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Visit Naples: 7 Great Reasons Not to Skip this Italian Gem

While often overlooked by many tourists visiting Italy, Naples is a quintessential Italian adventure. Here, you’ll find traces of the ancient Greeks, walk in the footsteps of the Romans and marvel at the glory of the Spanish Bourbon kings. Go on a culinary exploration of some of the most iconic Italian dishes that will make your tastebuds sing with joy. When you visit Naples, you’re in for a treat.

Napoli, as they say, to know it is to love it. It’s a city that offers an unparalleled experience to those who want to experience authentic and unapologetic Italy. The more we come to Naples, the more we love this city and here is why we think everyone should visit Naples when coming to Italy. 

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Why visit Naples?

Naples is a busy and densely populated city with vibrant sounds and energy. Gritty yet secretly glamorous, Naples is full of great cultural and artistic surprises for those willing to explore. Whether you’re a history buff, architecture lover, culture vulture or a foodie, you’ll find something to explore in this city.

History: Uncover Naples’ Epic Past

Visit Naples for the history and dive deep into layers upon layers of the past. Naples’ story began in the 8th century BC when the ancient Greeks established a cozy trading post by the sea. By the 6th century BC, Naples was a shining star in Magna Graecia, a hub of Greek culture in southern Italy.

Aerial view of Naples

The Romans swooped in during the 5th century BC and, as they did with most things, gave Naples a significant makeover. They expanded the city and even turned nearby Pompeii and Herculaneum into posh Roman retreat towns. Naples became an important port city, a vital link in the vast Roman trade network.

After the Roman Empire crumbled, the city became a game of musical chairs. The Byzantine Empire, the Normans, and even Spanish and French royalty took turns holding the reins. Each ruler left their mark on the city, and that’s part of what makes Naples so fascinating. You can explore ancient Greek ruins, wander Roman streets, and marvel at architectural gems from the Spanish Bourbons – all within this vibrant city.

Architecture: Marvel at Naples’ Architectural Gems

Naples, a heavyweight contender for Europe’s Oldest City, boasts a historic center designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995. When you visit Naples, you’ll embark on a journey through time, witnessing architectural gems from Medieval times to the flamboyant Baroque era. Don’t be surprised to stumble upon Gothic flourishes and unique Liberty Napoletano styles – Naples truly has it all.

Architecture in Naples

Naples was once a royal playground, and its architectural heritage reflects that grandeur. As the seat of the monarchy until the 18th century, the city became a focal point for artistic expression. Keep your eyes peeled for the Galleria Umberto I, a dazzling public shopping arcade across from the iconic San Carlo Opera House. Look closely, and you’ll even catch glimpses of ancient Greek and Roman influences peeking through the layers of history.

visit naples for architecture

When you visit Naples, you can also explore 448 historic churches, fountains, piazzas and palazzos here. A few must-sees on our list include:

  • Piazza del Plebiscito: This iconic square is a feast for the eyes. Admire the stunning San Francesco di Paola church (seriously, it looks more like a museum!), the grand Royal Palace of Naples, the elegant Palazzo Salerno, and the Prefettura building – all in one breathtaking spot.
  • Explore more piazzas: Don’t miss the artistic Piazza Bellini, the lively Piazza Dante, or the portside Piazza Sannazzaro, perfect for grabbing a coffee before hopping on a ferry to explore nearby islands.
  • Fountain fanatics rejoice: Naples has a fountain for every mood! Marvel at the grand Fontana dell’ Immacolatella and the majestic Fontana del Nettuno, and keep an eye out for the charming smaller fountains scattered throughout the city.
  • A castle for every king: Naples’ royal past comes alive in its many fortresses. Explore the ancient Castel dell’Ovo (aka the Egg Castle!), the impressive Castel Nuovo, the imposing Castel Capuano, the strategic Castel Sant’Elmo, and the Carmine Castle – each a testament to the city’s rich history.

Museums and Art: Explore Naples’ Artistic Treasures

Art lovers and museum enthusiasts, prepare to be blown away. Naples is a treasure trove of incredible museums and galleries, each offering a unique window into the city’s vibrant cultural tapestry. Here, you’ll find the Teatro di San Carlo, the oldest opera house in Italy. Imagine the history that fills this iconic venue. Immerse yourself in the world of music and be transported by the magic of opera.

The National Archaeological Museum is the crown jewel of Naples’ museum scene. This incredible museum houses a mind-boggling collection of glorious artifacts from the Greek and Roman eras. You can marvel at ancient treasures unearthed from Pompeii and Herculaneum and feel history come alive before your eyes.


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? Vivaldi – 2 Violins op 8 Allegro 1 – AllMusicGallery

For a glimpse into the opulent lifestyle of the Bourbon kings, head to the Royal Palace. This former royal palace has transformed into a stunning museum and art gallery. Wander through lavish rooms adorned with masterpieces by artistic giants from the 13th to the 18th centuries. Don’t miss the jaw-dropping collection of antique furniture and the exquisite porcelain collection – a testament to the extravagant tastes of Neapolitan royalty.

Naples’ museum scene caters to every interest. Immerse yourself in the beauty of coral jewelry at the Coral Jewellery Museum. Seek out contemporary artistic expression at the Museo d’Arte Contemporanea Donnaregina. Explore Neapolitan history at the Museo Filangieri or the Museo di San Martino. Delve into the world of craftsmanship at the Museobottega della Tarsilignea. And for art lovers, the Pinacoteca Girolamini awaits with its impressive collection of paintings.

Food: Indulge in Naples’ Culinary Delights

There is no denying that Naples is an ultimate foodie destination. After all, there is a reason stars like Stanley Tucci visit Naples for the culinary experience. As a bustling port city, Naples boasts an abundance of fresh, delicious and incredibly affordable seafood. So dive into a plate of steaming mussels, savour perfectly grilled fish, or indulge in a bowl of steaming pasta tossed with the freshest catch of the day—you won’t be disappointed.

This vibrant city is where pizza, the king of Italian cuisine, was born, and let me tell you, Neapolitan pizza is a whole other level of deliciousness. Maybe it’s the rich soil from the volcano or the mild Mediterranean climate, but you can’t beat the way pizza tastes in Naples. Authentic Neapolitan pizza must be made according to stringent criteria set by the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana. This includes rules like using certain varieties of tomato and mozzarella made with buffalo milk and how to stretch the dough.

PRO TIP: Don’t visit Naples without taking a pizza making class and a food tour!

You can’t go wrong with any food here, but you should definitely try the sfogliatella, a shell-shaped pastry stuffed with creamy ricotta. Naples is also known for its coffee. While coffee culture is synonymous with Italy, Naples is known as a coffee city. Maybe it’s the minerals in the water, or perhaps it’s the preparation. You shouldn’t leave Naples without trying the coffee.

Ruins: Unearth Naples’ Roman Secrets

Naples isn’t just a city that sits on top of history – it’s built upon layers of it. Founded by the Greeks and expanded by the Romans, Naples is a treasure trove for history buffs. While remnants of the ancient past are just under the surface of the modern city, there is plenty of treasure for history lovers to explore above and below the ground.

roman tunnels
3rd century Roman market under Naples

To fully immerse yourself in the ancient past when you visit Naples, venture under the city where the magic awaits. You’ll find remnants of a Roman amphitheatre where Emperor Nero performed for audiences, a 3rd-century Roman market and ancient cisterns. Many underground tunnels and caverns also served as escape routes built for the Bourbon kings, bomb shelters, military hospitals during the war and warehouses for various contraband.

bourbon tunnels

As you’re near many historical ruins, you can also travel to nearby Pompeii and Herculaneum to explore ancient Roman cities buried by the Vesuvius volcano. Explore these ancient cities and gain a deeper understanding of Roman life and its tragic demise. Naples doesn’t get too much recognition for its Roman past, but it’s a city that played a significant role during the Roman Empire.

Recommended tours:

Waterfront: Explore Naples’ Seaside Charm

When you visit Naples, do yourself a favour and spend some time by the waterfront. Stroll along the Bay of Naples and take in the views. Here, you can marvel at the Vesuvius in the distance and enjoy an aperitif at one of the patios as you people-watch. The waterfront is a great place to admire the sunset, as the ones here are spectacular.

visit naples for the views

During hot summer days, you’ll find many locals splashing in the water and sunning on the rocks. You can always ride in a funicular up the hill to visit Castel Sant’Elmo. You’ll discover spectacular views of Vesuvius and the nearby islands of Capri and Ischia. A walk along the promenade (lungomare) will show you just how lovely Naples is. After you admire the pretty and colourful buildings facing the bay, you’ll wonder why you haven’t come here sooner. 

Visit naples

Home Base: Discover the Campania Region from Naples

We recommend visiting Naples for a few days to get the most out of the experience. You can also make it the base for exploring the nearby areas, such as the Amalfi Coast, the islands of Capri, Ischia and Procida, and the Campania region.

We recommend visiting the Palace of Caserta, the Greek temples at Peastum, and the enchanting city of Benevento, also known as the city of witches. Whenever you decide to visit Naples, you’ll have an amazing time. So, what are you waiting for? Come visit Naples on your next Italian adventure.

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