15 Fantastic Things to Do in Naples, Italy, as You Explore

Steve Cummings

Naples, Italy

When you try to figure out what to do in Naples, Italy's third largest city, you will find that the Tyrrhenian Sea-facing destination has much to offer. As a crucial port, Naples has been the location of many battles for power since the Neolithic period. This is a place rich in history, with delicious food and drink to make it all the more appealing. 

As one of the biggest economies in Italy and a cultural melting pot, its importance has remained strong in modern times. To help you plan your trip to the city, in the following guide, we will discuss the best things to see in Naples. We have tried to create a list that will appeal to even the most frugal travelers. 

1. Trek to the Top of Mount Vesuvius

Mount Vesuvius
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One of the most famous and dangerous so-called Stratovolcanoes, Mount Vesuvius, is hard to miss, given it dominates Naples' skyline. This volcano erupted, causing the unavoidable destruction and burial of Herculaneum and Pompeii in 79 AD. Currently, it is the only volcano of the many found throughout mainland Europe to have erupted in the last century. 

Vesuvius is considered incredibly dangerous due to the many human settlements found within its danger zone. Nowadays, you can take bus tours from the city out to the volcano and have the opportunity to climb to the top so you can look beyond the caldera into its crater. Even if you are worried, the views of Naples and the surrounding area are worth the hike, and given its importance, it makes sense that this is one of the best things to do in Naples.

2. Pompeii Ruins

Pompeii Ruins
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In keeping with the above, one of the top things to do in Naples would be a trip to the legendary Pompeii. This may not be for those of a weak disposition, but as a living relic of the past and a testament to the power of nature, it is a must. Highlights of a trip to Pompeii include the Temple of Jupiter, the Temple of Apollo, the Casa del Fauno, and the Amphitheater. The plaster casts of the eruption victims are a stark reminder and a fitting tribute. 

3. Fontanelle Cemetery

A trip to Fontanelle Cemetery is one of the most unusual things to do in Naples if you want something different. This was once a quarry site that was turned into a burial site during the 17th century when around 250,000 Neapolitans were killed by a plague. There is something a little unnerving but also touching about coming across a plethora of piled bones of the lost dead. It's something a bit different. 

4. Spaccanapoli 

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Spaccanapoli is a hidden gem and one of the cool things to do in Naples if you want an authentic slice of life. Although you are bound to run into many tourists, this street is not found on any Naples maps and is made of several different streets that merge to become one. Visit here for the various eateries and cafes serving pizza and pasta or the quirky little souvenir shops and classy chic boutiques. 

In addition to the great food and retail therapy, you will also find the stunning Piazza del Gesu Nuovo or The Square of New Jesus. Within San Domenico Maggiore, you will find an obelisk that honors the residents who were lost to a plague and the remarkable Church of San Domenico Maggiore. 

If there is one thing Naples is known for in terms of food, it's pizza. There are plenty of great places to eat this staple of Italian cuisine. However, one of the best things to eat in Naples is the pizza served at one place, the street called Via Tribunali. Here, you will find Di Matteo and Sorbillo, two of the most iconic pizzerias in the city. Sorbillo has been highlighted by many worldwide publications as one of the best. 

5. San Gennaro Catacombs

If it is getting too busy overground in the city, and you are looking for adventurous things to do in Naples, it may be worth taking a trip to the incredible San Gennaro Catacombs. The Catacombs are a labyrinth of burial chambers hidden beneath the city that were first established in the 2nd century. Initially, the Christians used them to bury their dead, but in time, they came to be the final place of the rest of Naples's line of bishops.

6. The Bourbon Tunnel

You may be looking for more alternative things to do in Naples. One fascinating thing you may have yet to hear of is The Bourbon Tunnel. This concept was conceived by Bourbon's King Ferdinand II in 1853 as a connection between his Royal Palace and military barracks. It was established as a route for the royal family to escape if the ordinary people decided to revolt. 

It was carved into volcanic rocks underground in Naples and extended from the Carmignano aqueduct system in the early 17th century. Unfortunately, King Ferdinand passed away before it was finished and stayed abandoned until the Second World War.

In the war, Neapolitans used it as an air raid shelter to protect as many as 10,000 people. Today, you can visit the tunnels, take a tour, and find the remnants of the people who frequented it, such as personal items like hairbrushes, gas masks, and children's toys. 

7. Spend Time at The Beach

Italian Coffee
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It's fair to say that the city is not considered a typical resort location. However, if you are looking for the best free things to do in Naples, there are beaches where you can spend a day sitting and relaxing. For example, the Scaglione di Marechiaro is found at the coastal spot of Posillipo, which can be reached by boat. Some sunbeds can be rented there, and you can sit on the rocky cliff and enjoy the spellbinding vistas.

When you are looking for a more centralized and more accessible beach, Rotunda Diaz is a perfect and pristine stretch of sand close to the Naples waterfront. It doesn't matter whether you want to relax and sun worship or would prefer to play in the water or try something a little more adventurous; you can do that and so much more at many of Naples's great beaches. 

8. Stroll the Lungomare

Although many things to do will cost you a few euros in and around the city, one of the best things to do is also one of the cheapest things to do in Naples, passeggiata. This is an Italian tradition of going out for a wander during the evening, often following dinner. 

One of the best places to participate in this very Italian practice is the Lungomare in Naples, the seaside promenade that offers stunning views of the Mediterranean. Passeggiata is one of those points in the day when friends and relatives will meet up for spontaneous times together, lovers spend time walking together, and children get a nice refreshing bit of gelato. 

9. Diego Armando Maradona Stadium

Diego Armando Maradona Stadium
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If there is one thing that is as big as religion and the church in Italy and Naples, it is football, and by far the most loved player is Argentinian legend, the late, great Diego Maradona. Are you a soccer fan and looking for fun things to do in Naples? 

Diego Armando Maradona Stadium, which was once called San Paolo Stadium, is the home of SSC Napoli, the team he is associated with aside from his home nation. You can enjoy world-class Italian football with as many as 50,000 fans when it is sold out. For an added bit of heritage and history, you can go to Bar Nilo, where you will see a shrine that holds a single strand of the late, great man's illustrious hair. 

10. The Linea 1 Metro

One of the best indoor things to do in Naples is the Linea 1 Metro. Why is a metro train station so popular, though? It hosts a fantastic array of art installations. It features over 180 one-time commissions by some of the world's most cutting-edge and forward-thinking artists, including Michelangelo Pistoletto, Joseph Kosuth, and Sol LeWitt. Of the most startling are the glittery silver-blue walls of the Toledo metro station that were created to give you the feeling of navigating straight through the ground into the sea below. 

11. Naples National Archaeological Museum 

Naples National Archaeological Museum
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For archaeological buffs and people interested in learning more about Rome's history and heritage, one of the many must-do things in Naples is the National Archaeological Museum. Here, you will find an impressive array of Roman remains and artifacts, as well as loot uncovered from the digs at Herculaneum and Pompeii. 

That aside, if you are looking for something artistic and a bit different, one of the real draws to this museum is the eye-opening erotic art found in Pompeii and displayed in a room hidden away from the main points of interest in the building. 

12. Gesu Nuovo

Gesu Nuovo
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Generally speaking, if you are looking for top things to do in Naples, many beautiful and inspiring churches have some of the most incredible artwork and architecture. Then there is Gesu Nuovo. This has a fierce and imposing look. From the outside, it looks like an impenetrable fortress, while inside, it is one of the world's most spectacularly decorated and furnished buildings. 

Here, you can learn about Doctor Giuseppe Moscati, who spent his career in the early half of the 19th century healing poor people. After several miracles, he was ordained as a saint in 1987. 

13. Museo d’Arte Contemporanea Donnaregina

When your itinerary needs more indoor things to do in Naples, you should try not to miss out on a visit to Museo d'Arte Contemporanea Donnaregina. This beautiful, internationally renowned modern art museum takes its name from the church found within it, which was built in the 14th century and has Gothic-era architecture. You will find some genuinely remarkable visual art pieces within the main building featuring art by Anish Kapoor and Jeff Koons. 

With its modern architecture, the building is a work of art and Instagram-worthy. 

14. Procida

For yet more adventurous things to do in Naples, you should visit Procida. This is one of the three islands in the idyllic Bay of Naples. Although Capri is, hands-down, the most beautiful, it is also the most popular, and while Ischia offers its fair share of thermal baths, Procida has unique charms. There are pretty cobblestone streets and colorful houses that look like something from history books. Corricella was used in the film The Talented Mr. Ripley and is pretty and picturesque. 

15. Caffe Mexico

To round off our guide, we wanted to share another cool thing to do in Naples. Caffe Mexico is a popular coffee bar with absolutely everyone in the know. Both locals and tourists make a stop here. That's unsurprising when it has arguably the best coffee in the city. Please note that if you order an espresso here, it will be sweetened as standard unless you request anything different. 

It has a very bright and welcoming atmosphere, and whether you read a book or spend some time just enjoying the vibrancy of the chatter, you are bound to have a great time. 

Final Thoughts

Whether heading to the city for a few days or a whole week, we hope our guide to the best things to do in Naples helps you get the most out of your time there. We found that there is so much to see and do that it was difficult whittling things down to just 15, but we are confident that even if you only used this blog as a rough outline of a potential trip, you would have a fantastic experience.

We are also aware of how easily we may have disregarded something spectacular, so if you know of something we should have included, please let us know in the comments section below.

Related: 16 Common Travel Mistakes in Italy and How to Avoid Them

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