From the Archaeological Museum to the Chapel of San Severo, through a visit to Castel Sant'Elmo or the Pignasecca Market, there is no shortage of things to do in Naples. Not to mention the incredible Neapolitan cuisine!
It turns out, however, that the most incredible thing in Naples is intangible; Sit without seeing each other. It is a soulful city. Of a beauty as monumental as decaying, interspersed with huge smiles and open doors. Sometimes grubby, with unadorned graffiti stone walls, sharing attention with the statues, palaces, and monuments around every corner.
Naples is not easy to define. I don't know how many attempts I've made to describe it, but none do live up to the capital of Campania. Here are, for example, the first words I wrote about Naples, published in the Instagram of Alma de Viajante.
I'm in love with Naples. A soulful city of people in love who live with blood in the gill. There are no falsehoods here, Naples is what it is and everything is in sight - the friendly words, the welcoming look, the graffiti on the stone, the butts on the floor, the rubbish in the corners, the chaotic markets, the joy of the people, the decrepit palaces, the imposing cathedrals, the tasty pizzas, the open doors. At a time when the “cute” for Instagram is in vogue, Naples is a stoner with a black glove: it's all here, no make-up, that's how it is and who doesn't like it has good medicine. I stay.
It is. Naples has no make-up; it is what it is. Authentic
Out of curiosity, that same day I asked Paul Struijk, a Dutch photographer who goes to Naples every year for a workshop I found on the terrace of the Rosy's, a word to define the city and the answer was immediate: "passion". Yes, the Neapolitans are passionate peoplewith blood in the gut, impulsive and authentic, little concerned with appearances. And this is reflected in the state of the city, as palatial as beautiful and decaying, poorly preserved, full of graffiti brushing vandalism.
Love or loathe, worth a try. Here's what to do or visit in Naples as a result of my recent experience in the capital of Campania.
Things to do in Naples
#1 St. Clare Monastery
Santa Clara is a religious complex currently "formed by a basilica, a double monastery, a crypt and an archaeological museum." It is in the heart of the historic center and is one of Naples' main attractions. At least for lovers of frescoes and tiles.
I especially liked the cloisters and the interior garden (and its Italian majolica tiles). There are 72 octagonal columns covered with hand-painted tiles; and benches decorated with blue and yellow tiled panels connecting each of the pillars. The visual effect is fascinating. One stop to include in the list of things to do in Naples.
Official website: www.monasterodisantachiara.it
#2 Catacombs of San Gennaro
Visit the Catacombs of San Gennaro It was certainly one of the most remarkable experiences I had in Naples. It is an underground cemetery, carved from the porous rock of the Capodimonte hillside in northern Naples. It consists of several interconnected chambers spread over two distinct levels, built over time underground. In a way, they reminded me of Malta Hypogeum.
The catacombs are currently underground in the Rione Sanità neighborhood. They were recovered at the initiative of the local community, which began the work of recovery, preservation and openness to tourism as a way to value the neighborhood, create jobs and finance the same preservation.
Regardless of whether or not to believe in the miracle associated with blood of San Gennaro (see Naples Cathedral below), the catacombs are one of the things to really visit in Naples. In addition to their unique architecture, they are also home to a significant collection of frescoes and mosaics from the 9th and 10th centuries. Not to be missed, therefore!
Official website: www.catacombedinapoli.it
#3 Chapel of San Severo
The statues of the chapel of San Severo are truly out of this world. Especially the impressive marble statue of Cristo Velado, which dominates all eyes of visitors.
It is a work by Giuseppe Sanmartino that depicts Jesus Christ lying on a kind of mattress and wrapped in a veil so well carved that it appears to be transparent (although the entire statue is marble), through which one can clearly observe the Body details. The effect is impressive.
Without exaggeration, it is very likely to be one of the most extraordinary marble statues I have ever seen in my life.
Official website: www.museosansevero.it (indoor shooting not allowed)
#4 Pignasecca Market
Every morning, the region near Montesanto Station, north of the Spanish Quarter, gets a liveliness that I love. This is where the so-called Pignasecca Market happens.
It is a small market, frequented by Neapolitans, where it is worth wandering aimlessly, tasting one or another delicacy and enjoying the hustle and bustle of a traditional market. I love this kind of environments; and I recommend as little passage as possible through the Pignasecca Market. Or another street market you prefer!
#5 Sant'Elmo Castle
I went to visit Sant'Elmo Castle without great expectations - and, I confess, it did not fill me up. It is an imposing medieval fortification, to be sure; but for whatever reason I was not impressed. Neither with the castle nor with the museum inside.
Still worth the visit (so it is on this list of suggestions on what to visit in Naples), because it is located in an area of Naples completely distinct from the center and worth exploring - the Vomero hill. And the views from the top, including over Chiaia and the marina, are worthy of a respectful defensive fortress.
Tip: go up to the funicular castle (take the Montesanto station, near the Pignasecca Market); but on your way back, walk down the staircase leading into the city center. It's a beautiful walk through the bowels of Naples.
#6 Getting lost in the Spanish Quarter…
A must for any visit to Naples, the Spanish Quarter has a very unique soul and charisma. The streets are narrow and busy; people have their doors and windows open, and use the street as an extension of their own dwellings. They are affable and hospitable, and proudly Neapolitan.
And then there's a collection of small traditional restaurants, including the elusive Trattoria da Nennella (see below). All in all, even without so-called tourist attractions like palaces or castles, visit the Spanish neighborhoods It's really mandatory!
#7… and in the historic center of Naples
Love or loathe, the historic center is the heart of Naples and is on the list of UNESCO Heritage in Italy. Ugly and dirty or authentic and fascinating, the impression depends a lot on the look with which Naples looks.
For me, and despite the rubbish on the streets, the graffiti in a disproportionate way, from the poorly maintained buildings, I feel that this is where the Neapolitan soul lives, the kind and friendly people, proud and hospitable, without salamaleques or half-words. The same as I felt wandering through the Spanish Quarter. And if there is one thing I appreciate is this genuine frontality.
#8 Galleria Umberto I
The Galleria Umberto I was designed by Emanuele Rocco in the late 19th century as part of the rehabilitation of the city following the Italian unification (completed in 1871). In a way, it reminds Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II of Milan .
It is in the middle of Via Toledo, half-walls with the São Carlos Opera House and the Plebiscito Square, and it was its glazed dome that caught my attention. That and the floor mosaics!
Although it was Mary's house there, the “queen of sfogliatella”From Naples, Umberto I seemed to me to be more of a tourist attraction today than a commercial gallery used by the Neapolitans.
But truth be told, visiting it, even for a few minutes, is one of the things to do in Naples. Whether for its history or photogeny. Or even by sfogliatella from Mary.
#9 Church of the New Jesus
The street known as Spaccanapoli (or “breaking Naples”), in the heart of Naples' historic center, is an extensive rectilinear artery that literally divides the city's urban core into two parts. This is where the Church of Jesus Novo is located.
Touted as the most important Jesuit-built church in Naples, the church has an enigmatic exterior, somewhat reminiscent of Lisbon's Casa dos Bicos. At least that's what occurred to me when, with his neck bent over Piazza del Gesù NuovoI stared at the facade of the church for the first time.
As it turns out, the facade of the church has been taken advantage of the Palazzo Sanseverino there. And the effect is curious. Outside, a stern gray entrance; Inside, a church lavishly decorated with frescoes and gilded wood. Another fascinating place to include in the list of things to do in Naples.
Official website: www.gesunuovo.it
#10 Galleria Borbonica (Bourbon Tunnel)
The second time I went down to the underground world of Naples was to visit the so-called Bourbon Tunnel - or Galleria Borbonica. An underground maze with long corridors and stone halls typical of a bunker, but where are old Italian cars and wasps, and still some relics of World War II.
“The Galleria Borbonica and the surrounding underground environments represent a description of the last 500 years of Naples history. We work to give glory to those who lived underground and performed magnificent works, and we return memories of those who suffered terrible experiences but survived thanks to this underground world. ” in gallery history No. website official.
The story is long and complex, but nothing better than taking a guided tour to realize that, among other things, that space has served as a shelter for the Neapolitan population in wartime. Another must visit in the center of Naples!
Official website: www.galleriaborbonica.com
#11 Toledo Metro Station
É only a staircase, of course, but the visual effect is so spectacular that, for me, it is worth visiting the Toledo metro station to enjoy it.
The refurbishment of the station was part of the The Art Stations project, which aimed to bring more light and beauty to some of Naples' metro stations. Toledo's work, in concrete, was designed by the Spanish architect Oscar Tusquets Blanca with “water and light” as the background theme. It is a stark contrast to the traditional Spanish Quarter that inhabits the surface.
#12 Plebiscite Square
Epicenter of the city, Plebiscito Square is one of Naples' most important urban spaces. Specified in the center of the square, the visitor faces four significant monuments of Neapolitan history: the Basilica of San Francesco di Paola, the Royal Palace, the Salerno Palace and the building that houses the Naples Town Hall.
During the three days of my itinerary in Naples, I came to Plebiscito several times, due to its location between Via Toledo and the Neapolitan fringe.
#13 Naples Cathedral (Duomo)
Only on the third could I visit the Cathedral of Naples. I had seen it twice closed, but I'm glad I insisted. It is one of the most important religious buildings in the city, and I recommend visiting it. It is truly impressive. Even if you don't believe in the "San Gennaro miracle".
Tip: Pay attention not only to the Duomo's central nave, but also to the smaller side chapels. That's where you find the most beautiful spaces.
The ritual of blood liquefaction
On September 19 (the date of San Gennaro's death), December 16, and the first Saturday of May, thousands of people flock to Naples Cathedral and Piazza del Duomo hoping to see the saint's blood liquefy. It is called the "miracle of San Gennaro".
It is a solemn ceremony, in which the ampoules with the "blood" of the saint are removed by the cardinal and carried in procession abroad. If the blood liquefies - which usually happens - the Neapolitans believe it to be a sign that San Gennaro has blessed the city. Otherwise, it is a sign of bad omen.
Official website: www.chiesadinapoli.it
#14 Eating Ragout at Tandem Ragù Restaurant
Eating ragout is another of the fundamental things to do in Naples. Whether at Tandem Ragù or another traditional restaurant. And what is ragu anyway? In practice, it is a sauce based on cooked meat and tomatoes, traditionally used in Italian cuisine as an accompaniment to pasta. Unlike bolognese, the meat is not served minced, but in small pieces. Very approved!
Official website: www.tandem.napoli.it
#15 A meal at Trattoria da Nennella
Mamma Mia! There is no way to avoid the recommendation. Lunch or dinner at Trattoria da Nennella is more than a meal; It is an experience. It's not only good and cheap, it's fun too. In fact, you can't explain it; You really have to eat there! But I will try.
Nennella's Trattoria restaurant is in the charismatic Spanish Quarter, near the busy Via Toledo. It does not accept reservations and has a very convenient fixed price menu of 15 € and 12 € (with and without starter), which includes first and second course, accompaniment, a bottle of sparkling water and even fruit for dessert.
Do not expect tranquility or luxury. The restaurant is very busy (sometimes with long queues) and the employees literally party. They sing, dance and are incredibly theatrical - and the curious thing is that they really enjoy themselves (it didn't seem like a scam just for tourists to see). Added to the unquestionable quality of the cuisine, Trattoria da Nennella is an institution within spagnoli quarter.
It is without doubt one of the restaurants where to eat in Naples (you can include confidence in your list with things to do in Naples).
Official website: www.trattoriadanennella.it
#16 Eating Pizza, Lots of Pizza
Any median pizzeria in Naples serves better pizzas than I'm used to. It is a perdition! And the same applies to the masses. But the Neapolitan pizza is indeed unique.
Naples' most famous pizzeria is probably Michele's L'Antica Pizzeria. I had no meal there because the two times I walked in the door the lines were huge. I believe Michele's pizzas are special, but it still indicates that I've had great pizzas elsewhere.
Official website: www.damichele.net
#17 Visit Herculaneum
Herculaneum is an archaeological complex located a few kilometers from the center of Naples. It is an ancient Roman city that, like Pompeii, was buried by the ashes of the eruption of Vesuvius in 10 AD.
Because it was closer to Vesuvius than Pompeii, the ashes hit Herculaneum more intensely, so the city was completely buried. The result is that the structures - houses, spas and taverns, among others - have been preserved much better than in Pompeii, which in itself justifies visit Herculaneum.
Excavations in the city of Herculaneum began in the year 1738 and found not only a huge amount of everyday objects at the time, but also the skeletons of those who perished from the eruption.
Tips & Warnings The best way to get to Herculaneum is by train. Don't try to visit Herculaneum and Pompeii on the same day - it's too tiring.
Official website: ercolano.beniculturali.it
#18 Visiting Pompeii
One of the most visited sites in all of Italy, Pompeii is another city of the Roman Empire buried in ash following an eruption of Vesuvius from the year 79 AD. It is classified as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
As in Herculaneum, so in Pompeii the ashes and mud protected buildings and objects (as well as the bodies of the victims) from the effects of time, which archaeological excavations are gradually revealing. Visit Pompeii It is, therefore, like going back in time and living for a day in a great city of ancient Rome. Unmissable.
Official website: www.pompeiisites.org
And yet… (other places to visit in Naples)
Naples is a world and as such I did not visit everything I wanted. If you stay more than three days in the city or have a special interest in museums, I recommend you include them in the list of things to do in Naples.
#19 Naples Archaeological Museum
Probably the best museum in Naples. From the Archaeological Museum I only heard practically unanimous compliments regarding the quality and interest of the exhibit on display. It is considered a fundamental visit for those who want, for example, to better understand Pompeii's daily life.
This is where the finds from Pompeii, Herculaneum and other villages destroyed by the eruption of Vesuvius - such as Boscoreale, Oplontis and Stabia - are exhibited. From frescoes to mosaics, to household items such as pots, jars and decorative objects taken from homes.
Unfortunately, having only been in the city for three days, I couldn't see everything I wanted. I leave, however, the recommendation to consider a trip to the Archaeological Museum when planning what to do in Naples. For my part, I regret not being able to fit the museum into my script.
Official website: www.museoarcheologiconapoli.it
#20 MADRE - Donnaregina Museum of Contemporary Art
I was also curious to visit the MADRE - Donnaregina Museum of Contemporary Art. It is a museum that mixes permanent collections with temporary exhibitions of varying quality (ie you never quite know what to expect).
It wasn't far from my accommodation, but I ended up postponing it and… I didn't visit. This is another of my recommendations on what to do in Naples, as long as you have at least four days to visit the city.
Official website: www.madrenapoli.it
#21 San Felice Palace
He has amazing things. I was walking down Via Sanità for no purpose other than to return home when an entrance caught my eye. Driven by the traveler's own curiosity, I entered.
There was a doorman in a counterwhich private condominium; and I tried to ask him what that building was. I realized only that it was a palace, glanced at it, marveled at the beautiful decrepitude of the palace, and went on. When I returned to guesthousePaul, the photographer, told me that he had gone with his students to photograph at the Palacio San Felice - and showed me a picture. That was when light came.
It had been in front of the famous San Felice Palace staircase, not of guides or planning, but of pure curiosity. Wow!
Official website: sanfelice-sanita.it
Map: Things to do in Naples
From Portugal, TAP has direct flights from Lisbon to Naples - that's what I used on this trip. Ryanair, one of the low cost airlines with most routes in Portugalflies from Porto to Naples; It can be an interesting alternative for those who live in northern Portugal.
To get from the airport to the center of Naples, the best way is to use the shuttle bus from Alibus, which drop you off at Garibaldi Square (next to the central train station) - from where you have metro and buses if needed. The space shuttle about 100 meters ahead of the airport terminal exit; The trip costs 5 € and tickets can be purchased from the driver (or at vending machines outside the terminal).
Where to stay
For more detailed information on the different regions of the city, see the post specific where to stay in naples, in which I explain the advantages and disadvantages of each location.
Finally, if you prefer the heart of the city, around the Via Toledo / Plebiscito Squarechoose guesthouse ToledoStation B&B (with a lot of color and style); or the elegant That's Napoli, Rest to Napoli e Montecalvario 41, among others.
For other accommodation options, for all tastes and prices, please see link below.
A World Nomads offers one of the best and most complete travel insurance recommended by National Geographic and Lonely Planet. Other excellent and cheaper option is IATI Seguros, which has no age limit and allows multivariate insurance (including long-term travel) to any destination in the world. It's the insurance I use in my travels.