Neapolitans are as bold, beautiful and ballsy as their beloved city, and the southern-Italian metropolis – the third-largest in the country – is assured of its allure. It’s the birthplace of pizza. It’s got a magnificent historic Unesco World Heritage site. Ultimately, it has a chaotic, charming heart. Built by the ancient Greeks, Naples prides itself on time-honoured traditions: tiny strip-lit family fish restaurants ringing with the greedy pleasure of the moment; piazzas where love’s young dreams embrace; and the post-dinner passeggiata along the seafront promenade, in the sultry night.
What’s the vibe?
Skinny, scruffy streets strung with washing; street-food stalls peddling crispy arancini – delicious rice balls named after the oranges they resemble; and graffiti – spot the Banksy adorning the side of a church. It’s all yours to inhale in the centro storico, home to some of the finest food and drink in the world, along with some pretty stately sights. Away from the historic centre, you’ll find coastal castles, peaceful parks and memorable museums. The holiday starts here…
A weekend in Naples is enough for pizza at least twice a day in a family-run restaurant or two – and a few shots of limoncello, the classic neon-bright lemon liqueur, after your meal. Bisecting the Old Town is Spaccanapoli street, a stage set of baroque churches, speeding Vespas and minute artisan workshops where it’s Christmas all year round. Stroll the seafront lungomare for grade-A people-spotting, from smoochy lovers to noisy families.
The capital of the Campania region has a Mediterranean climate with mild winters and hot, sun-blasted summers. As with many European cities, spring and autumn trips mean less rain, less heat and far fewer crowds.
Where to stay in Naples
From the olive-tree-clad terrace of this landmark hotel you can see across the bay to the immortal island of Capri. The hillside setting – on the fancy Corso Vittorio Emanuele that splices through the city – suits the high-end look within this 19th-century property. Expect period features, marble floors and bathrooms, bronze statues and chandeliers.
Here’s a smart B&B in an art nouveau villa, on a tree-lined street a few blocks from Floridiana Park. Rooms look the part, with terracotta tiled floors under Persian rugs, and balconies for negroni-laced moments. Bask in southern-Italian rays as you chat to fellow guests in the garden, and discuss local cuisine in the chef-led cookery class.
A 15-minute walk from the Royal Palace of Naples is this fun-filled social spot on the Piazza Santa Maria la Nova. It’s a prime choice for solo travellers, with rooms and dorms that cater for a mixed and female-only clientele, and industrial-funky bunks. Mingle on the sun terrace or over a game of table tennis; or perhaps have a communal strum: there are musical instruments to have fun with.
Eating and drinking in Naples
At the rooftop restaurant in Eurostars Hotel Excelsior, the whizzy waiters keep the prosecco and aperitivos coming – but it’s those Vesuvius views that will seduce you and your dinner guests. How does a view of Naples, glittering in the distance, sound as the backdrop for an atmospheric evening out? And that curious egg-shaped edifice on the Lungomare below? It’s the intriguing castle Castel dell’Ovo.
In one of Naples’s historic working-class neighborhoods, Via dei Tribunali is a long street all a-whirr with places to eat, drink and shop. Head straight for Sorbillo, where the menu features 21 pizzas named after the owner’s 21 sons, including classic margheritas with creamy mozzarella and fragrant fresh basil. You’ll find it easily – crowds gather ahead of opening at midday.
What to do in Naples
A foodie foray
Just being in Naples is like being on a never-ending street-food tour. But a local-led outing will introduce you to generations of bakers and pizzaiolos. On every atmospheric street corner you’ll find classic Neapolitan cakes such as syrupy rum babà, and breakfast staple sfogliatella, a shell-shaped buttery pastry rich with ricotta and citrus fruit. As you follow the guide – and your nose – you’ll also encounter nearby markets selling everything under the sun.
Savour the best Neapolitan street food on an expert-led tour when you book Culture Trip’s ten-day tour of Southern Italy.
Escape the urban chaos for the calm of the cloister garden at the Santa Chiara Monastery. This celestial spot invites you to sit on a bench covered in glazed earthenware tiles. Take in the columns clad in the same way. As you daydream, inhaling smells of roses, orange and lemon trees, you can only envy the 18th-century nuns who lived here in heavenly seclusion.
A subterranean adventure
Naples Underground (Napoli Sotterranea) snakes its way 40m (131ft) below the city centre – it’s a labyrinth of tunnels dug by the ancient Greeks and used by the Romans. Ultimately, the Neapolitans used them as air raid shelters during World War II. This isn’t one for claustrophobics or souls scared of the dark, as some of the tunnels are narrow and one section is lit only by candles.
Stay safe, stay happy
You really are better off walking. Narrow roads – thick with beaten-up cars driven by speed freaks – are all the incentive you need.
Piazza Garibaldi is the main bus and tram hub. Metered official taxis in Naples are white, so go for those; look for the TAXI placards and check for added costs – such as nighttime or public holidays. Don’t dismiss the Funicolare Centrale in Naples as just for tourists – it’s a godsend for locals, too.
Get under the skin of Naples with like-minded travellers on Culture Trip’s 10-day tour of Southern Italy. Soak up the sights and taste the traditions on a small-group tour, with people who are as keen to explore as you are.
Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip
meet our Local Insider
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.