The Top Attractions and Things to Do in Naples, Italy
Naples is a vibrant city steeped in history and brimming with incredible sights | © Artur Bogacki / Alamy Stock Photo
There’s so much to experience in this bustling southern Italy city, whether that’s browsing contemporary art, exploring underground tunnels, heading out to sea in a kayak or settling in to watch an opera. And that’s without even getting started on the pizza. Here, we’ve picked out the top attractions and things to do in Naples, Italy.
Want to experience it for yourself? Do so in the company of a Local Insider with Culture Trip by joining our exclusive 10-day southern Italy adventure, which includes a Naples food tour, as well as visits to the Amalfi Coast, Matera and several superb destinations in Puglia.
The Bourbon Tunnel
Historical Landmark, Museum
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If you’re looking to scratch that spooky, underground itch while evading the hordes of tourists, the Bourbon Tunnel is for you. Built as a secret escape route for the city’s royal family in 1853, the tunnel connects the Royal Palace to the Piazza Vittoria. After being used as an air-raid shelter during World War II, it became a dumping ground for all sorts of debris, from fascist statues to lines of vintage cars and scooters, all untouched since the 1970s. It’s atmospheric and fascinating in equal measure, and a guided tour is a must.
Museo Madre (Donnaregina Contemporary Art Museum)
Museum, Art Gallery
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Medieval meets modern at the Donnaregina Contemporary Art Museum, housed in a restored, 19th-century palazzo. Explore the historic building while taking in art from the past 100 years. Permanent collections display the likes of Franz West, Anish Kapoor and Marina Abramović. There’s a strong focus on recent local art movements, and the museum also hosts some high-profile exhibitions.
Teatro di San Carlo
Opera season at the Teatro di San Carlo runs from January to May each year, with ballet performances taking place from April to June. Culture enthusiasts will enjoy a behind-the-scenes look at this grand, prestigious opera house – a 30-minute guided tour is a fantastic way to explore its 300-year history and majestic architecture, with centuries-old anecdotes woven in for good measure.
Park, Theatre, Natural Feature
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Need a break from all that sightseeing? Relax in the Neapolitan sun, and gaze out over the gorgeous Bay of Naples from the Parco Virgiliano. The islands of Ischia and Capri are also visible in the distance, creating a perfect backdrop for running, walking and cycling (hire e-bikes for an easier activity). For an idyllic evening, look out for the outdoor concerts that the park hosts during summer.
Cimitero delle Fontanelle
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The Cimitero delle Fontanelle comprises natural caves, tufa mines and ancient Greek and Roman tunnels. They were used to hold the bodies of thousands of Neapolitans who died in the Naples Plague of 1656 – burial space had run out in churchyards around the city. In the centuries since, a cult has developed around these towering piles of skulls, with rosaries, candles, gifts and special requests dotted among the remains, acting as secret prayers for favours, health and even lottery wins.
What better way to experience the famously gorgeous coastline of Naples than on a kayak tour? Paddle your way around the bay – powered by all that delicious pasta you’ve been eating – with Kayak Napoli. Kayak, canoe and paddleboard excursions are all available, and beginners are welcome, with instruction provided. With a variety of tours – including sunset and full-moon paddles, visits to marine nature reserves, and coast-hugging routes that take in the city’s Roman villas – there’s something for everyone.
© Fine-Art agency / Alamy Stock Photo
Pizza was invented in Naples, making it a pilgrimage for any foodie. If you’re visiting for the cuisine, a Cookly class should be a top priority. Get hands-on experience: learn how to cook your favourite Italian staples, taste local wines and visit produce markets, all guided by locals eager to share their love of food with you.
These recommendations were updated on October 15, 2021 to keep your travel plans fresh.