Whenever I mention Naples to anyone, there is a slight grimace as they ask ‘isn’t it a bit rough?’. A quick google and the top results show articles asking ‘Is Naples safe for tourists?’ and ‘Why no-one wants to travel to Naples.’ Doesn’t exactly have you leaping to book a flight does it? My previous opinion of Naples came from Eat, Pray, Love, where the people of Naples come across as brash and harsh (although she does also take note of the best pizza, a very redeeming quality in my book). But whilst Naples may be a little rough around the edges, it doesn’t change the fact that it’s an incredible city, built (quite literally) on history, with a treasure trove of restaurants, each more delicious than the next and a maze of bars serving the most delicious wine, making it the perfect spot for a weekend away. So whilst it may not be the most polished of Italian cities, it is high up there on my recommendations of places to go. Welcome to my ultimate guide to Naples.
Where to sleep
Budget: If you’re on a budget, wanting some privacy but looking to be in thick of the action, you can’t go wrong with this central apartment. If you’re more into the hostel vibes, check out Hostel Mancini or La Controra.
Luxury: You can’t get better than the Romeo Hotel. Overlooking the harbour, this stunning art filled hotel also has views of the glorious Vesuvius. Plus, if you get bored of sight seeing (or eating pizza) you can sunbathe by the 9th floor pool or make the most of the spa.
Air BnB: The Air BnBs in Naples are extremely well priced and often situated in the old buildings (and palaces) that lines the streets. Some of the best on offer are the Morisani Garden, Casa Fauno and Sangregorio. We stayed in Queen of Vertecoeli which was an excellent location, close to everything we needed.
Where to eat
Not only is the food in Naples inexpensive, it is some of the most delicious food I have had in Italy.
For a traditional Naples breakfast, it has to be a coffee and Sfogliatella- a pastry native to the region. Sfogliatella is a shell shaped pastry, filled with sweet ricotta cheese and a few pieces of candied fruit (it tastes a little like custard). You can’t really beat biting into a warm, fresh Sfogliatella washed down with coffee.
I can’t talk about food in Naples though, without mentioning the best pizza in the world. I am not exaggerating here. Hot, thin based and full of the flavour coming from the naturally delicious and fresh ingredients used. For an Eat, Pray, Love experience head to L’Antica Pizzeria da Michele. They only serve two flavours, mozzarella and double mozzarella (no prizes for guessing which I went for). You will not be disappointed, especially if you wash it down with a cold beer.
Whilst it was incredible, I narrowly preferred Sorbillo, quite literally known as the best pizza in the world (and also dubbed this by D&G themselves). I can’t quite put into words how good the pizza was. Undoubtedly the best I have ever eaten (and ever will). I feel a bit speechless just reflecting on it…
If pizza isn’t your thing (or you’re all pizza’d out) head to Re Lazzarone for the freshest pasta going. The meal was so delicious I actually found myself savouring every incredible mouthful, trying to make it last longer. And let’s face it- it would be criminal to be in Italy and not eat fresh pasta!
Another lovely little spot is Antica Osteria Pisano. The food is well priced and bursting with traditional Italian flavours, plus the restaurant has a gorgeous family run feel to it. The house wine happens to be fairly delicious too…
During the day, if you’re not too busy munching away on pizza or pasta, the best places for lunch are one of the many gorgeous delis you’ll stumble across. Select from the fresh mozzarella, the yummy cured meats and wash it all down with more delicious Italian wine.
For desert, you have to try a Neapolitan Baba, from one of the many shops and stalls lining the streets. The mushroom shaped dough is soaked in rum or lemoncello and the Neapolitans take them very seriously (as a result, they are seriously tasty).
What to do
Sample the local drinks
If €1.50 Prosecco or €1 Limoncello isn’t enough to lure you into the multiple bars lining the streets, the atmosphere certainly will. Italians bustle around, enjoying drinks, cigarettes and arancini (breaded risotto balls), even in winter. Don’t expect anything more than a plastic cup, but the delicious drinks and buzz long into the night will tempt you into one more… (and one more…).
Get the train to Pompeii
Pompeii has been on my bucket list forever. I’ll admit it, I’m a total history geek when it comes to exploring ancient ruins and MY GOD, Pompeii did not disappoint. It’s easy to get to from Naples by train (and the view is gorgeous en route). Pompeii itself is huge, so leave the day for it. Put it this way- one of the ‘longer’ walking routes takes 7 hours- a bit much even for me. You can get guided tours or an audio tour (which we went for). Even without guidance, it is a fascinating place to explore. One other tip I would say is bring your own food for lunch- the food inside wasn’t great (we’re talking soggy oven pizza).
Explore the city
Naples is such a vibrant city, full of history and beautiful, if not slightly decrepit, buildings. Take the time to walk and explore (stopping for a glass of wine here and there). The Centro Storico is actually a UNESCO world heritage site, with history literally built on top of history. On one tour, our guide showed us how a roman amphitheatre was built into the brick work of a house! There are also many gorgeous churches a long the way.
One gorgeous place you must stop is the Galleria Umberto I, where you can find the unexpected beauty of its glass ceiling and mosaic floor.
Take a road trip
Renting a car is dirt cheap. From Naples you can drive to Sorrento, then onto the Amalfi Coast before heading back to Naples. The drive itself is stunning, full of picture perfect coastal roads and plenty of opportunities to stop and take it all in.
Head to the harbour
If you fancy getting some sea air, head down to the harbour and take a walk around the front.
Walk around the catacoombs
Naples is quite literally built on history and one of the things you can do is explore the catacombs lying below the cities streets. You’ll be blown away by the maze that lies beyond the city.
I hope you have the most magical trip to Naples…Ciao! x