by night when it is illuminated.
5. Discover the Palazzo Reale
The Royal Palace of Naples is one of the places that best testify to the importance of the city during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The size and splendor of this palace is due to the fact that it served as the residence of the Bourbon dynasty for a century, and later passed into the hands of the Savoy family.
It evolved as it passed from hand to hand, but its halls still retain the extravagance of the Neapolitan style of the eighteenth century. Its façade is crowned by eight marble statues of the kings who ruled Naples from the 12th century until the Italian Unification.
However, the impressive part of the Palazzo Reale is inside: you will find a monumental pink and white marble staircase leading up to the Royal Apartments, the Court Theater, the Throne Room, and the Royal Chapel, all of which are decorated with spectacular paintings and tapestries.
The Palazzo Reale is open every day except Wednesdays, from 09:00 to 20:00, and the entrance fee is 6 €.
6. Enter the San Carlo Theater
This is a visit they don't prepare you for: the majesty of the interior of the Teatro di San Carlo, when you look up and admire the sense of infinity of its six floors and the frescoed dome, is something that caught me completely off guard.
For this reason, the Teatro San Carlo is considered one of the most beautiful opera buildings in the world, and it is easy to imagine the hall filled with the aristocrats of the time, debating between glancing at the stage, the royal box, or a furtive lover on the other side of the bleachers.
The only way to visit the Teatro di San Carlo from the inside is to attend a performance or participate in one of the guided tours offered by the building's own organization. The tour lasts about an hour, and I recommend doing it even if you have a little less free time at the end of the itinerary.
7. Enjoy the authentic Neapolitan pizza
I'm pretty sure that if you go to take the train back to Rome and tell the conductor that you haven't eaten a pizza on your visit, he tears up your ticket and sends you to one of his relatives' restaurants.
No, seriously, I don't think you need any convincing that Neapolitan pizza is the most authentic sample of this world revered food. One of the most recommended restaurants is Gino Sorbillo's pizzeria, but the lines are usually huge. Gorizia 1916 is another of the best named restaurants in town, a bit more expensive but also more elegant, being in the posh area of Naples. Finally, the option that many locals will recommend: L'antica Pizzeria da Michele Forcella.
8. Visit the Umberto I Gallery
The Galleria Umberto I is a typical Italian shopping arcade, where you will find cafes and stores to take a break from sightseeing. For me, just the freshness that reigns inside and the zodiacal decoration of the floor tiles, coupled with the feeling of space that opens up under the ceilings of the building, make the gallery worth a stop.
If you have been to Milan, the Galleria Umberto I will remind you a lot of the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, as it was a direct inspiration in the construction of this Neapolitan building.
In case you opted for another breakfast at the start of the day, you can find some scrumptious sfogliatellas and other sweets in the gallery. By then, you will have realized that pastries and sweets are one of Naples' passions.
9. Cross Via Toledo
Via Toledo is one of the few straight streets you will find in Naples. When you get there, you'll realize that you've been wandering along snake-shaped roads all day. As such, Via Toledo is the commercial street of the city, with buildings of very different styles and stores of all kinds.
Alex's Traveller Tip
The Toledo Metro station is, without a doubt, one of the most beautiful I've ever seen - I'd better not give you a description and let you discover it on your own!
10. Dive into the Historic Center of Naples
The heart of the city of Naples is made for getting lost in. Walking through its streets you will find a church on practically every corner, and you can enjoy watching life go by: street musicians, artists' studios, old men watching soccer on TV in a bar, and stores of all kinds that are hard to describe.
The streets are narrow and offer little privacy to its inhabitants. It is enough to glance up to see typical pictures of an Italian family happening in front of you, through the windows of their houses. If you want to soak up the essence of Naples, this is the area where you can breathe the most genuine atmosphere of the city.
Something that will interest you if you like the ancient world is that you can see part of the roadway of the Greco-Roman city of Neapolis. Spaccanapoli, which could be translated as "Short Naples", is a succession of streets that literally splits the city in two: Via Della Anticaglia (Upper Decumanus), Via Dei Tribunali (Decumanus Major) and the street that begins as Via Benedetto Croce and becomes Via San Biagio Dei Librai (Lower Decumanus).
11. Contemplate the Cathedral of Naples
Of the nearly five hundred churches in Naples, none can match the city's Cathedral: the Duomo di San Gennaro or Duomo di Santa Maria Assunta, as it is known to the locals.
Although it is not as impressive as the Cathedral of Florence or Milan, the Naples Cathedral is a jumble of Gothic and Baroque styles with an impressive interior decorated with frescoes evoking the image of Paradise.
12. The best sunset, from Castel Sant'Elmo
The perfect plan to end the day is to take the funicular to Castel Sant'Elmo, a 13th century fortress with a particular star shape, on top of the hill of Vomero. There you will meet locals and tourists who have come with a lesson learned: not in vain, from this top you can enjoy the best 360º views of the city, Vesuvius and the Gulf of Naples.
A perfect way to end your excursion to Naples before heading back to Rome.
13. Getting around Naples in comfort
The best way to get to know Naples is walking: only this way you can find the most authentic streets and breathe the essence of the city. However, a day trip is usually a bit short on time, so to move from one place to another in Naples I recommend you to take the subway.
The Naples Metro has two lines, 1 and 6 (it is a mystery what happened to all the others) and covers almost the entire metropolitan area of the city.
In case you have chosen to go to Naples by car, be careful as there are several areas of historical importance where parking will be expensive, with fines of up to 90€. These zones are called ZTL (Limited Traffic Zone) and the best way to avoid them is to park on the outskirts of the city or check a map of these zones before parking your vehicle.
14. Tips and tricks for your trip to Naples from Rome
Beware of pickpockets
Naples is a city with a somewhat tarnished reputation for not being entirely tourist friendly. Don't worry too much, as long as you take special care with pickpockets and avoid leaving the more central areas you won't have any problems.
Wear comfortable shoes
Since you are going to spend the whole day walking on this tour, remember to be well prepared: you will appreciate to bring sneakers, a backpack with water, a power bank to charge your cell phone and something warm for the night, in case you are going to travel in summer. In winter, the best idea is to wear layers to be more or less warm as the day goes by.
Be prepared with cash
Some stores and restaurants only accept cash, so carry some loose change just in case (my recommendation: take just enough).
If you don't speak Italian, don't worry
If you don't speak Italian, you won't have any problems in Rome as they will more or less be able to understand you in Spanish or even English. But for traveling to Naples, I recommend you to take a translation app installed on your cell phone as it can make your life easier in some occasions.
15. Other excursions you may be interested in
If you already know Naples or you are not too interested in visiting this city, maybe Florence is a better option for you. Before going from Rome, I recommend reading more about how to prepare for this experience here: Florence Day Trips from Rome. One of the (so many) good things about Rome is its location on the map: besides being in the center of the Italian peninsula, it has a lot of emblematic places to visit in its surroundings. If you feel like discovering them, I leave you a list of what for me, are the best places to visit near Rome.