Exploring Naples in 2,5 days
A lot of people say that Naples is loud and dirty, but that isn’t true. Naples has a lot to offer, from beautiful buildings to a lot of history, to spectacular views of the bay, and great food. I visited Naples (and some part of the Amalfi Coast) at the beginning of September with my boyfriend. We wanted a vacation with warm weather, some culture and beautiful nature. And this is exactly what you get on the Amalfi coast. We began our trip to Naples and stayed there for three nights. We wanted to see what Naples has to offer, but we didn’t need to see every church in the city (there are A LOT of churches). We just wanted to experience the culture and history of the city, and have a good time while doing that. We also wanted to have a nice evening when going for dinner, but since we are students, we were on a budget. Down below I listed the things we visited and the places at which we ate.
Table of Contents
Day 1: Arrival in Naples
Our we arrived at the airport of Naples on a Sunday, around 13h00. The best way to get to the city center is by taking the Alibus. This bus departs at the airport, and stops at the train station of Naples and the port of Naples. There is a bus every hour, you can check the timetables here. From there, we had to walk just eight minutes to our apartment. After checking in, going to a supermarket to buy some water and food, and freshening up, we could start exploring the city.
A really good way to start is to visit Museo Castel Sant’Elmo. It is calmer than most attractions in Naples, and it gives you wonderful views of the bay and the city. It is located on top of a hill, so be prepared for the hike up. There is also a cable car if you’re not up for the hike, but we didn’t take it so I don’t have any extra information about it. When you get to the castle, there is an entrance fee of €2,5-€5, check here to see which entrance fee applies to you. The castle itself is not particularly pretty, the attraction lies in the majestic size of it and the magnificent views. You can only visit the roof terrace of the building, which is big enough to accommodate a small town on its own. You can go up to the terrace by foot, so you get to see the outside hallways of the castle, or you can take the elevator. The views that you get here are the most beautiful ones in the entire city. You can look from Capri all the way to Ischia if the weather allows it. It is also a great way to look at Naples and to get to know the city, as there is an information board with drawings of the most important monuments of Naples that you can see.
Next to the castle, there is Museo Nazionale di San Martino. We didn’t visit it, but it apparently has a very beautiful patio and also magnificent views of the bay.
Dinner: Vero Gastrobar
In the evening, we had dinner at a vegetarian gastro bar on the same street as our apartment, which was very good and for a very good price. They serve tapas for around €6 and courses for around €8.
Day 2: explore the North part of Naples
We started our day with a visit to the biggest museum for modern art in Naples. You can admire artists like Jeff Koons, Anish Kapoor, and Andy Warhol. On the roof of the museum, there is a statue of a horse, an artwork of Mimmo Paladino. It is known by everyone in the region and truly a symbol of the museum.
The entrance hall is already very impressive, with colors and mirrors everywhere. There are lockers where you can leave your stuff. Besides their collection, there are also a few temporary exhibitions. There is an entrance fee of €10, but for people under the age of 26 it is €5.
Palazzo Spagnuolo & Palazzo Sanfelice
Next, we passed by Spagnolo Palace and Palazzo Sanfelice. These two buildings, designed by the same architect, are known for the elaborate staircase in their patios. Several movies are filmed there. You should just go in for a look at the staircase while in the neighborhood, I don’t think that you can visit the whole building. We didn’t like the neighborhood that much so we did not stick around there. Instead, we went to the next museum that was on our planning.
Museo Archeologico Nazionale
Museo Archeologico Nazionale is a museum that everyone in Italy recommended to us so we had to go. The region has a very rich history of the Romans. There Pompei, Herculaneum, the Vesuvius, and many more. You can go to these sites to see the remainders of the houses and the city, but almost no objects are displayed there. Most objects that they found from their excavations are displayed in this museum. There are also a lot of statues of Roman Emperors and other people. The building is very beautiful and some rooms are very interesting. Although this museum is a must see, they just have way too many statues and objects so after a few rooms, you might want to skip certain areas.
Gesù Nuovo & Monastero di Santa Chiara
While walking back to the apartment, we passed the Church of Gesù Nuovo and Monastero di Santa Chiara. The church has a particularly unique facade. The monastery is apparently very beautiful but we didn’t go inside.
Finding a place to eat for dinner on a Monday was hard because most restaurants close then. Be sure to make a reservation if eating somewhere good is important to you because the good restaurants that are open that day, are probably full.
Translated is Naples Underground, it is an underground geothermal zone where several tunnels were made through the years. Despite all the cool pictures on the internet, it was a bit disappointing. It is a lot smaller than expected.
Day 3: explore the South part of Naples
Galleria Umberto I
On your way to the monuments of the South Part of Naples, walk through Galleria Umberto I. Be sure to look up and admire the beautiful glass roof. If you are lucky, you can walk through it with calming music of a street musician in the background.
We only saw the castle on the outside, but apparently, there is a church on the patio with frescos and a museum in the west wing of the castle. There is an entrance fee of €5.
Palazzo Reale & Basilica Reale Pontificia San Francesco da Paola
The Royal Palace is absolutely beautiful and you can visit it, the entrance fee is €6 or €2, check which one applies to you here. When we were there, there were repair works at the facade, so we didn’t get to see it entirely, but it was still very beautiful. We didn’t go inside though.
Basilica Reale Pontificia San Francesco is the church located on the city’s main square. with its colonnades on both sides, it is very impressive and worth taking a picture of. However, to get the entire building in one picture, you will have to stand on the other side of the square. The square is very big so there is a lot of space, and it doesn’t feel crowded at all. It is the perfect place to take your time and relax on the stairs of the church while looking at the local kids playing football on the square. We did this while eating ice cream, which you can find at various streets that open onto the square.
This sea castle is located on a peninsula in front of Naples. The entrance is free, which is always nice. I wouldn’t say that this is a must because you can pretty much just go up to the roof terrace and enjoy the view, but it is certainly a relaxing extra. And it doesn’t matter that much because it is free. You have a beautiful view of the boats and the coastline though. Also, there are no cars on the peninsula so it is pretty quiet in comparison to the coastline of Naples, which is nice.
The park: Villa Communale
We wanted to have a picnic in the park, so we first went to buy something to eat. We found the perfect place for it. Sapori & Dintorni Conad is actually a supermarket, but before you enter the supermarket-part, there are two built-in food stalls where you can order several quick eats like a slice of pizza or croquettes filled with risotto, for a surprisingly reasonable price.
The park is not really special, but you can’t see the sea because of all the trees, so we sat on one of the benches right outside the park so we could eat with a sea view.
Dinner: H2NO kitchen
For dinner, we walked through the neighborhood north of the park. Here we found a restaurant that looked trendy and had a menu that matched our appetite. We didn’t go there immediately because the restaurant was empty, but after looking it up, we read that it had just opened and belonged to the cocktail bar across the street, which had great reviews. We went to eat there and it was delicious. The hamburgers and fries that we had were really good, the staff was so friendly, and we had a really good time. The hamburgers were €7-€9.
Other things to do in Naples
- Catacombe di San Gennaro
- Chiesa dei Santi Filippo e Giacomo
- Botanical Garden of Naples
- Museo di Capodimonte
- Museo Nazionale di San Martino
- Museo Cappella Sansevero
- Zevallos Stigliano Palace
- Galleria Borbonica
- Fondazione Plart
Looking for things to do outside Naples?
Check out this post about our itinerary (exclusively on public transport!) from Naples to Capri.