Last update : November 2018
Most people who visit Naples will not understand what the big fuss is about. If you're a five-star hotels traveler who likes clean paved streets - Naples is definitely not the place for it. I learned Naples is one of the oldest cities in Europe, and its port is active since the Greek times. I bought two train tickets from Rome to Naples (the fastest train takes only an hour!) And reached the most authentic city in Italy! I fell in love immediately.
SPEND THE NIGHT
You could book a night in the historic district or in the Chiaia( quite posh neighborhood) near the port. However, the Spanish quarter is right between the two so that's your best option. Find a hotel or apartment preferably near the Toledo metro station located on the main street of the neighborhood (the station has been chosen as the most beautiful metro station in Europe year after year).
Charming Boutique Hotel in Chiaia -
WHAT TO CHECK OUT?
Naples's most interesting neighborhoods are very close to one another and you can walk almost anywhere you want. Naples was founded between during the sixth century BC by Greeks and was given the named Neapolis in Ancient Greek: Νεάπολις, meaning "new city").
The historic center is one of the oldest parts of Europe and has been declared by UNESCO `as World Heritage Site. The streets are crowded and full of small buildings and balconies with laundry lines that stretches across the alleys. Just lose yourself looking at the older Italians woman cooking in the kitchen through those large open windows facing the streets. You can even spot some Italian men sitting in their living room watching a football game. The children run in the streets playing soccer, and the slightly older kids drive in groups on mopeds, with no helmets, through the crowded alleys.
It really does sounds and feels like an Italian movie!
On the more popular streets, you will find some of the most famous pizzerias, museums and cathedrals, as well as the Christian market selling mostly ceramic figures.
The Italian women dry their clothes on ropes hanging from the balconies and throw a tarp over to prevent the rain from wetting the clothes.
The Spanish quarter
Crowded alleys and beautiful staircases that never seem to end. Surrounded by the smells coming out of the kitchens. The Spanish quarter has its own magic as you wonder to walk through its streets. The quarter has some of Naples's best pizzerias.
Museums and so
There is really too much to elaborate on each of them separately. Naples is home to the Bellini Opera House, the Patron's Cathedral (Naplesi's Duomo Cathedral), the National Museum of Archeology of Naples, the Madre Museum of Modern Art - the culture in Naples is endless!
A beautiful, large park overlooking the port of Naples and the Chiaia quarter.
The villa received its name in 1816 when the king of the two Sicilies acquired the property as a gift to his wife, the Duchess of Florida, eventually naming the villa after her. The villa also houses the National Museum of Ceramics. Enter the gardens and you will immediately feel like you have left the busy Naples and arrived in a quiet green forest. Go around the museum (or check it out if you are into ceramics) and follow down the steps around the villa towards the fountain to look out over the city. The fountain is full of sea turtles and fish and the dozens of cats roaming the park who doesn't look at all interested in the fish but will be happy to be caressed and by then will probably accompany you to the lookout point.
To reach the villa I recommend taking the Metro to Vanvitelli station.
The harbor and the promenade
On sunny days the promenade of Naples is a wonderful option to spend a few hours. Locals are running by the ocean and others walk their dogs. Fishermen come back in the morning with their catch, which usually includes tuna, calamari, shrimp, sea snakes and much more. Candy stalls and balloons are sold in the park right on the other side of the promenade (lots of families and kids on Sundays).
In Naples, there are three ancient castles - Castel Sant'Elmo, Castel Nuovo and Castel dell'Ovo, which is right on the shoreline of Naples' promenade.
Chiaia quarter in the evening
Just near the promenade of Naples, you'll find this cool part of the city that offers bars and restaurants at night. Via Bisignano is a nice start to your evening. It is definitely worth a stop to drink a glass of beer or wine and enjoy the local atmosphere.
There are seven entrances scattered throughout the city to the underground tunnels of Naples. In the distant past, during the period of the Greeks in 400 BCE until the time of the Romans, these tunnels were used as water reservoirs and were later used as shelters in World War II when Naples was one of the most bombed cities of Europe. The only way to enter the tunnels is to take an official tour, they take place throughout the day and there is the possibility to join the tour in English. The tour takes about an hour and a half and will take you outside the tunnels into the historic center, and will tell you where the ancient theater was located and enter the antiquities that until a few years ago were unknown cellars in the homes of Neapolitan families.
You are in for a real treat !!
So what is A real Neapolitan pizza?
The True Neapolitan Pizza Association (Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana, AVPN) decided to set strict rules for the preparation of Neapolitan pizza - the ingredients, the ovens, the dough and just about every small detail of making the pizza. For example, the Neapolitan pizza should be a round pizza, 30-35 cm in diameter with soft, elastic dough and inflated, unburned edges.
The certificate of recognition for the Neapolitan pizza is granted to pizza places around the world that meet the conditions of the Association. So when you walk around the streets of Naples - look for the association sign above the pizzerias!
And if you'd like to learn a bit more, check out the first episode of the "Ugly delicious" NETFLIX series, which focuses entirely on pizza and the process it had over the years arriving from Naples to the United States.
Naples became synonymous with coffee, and although the Italians did not invent the coffee, the Neapolitans certainly attribute the coffee to their tradition and history. Coffee shops in Naples are proud of their tradition and the ability to make espresso from hundreds of different varieties of coffee beans. Naples has an undeniable coffee culture and many claim it to be the best in Italy.
Pizzeria Da Attilio
The best pizza I have eaten, on the border between the historic center and Spanish quarter. For decades, Atillo, the owner, has been filling the edges of his pizza with ricotta cheese and folds the ends in the shape of a star. It is unreal.
The most famous pizzeria, or at least one of them - but does not meet the conditions set for a real Neapolitan pizza ...
I wonder if Julia Roberts knew it when she ate there in the famous scene from "Eat, Pray, Love").
Julia Roberts eats pizza:
Fried food is one of the most popular street foods in Naples. The perfect snack- some fried shrimps or mozzarella balls. Check out the stand in Via San Biagio dei Librai 22.
This pizzeria has several locations, one of them in Chiaia, serving Neapolitan pizza and fried pizza, another specialty of the place.
Torteria & Co
Stop there for breakfast, grab a local pastry (a triple pastry made of fine leaves called Sfogliatella).
The café also offers fruit shakes, very refreshing on warm days.
This coffe places are scattered throughout Naples, and is one of the most beloved cafe of the locals.
They also serve ice coffee called Caffe del nonno, Grandpa's coffee!
Some other dress :
Probably the most famous pizzeria in Italy since 1870.
The islands of Isola della Gaiola
two small artificial islands not too far from the shoreline so you can swim to them. on one of the islands is built a villa and the two are connected by a small bridge of only a few meters.
Legend has it that at the beginning of the 19th century, the island was inhabited by a monk called "the magician" and the locals believed that the island was cursed and all owners would die. The reputation developed from the frequent troubles and premature death of families who owned the villa during the 20th century. For example, in the 1920s the Swiss owner Hans Brown was found dead and wrapped in a carpet, and his wife died shortly after. And so the curse went on and on ... Today, needless to say, the villa is not inhabited and abandoned.
2 ways to reach the dreamy islands from the city of Naples: You can take a bus from the port or you can drive there. Once you get to the sign "isola la gaiola" you will have to park the car and get to the beach by foot (the road is open for residents only) or try to catch a ride with one of the locals. There is no parking near the beach so do not try ... And one more thing, the cafe is closed on Mondays so there are no toilets and you can not buy drinks!
The beach is clean and not crowded, the view is breathtaking. Definitely, recommend!
MORE DAY TRIPS
Several more places to get to from Naples. If you visited one of these places, I'd love for you to share your experiences in the comments below.
Iskia and Capri islands
Two beautiful islands that you can catch a ferry to from the port of Naples.