As an excellent jumping-off point for exploring Southern Italy, planning a Naples itinerary is never a bad idea. Dating back to the 2nd millennium BCE, Naples is a city rich with important art and architectural history. One of the most exciting cities in Italy, with all sights, sounds, and smells coming at you from every angle of the city.
Unfortunately with a bad reputation, Naples deserves to be given a chance. It’s truly the Italy you would imagine from a classic Italian film with kids running around playing soccer with their friends, cigarettes plenty, lovers professing their feelings, and laundry flung all over the lines above you.
Many tourists travel to Naples with the sole purpose of using it as a base to travel to the Italian islands and Amalfi Coast. Still, Naples is an incredible city that deserves its place on your travel itinerary. With 2 to 3 days in Naples, you can enjoy this city of the senses and discover plenty of experiences that you’ll be glad you took a chance on. Keep reading to create your own unique Naples itinerary.
How Many Days in Naples?
When planning a trip to the city, it can be hard to figure out how many days to spend in Naples. In my opinion, 3 days in Naples at minimum would be the best to fully immerse yourself in the city, but if you’re an active traveler and just wanted to spend time in the center of the city, 2 days in Naples may be sufficient.
Naples is a city that takes time to understand and appreciate and once you get past the hard surface, you will learn to appreciate the grit and heart of the city.
If you’re looking to spend more time in the area, take a day trip or two, or even stay in other parts of the region, like Capri or in towns near the Amalfi coast such as Sorrento or Positano, I would recommend a week at minimum.
Getting To and Around Naples
Naples is located in the Campania region of Italy and sits on the Bay of Naples, so how you will reach the city will depend on where you are coming from.
From other cities in Italy such as Rome, Florence, Venice or Milan, you have the option to either fly or take a train. If you are coming from closer cities in Italy, a long-distance bus such as FlixBus is another option that will save you a lot of money in comparison to flying or taking a train.
Naples is also well-connected with other regions in Southern Italy, such as Puglia, and you can easily use it as a gateway for exploring the south of this beautiful country. You can view train and bus schedules here.
The city is quite chaotic with some of the most intense traffic and driving in Europe, so I don’t recommend driving and renting a car unless you plan to stay out of the city center and take the metro or regional trains into the city.
Napoli Centrale train station is the central station of the city and has high speed and regional connections from other parts of Italy. Trenitalia and ITALO trains are both serviced here so you have options for different train lines. There is a metro stop at Napoli Centrale as well as multiple bus stops so this is a perfect location to bring you to your hotel or other places within the city.
If you are flying into the city, the Naples Capodichino International Airport serves as a hub for inter-European routes as well as a few North African destinations. Many routes are only seasonal to and from Naples International Airport, so flying during the summer months is a lot more convenient if this is your preferred mode of transport.
The airport is located 5 km from the city center and takes about 15 minutes by car to reach the city. If you decide to take a taxi, expect a flat rate between €16-€18.
Be aware that taxi drivers may upcharge for the journey and anything over €18 is too much, I recommend asking the taxi driver the cost to your destination before departing so you can agree on a price with no surprises when you arrive at your destination. If your destination is around the harbor or other areas further out of the center, expect to pay around €20.
Another option from the airport to the city is the Alibus shuttle. The shuttle departs every 20 minutes from about 50 meters outside the airport and has just two drop-off points in the city – Napoli Centrale station if you need to reach other areas of the city by metro or bus, and Molo Beverello, or Porta di Massa Ports if your Naples itinerary begins from one of the islands. Tickets are €5 and can be purchased on the bus.
Getting around the city is fairly easy, with the center of the city fairly walkable and a well-connected metro system with 26 stations throughout the city. Single tickets for each metro ride cost €1.10 and unlimited day tickets for the metro, bus, and funicular cost €4.50 which will save you money if you plan on taking mostly public transport during your time in Naples.
The funicular railways offer terrific panoramic views of the city and surrounding areas if you would like a cost-efficient way to bring a pizza and have a beautiful Napoli sunset.
2 to 3 Days in Naples Itinerary
Having 2 or 3 days in Naples, your priorities are likely going to be seeing the heart of the city, spending time by the harbor, and eating some of the most delicious food in all of Italy. With 2 days in Naples, all of this is possible. And with 3 days in Naples, you may also have the opportunity to take a day trip to locations such as the ancient Pompeii, or Mount Vesuvius.
Day 1 – Piazza Plebescito, Castel Dell’Ovo & the Naples Harbor
Unlike the multitude of famous attractions in Rome that the world flocks to see, Naples is full of hidden gems and special spots that are crucial to the history and culture of the city. Being a city on a bay surrounded by sea, cities, and the famous Mount Vesuvius, you will have the opportunity to experience varying sceneries while taking in the city.
Enjoy a Napolitano Breakfast
A good place to start your Naples Itinerary is with a true Napolitano breakfast. Naples prides itself on being the place for the best coffee and breakfast delicacies in Italy.
Enjoy a silky espresso or cappuccino with a classic Napolitano “sfogliatelle” which is a crispy layered pastry stuffed with sweet ricotta. Or a new favorite, fioco di neve, a soft brioche stuffed with a sweet cream that tastes as if it’s a sweet cloud descended onto the city. For both, I recommend Paticceria Poppella in the Sanita neighborhood.
Piazza Del Plebiscitio
Then make your way to Piazza Del Plebiscitio which is known as the main piazza in the city. With its first opening in 1846, the Piazza Del Plebiscito has become what many locals see as the heart and soul of Naples.
It’s surrounded by the Royal Palace, the church of San Francesco di Paola, as well as the Palazzo Salerno. You can usually find musicians performing here in the warmer months, children running and playing, and those just strolling around and taking in la dolce vita.
From Piazza Del Plebiscito, you can take a short walk to the harbor. There is nothing more Napolitano than strolling along the harbor (lungomare) with a cone of fried seafood, and maybe then finding a spot by the sea to enjoy an Aperol Spritz for aperitivo while taking in the sunset.
The Naples harbor stretches the bay from Mergellina to Via Caracciolo. Naples is a hot city, culinarily, literally, and metaphorically, so finding moments of calamity by the sea will no doubt help you unwind before you brave the city once more.
There’s a reason why so many classic Italian songs have been inspired by the Napolitano harbor, and you have to visit yourself to experience why.
If you’re interested in visiting a museum, near the Piazza Del Plebiscito by about a 15-minute walk, is the Castel Dell’Ovo. The castle is the oldest standing fortress in the city and comes with a unique tale that gave its name.
The Roman poet Virgil was infamous in the Middle Ages as a great psychic. In the tale, he put a magical egg into the base of the castle to support it, and to this day, the egg remains along with his bones. According to the tale, if the egg had broken, the castle would have crumbled with it. Many believe that the fate of not only the castle was due to the egg, but also the city.
Today the castle sits proudly on the Naples seafront and is available to visit inside. Access to visit the castle is free but I would also recommend booking a private tour to make the most of your visit, as the history is rich and a local would be a wonderful component to this visit.
Indulge in Napolitano Pizza
Now you’re probably wondering about what most come to Naples for, the pizza. Naples is known as the birthplace of pizza and making your pizza pilgrimage is one that you will not forget and will make you dread leaving.
Seeing Naples in 2 days or even seeing Naples in 3 days won’t be enough once you taste your first Napolitano pizza. After you’ve built up an appetite from your walk, I recommend heading to my favorite pizzeria, Starita.
Most Napolitano people or tourists will have their personal favorite, and while most will be delicious, my recommendation is off the beaten path and typically frequented by locals.
From the castle, you can either walk to Starita if you’re up for the 50-minute walk or take public transportation which will be around 25 minutes.
Either end your day with pizza, or you could find a nice spot to have a drink and enjoy the local people-watching in the city.
Day 2 – Spaccanapoli and the Spanish Quarter
If you’re spending 2 days in Naples, then focus on the city itself while if you’re doing Naples in 3 days, this will be your last main day in the city as on your 3rd day I recommend taking a day trip.
Today you will head to the famous “Spaccanapoli” street and make your way down the famous and historical promenade that encompasses many main sights and attractions that you’ll likely want to check out. It was one of the main roads that crossed ancient Neapolis when it was founded in 580 BC, and its roots run deep.
Spaccanapoli is a narrow street, and a working-class area crossing the historical center of Naples. The name Spaccanapoli means “Naples splitting” and from above it can be seen as a sharp and direct split between the city, and with Naples being such an intricate city, following Spaccanapoli and the alleys along it is a great way to keep your bearings as you discover the city.
From Spaccanapoli you can reach locations such as the Piazza del Gesù Nuovo, Santa Chiara, the Sansevero Chapel, and the San Lorenzo Maggiore Basilica. I highly recommend visiting the Sansavero chapel, which is now known to be one of the greatest sculptures in the world, the Veiled Christ. It is also possible to take a walking tour of this area.
Naples is a deeply religious city and most museums and locations to visit are likely going to be churches or basilicas. You will also discover many shops, delicious bakeries, and restaurants along the street with smells that will entice you to go in and try a new Napolitano specialty.
My recommendations are to try the parigina and a pasta fritta. The parigina is a street food-style pizza that is topped with French-style pastry (hence the name!) and filled with decadent cheese and tomato sauce. A pasta fritta is literally pasta that is breaded and fried, need I say more?
Explore the Spanish Quarter
About a 10-minute walk away from the southern end of Spaccanapoli, you will reach the Quartieri Spagnoli (Spanish Quarter.) This area along with the central Via Toledo is what many would claim to be the center of Naples.
The Spanish Quarter is famous for its quaint streets and alleyways, many trattorias and pizzerias, and a great place to find a €2 Aperol Spritz. The name of the neighborhood was given its name when the Spanish rule began around 1530 in Naples. This was a time of drastic transformation within the city.
If you want to learn more about this neighborhood, you can book a walking tour here.
After wandering around the winding alleys of the Spanish Quarter, I recommend heading to the exciting Trattoria Nennella as a necessary part of your Naples itinerary. Here you will find dancing and singing waiters, locals aplenty, and the most delicious three-course menu (including water) for €12.
You’ll have options of local plates of pasta for your first course, meat or fish for your second, and a choice of a side dish. Your options are as local and authentic as the clientele, and you won’t regret a meal here as it’s one of the most exciting experiences in Naples!
I recommend arriving early as they do not accept reservations and there is usually a long queue outside the door.
Day 3 – Day Trips and Naples Underground
Day 3 of your Naples Itinerary is a perfect time to make a trip to one of the many places near the city. If you decide to opt-out of the day trip and have other plans to spend more time on your trip in the region, this itinerary offers another fun experience within (and under) the city of Naples.
Depending on the type of day trip you are wanting to take from Naples, the best options are either Sorrento, Pompeii, or Mount Vesuvius. I would take into account the time of year that you are on your trip.
Seeing as Mount Vesuvius is at quite a high altitude, I wouldn’t recommend making this trip if you are visiting at the peak of summer or the peak of winter. Mount Vesuvius is best visited in more mild temperatures and the summer or winter, it will be either too cold or too hot and not make for the most pleasant experience.
Mount Vesuvius is the famous and still active volcano sitting proudly on the gulf of Naples. Today Vesuvius is known as one of the most dangerous volcanoes in the world due to its location and proximity to over 3,000,000 that would find themselves in its path. No one knows when it will erupt again, but there is almost certainty that eventually, it will.
From the city center of Naples, you can reach the Mount Vesuvius National Park either by car, train, and shuttle bus. By car, it will take about 50 minutes but will cost you about €23 in each direction. By train, you will begin your journey from the Napoli Piazza Garibaldi station, which is next to the Central Station but is a different station in itself.
From here you will take the “Ercolano Scavi” line which is part of the Sorrento line. The final destination on the train should be Sorrento, and you will disembark at Ercolano Scavi. Train tickets are €2.80 each way with the journey taking around 20 minutes. From here, find the Vesuvio Express ticketing offices so you can purchase your tickets for the shuttle bus to Vesuvius.
Tickets for the Vesuvio Express are €10 each way but you can also include your ticket to Vesuvius which will bring you to a €20 total. Shuttle services begin at 9:40 AM and finish at 4 PM. Services are supposed to run every 40 minutes but the company doesn’t strictly adhere to these guidelines, so be careful, arrive early, and make sure you don’t miss your bus.
The hike should take around 30 minutes depending on your fitness level to climb to the summit of the crater of Vesuvius. And for those wondering, yes it is completely safe!
Another option nearby for a day trip closer to the city and with less activity is Pompeii. Pompeii was a wealthy ancient Roman city that gave us some of the biggest evidence of Roman civilizations.
It is now infamous for finding its end due to a catastrophic eruption of Vesuvius around 70 CE. Pompeii was then buried under ash and to this day you can still see the preserved site including the bodies of over 100 people.
To reach Pompeii from the Naples city center, first head to the Napoli Piazza Garibaldi station and take the train departing at “Pompei Scava”. The journey each way will take around 35 minutes and costs €2.80 each way.
Tickets to enter are €14.50 at the door (though you can also reserve skip-the-line tickets here for a premium) and you should plan for at least 3-5 hours to explore the site. You also have the option for a tour led by an archaeologist which gives you two hours with them and then the rest of the time to explore independently – that can be pre-booked here.
If you plan on visiting both Pompeii and Vesuvius, it is possible to do both in one day but beginning in Pompeii to start your day. There are also many organised day trips such as this full-day tour that includes both.
Sorrento is a great place to visit especially in the summer as it is more of a summer destination. If you are visiting throughout other parts of the year, you may find many places will be closed and you will have limited options.
Sorrento is thriving in the summer (as are its juicy lemons) and is a great time to visit and spend time by the coast. It is most known for its beautiful views of the sea, artisanal work such as pottery, and the famous limoncello.
Sorrento is located on the Sorrentine Peninsula and has easy access from Naples by taking the Circumvesuviana line until the last top with a journey of around an hour and tickets costing €6.
Another great place to visit within the city is the Naples Underground.
Many don’t know that underneath the busy city of Naples, is an entirely different city that holds a 280-mile wide web of ancient tunnels spanning more than 2,500 years of history. First created by the ancient Greeks in what was once “Neapolis” or “new city”, this network was passed through different periods and different uses.
From the Romans building aqueducts to supply the city with water, to being used as an air-raid shelter for the city during World War 2. Did you know that Naples was the most bombed city in Europe during the war? Experience this walk-through history for yourself with a tour guide and you will truly be transported to a different place and time.
Under the city, you will see that although it is such a dark place, there is still great evidence of life during the darkest of times. English tours are offered every day from 10 AM to 6 PM and take place every 2 hours for a tour lasting around an hour. Tickets can be booked here.
There are quite narrow passageways throughout the tour but don’t be put off if you are claustrophobic as there are alternate routes if you don’t feel comfortable taking the original path.
Where to Stay in Naples
Regardless of if you have 2 or 3 days for your Naples itinerary, you’re going to need to find a place to rest your head in the lively Southern Italian metropolis. If you’re wondering where to stay in Naples, have a look at these great suggestions:
Relais Della Porta – If you’re looking to travel in luxury while in Naples, then consider this plush hotel. Centrally located within easy reach of the top sites of the city, they have a range of wonderful rooms on offer and plenty of amenities to ensure your stay is a great one. Click here to see their availability
Hotel Il Convento – For those travelling on a mid-range budget, this hotel can be a great choice. Located in the Spanish Quarter, it is excellently positioned for exploring Naples. They have a number of clean and comfortable rooms available, offer breakfast in the mornings and even allow pets. Click here to see their availability
Duomo Platinum Apartments – If you’d like to have your own space when visiting Naples, then these centrally-located apartments can be a great choice. There are a number of different apartments available that can suit many group sizes and all are fully furnished with modern amenities. Click here to see their availability
Tric Trac Hostel – Situated in the Piazza Santa Maria la Nova in Naples’ historic centre, this hostel is perfect for those traveling solo or on a budget. They have both dorm and private rooms available and fantastic common areas that make it easy to meet other travelers! Click here to see their availability
Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse more Naples hotels!
Planning a Naples itinerary can be quite overwhelming, but is one of the most unique experiences you can have while visiting Italy. So sip your espresso and give a chance to this incredibly chaotic yet addicting and delicious city.
Are you planning to visit Naples in 2 or 3 days? Have any questions about this itinerary? Let us know in the comments!