Naples, Italy sits in the shadow of the legendary Mount Vesuvius, the volcano that destroyed the nearby town of Pompeii in one fell swoop thousands of years ago. But don’t let that give you the impression that Naples is all doom and gloom. In fact, Naples is a bright, vibrant city with lots to offer in terms of art, landmarks, and food — including pizza, which Neapolitans just so happen to have invented.
Here’s a look at what to do in Naples to get the most out of your trip.
What Is the Best Time to Visit Naples, Italy?
The best time to visit Naples is during the months of March and April. The weather isn’t too hot or too cold in these months, and it isn’t usually too rainy or stormy to prevent you from going out and sightseeing. Like most of Italy, this city is best visited during the “off-seasons,” so that you don’t have to fight against the crowds of tourists coming from all over the world.
Our Favorite Things to Do in Naples, Italy
Check Out the Subway Station Art
Most of the world’s metro stations aren’t anything to write home about. But Naples’ Linea 1 Metro features over 180 stunning pieces of art painted by artists from all over the world. The most incredible of these can be found at the Toledo station, where the glittering walls create the illusion that you are taking an escalator down beneath the waves of the deep blue sea.
Take a Walk Along the Lungomare
If you know a bit of Italian, you might have guessed that “Lungomare” means “along the sea.” This particular Lungomare is a 2.5-kilometer strip of land that runs along the edge of the sea and gives passersby incredible views of the beach and the water, not to mention Naples, Capri, and Mt. Vesuvius. You can complete your perfect stroll with a gelato from a local vendor along the boardwalk and a long look at the beautiful sunset. It doesn’t get any more peaceful than that!
Pizza, Pizza, and More Pizza
If there is one thing you absolutely cannot miss in Naples, it is the pizza. Naples is the birthplace of pizza, and it would be a shame to miss out on sampling this delicious dish at the source! There are many pizzerias around to try out, all with pizzas ranging from the classic tomato sauce- and cheese-topped margherita you may know to the portable and delectable pizza fritta, deep-fried pizza. You can’t really go wrong here, but just know that Neapolitans take their pizza-making very seriously: they even have a special organization whose sole purpose is to certify true Neapolitan pizza.
Some of the Best Attractions in Naples, Italy
Located in the historical center of Naples, Cappella Sansevero is a Baroque chapel/museum featuring a truly breathtaking work of art: Giuseppe Sanmartino‘s Veiled Christ. This marble statue is one of the most lifelike pieces in the world. It really looks as if Jesus Christ is lying there beneath a veil during his last moments of life. But that’s just the beginning. You can also see the famous Anatomical Machines here: a male and female skeleton with their arteriovenous system still intact, as well as multiple other amazing art pieces.
Napoli Sotterranea or “Naples Underground” takes you 40 meters below the city streets and 2400 years into the past, right into the true heart of Naples. The yellow stone walls of this underground chamber show marks from every part of Naples’ history, including the bombs of World War II. Sights to be seen in this so-called “womb of the city” include Greek-Roman Aqueducts, remains of the Roman Theater, and even a vegetable garden growing deep underground, far from the light of day.
The Presepi of Via San Gregorio Armeno
“Presepi” are nativity scenes, and the ones on Via San Gregorio Armeno are unlike any nativity scenes you have ever seen. The whole street is lined with bright, colorful displays featuring figures hand-crafted by local artists that range from traditional and biblically accurate to silly and kind of absurd. Most of the figures are made of terra cotta, and you can buy many different pieces in many different styles to take home and keep as a souvenir — or to decorate your own house with on Christmas.
Other Sights Worth a Visit in Naples, Italy
Technically, Pompeii and Herculaneum are different cities from Naples. but you can reach them both easily from this location. Both cities were buried by the ash from Mt. Vesuvius’ infamous eruption in the year 79 A.D., so we can’t exactly label them as best vacation spots in Italy, but both have some incredible artifacts to look at, including the skeletons of those who lost their lives that day and plaster casts made where others were buried beneath the ash.
From realistic art to a glimpse beyond the veil into the afterlife (and even a look below the surface of the Earth), Naples and its surrounding areas are definitely one of a kind. Plus, there’s only one city in the world that can call itself the birthplace of pizza, and foodies will know this is the real deal!