1. Castel Nuovo
The royal castle is characterized by the noble public who lived here. The French, Aragonese, Spanish and Austrian kings have each made their mark on their home in their own way. Originally it was built by Charles I of Anjou in 1279-1282 and afterwards it was gradually expanded. The most impressive addition is definitely the triumphal arch between two of the five towers. Its interesting architecture and special location make it one of the most popular things to do in Naples, Italy.
2. Galleria Borbonica
Naples is built above a lot of catacombs, underground corridors and tunnels. There is also much more to explore than just the topsoil of this city!
The Galleria Borbonica is one of the sights in Naples that you shouldn’t miss.
From a parking garage you walk into an underground corridors network, in which a lot of history of Naples has taken place.
From the fifteenth century, a lot of porous lava stone was excavated here to use on the above-ground city, but the most interesting part of the Galleria Borbonica is the use of this underground labyrinth during the Second World War.
In these narrow and wide corridors you’ll find rusty old-timers and vespas (the typical Italian scooter), underground water basins and many exciting stories. Besides a normal guided tour, you can also undertake many more adventurous activities. Please note that the Galleria Borbonica is only open at weekends!
This volcano in Naples is the only volcano on the European mainland that is still active. Located fifteen kilometers (9.5 miles) south of the city in the Bay of Naples, it’s best known for its eruption in 79 that destroyed both Pompeii and Herculaneum. The last time this bad boy was heard was in 1944 and since then it’s being watched closely. Luckily, now you can safely make the trip to Vesuvius and even climb this whopper. The spectacular view you get as a reward will stay with you forever. And if the volcano would erupt, you could see Naples and die. There are worse ways to go.
4. Pompeii and Herculaneum
On August 24 of the year 79 this city and its 20 to 25,000 inhabitants were buried under the ashes of Mount Vesuvius. 1044 of these bodies were recovered, of which a very large number have been preserved. This also applies to the city itself, where you can still admire the forum, theater, thermal baths, arenas and houses. Unfortunately, this UNESCO World Heritage site attracts many visitors and parts are regularly closed for restoration. That’s why it may be more interesting to visit the nearby Herculaneum. This city was buried not by ashes but by lava, so that it has been better preserved. This gives you a better view of Roman daily life than in Pompeii. It’s also recommended to book a tour where you can visit both Pompeii and Herculaneum.
5. National archeological museum
The Museo Archeologica Nazionale houses one of the most beautiful art collections of antiquity and is therefore one of the points of interest of Naples that you shouldn’t miss. The crown jewels of the collection are the 3.17 meter (10,4 feet) high statue of the Farnese Hercules and the Farnese Bull, the largest group of marble statues from antiquity. In addition, there are a number of works of art from Pompeii. If you don’t have enough time to visit the famous archaeological site itself, you shouldn’t miss this impressive museum!
6. Cimitero Delle Fontanelle
My favorite landmark in Naples must be the Cimitero Delle Fontanelle.
All bones, skulls and skeletons from the Catacombe di San Gennaro were accommodated here.
Admission to these caves is free, and once you’ve entered the darkness you’re surrounded by thousands of human bones.
Some are beautifully piled around religious monuments, others are scattered around behind wooden fences.
It’s unbelievable how big these caves are, and how many people are laid out here. The deeper you get into this hall network, the darker and creepier the place becomes.
In the Cimitero Delle Fontalle there’s also a small church accommodated, and yes… It’s still being used!
7. Cappella Sansevero
Naples has a lot of churches and cathedrals… But also some chapels!
The Cappella Sansevero doesn’t look impressive from the outside, but the inside immediately reminded me of the Vatican.
The ceiling of this chapel is beautifully decorated with colorful ceiling paintings, just like the walls.
The many sculptures are at least as beautiful, but it’s especially the central monument that needs all your attention.
Here you’ll find a sculpted marble monument of Jesus lying under a velvet cloth (The Veiled Christ).
The image is so lifelike that you would almost think that it’s a deception. I can hardly describe the beauty of it!
Don’t forget to visit the underground part of the chapel as well. Over there you’ll find two perfectly preserved bodies, in which you can see all blood vessels and capillaries. It’s still a mystery how they had such an excellent knowledge of the body at that time… And that of course helped making up quite a lot of creepy stories!
8. Chiostro di Santa Chiara
There are more than enough churches and cathedrals in Napoli! The inside of the Santa Chiara church isn’t spectacular, but the adjacent courtyard is definitely one of the finer things to do in Naples, Italy.
The beautiful columns and walls of the Chiostro di Santa Chiara are decorated with frescoes and beautifully decorated tiles. Perfect to unwind in the busy Naples.
Be sure to pay a visit to the museum of the Chiostro. You can find some very beautiful statues and artworks.
9. The many other churches
One would almost suspect that Hozier wrote his world hit “Take me to church” in Naples. Everywhere you go, you’ll find interesting and inviting churches that are worth visiting. Gesù Novo, the Cathedral of Naples and the Santa Restituta are at least three churches that you should consider. Note that all churches are closed between 1 PM and 4 PM. That time you can use for a divine coffee or an ice cream!
10. The Toledo metro station
It may seem like a strange tourist attraction to mention, but the Toledo metro station is definitely worth a short stopover.
The ceiling of this metro station is beautifully illuminated with a blue light show that takes place non-stop. The lights flicker happily in all kinds of shades of blue, and finally climb upwards in the cylindrical tunnel that floats above the escalators.
From Naples central station (Napoli Garibaldi) you can take the L1 metro to this station. It’s the third stop.
If you find this impressive, then also go to the ‘Universita’ metro stop in Naples. Here you’ll see some more beautiful shapes and flashy colors. Quite a different sight from all the churches!
11. Napoli Sotteranea
If you’re interested in archaeological sites, I recommend not to skip Napoli Sotteranea.
Under one of the many churches of Naples, you’ll find an ancient Roman market place, completely underground. The walls are still largely intact, and with the help of a guide you know perfectly what was sold in this market, and how many of the Romans lived.
A ticket costs €9, or €10 with a (English-speaking) tour.
12. Catacombe di San Gennaro
If you’re still visiting the underground of Naples, you can also visit the Catacombe di San Gennaro.
In these catacombs you can find many -empty- grave tombs from a bygone era. Saint Gennaro was put to rest here, and many Neapolitans wanted to be buried in his neighborhood.
Due to all sorts of diseases that ravaged the city, thousands of people were buried here in the long run, and these graves can now be visited. The most beautiful tombs are those decorated with gorgeous frescoes, but it’s especially the underground walk through this gigantic corridor network that makes your imagination run wild.
13. MADRE: Museo d’Arte Contemporanea Donnaregina
The port city isn’t only characterized by a particularly rich history but it’s also a breeding ground for contemporary art. The MADRE has become one of the best museums of the Boot of Europe since the opening in 2005. If you’ve had enough of all religious art, you can admire the artistic creations of, among others, Daniel Buren and Richard Serra.
It’s not only very nice to walk in the old city center but also on the Lungomare. This promenade runs three kilometers (about two miles) along the coastline from Megellina to Santa Lucia. Lovers of the legendary TV series The Sopranos can stop at Hotel Excelsior where one of the episodes was filmed. Not to be missed is Castel dell’Ovo (not to be confused with Castel Nuovo) from where you have a beautiful view over the city. After all that walking you definitely deserve a good Spritz on the promenade!
This is perhaps the best day trip from Naples, Italy. In the harbor you can easily take a boat that’ll take you to this majestic island after an hour of sailing. Don’t miss the Blue Grotto where the water is reflected in a spectacular way that you just can’t get right on any photo. Furthermore, it’s wonderful to stroll around this island and make sure to take some good walking shoes with you so that you can hike to the top. Afterwards, you more than deserved a big portion of delicious fresh fish that one of the quaint restaurants serve here.
16. SSC Napoli
The Stadio San Paolo is more popular than any other church in Naples. Here the most important service of the city is celebrated every two weeks: calcio. Napoli has been playing at the top of the A series for a number of years and that might have something to do with the Belgian Dries Mertens. Furthermore, the team has a lot of other nice players like Marek Hamsik and Lorenzo Insigne. Visit the stadium where Diego Maradona really became a god and experience football as you have never experienced it before.
17. Santa Lucia
Santa Lucia is one of the most authentic neighborhoods in Naples. This small area is located very close to the sea and is so easy to fall in love with!
Tiny houses, towering on top of each other with a chapel or divine monument every five steps. Between these cute apartments you’ll find dozens of underpants, dresses, shirts and other clothes hanging in the streets to dry.
As you climb up the stairs or steep streets, you also meet some real Neapolitans and their children. It seems like you’ve stepped into a time machine here!
18. Eat pizza
You may wonder why I end the list of things to do in Naples with something that you can do all across this country. I have to admit… You can eat delicious pizza all over Italy, but there’s just no doubt about it: in Naples you’ll find the best pizza EVER.
Although it’s suspected that the inhabitants of Napoli already ate pizza in the seventeenth century, 1889 is a year that should never be forgotten. This is the year in which the famous pizzaiolo (pizza maker) Raffaele Esposito presented his pizza margherita to King Umberto I and his wife Margareta. Indeed, after whom this glorious dish was named. You can eat fantastic pizza all over the city, but the most popular place is undoubtedly at Michele. L’Antica Pizzeria da Michele goes as far back as the late nineteenth century and sometimes people stand in line for hours. Once you’ve tasted his pizza you’ll notice how the waiting in line is more than justified. Another pizzeria that is definitely worth a bit of waiting is Sorbillo. Delicious!
Excursions in Naples
As you can see, there is a lot to see and do in Naples. From beautiful churches to underground walks. Plan your days well to see as much as possible of all this beauty!
Would you like to know more about this beautiful city? Or do you want to have peace of mind by already booking tours/tickets for these activities? Check out these tours an trips in Naples:
» All tours and excursions in Naples
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Hi, I'm Sam Van den Haute. The last three years I've been traveling the world almost constantly. Heading out for an adventure and visiting the most beautiful places are what I love to do! Let me inspire you with great stories, beautiful pictures and handy tips from my adventures and travels. On my facebook page and instagram account you'll get to see the latest updates and photos to inspire you for your next vacation.