Castles Worth Visiting Near Naples, Italy

The best castles near Naples include Castello Aragonese on the island of Ischia
The best castles near Naples include Castello Aragonese on the island of Ischia | © Bobby Bogren / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Elena Alston
27 August 2020

The Italian city of Naples holds on to its roguish old-world charm and layers of history with an iron fist – and with good reason: its medieval fortresses have been used to defend the Gulf of Naples from naval attacks for centuries. Culture Trip’s local insiders have the scoop on which castles in and near Naples – from Castel dell’Ovo to Castello Aragonese – are most worth a visit.

Castel dell'Ovo

Architectural Landmark, Historical Landmark
Map View
Napoli Castel dell'Ovo
Napoli Castel dell'Ovo | © Bruce McConnell / Alamy Stock Photo
Castel dell’Ovo is one of Italy’s most historic buildings. Sitting on the waterfront and overlooking the Gulf of Naples, this imposing fortress and former royal residence owes its name to a legend concerning the poet Virgil, who, for reasons unknown, buried an egg nearby, claiming that if it broke, both the castle and Naples would fall. (When you go, try not to step on anything that may crunch underfoot!) Entry to the castle is free of charge and includes access to art exhibitions, conferences and special events. Not surprisingly, the castle is also a popular (and very pretty) wedding venue. Recommended by local insider Matt Barker

Castel Sant'Elmo

Architectural Landmark, Historical Landmark
Map View
Castel sant'Elmo is a medieval castle, used as a museum, located on the Vomero hill near San Martino in Naples.
Castel sant'Elmo is a medieval castle | © Georgi Stoyanov / Alamy Stock Photo
Vomero Hill, the leafy hilltop district of Naples, is a destination in its own right, thanks to its miles of galleries, museums and upscale hotels. It’s also where visitors can climb the steep steps up to Castel Sant’Elmo, an imposing fortress (and former prison) which sits on a layer of volcanic rock. While the castle dates all the way back to 1275, the Novecento a Napoli Museum on site is home to an impressive collection of 20th-century modern art. Recommended by local insider Matt Barker

Castel Capuano

Historical Landmark, Architectural Landmark
Map View

Right in the heart of Naples, a small piazza surrounds the great Castel Capuano, a Renaissance structure built in 1140 by order of King William I. Before you take to one of the palm-fringed cafes where locals sit, sipping rosé and sighing over ‘la dolce vita’, we recommend a gander indoors. Castel Capuano is the second oldest in the city and boasts a stunning courtyard, the Formiello fountain and a gallery filled to the brim with frescoes. Recommended by local insider Debbie Oakes

Castel Nuovo

Architectural Landmark, Historical Landmark
Map View
Castel Nuovo
Castel Nuovo | © Dmitriy Polyakov / Alamy Stock Photo

Few places in Naples are as distinguishable as this landmark. The medieval masterpiece was commissioned by Charles I of Anjou in 1266 and has withstood centuries of weather damage and neglect. One of the city’s most famous legends involves a crocodile that infiltrated the castle through a hole in the moat’s walls to feast on prisoners – though whether this was a cautionary tale or has some truth to it is up to you. Crocs aside, the castle is now home to the Civic Museum and the Library of the Neapolitan Society of History, though it’s mostly popular for Giotto’s historic frescoes. Inside the Armoury Room, visitors are also privy to Roman ruins that lie under a glass floor. Recommended by local insider Debbie Oakes

Castello Aragonese

Architectural Landmark, Historical Landmark
Map View
Castello Aragonese, castle, Ponte, Island of Ischia, Gulf of Naples, Campania, Italy
Castello Aragonese | © Arco Images GmbH / Alamy Stock Photo

If you like epic views, ancient ruins and rocky islands all in one go, Castello Aragonese should factor high on your radar. Located on a small island that’s connected to Ischia by a stone bridge, Castello Aragonese offers guided tours and access to the 11th-century crypt. The entire fortress is surrounded by blue waters, suspended between sky and sea. Its courtyards brim with clusters of olive trees and flowers, and it is one of the most visited castles in Italy – with good reason. Recommended by local insider Debbie Oakes

These recommendations were updated on August 27, 2020 to keep your travel plans fresh.